Web 3.0

The Internet is evolving… here’s the next iteration.

Pencils and Crayons to be Banned in Schools


A new law coming into force later this month will require students to check in their pencils and crayons at the office and collect them after school.  Any children caught with pencils or crayons in their possession will have then confiscated and parents will be informed.

“We’ve had enough,” said one teacher, “kids are writing notes to each other in class. It’s distracting for us all.  Besides that, they spend too much time sharpening them when they could be working.”

There have been many reports of children using their pencils to “poke” each other and there have even been arguments about who owns which pencil.

“They’ll have someone’s eye out one day.  It’s only a matter of time before something serious happens,” commented a parent who favours the all out ban.  “Better to ban them all rather than risk an accident – they can be really sharp.”

In some cases pencils have been used by pupils to record their ideas and learning, but they’ve also created problems with their inappropriate use in class.  The introduction of new “coloured” pencils means that children are being tempted to create ever more creative work and the notes passed around now include garish illustrations.

One parent explained his opinion. “Chalk and slate was good enough for us, black and white and easy to read, not a confusing multicoloured mess.  You couldn’t pass notes around without the teacher noticing and the chalk couldn’t be sharpened into a dangerous point.  The greatest danger was that you’d drop it on your foot.  I’d like chalk to remain the teachers’ main tool (along with talk). Let’s keep it at the centre of learning.”

A few teachers are not convinced that the ban is the best policy.  They worry about the effect it might have on student engagement and motivation.

“As soon as they get out of school kids are writing, drawing and passing notes around.  I think by banning the pencil and crayon we risk alienating students and making their time at school seem irrelevant to their lives.”

“Used in the correct way they are powerful learning tools, students (and teachers) need to be trained in their proper classroom use.”

“It seems ridiculous to exclude something that is so readily available outside school and widely integrated into all aspects of our modern society.  They are exposed to these modern implements from an early age and most children use them on a daily basis.  To take them away is erasing educational opportunities.”

No one can argue with the fact that a sharpened pencil can cause injury and that something must be done.  It’s too soon to determine the outcome of the ban.  We’ll just have to wait and see.

P.S. There is a rumour that something called a “ballpoint pen” is beginning to gain popularity among teens.  How will schools cope with this new permanent menace?  At least pencils can be erased with the right equipment.

teachernzandface.jpg

image by orangeacid at Flickr

Sounds Good!

Earlier this week I left a comment (which I later turned into a blogpost) on this post by @wmchamberlain and was invited, via Twitter, to be a contributor at “At the Teacher’s Desk”   As I’d already identified audio and video of myself as a personal dislike I decided that the first step in “walking the talk” would be to use an audio-post as my first contibution to the blog.

Our class blog is provided by WordPress.com and it’s been about three years since I’ve done any real work on a Blogger based blog.  Before writing and recording my audio-post I needed to find out how to embed an mp3 audio player in Blogger.  Blogger (Google) doesn’t make this easy, which is a strange omission in a blogging platform that is otherwise so media friendly.  I thought I recalled doing it previously, but wasn’t sure.

In response to a question from @jlamshed I sent this tweet-

Which was met with a couple of responses.  One from @wmchamberlain suggesting I use Vocaroo (an online recording service) and another from @winetimejs saying I should find somewhere to host the audio file and link it in the blog.

Neither of these matched exactly what I wanted.  They’d both work perfectly well, but I wanted to edit the audio in Audacity to remove any “umms” and hiccoughs I might make.  I also wanted to embed a little player into the blog rather than have a link like this- listen here.  Don’t bother clicking – it’s not a real link!

After following several pomising leads from Google I eventually found this page.  It documents several ways of adding an audio player to Blogger. I used number 1 on the page to produce this player below.

You’ll need somewhere to host your audio file (I actually uploaded mine to WordPress).  After that you need to follow the instuctions, copy and paste the player code and then paste in your mp3 file location. I’m not going to reproduce all the steps here in any detail because they’re all included here.  Just make sure you paste the code into the html view in Blogger.

The page offers other options for embedding mp3 audio in blogger, none of which I’ve tried.  I like the sound of number three, which adds code to the Blogger template so that a player appears automatically whenever you paste in an mp3 link.

One final note.  This only works with mp3 audio files.  If you have any problems you can leave questions and suggestions in the comments.  Happy recording and listening!

EtherPad

EtherPad

I just had a most amazing collaborative experience.  @Mrs_Banjer tweeted on Twitter that she was in an etherpad opened by @mbarrow and would anyone like to come and try it out.  I’ve played with etherpad briefly, but not like we did tonight.

Each contributor is allocated a particular colour to help identify their additions and edits (there are eight colours).  We realised that only eight people could work on a document together at any one time when someone had to leave and was denied re-entry.  EtherPad isn’t perfect, but it is very impressive to watch up to eight live edits appearing on screen simultaneously.

After brief introductions and locations were informally exchanged we went to work, asking and answering questions, experimenting to test etherpad’s limitations and getting a feel for how it worked.  We shared links about software, tips about Twitter, but eventually settled to thinking about how students could use it.  About an hour after we first logged on (it didn’t seem like that long) we had co-created a list of ways that etherpad could be used in the classroom by students and teachers. Thanks to @mbarrow  for starting the etherpad and to @mrs_banjer  @scratchie @mwclarkson @juecov and others who popped in and out to contribute during the session.  Here’s the list we came up with.

Etherpad in the Classroom

This was a real collaborative effort and great fun too! Give it a go with some friends at http://etherpad.com/

Sweet Tweets

Twitter

I got a new follower on Twitter today and, as usual, checked out their profile to see if I wanted to follow them back.  That led me to a blog post about Twitter and how effective it has been as a PLN and PD tool for @kgustin.

I’ve been meaning to write about Twitter for a while now, but there doesn’t seem to be anything left for me to say that hasn’t already been said by other Tweeters.  Twitter has brought me out of my hole and into the light, connecting me with a network of like minded educators and people that I would otherwise never have “met”.  Thank you Twitter and thank you my Tweeting Twitter friends.

If you haven’t checked out Twitter for yourself yet, I recommend you do.  Give it a little time and you won’t regret it.

Here are a few blog posts that describe the Twitter experience and the benefits of being “connected” much better than I could.
Common Sense Classroom

Durff’s Blog

Steedy’s Blog

Sharing the Addiction

To Blog…

The next thing to consider is how to use these tools yourself and then introduce them to the class.

I started of by publishing all children’s work myself.  Usually I would say, "When you’ve finished that piece of writing I’ll publish it on the blog".

For an item brought to share with the class I’d photograph it with my phone, bluetooth the photo to my laptop and upload it to the blog (about 2 minutes work).  I’d add "story coming…" under the photo and ask children to download/print out a blog template and write their story/information into it for adding to the photo.  Then I’d type it up.  Occasionally I’d log in to wordpress and guide children through blogging(publishing) their own writing. Finally I settled on using Windows Live Writer.

Windows Live Writer

Coming soon-setting up & using Live Writer.