my new discovery – piclits

PicLit from PicLits.com
See the full PicLit at PicLits.com

There are so many brilliant tools on the web and I love having a play and thinking about ways they could be used in the classroom. I came across this one today through a colleague on twitter (thanks @MGEducator!). PicLits has a gallery of colourful pictures on a range of topics which you can add text to to make a bit of visual poetry. I can imagine using this as a great starter for a writing lesson, just to warm students up and extend their descriptive thinking. It would be brilliant to use with a unit on poetry – looking at imagery and trying to create a sense of the picture through writing. Placement of the words can also change or create meanings – there are some good examples in the gallery of work others have created.

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my top bits of 2010

As a ‘new’ ICT teacher this year, I’ve stumbled upon heaps of great tools and ideas that others have, no doubt, been using for ages. I’m also bound to miss some but these are the things that stand out for me this year (in no particular order) …..

1. Twitter – I joined for fun a couple of years ago but never really got the point.  Using it to meet, mingle and share with other teachers this year, however, has been amazing and has been the most influential, cost effective and relevant PD I could have done.

2. Scratch – Wow, what a program! I stumbled across it as it was on the edustar image so thought I’d have a play then attended an ICTEV PD and was hooked.  The enthusiasm from my Grade 5/6 students was so contagious and it was really rewarding to see them problem solve and find ways to teach themselves exactly what they needed to know to achieve their own personal goals.  Will definitely be using this one again in the classroom next year.

3. Hectors World – For those who haven’t come across this, it’s a series of resources to teach cybersafety to younger students.  I initially thought I’d use it as a bit of a kick start to some discussions but the students from Grades 1-4 were really into it and it started much bigger and more meaningful discussions than I expected.  More importantly, many students took the link and the ideas home and continued the discussions with their parents – very valuable indeed.

4. www.wallwisher.com – A really good web 2.0 tool allowing you to have a wall of virtual post it notes from any participant that can access the internet.  It was very motivating for my Grade 5/6 students and we used it with teachers on our ‘almost’ Ultranet day of August 9th to showcase some other tools they could use in the classroom.

5. Delicious/Diigo – Hadn’t used either of these before this year but the idea of social bookmarking is one that has really resonated (despite recent events that cast a shadow over the future of delicious).  I love the functionality of being able to access my bookmarks from any computer and any location and also the concept of being able to share them with colleagues from around the world.

6. Ultranet – Ok, so it got off to a slow start but, thanks to some fantastic teachers who have inspired and taught me (@melcashen – you’re a legend!) and the energy and enthusiasm of my students, it has begun in a very positive way.  Now to try to get my colleagues on the same wave I’m on!  I’m really impressed by the students and how quickly and positively they’ve taken to it – during our ‘free time’ session in the last week of school, I had lots of students from Prep all the way through to Grade 6 wanting to ‘play on the Ultranet’ and continue to explore and find their way around.  I’m looking forward to kicking it all off again next year.

7. My blog – I haven’t blogged often and some of the posts have not been the most memorable or insightful but it has really helped me to be both a reflective practitioner and to feel connected to the educational technology community.  I’m even more excited that, next year, my whole school will be jumping on board the blogging bandwagon and I look forward to leading them through this journey (and learning more about it all myself!).

8. Tagxedo – I used this with Grade 5/6 students to write personal poems at the start of the year and was pleased with the results some of them came up with.  I’ve since discovered ways to use it more effectively and for a wider range of uses and intend for it to be high on my list for 2011 – anything that encourages students to play with language is a good thing!

9. Kahootz – Slightly mixed feelings on this one.  This program, designed by the Australian Children’s Television Foundation quite a few years ago, allows users to become movie makers and incorporate a range of scenery and objects into their creations.  The functionality is great and it’s easy to use.  My Grade 3/4 students were initially frustrated as they grappled with making it do what they wanted but came up with some good results in our movies about the environment.  The down side is that it is full of bugs and would kick students out at random times or lose elements of their movies for no apparent reason.  I think I probably won’t be using this one again for those reasons but am saddened as it was a lot of fun and really did encourage students to explore and solve their own problems to meet their objectives – something that I’ve been really pushing in the ICT lab this year.

10. ACEC 2010 – This was an absolute highlight of the year and I’m so glad that I went.  The conference took place a week before I started my new job as an ICT teacher and gave me the ideas and inspiration I needed to kick it off successfully.  I met and learned from outstanding educators from around Australia and the world and opened my eyes to areas I was previously unaware of.  Definitely counting down to ACEC 2012!