Thursday, 30 December 2010

Using Jing for screencasting

Last week, I introduced you to Jing for screen captures. A screen capture is essentially taking a snapshot of whatever is on your screen. In this post, I am going to explain how to use Jing for screencasting.

Screencasting is taking a brief video of whatever is on your screen and recording your voice if you choose, rather than a static picture. If you also have Camtasia installed, you can use that to edit the screencast with more features, or use it to create longer screencasts as well as other types of video.

In this post, I am going to assume you do not have Camtasia installed.

To begin with, we need to download Jing. To find out how to download and install Jing, look back at last week's post about using Jing for screen captures.

Once Jing is installed and we have the yellow sun on the edge of our screen, we can begin using it for the screencast. Before you do that, it is always a good idea to run through a basic checklist first:
  • check your microphone and speakers (preferably, use a headset with a microphone)
  • rehearse (this may include a script or it may not, but always know what you want to say before hand)
  • preload any webpages or software before the recording
  • anticipate background noise levels - move to a new location if necessary
  • the pause button is your friend, but don't abuse it (using pause too often can make the audio and video seem choppy)
  • Keep it simple with a good pace (you only have 5 minutes, make them count!)
  • avoid the "ums" and "ahhs"!
  • Make sure you have a free account at to house your videos for sharing.
Starting your screencast:

  1. Hover over the sun icon and wait for the three options to appear.
  2. Select the crosshairs.
  3. Select the region of your screen to record by clicking, dragging and clicking again.
  4. Select "Capture Video" from the resulting menu bar.
  5. Jing will give you a 5 second grace period (which cannot be changed) and a confirmation message that the microphone is on before you begin.
  6. During recording, you will see a small toolbar below the recording window with 5 buttons (stop, pause, mic on/off, restart recording, cancel) as well as a progress bar.
  7. When finished your recording, click stop (orange square on black button).
  8. Jing will ask you to provide a file name, and provide a new toolbar below the video window with 5 new buttons (share - send to, save to computer, edit with Camtasia, cancel and customize). Enter the file name and decide how to deal with the video. I will assume you decide to share.
  9. In the free account, screencasts are only in SWF format. Other formats are available in the pro version.
  10. Click the share button.
  11. As long as you have a account already, the upload will begin. A progress window will show you how things are going.
  12. Jing automatically places a link on your clipboard for pasting.
  13. Congratulations!
Don't be put off by the number of steps. It takes less time than making the video itself in most cases.

I have used Jing for screencasting for quite a while for creating videos for every group of people in my school. It is great for demonstrating software, network navigation, lesson content, etc. It is an excellent tool for supporting learning. I highly recommend it. 
Good luck!

Thursday, 23 December 2010

Using Jing for Screen Captures and Screencasting

Recently I was asked how I create screen shots with arrows and short captions for assisting my learners either in learning how to use new websites or identifying steps to be taken during an engagement.

Over the past several years I have used a wide variety of tools to help visually explain or identify key areas of a message I was trying to get across. I’ve basically settled on two tools, both by the same company but used, in my circumstances, for two different purposes.

In this post, I’ll be introducing you to a downloadable tool called “Jing” which is from Techsmith in the US. I don’t usually recommend downloadable tools because of the growing number of online options available for most jobs. However, Jing and its big brother Camtasia are, for my purposes, the best possible solutions to my screen capture and screencasting needs.

Briefly, Jing is a screen capture (takes a snapshot of whatever is on your screen) and a screencasting (creates a 5min maximum video of whatever is on your screen) tool from Techsmith. It is free (but you can buy the pro version for about $15.00/yr), and it allows you to store your video and images at Techsmith’s online storage facility called account or pro available).

I absolutely love this tool (it's one of the first 5 things I recommend downloading for every new system) because it's easy to download and install, a breeze to access (as you’ll see) and allows direct uploading of captures/screencasts to your online account. It also provides options for including captions, arrows and creating screencasts.

This is where you can find it: Jing from Techsmith

Here is an example of a screenshot I took a while back using Jing:

As you can see, screenshots with captions can really help explain a procedure or series of steps much better than simple text.

Here is the procedure to install and start using Jing:
1.    Go to the Techsmith Jing website.

2.    Click download:

 3.    On the next page, decide between the download for Windows or the download for Mac.

4.    Afterwards, this window will open:

5.    Find and click on the "jing_setup.exe" file you have just downloaded and follow the installation instructions.

6.    Once Jing is installed. You will see a little yellow sun appear somewhere on the border of your screen, which will look similar to this:

7.    To use Jing for a screen capture, hover over the sun for a second and then select the crosshairs (see the image above). Then select your region to capture by dragging your mouse to enlarge the rectangular capture area.

8.    As soon as you let your finger off the mouse, the area you have selected is captured and comes up in an editing window, like this:

9.    You can then use the tools along the left of the window to annotate your pictures with arrows, text, boxes, etc.

10.    Now, all that remains to be done is to decide what to do with the capture. You can,
share it through, save it to your computer, edit it with Snagit or Camtasia if you have either one installed or delete the capture.

11.    If you decide to share it, the link is instantly available on your clipboard to paste wherever you need it.

I have been using Jing for screen captures and screencasts for sometime and I really like it. It’s a straight forward, no nonsense capture tool that gets the job done quickly and efficiently. I have used Jing’s screen capture facility to give instructions on using new or unfamiliar websites to learners and highlight important locations on Google Earth or important words, phrases, sentences or other text features before, during or after F2F sessions with my learners. My kids and I appreciate how easy it is to use, and my kids appreciate the added clarity it brings to instructions and engagements.

In my next post, I’ll demonstrate using Jing as a screencasting tool for brief 5 minute video masterpieces :)

Good Luck!

Friday, 17 December 2010

Yahoo! to focus on core business (Updated)

"Broken Pencil"  photo © Michael Jastremski
for CC:Attribution-ShareAlike
It looks as though Yahoo! has decided to shutter Delicious, the social bookmarking site. The date of closure has not been mentioned so far but this is connected to the cutting of 600 jobs recently.
According to the website, which has posted comments from the Yahoo! website, Yahoo! has now clarified the situation, pointing out that they intend to sell Delicious rather than close it. You can read the full statement here.   

Obviously, I am not alone when I say I am very disappointed  relieved by this news. I have been with Delicious since March 2006 and have thousands of bookmarks for my network, other colleagues, personal interest and so on. Over the last year I have done workshops, and other PD meetings on using social bookmarking sites and Delicious in particular.

Nevertheless, this does bring up the sensitive issue of exactly how much we can trust online services which are free? (Despite the clarification by Yahoo! This point is still an issue, as it is with any other free service on the web.)

In an effort to help those of us who are looking for alternative sites  a secondary site to move to  use here is an incomplete list of possible options to help you get started in absolutely no order of preference.
Good luck, and remember to add me to your new network!

As mentioned, I have been with Delicious for years. But I've learned my lesson from the rumour mill! That is, have a backup! I'm going to stick with Delicious for the time being and add a backup service and to see how events unfold. Let's face it, moving the resources is not difficult, but I'm glad I don't need to do it!

Good luck!

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Implementing a class Wiki

Over the past few years we have had a class blog to record our reflections on our lrearning and as a tool to build our learning community. Last academic year, we began also using a wiki to further support the learning community we were builing by providing a living central location where pupils add to, improve, share and extend ideas and learning with others in the class in a way that pupils own what is happening with their learning journey. This year, the class and I decided to extend how we used the wiki. In previous verions, the wiki was reserved for eportfolios but its ability to be used as a learning centre was not well applied. In other words, the wiki as a learning resource was underutilised. That meant that we could include areas where the students could more freely share and extend their learning independently. So, this year we added several pages such as a page to collect weblinks and other resources as pupils investigated; a hall of fame for pupils who are elected by the rest of the class as demonstrating Learner Profile characteristics; eportfolios; and a glossaries page where students can add and edit entries as needed; as well as other pages. Our wiki continues to grow as a learner's resource.

At the end of the year I plan to have the class assess how well we used it, how helpful it was and what we need to do for next year to improve it's usefulness. I am particularly interested in witnessing how the ideas of children, who are not interested in IT, change (if they do) and why.

Please visit our class Wiki and give us some hints on what we can do to improve!

Photo Credit: Horia Varlan

Edublogger Awards 2010 Nominations

It was announced just recently that the 2010 Edublogs Awards are on  their way! Nominations have already opened so, here is my list of educational blogs which I think deserve a "two-thumbs up."

Best individual blog: "Always Learning" by Kim Corfino
Best individual tweeter: "Web20Classroom" by Steven Anderson
Best class blog: "" by Mr. Goerend & his class
Best resource sharing blog: "Technology for Teachers" by Richard Byrne
Best teacher blog: "Technology for Teachers" by Richard Byrne
Best elearning / corporate education blog: "Learn Central" by Steve Hargadon
Best educational use of a social networking: "Learn Central" by Steve Hargadon
Lifetime achievement: "Learn Central" by Steve Hargadon

Have a look at these websites as well:
Year6L Wiki:

Good luck to all the nominees!

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Looking to Skype with authors

Our English Coordinator is desperately trying to find some authors who would be willing to take part in a Skype conference with KS2 pupils in January during our Book week celebrations. The conference only needs to be sometime in January.

If you are an author of children's books, or you have contacts in the children's book publishing industry and know someone who can help us, please contact me through the comments.

Many thanks,

Saturday, 6 November 2010

The Global Education Conference

The IB Libraries

At the end of the last academic year I decided to create a shared resource called the IB Libraries for my primary school.

The resource is a central resource bank which is housed at Wikispaces. It is organised to hold the planning documents for each Inquiry Unit in each term and the resources which will be used for that term's units.

In the planning section of each page, I created a table with the headings "Central Idea" etc. and linked those details to a file sharing service. In this case I used but there are many other services which could also do the job. I chose this method, because the file can, if you have a box account, be edited. Even if you don't have an account, a copy of the plan can be downloaded regardless of where you access the site from.

The rest of the page is used to organise the resources the teaching team thinks will be appropriate for that unit. In my case I organised our page into audio, video, Powerpoint, etc.

There are several benefits to using this method. First, I felt it would be more collaborative and help to create a sharing environment among the team. It also helped to identify expertise in certain areas of a unit.

Second, Wikis are very easy to work with especially the ones at Wikispaces. The editor is very simple but powerful and teachers generally have no trouble learning how to do some basic page editing and how to upload/download resources in a relatively short space of time.

Thirdly, the libraries helped to identify areas where we were resource rich and resource poor. This then helped the team, rather than individual teachers set about filling the resource need together. Furthermore, it helps to keep resources organised so that we did not have to deal with large numbers of attachments, writing down website addresses and duplication of work.

Fourthly, the libraries are a living document which change as the needs of the unit and the team teaching it changes. teachers can add to, or remove materials as and when necessary.

Fifthly, the libraries are accessible to teachers anytime anywhere there is an internet connection. So, anytime they want or need to see the resources or the planning documents, they can, without having to somehow gain access to the school network.

Finally, the fact the resources were all housed by third parties means that the drain on our already overburdened IT Department would be negligible. We need a stable and relatively fast connection to the internet, but we don't need storage space on the school system, nor do we need the IT personnel to correct issues related to the libraries on our system.

If you are thinking of setting up a similar libraries resource wiki, I would like to hear about it. What issues are you trying to overcome? Are there benefits in your circumstances which I haven't mentioned? Let me know in the comments.

Friday, 5 November 2010

How do we assess creativity? The views of Sir Ken

Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirky

Friday, 15 October 2010

Year 3 Create Tutorial Videos

Blog Tutorial from langwitches on Vimeo.

The Importance of Sharing

RSA and Ken Robinson

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Reform Symposium 2010 [Part 2]

Steve Hargadon [Part 2 - Reform Symposium]

This has meant then that with the increase in participation, large numbers of people now take part in the online world who would not be participating before because of the barriers which were in place.
Steve then referred back to the concept of the need for a new story and that the "high stakes testing" as he called it, of the factory model, is no longer viable. Thus, as a result of all this,people are looking for a new story of education where different pedagogical beliefs have a role to play.

Steven then went on to consider the concept behind Creative Commons where he pointed out that we want to share and contribute and how this form of "copyright" is relatively new but shows the willingness of people to participate and contribute, which is related to what he called Volunteerism 2.0.

Three major themes appeared in the presentation:

First, "How we Find, Create and Consume Information"

Essentially this is the concept of "openness" and he used MIT as an example and explained that the value was not in the knowledge, athough I would argue perhaps, since MIT is considering a costing structure, that this could be a price tag for "shared" knowledge.

Second - "How we get things done"
It was argued that the internet was allowing for "participation reinvented" and was allowing for a "return to participation" of the era before television and the pre-consumer, pre-factory model. He argued that "participation environments allow conversations" around topics of shared interest and he used the examples of Flickr and YouTube and why they were so successful. The argument was that their success has come from their ability to respond to what their users need and asked for. Flickr started life differently from what it is now and the change was a result of grassroots pressure to provide other services. Another example he used Linux which is a "user generated operating system" which runs Google servers. This discussion led into the concept of Volunteerism 2.0. It is clear to me however, that while there clearly are pockets of volunteerism in non-western states, I feel the value of volunteering is cultural because there are many states around the world which do not place as high a value on volunteerism as in western states. For example, in Eastern Europe where the concept of "volunteer" organisations is, to many, an alien concept. Nevertheless, the internet facilitates new ways of participation.

This means that, the new story must be one which describes education and accommodates a wider range of pedagogical perspectives which demonstrates that the "High Stakes" testing story, as Steve called it, is no longer a valid one from this perspective. Hence, in his opinion the new sstory was the story of the tension between "Freedom" and "Structure" which he illustrated on a continuum.

He argued that the internet is releasing latent energy in the area of content and knowledge but that currently, we are very much at the "Structure" end of the continuum to the right. He believes that the education system needs to move more to the left to be more participative because in the current environment it does not release the human capacity which is needed. Hence, from this perspective the belief that education needs to be moving toward the left of the continuum, where students are expected to take responsibility for their learning.

Another way we get things done, is "organising without organisations". Steve used the example of the Tehran protests and that when the Iranian government wanted to stop the demonstrations they stopped the social media such as Twitter. But I would also add that, like any tool, it depends on how it is used, I would point to the problem of Flash Mobs where sms and social networking tools are used to "spontaneously" create a mob at any given time or place. On the other hand, Social Media is very important for linking support groups to individuals suffering disease and illness. This let Steve into a discussion of the long tail where things which have low demand below which it is profitable to supply in stores, etc. However, he pointed out that the long tail is where the most interesting things are happening, including in education.

Third, the Internet has also affected "how we connect with others". Steve pointed out that the fact of the matter is taht real-time collaboration is here now and that tools which facilitate that connectivity such as Skype are ubiquitous. Another tool which he discussed was Social Networking, specifically blogs which were first to allow someone to be involved in a conversation, but it has its problems in the sense of it being date ordered and can be negatively affected by comments. The next entry were Wikis which are not date ordered, and allowed for a more personal organisation. Steve pointed out that it took him a year before he felt comfortable using wikis, but from my perspective, resources such as Wikispaces, have made Wikis much easier to use and organise for your own needs so I don't really think the suggestion that they are difficult to understand can be applied much now. The next stage was with the entry of Social Networking which opened the door of participation easily because they collected together multiple web 2.0 tools in one location thus making much easier for the average person to take part in the conversation.

At the time of Steve's presentation, Facebook had 500,000,000 members which made it the 3rd largest country behind China and India respectively. Thus, Social Networking is applicable to professional development because it allows and facilitates peer to peer practice sharing.

Steve started his conclusion with these questions:

  • How well are we preparing students for this world?
  • How well prepared are we for these changes?
  • Are we still in School 1.0?
  • How do we get to school 2.0?
So, how do we move from School 1.0 to School 2.0? Here are Steve's suggestions:
  1. Be a learner; Learn about web 2.0 & manage change
  2. Keep your perspective
  3. Join an educational Social Network
  4. Take part in the conversation
  5. Collaborate in the discussion in moving to school 2.0
  6. Be brave - embrace the change
Next week, I'll be looking at Edmodo, Twiducate, Schoology and Edu2.0 comparing their relative pros and cons and discussing why, given our particular circumstances, I chose the one I did.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Reform Symposium 2010

Reform Symposium 2010- Steve Hargadon - reflections on the Keynote address

[PART 1]
[PART 2 next week 1st October]

Recently, I had the opportunity to take in part of the very successful two-day Reform Symposium 2010.

However, like many, life got in the way and conspired with global time zones to make it impossible to take part in more sessions than I would have liked. It was a great professional development experience though, which I look forward to taking part in again in 2011.

The organisers have provided the sessions as downloadable links, which was especially convenient for me since my wife and I spend much of our "downtime" in areas of the world with very limited (dial-up) or non-existent internet connectivity for long periods of time.

As a result, I was able to download some of the sessions I had wanted to attend but couldn't and watched the presentations as we travelled (yay Nokia E72!).

In this post, I am going to summarise and reflect on the issues of particular interest to me, given my context, in Steve Hargadon's keynote address which he presented at the Reform Symposium 2010 on 30th July which he called "School 2.0: How the world is changing dramatically and how that will impact education." Steve is an excellent presenter so his was the first session I downloaded.

Steve began the presentation by discussing John Taylor Gatto, the New York State Teacher of the Year from 1989 to 1991, and author of the book "Dumbing Us Down." Steve read a short snippet from Gatto's retirement announcement and went on to highlight the fact that Gatto's message, that the factory model of education is not working, is now considered pretty much mainstream in the Ed Tech world.

Steve couched much of his discussion in terms of "stories" and that although the factory model "story" is understood by many to not work any longer, there is some question as to what the new story should be. Steve argued, quite correctly, that the new story of education needs to be an all encompasing one with, in fact, many different stories connected together. I would suggest calling it an "anthology of education stories."

The presenter then raised the point that the internet is now a very powerful tool which allows a multitude of participation types like never before, while being essentially beyond bricks and mortar school rooms. Steve presented two views of the revolution which is occuring.

The first of the two viewpoints was called the "Orderly View" and the second was the "Realistic View". The "Orderly View" shows "The Three Eras of Education" as being 3 distinct stages: "Apprenticeship", "Universal Schooling" and "Lifelong Learning". In the final era, students and parents take responsibility for learning and the content

What is is that makes people do this stuff (Free & Open Source) for free?

Steve went on to consider the idea of open source software and briefly discussed Linux and Apache programs which are very popular open source programs created as a result of volunteer effort. This led him into discussion of the topic of Volunteerism 2.0.

While he was discussing the MIT open educational resources service he suggested that one of the reasons institutions like MIT would provide educational resources for free is that the value is no longer in the knowledge per se. I think I would have to disagree with that. I believe the value is still in the knowledge, the difference I feel, is no longer in the need to have an "all knowing" expert who appears to own the knowledge be an the sole distributor of it. I would like to believe also, that it is an increasing sense of community responsibility on the part of large institutions who are making an attempt to be seen to be working towards the reduction of the digital divide in such places as Africa. It is easy for us sometimes to forget that by far the majority of the population of the planet do not enjoy persistent, reliable, ubiquitous connectivity to the Internet to the extent that we do in Western Europe and North America and parts of Asia and that much of the world's population relies heavily on mobile phones for their connectivity.

In keeping with the topic of Volunteerism 2.0 Steve also discussed the situation where Clay Shirky was being interviewed by a member of the television media who asked where people get all this time to volunteer for in such things as open source programs. Shirky's response, according to Steve, was that the time spent watching television is declining simply because television does not engage us enough. As a result, there is an increasing amount of "cognitive surplus" which people use on things that do engage them.

Photo Credit: burakg via Stockvault

[Part 2 next week]

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

My PLE (Revisited)

It's about that time of year again where I take an inventory of my current Personal & Professional Learning Environments (PLE), in other words the tools I use to further my learning, either formal or informal.
Since I successfully completed my M.Ed., the environment will be somewhat different than what it was while I was studying. The point of this excercise is to reflect on what has changed in my PLE and why as well as any overall impressions.

Below, you will find a graphic representation of the PLE I used about a year ago (click the image to make it larger).

Now, contrast that PLE with the one I am currently using:

While many of the tools remain, there have been some changes. For example, it looks as though, on balance, there has been a shift towards websites which I consider authorieties in the field of education and Professional Development. Content creation sites such as wikispaces still appear in the latest version. It seems also that the shift to mobile technologies is well on its way as I find myself increasingly doing work on my phone. Web 2.0 technologies are also well represented, but less than originally? I think the big difference in this assessment is the increase in mlearning, professional development and possibly a rationalisation of Web 2.0 technologies.

Why do I think these changes have happened? The first thing that struck me was, what appeared to be the decline in the number of Web 2.0 technologies or was it merely rationalisation? Not all tools which I've dropped are Web 2.0, or there was duplication of tools. For example, Freemind, a mind mapping program which is a download, has essentially been overtaken by which is online and a Web 2.0 technology. There has definately been an increase in mobile computing because of the fact I am more often not able to access a desktop or laptop computer. My smartphone is, where I need it, when I need it. There has also been an increase in access to professional development sites such as The Educator's PLN (NING) because I am attempting to keep pace with pedagogical ideas and the EdTech community as my community of practice. Finally, although I have dropped some tools, I think really it was a rationalisation of tools which essentially did the same, or nearly the same, job.

Another tool conspicuous by its absence is Evernote. I have found that I am increasingly using the Active Notes tool on my NOKIA. So, no need to use Evernote which I would have to download and install (if they have a S60 version - I don't know, I didn't bother to check). Moreover, I found that I used Evernote on my PC as a clipping service. But I also had Wired Marker for that and Jing for screen captures, so Evernote, for me, was redundant.

The next one 'out' was "". This was a move to efficiency really. I was till using and found that they were essentially duplicated tools, so I stayed with - still a Web 2.0 tool!

The second area of change was the increased use of mobile technologies. This change has occurred rather quickly as I am increasingly using the tools on my smartphone to get everday in-class tasks done such as evidence collecting and scheduling. Nevertheless, the move is still limited as a result of the wifi access limitations within school and the limitations on mobile use.

And that is my review of my PLE. What does your PLE look like? Are you using tools which I don't? If so, how do they help you? Have you ditched any tools recently?

Photo Credit: "Keyboard" by Alireza-Ghabraei via

Friday, 6 August 2010

Using Audacity for pupil radio dramas with sound effects

Creating a radio drama using sound effects, Audacity and pupil scripts.

One of the favourite activities this year was script writing for an authentic audience. This year we decided to try our hand at creating short radio dramas.

I introduced the class to some classic (edited) radio dramas such as Superman and Sam Spade. They loved them!

We discussed in our groups what the purpose of the scripts were in our context, how they were related (connections)to our English and Inquiry topics, what we liked about the dramas we heard, what made them interesting, who would be the audience in the 1940's & 50's as well as what other events were part of the context at the time. The groups then fed back their ideas to the class and we recorded them on the Smartboard.

We then broke up into our teams for a brainstorming session on what the plot, characters, etc. would be for our own dramas. Once the draft copies were ready, the groups had to work out if they needed any sound effects and if so what characteristics they needed to have.

For example, one group needed someone walking. But, on careful consideration, they realised they needed a woman slowly walking in high heels. Unfortunately, we couldn't locate a pre-recorded sound effect on the internet which met our needs, so the group located a willling teacher and recorded her as she walked down the hall. They then saved the recording and we imported it to Audacity, where the children worked out where the sound effect had to begin and end.

For some groups, who needed several sound effects, the task was more onerous and included such clips as explosions, helicopters, children playing and someone with hiccups.

After a few practices and editing, the actual first recordings were made. Different groups approached the challenge differentlyand were given enough flexibility to solve issues with lateral thinking so they all learned how to record or find a sound effect and import it into Audacity. Then, using the time shifting tool they decided where the effect would go then they edited it for fade in, fade out etc. I will have placed a link to one of the typical draft versions which the creators would love to have comments about. when I return from vacation. Here is the first 30 seconds or so but it should be enough to get the gist! :)

We enjoyed using the site SoundBible for our clips.
Photo of microphone by SimonDeanMedia

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Digital Literacies in top 100 Technology Blogs for Teachers!

A little while ago, I was very excited to discover that this blog had been placed in the top 100 technology blogs dedicated to teachers. Considering the illustrious members on the list I am really pleased that this blog has been helpful to others! See for yourself at Online

Thanks Alexis!

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Friday, 30 July 2010

QR codes revisited...

Not too long ago I posted the start of a Augmented Reality (AR) exploration using Quick Response Codes (QR). One of several questions I had was what, if any, practical use they were in an elementary school setting where the use of mobile learning tools such as mobile phones is strictly controlled (essentially blocked). Moreover, there has been very little uptake of mobile technologies by the school other than netbooks which the school is in the process of phasing in.
Currently, there are no plans to make the school a "1:1" school.

A second concern I had, was what were the limitations of the technology, given our circumstances and the access issues experienced by the majority of our learners. Broadband internet speeds are quite slow and connections are unreliable.

The first step would be to encourage the school management to allow, at least temporarily, the use of camera equipped mobiles as long as the parents signed agreements for loss or damage and that the parents provided permission for the children, with my help, to install software on their phone (the QR Reader) or the parents agreed to do it themselves.

Another step, which had to be taken is to determine exactly how the QR codes could expand our learning options and make our lives more collaborative. This step should be taken before approaching the management so that there are some concrete examples of possible benefits.
QR codes are part of a wider area of technology known as Augmented Reality (AR). To learn more about the field of AR go here and here.

The training of the children should be relatively straight forward. Have the children start up the QR code reader on their phone and then point the phone's camera at the QR code displayed on the Smartboard or wherever is convenient. Sort out possible problems such as fingers in front of the camera or technical issues. Have children tell everyone what was in the code.

The first way we used a QR code in a practical way was placing a QR code on our classroom door which contained a simple introduction to the class. Therefore, any parents who were able could use their camera and get basic details about our class such as our class website address and class email address.

Another use for QR codes from our perspective is for distributing website addresses during lessons and for pupils to include beside their class pictures outside our classroom which takes visitors either directly to their class blog or eportfolio, flikr stream, etc. Another use we were able to develop was as a link to a parent RSVP form on Google Docs.

How have you used QR codes or AR in general? Let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Reform Symposium

Tuesday, 27 July 2010


Tigger before his illness

On the 13th of July, our much loved cat "Tigger" died after a brief but severe illness. He was about 10 months old. I say "about" because he was a stray we found when he was about two weeks old. When we found him his eyes were open but he could could not yet walk. After my wife and I determined that his mother had disappeared we fed him with specially made kitten food made from a recipe my wife had developed on her family's farm.

Tigger was a very active, playful, friendly and otherwise great cat whom we will miss very much and I am very sorry I had such a short time with him.

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

Sir Ken more thoughts from a visionary

Those who know me will also know that I am big supporter of Ken Robinson, among others. So, have a watch of this video which is a follow-up of his previous one where he discusses the idea that schools kill creativity. Let me know what you think in the comments!

Saturday, 24 April 2010

What in the world are QR codes??

Recently during a webinar, I discovered not only what QR codes are but how to use them which also gave me the opportunity to begin considering how they can be used in education with my class and how I can spred this resource to my colleagues.

To begin with, QR codes are Quick Response codes which are a visual representation of digital information. Here is an example of what a QR code looks like:


Increasingly, we can see these symbols popping up but how can we use them?

First, in order to use the code, we need to install a QR code reader onto our mobile phone. Now, before you panic, I was able to load the reader into my camera in less than two minutes. The readers work with any mobile phone with a camera. Moreover, there are tons of readers available and most, if not all, are free!

So, we need to begin by downloading the reader which we can do by finding our phone and the readers avaible for it here:

When you arrive on the landing site, simply find your phone's manufacturer down the right side of the page.

The next step is to select your model in the chart and read across the table to find the correct available software.

After you have done that, simply download the software from the link, for example, my model is from HTC so I was shown a choice of four different readers and I clicked on the one of my choice:

The download takes a few seconds onto my laptop.

I made sure that the ".cab" file was saved on my desktop and then using bluetooth, I downloaded the file to my mobile. I opened the file and installed and I was done!

Now, to test that the program was working correctly, I went to this site and created a test QR code which was done in a few seconds and was very easy.

As this is so new to me, I am still looking in to the educational aspects, but some immediate ideas come to mind such as assignments, notices, contact details, etc. can all be transwerred using this method. I am really excited about this tool and I look forward to being able to record here some success stories on its use!

Friday, 16 April 2010

Sir Ken Robinson - Do Schools Kill Creativity?

Although this video has been around for a while, I wanted to put it up here because I find myself watching it over and over because it is so insightful and provocative. Even if you have seen it before, it's always worth another viewing because I often take away something new afterwards.

Sir Ken Robinson from SMoK on Vimeo.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Two Important Questions

I ws introduced to this video during a webinar recently and although it's brief, I found it encouraging.

Two questions that can change your life from Daniel Pink on Vimeo.

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Delicious as a Professional Resource Sharing Tool

Delicious is a social bookmarking site which has been around for a long time. You can find more detailed information about the history of Delicious here(

I started using Delicious as an online bookmarking site about four years ago, which is a donkey’s age in computer terms. I don’t even remember what computer I was using 4 years ago! Over that time, I’ve collected about 4800 bookmarks, 2000 tags and shared them with family, friends and colleagues.

In this post, I’m going to tell you how I use Delicious to share resources among my teaching colleagues on Twitter, Delicious, email as well as here on Digital Literacies. However, keep in mind, that I am not an expert, so for more detailed descriptions on how to do various indepth tasks, you need to check out the Delicious online help files here:

Getting Started:

As I mentioned earlier, I have been using Delicious for quite a while, so the sign up process is different from what it was. Nevertheless, it is still quite straightforward.

Briefly, here is what the buttons do on the landing page:

1. This tab is open by default to show the reader the latest webpages being bookmarked by Delicious account holders.

2. Popular Bookmarks: pretty self explanatory really...

3. Explore tags: which is where you can see what pages are popular within certain tags.

4. Search Delicious: again pretty self explanatory.

5. Hide Intro: minimises the big blue welcome bar.

6. Join Now!: This is where you need to go if you want to actually use Delicious to save and share your bookmarks.

7. Sign In: once you have an account, you will use this button and enter your Yahoo! ID and password.

Once you have joined Delicious, you can start using it to save the treasures you find around the web, bookmark and tag them for easy retrieval and sharing.

Once you have your new account, it is a good idea to install the Delicious browser buttons which will look like this on FF3.5:

The button on the left takes you to your Delicious page which will show your bookmarks. The middle button will open a sidebar in your browser where you can search your own bookmarks and go directly to a site you saved earlier. The button on the right is grey when you are at a page which has not been saved. It will turn blue when you already have the page saved in Delicious.

Saving a Webpage:

I’m now going to review the process of saving a bookmark and sharing it with a colleague:

1. Make sure you have signed in to Delicious and that you have installed the browser toolbar buttons referred to above. Suggestion – import your browser bookmarks to Delicious as well.

2. Once we are at a site we like, we naturally want to bookmark it. So, find the little grey tag symbol referred to above (the one on the right) in your browser toolbar and click on it.

3. If you haven’t signed in to Delicious, you will see this window:

4. If you have signed in, then you will see this window:

Before continuing, let’s briefly look at the different parts of the “Save a Bookmark” window. In the top right corner, you will see your username. Immediately below that, is the box which, if you don’t want to share the bookmark, will need to be selected. Selecting the box does not mean that others will not see it. But, you must send them the bookmark using the “Send” tab at the bottom of the window (which I’ll discuss later).

Down the left side of the window you will notice 6 headings (URL, TITLE, NOTES, TAGS, SEND and MESSAGE):

URL: This will show the address of your bookmark in full.

TITLE: The title of the website and the page you are bookmarking.

NOTES: In this section you can leave brief notes about the page, but remember that the notes will be visible on your public page if you choose to share the bookmark.

TAGS: Clicking inside the TAGS textbox will produce lists of both “Recommended” and “Popular” tags in the “Tags” tab at the bottom of the window. Individual tags can then be selected by clicking on them. Other tags can be added simply by typing the tag in the textbox. Remember to leave a space between tags.

SEND: Clicking in the “Send” textbox will activate the “Send” tab at the bottom of the window. Here, all your Delicious network members will be listed. Simply click on a network member to send the bookmark to. This area will also give you the options of emailing the link directly to another person (even if they are not on Delicious) and to send a tweet about the bookmark on Twitter. If you do send the bookmark as a tweet, make sure that a brief message about the link is included in the message box. Reminder: If you choose to keep your bookmark PUBLIC, your network will be provided with your bookmark automatically.

MESSAGE: As indicated above you can include a short message with your link when sending to a member of your Delicious network or for Twitter.

Finally, click “Save” and the window will close. Your bookmark is now saved.


Saving a great educational resource for later use is fine, but what makes Delicious indispensible from my perspective is the ability to access your bookmarks from any networked computer and the ability of your PLN (Professional Learning Network) to be included in each other's discoveries which could be the seed of professional growth. Here is a little graphic I’ve put together to illustrate this simple but important concept:

Basically, what I am trying to show here is the fact that my Public Bookmarks, represented by the centre circle, are shared with My Delicious Network and vice versa. I have not included a bidirectional arrow to indicate the one way sharing relationship with my email contacts through the Delicious interface. Furthermore, through the “Send” tab I can share my bookmarks, however, the relationship from my Twitter followers is not reciprocal within Delicious. I have, therefore not included a bidirectional arrow. This however belies the reality that there is a significant flow of knowledge opportunities from Twitter and email which can be included in Delicious.

Finding Colleagues to Share With

To turn Delicious into an even more useful site than simply storing links is the ability to share. However, we cannot do that really effectively until we have a network to share our (and our colleagues) discoveries. So, the next stage is to set up a network on Delicious, so the “Send” tab in our “Save a Bookmark” window becomes more useful.

I began by sending out an email to all my colleagues asking them if they were on Delicious, and if so, could they add me to their network. So, we simply traded Delicious usernames, visited the other’s Delicious page and clicked “Add User to My Network” which appears in the top right of the screen.

Further down the right side of the screen on your homepage, will be a list of the members of your network.

On several occasions while visiting a blog or other website, the author has made their Delicious credentials available. To add them to your network, it is usually simply a matter of clicking on their username and their Delicious public bookmarks page will appear. Look to the top right of the page and, as long as you are already signed in on Delicious, find the “Add to My Network” link and click!

The Benefits of Sharing

The benefits of sharing on Delicious are quite obvious. Including colleagues whose judgement you trust and who could be, or are, in your PLN helps to support professional development through discovery of new ideas, theories and opportunities as well as tools which we would not have discovered on our own, or which question or support our pedagogical beliefs. By including colleagues whose opinions you trust, you can be assured that links and resources which are shared have high educational value to you personally and reduces the time spent sifting through resources which may have little relevance for your particular situation.

Which resource sharing tools do you use? Do you use more than one? How have you found tools such as Delicious and Plurk useful?

Monday, 22 March 2010

Free Graphic Organiser for Writing To Explain

Recently we had a workshop where we were given a few moments to draft a graphic organiser for our class on the topic we are currently covering. In my case the topic is Writing to Explain. So, here is a copy of the graphic organiser I created (made readable) for you to use. Please, use as needed with attribution.
If you would like a copy, simply click the image.

Monday, 22 February 2010

Using Audacity for podcasts and other forms of digital storytelling

Audacity is a free, open source audio recording programme which is the standard among educators I know for almost all of their digital storytelling tasks from Podcasts to Reader's Theatre.

It is very straighforward to use and is cross platform (meaning it can be used on various versions of Windows as well as Macs). You can get more information about the program at Wikipedia.

You can download the Beta version here: Audacity Beta version 1.3.11 (recommended for Vista and W7)

My purpose in this post is not to sing the praises of Audacity as such (I think it does a great job at selling itself!), but to describe how we use the program in our class for recording various student activities.

Getting Started:
The first step to begin working with Audicity is to download it. You can do that from the link provided above.
Once you have gone to the download page, download the basic Windows installer (since I have a Vista machine, I downloaded the Beta) you then need to consider what jobs you will use Audacity for. For example, if you will be using it to work with .wma files, you will need to also download the “FFmpeg import/export library” which is found on the Download Page for Audacity in the “Plugins and Libraries” section. Also, if you plan on exporting your files as MP3s, you will need to download and install the “LAME MP3 encoder.” Be advised, that I did not implement the LAME encoder because I prefer the WMA format for my particular circumstances.
Once you have downloaded the basic Audacity programme and the plugin(s) you need to install them. Begin by installing the basic programme then the plugins. I restarted my system after the basic installation and before I installed the plugins. I would highly recommend the Audacity online Help section for detailed instructions.
After all the installations were complete, I did a brief sound check to determine the recording levels were correct and that the programme correctly exported and saved the test files.
Using Audacity for podcasts is extremely easy. In fact, in our class, the children are responsible for the entire job of creating one. However, to get to that point we have carried out several activities which helped them to understand the needs of their audience as well as organising their ideas in a clear logical format. For a good example of how to get organised for a podcast see this fantastic blog (
To begin with, I carried out a brief introduction to the reasons why we record things, what are podcasts, and why would people probably find them useful using TPS (Think, Peer, Share). I then went on to introduce the programme and allowed the class to explore the programme with a partner. During the introduction, I demonstrated what my voice looked like in the Audacity work area. We then experimented with other people’s voices and noted the variations and similarities.
Frome there, we practiced recording our own voices and those of our partners as well as saving them both as Audacity project files and as WMA files on our desktops. As a class, we then looked at and experimented with playing with the files, by cutting, copying, pasting, cropping tracks, using various filters, fading in, fading out, increase/decrease volume and various sound effects.
Eventually, we moved on to considering our audience’s needs in future podcasts. So, we looked at (listened to) some old time radio plays. The process, briefly, went like this: I found a dramatic piece of radio theatre and transcribed the script, not more than 1 or 2 minutes in total. I then saved the audio file and the script. During the lesson, when we were discussing the audience’s needs, I read, in as monotone manner as possible, the script segment while showing the Audacity recording window on the smart board. We then compared my reading to the actual radio play and discussed in detail what made the play so entertaining. Among the ideas were comments such as volume, pitch, speed and how the actors made their voices sound choked with emotion. Generally, the class came away with the idea that the actors had “a presence” which made the event standout in some way. They also pointed out how the use of sound effects, like people running, doors opening and closing and keys jingling, added realism and helped to create an atmosphere.
In most cases each podcast is the result of about three lessons of planning, collaborating, rehearsing and retakes. Because Audacity has been so easy to use the children find it no problem at all to stop, listen and re-record or do simple editing until they are satisfied with the finished product. Thus the class has become, increasingly, content creators with a growing level of confidence with each finished product.
Are you creating podcasts with your class? We would love to hear them! Tell us all about them in the comments.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Constructivism Workshop Notes and Reflections

This is a reflection on the Primary Years Program (PYP) workshop which took place at our school and my participation in it. Throughout, because these are my notes and reflections, the thoughts which have been written here may not necessarily reflect the views of the IBO or my employer.

The workshop began with the presenters pointing out the fact that the PYP does not throw out all the hard work and effort teachers have put in to their career and in developing their teaching practice. Furthermore, they pointed out that every unit has a central idea which can also be seen as "The Big Idea". They also recalled the fact that learning does not take place in a vacuum, it relies on our prior knowledge the children's prior knowledge, our environment, circumstances, etc. The workshop was essentially carried out as a model PYP lesson by the individuals who were leading it.

By the end of the two days of meetings it was clear that the content in our curriculum is not going to change but how we deliver it. For every activity - we had to question how we could use the activity or the ideas being presented in our own particular circumstances. Clearly, not all activities would work for all situations and they would not necessarily be used in the same way by all teachers. It was expected that a teacher would implement whatever ideas they could in an effective way too meet the needs of their class.

One of the initial activities we took part in was when we were given some chart paper. At the top of each sheet was written a comment, for example one of the comments was, "What are you proud of?" The idea, was that there were several pieces of chart paper around the room and we had to take a few minutes to write what we felt on each piece of paper. When we analyzed our particular sheet, "what are you proud of?" we found that family was very important to the vast majority of people who wrote comments and it was clear to us that that tends to affect our values and our commitments both in and outside of school. In all there were about six sheets and each group had to reflect on the responses that were written on each sheet. We then had to determine how we would use this activity in our class. I have decided that this activity would be good for assessing the prior knowledge of my students and for assessment either at the beginning or at the end of a unit. This activity was intended to activate prior knowledge about a particular topic.

The next activity we did was one which allowed us to create different pairs of partners with the same general group of people. We started with a clock face on which the numbers 12, 3, 6 and 9 were written in the usual places. We were then asked by the workshop leaders to find individuals in the class who would be prepared to be our 12 o'clock, three o'clock, six o'clock and nine o'clock appointments. I could see that this particular activity or strategy was excellent for a think, pair, share situation and for regrouping and feedback. I think it also provides a relatively good level of ownership for the participants.

We then went on to discuss central agreements. Personally, I would have put the central agreements activity at the beginning of the session as the very first activity. In this activity we were given strips of chart paper approximately 15 cm wide by 60 cm long and a small piece of paper which indicated the word that he would need to define. In our case, the word was "Appreciate" and we came up with the statement that says "we will understand that by listening to others we can respond enthusiastically and passionately to everyone's contributions." We (all the groups) then collected the essential agreement sheets together and placed them on a single Board which then created a list of positive statements which together described the behavior and the environment that a teacher would be expecting to see in the classroom.

Another activity which we took part in was called the "Domino Chain". A volunteer begins by going to one end of the class holding their hands up to the side and declaring "My name is X, and I like..." each raised arm represents one thing that the individual likes, for example football, and movies. Whoever else in the group liked movies had to run out to the volunteer and interlock arms. The second person would repeat the phrase again adding in their own hobbies. So, the first person in the chain has to identify two hobbies but all the other participants only had to identify one.

As we are a candidate school for PYP and there are still a lot of questions in our minds about how the PYP operates, I would argue that we are improving how well we deliver the PYP. There are still many questions to be answered. It came across to me that no one is really "an expert" in the PYP because of its flexible, ever-changing character. While there are people who tend to be more experienced in dealing with the PYP, one of the ideas I've come away with is that very few people, if any, can really identify themselves as "experts."

Given this, during the workshop we were asked to create a "Confidence Continuum" where at one end of the continuum people would identify themselves as the king of or queen of PYP while at the other end participants would identify themselves, and this is where the jokes broke out, as peasants, serfs, etc. The idea was for individuals to self assess how much they knew (or how comfortable they felt) about the PYP. This however, raised questions because for example, it was mentioned that since we are so new to the PYP, we would have to know more about the PYP to determine how much we actually know about it relative what there was to know and how comfortable we felt. Most of the participants placed their Post-it notes in the middle or to the right of the midway point of the continuum. This activity, it was pointed out, needs to be revisited over time to monitor and assess how children are feeling about a particular topic. I thought this activity was ideal for self and peer assessment and for monitoring progress and possibly prior knowledge.

One of the provocations in the workshop was the question; "Is using questioning in PYP important?" Obviously, the answer was "yes" because it promotes thinking; curiosity; it helps to demonstrate understanding; and that we need to be careful that the questions emphasize "what" or "how." As the discussions took place, we were asked to record what could be considered "A Burning Question." This was another excellent opportunity to collect information on the level of understanding of the participants and also to help identify where we are in terms of our progress.

In the second session, the plans were adjusted to reflect the results of the previous session's formative assessment.

Learners Constructing Meaning

In the Learners Constructing Meaning graphic organizer the intent was for us to identify "What do we want to learn", "How best will we learn" and "How will we know what we've learned" all the while keeping learners and their construction of meaning at the center of what we do which is a constructivist philosophy. Upon reflection, various ideas were contributed for the three questions in the graphic organizer. For example, for the question "How best will we learn?" Ideas such as investing in partnerships with parents; provide a multitude of first-time experiences; communication; collaboration; by doing things; through Brain Friendly Learning; through positive praise; respecting the ideas and opinions of others; learning through peers and to play; having ownership by being involved in their learning and finally assessment for learning and monitoring progression, were among the ideas offered.

The second question which was asked in the graphic organizer was "How will we know what we've learned?" The groups came up with these various responses: self-evaluation; through helping others; to knowing their targets; metacognitive practices; transference to everyday life; assessment and self-evaluation.

Finally, the third question in our graphic organizer was "What do we want to learn?" For this, there are also various responses such as how to multitask; 21st-century skills; how to make connections; citizenship how to be a lifelong learner; how to extend our understanding and how to be a valued member of society.

Later on in the workshop we were asked "How do you feel the workshop will meet your expectations?" One of the responses that was given was that, "It will be successful if I feel that I have been given model activities to support the PYP philosophy and a model of what an effective lesson would look like. It should also demonstrate how I can more accurately differentiate between often overlapping Key Concepts. The PYP is a concept driven curriculum. Thus, identifying the key concepts correctly is extremely important.

It was pointed out that the learner profile characteristics need to be integrated into authentic activities in the classroom. For example, one might say, referring back to the Domino Chain activity, that "Jack was a risk taker today for volunteering to be first." The teacher can then write the pupil's name on a Post-it note and place the Post-it note underneath one of the Learner Profile characteristics that they have identified the pupil as meeting. We need to remember that displaying the profile is not enough. We need to explain explicitly what characteristics look like, sound like, and must explicitly be identified when they occur.

We then went on to consider the topic of Concepts.

During this conversation it was suggested that knowledge needs to be transdisciplinary, there needs to be scope and sequence, and there needs to be commonality among all the concepts. Skills are also a key factor and teachers are required to provide opportunities for students to improve their skills in areas such as self-management. All the skills in the PYP cover all the curriculum aspects, thus providing the same skills set over different environments.
We then went on to consider attitudes and action.
Attitudes are interpreted and modeled by the teacher to increase the awareness of children over the day and children can create their own values. In terms of actions these can be either individual or through groups, they can be grand or basic. We need to remember though that actions should not be mimicked but that naturally.

Essentially the philosophy that we were being asked to accept is that everything is PYP time. The workshop moved on to discuss the movement from thematic units to a unit of inquiry. In thematic units a topic may be say, dinosaurs. In that unit you may incorporate aspects of the theme and mathematics language however in an inquiry the topic of dinosaurs has expanded and broadened to the topic of extinction with a guiding questions such as widely species become extinct on the other hand in a thematic unit on dinosaurs in a math lesson you may measure dinosaurs sort of dinosaurs count dinosaurs but in any PYP inquiry we are using skills to look into a concept and therefore make connections. The workshop made an attempt to differentiate and highlight the importance between enduring knowledge and superficial knowledge. Here is an example of the diagram that was given to us:

In the process of our discussions we also came across a graphic organizer referred to as the Frayer model. I have included my sketch of the model below:

The next activity we are asked to work on enfolds us being shown six transdisciplinary themes and given the central ideas. We had to select the correct central idea for the transdisciplinary theme we had to keep in mind also that no single central idea will answer all the descriptors. Today's session with wound up with the latest version of the U2 video did you know? And a reading by a one of the workshop leaders of the seven blind mice the intent was to show the value of the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

Section 2:

The session was started by having us organized into content regrouping. I was given a small crumpled piece of paper on which was written "causation" which meant that I was sitting in the key concepts group. Before the session actually began the responses from the exit survey from the previous section were reviewed. There were a lot of responses and it was generally felt that people understood themes and concepts that are at the end of the day. One of the questions was how can we more effectively integrate specialist subjects another point that seem to come across in the responses was that we can see the big picture and we appreciate the practical activities. It was pointed out that exit cards are important to collect feedback and for self-assessment some of the participants in the workshop identified that they had moved along the understanding continuum. The next activity of the Willis and the Quakers read in this activity, we had to review a section of the booklet "making the PYP happen". We had to select from our homework which was issued the day before a phrase that we felt was particularly important. We all started by standing up with our booklets in front of us and it won our turn came we rent the phrase or passage which we felt was particularly meaningful to us. If anyone else in the group agreed with what we had read they could either read it out again or they could simply sit down. This was an excellent way of monitoring who agreed with what passages and a good it was also a good way of summarizing the key points of the work which had been issued. We then moved on to an artifacts activity where each of us at the table in groups of three or four had an artifact which we are asked to bring with us. We were not permitted to discuss our artifact with anyone in the group before hand and when the time came we were allowed to put the artifacts on the table in front of us. The person with the artifact to begin with, was silent and the rest of the members of the group had to look at the artifact very carefully and try to determine what that said about the person who had presented it. In our group we had a stone sculpture and 80 small child's toy and electronic device and a stuffed animal. Once each of the artifacts had been discussed by the other members of the group the owners of the artifacts would one at a time discuss why they had brought that particular artifact and what it means to them for example, the person who had brought the electronic device pointed out the fact that it helped them stay in contact with family and friends, and allowed them to collect information when they needed and it had been instrumental in their postgraduate studies as well as being a gift from a family member. The artifact activity launched our thinking about inquiry asking questions which prompted new questions and encouraged us to find out more in this particular case we found that it would be useful tool use this sort of activity to start a unit about culture and as the artifacts were brought in they could be used to create an in class displaying or museum.

One of the questions we had to address in the learners constructing meaning graphic organizer was "how fast will we learn?" In an attempt to help us understand this perspective we were shown a series of pictures called "Laura and the Walch" in this particular set of images a little girl possibly in kindergarten was shown a set of pictures of watches shoes and shown no watch on the researchers rest which she could look at and listen to. In the images that followed Laura is seen putting her ear to the pictures of the watches that resembled the researchers watch in an effort to see if they will also made a ticking sound. And it's inquiry is not always asking questions and it is not always clearly are perfectly articulated.

In the next activity called "heads together" or "butts up", as seen in the image below, we had to define what we felt inquiry was. The members of the group would each write their own idea of what inquiry was in their particular section of the paper. The group would then discuss and place in the middle of the sheet a definition of inquiry that pulled together all of the participants ideas in a summary statement.

Later on in the workshop we did another activity with buttons be or given aid fairly large collection of buttons of different sizes and shapes designs and an instruction sheet which said sort the buttons according to color. As we had a large group participating in the workshop some groups have different sets of instructions and indeed at least one group had no instructions this was an activity intended to demonstrate the differences between structured inquiry which was ours because the instructions were very clear and precise to guided inquiry which was a questions such as how can you sort the buttons? Open inquiry which was what can you do with buttons? And finally free inquiry which where no instructions and all. In our group, we had to sort the buttons according to color. Initially, we didn't see the instruction sheet so we started randomly organizing them as best we soffit. After a few moments it was indicated to us that we had a question sheet in front of us which was very embarrassing! We sort of the buttons according to color as requested in instructions but we also then subdivided the buttons according to shade so therefore darker buttons where at one end of a subgroup and wider buttons were at the other end of a subgroup. In the group that had no instructions it was quite interesting to see how many very quickly lost focus and in fact at least one of the members decided to do what was necessary for their own learning and did a separate task which was unrelated. At the conclusion of the activity we also noted that the groups that were assigned to observe us in some cases ended up being participants rather than observers. We were reminded that when you observe you must be silent because when you interact you are no longer an observer. Therefore groups which were based on types of instructions tended to indicate not only the degree of teacher involvement, but the degree of initiative required by pupils for example the group with no instructions required very high pupil initiative. We were then provided with the diagram below which helped us to see the connections between structured guided open and free inquiry and the resulting levels of teacher involvement and pupil initiative.

We then moved on to the concept of central ideas and determined that central ideas generally have one sentence, they express an enduring understand; they must link to the transdisciplinary theme and the lines of inquiry; they are intended to challenge and extend pupils prior knowledge and finally that the central idea must be applicable anywhere and be without value statements to demonstrate this week started with a sentence all Tolerance change into beautiful butterflies we discounted the statement for a variety of reasons one being that it is a value statement and that essentially the only word that we could keep was change even extended that sentence so that it read all living things and go through a process of change we identified this as a more workable central idea once the central ideas identified I can change it later for the next year we were reminded that we need to make sure that we always use part seven of the PYP planner to record our reflections but that we should do it immediately as soon as we discover a problem or an issue so that the next person teaching the unit is aware of what changes need to be made so the first step is to create a central idea and then to decide on the key concepts which are the teacher questions and they need to be relevant to the summative assessment and likewise the summative assessment needs to be relevant to the teacher questions.

This has been mine personal reflection on the workshop that I participated in with callings. It is meant mainly as a record for myself as to what took place the activities which I found most useful for my class and ideas on learning and understanding and constructing meaning which I can implement in my class and think about in terms of how these concepts change or support my personal philosophy of teaching and learning.