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VITTA – Shift Happens Conference 2008 November 18, 2008

Posted by davidit in Uncategorized.
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I will be making a whistle stop trip to Melbourne next week to attend for one day and present at the VITTA – Shift Happens 2008 conference.  It will be my first trip to Melbourne and my first trip to Australia.

I am looking forward to going, although like my Prague trip earlier this year, the schedule is full!  I will be leaving on the 7:30 flight on Monday and on arrival I shall be picking up my rental car and driving straight to Serpell School to help cement a collaborative link between there and classes on the Supertanker.  I shall be there all day.  Not sure what the evening will bring, but I have a couple of contacts in Melbourne or maybe the Serpell team will feel the need to entertain, not sure.  I am staying at the conference hotel, so will crash there and then attend the conference on the Tuesday.  I have to chair one session, I have just learnt!  I will be presenting at 2:30 and then at 5:30 I have to be off back through the rush hour traffic to make my 7:30 flight back to Auckland, getting in at 1:10AM just in time for a cluster day…  Spirulina and Berrocca mixed with V might be the order of the day this time next week!

Ancient Rome in 3-D, so what? November 13, 2008

Posted by davidit in Education 2.0, student engagement, Web 2.0.
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Google Earth have just launched a new layer in their Gallery, it is called ‘Ancient Rome 3-D’ and it does exactly what is says on the tin.  The Google Guys have created a complete rendtion of the famous landmarks and buildings of Ancient Rome in 3-D for us to all explore.  It is brilliant. You can read the development of the project here.

The so what of the title is… So how could we use this tool in a similar fashion to make the history of the locality that we live in come alive?  I am currently working on a project with a year 5 class where we are using Google Sketchup to create a 3-D model of our school to put into Google Earth, this is exciting enough.  However imagine re-creating a Maori pa site in 3-D that once graced the sides of many of the volcanoes in the Auckland caldera!  How much more dynamic and relevant a field trip would be if you could also envisage the current grassy hills as a vibrant communtity.  I think that there is much scope and potential to this idea.  Making history relevant and leap off of  the pages of dusty tomes is always a challenge to history teachers, however to synthesise the past with modern technology, all a the bargain basement price of $0, is surely too good an opportunity to pass up.  The next extrapolation of this would be to mash up Google Earth and Second Life to recreate events from the past in the environment that they took place…  Would this be considered a primary or secondary source if the detailing was accurate?  The potential is very exciting.

Any community, building, structure, event from the past could be treated this way, even battle fields!  History experienced in a  3-D world that can be moved through and examined from differing angles, to help decipher why certain actions were, or were not taken, what a concept, what a tool!  Any takers to help me build a pa?

See what can be done with free stuff! November 8, 2008

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Face of the new Dutch 5 Euro coin

I have just read the following article from one of my tech feeds.  This wonderful design was primarily made from Python software, one of the major engines of Blender and in addtion, The Gimp and Inkscape featured strongly as the creative tools required to produce this winning design.  This coin is now in production and you can see how the artist developed his ideas on his blog.  A win for Open Source software I would say. Total cost of investment to the artist? $0.  0 in any currency is a whole lot of nothing!  So what does this mean for education?  It means that there is a lot out there that can be used to create stunning opportunities for learning, for developing thinking skills and on a limited budget. Software that costs nothing but allows the individual to be as creative as this, has to be the way forward for schools.  So what are you waiting for? Get downloading, installing and enabling your students to be creative, problem solve, think and be engaged.  All for the princely sum of $0.

Obverse of new coin

Obverse of new coin

Scratching with New Entrants November 5, 2008

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Scratch solar system to be explored by New Entrants

Scratch solar system to be explored by New Entrants

I have been working with one of the New Entrant classes on the Supertanker all year and this term they are exploring space. I have worked with them to develop spatial language, forward, backward, turn left and turn right.   We have done practical activities in the playground where I was a robot that could only travel on the lines of a four square court painted on the ground and I could only move if they gave me the right instructions.  It forced them to have to use the right language of forward and backward, left and right in order to move and involved a lot of experimentation!  We have also used a Lego NXT robot to visit planets that they have created, the students, with my help, put in forward and turn right commands into the memory and estimated distance and turn in order that they might get the NXT to successfully land on their planets. They are now starting to understand…. kind of. This week they have been working with a grid of squares and using arrows have been plotting how many squares forward and how many squares to the left and right they need to move in order to get to planets already drawn on their grids. This is all leading up to them starting some work next week to using Scratch.

Scratch is an object oriented programming language that allows students to clip commands together like Lego bricks in order for them to control an avatar, in our case a rocket that has to blast off from the blue planet and visit the other three planets in the image that I have created for them above. I am hoping that by showing the students blocks that they can use in Scratch to  control the rocket in the picture,  they will be able to navigate their way around the planetary system I have created for them.

The Scratch programming blocks the students will be allowed to use

The Scratch programming blocks the students will be allowed to use

Virtual Tours in Google Maps November 4, 2008

Posted by davidit in Uncategorized.
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googleenvirotour

I have been working closely with one particular class on the Supertanker this year and one of their long term tasks has been an enviro project.  As you know we have this fantastic native bush clad gully that bisects our school, it is a fantastic teaching resource and one that I am anxious to share with the wider world.  As we are a Green Gold Enviro School (shortly up for renewal) we have many Enviro projects and initiatives on the go.  It was with this in mind that this particular class decided that they wanted to produce some sort of guide to the Enviro resources and initiative that we have on the Supertanker.  I decided that they would create a tour using Google Maps and now that work is coming to an end, it is time to share.

The students have been researching and recording their findings.  To do this they have been using the Internet, books (surprise surprise!) they have used digital cameras, Audacity and Photo Story to record all aspects of their research.  This has all been rolled up into WMV files and posted to their teacher’s YouTube account, where the videos are now being geotagged for viewing in Google Earth and inserted into placemarkers in Google Maps.  Links and a review to all of the above resources and more can also be found on my resources page..

The net result is that the students have been integrating many ICTs into many aspects of their programme and now their efforts are available for you, the public, to view.  They are still uploading their files and creating placemarkers (we actually used a GPS plotter to get the exact Eastings and Northings for the locations that we are illustrating!)  These have yet to be put into the place markers, but it is on our list of to dos.  At the moment I have proved the concept and now it just has to be tidied up.

If you want to see our Geotagged videos in Google Earth, all you need to do is fire up Google Earth, ensure that the You Tube icon is checked in the Gallery Section of the layers panel to the left of Google Earth. Then all that you have to do is type in ‘Meadowbank School, Auckland’ and you will be whisked off to the Supertanker and see our videos.

googleearthlayers

Alternatively if you wish to see our Enviro tour as it has been designed you can view it in Google maps.  To veiw the tour as it currently stands, click on the link below. (Google Maps can not easily be embedded into a WordPress blog)  I now have lots of other ideas for using Google Earth and Google Maps in classrooms. Watch this space…. View Larger Map

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