Shapes In The Environment: Digital Tools In The Numeracy Hour

Green Park Station, is a little off the beaten tourist track. No longer in use for its designed purpose this attractive building is now home to a local farmer's market, houses a number of small specialist retail outlets, and is part of the local Sainsbury's car park. However despite its aesthetic and retail therapy appeal it is as a mathematical resource, that I was drawn out of doors one damp Saturday afternoon, and before a leisurely shop and a coffee in the Brasserie, I wandered around armed with a digital camera to snap these images.

It has been interesting to engage recently with posts around the use of ICT and digital media within the Literacy Hour, so I thought I would turn my attentions towards thinking about the potential some of the tools explored might hold for the Mathematics Framework.

Using and applying has a central dimension within the new mathematics framework, and the recent NCETM research digest mentioned in a previous post, draws our gaze toward the valuable role that talk has to play, through class discussion, collaborative group work and guided investigational activity in developing and rehearsing processes while contextualising the use and application of mathematical vocabulary in context.

The real world context of Green Park, is alive with shapes. Its curving semi-circular central roof, supported on cylndrical pillars, presents the impression of a majestic semi cylindrical covering to what was once the train shed. While a closer look shows the glass roof itself not to be curved, but made up of rectangular panes of glass, rising to an apex, that makes it triangular in appearance. Wooden wall panels made up of tesselated rectangles, cross braced to divide the irregular quadrilaterals still further into right angle and equilateral or are they isoceles triangles. Supporting structures from the pillars create triangular openings with curved sides, arcs and to the sides of these are mounted spherical lamps. Windows form rectangular openings in the fascade of a largley cuboidal building, divided into smaller rectangles the window frames in turn hold still smaller square panes of glass. Vertical, upright girders form perpendicular supports riveted to horizontal beams which rise parallel to their neighbours. The central roof, and facias also present yet more tesselating and symetrical patterns to be explored.

Using the IWB and/or printouts of the images there is enormous potential to frame discussions around the properties of shapes. From simple shape hunts to the investigation of congruence, and shapes within shapes, from identifying lines of symmetry to describing and reasoning about the forms evident in the photographs. Extending and developing this with students themselves we might create local shape trails, using digital cameras to help develop not only their observational skills but encouraging them to focus on the structures around them and their features in the landscape.

There is an increasing catologue of ready made Excel, and flash or object based tools, available on the New Mathematics Framework Website, sorted and grouped by strand and unit, for use with the whiteboard or by students in the ICT suite. In the Literacy Framework there is an increasing focus on how digital technologies might be used to support learning outcomes practically as extentions and alternative ways of presenting activities developed within the and from the Literacy Hour. Perhaps activities such as this might be one way of beginning to see that ICT can be used in a similar way for the presentation, exploration and representation of mathematical ideas.

IWB.... Slideshow.... Action! Investigating The Number 9

With an eye to the using and applying strands so apparent in the New Mathematics Framework , I have just found this interesting group on Flickr. Called simply Nine, the pool have currently 3,037 uploaded images, that represent the number 9. So what I hear you cry, well, I haven't viewed them all, but there are a number of different representations that could make interesting starting points for discussions and/or guided investigations focussed around thinking together with the IWB during Numeracy Hour.

With younger students, where we might want to discuss numbers in the environment, there are photos showing different everyday representations of the digit 9.

With slightly older students how about starting with a slideshow, showing a range of 2 digit numbers with a digital root of 9, and opening the oral mental session with a question like "What's special about these images?" perhaps a bit too open, how about "What do you notice about the numbers in these photographs?" or "I made a slideshow to start today's session, I have called it 9, while you watch it today I would like you and your neighbour to think together about why that might be?" Perhaps you might choose to include only 9 photos, inorder to allow an in, by counting for those who might not readily focus in on the numbers in the images.

With older students perhaps we could use a slideshow involving some of the more obscure, ways of representing nine like these two.

Firstly there is a nine in this number, but perhaps there are two nines, 1 + 8 = 9 too. What about extending this to consider the digital root of the whole number like so....

(1+8) + 9 = 18 -> 1 + 8 = 9

We could also consider building on this guided investigation as a starting point in a multiplication unit to help support work around the nine times table, what do the students notice about the digits in the products of the nine times table, try working through the digital root, as we did with the number above...

How about this? What do you notice about the number on this bus?


What happens if... we divide 9711 by 9? Does this work with all the numbers in my photo stories of 9?

I think this is truly fantastic collection of photos. Thanks. Inspired of Bristol!

Mona's Moods

While I was sorting out today I came across a short video I made a while ago to use with students during a series of emotional literacy sessions. This movie was also used during the planning of our animated Mr Potato Head movies, to frame discussions around facial features their representation of mood.

This short video clip was developed in MS Photostory, using images downloaded from The Interactive Mona Lisa,



Something to bear in mind when planning for the development and implementation of ICT change of use projects.

"Sustainability does not simply mean that it can last (£). It addresses how particular initiatives can be developed without compromising the development of others in the surrounding environment, now and in the future."


Starting from the Student..thinking aloud

I was asked the other day to comment by my tutor, on a research digest article, regarding Interactive Whiteboards, by the NCETM (The National Centre for Excellence in Teaching Mathematics) This document is really interesting not for what it has to say about the use of technologies in Mathematics lessons, but in the assumptions it makes regarding teacher perceptions of the role of talk as a tool in ICT mediated learning contexts. This was of particular interest to me since this has formed an integral part of the literature review for my dissertation, which uses digital video to explore aspects of what learning looks like in my ICT mediated mathematics lessons. It has helped me reframe the perspective of my discussions, and provide context and relevance to some of the issues I had, previously raised about an overly generalised outsider perspective on how ICTs are used to mediate learning.

What seems at the moment more relevant to me, in terms of understanding what learning might look like, is in the material that surrounds the IWB review presented, and what it has has to say about the use talk, in supporting, framing, mediating and developing mathematical contexts. The "transformative potential" of the IWB lies not in the technology, but how we as teachers understand it as mediating tool in learning situations, We seem to shy away from the idea that IWBs are presentation tools, becoming defensive about our perceptions of it, but essentially this is what they were designed for. In the classroom however their transformative potential lies in how we use them as a vehicle to bring together a host dynamic tools within wider structured and tool mediated collaborative or communal work. How as "designers for learning" teachers draw on the affordances of software environments and other tools to engage their learning communities, for example through guided investigation and problem solving approaches within shared and communal tasks.

The current web 2.0 revolution is evolving through social networks, where learning together and communal knowledgebuilding is a key and accepted element. I learn much by visiting other blogs, wondering how certain things were achieved, experimenting and joining in sharing ideas, and seeking support from a diverse network. In the classroom I know this occurs also, but the key to enabling this is how we use the space to share in the knowledge and experience developed by one member of the community, building on this through the experiences we bring for the benefit of everyone, seeing each contribution or idea as part of a larger whole. Using the ideas embedded here, and stemming from engagement with the work of Neil Mercer, I have begun to use his view of talk, as a process of "thinking together," to look at how or whether the IWB and other mediating tools used supported the creation of common knowledge and ideas in my classroom, and the strategies I used that enable or disable this process to take place. Anyway to end on a lighter note, thinking about starting from the student I found this today thanks to Doug Dickinson

A group of young children were sitting in a circle with their teacher ...
...she was going around in turn asking them all questions.

"Davey, what sound does a cow make?" Davey replied, "It goes 'moo'."

"Alice, what sound does a cat make?"Alice said, "It goes 'meow'."

"Jamie, what sound does a lamb make?"Jamie said, "It goes 'baaa'."

"Jennifer, what sound does a mouse make?"Jennifer paused, and said, "Uhh... it goes... 'click'!"

Submitted by Dave, Bolder, Co to My Kid Sister's Sayings .

I have to say this really appealed to me, as a similar incident occurred when a colleague from Chile was drawing with his son. They had made an elephant, and were colouring it in. My colleague asked if he could paint the elephant grey, and his son reached over dipped his finger in the paint and pressed on the elephants body. Unfortunately unlike the PC based "paint" this did not result in a flood fill, which is what his little boy had expected. So talk, what we say and how we interpret it does have a bearing on the common meanings we make!

Little Patches of Ground

Over the last couple of weeks I have encountered a number of excited mentions of the online tool voicethreads. Voicethreads, at its simplest, is a tool that enables audio commentary to be combined with annotation and photographs or other digital images to tell stories. A voicethread also has the additional social dimension that others can contribute to your thread, by adding recorded or written comments.

The potential it seems from what I have seen and read sofar, is limited like many such tools only by how we might choose to use it. Here are a couple of really nice examples of how colleagues have used the tool personally from

John Johnston
Paul Harrington

Reading these threads has lead to an interesting thought or two about how this tool could perhaps be used in combination with or to extend/embed use of the simple Vodcast structure I played with recently in combination with the Tizz's Travels Frame.

A colleague of mine a while back mentioned a project she wanted to develop around the Idea of "My Little Patch Of Ground," Essentially this project would involve students in engaging with a similar idea to those engaged with John and Paul, photographing or originally drawing their favourite places, and features of the landscape and location and writing about them. We originally discussed using Multimedia Authoring Applications and Digital photographs to prepare the material for inclusion in the school website. However Voice Threads and MS Photostory now seem to offer a new way of looking at this project proposal, and one I must take up with my colleague on return to school.

Linking into the wider curriculum, as well as the obvious geographical possibilities, this project has a number of other potential links to Literacy and Citizenship. In the case of Literacy the exploration of visual genre is an exciting possibility, considering how we might use traditional written formats in support of our thread, perhaps through the use of the frame to present and perform poetry as the basis for a textured script, as well as the recieved potential for documentary type presentations and recount development. In terms of citizenship our engagement with our location, has the possibility for identifying and sharing the views of people around us within the context of common experience of a place. Questioning, engaging with and challenging through comparison personal perceptions about our place in space.

In terms of the use of Voice Thread, the completed outcomes are hosted remotely, with code available to embed the project into blogs, and this is a useful element for me, as it has the potential to open the use of class Blog Spaces to develop and share the projects. I do have a current e safety concern, as my last visit to Paul's blog pointed to a worry he had regarding comment moderation on the threads he produces. There are however others not the least of which at the moment is the LA Firewall, and not being at school currently I cannot check whether the widgets that hold voicethreads in place can get through. It woukld certainly be an Irony if having worked so hard to develop these, the students couldn't access and share their work in school. We will also have to consider the ways in which threads are produced, in terms of the visual information they contain, and the texts developed, however this is an exciting possibility rather than a problem, as it is a teaching point that could be used to engage students practically in considering how the projects they develop relate to our e safety guidelines when producing material for publication.

Voice Threads and Visual Literacy.

As part of my podcast/vodcast experiment I have been using MS Photostory and Podomatic, alongside my Blogger trial. One of the affordances of Photostory is an ability to like voice threads add real time voiceovers to the images included. Perhaps a step back is what I need to take at this point. (Ed.. almost a jodaism, a bit of quick editing will fix this! A stepback at this point, what I need to take, is perhaps. Aah thats better.)

In engaging with visual and multimodal texts, as with traditional texts we need real time examples, texts we can share, explore and evaluate, as we would a book. The voice threads above would be useful starting points, perhaps as a stimuls. Working through these, the students could engage in a similar process to that I was beginning to think about earlier. developmentally publishing their "threads" through a literacy context, and as PC users, within photostory. When finished, the "threads" could be exported as Windows Media Video and using a site like Zamzar, the completed texts converted to Quick Time (.mov) files for inclusion in a Vodcast created at Podomatic. The purpose of this is ultimately to create a sense of purpose and audience for the texts developed. In developing this project I might encourage my colleague to create a station at Podomatic called "little patches of ground," to where the vodcast "threads" could be hosted, and linked in to Tizz's Travels, either as a separate page with an embedded widget, or by embedding the widget in an existing section of the site with its back link to the Podcast. Linked to Geotagging this project could also be exciting, in locating the the patches of ground through quikmaps, tagging the map with file names or episodes, and perhaps embedding the map produced into Tizz's Travels or a project blog. This is worth exploring further, particularly whether this map might be embedded in the vodcast station.

While I am whittering, I have been wondering about the possibilities this might have for comparing places through time. I have wondered about the possibilities in the past for recreating visual landscapes, by engaging students with photographs or paintings from the past while trying to frame the same shot as it looks in space today. Our city scapes and landscapes constantly change, and it might be an interesting project to discuss with colleagues around the use of trails and digital media. Wonder how this would fit around the exciting create-a-scape work being done at FutureLab, it is quite similar to this project carried out in the Kings Cross area of London I guess. It would be interesting though to build on this to develop voice thread type presentations that combined student's interpretation of the then and now, on return with their data.


We all know what ICT Stands For!

My feed has just pointed me to this from the mouths of babes remark on John Sutton's creative ICT blog.

Dabbling and Dawdling

Our school website is something of which I, my school and our students are very proud, an organic and evolving eclectic and sometimes quirky mix of celebration, attempts to create a corporate web image while sharing resources and ideas developed within our learning community. But beyond this it also exists as a frame to pull together, experiment and engage with new and emerging publishing and communication technologies through a single point of contact. These platforms are increasingly providing contexts to reach out and share our achievements with an audience beyond traditional community bounds, and closer to home, providing contexts for modeling how we might embed digital technologies within our cross curricular activities.

This frame has evolved through experimentation and playful engagement with a host of tools, resources and activities, and over the course of this year particularly, I have come to think of and begun, I hope, to enable colleagues to begin thinking of the space less as an advertisement, and more as a dynamic vehicle, portal or window through which we can share our work as a complex and diverse community of practice.

The area, that has been perhaps most instrumental in this has been Tizz's travels, in providing a basis to combine and experiment with a number of technologies to frame one simple aim. I set out with the intention of utilising hyperlinking to develop a scaffold for developing student awareness of their place in space. Originally the concept was one of an interactive atlas, through including stories developed in Powerpoint and 2 create a story, this began as a resource, for use with the Interactive Whiteboard and for children to visit as part of their geography topics within the ICT areas in class, but it has also begun to capture the imagination of colleagues, prompting contributions not only in digital form, but through the sending of postcards, addressed from Tizz to school when on holiday, and is becoming an extension of web based work within the classroom too. This was evidenced in the Y3 Podcasts, where students having taken Tiz on a local visit with them, used her as a focal character in the audio recording and the development of visual scripts. It has also lead colleagues to use 2 create a story to develop narratives from Tizz's perspective about places they have visited to share with students and a wider audience. As well as the virtual space, this has also lead to the development of wall displays, that seek to mimic the unique multimodal forms presented in the digital representation, and this has no doubt challenged colleagues to think about how this can be achieved, providing in itself a basis for considering the affordances that the technological solution brings, which are different to the wall based and essentially flat representation.

Traditionally I guess web site development has been placed in the hands of those who can, requiring some skill acquisition in coding or the use of specialist tools to create, maintain and manage the resource. Even though our current website still requires remote maintenance, it is continually evolving and changing. In September last year it was entirely my responsibility to maintain and develop content, and as I have pointed to in previous posts, the inclusion of year group blog spaces was a proposed solution to this, gradually handing over responsibility for the development and maintenance of class community pages to students and colleagues, with established and largely static content supported by dynamic engagement through the blog. As John Johnston pointed out the other day, though this could eventually also become the property of students and colleagues since the wordpress blogging platform we are currently using allows for the addition of pages that could replace the current frameset I use to redirect the blog, increasing the role of our home page as a portal, while devolving further responsibility and ownership to the year group communities for engagement with the space. Recent experiments with podcasting and vodcasting have pointed to possibilities about how we might further develop use the allocated FTP spaces we have through our LA, to exploit these technologies. Though I recognise the steep learning curves some of us may have to go through in achieving this, a starting point has to be recognition of the role these technologies have to play in the teaching and learning process, something which is not always evident on face value, and which needs to be drawn into the open. Starting simply and dropping pebbles, planting seeds or modeling these roles in practice is key to this. Technological determination alone will not help our colleagues see beyond the interface and identify the potential roles technologies might play in enhancing or adding value to their work. Personal determination driven by recognition of purpose is what I feel drives us to learn new skills, and this requires engagement with tools in context, and framing this will be a key facet in the further development of this process in school. Starting small has been key to some of the success I have already had , and I am grateful for the contributions, advice and supportive comments I have received lately from other colleagues and visitors to my blog regarding my developing thoughts. I am looking forward to engaging further though currently my dissertation is occupying most of my time. I have managed though to get back to engaging with my personal web space during down times and am beginning to say a little more about who I am, and pull together, share and develop some of the ideas I have begun to explore in my blog. I hope to develop this further once my project is complete, and look forward to any comments.


Podagogy a Term to Conjure With!

Following on from a post by Joe yesterday regarding Google Alerts, I set up an experimental alert about podcasting in education, and was returned a link this morning to Podagogy. A place where podcasting meets teaching & learning. Mid dissertation myself a term like this had an almost magnetic appeal

Podagogy is defined by its author as

n. 1. a portmanteau of the words podcasting and pedagogy. 2. The act or practice of delivering instructional content or academic support content via podcasting. 3. Result of Randy’s penchant for inventing new words.

Am flagging the blog here to return to later, but also as it presents reflections on research into applied use of podcasting and other web 2.0 tools in a higher education setting.


8 random facts meme

I’ve just tagged by Paul Harrington of Ddraig Goch Blog renown and the amazing Joe Dale. for the 8 random facts meme.

First, the Rules:

1) Post these rules before you give your facts.
2) List 8 random facts about yourself.
3) At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them.
4) Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged.

This has caused some pause for thought, being a usually quiet type, but here goes

1) I grew up in a mining village in North Northumberland.

2) I play Bodhran, not brilliantly, but well enough to join in the odd session.

3) I am a big sci fi fan, currently enjoying Heroes and the 4400, but by no means a closet trekky, a trait I inherited from my father. Engage!

4) I have lived here in Bristol for 21 years.

5) My favourite authors are Terry Pratchett and Patricia Cornwell.

6) I have been a Newcastle United Fan since childhood. Despite a bare trophy cabinet I am anticipating the undoubted success that Big Sam can bring us.. Howay the Lads!.

7) My favourite band is Pink Floyd.

8) Instead of mountain hockey, one day I hope to play golf.

I now pass the tag on to

Anthony Evans

Linda - ICT Blog

Keith Ansell

Moovl-Just add Imagination

Nicole at BeeBots Down Under

Andy Ramsden

Doug Dickinson

John Sutton

Gestures can tell us Learning is in progress!

"Teachers who use gestures as they explain a concept -- such as a hand sweep to emphasize an equation's symmetry -- are more successful at getting their ideas across, and students who spontaneously gesture as they work through new ideas tend to remember them longer than those who do not move their hands."

I have been fascinated in ICT sessions to experience how children share ideas through pointing, changes in body position and how how thoughts and ideas seem to be modelled, externalised or rehearsed through the movement of hands. In classs when words have escape students they act them out by mime when they don't have the vocabulary to express what they want to say but can show. Check out this fascinating Article from the Washington Post. What might the implications of this for understanding the role tools such as Interactive Whiteboards play in learning?


Playing with PhotoStory as a Vodcast Platform

Having got my experimental blogger podcast underway and working, I decided to play with a few of the other tools I have been using with the students in class this year and to see how these might be used to make a simple vodcast that could be developed and embedded into a series of classroom activities. Taking inspiration from the work Anthony has done this week on the new literacy framework and bearing in mind the multimodal and cross curricular nature of this new documentation, I chose to play with a script I had already uploaded as an audiocast, about Henry VIII and his six wives.

Exploring the life and times of the monarch will be an extension of first term work exploring the lives of ordinary folk who lived during a period of time presided over by the Tudor Royal Family. Chronology, supporting a sense of time, change over and location in time are essential skill sets and concepts to be developed through the context of a historical investigation, but as well as their historical context these ideas are also mathematical in nature, so the use of timelines to support the sequential ordering of events from the period, needs linked not only to the historical aspects of the theme but also to measuring and telling the time through the creation of personal timelines and timetables that support the practical use of appropriate language, and which in turn can can be drawn upon to support work around recount organisation within literacy focussed sessions .

Chronological ordering and the use of timelines will be integral to the Literacy and ICT activities which stem from it, and this is where the vodcast example comes in, in using PhotoStory I have engaged with a recount, but rather than writing and presenting it in oral text format, I have extended this to create a short documentary about the life of Henry.

The images I have used were downloaded from the web, following a search for Henry VIII and his six wives, they can also be found on pages linked from the Y3 community pages on our school website, and from the history section of the school resource bank.

Having a script already I used these images with Photostory and imported them before using the "timeline," to sequence them by drag and drop. With the students however getting to this stage in the process will require classroom preparation time and planning. It will also require us to set up the final project in stages as we go. Since this will be their first time using PhotoStory, I will probably choose images before hand and rename them to match the characters, in a shared folder, for use in the skills teaching part of the process that will support the progressive preparation of the PhotoStory documentary Project.

While introducing photostory as a tool to develop the final documentary idea I will want to engage the students with the genre and help them prepare their scripts in class. So I will prepare the ground, by printing out copies of the images that the students can use practically in table top, sequencing and ordering activities to construct a storyboard (timeline of events). Engaging with the original written text and the audio text I have included in my Podcast we will organise the images and begin to explore and identify the structural features of a recount, gradually applying these to plan and develop a script to support the story presented by the images and experienced through shared text activity. By placing the emphasis on telling the story, we will be shifting the focus on the purpose of the students written text to support the audiences engagement with the images they are using, and enabling discussion of how the language and structural features we use will be presented and performed in order to engage their listeners or viewers. This will provide opportunities to review other visual documentaries, such as those available on Espresso, or perhaps engage with, explore and evaluate the presentation techniques used in the oral delivery of news based recounts from for example Newsround.

Alongside this we can begin to introduce PhotoStory in the suite and extend work within the classrooms ICT area, as the children import the images and sequence them chronologically on the time line. We can also use the prepared vodcast file and perhaps a Powerpoint Show on the IWB to support text level work as we rehears, and share scripts as we prepare them while thinking together as a class, about the features of voice we need to use in recording our own documentaries, for our vodcasts episodes as the final writing outcome of the unit. The students can also spend time rehearsing and preparing with the purpose of the presented outcome secure their texts for recording, before working together in groups to use the direct audio recording tool in PhotoStory, to narrate their documentaries.

The presented PhotoStory Project on my podcast experiment had to be converted to quick time format from .wmv the native export format generated by Photo Story at Zamzar, before I uploaded it to my webspace, and linked it into the blog for feed.

Podomatic will also accept .mov files, so once the photostory files have been exported to windows media video, these will also need to be converted to quick time files (.mov). once you have your files from Zamzar, saved to the computer these can then be uploaded and integrated into your podcast station there. The classroom process I have described above is I think more than plausible, if we see the ICT used as supporting or stemming from our Literacy and Historically based classroom tasks. The outcome is also potentially quite powerful. The latter part of the process as described seems convoluted, but after my trial and error process in getting here is now actually a lot easier than it may first appear. Here are my current experimental files from the Podomatic Space.

Click here to get your own player.

Waffling through and clarifying Some "Web 2.0" thoughts...

This morning I found a really useful working definition that has helped me clarify in my own mind anyway the difference between a podcast and a series of uploaded audio files, on a website. It may seem of little consequence, but terms do tend to get bandied around quite freely, and often in my experience become blurred as we say we are doing one thing when in actual fact we are doing something quite different. If we intend to embed ICT, within our wider curricular, it strikes me as important that we as educators or " more knowledgeable others" are as familiar with and accurate in our use of the terms we use in ICT as we are in other curricular areas.

Wikipaedia defines a podcast like so

A podcast is a digital media file, or a series of such files, that is distributed over the Internet using syndication feeds for playback on portable media players and personal computers... Though podcasters' web sites may also offer direct download or streaming of their content, a podcast is distinguished from other digital media formats by its ability to be syndicated, subscribed to, and downloaded automatically, using an aggregator or feed reader capable of reading feed formats such as RSS or Atom.

I had this explained to me once during a session at uni, but have struggled since to formulate it in a way I can share with colleagues. This framework seems quite a useful one not only for podcasting but for framing discussions about the difference between the host of currently existing so called "Web 2.0" technologies and those that went before.

Having said this, I have begun integrating year group blogs, and a couple of others into our school website from the point of view of trying to develop ownership of its content. To engage colleagues I have presented them initially as a kind of hybrid between a desktop publisher/wordprocessor and email, where they can apply existing skills, and to promote them as easily updateable web sites, tools that can be used to share ongoing classroom activities with the outside world, or structured over time to involve students in logging themes. I recognise that this decries the power and potential that these tools actually have through syndication, and the notion of content coming to us rather than us going to the content, but in the early stages of this process it has and is important for me to get these spaces used, and colleagues and students involved. I have been concerned that if I begin introducing the technological nuances I would lose my colleagues.

However, the above definition seems also a useful starting point to begin exploring and framing future work with colleagues around the differences between other socalled "Web 2.0" technologies and those that went before. In introducing the syndication aspect of these technologies, I might be able for Podcast to Substitute Blog, or Flikr, for digital media substitute web page, bookmarks/favourites, photo gallery etc, for playback on portable media players substitute a host of web enabled technologies, and browsers, eventually substuting the concepts of syndication and aggregation as the basis for sharing and collaboration.

With Blogs particularly I have a leaning towards something I mentioned in an earlier post, the idea of creating a community feed that will enable us to pull together, all our blog content to one place for use as a celebration and sharing point in school assemblies, or a means to keep our stakeholder community up to date through perhaps inclusion of a headline animator in our homepage. Hmm! Something further to ponder on...


Hanging Out In Spingfield

Went to see the Simpson's Movie this week with a friend and his children. It was a really odd experience seeing the family on the big screen after so many years watching them on the goggle box, non the less great escapism, in the midst of chaos.

In between papers and weeding this afternoon have popped out for a beer in Moe's a leisurely stroll along the shores of sunny Springfield Lake. The EPA seemto have done a great job, after the movie. Oh is that..? it is! Hey Homer what you ...?

Looking for a real thriller this summer, conspiracy, political intrigue, romance, a search of self and enactments of selflessness.. If not how about an hour and half of fun, chaos and mayhem in the company of Homer and his family.. Love it!

You can teach an old dog new tricks...

Yesterday I posted about playing with podcasting, spent the day going through the process of setting up a Blogger Account to handle the feed, redirecting this through Feedburner, uploading files to my webspace, and today clutching "virtually" and "physicaly" anything wooden, I have been trying out and completing the process as described on Jason's site. So far all seems well, though the two files I have published so far seem a bit quiet. I still have a bit of playing to do.

Thanks also to Paul who has recommended Podomatic, as a host site. I tried this earlier in the term, when I was encountering FTP problems from within the LA firewall. The spaces provide 500 mb of free upload space for your sound files, and work in a similar way to a blog space. I found the space easy to use when working from home, but did encounter upload and access problems when trying to work with the space from school, perhaps this is just a particular quirk within our authority. I will give this space, called currently The Buzz, another try after the holidays, as well as adding chasing up the FTP issues we have been having internally in publishing podcasts created in Podium to the FTP space provided, to the to do list I need to engage with on return to school.

I have also made a Photostory using the Henry VIII and his six wives script using images collected from the web, that I want to try uploading and sharing through my Podcast experiment space. This will be a chance to explore another medium, one I am keen to exploit with the students, and to explore the functionality of the Zamzar site, presented through a refereral from Paul.

In the meantime I really want to come to grips on a personal level with what and how this process works, so would value any comments or suggestions from readers and visitors about the process, as this will support my development of activities further with students and colleagues next term.


Playing With Podcasts: A Break Time Project

I have been exploring and using Podium , Softease's educational podcasting solution for the past few months with my primary age students. As a classroom solution it was launched at just the right time for us, I had excitedly discussed podcasting and some of the roles we might be able to develop for it with our Literacy Coordinator in September last year. I spent what seemed like an age, actually trying to come to grips with how we might enable the process to be used with students, and managed by novice teacher users, playing with Audacity and Garageband for myself, before a visit to BETT in January and a chance to explore at first hand this easy to use all in one Podcast Production and Publication platform.

The process that preceded the launch of Podium, placed me firmly in the learner's chair. Making and recording the MP3 files was straightforward enough. I could use Audacity, plug in a mike or headhone mike to my PC, create a quick script, rehearse it and then pressing the record button off I went. The resultant MP3 file exported from Audacity could then be hyperlinked to webpages on the school website, and uploaded for download to be played in a media player, such as Real Player, Microsoft Media Player or iTunes, or copied to play on any MP3 player. There it was or so I thought an instant podcast.

What I was to learn as I continued to explore the medium was that this was not the be all and end all of podcasting. What I had produced was a downloadable audio file. In order to access these, our listeners would have to revisit the pages I had linked them from regularly to seek updates and download these each time. What we needed to turn these files into a "podcast" proper was a way of linking these together as episodes, enabling our listeners (or viewers) to gain access to or be informed of updates to our publications automatically as we made and uploaded them. This process known as "subscription," requires what is known as an RSS feed. This is where my limited experiences with web 2.0 technologies to date brought me to a grinding halt. It is also one of the main reaosns why Podium is such a great tool for use in schools. Having produced your MP3 files in Podium, when you publish your files, the feed file is also generated, or updated and published at the same time to your online space, and a link provided that can be either copied and pasted to your website, or that can be circulated your readership by email.

Using a tool called an aggregator such as iTunes or Juice, sometimes also called "podcatchers," you can copy and paste the feed's address, when you log on to the web, these tools can be used to check for and download updates to the Podcasts you have subscribed to, listen to or watch regularly.

Visiting the sites of other Bloggers such as Joe Dale, and John Sutton, have lead me to really think further about the potential this medium has not only for students but for teachers too, and from a personal professional development perspective, lead me to wonder how I might be able to use the ideas behind podcasting to support and perhaps extend learning in and beyond the school day.

Yesterday I spent planning my theme on Tudor Bristol, for next term with my new teaching partner, and as we looked through some of the resources we had available came across some nice material, that I thought students might enjoy listening to as stories. I used Audacity yesterday evening to record these, thinking that on return to school I could import these MP3s to Podium and upload these. However as is my wont, my mind has begun wandering and returned to how I could publish these as part of a podcast experiment from home. I began by searching this morning for free podcast hosting sites, when I came across Jason Van Orden's site which he says is "The definitive step-by-step guide on how to podcast without breaking the bank." I have to say that I really enjoyed reading the content, and particuarly his free solution to producing a podcast beginning here. He has included step by step videos, for
  • creating your Blogger blog,
  • setting up your feedburner account
  • creating an "our media" account to save your podcast files to
  • uploading your files
  • creating show notes
  • adding subscription links and so on.

He wants the space to be accessible, and has limited and removed a great deal of jargon.

Having my own webspace, I am planning to explore how I can use this to host my audio files, while following, the process he outlines for using Blogger and Feedburner, to generate the subsciption feeds. For this I have created a new Blog space for the timebeing called "Learning To Podcast," This space is very much a CPD experiment for me, but one I hope will help me explore further the role of Podcasting in teaching and learning .