Sunday, 24 December 2006

My big change

I've just spent the last two weeks (part time) and the past four days (full time) cleaning out two year's worth of mess, junk and.... let's face it CRAP out of my classroom at Mapua School.

Next year I am having a big, but a very positive, change and I'll be working at Nelson Central School (as seen in the photo). Some things never change however and I'll still be teaching the same year group (year 2/3) so at least I'll be able to use some of my best resources again if needed. It's actually quite exciting to think of all the new faces and personalities I'll meet within the staff, teachers and students.

Nelson Central is also part of a new ICT Cluster that is being formed with Nelson Schools beginning next year. I am looking forwards to this as I've got a lot out of being part of the Discover IT Tasman ICT cluster this year. I hope to not only gain new skills, but to continue to enhance other teacher's skills throughout the year. And of course I'll still be available to folks from the Discover IT cluster if they ever want me to come back and help them out at all!

Yes, of course I'll be starting a new classroom BLOG and I'll make sure I post that web address up as soon as I've started it. It will be quite fun introducing another bunch of "little people" to blogging. I've had a lot of successes this year with my class (Room One) and I can't wait for the many benefits to start filtering down to the fabulous new bunch of children that I'll get.

Hope everyone has a FANTASTIC Christmas and New Year period filled with pressies, good food, good company and lots of laughter!

Friday, 22 December 2006

Edubloggers Frappr Map

"Frappr! Maps are like a triple mash-up of an online guest book, a hit log and a map -- three services that, combined, create a fun and visually appealing environment that will keep Web site visitors coming back for more.. "

-- Kun, Frappr! co-founder

Today I stumbled upon the Frappr Map of Edubloggers all over the world. It's a really neat world wide map that you can add yourself to and browse and meet other teachers/educators with blogs from around the world. A lot of people have posted their educational blog websites also, so I'll have to spend a little bit of time browsing through these over the next few weeks.

On my home dial-up connection it took a little bit of time to load but it's reasonably easy to navigate once it's all loaded. You just hold your mouse over the little markers to find out about each person. It's also very easy to feel like we are located "down under" when you have to move the map so much across and down just to find little old New Zealand and Australia!

It would be great to get lots of other NZ teachers with educational based blogs onto this map..... it's looking a bit sad in our part of the world as you can see.

Tuesday, 19 December 2006

Fun with Photo Booth

Today we had fun in class with one of the new Apple laptops with the built in "isight" camera. We used the programme Photo Booth to capture end of year FUN and QUIRKY photos of all of us!

Each child took a photo of themself using their chosen photo effect: either comic book, thermal, glow or coloured pencil. We then took some group shots. I am going to make all the photos into a slideshow, set it to music and add it to the end of year DVD that I have made for my class.

Check out some of the neat photos we took!!!!

Monday, 18 December 2006

End of Year DVD

Last Wednesday night my class and I held a very special "Room One Afternoon/Evening" where we invited all of our parents/caregivers and family to watch a special show we were putting on.

The children presented stories, plays, magic acts, a dance, poems and songs that they had been working on in either a group or with the whole class. They were absolutely amazing and organised everything, I just provided them with a few afternoons to plan and practise.

At the end of it all I presented a slideshow I had made of our amazing year. It was photos dating right back to February and everyone enjoyed remembering our fabulous trips, activities and experiences. I made my slideshow in iphoto but added reference slides that I made in Kidpix, these were simply to segregate the photos into experiences, see below for an example. This made the experience better as everyone knew which photo was what. I also put them in chronological order. I also set my slideshow to my funkiest itunes tracks like MC Hammer, Don't worry be happy, Manama Na and Remember the Days. At the end of the evening we all had Fish and Chips as a big group. It was a really neat way to round off the year.
All the parents & rellies absolutely loved the slideshow and I had numerous attempts to provide it to them. I sent my iphoto slideshow to idvd by choosing share>send to idvd. Making a class DVD was great because I also put on some of the movies we've made over the year as well as some other fun stuff.

Going completely over the top (like usual) I also used Comic Life to make a cover for the DVD. I think they turned out great. It certainly was also worth all the effort, the parents love them and they'll be something my students can treasure for all their lives. I'll definetly be doing the sharing evening and the DVD again at the end of next year.

BTW: Here's what the CD cover turned out like... aren't they cute!

Thursday, 7 December 2006

Discover IT Tasman PD Day

Tomorrow afternoon we have our ICT Cluster PD Day.

I am presenting a workshop for teachers on how to Enhance your Classroom Blog.

It's a hands on practical session where we will be using popular web 2.0 tools to enhance existing class blogs. It should be great to work personally with such a small group of innovative teachers.

Here's a simplified slideshow of my PowerPoint Presentation that I've used Slideshare to host.

Wednesday, 15 November 2006

Great Blogging Video

I've just discovered a really neat video on blogging called "Blogosphere".

You can view it here at Teachers' TV.

It is 15 minutes long (obviously recommended for viewing with a broadband connection) and I have included the synopsis below.

Please note mac users: you may have to download a plug-in to be able to view the video. It is Windows Media Player for Mac. I got mine for OS X here.


"Blogging is now a worldwide phenomenon with weblogs reaching a potential audience of hundreds of millions.

Blogs have been described as the ultimate in publishing for the people and have been used to challenge governments and the press.

Steve O'Hear, one of Britain's digital evangelists, explores how blogs can be used in schools. Steve finds some enthusiastic primary age bloggers and sees how it helps in literacy, ICT skills and a range of other subjects.

He finds many of the benefits extend beyond the curriculum. Blogging can help pupils:

  • Develop confidence
  • Improve their self expression
  • Get a real sense of fulfilment from publishing their work

In West Blatchington School in Hove, blogging is practised by everyone from the head down. Steve visits the school's after-school blogging club, a special bloggers' assembly and sees weblogs being used in the school's autistic unit."

Saturday, 21 October 2006

A Favicon for your Blog!

I had so much fun today adding a Favicon (short for favourite icon) to my class blog, thinking skills blog and this blog!

If you look above in your address window you'll be able to see exactly what a Favicon is!
It's that cute little picture up there where the "B" for blogger used to be!

Why do I love it.....?
Well it adds a bit of personalisation and professionalism to your page.
Plus if you're using Firefox (which you should be!) the favicon will also turn up on your tabs.... how's that for cute!
Note: Favicons only turn up in Internet Explorer if the site is in your bookmarks.

How to do it!
  • Upload the picture or photo that you want to use as a favicon to this site
  • Follow the directions and ransform it into an ico file
  • Grab the favicon.ico and get it hosted to the internet somewhere: I used Ripway
  • Get the full URL address where your favicon is hosted
  • Use this code and replace what's in the red with your URL (there's two to replace)
  • In your Template place the code next to the head code.
  • Friday, 20 October 2006

    Fabulous Interactive Maths Website

    Rainforest Maths is a fabulous Interactive Maths Website that is great for children.

    It covers many parts of the mathematics curriculum like:
  • number
  • algebra
  • measurement
  • space (geometry)

    I am going to introduce my class to it next week; I am sure they'll really enjoy it.
  • A class!

    Today I set up a account for my class.
    I have been contemplating doing this for a while but was given the prompt after Allanah (from Appleby) and I had a chat about it all the other day.

    This should be very useful and allow parents to have a more secure way of their children browsing the internet. They now will just have to open the page and know that each website has been vetted by myself. It also means that game posts from our class blog will be easily able to find.

    I will promote it with the students and parents next week... I hope it proves to be a hit!

    Monday, 16 October 2006

    Make your own Newspaper Clipping!

    I've just come across a great website, featured on this blog, that lets you make, and personalise, your own newspaper clipping!

    It is easy to use and lots of fun. Just type in your text and click 'generate'

    Click here to make your own newspaper clipping at the Newspaper Clipping Generator.

    Check out this example I made to celebrate my class' achievements at our Masked Parade:

    Tuesday, 10 October 2006

    Keeping Track of Blogs

    Well I guess it's about time to explain how I keep track of the 46 blogs that I read on a regular basis...... hmmm that sounds rather a lot doesn't it once I count them all up..... :)

    I use a blog tracking internet site called Blogarithm to track all those blogs that I read. On a daily basis I get sent a morning email (BlogMail) listing the blogs that I am subscribed to that have been freshly updated.

    Blogarithm can track ANY website or blog. It does all the hard work and will email you to let you know when they have been updated.

    This GREATLY improves my social life as I physically don't have to check each of those blogs. I know when each one is updated and only have to check those blogs if I find the short description something that interests me. This way I never miss a post from one of my favourite educational bloggers from all over the world.

    Get your own Blogarithm account here!

    Some of my favourite blogs I read regularly are:
    * Greg Carroll - ICTPD National Faciliator from Core Ed (NZ)
    * ULearn Blog - News and Info on the ULearn Conference held in Oct 06 (NZ)
    * Derek Wenmoth - Director elearning Core Ed (NZ)
    * Teaching Hacks - teaching with technology
    * Cool Cat Teacher Blog

    Sunday, 8 October 2006

    Slideshare - It's like FREE PD!

    Yesterday I was introduced to Slideshare by Derek Wenmoth via his blog.

    It's in the stage where you have to be invited to join but I found it didn't take long until I was allowed through the gateway.

    Joining has to be one of the best things I've done this holidays!

    Because Slideshare is basically FREE Professional Development!!

    There isn't too much online now at the moment because it has only been operational for less than a week, however there are still gems to be found!

    Check out this one that I found by using the tag: education

    I will definetly be contributing to this when I have useful Powerpoint presentations! Let's all pool our resources and make this a neat community.

    Friday, 6 October 2006

    Getting rid of the Navbar in New Blogger

    Well got rid of that nasty navbar at the top of blogger again!
    WAS going to look later for the hack.... but it turned out I had to do it immediately as it was bugging me...... yeah what a geek right!

    Anyway the hack is here at Blogger Templates. It's actually where I got the original hack from, great to see that it's been updated to combat the New Blogger problem.

    Just be careful if you're cutting/pasting/tinkering with your blogger template, one false key stoke can change things hugely. Always "PREVIEW" your changes first, because you can always undo the edits you have made if it made your blog go all crazy.

    Any probs give me an email and I'll do what I can to help you rid your blog of the navbar! (PS - own risk as it is apparently a breach of TOS??)

    This link here is a download to a step by step Word Document that I have made.
    It may help you, depending on which Blogger Template you are using.

    Just switched over to Blogger Beta!

    Reluctantly, and with my eyes squeezed tightly shut and my heart praying I've just switched over to blogging in Beta.

    Not too many scary things to report as of yet and the change seems to have gone smoothly.
    My page still looks the same and all my template changes seem to have taken the move well. Will have to check, however, that all are functioning correctly.

    One thing I HAVE noticed is that my NAV bar is back! grrrrrr!
    I was NOT impressed to see this, especially since I hunted out a hack to get RID of it, perhaps Blogger Beta is immune to the hack! Will have a hunt later and see if there is some kind of "fix" or hack for this.

    I wasn't willing to take the jump to Beta on my class blog, it is far too precious to go experimenting with, and I have spent FAR too many months perfecting the template to risk it all. Will see how this beta-blogging goes on this blog first!

    Tuesday, 3 October 2006

    Social Bookmarking: it is after all!

    Yesterday I sucumbed to Social Bookmarking!

    Social bookmarking is a web based service, where shared lists of user-created Internet available bookmarks are stored and shared. You can find out more about it on this wiki.

    I was initially not interested in this as I didn't like the idea of other people looking at what I was looking at, perhaps a paranoid privacy issue I have (!) Instead, I have now used it to display and share just a select few of my bookmarks.

    The process of social bookmarking starts with choosing a service, and there are many out there. I chose as it is getting more popular in the educational field. I simply signed up and dowloaded a tool for my browser - Firefox - (which I suggest you use too with Blogger). This icon sits on my navigation bar in Firefox and allows me to tag pages as I see them to my own personal page. I then choose the categories I want that web page to be located under. For example if I put this webpage in I might choose the category tags: blog, blogging, classroom and web2.0. It will then file my page under each of those category tags.

    The advantages of this type of bookmarking is that no matter what computer I use, my bookmarks will be available to me, simply by navigating to my page. It also allows me to see popular options that have been saved by lots of other people, these sites are more likely to be useful.

    I also created a cloud which you can see in my side bar. That provides direct links to my shared bookmarks.


    Sunday, 1 October 2006

    An RSS Calendar addition

    Today I created an RSS Calendar for my Thinking Skillls Blog.

    This will allow me to share the content of each thinking group session with parents/caregivers. They will be able to see at a glance what session is coming up and what the content is. It allows them to click on the title to read additional information also.

    First you register and put your events on the calendar. In "publish" it then provides you with a simple code to copy and paste onto your template or blog post.

    See below for my what my calendar looks like:

    Could be very useful if you want to upload specific information for students/parents/caregivers etc, maybe could also be used for detailing homework tasks perhaps? If you find an interesting use for the RSS Calendar in the classroom please let me know!

    Monday, 25 September 2006

    Creating Comics - Easy as!

    Yesterday I downloaded an amazing mac only programme that helps you to create neat comics easily...

    Comic Life is absolutely amazing, very user friendly and it allows you to quickly create a comic page using your digital photographs. It linked automatically to my iphoto and displayed all the pictures from my iphoto library. I simply chose a template for my comic and then dragged the pictures into the spots.

    Check out this example that I made...

    It's a shareware programme so you can use it for 30 days before registering it. After that you can still use it but apparently it will display a watermark on your work. However if you really like the programme registration costs just over $40NZ for a single non-commercial user.

    Try it for yourself and download it from here!

    Saturday, 23 September 2006

    A CLOCK for your blog!

    Today I put a clock showing the current New Zealand time on our class blog. This should be really useful due to the high amount of visitors we are getting from overseas.

    I believe the clock will allow the visitors to "connect" with us on a more personal level as they'll be able to know what time of the day it is in New Zealand. I chose an analogue robot clock (same as the one I've put in the menu bar of this blog - or see below) which although doesn't show am/pm certainly is cool :)

    There are so many other free clocks to use on your blog. You just select the one you want and copy and paste the html code into your blog. In Blogger go to Template>Page Elements>Add Page Element (on the sidebar)>HTML/Javascript. Then paste the code in and save.

    Check all the clocks out here at Clocklink.

    Friday, 22 September 2006

    Webnotes for Children!

    A week ago I created a Webnote area to be used by my students. It is basically digital sticky post-it notes. I plan to put a link to the webnotes on the blog during the school holidays. I hope the students will leave little notes detailing what they have been up to in the school holidays.

    Here is a link to my class Webnote page.

    Very easy to set up and could be quite a powerful tool if used by students, they can change the colour of the sticky notes and move them around on the screen. Looks like FUN!

    Tuesday, 19 September 2006

    Recording voice to share on your blog

    In the weekend I set up a podcast for my class on the Podomatic website.
    I planned to use it next term when I start investigating podcasting with my class.

    However..... today proved much too much of a tempting opportunity...... a child approached me and said he had a whole bunch of his own jokes that he wanted me to write up for him on the blog..... what better an opportunity than to get the child to record themselves saying their own jokes!

    Tait found it very easy to record his voice, sitting in front of the laptop is fine as the ibook G4's have built in microphones. I showed him what to press when he was finished and left him to it! When I came back he'd done a fine job but there was a lot of background noise. We sent some children outside to play (this occured before school) and he recorded again. It worked perfectly.

    Broadband is obviously advisable for listening to podcasts, I found it quite difficult at home to listen back to what I had recorded through dial up internet.

    Should be lots of fun next term!


    We are using Garageband to record, edit, mix and put together our podcasts. Podomatic is ideal for hosting your podcast so you can share it with others.

    Sunday, 17 September 2006

    Add cute captions to your photos - for FREE!

    Very exciting!!!

    Today I found a whole bunch of exciting photo enhancing tools that are SO COOL!

    On this site you can add cool captions like speech and thought bubbles to your photos.
    Check this one out from my personal photos, this is my gorgeous friend Diana who has just become an Aunty..

    It is very easy to use, you upload your photo from your computer and type in what you'd like in the speech/thought bubble. Then it will upload the photo, you drag on the bubble and then it will process the photo so it can be saved with the caption in it. I just dragged the finished product onto my desktop!
    They save as a jpeg so are easy-peasy to email or upload to your blog!

    Exciting aspects for the classroom I think... turn boring photos into more entertaining ones!

    Saturday, 16 September 2006

    WOW! 500 hits on the class blog!

    Today the Room One blog hit 500 visitors!

    This is a FANTASTIC achievement since we have only been blogging since the end of June this year!

    I have been getting a lot of traffic through the ULearn blog where we are listed and also through our IT Cluster blog.

    If you're a bit of a nosey parker like me and like to see where you're getting your visitors from I suggest a Bravenet counter like I have on all my blogs. It is free and has a great statistics area where you can view number of visitors and even see how they got to your blog (eg. directly through typing address in, or reffered through another website)

    I also like Bravenet counters because you can choose existing cute themes like my teacher/blackboard themed counter (I'm a sucker for gimicky cute stuff!)

    Get your own Bravenet Counter here!

    Tuesday, 12 September 2006

    Put a video on your blog - You Tube

    Today we made a video in class to show our parents how we skip count in 2's to solve multiplication problems. Then I edited the movie in imovie and uploaded it to my blog.

    Two good options for uploading your completed movie to the web are Castpost and You Tube. I have no idea which is better but at the moment Castpost is full and not taking any new members, therefore You Tube is probably your best bet!


  • First we story-boarded our ideas on the whiteboard - these included an introduction, explanation of what we were doing and an example of us doing it.
  • Then we chose different students to say each part.
  • After that we practised and I videoed each part in sections.
  • Then with a student's help I uploaded my video to my imovie programme on my laptop via the USB cable.
  • After school I played around with the video, cutting & splicing it and adding some effects.
  • Then I had to get my GIANT full sized video small enough to put on the web. To do this I clicked on File>Share>Email on imovie. This compressed my movie to 10 frames per second and dramatically reduced the file size. I emailed the movie to myself so I could upload it.
  • Then I grabbed my movie from my email and uploaded it to You Tube!

    Gosh, sounds more complicated when you write it out like that doesn't it! I haven't much experience with full-on editing in imovie so that part of the process took me w wee while, it wasn't a perfect job but we all learn from our first attempts don't we!

    NOTE: If your internet connection is slow or dial up we suggest you let the video play once sluggishly (right until the end) while you have a cuppa. It will then be easier to view the second time it has loaded.
  • Friday, 8 September 2006

    Room One famous on ULearn

    Today was a complete surprise, Kaye emailed to say that my class blog and Mot South's blog was added to the ULearn website by the National Facilitator as an example of classroom blogging.

    When I told the kids they thought they were really famous as I'd said that there would be lots of other teachers looking at our blog!

    A great boost today, just what I'd needed after a pretty draining week!

    PS: Do you like the way he pulled out the post about us going to the beach!! (didn't I just tell you it was a draining week!)

    Sunday, 3 September 2006

    How to take a Screenshot

    Often you will want to capture a shot of something on your computer screen to use as an example or to show to someone etc.

    On a mac this is easy:
    * To capture the entire screen, press Apple/Command+Shift+3.
    * To capture part of a screen, press Apple/Command+Shift+4 (the cursor will then turn into a cross-hairs icon. Click and drag over an area to select it. When you release the mouse button, the image is taken, and you'll hear a snapshot sound)

    You will then find the screen shot is saved to your desktop as a photo. You can then crop/add photo effects etc and easily upload the photo to your blog. Don't forget however to change the file to be a jpg by going to File>Save As and choosing >jpg.

    See this article for more info on taking screenshots on your computer.

    To see an example of how I effectively use screenshots on my blog see this post.

    Friday, 1 September 2006

    Bubble Share - share photos on your blog

    Bubble Share is a neat photo hosting site that you can use for free to create photo albums to upload onto your blog. One of the best things about Bubble Share is that you can keep your photos & albums completely private, which is a neat feature for schools! With a lot of other websites you are forced to share your photos with the big wide world.

    You can create sliding photo albums (called Story albums)to appear on your blog like this one I made to go on my class blog.

    This album is powered by
    - Add to my blog

    Uploading is easy, you simply select the photos you want from your computer and upload them one by one, then you choose how you want your album to look and the site will generate a code for you to copy and paste into your blog.

    You can also record and add your voice but I haven't experimented with that yet :)

    Friday, 18 August 2006

    Put a slideshow on your blog

    Today on a blogging forum (American) I discovered a FREE, EASY website that will help you to create a fantastic and flash slideshow to add to your blog.

    Rock You is great to use... you upload your photos from your computer, add captions, add a layover effect (like butterflies etc) and it will generate the code to copy and paste onto your blog.

    Check out the first simple slideshow I did for our class blog here.

    or a more advanced slideshow I made for our class blog here!

    Saturday, 12 August 2006

    A Clustr Map for your blog

    A great way to track visitors to your blog is to use a Clustr Map like the one I have on my class blog.

    It's free to use for people who get less than 2,500 hits per day - wouldn't we all want a hit average like that! :)

    I believe these are better than "Guestmaps" because it will automatically add the location of the visitor to your map by placing a dot. Guestmaps usually require the visitor to physically add their location.

    You're students will really feel like they are "world famous on the web" when they see lots of new dots appearing on their map. My class also enjoys finding the name of the countries where the new dots have appeared.

    To get your own Clustr Map click here and register. You will then be given a code to copy and paste into your blog by going to Layout>Page Elements>Add Page Element (on sidebar)>HTML/Javascript in Blogger. Then paste in the code. You might want to title it "Who's been visiting our blog" or something similar.

    Click here to download a step-by-step PDF document that I have made detailing how to add a clustr map to your Blogger Blog.

    Further information about inserting a ClustrMap into Blogger is available here or email me if you get stuck.

    Friday, 11 August 2006

    About Me!

    A self confessed geek, mac lover, avid blogger and teacher from Nelson, New Zealand.

    This is my fifth year teaching and I currently teach year 2/3 students (6 & 7 year olds). I'm absolutely addicted to blogging and sold on its many benefits.

    I've been enjoying increasing my students' use of I.C.Ts over the past few years and working with other teachers in my role as an I.C.T. lead teacher this year.

    Please feel free to leave me a comment and visit my sites that my students are working on.

    Thanks for visiting!

    Thursday, 10 August 2006


    Hi there and welcome to my blog!

    Here I'll post all the neat things that I come across in my endeavour this year to create an awesome class blog and to infuse more I.C.T. into my year 2/3 class.

    Feel free to post comments to each post!

    Kind regards,
    Rachel Boyd