Tutorial 4 (Week 6) – iPads & Digital Stories

With my partner Ross, we explored the apps available on the iPads in order to experience for ourselves the types of activities that are available to early stage 1 students to develop their oral language skills. We went in agreeing with the thinking of Jones (2012) that restating a narrative in a students’ own words is an important aspect of developing their comprehension skills. In fact, I think it is one of the most fundamental ways for a student to build on understanding of a text while also incorporating his/her own attitudes of the characters, plot lines, etc. It could potentially even be used as an assessment tool, however that may be more appropriate at higher stages.

We found that the programs we looked at on the iPad, primarily the PlaySchool Art Maker app, allowed us to record our own voices and illustrate the stories with entertaining and fun widgets/characters/motifs. Because voices are recorded, we believe it encourages a student to develop purposeful use of his/her expression and intonation as well as compiling a narrative in an engaging way for the student. In addition, the app separated out the stories into panels, which encourages students to think about texts as having an organized structure with a beginning, middle and end. I would develop this aspect of literacy through the practice of transitional language (e.g., in the beginning, and then, after that, finally) as a student progresses through his/her narrative.

We also tried out the Toontastic app on the iPad. We liked this app’s ability to allow students to draw a character’s features separately (such as arm, body, legs) which would be entertaining for them. Furthermore, while the app separates the story compiling into panels similar to the PlaySchool Art Maker app, it also uses the correct language for the different storytelling elements (setting, conflict, resolution, etc). This is very helpful for ES1 students, even if they aren’t learning the correct terms explicitly, as they are exposed to it already. We definitely enjoyed the ease of use of Toontastic, and would certainly try to incorporate it into our classrooms.

In the latter part of the tute, I was also able to familiarize myself with the workings of iMovie. I created a minute long (or so) “I Am Andrew” digital story with a few of my favorite pastimes and likes, albeit in a hurried fashion. It wasn’t good enough to save or upload, but I’m confident I will be able to work with the program well to create my upcoming digital story.


Tutorial 3 (Week 5) – IWBs

Having read the book or watched the film of The Lost Thing, have students look at an illustration and circle the correct angle(s) portrayed using the IWB marker. In addition, students can record their emotional responses from the image by writing in the circle.

The second activity will require students to create a scene or image guided by an emotion given to them (the opposite of the above activity of visual -> emotion). Students are required to take a photo or photos that will best elicit the given emotive response using a digital camera. Students may depict fellow students, objects in the class, scenery, etc in order to assist them in depicting the emotion.

Following the creation of the image, students are to share it amongst their peers prior to disclosing the emotion they were trying to depict.

Tutorial 2 (Week 4) – Blogs

Why use blogs?

Pericles’ piece on the blogging culture at Belmore South school is an excellent foray into the real-world application of blogs in the classroom. The author described a myriad of different activities in which students in Years 4, 5, and 6 engaged using blogs as the primary expression medium of their work.

One application that I found most useful was the international critquing and analyzing of a students’ book, all through a blog. The student was planning on posting her book on a blog in order to receive comments and feedback from a variety of audiences, from New Zealand to America. This serves as an extremely rewarding way of receiving feedback, since the student knows that a readership from around the world is accessing and enjoying her work.

Another activity that teachers would find promising is the creation of a pictorial representation of where all the hits and comments on a classroom blog are being received from around the world. This would capture the engagement of the classroom since it would be quite amazing to the students to find that the very material they are contributing to the blog is actually being read from locations thousands of kilometers away. It provides direct and definite relevance, purpose, and audience for students, which are key motivating factors for any work that students contribute (Pericles 2008). One of the biggest “cool factors” that blogs have going for them is that they allow people from around the world to actually read their work… someone other than the teacher!

Another interesting and important idea about blogging is the concept of quality control and standards. It is extremely easy to create a blog individually, or even as a class, that isn’t of the highest quality. This would defeat the purpose of using blogs in the classroom as a quality teaching method. First, the class should go through blogs of other schools, classrooms, and even individuals or celebrities that students like. Then as a group, the class should make comments about the general aesthetic backgrounds, themes, writing style, grammar, and other features of the text. Using this information along with evaluating what makes a blog appealing and worthwhile, the class would develop a set of blogging rules, standards, and criteria. Continued reference to these criteria would ensure that students know explicitly what is expected of them and result in the best experience possible in terms of quality teaching and learning (Pericles 2008).

Pericles, K. (2008). Happily blogging @ Belmore South. SCAN, 27(2), 4-6.

A tale of two blogs

Fabulous 5S (http://5s2012.edublogs.org)
This blog is from the 5S classroom at Epping Heights Public School in Epping. It is a multi-purpose Year 5 class blog that nicely incorporates the arts/music activities in their school. For example, pictures from their Year 6 farewell preparation are posted, in addition to selected video and audio performances from their ‘presentation day.’ There are also links to students’ own individual blogs, such as a child’s Minecraft blog. In terms of classroom academics, the blog contains a recent selected individual essay about how the year went from the students’ perspective which is a nice and appropriate blog post to have towards the end of the year. Earlier on, I found the inclusion of a science experiment along with results in pictures to be highly effective as well. Overall, this blog would be perfect for Stage 3 audiences to model their blogs on, given that a variety of topics and information about their classroom and the school itself is included. Stage 2 would also be an appropriate audience as they can see what they may build up to in the future.

Learning Legends @ Lonnie (http://threefourlonnie.global2.vic.edu.au/)
This blog is from an Australian primary school called Point Lonsdale Public School in Victoria. It is a year 3/4 blog, so one stage under the blog reviewed above. In contrast to the blog above, the entries in this blog are almost exclusively submitted by the teacher “Mrs Murphy” as opposed to student entries. This is positive in one respect, as the blog contains little to no grammatical or spelling errors and enough interesting material. At stage 2, it is probably best that the teacher do most of the posting, as students may not be capable of writing enough. However, the authenticity and “realness” of the blog is lost when it is simply the teacher who posts everything. Other than this shortcoming, the blog is organized and presented well, with a pleasing graphical theme and good material related to their efforts to reach out internationally. For example, the blog features the school’s “BIG Act of Kindness” campaign to help benefit Australian soliders and Afghani students they got in touch with. The blog would be most suited for stage 2 audiences, although it would be certainly be appropriate to stage 3 as well.

Scoop it!

Here is the link to my Scoop It site.
Teaching Math & Science in the Classroom

Tutorial 1 (Week 3) – New Literacies

We are currently in the midst of a technological whirlwind that involves social media and brand new information sources and technologies that are more accessible and available more quickly than ever before. And most notably, everything is evolving at such rapid pace that what is popular and revolutionary today, including this very blog and its associated company WordPress, may not be the medium of choice in a quick few months or years, however unlikely it appears. This is a hallmark of the term “new literacies,” a relatively new term coined to represent new digital literacy practices. As an example, just 20 years ago in our elder generation, “literate” simply meant able to read, comprehend, and analyze text in books and other written forms, which are relatively stable technologies and means of conveyance of information. However, in our current generation, being literate in the “new literacy” requires far greater knowledge of new technologies and discourses, mostly due to the explosion of digital medias. It’s important to note that the shifts in media choices and technologies doesn’t necessarily indicate changing fads, but rather shifting paradigms (Lankshear and Knobel 2011). They also believe that new literacies require two elements: 1) new “technical stuff” (aka digital technologies) to implement, and 2) new “ethos stuff” such as the change in values to more collaborative, distributed, and participatory mindsets.

Another hallmark of new literacies is the use of multimodal forms of expression and dissemination of knowledge. In older static modes of distribution of text, there was a heavy emphasis on the written word, most evident in books and texts. In the 21st century with the ease of access to computing technology, there has been an absolute transformation to the digital text, harnessing freely available hardware in the form of laptops, smartphones, tablets, and computers. As a result, new literacy is able to distribute information through images, video, and sound seamlessly with written text at lightning speeds. Old time bottlenecks such as physical publishing are now kaput.

New literacies represent an immense teaching and learning opportunity for children of all ages in the primary classroom. If the multitude of resources and technological capabilities are harnessed correctly by the teacher, students stand to gain maximum benefit of amazing knowledge resources from while maintaining quite possibly the highest interest ever in the history of literacy. There exist so many forms of new literacies that it is quite impossible for a student not to be totally engrossed in at least one of them. One of the last aspects of new literacies is the fact that what exists today may very well not be considered new literacy tomorrow; it is imperative more than ever that the generation we teach today be as informed as they can be.


Houtman, E. (2013). New literacies, learning, and libraries: How can frameworks from other fields help us think about the issues? In the Library with the Lead Pipe.  Retrieved from http://www.inthelibrarywiththeleadpipe.org/2013/new-literacies-learning-and-libraries-how-can-frameworks-from-other-fields-help-us-think-about-the-issues/ Accessed 17 March 2014.

Lankshear, C. & Knobel, M. (2011). New literacies: Everyday practices and social learning (3rd ed.). Maidenhead, UK: McGraw Hill.


The short piece here examines and critiques the ways and means that the public is being so-called “greenwashed” by large corporations through branding and marketing. As an example, BP portrays itself as a “brightly-colored, sunshiny, happy, baby company” through its visuals and music. The YouTube clip presents its message in an ironic way through the use of greenwashing itself. Viewers are peppered with pleasing-sounding terms such as all-natural, preservative-free, dolphin-friendly, and sustainable. The clip is even accompanied by the presence of soothing, positive music. It goes into other tactics that companies use in the media campaigns such as awards won from various agencies and use of “post-consumer” products. The video concludes by providing a neutral information source, greenerchoice.com, to provide further information to viewers seeking clarification of the myriad different terminologies related to greenwashing.