Pragmatic tools and ideas for the classroom

Digital Magic #16

Digital Story Telling with feature guest Sonya Woloshen

I teach grade 8 French Immersion.  Acquiring a second language requires four main components: reading, writing, speaking, and hearing.  Reading and writing are easily achieved in a classroom setting. However, listening and speaking are more challenging and, in my opinion, the most important for full comprehension of a new language. Traditionally, teachers play a CD of French conversations and students have a questionnaire to fill in.  Also, teachers give students oral presentations to fulfill their speaking mark.  Although these methods are useful, I feel as though there is a way in which we can heighten student learning.  When listening to a CD, there are many distractions: Jimmy is shuffling his papers, the CD is too quiet, Jane didn’t hear it and needs it to be repeated for numbers 6, 7, and 12.  With oral presentations, students are nervous in front of a crowd.  As well, they are not giving the presentation in their native tongue, which can be a very daunting task (even for me).

I came up with an idea to enhance listening and speaking after speaking with the department head who teaches Grade 6 late French Immersion.  She told me that the students are reading a series of 12 books to give them a foundation of basic vocabulary.  The students read the books in class, study the vocabulary and take the books home to practice.  However, she said she wished there was something the students could listen to at home that went along with the books, which were written in the 70’s.

This is when a light went off for me!  I thought, my students need a speaking mark, and her students need to hear an example of correct pronunciation.  My reply: podcasts, of course!
My students would record podcasts and I would post them on my website for the grade 6’s to listen to at home.  While I was testing this idea myself, I thought it would be even better if the grade 6’s could see the words and listen to the podcast at the same time.  Thus, I worked on a keynote presentation and added pictures to illustrate the story.  Then, I screencast the presentation while narrating it and adding music and voilà: a videocast!  I showed the example I had made to my grade 8’s.  They were super excited and wanted to start right away on our digital story telling unit!
I booked mac lab time and my students went to work right away!  I was so impressed with how quickly they picked up on how to use keynote (completely new to them).  After the next week, they started narrating their slidshows and I converted them and posted them online.  We also converted the finished videocasts to ipod files so that the grade 6’s could put the movies on their ipods if they wanted (to have it with them at all times).

Now, each week, the grade 6 class watches the Napoleon movies the grade 8’s have created.  The grade 6’s are really enjoying the videocast series and constantly ask when the next one will be
available on the web.  As for the grade 8’s, they couldn’t be more proud of themselves.  After I have published their movies to the web, I show them in class on the LCD with the speakers on.
Even though they are more advanced than the series of books, they watch and enjoy the movie.  I look around and see normally shy students beam with pride over the work they’ve done.  At the end of
the movies, they always clap for those who have made it (without my prompt).

Programmes used: keynote (mac ppt), screenflow, screencast-o-matic, quicktime pro, visual hub, imovie.


Thanks again Sonya!


Did you miss an edition of Digital Magic? Is there one you want to look back on again? Here are all the editions of Digital Magic in reverse order, (most recent first).

Have a great week!


October 26, 2008 Posted by | digital magic, feature, Languages, lesson idea, technology, tools, web based | , , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Digital Magic #16

Digital Magic #14

Creating a Wiki Page with Sharon Vanderhook

Thanks to Sharon for doing a great job breaking down the steps for those who may not feel totally comfortable with this great tool. Teachers can learn more about signing up for ad-free Wikipsaces here. I know these kinds of steps are just what my wife needs to get going on a wiki, and Sharon and I both hope that they will help you out too!


To Create a Wiki:

* Go to Wikispaces.com and sign up for a new account
* Sign up for the education plan – it’s free! You need to get a free plan first and then request to change it to an education plan so you get no ads and it’s FREE!
* Make sure you don’t leave any spaces in your name (you can leave a space by using an underscore – ex: Ms_Smith)
* Create your Home page (you will attach all your other work pages to this one)


* name your Home page
* If you specify you are using the wiki for educational purposes they will delete the ads that run along the side of your wiki

Under Look and Feel:

* you can choose the Theme
* background, text, links, and menu colors. Note that not all themes support all color options (I use original which allows my choice of background color).
* Choose a logo for your page


* Here you can specify who you want to view your site (public, private, or protected (where others can view but not edit your page).
* When you have people signed up on your site then you can also view who is a member of the wiki and delete or invite people here.
* You can specify whether messages are allowed from non-members
* It’s best to keep only you as the organizer with the ability to add/delete people from the wiki

Recent Changes

* You can see the history of the changes made to the site (which page, date, time and name of editor)
* If you click on the page or date/time it will show you what was deleted (red highlight) or inserted (green highlight)
* You can click on the name and see how many edits they have done and how many messages they have posted

New Page

* You can create new pages here to attach to your wiki
* New pages can also be created on the edit menu
* If you want to create a subpage (like personal spaces for students to do work) from your main page you can do this by going to edit this page and then highlighting the word (name) you want to link to the new page and then clicking on the web link icon (chain on world) then type in the title for the new page where it says wiki link. This will link the word to a new page that is a subpage (it won’t show up on the navigation bar on the left) of the one named on the wiki link.

Manage Space

* Located on the left bar
* Can access the settings where you can change the setup of your wiki, changer permissions, domain name, look and feel, as well as see what pages are attached
* On list pages you can print, lock, unlock, or delete pages. You need to lock the page if you don’t want anyone else to edit it.

Edit your page

* Holding your cursor over top of the button on the menu bar will tell you what the button does
* On this page they give you directions on how to edit your home page (by clicking on the edit this page button at the top)
* The first 3 buttons are bold, italic, and underline
* The next button, A, will allow you to change the font, color, and alignment (and sometimes the background color)
* The Normal button is for the type of heading you want.
* The next 2 buttons are for numbered or bullet lists
* The next button with the AlA allows you to put a horizontal line across the page to separate the sections
* The next 2 globes with a link are the add link and remove link buttons to link to other sites or to link pages within your wikispace
* The palm tree box is the add images or documents to the wiki
* The TV is used to inbed widgets (RSS feeds, video, audio, calendar, documents, polls, other Wikispaces, slideshows, maps, bookmarks, and other HTML (which is what I used to insert my cluster map)
* The table is used to insert a table

Inserting a Table of Contents

* In Edit This Page put [[toc]] at the top of the page and a Table of Contents box will be created on the right side of your wiki.
* Then you need to highlight text and change it from Normal to Heading 1 for the main headings
* For subheadings highlight the text and choose Heading 2

Changing your Profile

* You can add a picture or avatar to your profile
* You can send and receive messages. This will also allow you to send messages to everyone in your membership group. If you have messages, a letter with a red circle and a number to show how many messages you have, will appear next to your name at the top of your wiki page.


* You can post discussion items here and respond to other people’s posts.
* You can see how many people have viewed the posting as well as how many replies they have had.
* By clicking on the discussion item you can see what was said, who said it and when. You can also delete items (if they are inappropriate).

Notify Me (on top menu bar)

* Here you can set your monitoring ability for the pages. You can receive RSS Feeds for page edits and page discussions but this will load up your email so I wouldn’t recommend it. It’s easy enough to go in yourself and check the edits done on the page history.

Navigation Bar

* You can edit the navigation bar on the left side of your WikiSpace by clicking on the bottom link – edit navigation
* The Navigation Bar will allow you to move between the pages on your WikiSpace.

Inserting a Clustr Map

* You can add a thumbnail world map that will count show the location of all the visitors to your page. By clicking on it you can zoom in to a big world map, and even zoom in on continents
* You can get a free cluster map from http://www.clustrmaps.com/.
* You need to register to get one and they will send you a password to your email. On the registration page you need to type in the URL of where you want the clustrmap to go. Then type in your email address twice.
* Go to your email to retrieve your password. Make sure when you log on to your ClustrMap you change your password right away.
* When you go to your ClustrMap file then copy the url
* On your wiki click Edit This Page and then click on the add widget button and then other HTML and paste in the URL.


Thanks again Sharon! Want to learn more about wiki’s? Ask Sharon, Lawrence, Stan or I and we will be happy to share more!

Here is another introduction to wikis that I first linked to in Digital Magic #1.

Did you see how Lawrence used his wiki for Digital Storytelling in last week’s Digital Magic?

…And finally, here is a wiki I did for Grade 8 Science (the front page is my daily agenda), and a reflection that I did afterwards.


Did you miss an edition of Digital Magic? Is there one you want to look back on again? Here are all the editions of Digital Magic in reverse order, (most recent first).

Have a great week!

October 13, 2008 Posted by | across the curric., David Truss, digital magic, feature, Pair-a-Dimes, teaching, technology, tools, web based, web2.0 | , , , , , , , , , , | Comments Off on Digital Magic #14