Sunday, August 02, 2009

No Posts for 3 months

It's nice to have a break, and get some real life in between posts. Not that I've been having much of a break. The NSW DET blogging tool, of which my classes and I were beta testers is a real winner. Safe, simple blogging for students, classes staff, public or private or groups.

The trick now, once they gloss has faded from the "shiny new toy" is to get some procedures and policies as to what constitutes effective pedagogical use.

So what on the horizon for this edublogger?
  • I launched into twitter with gusto. Fun, and very useful, just like "they" say. Has helped me numerous times.
  • Google docs has finally (yay) been unblocked for staff use at least. Next to push for the unblock for students.
  • I'm running another Intel TEO (Teaching Essentials Online) course beginning the end of this month.
  • More "play" with the blogging tool. Let's see if we can get our scratch creations published and shared huh?
  • All this as well as an active "real life".
Speaking of real you all have multiple twitter accounts (and other social network tools) which separate proffessional from home life, or do you (as does gen y) just mix it all in together.

I'm inclined to mix it all up so far. Maybe its just the old boomers who see the need to separate life into work/play/home. The kids dont seem to care.

All for now. Be back later with more thought, tools, tips, and trick.

Friday, May 01, 2009

intel webinar

An online version of this doc can be viewed and downloaded from Here
The word version of this doc can be downloaded from here. 

Using Google Earth and Google Maps with Blogs/Wikis

Mark Collinson

Mullumbimby Public School





What did students do?

This is a small activity which formed part of a broader multicultural day. Other activities on the day included researching and making traditional costumes, mask making, cooking traditional foods, locating and retelling traditional stories, and learning traditional dance. Guest speakers were invited to cook, tell stories, play music, and dance.

In the library, children were invited to put a pin on the map to show where there “ancestors” originated. The following activity is an extension of that. One that can be shared with a wider audience(e.g. relatives in ancestral home) than those people that walked through the library and saw the wall display.


How does this activity enhance student learning?

By enhancing the “wall map” activity, and being able to share it with a global audience, the children were much more enthusiastic about the activity. The “immersive nature of Google Earth and the ability to zoom in and fly from place to place makes it fun.


Why Use Google Earth in the Classroom?

  • To provide a sense of reality and purpose for learning within the K-12 classroom
  • To engage and excite learners
  • To help learners conceptualize, visualize, share, and communicate information about the world
  • To provide cross-curricular learning options
  • To add a new dimension to learning environments not previously possible
  • To leverage ubiquitous tools for learning 
  • To create active, exploratory, and empowering learning environments
  • To give students opportunities:
    • to exhibit their learning to others
    • to use emerging technologies and digital tools
    • to communicate their research in a personally meaningful way (using Web 2.0 tools)
    • to view their world from a more connected, global perspective
    • to enhance map reading and navigation skills
    • to engage more complex dimensions of human perception



What syllabus outcomes does the activity address?


From the NSW HSIE change and continuity strand…


The activity meets the aims of HSIE by enhancing the student’s sense of personal, community, national and global identity;


It meets the objectives of HSIE syllabus by:

  • providing knowledge and understanding  ofcultures in Australia and other places, their diversity and similarities and how they influence people’s identities and behaviors.
  • by developing skills in acquiring information, and social and civicparticipation


By studying change and continuity, students should develop historical knowledge and understandings about their heritages and the past, and how these have influenced the present and may influence the future.


The activity fulfils the HSIE foundation Statement Outcome:

Students explain how different cultures and traditions contribute to Australian and community identity. They examine a variety of local and othercommunities, investigating similarities and differences including ways of living, languages and belief systems.


Outcomes and Indicators


Explains changes in the community andfamily life andevaluates the effects of these on differentindividuals, groupsand environments.


  • listens to life stories of people from different culturalbackgrounds
  • distinguishes between primary and secondary source material when acquiring information
  • uses historical language when referring to source material, e.g. primary source, secondary source, oralhistory, life story
  • identifies the contributions of some significant peopleand events to community heritage.



Explains how shared customs, practices,symbols, languagesand traditions incommunitiescontribute toAustralian andcommunity identities.



• identifies diverse customs, practices and symbols sharedby their local community and all communities withinAustralia

• listens to and retells traditional, religious and ethicalstories that relate to some groups in the Australiancommunity.


Here is an example of what we did.

The students were asked to find their country of origin. Speak to grandpa or grandma. Record a story of why they came to Australia, or what life was like in hometown or even how life is different here.

Then for this session.

1/ Find place on Google Earth.

2/Putplace mark on Google Earth and name it.

3/ Give a quick story 1-2 mins about the place or why ancestors left to come to Australia

4/ (Extension) Email friend or relative the link to the map we publish, and invite comment



How is it Done?


A simple (one hopes) 3 stage process. (Oh yeah, you will also need a google account.)


  1. Add place marks on Google Earth.


  1. Import place marks to Google Maps.


  1. Link the maps code to your wiki or blog.



1a) Open Google Earth. Right click on my places and add a folder. Name it (for example) origins.



b) Find your place of origin and click the add place mark. Drag the place mark to your point of interest and name it. Repeat and add more points of origin



c) Make sure all placemarks are in yourorigins” folder. If they are not in there, just drag them in.


d) Right click the “origins folder and Save Place As a kmz file (keyhole markup language…it harkens back to the days of the cold war….read about it on Wikipedia).


2 a)Open Google maps ( and login to your Google account. Click my maps.

b) Create new map, name itorigins, make sure it is a public map, and then save.




c) With the new “origins” map selected, click Edit,




d) Then click import,

e) Choose the KML file that you saved in Google Earth, and then choose “upload from file”.


f) Your Place marks are now on the map.


g) All that is left to do is to get the code and paste it into your blog or wiki. Click “link” and copy the html code ready to paste.


That’s it for the maps part.


Next to embed into your wiki/blog.


3. a) Open your blog, go to new post, and use your blogs specific, “insert html” feature. All blog platforms are slightly different, so you may have to look for the feature.


This e.g. is WordPress (of which Edublogs is a variant).


Paste it in., and update or save your page.


b) That’s it!View your blog/wiki.






  1. Add placemarks on Google Earth.


  1. Import placemarks to Google Maps.


  1. Link the map’s code to your wiki or blog.


As a follow up activity, I would get those children who put a place mark on the map, to email the blog link to a relative or friend and invite them to view and comment.


Further resources site for educators 10 ways you can use Google earth with your students



Feel free to email me




Saturday, July 19, 2008

Learning Objects

Check this article and discussion on the expense and relevance of the learning federation's "Learning Objects" on Digital Chalkie.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

So...just what are 21st century skills?

Here is a list from The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and in my opinion is a fair enough place to start.

Ask yourself "Do I target any of these in my classroom?"

What do you think of the list? Can we add more? Are there some that can come out? Where do the arts and music (for example) fit into a list like this?

Essential 21st Century Skills
Accountability and Adaptability—Exercising personal responsibility and flexibility in personal, workplace, and community contexts; setting and meeting high standards and goals for one's self and others; tolerating ambiguity

Communication Skills—Understanding, managing, and creating effective oral, written, and multimedia communication in a variety of forms and contexts

Creativity and Intellectual Curiosity—Developing, implementing, and communicating new ideas to others; staying open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives

Critical Thinking and Systems Thinking—Exercising sound reasoning in understanding and making complex choices; understanding the interconnections among systems

Information and Media Literacy Skills—Analyzing, accessing, managing, integrating, evaluating, and creating information in a variety of forms and media

Interpersonal and Collaborative Skills—Demonstrating teamwork and leadership; adapting to varied roles and responsibilities; working productively with others; exercising empathy; respecting diverse perspectives

Problem Identification, Formulation, and Solution—Ability to frame, analyze, and solve problems

Self-Direction—Monitoring one's own understanding and learning needs; locating appropriate resources; transferring learning from one domain to another

Social Responsibility—Acting responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind; demonstrating ethical behavior in personal, workplace, and community contexts

Friday, October 05, 2007

Scratch - Visual Programming Environment - Australian Lesson Exchange

The Australian Lesson Exchange (ALE) is a relatively new wiki for all Australian Educators from all states and territories. Its a place to share your stuff! Fellow Aussie edubloggers may like to check it out!

Richard Wiktorowicz from Moorefield Girls High has kindly shared, via ALE, a fantastic set of activity cards in PDF that he has developed for scratch. Thanks Richard.
Scratch - Visual Programming Environment - Australian Lesson Exchange

Scratch is a new programming language that makes it easy to create
your own interactive stories, animations, games, music, and art -- and
share your creations on the web.

Scratch is designed to help young people (ages 8 and up)
develop 21st century learning skills. As they create Scratch projects,
young people learn important mathematical and computational ideas,
while also gaining a deeper understanding of the process of design.

For those who are yet to discover the joys of scratch take a look at one of my year 5 student's movies here. Cody did the storyboard, the sprites and backgrounds himself, (as well as the scripting of course).

Blogged with Flock

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Education and Copyright at Bionic Teaching

Copyright awareness is something that we as teachers must include in our classroom life. I teach a range of children from K-6 and I begin copyright instruction in kindergarten, by modeling behaviors such as "acknowledging" or "thanking" the creator of any work we make, talk about, or use.

Someone always owns the work. (Picture, poem, song, etc). The owner of the work is the one who created it. By year 6 the children are not only aware of copyright and ownership issues, but have become quite good at referencing pictures, sound clips, and text. (I insist that they do so).

Tom Woodward
at Bionic Teaching has a stylish powerpoint presentation on copyright. Check it out, it's one of the best I've come across on this vital topic. Tom keeps it positive using the traffic light analogy. Green is "you can" , orange is "caution", and red is "do not". By focusing on the green lights, like creative commons and public domain, you can be sure to avoid the scrutiny of the copyright police. The presentation is clear with ample notes, and covers images, text, sound, and video, in a very positive and simple way.

Well worth adding to your toolkit.

Blogged with Flock

Thursday, September 27, 2007

How can using the Internet support my Student's Learning?

Hello again. After a period of not posting so regularly, I now appear to be making up for it.

I'm currently part way through an Australian Pilot of the new Intel Teaching Essentials Online course.

Without going into too much detail, it's a course that fosters reflection on the pedagogy of using web based tools in your daily classroom life. Eg, Develop a unit of work the fosters both higher order thinking skills and 21st century skills, meets your jurisdictional syllabus outcomes, introduces practical ways of using blogs, wikis, and other online tools such as google docs, Zoho, and, all within a quality framework of formative and summative assessments. Basically its about best practice, and so far I have found it to be exemplary.

The most recent activity asked me to reflect upon:

  • How can I use the Internet to support my teaching and students’ learning?
  • How can I ensure responsible and appropriate use of the Internet?
.....a good and worthwhile activity in my opinion. The following is posted on my course blog, but I though I'd post it here and open up the discussion for my own benefit really. So please feel free to add your thoughts to mine
Use of the internet can support my students' learning by exposing them to a bigger world of ideas than would otherwise be possible. The students can view the work of their global peers, and assess themselves on the quality of their own creations.The internet has the potential to expand cultural awareness (and expose culture-centric views).

The internet supports my teaching by providing similar benefits as it does to the students. I can participate in discussion with my peers and colleagues. I can share ideas, develop strategies, and have my views challenged, modified and refined. (My view can even be ridiculed and trashed).

Responsible use of the web can be fostered in a few ways. Each of which contribute to the goal of creating safe, fun, online learning spaces. Supervision, AUP's and filtering are vital. But perhaps just as vital is an understanding or appreciation by the teacher of the dynamics and technicalities of virtual learning spaces. If the students are with a guide they can trust and enjoy the journey with, then a communication can develop that will enhance the understandings of both teacher and student. (We learn together).

How can a child discern the "bad" or "mediocre", if they have not been exposed to the "good" or "excellent"? Who will expose them to the good and excellent if their teachers cannot?

This brings me to the point of website filtering. Can we go to far? Can we filter too much? I don't know about others, but I don't want my children to grow up in a virtual clean room. Children need to understand that there are pitfalls and nasties, and need to be given strategies which will enable them to deal with these nasties. Then there is the question of exactly who does the filtering. As an extreme (perhaps) example: Do we filter to please our corporate sponsor at the expense of highlighting human rights violations. Do we filter from a certain religious world view? Big questions, no apparent easy answers.

What do you think?