WordPress and other tools for educationFebruary 24, 2009
Recently I have run both a general information day, and then a half day WordPress training event at the Presbyterian Ladies’ College in Sydney, for a class of year 6 girls (~12yr olds) and their teachers. I have been exceptionally impressed by the vision of Chris Waterman, the Director of ICT there, as he really understands that in modern society it is vital for children to have versatile (and safe) online skills.
If we show students how to … do all the cool brilliant things we know should be done with ICT, then we have started the revolution.
Chris Waterman from his blog post on the topic
The school is undergoing a wonderful project with the year 6 girls wherein they will be blogging as a normal part of their life and schoolwork, as well as incorporating one-to-one connectivity devices so the girls are able to create digital content and publishing anywhere, anytime.
Below are some of the resources around the tools I taught, as well as some documentation that may be useful for others.
I hope to see comments from some of the PLC students and teachers! Remember to always only use either your first name, or a nickname, and to not post any identifying information. The PLC student and teacher blog will be an internal project for a while so they can get used to the technology and be comfortable with the internet safety best practices.
Technical and general notes
- Open Source Software Training: Technical Notes – includes information about finding, using and supporting FOSS applications for schools. pdf or odt
- Open Source Software Training: General Notes – includes information for teachers and management. pdf or odt
Links to training, documentation and other information about WordPress and blogging
- Main WordPress website – useful for general information.
- Introduction to blogging – information about blogging and how to approach your own blog.
- In your blog you can create blog posts, or static pages. Blog posts are for new stories, your homework, and other ongoing information. Static pages can be used for your favourite music, or links for your friends, or a page about your pets – ie, for information that isn’t changing.
- Themes!! Find thousands of cool themes to customise your blog. I expect to see all the Year 6’s at PLC with awesome blogs that look great and are fun to read. Remember, if the theme isn’t in your “Appearance” section in your blog configuration section, then you just need to get the IT team to install your theme for you.
- Check out the WordPress Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section if you run into issues.
Ideas for using blogging in the classroom
- Get the students to post their normal existing homework into their blogs as normal practise (rather than email or printing), and include as part of their homework the review and commenting on a few of their peers’ work. Get them to draw names so they are continually commenting on different students’ work.
- Have a series of questions for students to answer written up on the board in class, and direct the students to write the questions into their blogs in bold, with the answers in normal font. You could choose the post the questions on your teacher blog, and have the students either respond to your blog post in the comments with their answers, or post a link to their blog posts in your comments as a useful way to collate all the blog post answers to your homework.
- Have the students write an essay on their blog, along with photos, web links, video content and audio interviews.
- Encouage students to do their creative works on their blogs on a regular basis. Perhaps a weekly short story, artwork, or piece of music they have composed.
- You could have an “eportfolio” category, and students add posts they are particularly proud of to that category such that when browsing to the students blog, a person can select the eportfolio category of posts and get the best and most representative works by the student for a basic online portfolio.
I am not an expert in Internet safety for children, however the following links were kindly given by Concetta Gotlieb, an amazing teacher/blogger/researcher based in Sydney:
- Stu Hasic who is a manager in the Sydney Region IT Support Office has created a few resources. Including this post which has the internet publishing consent forms Concetta uses: http://podcastlane.wordpress.com/2008/04/20/students-blogging-in-class/
- These videos Concetta produced for Edna on ICT use and include this one on blogging in the classroom: http://vids.edublogs.org/2008/04/19/our-class-blogging/
- This is her mum’s old blog that includes lots of multimedia and interesting commenting behaviour: http://wormbins.edublogs.org/
- The ACMA page on internet safety and considerations. Includes great resources for educators
Animation and photo modification software
On the day I also briefly covered the following applications. Please make sure you look up “gimp tutorial” or “inkscape tutorial” on Youtube for more great information:
- GNU Image Manipulation Program (GIMP) – for drwaring and modifying photos, make sure you play with all the awesome filters!
- Inkscape – for drawing scalable graphics. Make sure you check out:
A big thank you to the teachers, ICT team and the students who participated in the training. I know the girls will love blogging and using some of the Open Source tools we discussed. So good luck and have fun!