Scratching the Surface (Take 5)

Been using a lot of Mahara recently as we develop more confidence in using it as our e-portfolio tool of choice to present, store, share and assess students work.

I am now using Mahara in my Year 7 and 8 ICT lessons.

In Year 7 we embarked on a topic called Formulas for Fitness. In essence it is a topic on spreadsheets where the focus is PE and students developing their skills by developing and presenting fitness data about themselves and other Year 7 students (students carry out 5 different fitness tests from reaction timers, co-ordination tests which are gathered via a Google Form to produce data of 200+rows).

Students then create a Mahara journal and add an entry at the end of every lesson for homework in which they explain what has been done. I have taken it a few steps further and asked them to create an actual Mahara page and also provide other evidence through different Web2.0 tools (courtesy of my ScoopIT page which I share with them – http://www.scoop.it/t/learning-2-0-tools)

So far this appears to be quite successful (2 lessons in!). Students add their page and then submit it to me for feedback. I have started to include Blooms icon tags with my feedback alongside WWW (what went well) and EBI (even better if) targets. The Blooms tags came about from work we are doing with Transformational learning where students signpost their evidence using PLTS icons

Here is the design from one Year 7 student. He has specific writing and spelling issues. I awarded him a “Creating” tag as he took it upon himself to explain what he has done using a Voki and then embedding it on his site (nice comments!)

yr7pic1

yr7pic2

I enjoy giving feedback on Mahara. As a site admin I can enrol as students. This allows me to create a “secret URL” which I can send to other teachers for surprise comments (in this case his tutor). Later I will get students to share pages to provide monitored peer review of their work.

Lots of great IT skills using Mahara from linking images, embedding code and presenting work.

 

In Year 8 we have started a Scratch topic in which students work together in a Games Company to produce a series of games. These games are then added to a website (we will use www.wix.com) and online advertisement (software TBC) and an App (probably a prototype rather than working one)

I have used Mahara as the company intranet. Part of the students page is given over to explanations of what they have done each lesson. In the case below making a twitter ID, letterhead, logo and slogan. Students in Year 8 also take a transformational learning course and I have asked them to signpost the PLTS skills in their work.

The example below is mine as its too much of a hassle to erase all the personal details. Later on I will get students in each company to share their pages for further comments.

yr8pic1

 

The BIG news this week is the release of the Scratch plugin for Mahara. This is the result of some greate work from Gregor Anželj who actually released the original version sometime ago but no-one apparently came forward to test it. After some posting and cross-posting, Gregor has updated the version for Mahara v1.5 and 1.6 and its now good to go.

Here is a silent Screenr post about it.


Advantages

  • You can upload the original .sb file
  • There is a link to the .sb file that you can download
  • You can resize the game
  • Very little lagging

Disadvantages

  • It doesn’t quite fit on any of the page settings
  • The default setting is too wide for a 3 column page layout
  • I don’t know what the icon on the top left does :o)

Not Checked

  • Will it play sound?
  • Does it work with multilevel games?

DropBox

http://www.dropbox.com/

Online backup, file sharing and synchronising. Heard about this a while back but never used it – what a big mistake that was. Have it installed on laptop and school network and home. Files are uploaded to the cloud and synchronised so that I dont need to carry them in a memory stick. Up to 3GB storage free with option to extend to 5Gb if you start recommending lots of people. I store all the helpsheets in here and just send someone a link to them. You can now upload folders to the cloud (although sharing them is a bit complicated) – not blocked in Hampshire!! Adding files from home to be read at school take a lot longer than when you add files at home to be read in school.

Free Flash Resources for Teachers

http://www.sandfields.co.uk/games/

Brilliant site which does exactly what it says. My particular favourites are the Countdown clock whose settings can change depending on which mp3 file you link to. Also available are templates for certain quiz types. The Millionaire quiz is a flash template with an xml file that you can edit. There is also a template for playing Weakest Link and a PowerPoint for other quizzes.