Hangouts to the East & to the West!
...to the East with Chong Ming Elementary in Taiwan...
Next Chong Ming pupils gave a series of presentations, in flawless English I might add, about their wonderful marine life artwork made from recycled materials. Overall, a great success I think for a first hangout. The techology worked seemlessly and the future possibilities are very exciting. I think it would great to start an 'Interesting Ways with Google Hangouts' if there isn't already one available in Tom Barrett's excellent interesting ways series.
...and to the West with Elizabeth Morrow in New Jersey...
Later that week, I joined our Year 2s for another hangout - this time with the Elizabeth Morrow school. Once again there was a Q and A session and then our children gave some mini-presentations about life at Pedmore school. I'm really hopeful that we'll be able to develop this link with Sarah Rolle and her pupils when the new term begins in the Autumn.
So, apart from hanging out, and madly planning for our class assembly, what else have we been up to?
Exploring Ngram viewer and 'tellling the story of the graph'
Google search tool
At last! Available in school on children's netbooks! Hurray! We celebrate in class each little step forward because sometimes they're hard won. That said, we've had some great technical support from the lovely people at RM who are trying to help with making Google tools available to us without compromising the filters that are there for children's safety. Thank you, Dudley RM team!
It's a feature of this style of learning that children ALWAYS have lots of questions throughout their projects. Pupils need information to find out about the topic, to write great letters, to respond to the replies they get, in short, to become really informed. So it's great to have search in Google Docs up and running. In school! What a great learning opportunity! We've already talked in class about what it means to 'cite' sources, use of images from sites in our docs, how we can begin to get an idea of the reliability of information based on its source, the usefulness of search terms and how we can refine these to access the results we're after. And my pupils are 8-9 year olds! Pupils will use search with or without our input - it's the nature of the world they're growing up in. But this tool brings the discussion and learning into the classroom so that children will learn how to use search in an informed and skilful way.
...and a word about Blogger in school
Blogger is at last up and running too, after a fashion. Children can create and edit posts but must wait until hometime before they can view their blog - or another pupil's come to that! The stop-start nature of making this tool available has meant it just hasn't gotten off the ground as a means for children to 'blog the learning journey' as they go along.
Google translate and 'gallery walk'
The children have continued sending out their letters. Google translate has proved invaluable for letters going to destinations where English isn't the first languages - for example Malaysia. We're all very excited about what the replies may bring. Based on the experience with last year's Year 4, I suspect the children will need to hone their higher order reading skills when they receive some of the replies.
Some letters aren't quite ready yet and it's for good reason that redrafting is an essential feature of project based learning. I'm hoping to organise a 'gallery walk' with the help of some of our older pupils so that they can kindly and constructively critique children's first drafts. Should be a great learning opportunity for all parties!
So what's next?
I've mentioned the up and coming hangouts and the gallery walk. We've also got an annual camp event at the end of this month. The children want to make it as sustainable as possible so they are going to be planning and adapting menus based on reducing or even eliminating the air miles of ingredients and trying to choose forest friendly sources for the things they'll need. We've also got our big bottle top art day coming up soon too! Watch this space!