Games Games Games

games What games do you like to play and why?

What makes a game, good – what makes you want to keep on playing?

Click on this link and spend some time sampling/playing the games on the main page of the web site.

Use the comment link and: (1) list the games you played, and (2) give a brief comment about them.

Image: Source

MapSkip With Year 5

Two year 5 classes and I were playing and learning with MapSkip last week.


The week before we explored GoogleMaps and had a look at well known locations around Adelaide, eg Our School, AAMI Stadium, Glenelg Beach, the Clipsal Racetrack, etc. In the last 10 minutes we had a bit of a race to see who could find a landmark the fastest. Then we created our own Google accounts so that we could “edit” our own maps in the next lesson. Well, I have to say that having students sign up for a Google account was not easy. The security image was difficult to read; the password difficulty was really fussy and some boys were not receieving email confirmation – they all have their own school email address. In the end, I decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle – to be fair to Google, the problems could be at our end – and decided that I would use MapSkip next lesson.


It was easy to create an instant Teacher account at MapSkip. They then advise teachers of three ways to have students use MapSkip. I chose the way where I did not have to enter an email address, and had to fill in the form on the left for each student. It was a very simple process and it would be great for some other sites to use a similar approach. I was able to make the student’s password the same as their username (which is the username they use to log onto our school network). With student accounts being linked to mine, I initially had them set so that each time a student added to a map, I was sent an email. Well, after a mere 30 minutes, I had more than 50 emails from MapSkip, so I soon turned that off!


Two weeks prior to this we had made a list of 10 things we like about living in Adelaide, so the boys’ task was to show each of these on MapSkip. Once they were logged in (which went smoothly for all for their first use), they needed to locate one of the places from their list on the map. They could navigate (just like in GoogleMaps) using the hand, zooming in and out or by typing in a location in the search box. It was interesting to see that some boys had trouble negotiating where they thought things were or which direction to go to get somewhere – maybe they spend their travel time playing psps instead of looking out the window!

Once a place was found, merely clicking on the map would place a hand marker where you can type in a name for the place. As you can see, a lot of boys placed a hand somewhere on our school. After that they can add a “story” about that place.

Other students are able to comment on places that their peers have added and at present, I have blocked outside people from adding comments.


Like all classes, we had one or two boys who strayed from the task and wanted to write silly or annoying comments/stories, or the two boys despite a long explanation about cybersafety and not giving out personal details, marked their houses! This posed a problem as I wasn’t sure how to either edit the story/comment or delete the place marker.


After a little searching around I decided to use the “contact us” link at the bottom of the page. My simple message was “Hi, I have created student accounts linked to mine and they have started writing stories. Is there a way to edit them or delete comments?” I have to emphasise how impressed I was with their response. I sent my comment at 3:18pm Australian time and had a reply within 5 hours (not sure what time it was wherever MapSkip is).¬† This is what constantly amazes me about Web2.0 tools – the reply quickly and politely and I’m not even paying for it! I’m sure we all know software companies where you pay for software and don’t get a response that quickly.

Their suggestion was to sign in as the student, loctae the place and there will be an edit button where stroies can be edited. Then they went on to say, that they realise that teachers may want more control and that they would fast-track changes to the teacher interface!! And, they thanked us for using MapSkip!

Our next step is to embed our maps into our blogs, or if that can’t be done, to have links or maybe a screenshot to them.

Overall, I have really liked using MapSkip. It has been easy, the boys have enjoyed it and also found it easy, and the support has been great. Are you using MapSkip in your classroom – can you tell me how?

Edmodo – starting up

This is hopefully the first in a series of posts about using Edmodo.

You may recall from earlier posts that I was wanting my maths class to have an online presence.

In the Help! post, I was wondering what tools to use to be able to manage and interact with my class. I started a maths blog last week (which will develop as we go along – and to be honest, I’m not really sure what I actually want its functions to be, yet) and will show the boys for the first time on Monday.

I had signed up to Edmodo towards the end of the 2008 academic year, but didn’t think it was worth starting at that stage. I had some inkling of what it was and looked at the edmodo blog but I wasn’t confident what would happen when I used it.

So, this morning, I have explored.

Setting up an account is quite straight forward, so I won’t delve into that. It was also quite easy to set up a group. Click on ‘create’, type in the name of the group and click “create”.

When you create a group, you get a code to give to your students. They go to the Edmodo home page and create a student account, where they will need to enter the code to become part of the group.

What I wanted to find out first, was who gets to see whose messages.

To test this out I created two different student accounts – it was handy having access to three computers to do this.

When a student creates an account they have a username and also their own name. The username is what they use to log in with, but when the write messages (posts), it is their real name that you see. I was hoping it may be thier user name and that this would help keep them anonomous, but it isn’t really an issue, as I’ll explain shortly.

The student window is basically the same as the teacher’s window but with a few less options. It has the central message box at the top and any messages appear below this.

One of my reasons for wanting an on-line presence, was so that students could communicate with me at anytime. We know that some students don’t like asking for help in front of their peers, so using Edmodo can help with this.

When a student types a message, they then type who they want the message to go to, in the box below. In the image, my test student typed the letter ‘B’ which brought up to choices that contain that letter: (1) Colin Becker (teacher) or (2) Year 7 B1 Maths (the name of the group they belong to).

If the student chose to send the message to the teacher, then no other student would get to see that message – this is great for anonymity. If the student chose to send it to the group, then everybody gets to see it. As far as I could tell, students are unable to send messages to students.

Last pointer: I continually forgot the usernames and passwords of my ‘test’ students, and forgot the invite code for the group. A single click (left-click) on the little pencil brings a pop-up menu where you can access some admin options and change the colour associated with the group.

I hope to write further posts on how I’m using Edmodo with my class – I really aren’t sure where it’s going to go.

So, you might like to subscribe to my blog to keep up with my Edmodo journey.

To subscribe via RSS click here.

Photo: source Some rights reserved

I Will

I’ve never written down goals before (well, not these type) and I’m a little reluctant to start now. What if I don’t make any of them? What if they are in conflict with the goals of my workplace? What if they make me look like a luddite, or if they are just plain ordinary?

However, I want to have a set a goals so that I can keep track of where I want to go, where I want to direct the teachers I work with, so that I can say at the end, these are the things that I achieved or have tried to achieve. What do I need to do next to get there? What has happened throughout the year that will make me edit or re-think my goals for the following year? Deep breath . . . I will:

  1. encourage the staff in my workplace to use Yammer as an alternate form of cumminication and to see that it has many (and different) benefits over email;
  2. run a Web2.0 course for the School administrators and have them use a blog and other web tools on a regular basis;
  3. run a Blog Course for interested teachers – along the lines of 30 days to be a better blogger (which I really want to do myself) Coincidentally, Sue Waters has just blogged about a new 30 Days Project starting up;
  4. encourage the teachers (that I worked with during 2008) to use a variety of web tools in 2009 eg VoiceThread, Blogging;
  5. blog regularly and keep commenting on blogs that I read
  6. create a portal for my maths class so that there is an online presence and support for learning
  7. be a better father;

I’m sure there are more goals, and I hope to add some over the next few weeks.

Photo: source Creative Commons Attribution Noncommercial 2.0 Generic license


What Web2.0 tool should I use?

What Web2.0 tool would you use?

This year for my Year 7 maths class I want to have a learning management system – but without using commercial software ie no Moodle (takes too long to learn); no Sharepoint (need access to set up on servers) and no Blackboard (cost too much).

This is what I want to do with it:

  • set tasks and have students reply that they have completed them
  • put course materials online
  • have students ask questions online
  • have video lessons that I make available for each teaching moment
  • have parents see progress of their child and make comments
  • be accessible from home
  • have some assessment data viewable
  • have students use it to profile some of their work
  • and a few other things that I have probably forgotten to mention
  • have it semi-private so that students and their parents are the main (only) users

These are some the options:

  • Edmodo – can I do most of this in edumodo??
  • A blog
  • A Wiki
  • A ning
  • other suggestions?

So, what would you use? Which tool will make it fairly simple, keep it organised and not be too hard for parents to interact with?

Photo: source Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike 2.0 Generic license

Side-note: Wasn’t sure what to expect when I typed “help” into the Flickr Creative Commons search engine but there were an interesting range of images.

This could be an interesting task for students to do: with a digital camera take an image that depicts ‘help’, add it to VoiceThread (or blog page), describe your thoughts and invite others to respond.

All I’ve Got To Do . . .

During term 4 of 2008 I was supporting 3 Year 7 classes and taking them through a Web2 journey. One of the tasks was to use Voicethread as a tool for responding to a book that the class had read. Other than some microphone settings hitches (we have them all the time on our pcs – never on the macs), it all went well and there were some good products.

More important for me, were the teachers’ responses. I sort of got the impression that they saw it as a ‘good’ task, but I’m not sure that they were bowled over by the possibilities. Eg, how else could VoiceThread be used? Where in my curriculum could this come in handy? How could I use it to make my students passionate about something?

This morning, I found a voicethread that looks at the issue of Darfur. The discussion going one here is great. The students aren’t afraid to voice their opinions nor to disagree with their peers.

What do I have to do to get teachers to think about the possibilities and to have a go?

Photo: source Attribution Noncommercial Share Alike 2.0 Generic license