Inspire Innovate 2010: Extras You Asked For :-)

Here are the extra planning and programming bits and pieces that you asked for in the workshop yesterday:

Planning Proformas/ Grids

Backward Mapping Proforma

Blooms MI Matrix

My wiiMusic Worksheets

wiiMusic booklet 1

wiiMusic booklet 2


Final Task Rubric  

My wiiSports Tennis Plan

Tennis Skills + Planning Sheet  

I hope that these  sheets help guide you in  planning and using games consoles in your classroom.  

Please link back here so we can all see what you have tried in your classroom.

Who says that learning is all not all fun and games????

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If you need/want any other info or help or ideas please just leave a comment here 🙂

G’Day to a Good Day!

Here is a “lost” blog post that I wrote after taking part in a full day Tim Rylands workshop (last month in Kent, UK)

An outline of the workshop is available on Tim’s site, here, and the combined thoughts and reactions of the day can also be found, here, written by Gail and myself.

The day really sparked my thinking – especially in regards to the framework I am piecing together ­- using computer games creatively to enhance and encourage student writing.

Two ideas that I keep coming back to are giving students

1.    permission to wonder


2.    permission to play.


Permission to wonder, to  share your thinking, to brainstorm, to develop creative ideas, silly ideas, the freedom to pose possibilities and run with them.

Too often this step is non-existent in the writing we do in our classrooms, in our haste to get to the written text, the conventions and the punctuation we dismiss this gathering and sorting of ideas – thus depriving our students of a wealth of interesting and exciting possibilities that they can choose to use in their writing.

Giving students the permission to play also supports student language acquisition by making the collection of ideas, words, phrases and sentences

·      physical,

·      active,

·      kineastheic,

·      REAL.

This activity and movement, I‘ve noticed, is vital in my school and class setting, so I was interested to see Tim employing techniques and strategies that got the students moving.

The students gained much from physically linking movement with words – I wonder if this could be connected to “muscle memory” that dancers use????

Thanks Tim for a fantastic day – you are still sparking my thinking and learning – even from this distance. Amazing 🙂



Permission to Adventure

Snug and warm in a tiny café off the Royal Mile, we met up with the Adventure Author team: Judy, Cathrin and Keiron, to catch up and to discover what everyone had been up to since we last met.

The Adventure Author Project has finished, and the intrepid three are moving on so it was a good time to recap and talk about what they had found out and where they might go next.

Judy shared some of the newer features of the Adventure Author software:

1.    Comment Cards – which allow comments to be made and shared between students and the teacher

2.    Evaluation Page – specific criteria to be evaluated

–       star rating

–       attach evidence option

3.    To Do List – to keep track of what has been done and what needs to be done next

And we discussed how they have been used by students how they might be used by teachers to scaffold and support writing (as well as game making).

Judy and her team insist that students are at the centre of their learning – that students need to drive their own learning, work together to explore and discover and then share what they have found out.

This approach seems to give students the permission to take responsibility for their actions/plans, gives them the structures to develop their learning around and the confidence, time and expectation that they will then share and evaluate what they have done or discovered.

We discussed how this approach works in various settings (with undergraduates and Primary students) and all felt that an unexpected bonus was the creative way students could (and did) respond to the challenge of being in control of the what and how of their learning.

As always, some wonderful and thought provoking ideas about creativity ensued – eg does one create and then find a purpose for the creation or does one create for a purpose or does one create because they can?????? (Maybe all at different times).

Thanks team for a great afternoon and night of interesting, provoking and thoughtful discussions and sharing. Looking forward to hooking up with something new in the not-too-distant-future.





Have A Look At What We’ve Been Up To

The AllStars have been searching through “Oceans of Info”, following a variety of interests, and have now reported their findings.

Their task last term was to “Create Something Extraordinary” about oceans.

First they puzzled and wondered about things that interested them.

Next they spent time reading, researching and learning about their topic.

Then they negotiated a rubric to support them in “creating something extraordinary” using web2.0 tools to present their learning.

After that they experimented with a web2.0 tool they hadn’t used before.


Finally they got down to creating.


You can see most of the presentations as they come up over at the 08AllStars site. 

Oceans of Info 1 a voki and a Toondoo

Oceans of Info 2 a pirate voki

Oceans of Info 3  “Mermaid News” video

Oceans of Info 4 Vokis by a marine biologist and a pirate

Oceans of Info 5 a Voki about the sinking of the HMAS Sydney

Oceans of Info 6 a video about whaling 


Vokis, videos, puppets and comics are some of the ways the students chose to share their information creatively.

I am truly proud and amazed at the wonderful ways that the kids told their stories. I think that the AllStars are ALL stars!

 Image: ‘ooooo!

Mind Map Magic

I am so excited about being able to embed things like this into my class blog, that I had to blog about it here too 🙂


How cool is this?

Last week we tried out a mind mapping tool called to organise our thinking about Natural Disasters.

We had just been introduced to Natural Disasters through some wonderful hands on science activities from the CSIRO and we thought that we would like to investigate further.

This is what we came up with – have a look at the map above – you can move themap, make the text bigger/smaller, open and close the nodes. WOW

AllStars – leave a comment about the area you would like to investigate.  

Gunning for MissionMaker!

Spent the beginning part of Term 4 trying to complete our MisssionMaker games to put on our blogs. The kids took many hours tweaking their games, adding special effects and tricks, which in the end probably got in the way of the games they were making. 

I was really impressed with the way that they took on the challenge of making the games. They were not given much input into how to get things to happen in their games. Word of mouth and “experts” helped them along, trial and error and lateral thinking also enabled everyone to come up with a basic game. 

Of interest was the depth of focus of the students. All were totally focused on bringing their historical knowledge to the fore. They knew exactly what they wanted to do and there was very little use of guns within the games. I hadn’t given any instructions re guns and violence; I thought I would just see what evolved as they were making their games.  

I had discussed this issue with John Westwood from Lower Wyche C of E School in England, and he had noticed that his students had a bit of a play with the shooting aspects, but then moved on and concentrated on other areas of the game making. I found that this happened in my classroom as well.  Most of the class played with shooting things, but quickly moved onto making their historical game – we had explosions and fires but no death and destruction as such. 

The big exception to this happened when I received some “extras” into my class at the beginning of Term 4. These students hadn’t done any research into an historical period, and the MissionMaker game making was a bonus activity, rather than a purposeful way to demonstrate their learning of a topic. In these student’s games shooting was the be all and end all of the game. There was no other purpose to their games but to hunt and kill opponents. Interesting, but hardly surprising! 

Unfortunately the license for MissionMaker ran out at the end of the school year – not sure if this will affect our ability to post our games onto our blog for everyone to play or not.


MissionMaking a Game

Our negotiated task for this term was 

to create a game, based on our study of history, using the MissionMaker program. 


Here’s a brief outline of how we went about it……. 

1.    Exploring world history. “Taste testing” periods, people, stories from 3 eras:           

  • Ancient history          
  • Medieval history           
  • Modern history 

2.    Focusing in on a story that they enjoyed –            

  • Researching         
  • Familiarizing          
  • Comparing info/accounts of the story 

3.    Playing with MissionMaker

  • Playing MM games           
  •  Watching training video for ideas, ways of using the props, objects, rooms           
  • Exploring the program themselves 

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4.    Negotiating task requirements«           

  • Pick up 5 objects           
  • Use a story from history           
  • Demonstrate knowledge of your period in history           
  • Rubric 

5.    Aligning historical story with MissionMaker game. Deciding on worlds, characters, objects that are available in the game           

  • Mind map of possibilities – who, when, where, what, why, how          
  • Physical map of the game – rooms, characters, objects, clues

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6.    Making the game – this is where we are up to now 🙂

7.    Presenting the games for play 

It’s school holidays at the moment so we have had to take a break from game-making for the next two weeks, but will continue when we get back to school.  

I have been encouraging the students to blog their preparations and plans as we go. To “see” what they have been up to please visit our class blog –  07 AllStars and click on their individual blogs down the right hand side of the page.

First Few Days Scratching …..

 A few quick observations on trying out Scratch this week in my classroom:

“Can’t see a thing…”

  • we all had to find a way around the problem that the screens on the old computers in the classroom are too small
  • not all of the Scratch screen is accessible
  • kids came up with quick and easy work around   🙂

“I did it my way ……”

  • M went to the Scratch site and spent time looking at examples of games and animations to get ideas before she began
  • two girls went for the “Getting Started with Scartch” manual we had printed off the website. They didn’t even open it though, just sat on it as they played around
  • T sat alone at the back of the room – added sprites, changed background, and played around with sounds

“Looking for backgrounds …..”

  • Yell outs: “How do you change….”
  • Scuttling for the book/manual  ( me! )
  • Admissions – “I did it, but I don’t remember how …….”
  • “Try this …..”
  • “I think I did this …..”
  • “What about ……”
  • “Ummmm …………YES!”

“Just a suggestion…..”

  • Could we use photos as sprites ….?????
  • I want to …..
  • Maybe we can …..
  • I think it would be good to …..
  • What about …..
  • Hey, do you think that ……
  • Lets try …….


Scratch Logo

We have had a quick little “look see” at Scratch: a programming environment developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten research group at the MIT Media Lab.

Scratch allows the students to snap together little pieces of programming to control and mix graphics, animations, music and sound.  Students can make animations and games and there are lots of ideas and projects to look through on their website.


I think we could do some really interesting things with Scratch, but the kids weren’t too sure what it “was for”.

So I have set a challenge to my class: “What can you do with Scratch?”

Because I want the kids to be able to use Scratch as they see fit, to use it as a tool to help in their construction of their learning, I plan to have a short, sharp burst of exploration for a week or two – where the kids will be able to play with the programming tools to see what they can do.

 In this initial period they will be encouraged to use aspects of one of the curriculum areas we are working on at this time in their exploration of Scratch. I’m hoping that this will enable the kids to have a basic idea of the capabilities of Scratch, and it will become another tool that is available to use when presenting their learning at various times throughout the year.

It will be interesting to see what they come up with – has anyone else used Scratch with their class? It would be great to hear what you have been up to    🙂                        Scratch Cat


Since playing around with “Samorost” last week, my head has been full of ideas and possibilities for using it as a stimulus for developing setting and character descriptions in my students’ narrative writing. 

Here is how Ewan MacIntosh describes it: just full of potential for some creative writing – the art in the landscapes is surreal and beautiful, with all kinds of nooks and crannies for our imaginations to rumble in.” 

Each step of the game provides a detailed and unusual setting that is explored and used to move onto the next stage. The scenes are visually rich and provide a common starting point that the class can share to practice their descriptive writing.


Descriptions of any sort seem quite hard for my students to write – they consist of basic details of what can be seen, without any emotional connection to either character or setting. I’m hoping that the beautiful, fantastic and surreal Samorost environments and creatures will provide an engaging and tangible starting place to build up experiences, ideas and some background knowledge about writing descriptions. 

My students need to use details and sense impressions to bring places and people alive.  At the moment both people and places in their stories are “flat” and perhaps “cartoony” – characters are either happy or sad, good or bad; stories take place in a school or in a shopping centre  or at home. Word choice and sentence structure are basic and rushed, or overlooked completely.

I’ll plan writing lessons around these ideas and will post student responses and writing samples as we go.