Stephen Heppell is Coming to Visit

Next week is going to bring about some very interesting and exciting things at St. Michael’s.  Amongst Swimming Carnivals, Parent-Teacher meetings and the like, Professor Stephen Heppell will be coming to work with the Diocese of Parramatta.  Particularly for us, there are two major events to be aware of:

  • A webcast across the Diocese on Wednesday 18 February from 4:00 – 6:00 p.m.  We will broadcast the presentation live through the library
  • Professor Heppell will be visiting the Blacktown South Catholic Schools to work with us at St. Michael’s and Nagle the next day. Further details of both events will be coming soon

Of course, the most common question at this point is who is Stephen Heppell?

Rather than try and give a mediocre description, I will instead offer some links to help you explore more of his work and his thinking.

Photo credit: Ewan McIntosh

Exploring Activsoftware Inspire Edition

Just recently I mentioned that Promethean had released the beta version of their IWB software, Activsoftware Inspire Edition. Like others, I’ve started to have a play around (Chris Betcher seems to be putting the software through its paces).  Here’s just a few things I’ve noticed that I like the look of:

Did someone give you a SMART Notebook file to view or use?  Whereas you had to previously resort to the SMART Notebook viewer, you can now import the notebook into a flipchart.

Some very common flipchart activities are now available as a quick menu selection, saving you finding the resources in the library to put them together.

Being a Year 1 teacher, I use the hundred chart fairly regularly in Mathematics lessons.  Once I choose “100 chart” from the menu, this dialog box appears for me to make my selection.

Finally, something I have been hanging out for.  Previously I’ve been frustrated, wondering why I can’t simply insert images, etc. in a similar way to Office documents (after all, it is pretty easy and straightforward).  Well now you can, with the Insert Media option.  Not only images, but sound, video and more.

Now it is really quick and easy to insert media files directly into a flipchart page.

I’m sure (in fact I know) there are many new features, but there were the first to grab my attention.  I look forward to using it some more.

New Promethean Software

Promethean has made the announcement at the BETT 2009 show in London that a brand new version of their IWB software is now available for preview.

Called Activsoftware Inspire Edition, it can now be downloaded my registered users (it’s free) from Promethean Planet. It’s a huge download though (it’s still not 50% done on my computer yet), so those with download limits at home may want to wait to download it at school.  The download is a trial prior to the official release in March

Promethean reports that it is a complete rewrite of its former products, Activstudio (which we use) and Activprimary, so it will be interesting to see what it can do and how it improves on its predecessors.

Life = Risk

At St. Michael’s…

We engage each in their own learning by…

  • encouraging growth through creative and critical reflection with others
  • creating a school environment in which teaching and learning is purposeful, relevant, innovative and collaborative…

We empower with a sense of hope for the future by:

  • equipping each child with the skills required to work towards their full potential…
  • nurturing resilient learners, who can negotiate change…

St. Michael’s Vision and Mission Statement

If we believe this, then we should not only agree with, but fully embrace what this video (which I found here at The Fischbowl blog) promotes:

Introducing Interactive Whiteboards

An interesting discussion was raised in our staff briefing this morning regarding the installation height of interactive whiteboards.  The dilemma, of course, is whether board height on the wall should favour the teacher or the students.

It is hopefully the beginning of a broader discussion of how we will begin using IWBs in our classrooms, and the learning they will support.  To get started, here are some resources to have a look at:

What the research says about interactive whiteboards: a short document from Becta, the UK organisation for leading next generation learning.

Interactive whiteboards – safety first: a single-page pdf from SMART (IWB manufacturer) on how to safely install and use IWBs (which we have sought to match in all our installations).

IWB Conference – We’re here!

This is the first of our posts to feedback and communicate what’s happening and what we will have learnt from the 2008 Interactive Whiteboard Conference at Firbank Grammar School in Brighton, Melbourne.

After Anne, Bec S and I landed in Melbourne this morning, we proceeded to Firbank to the afternoon’s proceedings, which included classroom tours and a walk around the exhibition hall.

Firbank has both Junior (Primary) and Senior (Secondary) schools, and we had the opportunity to tour the small all-girls primary campus.  Each room has had an Activboard for some time, and several teachers we met agree that they now could not live without one in their room.  They are using a variety of personally-produced and commercial resources to support the learning in their classrooms.

One of the great things to see was that the school has fostered a culture of encouraging students to grow as learners – they encourage students to be creative, critical, and to take risks; risk taking is something which is applauded in the school.

We also saw in the software exhibition this afternoon some resources that piqued our interest, including new Maths resources from Origo, Literacy resources from Pearson Education, the comprehensive Swark resource, and 2Simple Software.

The conference keynote and workshops kick off tomorrow morning, so perhaps we can feed back some more after then.


Now Even More Delicious

Our favourite social bookmarking site, Delicious, has a brand new look.  There’s a few new features, and it all looks a bit more modern.  A bit of exploring will see you discover what’s new in the product lineup.

While you’re there, make sure that you check our staff delicious page.  Judy’s forever stocking it up with fantastic new links.

Top 100 Tools for Learning

Through scanning across the material I had in my Google Reader (which is #3 in the list), I discovered via Judy O’Connell’s blog heyjude the release in March of survey results which give us a picture into the Top 100 Tools for Learning.

Yes, it’s only a small survey sample, but still worth reading to see what’s out there and what gets used.

Are there any tools on the list that you use with your students.  Are there any towards the top you don’t use?  Maybe you’d like to set yourself the challenge of learning just one new tool (drop it into the Multimedia Monday suggestion box)?

There’s more information about the list in Judy’s blog post.

P.S. Our much-loved tool at St. Michael’s,, came in at #1!

More from the TLRU

Through the blog Edlib, the CEO Teaching and Learning Resource Unit (based at the Aengus Kavanagh Centre, Mt Druitt) keeps us up to date with the latest journal articles, etc. relating to various topics.  All of the resources are accessible through the TLRU.

Check out the new resources on these topics posted so far in May: