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 mind42.com 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.  

Just Thinking

An excellent post from Graham Wegner which he refers back to a post by Konrad Glogowski had me thinking about the way in which students work on individual projects, and the potential for the use of blogs in this process.

My thinking took me in two directions:

1. Need for “critical friends”

My class has been communicating with a school class in another state, these students were working on a “passion project” for the term. I was concerned that my students were adding only a social connection to this other school and I think I need to strengthen the academic connection – to make the comments and responses from my students more meaningful and purposeful. I want my students to reflect, consider, and engage in conversations with these other students on the topics chosen by these students for their “passion projects”.

I will need to examine the ways my students learn about asking questions about the projects – in-depth and worthwhile questions that will help to clarify or extend the learning about a topic. I need to work with my students to enable them to move on from “I like the part about XXXX – it was very descriptive” to develop deeper, more probing questioning about content.

2. Another way of using blogs

Konrad Glogowski writes:

The one thing that technology makes easier – that blogging makes easier – is the Immerse – Build – Contribute aspect of the model I described.
IMMERSE: I wanted my students to become researchers who locate valuable content, read, interact, and document their learning on the blog by writing entries about the topic and their journey as researchers.
BUILD: The students used their blogs to document their research and to build their own knowledge in their respective fields of expertise. There were many connections that emerged among students researching related ideas. The students interacted with each other by posting comments and by sharing and commenting on resources.
CONTRIBUTE: This final stage happens when, as learners, the students begin to contribute through their own creativity. It happens when, having acquainted themselves with the topic, they begin to rewrite or remix it in their own unique way and thus contribute to and enrich the field they’re researching. This is the stage when the students begin to create unique artifacts that contribute to the existing body of knowledge on a given topic.

Most of my class has been blogging since March this year and to date their blogs have been a way of publishing pieces of writing they have done. I have made a few attempts at getting the class to reflect on classroom activities and to report on school events. But I am quite excited at the ideas that Konrad raises and the uses for blogging he puts forward – blogging as an important, even integral part of the research/learning cycle.

Using blogs to document student learning whilst they are in the middle of their learning is very exciting and is an area I would like to work on and develop with my class.


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.

Thank You Bloggers

Thank you to all of the wonderful bloggers who attended the recent eLive seminars. I have spent  a bit of time reading many of the posts about the event.  Here and here and here.   After my lament last week (about being so far away) I guess I’m really not that far removed when I can read about the presentations and the views on the ideas and merits of the seminars that were blogged about.

The pictures and photos showed  really animated groups of people thoroughly enjoying their learning 🙂 what more could the presenters hope for? The ideas are already percolating in my head and I hope to try out some of the things I read about in my classroom too.

John’s spinning video, and the Tin Foil Hat Song were a true education! although I’m not too sure how to fit them into my class    😀

As I sat at my computer with a glass of red, I almost felt a part of the event itself.

BETT Day 2

Web 2.0 ers take heart!

 Some observations on a seminar: Social Technologies and Learning in Your Classroom. Blogs, Wikis Podcasting and More – Miles Berry and Terry Freedman that I visited at BETT yesterday.

Warning: these are personal, non-scientific and totally un-back-up-able observations duly noted later that night whilst tucked up in bed in the London dungeon/cupboard that is home this week.

The rather large Seminar A Hall was FULL. The seminar was sold out and there was a queue to get in. We are talking over 200 250 (sorry Miles and Terry!)people sitting and standing around the hall (based on 180 attending an earlier seminar (counted) and adding in the extra bodies standing and sitting around the back and sides of the Hall).

A noticeable lack of “suits”- everyone looked terribly ordinary as if they might per chance be teachers (we have THAT look i think) or actually involved in education/teaching/kids.

Large range of age groups were represented – from terribly young and enthused people in front of us, 30-somethings, mature/experienced 40 y.o and people even older yet. Most seemed quite interested and I’m hoping that even if everyone in the room doesn’t go out and start using these technologies with their classes or in their schools, they will at least be familiar with the definitions, the ideas, the possibilities and advantages to teaching/ learning of these social technologies. The message will be “mainstreamed” and out there.

Preaching to the converted? Perhaps – no hard evidence on the day – but there was a BUZZZZ.

As I said, unscientific, and just some observations….