New Year, Fresh Start

January is well known for making New Year resolutions and fresh starts so why not take advantage of this in the classroom. Begin 2016 with a fresh slate. Some ideas which can be incorporated into the classroom at this time of the year include:

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  1. Making a resolution jar. Students write down a goal or wish for 2016 and put it inside a large jar which is kept in the classroom. In May/June the teacher then opens the jar and gives the goals back to each student to see if they are still on track or have the goals been reached.
  2. Make a wish cloud – Create a large display of a cloud or a star. Students create a good thought or wish for the class or school for 2016 and stick them onto the display.
  3. Begin a reward system – If students gain enough points by the end of the school year there will be a reward. This can be done as a whole class or individually. There are loads of sample reward systems online.
  4. Make a plan – Talk to students about what must, should and could be covered by the end of the term. Set clear goals and tasks that students can work on.
  5. Start a class initiative – such as volunteering for a charity or start a pay it forward campaign. This is where students must do a good deed and ask the person who the deed is for to pay it forward by doing a good deed for someone else. You could create a blog or twitter page where deeds are recorded and people can add to it as the initiative grows.
  6. Create a class resolution list – What as a whole do the class want to achieve this year.

These are just a few simple ideas for teachers wanting to do something positive with January resolutions in the classroom. If you try some out I would love to hear about it ūüôā Good Luck

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Encouraging Creativity

This blog will focus on another one of the NCCA key skills. This week I want to explore the skill of creativity and how we can use web 2.0 to encourage this is our classrooms. The main elements of creativity outlined by the NCCA are as follows:

1.  Imagining
2.  Exploring options and alternatives
3.  Implementing ideas and taking action
4.  Learning creatively
5.  Stimulating creativity using digital technology.

When I initially think of being creative I am drawn to the idea of coloured card, markers, glue and scissors but creativity can be expressed in a wide variety of ways. Creativity can be expressed through art, physical expression such as dance, writing, speaking and more recently with the help of technology. Some students may feel pressured when asked to present work creatively. Some could not think of anything worse than creating a poster or project but fortunately there are now apps and websites that allow students to express their creativity in ways they may be more comfortable with. I have chosen three of these web based technologies to talk about today but there are thousands waiting to be discovered. Please leave feedback on these or add your own in the comments.

  1. Popplet 

Popplet is an app designed for Ipad and Iphone. It is a tool that allows
users to display information and ideas in a new way. Teachers and students can create graphs, timelines, mind-maps and many other forms of visual organisation. Students and teachers can download the full app for 4.99. This app allows students and teachers to share their popplets with others and benefit by viewing popplets from all over the world. These popplets would be ideal for revision, presenting information or introducing a new topic. Images, videos and documents can be imported from your computer, Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube just to name a few. Finished popplets can be saved and printed. There is a free version called popplet lite. This is the same except students cannot see popplets from other people and cannot share them.

2. Explain Everything

Explain Everything is an easy-to-use design, screen casting, and interactive whiteboard tool that lets you create, animate, narrate, import, and export almost anything to and from almost anywhere. Students can create documents, slideshows, videos, presentations, images and can edit documents which they import. You can add explanations to notes, draw diagrams for explanations and create your own study aids. This app can be downloaded on smart phone, ipad or windows. It costs 3.99 but there is an option to buy for the class or school which will be a bulk price. There are tutorials online to get started but once started it is very simple and straightforward to use. When finished creating and editing documents can then be exported to anywhere at all, dropbox, google docs, computer or email. This app can be used for revision, note taking, assignments or assessments.

3. Story Board That

Storyboard That is an online storyboard creator that helps visually communicate ideas and concepts to quickly tell a story. It provides templates in which you can create your stories in a comic strip style along with hundreds of scenes, characters, and text bubbles to fill your storyboard’s frames. You can choose from a wide collection of templates, characters, props etc to create your story/comic.¬†Students can use it to create simple cartoon stories, create outlines for longer creative writing projects or to script videos or presentations. They can also use it to practice a language, creative writing and studying almost any subject. It is easy to use with a drag and drop feature and students can import files from their own computers. A free account allows you to produce and save two stories a week but premium accounts are available for 9.95 a month. For this price a teacher can set up a class and add up to fifty students. Teachers can use storyboard to set up a classroom where they can see students creations easily. Story board is extremely simple but a fun and new way of e learning.¬†