Archive for August, 2010

Classroom Supplies! Craig’s list/Kijiji/Safety

August 31, 2010

Teachers are often looking for supplies for their classroom. Craig’s list and Kijiji often have postings of items that would make great additions to a classroom – and sometimes they are free! Take some time to look in the free section to improve your classroom without damaging your pocketbook. You can have your students search for items for the classroom as well – turn it into a learning moment by discussing online shopping safety with your students.

Happy Learning!

Mrs. Blossom

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How Mrs Blossom Helped me After my Lesson

August 30, 2010

The final word from Laura Macnamara, who teaches Year 1 and is the ICT Co-Ordinator at Berrycoombe Primary School, Bodmin, Cornwall, England, today she shares how my help has made life after the lesson is over much easier as well.

“Not only has Mrs Blossom helped me with planning my lessons, interacting with the children during my lessons, but she has also showed me how to use my SMARTBoard to do post lesson assessments and evidence. Assessment isn’t just ticklists anymore, a much more holistic approach is needed. The course conveyed this well and gave me some ideas about how I could use the files I created and the notes made on them during lessons for assessment purposes. Mainly I could see how I could look back at the files in order to inform my planning for the next lesson.

Happy learning!

Mrs. Blossom

Facebook for Shakespeare Characters

August 27, 2010

One of my fantastic colleagues – an English high school teacher came up with a project for her students that they will remember for a long time. Students were asked to take a character from the Shakespeare play that they were reading and reproduce what their Facebook page would look like. Who would be posting on their wall? What would they say? What photos would they post? What would they have as their Profile information?

Happy Learning!

Mrs. Blossom

How Mrs Blossom Helped me During my Lessons

August 26, 2010

Laura Macnamara, who teaches Year 1 and is the ICT Co-Ordinator at Berrycoombe Primary School, Bodmin, Cornwall, England talks today about what she has learnt during her time with me, talking about interacting with the class and the magic of the pen….

“By the use of tools such as the magic pen tool, I can make the absolute most of the multimedia contained within my lesson. I would be able to use these tools when asking questions of my class and in order to help children achieve their learning objectives. I am certain that this will evoke a much richer vocabulary from the children, which is so important with the recent focus on speaking and listening within schools. There are also implications for children with SEN for whom a VAK (Visual Auditory Kinaesthetic) approach is so essential.”

Happy Learning!

Mrs. Blossom

Creative Writing Blogs

August 25, 2010

If you tell your students to pull out their journals you might be met with groans but if you take the same exercise and let your students know that you will be blogging, they might change their tune. Blogs are a great way to share writing pieces (creative or not) and have other students read and provide feedback. This makes their work available to family members as well – Grandma would love to read the story her 6 year-old grandson wrote on vampires taking over the school!

Happy Learning!

Mrs. Blossom

How Mrs Blossom Helped my Lesson Preparation

August 24, 2010

“In my time in England I met with some wonderful teachers, one of which has charmingly kept in touch, since the lessons I taught her and here she explains how she uses them in her every day teaching life. I have invited UK Teacher Laura Macnamara, who teaches Year 1 and is the ICT Co-Ordinator at Berrycoombe Primary School, Bodmin, Cornwall, England, to discuss and share with you, my readers.

“By using the My Content tool and the gallery options that are so well explained in the course, I can create tailor-made lessons that are highly differentiated for the learning needs within my class. So, for example, if I wanted to deliver a science lesson about how animals move, one of the Y1 science objectives, I could use what I learnt from the Blossom course to create a discrete lesson or sequence of lessons that are packed full of multimedia. For example; videos of animals moving, pictures of different animals, sounds of animals moving – perhaps the children could try to guess the animal, links to websites about animals, all contained within one file using the SMART software. This is such an improvement on how I worked before, where I would have lots of different windows open, and it was always such a pain to have to flick between them! This also has a huge implication for fulfilling the VAK (Visual Auditory Kinaesthetic) element which is essential to enable children to learn effectively. By using ICT in such a powerful way would be seen as outstanding by OFSTED, our governing body in the UK.”

Happy Learning!

Mrs. Blossom

Media Differentiation

August 23, 2010

Don’t forget to use your SMART Board to differentiate your lessons for all abilities and learning styles – include not only words but audio, videos and images as well! If you have a flash video file that you have downloaded from another sources (YouTube or TeacherTube) you can insert it directly into your Notebook file by clicking on Insert in the menu and select Flash Video file. Your students will love it!

Happy Learning!

Mrs. Blossom

Modifying your Toolbar Pens

August 20, 2010

Do you find that the pens in the pen tray write to thick or thin for the needs of your students? You can modify the properties of the pens by going into your SMART Board Drivers (looks like a white circle on a blue square) and selecting the Control Panel. You will see the four pens and you can click on them to modify the properties for each individual pen. Once you apply your changes, they will be saved and your pens will now be thicker/thinner!

Happy Learning!

Mrs. Blossom

Review of my online SMART Board Course: ‘Fall back in love with your SMART Board’

August 18, 2010

Ever had the sneaky suspicion there may be more to your Interactive White Board than meets the eye?

Six years together and we’d been through so much. Our relationship started well and even though we spent every day in each other’s company, it always felt fresh and interesting, but then the honeymoon period inevitably ended and the daily grind and boredom factor set in. The truth was, i’d fallen out of love with my Interactive Whiteboard… but don’t dismay as I have some great news! Our relationship is now back on track and stronger than ever, all thanks to Blossom Learning. Mrs. Blossom’s Online Applied SMART Board course has been an amazingly effective way to refresh key skills and open my eyes to all of the functionality an IWB has to offer. My lessons will come alive with all the visual and kinesthetic experiences I can now offer the children. With retrospect, I can see that although the IWB in my classroom is probably the most expensive and useful resource I have, it had somehow become the most under-utilized. Most of you will be using an Interactive Whiteboard in your classroom, probably every day of your working life, but are you using it to its full potential?

If you want to enhance the ‘awe and wonder’ factor within your planning and delivery of lessons, save time and enhance learning I can’t emphasise enough how much I have benefitted from Blossom Learning’s user friendly and engaging interface. The course I took consists of eight chapters that include an overview, using SMART Notebook Software, using objects and gallery essentials, adding multimedia and making lessons interactive. Each chapter starts with a useful overview of the previous chapter and then Blossom’s friendly and engaging avatar, who goes by the name of Mrs Blossom, guided me through each topic, starting from the very basics right through to more technical aspects. The content would appeal to complete newbies through to more experienced IWB users. A huge benefit to me as a busy teacher is that the course could be completed at my own pace, with the programme remembering where I had left off. I also loved the way that Mrs Blossom placed emphasis on how the skills learnt can ease workload and help you to use your time more effectively. As well as being incredibly user friendly, from the very start it is clear that this course has been designed for teachers by teachers.

I have been using an IWB for my entire career in teaching, so I was delighted to find that as well as refreshing my knowledge on how to use and apply the SMART Board and Notebook software, the course also provided many extremely useful tips and tricks that I didn’t know about before! I can already visualise how my new expertise will impact on learning in my classroom. For one thing, by using the functionality more effectively my lessons will ‘flow’ much better aiding concentration in the young children I teach. The new skills I have picked up will also help to increase the fun-factor and make learning so much more rewarding for the children e.g., the wondrous Magic Pen tool, which I’ve IGNORED up until now!!! It feels like I’ve only been using a quarter of the available functionality! Even simple things, like using a tennis ball instead of a pen and using the magnifying tool over creepy crawlies will invoke many ooooh’s and aaah’s! I also found the section of the course about making use of ‘My Content’ really handy, as it was something I had not considered before. I can see now how this will help me save time by organizing resources and aid the flow of my lessons.

My only criticism of the course is concerning the chapter review assessments. Whilst these are really important, I felt they required too many key presses which became a bit tiresome. I appreciate that although it’s important to integrate a pass or fail function within these reviews, I’d rather not have to answer all the questions again, as it makes more sense to just revisit the questions that were answered incorrectly.

Overall, I had an extremely positive experience with this course. I found it revitalizing and informative, certainly a big plus for my professional development. The course has obviously been thoughtfully designed and is educationally sound. Educators all over the world will be able to benefit greatly from what Mrs Blossom has to offer. With her informative and interactive approach, teachers will be able to enhance learning and progress in their classroom, using the fun and rewarding methods outlined. As a typical busy teacher, I also thoroughly appreciated the way that the course took every opportunity to provide ways in which we can reduce workload and increase efficiency. So, instead of falling out of love with your Whiteboard and letting the dust settle, let Mrs Blossom banish the boredom factor and put the oomph back into your daily teaching!

Thank you Blossom Learning!’

Laura Macnamara (Year 1 Teacher & ICT Co-Ordinator, Berrycoombe Primary School, Bodmin, Cornwall)

Thanks Laura! :)……… Mrs. Blossom

Object Animation

August 17, 2010

Want to work with object animations? How about creating a multiple choice question where the incorrect answers will fade out if they are touched and the correct answer will spin. Make each answer a separate object (text box). Select the object and go into its properties. Select Object Animation and give the words some life! What a fun way to convert boring multiple choice into an interactive activity!

Happy Learning!

Mrs. Blossom