June 11, 2014
by rcrellin
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Too Many Elephants

This week’s guest blogger: Lisa Wilson Harston Primary School

NSS-Webpage-Banner

On 21May in North-Western Victoria we had over 240 students from 14 small rural schools and heaps of elephants reading together via Polycom as part of National Simultaneous Storytime (NSS).

At Harston Primary School, we were about to have our Polycom unit installed and thought NSS would be a great way to start using the unit.   I sent the invitation out to our local cluster as well as other schools close by.

Schools registered with the NSS website and received a pdf of the book and other support resources.  We set up a google doc for contact details and organised which pages each school would read.  On the day each school read a page to the other schools.NNS Stanhope

Many of the schools extended the learning opportunity by having elephant jokes and trivia, as well as making elephant masks as an Art activity. At Harston, our senior classroom, used Google Maps to locate each of the other schools and to calculate the distance between the schools.

The great thing about the Polycom unit was that students could see and hear classes from all the other schools.  We also received support from Virtual Conference Coaches Jo Tate and Gary Schultz who showed us how to use the units and helped run the session on the day.

Feedback from the schools has been very positive. Many of them had not used the Polycom before. Some have indicated that they now have joined or organised small events for the next couple of weeks.  We all want to know what we can come up with next!!

National Simultaneous StoNullawill 1rytime is an annual campaign where a picture book, written and illustrated by an Australian author and illustrator is read simultaneously in libraries, schools, pre-schools, childcare centres, family homes, bookshops and many other places around the country.

 

 

 

Want to find out more about Virtual Conferencing in your school?

Schools who don’t have a polycom can also still do heaps of online activities via Blackboard Collaborate, Lync and Skype. You can also log into polycom meetings via Lync.   NNS polycom

Virtual Conference Coaches are available to support schools to get started all of these.

May 20, 2014
by rcrellin
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Video Conferencing with VCE Biology

Our guest blogger is Britt Gow, Hawkesdale P-12 College

The Digital Learning Team congratuates Britt, winner of the Lindsay Thompson Fellowship at the 2014 Victorian Education Excellence Awards

Teaching Unit 3 and 4 Biology for the first time in a small, rural school is a big responsibility. Although the class is small (only eight students), they are all keen to do their best and achieve an ATAR score that enables them to be accepted into the tertiary course of their choice, including nursing, physiotherapy and a Bachelor of Science. Although there are plenty of paper-based and online resources available, there are few other teachers in the local area to share ideas and teaching strategies with.

HawkesdaleIn Melbourne, beginning teachers have the advantage of the Biology Teacher’s Network and professional development at locations such as the Gene Technology Access Centre. Our class was invited to attend the “Body at War” program for the World Day of Immunology at GTAC this year. For our students, this means getting up at 4.00am, travelling up to one hour to the Warrnambool train station and then a three hour train trip, returning home at about 11.00pm, after the three hour return trip. Otherwise, an overnight excursion, staying at the Melbourne Metro YHA, which adds to the significant cost of travel.

This year, our Year 12 Biology class has had two opportunities to participate in video-conferencing using the Polycom equipment, connecting with the Gene Technology Access Centre. There are several programs available, and we were able to access the “Signalling Molecules” and “Hendra Virus” workshops. Both sessions included hands-on activities and student worksheets, with resources provided well in advance by GTAC. Both presentations were delivered by experienced teachers, with excellent images, animations and explanations.

The excellent image quality and audio allowed the GTAC presenters to see and hear all that was happening in the classroom, asking and answering questions just as if they were in the science laboratory. Although students were, at first, a little reluctant to interact with the presenter, this is how they would react with a guest speaker in the classroom as well. Students agreed that both sessions were valuable learning experiences that assisted them to understand and apply biology concepts. For me, it is an excellent professional development opportunity that enhances my ability to teach the Unit 3/4 Biology course. And all without leaving Hawkesdale P12 College!

This post came from Britt’s global2 blog – Technoscience for teachers, which has some great advice about using ICT in the classroom.

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