13 December 2016

The perfect Christmas Gift

The perfect Christmas Gift


My youngest daughter says that she would like a new laptop.  I  did say that 
she currently has an i5 laptop with Windows 10, which I think most people 
would think was very good!  She said yes, but it is not the latest....   

On the one side children are always looking for the latest and best things, 
while in education many of our leaders have not caught up with the digital revolution. 
 the reality however is that they are like me... a little older, born before the overhead projector. 
(younger readers might have to look this up on Wikipedia, but the reality was this was 
really a great advancement in technology in education...)  Being in ICT I would like to 
think that I am ahead of my game with technology in education and being able to 
relate to children and what they find interesting, but sometimes I am worried when 
leaders and principals look at what I am doing and say they do not understand the 
day to day applications and they think that what I do is a little far fetched, although 
some of the concept things that I started doing in ICT was more than 10 years ago 
and yes I did get into a lot of trouble over this. 

Apart from ICT in education, there are basic fundamental things that I would endorse 
for any pupil around the world.    

Perhaps being in an underprivileged school puts this more in perspective but:  

(This is in no order or preference, but jumbled thoughts...) 


be encouraged to take the chance and learn something new today, 
do not be afraid to go against the main stream and actually be prepared to work,  
embrace different cultures, people and encourage diversity,  
do something for other people, do not just think of yourself,  
be proud of what you could possibly achieve,  
have a goal and strive to achieve it,  
be kind to others, you do not know what baggage they are carrying, 
(In my school this is HUGE) 
treat people with respect and dignity

Perhaps the best way to end this would be:
"dif-tor heh smusma"
or in English
"Live long and prosper"

Perhaps a new approach to a novel, innovative, collaborative 
way of teaching will allow the students to reach the stars...

07 December 2016

Blog Awards

Blog Awards

SA Blog Awards Badge

Please be so kind as to vote for my blog for the SA Blog awards

Many thanks

22 November 2016

How do you as teachers support children who are confused or frightened by events going on in their world?

How do you as teachers support children who are confused or frightened by events going on in their world?

I believe that there are similarities to teaching regardless of where you live in the world.  
On the other hand, I believe that there are differences unique to each country.  
Having just moved over 13 000 km to settle in a different country I have gained first-hand 
what this means. 

For the last number of years, I have been teaching at a privileged school in an affluent 
neighbourhood in South Africa.  This has changed radically and I am now teaching in an underprivileged community school.

Watching the world news over the weekend, I realised that we are living in a time 
were we can expect to see many changes, fundamentally in things that we have 
always taken for granted.  The inevitability of change and the outcome is worrying 
for many parents and teachers.
My school has a diverse and multicultural community which includes students 
speaking twenty-eight different first languages.  Many of whom struggle with the 
language in which they are being taught in.  The school embraces these students 
and I believe creates a unique space for them. 

Each class has a tutor (teacher) of 28 children who is responsible for the nurturing 
of the children.  The tutor sees the class every morning and this is a time for the 
tutor to get to know the children, help with non-academic and school things, like 
how the students are doing emotionally, concerns that they have, etc.  This is a 
safe environment for them to come and speak to the teachers.  I have personally 
found this rewarding for myself, but also emotionally draining, especially when 
there is a language barrier.  I have not realized how effective google translate can be. 

One of the things that I really enjoy is for my students to create videos about things 
that are affecting them.  When I do these types of projects, there is no topic, but a 
carte blanche for them to look at real world issues that are important to them. 
I was privileged enough to create a project, Project courage, with teachers from 
Canada, China, Croatia and Singapore about fear.  Once we completed the project, 
we did Skype sessions between the different countries and shared our fears.  
Regardless of race, gender, children have the same fears throughout the world.

There will always be change in the world, I believe it is up to us as teachers to 
create that environment where we can talk to our students about their concerns 
and walk with them through the process until it is resolved.



19 April 2016

Social Media in Education

Social Media in Education

There can be no doubt that there has been a huge movement in social media 
in all aspects of life, education is no exception.  Working in a primary school 
there are many rules and regulations about being under the age of 13 and 
having a social media account.  Although saying that I am always amazed at 
how many students under the age of 13 have their own social media accounts.  
As a direct result of this it is very important to speak about digital citizenship, 
rights and responsibilities with the students. 

What we have done in our school is to create a learning platform for all of our 
students, creating their own social media accounts, but we as a school can monitor 
and administer rights to the various learners.  We use both Google Apps for 
Education and Microsoft Office 365 so that all students can use either one.  
The one great thing is that we have managed to use a single sign on so that the 
students do not have to worry about logging onto the one account and then having 
to log into a different account to change platforms. 

I need to give my age away and mention that while I was at school there were no 
computers, Internet or even cell phones, as a result many people in my age group 
do not have multiple social media accounts, but normally have one which is 
predominately used to stay in contact with friends and family around the world.   
As a result there has been a little bit of apprehension with regards to teachers 
changing the way in which content is delivered.  We have also done extensive 
training with our staff so that the students can communicate, chat, upload 
assignments, etc with the teacher involved.  This has been a great mine-shift for 
the teachers, but I believe that it is an important one.  It allows staff and students 
to work after hours as well as being able to create collaboration projects between 
different students so that they can work on at their own time.  The students however 
think that this is awesome and really enjoy working in this manner.

There are really great advantages to this, going more paperless, students not loosing 
their work, parents been able to see the students work and all their assessments, 
as well as the dog not eating homework to mention a few. 

We have also implemented this into subjects that do not always lend itself to ICT, 
namely physical education.  Last term the students completed their theoretical 
component through social media, namely blogs and wikis.


I do believe that using social media in classrooms is a great way to keep the students 
more actively involved and the more things that we do that is aligned to the 21st 
century student the easier our jobs as teachers become.

07 April 2016

Simple Learning Time

Simple Learning Time
Two Parklands College Learners, Stephan and Luke, have developed an app called 
Simple Learning Time.

Simple Learning Time is a free educational app that has both a digital time and 
analogue clock display. Students can move the hands of the clock to display 
different times of the day in both 24 hour and 12 hour time formats. 
A rotating background indicates whether it is night or day. 
This can be used in many fun ways in the classroom.

Well done!!

18 March 2016

Closing the Gender Gap in Education

Closing the Gender Gap in Education

Last year I was privileged to listen to Malala Yousafzai’s father (Ziauddin Yousafzai)  speak and I was really moved by what he said.  Here was a young girl who was born in 1997 and has done remarkable things on a global scale to benefit female education.

I have worked in a boys only school for the last sixteen years, but have two girls, obviously my planning is not that good...  

I am also fortunate to be able to meet with the local schools in our area to discuss what we are doing in ICT.  We have a couple of single sex schools around us and the boys love interacting with the girls’ schools around us.  In the computer class we created a board game that had a bias towards becoming an entrepreneur. Once completed we visited the girls’ schools and we then played the board games that the students had created.  The completed project can be found http://www.wsparrow.co.za/entrep/index.html

There is a girl’s school in our area that is really dynamic and they are offering advanced courses in science, mathematics and computer science and they even have after hour clubs for each of these, but this is not the norm.  The teachers are passionate, inspiring and every lesson is filled with real life teaching and learning which is aimed at the 21st Century student.  The teachers are sharing the work that they do with other schools and communities.

I need to mention that there is no curriculum for ICT in the primary school, not even standards, which gives us the flexibility to create our own content.  In one respect this is great, but on a negative side this means that in some schools there is no teaching of ICT skills at all. 

I believe we are served a double blow in South Africa, firstly we have to deal with very high levels of poverty, as well as having such diverse schools.  We range from having rural schools with no electricity, very little infrastructure to schools that have everything.

Being in a boy’s primary school I am concerned about the academic gender gap.  
A strange phenomenon in South Africa is that there are more boys than girls in primary school, but this gets reversed in high school and tertiary institutions.  Where do all the boys go? I believe partly that the answer to this question is the way that schools are designed.  Most schools are setup in a traditional way, rows in classes, the teacher at the one end of the classroom, etc.  I believe that this learning environment is more structured to favour girls than boys.  Our entire staff attended a workshop entitled “Teaching Superman to Fly” and it was about how boy’s minds are wired differently to girls.  Using the information, we have adapted and put many structures and ideas in place to make the school a more boy friendly place for learning to take place.


I do not think that there is an easy, quick solution, but we have to start taking the initiative for the benefit of our students.

03 February 2016

Microsoft Virtual Field Trips

Microsoft Virtual Field Trips


This is really awesome, you can do virtual field trips with other people from
around the world.  You can either bring other people into your classroom or
you can become the host.
There is really a great deal of field trips that are available.


It keeps on changing and new ones are being added all the time!


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