Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Politics and Education

This year is going to be an incredible one for our students. The world's population is at boiling point, and thanks to the internet, we have a wealth of resources (unless they suddenly disappear, like some have already) right at our fingertips. Our students can write important, topical discussions that engage both with literature and the world around us in real time!

With oral presentations this year, we have an opportunity to do something I don't think my kids get enough of: look at pretty bad speeches. We tend to lean towards exposing them to the most powerful (rather than the mundane), encouraging them to "have a dream," but perhaps forgetting to show them the effects of poor speaking (other than on their marks, that is).

This week has offered many good examples (inauguration, anyone?), but I'm going to start with this one: the new president's speech to CIA staff (video). Then we're going to compare it to Obama's speech to the same purpose (video).

I'll let you know what they think!

What is a task you'll work on in Term 1?

Monday, January 16, 2017

2017 Reading Challenge

Like most teachers, I'm a big reader. It's common for me to read around 60 or so books a year. If I could, I would read all day! (Which, btw, I'm doing today!) This year I'm going to join our librarian, Steph Ellis, in her double 2017/2016 reading challenge. (Plus, I just logged myself into the GoodReads 2017 challenge, with my standard 60 books - I'll see if I can do better!) While we're both going to do 2016 and 2017, I will be encouraging my scholarship students to partake in the 2017 list, which I think will be great for their wide reading.

I've already got 2016 planned and covered, and I'll be posting my list here later! 2017 is going to be more of a challenge, but an enjoyable one that I'm looking forward to.

What will you be reading this year? How will you encourage your students to try reading material they may not have considered?

Big thank you to Steph for the inspiration!

Monday, January 9, 2017

Back for 2017

It's been quite some time since I've posted. If you read the last post, you'll know why.

Anyhow, I thought this year I would make a post a month...from the past. It turns out I have about 12 posts sitting in my drafts folder. Going over them made me realise that they are still topical. So while I'm going to post about other things this year as well, I will also have a "retro" post each month.

Happy new year, all!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Daily tool/resource & apology 1 March 2015 (Tunefind)

Good morning! I'm back with another cool resource for using in your classroom/lessons.

I'm going to start with the apology - when school began, time got pretty tight. But then I got word that my mother is ill - very ill - and I've been consumed with phone calls, documents, travel arrangements, emails, and it's taken all my mental space. But I'm determined not to let my blogging fall by the wayside, so I'm back! I will not be posting every day; I simply cannot keep that commitment while I'm running around. But I'll do the best I can.

So here's today's resource: Tunefind.

Ever heard a song in the background of a television show and thought: "wow, that's really effective?" Or "I love that song!" Or "gee, I wonder who that was?" But you have trouble finding that kind of thing on imdb.com (and excellent resource for film and television, btw, and easy to use - maybe another post later)? Well, Tunefind can bring you right to that song, where you can listen or download!

Here's how it works (so easy!).

Step 1: go to tunefind.com

Step 2: Choose the show you want to look into via the browse or search functions.

Step 3: Choose what season the episode it is (you can find this in your online tv guide or through imdb.com). I looked for the finale of Grey's Anatomy, because I feel in love with Snow Patrol through a scene on there!

Tunefind will list all the seasons, so pick the one you need, and then it will take you to the list of episodes:

If you scroll down, you can see that the site is community managed; you can ask/answer questions and submit music.

I actually meant to choose Season 1, and missed, so pardon the "season 11" at the top of that pic. What I discovered is that I misremembered that episode, and so I went to Season 2. The mini-synopsis of each episode was a real help with this.

As you can see, the song I wanted was the second one on the list (I could tell from the synopsis of what was happening when the song was playing, though I think this particular one could be better). When I clicked on it, I got this:

It is playing the song at this point, and offers options for purchasing/downloading the song for my use.

Pretty nifty stuff, especially if you're wanting to just listen or engage emotion, say, when teaching how a certain song can set the tone of a scene.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Daily tool/resource 3 February 2015 - Diigo.com

Some people still use just their browser's bookmarks/favourites to save sites they want to remember. However, there is a better way! Social bookmarking is a terrific resource for several reasons, and I settled on using Diigo ("Digest of Internet Information, Groups and Other stuff"). about 7 or so years ago because:

  1. you can access your bookmarks anytime, anywhere, on any device.
  2. you can sort/order your bookmarks in a more user-friendly manner (I like to list and sublist, because I'm weird, but at least with diigo I can satisfy that need!) as well as with tags - plus, I see they've just started a new organising thingie called "outliners" which I'll have to look into.
  3. you have access to others' shared bookmarks, which is great because rather than doing a google search for something and getting a trillion results, you can search other teachers' bookmarks for resources for a particular study.
  4. you can subscribe to others' bookmarks.
  5. you can join bookmark groups and subscribe to the groups' bookmarks.
  6. you can easily import bookmarks from all the random places you've been keeping them.
  7. you can annotate any webpage and share those annotations (great for researching and collaborating - I'm looking at you, Level 3s!).
  8. you can share folders with students/others.
  9. the amount of folders you can make is, as far as I can tell (I have heaps) unlimited.
  10. diigo has its own community/ies where you can have discussions.
Just add the diigolet to your extensions bar and you're good to go. Access your bookmarks, anywhere, anytime, and share with anyone you choose.

Daily tool/resource 5 February 2015 - youtube

ok, i know this one seems like a no-brainer - everyone knows about youtube!. but seriously, there is more to youtube than cat videos and "my reaction to xx trailer." i've used youtube to:

  • learn how to tie a half-windsor knot for my husband's tie (while i was at it, i learned 3 other knots!)  extra note: this guy had the best how-to video on ties out there. too many others assumed i'd tied a tie before and glossed over important aspects! this one was truly step by step.
  • replace the charging port on my samsung chromebook (easy as 1-2-3)
  • how to ice a layer cake into a "swirl rose cake" (daughter's 21st) - it was ombre on the inside, too 
  • to view the annual xmas cartoons from my childhood on xmas eve (who doesn't miss the heat miser and the snow miser? and rudolph, and, of course, the grinch!)
  • to rethread my overlocker, and also how to change the foot on my sewing machine

to name a few.

when it comes to teaching, i've used youtube to (random selection, not exhaustive!):

  • demonstrate how cinematography made the ending of the sopranos totally obvious (!)
  • how an aural bridge from credits/black screen to first image sets the tone of a film (darn, these have been deleted :(  )
  • how/why directors choose songs for lyrical meaning (essential for the opening scene of hot fuzz. also good for teaching homophones)
  • to publish student book trailers
  • as a place for students to make a file of video shorts for a speech when embedding them into something else wasn't optional/reasonable (for whatever reason)
  • teaching advertising through jingles
  • public speaking demonstrations (particularly voice, but also structure and content)
  • to repeat (over and over) an excerpt of film we are studying
  • pronunciation (like chiaroscuro, for example) 
  • to share documentaries, like that of murdered teen emmett till, in order to bring forward wider ideas from a text
  • to develop the concept of national identity through lyrics (the muttonbirds, but lots of pre-teaching here)
  • doodle 4 google
  • to discuss how astronauts use the toilet when watching apollo 13 (i, too, was curious!)
youtube is a fantastic resource for teaching and learning. i haven't even touched on the resources for khan academy, TED, SXSW, flipped classrooms, etc. you can learn how to do just about anything on youtube. 

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Daily tool/resource 4 February 2015 - edchat

Of course, twitter is an invaluable resource. If i'da been smart, I'd have used twitter as a daily resource :)

edchat/edchatnz and subject chats are great ways to jumpstart your teaching ideas. Meeting new folks,
accessing new links, being energized...that's what edchat is all about.

Do a search for your subject edchat too; you'll be glad you did!

In NZ:


I couldn't find an ICTchatnz, but there is a #ictchat.  Here is a shared doc of other various international chats. Feel free to add chats in the comments section!