School’s out Friday

I love this University Professor’s Halloween joke with his class, and I agree with the comment appearing under this video on YouTube,

“…if every teacher was like you there will be better students. Continue like that, maybe that will inspire other teacher’s. And im sure students also learn better with fun.”

I think humour plays such an important part in teaching. Sure, we’ve all got important messages and information to impart to our students, but sharing a laugh and teaching them how important this ingredient is to a healthy life should be part of that too. I shared plenty of laughs with our Year 7 students this week as they worked on their inquiry project. Together, we tackled the joys of using technology as we converted files and sought out ways to fix problems we were encountering. Laughing along the way, and not getting disgruntled as we hit roadblocks, made the learning so much more enjoyable.

I had to laugh to myself when I sent out a tweet asking for help about a filetype I was attempting to convert. Alec Couras replied informing me that a WMPL file was a project file and not a rendered movie file. There lay the solution to our problem, and there I was looking foolish on Twitter! I figure you just have to accept that no question is a dumb question, so I dutifully thanked Alec for his help. What’s truly wonderful about this is that I could have tried sorting that issue for a lengthy period of time, but instead, I went to my network for help. It came within a minute or two from Canada. As Alec pointed out after I’d thanked him,

So there you have it, republicans, reason to retain the monarchy!!

I’m the subject of John Larkin’s Friday Follow interview this week. If you feel so inclined, take a visit to John’s site and see what I have to say about social media and education. I’d like to thank John for inviting me to participate. He is one of the gentleman on Twitter. Someone I’ve never met face to face, but whose online demeanor makes me feel like we would get on.

I don’t have much planned for the weekend ahead, but I’m figuring that’s a good thing. Just happy right now to go where the flow takes me.

Enjoy whatever comes your way.  : )

Edublog Awards 2010 – my nominations

Nominations for the Edublog awards close tomorrow, so I thought I better get my act into gear and nominate some of the wonderful people out there who make learning happen for me. Not only for me, but  for countless others out there who find that the best professional development they receive these days comes from the people who are willing to be transparent about their thinking, and willing to share the resources they find that make them better at what they do.

It’s not easy. There are far too many great blogs, tweeters, and resource sharing sites out there, but I’ll give it a go. There are a ton more that deserve mentioning- wish I had the time to name them all.

Best individual blogJohn Connell: The Blog.   John always make me think. Especially when he’s fired up about something. I’ve been reading John for as long as I’ve been involved in the edublogosphere, and his quality posts that appear on a consistent basis, are one of my always go to places on the web.
Best individual tweeterAlec Couras.   Whenever I see a tweet from Alec appear in my Twitter stream, I take pause to read it. Alec shares some wonderful links, as well as giving us insight into the way he goes about his work, and how he lives his life.
Best new blogLiv to Dance. OK. I teach Liv, so I’ll be up front and admit bias. But I love Liv’s enthusiasm and how she’s working at building audience as she writes about dancing, her passion.

Best student blogStyle Rookie I don’t know if this qualifies as a student blog, but I’m guessing it does. Tavi is still at school, is blogging about what she loves, and making a reasonable dent in the universe while doing it. She impresses me, and she impresses my students also.
Best resource sharing blogPhil Bradley’s weblog. Phil finds the new stuff that’s out there and lets us all know if it’s worth looking at. If Phil thinks it’s good, then I’m sure to be checking it out.

Best teacher blogBrave New World.  Tania Sheko’s blog is well worth reading. Sometimes resource sharing, sometimes reflections on the need for change in education, and always how she is trying to make this happen. Quality writing too.
Best librarian / library blogBright Ideas I just love what SLAV and Judith Way are doing for Australian Teacher-Librarians, and Librarians the world over. Bright ideas is a place where Teacher Librarians can post what they’re doing in their own schools. It a vehicle for many who don’t have a web presence to get their great work out there for all to see and learn from.  It’s also a great resource sharing blog.
Best school administrator blogDarcy Moore’s Blog. Darcy is a Deputy Principal in New South Wales, and he pushes my thinking. I love that a Deputy Principal sees the value in blogging and wants to be part of the change process. Darcy is one of our great role models who the NSW Department of Education better hang onto!
Best educational podcastEd Tech Crew. Tony and Darrell do a great job of interviewing people who are exploring new ways of doing things. They share some great resources along the way too.

Best educational use of a social network –  Instructional Rounds – Best Teacher practice – The E5 Model PLN.  Nina Davis and Jenni Byass have set this up to support their teacher professional leave project, but along the way they’ve managed to attract school administrators and teachers from many parts of the world. Updated regularly and a supportive environment.
Lifetime achievementBill Ferriter. I’ve been to the United States twice this year and unfortunately did not get to meet Bill. His blog ‘The Tempered Radical’, is that really nice blend of a teacher modeling really good classroom practice, ideas for using new technologies for meaningful learning, and gutsy posts that get to the heart of current issues facing educators the world over. Bill is @plugusin on Twitter, and to me, he’s a real human being, sharing what matters. I don’t know how long Bill’s been at it, but he gets my vote anyway.

Voting ends Tuesday 14th of December.

The Wilhelm Scream – movies will never be the same!

Alec Couras has written a really useful post ’80+ videos for Tech. and Media Literacy’.  And it is really useful so you MUST follow the link. He has pulled together an amazing array of links to videos and has catergorised them just to make the list even more useful. Alec makes mention of a plan to transfer the list to a wiki  – a very good idea, but I’d understand if it doesn’t happen; he seems a very busy man. Perhaps it could become a collaborative effort as all wikis should be! 

The Wilhelm Scream is one of the videos I’ve stumbled upon thanks to this list. I love it; can’t wait to see another George Lucas film to lie in wait for the scream’s appearance. I’m going to upload it to our Yr 9 Ning because I’m pretty sure my students are going to get a kick out of it too. It ‘s something that I think is bound to promote some fun, connective conversation.

It reminds me of the way Stephen Spielberg used the same sound effect in his first movie Duel and his mega hit Jaws. The dying moments of both films see the end of the beasts terrorising man, a semi trailer in one instance and a white pointer shark in the other. I can’t find a video on YouTube that captures both moments for a side by side comparison, but the video below captures the final scene from Duel with the music from the final scene from Jaws.

Thankfully, Wikipedia can verify that I’m not making this up;

  • The dinosaur roar sound effect that is heard as the truck goes over the cliff is also heard in Jaws, also directed by Steven Spielberg, as the shark’s carcass sinks into the ocean. Spielberg has said that this is because he feels there is a “kinship” between Duel and Jaws, as they are both “about these leviathans targeting everyman.” He has also said that inserting the sound effect into Jaws was “my way of thanking Duel for giving me a career.”[1]
  • Don’t feel sorry for me knowing seemingly unimportant information like this. I’m a hit at trivia nights, truly I am.  


    Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

    YouTube now big screen

    A tweet from Alec Couras sent me to Open Culture and a post by Dan Coleman alerting us all to the fact that you can now watch some full length documentaries and feature films on YouTube.

    *update –  Some films are not available for viewing in Australia. When you click on the video you want to watch you will find a pop up appears if the film is not available for viewing in your country.

    Take a look at this screenshot to get some idea of what is available;


    My husband is going to be thrilled to see his all time favourite, Cliffhanger, featured there. (I still can’t bear to watch the opening scene myself!) If you take a look through the categories you’ll find some areas sparse but others quite heavily populated with content. The documentary and biography  section has a number of additions including Morgan Spurlock’s Super Size Me.


    Shows are also now available. This is a screenshot of the types of offerings from the Science and Technology category;


    This is another example of the great content available freely on the Web now. Television content on the ABC and SBS sites also stream many of the programs that feature on free to air TV. Not to mention a site like Surf the Channel that enables you to find pretty much any program you like.

    Makes we wonder why we in schools invest so much money and manpower in systems like Clickview. The times they are a changin’ and high cost systems in our schools better take note and react with more favourable price options accordingly, or their days will be numbered.   


    Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

    Kickyoutube – Easy download solution for YouTube

    One of the best ways to start converting colleagues to the wonders of the Web is to introduce them to the vast array of content on YouTube that is suitable for education purposes. If you work in a school with a slow connection then you will be familiar with the circular loading indicator that can stay like that for what seems an eternity. Not conducive to good classroom practice unfortunately. By the time it loads your kids are in their next class!

    Solution.  Download the video from YouTube using a conversion tool. I’ve spoken of keepvid before which has been my preferred option. This has involved me going to the keepvid site and copying and pasting the YouTube url once I’m there.

    Better solutionAlec Couras, ably assisted by Melanie Gibb, alerted me on Twitter to kickyoutube. It is quite simply the easiest method I’ve seen yet to download a video to a different format. All you need to do is delete the ‘au.’  (or www.) in the url and type the word ‘kick’ in front of the word ‘youtube’  and then press enter.  Kickyoutube is enabled and you are presented with a toolbar with differing options for file conversion.  You select your preferred option and press go and your download begins. Dead simple. There are even options for conversions for the iPhone and PSP as well as the garden variety options.  Some options may not be available at the time and they will not be highlighted if that is the case.


    The following screencast gives a good visual explanation of how it works;

    Richard Byrne, who writes at Free Technology for Teachers, (and just quietly Richard, you are a blogging dynamo! Do you ever sleep?) has posted recently about YouTube’s new initiative with downloads. Here’s what he reported;

    YouTube is introducing a download option on some videos. I haven’t seen any official announcements from YouTube, but there are some videos on YouTube that now have a small download link located just below play menu.   

    This is an even easier option, but like Richard says, it’s not available for all videos at the moment. All you need to do is click on the download link and a file download to MPEG 4 format begins.

    It will be nice to return to school with some new and very easy options for downloads from YouTube to share with my colleagues. We may not even need to do this with some changes that are afoot. We are moving from a 2mg internet connection to  20mg and I can’t wait to see what a difference that is going to make for our school and our connectivity. I’m expecting great things! 


    Periodic table of videos -now Science teachers have got to love this one!

    Alec Couras found this site. He writes a wonderful blog that you should be checking out. His was one of the first blogs I subscribed to and I always find something worthwhile when I visit.  This is no exception. It’s from the University of Nottingham. They’ve developed a Periodic Table of Videos about the periodic table of elements. Elementary, some would say!!

    This is great. There’s nothing more dry than trying to memorise those elements. At least using these your students will have a visual element to peg their learning to (excuse the pun!).  They’re not trying to be radical with these videos, but they will be useful I’m sure for Science teachers everywhere. A great initiative from the University of Nottingham.

    And don’t forget, if you have problems loading the vids from their YouTube channel  , under Australian copyright guidelines you can convert the file to another format that you can download to your computer so that the video will play straight away in class. I use Keepvid and download to Mpeg 4 quality for playback.  Easy done and saves loading problems.

    Think before you post because the world definitely is flat!!

    I’ve just read Alec Couras’ new post where he talks about the Australian kid who threw a huge party while his parents were out. The boy involved posted information about the party on his Myspace page and havoc ensued when 500 young people turned up. He’s now being offered up to $10,000 by an entertainment company to organise parties while the police are threatening to charge him $20,000 in damages and related costs. What is amazing to me is that I’ve just returned home from our local beach where I met up with friends, one of whom had taught this particular boy when he was younger.  Our flat world is getting flatter by the minute!  

    This is a teachable moment for our students regarding use of the internet. I try and talk to the students at my school about keeping their Myspace pages private and not public. Some of the most powerful lessons I was involved with last year happened when I used the ‘Think before you post’ commercials that can be accessed from Youtube.  They certainly helped get the message across that you need to carefully consider the photos you upload to spaces on the Web.