Tag Archives: CoolTools

Haiku Deck and Showme on ipad


Our school is getting ready to roll out ipads to Year 7 and 8. I’ve had my ipad for a few months now and have started exploring apps that might be useful in class. Over this very rainy north coast weekend I tried out Haiku Deck and ShowMe.

We are working on descriptive writing in Year 9 and I want to run some mini lessons this week. These will brush up their skills and ‘prime the pump’ for their own descriptions of an imaginary world they have created using Michael Pryor’s Walled City exercise.

Here is a Haiku Deck on using similes and metaphors:


and a ShowMe on writing similes.


The beauty of both tools is that they are linked to websites. That means I can use them on the interactive whiteboard without hooking up the ipad to the board. (I don’t know how to do that yet – small steps!). The apps are so easy to use that I know the kids are going to love making their own.

And I’ve finally had a go at embedding something into my blog!

Looks like the embedding didn’t work!

Ipad mania


Ended the first week tired but inspired. Worked hard on establishing those teacher student relationships that focused on real conversations and not name games. Year 9 are going to need a lot of team building. They don’t seem to know how to talk to each other. Best lesson was year 11. I managed to introduce them to all the things I do in the classroom that they need to get used to (and that also tell them a lot about what kind of classroom it will be, without a powerpoint!):

  • seating plan
  • check the board
  • start immediately on a task
  • team work
  • take responsibility for your learning
  • Stand Pair Share
  • feedback slips
  • homework
  • enjoy learning
  • Be interested

Enough about that. The title was ipad mania. Enjoying my ipad more and more. I’m having lots of fun finding apps that I can use that move me away from paper diaries and lists. Although still under construction, Diarycentral is my favourite. It picks up gmail calendar and drops things into your schedule. The main page is set out in blocks that are easy to read and includes adding notes and tasks. A bit of a bug in the “week” format but the builder is working on it.

My other favourite app at the moment is Flipboard. Found more great lessons to ‘fit’ current units of work from the feeds I have added to my flipboard.

I’ve downloaded about 5 sticky note apps that I’m trying out before i decide which one will work best for me. I discovered I prefer to ‘sticky note’ my ideas and pre-planning for meetings etc than use the ‘list’ type apps like Paperless. I think I like the colour and moving things around.

Also discovered “padagogy”. Lots of ipad apps and tools reviewed that I can see will work well in lessons, once kids have ipads, which is planned for our Year 7 and 8. My role this time will be to assist teachers. After the roll out of laptops where I ‘led the way’ using them with my own classes, I found I had little time to actually get in and help teachers, so I’m not taking a Year 7 and 8. I want to work beside my teachers as they start working with the ipads in classrooms this time.



I played around with Wallwisher with my classes this week. It has been on my ‘things to do with laptops’ list for over a year but I kept forgetting the name! Finally had time to look it up and think about how to use it. My first attempt was: What do we already know about essay writing?  This worked well in class, despite the number of kids who didn’t bring laptops on the first day of school or didn’t have them charged. After kids posted their notes we grouped the notes. Great tool for working out what the kids knew, misunderstood, thought was important and thought about the topic. My favourite note was the comment that we “write them in English”!

With year 10 I used it to get kids into our new unit on Young Adult Literature. Responding to a quote This time we worked in small teams (3 kids) who shared the availabe laptops. Kids were totally engaged and focused. Great example of what happens when you turn the lesson over to kids and laptops with a clear purpose.

I learnt that it works better if kids have think time; that it is a great way to get kids working in a small team and helps them stay focused when they are working in a team; that it is quick to set up on the spur of the moment in a lesson and you have to insist they use their names.

When using a new tool in the class room I try to use it in a number of different ways over a few lessons. I get better at knowing how I can use it and kids internalise how to use it. They use it more effectively after a few trial runs and then I can return to it periodically and it will work more smoothly.

#Ozengchat and Jog the Web via Twitter


Been back on twitter for the first time in ages. Besides amazing people online I found #ozenchat at paper.li. Interesting things to read within seconds and then clicked on “Figurative Language” discovering Jog the Web. What a cool tool for preparing lessons. Fast and fun and great with 1:1 laptops!

Paper.li is a site where you can create your own online newspapers. I wonder if it is blocked by DET? Could be fun to do as a class.


Is anybody out there?


I’ve had a super frustrating time lately. Mega issues with home computer has meant that I have been without a home computer for about two weeks. I’ve been able to connect and get some work done using my DER laptop but the screen is so small! Must drive the kids crazy. I’ve also been trying to migrate my website to a new host in the middle of home computer having a hissy fit. Despite this I have kept working on my goal to try out software and other resources with Year 10 laptop lessons.

This week we used the laptops to create mindmaps on charaters in Guitar Highway Rose. We used bubbl.us instead of FreeMind (which we all thought was too limiting anda bit boring visually). Kids picked up how it worked really fast and it works well on the IWB. I’d like to experiment with the “sharing” function. Has anyone tried it? Before we used it I reminded students of the security aspects of “social networking” since it is a social networking site, even if it doesn’t look like one.

I’m still struggling with the pedagogical shift in using the laptops and trying to maintain a student-centred focus and collaborative team classroom. I’ve noticed in the past that whenever I am using new skills or strategies in the classroom I shift into teacher-centred mode. I think it is a fall back position for coping with risk taking and not being completely sure how something new is going to work.

The other thing I’ve done is start a ning for our local area English teachers. After our combined Staff Development Day there was a lot of interest in sharing and helping each other so I’m hoping this is a way for people to do this.

Has anyone used the DET BlogEd resources yet? I’ve tried to begin a class blog but I think I’ve hit the wrong button somewhere, it seems to be just my blog which really limits kids participation.

As for my title this week. I don’t think anyone reads this blog and feel like I’m talking to myself. Not that I mind talking to myself, but it does seem a bit self-indulgent. So even if you just look sometimes – a little feedback would make my day!

Website changes


I know, I know, my resolution was to post more often. I’ve just spent some quality time with Google reader catching up on favourite bloggers and finding lots of new resources. I’ve also finally bitten the bullet and organised to move my website to a hosting service that will answer my emails and has a phone number with a person on the other end. In the process I registered a domain name. Boy was that tough! I can’t use the title of my website, ‘English Matters’, as the domain name. Apparently it is actually owned by someone and I can buy it for $14,000! Obviously it is time for a reinvention so the new site will have ‘lyntiernanenglishclassroom’ in the url. Boring, I know but everything I tried was ‘owned’ and I needed to keep some connection to the original purpose of the site,  resources for kids and teachers I work with. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Bright Ideas always has…well…bright ideas. This one is from Chrissie Michaels and should work well with laptops. Instead of a ‘book report’, kids can create ‘book trailers’ using Windows MovieMaker. Looks like fun and I’ve been very conscious lately on the need to use the laptops effectively. Our school is currently surveying on who is using them and how often, since we noticed about 20% of kids were regularly not bringing them to school. Many, when asked, said they ‘hardly used them’. Teacher training and time is part of the problem, as is the lack of wireless access in most of the school. I’m still managing to use them every lesson, but I have wireless access in my classroom. I’ve been using SpellingCity for weekly spelling tests and practice and we use OneNote for our lesson notes. I’ve only just started learning Moodle and am looking forward to a quicker method of student access to resources than email.

My next job is having a really good look at the National Curriculum proposals. As you can see, I’ve been putting that off as well.