Phone a Friend

My mate Brian Cosby from Nevada recently posted about a very cool gadget for helping children with proof reading and reading aloud with fluency. With 32 lively children in my class the noise level often rises beyond acceptable levels and children need to be reminded to quieten down- especially as our new classroom is attached to the school reception area and everyone and their dog can hear us.Image

After reading Brian’s post I whipped out to the local hardware store clutching a photo of the laundry extensions from Brian’s blog. The chap at the hardware store was impressed with the weird things that teachers sometimes ask for.

The next day I gave the new ‘phones’ a try out in class. They were an instant hit- not only for their novelty value but how they helped children to hear what they had written as they read aloud. Using the ‘phone’ children were able to pick up mistakes they might have missed when proof reading on their own. Their voices dropped to an almost whisper as anything louder would shatter your eardrum.

I am giving it to readers as well as they re-read texts from guided reading lessons.

I now need to source a few more so that more children can use the technology.

Learning From The Experts

Our highlight from last week was a Skype conversation with @NZWaikato’s class at Melville Intermediate in Hamilton. Every year at Appleby we take time to learn our mihi (Maori greeting). Drawing, as we do at Appleby School, from a predominately European background I find it difficult to put the learning into a authentic context. At ULearn09 I had the pleasure of meeting Myles Webb face to face and we set up a plan to have the experts in his class teach my class how to pronounce their mihi. My class is familiar with the traditions that underly how a Skype call is likely to go but Myles’s class had never tried to video Skype before.

I recorded the various test calls we made along the way while Myles beavered away behind the scenes to get the technology to work. After a number of trials we eventually got the connection going, much to the delight of both classes. Myles did well to get the audio going on his antiquated equipment but in the end couldn’t get the video to go. On the strength of the experience he has since gone out and bought a new webcam. The video below shows the progression of the call from our end. I was so impressed that Arahina was able to teach our girls their mihi so well. I was able to leave the girls alone to get on with it. You can tell over the period of the call the improvement in the korero. It will be great next week when we are able to continue the learning and we will both be able to see each other- we realised that we get a lot of clues as to whose turn it is to speak when we can see each other.