Aussies Rock & Skype

This evening, I had the distinct pleasure of spending 30-minutes talking with a primary class in Australia called The Blog Dogs .  In the past months, I’ve been visiting their blogs, leaving comments, and generally just being amazed at what this group of Year 3 students can do with technology. Of course, that technology use is modeled and guided by their teacher, @mitchsquires.  He’s the kind of classroom teacher I hope to be one day- engaging, relevant, curious, and willing to try new things.  He not only models innovative technology use, but also how to be a life-long learner. Bravo, Mr. Squires!

In this conversation, we discussed many things.  From favorite animals to favorite colors, I learned that children are very much alike worldwide.

I’m finally getting my head around the time zone and seasonal swap that we see as Americans talking to Australians.  It’s hard to imagine what it feels like for Christmas to be drawing near… and for the weather to be getting warmer!  It makes me think of those funny cartoons we see with Santa in a swimsuit instead of his red suit…. that just feels very wrong to North Americans.

Here’s our visit

I already have a list of questions for next time.  Are those Jumpies like Goldfish Crackers?  What is a Jelly, exactly?  Are there skunks in Australia? (This one after smelling a rather…..well, smelly, smell on the way home from town this evening.)  Do the Aussie kids really think America is one big string of cities? What makes children on both sides of the world wonder if the children on the other side like living there?  Do they understand that where we live is generally all we know?  How do we give them a larger global understanding? ((Oh, and to whichever Blog Dog said they thought I should sing the American National Anthem for them?  Not. Gonna. Happen.  Sorry to disappoint, but I draw the line at singing…. but I’ll be happy to send you an audio link of someone else singing it. :D))

Oh, and I’m sure I’ll be in serious trouble with my 3rd, 4th and 5th graders for talking to the Blog Dogs without them!  Never fear, next time we’re planning to chat during school…. hopefully with video so we can see each other!!!!

Blabberize the Blubber

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Recently, I have been attempting to incorporate the 2nd grade’s study of arctic animals into computer lab time.  The first attempt was helping the students find images of their assigned animal- polar bear, wolverine, lemming, orca, artic fox, etc. and I quickly found myself drowning in the rather deep waters of fair use and copyright law.   A huge part of digital citizenship is learning to use online content appropriately, so we took a detour into the land of fair use- hopefully coming out more educated about appropriate use of images from the web.  (I know I now have a rather nebulous understanding of fair use as it relates to educators and students.)  Our original photo hunt evolved into a Powerpoint presentation with an image, facts, a Blabberize video clip, and a teacher-generated Works Cited slide.  I am thankful for the opportunity to teach and model digital citizenship with these young ones.

The video clip above was created by a 2nd grade student (who also happens to be my son 🙂 ) and embedded into the Powerpoint presentation below.  (I cannot find a way to export the .ppt as a movie in a way that allows the embedded .mpg to play- if you know a work-around, please share!)  The image was created with TuxPaint and then uploaded to Blabberize.  A major shout-out to the creators of Blabberize!  That is one cool web 2.0 tool!!!

This child is a very reluctant writer, but was ecstatic about the idea of recording his own voice and sharing the knowledge he has gained about killer whales, or orcas.  He happily wrote a full page of dialogue, and then confidently recorded it.  I’m very proud of his work, and I’m looking forward to seeing how the 2nd graders as a whole complete these.  They are embedding these in a Powerpoint slideshow, which creates a pretty impressive product- especially for an 8 year-old. (Granted, I’ll be giving them the 4 slide template… but still cool, nonetheless!)