Tag Archives: Fun stuff

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 explorer


I haven’t blogged since October because my Dad died early in November. I can just about type this without crying.

After some time out and school holidays I am just about ready to go back to work. Over the break I’ve played with my ipad and read 30 books totally unrelated to school in ibooks. So easy to download a book when you have just finished the last one and I love the backlighting. I’ve had a “medieval murder mystery” start to the year

I’m starting to get the hang of it. Yesterday I found an app called Flipboard. It was free and I have already found it useful. As well as a news feed you can add your own content. I added ABC OPEN,  ABC news, Children and teens books, Brain Pickings, and Jim Bourke’s feed (English Companion Ning). A quick flip today and I found three things I can use in class next week.

I thought this one, Family Rituals,  https://open.abc.net.au/projects/500-words-family-rituals-18ab0ae#/about would be a great ice breaker with Year 10 and they can also enter. It might prompt them to bring their laptops!

We’re starting Year 8 with a unit called Resilience so I sent the link to my Year 8 teachers for Aftermath https://open.abc.net.au/projects/aftermath-08vh8ac/collections/aftermath-features-85vg9us It would also be useful for a unit on natural disasters.

My favourite was this story https://open.abc.net.au/posts/sharing-my-loo-with-a-frog-59hb5jx about sharing a loo with a frog. It seemed particularly apt on Australia Day. I plan to share this story with Year 9 and tell them my story about the python in the chook house on Christmas Day.

I like the way this app gathers in one place things I’m interested in and lets me send the link to others.



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.

School Certificate English Exam revision games, NSW


While we are celebrating the demise of the external exams as of 2012, we still have to get this lot through the exams for 2011.  I have been using games (mostly online freely available fun) over the last few years to keep Year 10 going when their minds are already fast forwarding to jobs, maybe HSC, car licenses, work experience, big Year 10 final overnight excursion to fantastic resort(!), leaving school early and summer holidays.

I have been using a Literary Terms jeopardy game I first found through Jefferson County Schools website and I sincerely thank whoever created it! We have played the Literary Terms Jeopardy game throughout the year, usually after lunch period on Friday afternoon, or whenever it was our faculty’s turn  to look after the ‘remainders’ when the rest of Year 10 were off doing something wildly exciting. While there were some aspects of the game that were useful to revise student knowledge for the Literacy exam, there was other material, relevant to our course, but not really useful for this exam. So I finally got around to creating a few more. I know – the exams aren’t on next year, but I figure some of it will still be needed for students entering HSC and we will still have bored kids left at school on Friday afternoons.

First I googled making jeopardy games and found Jeopardy lab – great site. It’s an online web template, free, and very quick and easy to use – make sure you don’t forget the password you used to create it! So I did one on language devices. Literacy exam revision is aimed more at reminding kids of the kinds of things they need to write about in both the short answer and should use in their own writing in the Writing section of the paper. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the previous game but still easy to set up, and quick. Once created you can send the url to the kids and they can do it on their own, in groups or as a class. It also has a handy scoring tool – adds and subtracts for you.

I also checked back to the original site where I had found the Literary terms games. Turns out there was a whole lot of templates you can use to create a variety of PowerpointGames The advantage of the Power point game is that you can add your own “bells and whistles” and there are some good tutorials out there for creating games. Powerpoint 2007 Hints helped me solve the problem of showing what questions had been already selected and I also experimented with downloading ‘wav’ files (legally) that could be added as sound animations to keep them interested and laughing. I set up another game based on the “language features” questions in the multiple choice section using terms that had appeared in the exam papers for the last two years, SC Language features jeopardy.

I think I can take this further by getting the kids to create their own games, of different kinds. They do seem to enjoy this approach to revision and they do learn the material – they get better each time we play!

Do let me know if you try any of these games in class, or create something to share.

2009 ETA Conference


Ok so I haven’t blogged for a while but I have been having a lot of fun with nings! I’m here in Darcy’s workshop on Blogging and Leading at the conference and we are setting up blogs. Darcy also used a cool tool SurveyMonkey.com to gather information on the participants. More soon,  Have to do something else, Darcy says!

Laptop magic


I should be marking trial papers but needed a break. Last week was ‘big’ in terms of professional learning. The VC suite is in my classroom so I was able to assist other teachers to participate in the Festival of Laptops conference. They discovered how easy it is to use and were really happy with the sessions provided through Macquarie Uni on using laptops in specific KLA’s and for specific software. Then the HT meeting participated ina VC presented by Pip Howell on Cool Tools for DERvices. This was a great presentation with lots of really useful links and ideas for any teacher.

The English staff were also scheduled for ‘Moving to Notebook’ Training. Our regional Implementation person, Ross Woolfe, was happy for us to view the Laptops in English session at the  Festival.  Another inspiring presentation from Arthur Phillip High. We then spent the rest of the day learning about Smart Notebook (and unlearning Activstudio).  I am a big fan of Activstudio, but I can see that Smart Notebook offers more for the classroom. I just think the ‘bells and whistles’ are better in Activstudio and are not so visually boring.

Now I just need abit of time to ‘play’ with Smart Notebook!

But I did personalise my laptop!


It has been a while since I posted – too many other exciting things to do, like read and rest and try to stay on top of marking. Laptops have arrived and like many other DET staff I have been playing and thinking about how I will use them in the classroom. I don’t have a year 9 this year and this is useful, since I usually have ‘free’ periods when year 9 are on and should be able to support the teachers in the classroom.  I think we are going to have a lot of fun with sorting out what we are all talking about – have a look at my ‘personalised’ laptop – I know it isn’t the digital meaning but it sure makes it easier to find mine when they all look the same!

But I did personalise it!

But I did personalise it!

I took mine into class on the last day of term and my year 10’s helped me find some things – and showed me how to use the bluetooth – we identified everyone in the classroom who had their mobile phones turn on – talk about Big brother.

I’ve finally signed up to twitter. I think I’m going to have to go wireless. How will I keep up with checking everything regularly and still get my daily dose of family and TV, unless I can multitask and twitter at the same time? At least the laptop would allow me to do that.

I’ve been doing some PL with other faculties and spent a very enjoyable day with one of our HSIE teachers. Mark has put his hand up for the new IWB in HSIE and we are in limbo with Activstudio until we get regional support with Smartnotebook,  so I looked at all the ways you could use the IWB without using a flipchart – turns out there were heaps of interactives and other resources available on the net for his subject area. He also liked the collection of literacy and numeracy games links I have put on the school lesson drive. This has been really useful for other teachers in the school. The kids told them where to find the page! I’m a bit disappointed the DET didn’t stick with Activ studio – so far I haven’t found Smart resources as easy to use or find. Promethean planet has such a huge resource bank and all it needed was for more Australian teachers to upload their stuff.

Well. It is beautiful day outside so I’m off for some R&R in the sun.