Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Grade 9 Puppet Theatres

It's the first day of the holidays I am busy marking Grade 9's Puppet Theatre project and writing reports for every student in the school. This may sound like a horrific first day off, but it is actually massively rewarding. Our school is in its second year and writing reports is making me reflect on how much our students have grown and developed as learners over the last year. The puppet project ended up taking a whole term, instead of half a term, because students missed a lot of lessons due to trips, so I am well and truly ready for the unit to be finished, (and I am sure the students feel the same). I am going through their finished videos now and marking them before writing their reports, and they are incredible!  Students were tasked with creating a story using the Global Context 'Personal and Cultural Expression'. Enjoy this playlist with some of the videos:

Monday, 15 December 2014


Geoguessr is a fantastic website which turns Google Maps into a game. You will be dropped somewhere on the map of the world, (though you can also choose others maps, like one of London, Europe or Famous places) and you have to guess where you are. We tend to use this in our advisory group as a team building and communication game, but you can use it in subject specific ways too:

Geography: Use landscapes and climate to guess where you are or you could further explore the places you land afterward playing the game as a research exercise.
English: Get one student to justify the reasons they think they are in a certain place using persuasive language before making your guess
Art: Get students to do a quick landscape acitivity, painting the different places you end up
Drama: Do a hot seating activity based on the places you go.

As a librarian I am going to use it as a starting point for a research activity, with students finding out as much as they can about the area they end up in.I will also just use it as a quick game at the start and end of my lessons, for a little fun and to improve students approaches to learning, mainly communication.

Give it a go - Students love it - and it's a lot of fun!

Friday, 12 December 2014

Promoting our E-books

I have been working on promoting our e-books more, as they aren't very popular with our students. I've been putting a 'book of the week' in our morning notes, and choosing mostly one which is available digitally. I have also been adding mystery books to student accounts! I've been trying to show off our current collection for displays. I have printed off copies of the covers of many of our e-books and have laminated them and filled the library walls with them. I have also created iCloud photo albums showing off our collection-I have made a general album, as well as albums to compliment all the different subject areas. These also have images of the things we subscribe to, like Britannica Schools and The Day, and are also used as a platform to highlight apps and websites for that subject area. I've also made colourful images to deliver information such as 'there are French books available in the library' or 'Have you seen the newest books added to our collection? Visit RM Books!". These are put as the screensaver in every class room in the school. Both of these things have started up a lot of conversations and have helped our digital collection become more popular. Although it was a lot of work to get started, it will be easy to maintain and add to both of these things. I am hoping to also set up a student reading promotion group, where they organise events to promote reading, from author visits to raising money for various book charities, and to create more displays across the school.

Print out of some of our digital books.

I've put the Christmas theme on the slideshow!
Showing off our digital collection of books form RM Books in every class through subject specfic slideshows.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Gamify Your Lessons with KAHOOT!

I've been bending lots of ears about Kahoot recently, because I love it...and so do my students!

Kahoot is a fantastic website which allows you to create multiple choice quizzes, which can then turn your classroom into a quiz show! Students can use any device to take part in the quiz and there is no sign up.

I use it at the end of a video or lesson to check for understanding. I also do fun general knowledge quizzes or quizzes linked to the unit we are doing. I have had students submit facts through Google Forms which I turn into a quiz. Students are making them now, for presentations, to deliver information about events and just for fun!

I have been a tad poorly recently, so excuse my croaky voice!

I full intend on using Kahoot at a few conferences/training sessions I am speaking at soon. You have been warned!

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Hoax Websites

Following on from my Theory of Knowledge resources post, I wanted to share some resources and ideas for some information literacy/website reliability lessons, which could also be used for TOK.
In my last school I often taught lessons about website reliability using some hoax/fake websites. I usually start with a presentation about website reliability, which usually includes a screenshot of a wikipedia page I have altered, (for example, making myself the principal of my school, changing the uniform to gold and pink and changing the school motto to something about the library being rad...).

After this introduction I tell students they are going to investigate different websites to work out if they are reliable or not. I then give students a website each to investigate. It is hilarious, because even with the training, the fake wikipedia and the silliness of the sites, they still think half of them are credible, reliable sources.

This website is probably my favourite, because it has so much great information. The websites contains videos, links, news articles and more. I recommend everyone spend some time playing around on this website!

This website advertises a cosmetic surgery which gives you elf shaped ears - apparently its very trendy in New York, as it not only makes you look better, but enhances the music listening experience!

"Since 1887, the Ova Prima Foundation has existed for the sole purpose of exploring the mystery and the beauty that is the egg. 
It is the Foundation's primary objective to continue to build a body of scientific evidence that will shed light on the egg-and-chicken controversy, that most basic of conundrums."

You can buy exotic animals, like baby seals, which you can either keep as pets...or you can eat.

Although this website is probably one that students easily figure out - they also find it really interesting and enjoy analysing the purpose of the site and why someone would make it!

"Tired of paying pump prices? So are we! Welcome to Petrol Direct - the UK's leading supplier of all varieties of petrol, diesel and even biofuels delivered direct! We save you money by sourcing all our fuels from other countries in the EU that have a much lower tax rate than the UK" Students get a bit confused by the language on this website and tend to think it is real!

Another hilarious site - though again the language does fool some of my younger students!

I am not sure if this website was intended as a joke, to teach about website reliability..or to show children when their pets died... either way - I love it! It's full of information, including loads of great photographs, which make the site seem more believable.

Students tend to believe this, because they often hear or read about people complaining about the negative impact caused by video games.

Students believe this because the style of the website is similar to a small campaign website, (as this are often not made by people with website experience).

"Welcome to the web site dedicated to saving rennets from unnecessary torture and slaughter. Rennets are small hamster like rodents which are intensively factory farmed and slaughtered for the production of cheese."

"This site has nothing to do with the Japanese Institute of Cetacean Research, except for very scientific research purposes only. It would be too complex to explain our research, so you'll just have to trust us there. That we share a similar interest in these graceful, intelligent, fascinating and yet scrumptious mammals is purely a coincidence."

I like this site because it has false reviews/recommendations from other sites. Also students could try and do further research to see if this site is reliable and they would come up with steampunk websites which could easily fool them.
"Read illustrated accounts of the world's first robot, the Steam Man, created in 1868! Subsequent automatons such as the Electric Man and the Automatic Man are also profiled. The most comprehensive section, with more than 20 pages, concerns the mechanical man known as Boilerplate--described as "deliciously detailed" by The New York Times, "charming" by U.S. News and World Report and declared "cool" by NASA!"

A fantastic article about the BBC advertising iPlayer with new footage of penguins flying. This is very convincing - you could show the video alone and see how students react.

Again this website looks believable, as it could be made by an interested member of the public, it's full of images and it has adverts that relate to the topic.

Hopefully students will realise straight away that this is not factual, but you should aim to get them to prove Belgium's existence, through other sources. 

If students are familiar with cheese racing in the West Country or bog races, then they might just fall for this site! Also I found that students blindly believed the Haggis was an animal, so it it a good way to teach them to fact check!

This site is definitely for older students, because it has a little bit of sexual content, (selling thongs with Jesus on for example). This is also a good site to teach about bad website design, because it has way too much information on one page!

As there's so many cats and so much weird stuff on the internet I wouldn't be surprised if there is a serious website about feline yoga!

How could I forge the following:

Dihydrogen Monoxide Research Division
This website educates people about the dangers of...water.

"This is the First Page of the Internet.
Everything starts here!"

Use science to create your perfect baby!

Male Pregnancy
I first showed this to students around the time that the stories were circulating about transgender Thomas Beatie giving birth, which meant that many fell for this site!

Games for stupid babies...

Driver’s License Search

I like this site a lot, but once they do a search, they should be able to see that it is a hoax website. However, you could get them to analyse the site first, then allow them to explore.

If anyone knows of any good hoax/parody websites, please share them with me. Many of my favourites, including Sellafield Zoo, don't exist anymore, so I am keen to find some new resources.

Theory of Knowledge Resources

We are gearing up to have our first Diploma Programme (DP) next year, so I have been busy gathering IBDP resources.  All DP students complete a Theory of Knowledge (TOK) course - this is also embedded into the curriculum of all subjects. 

Here's what the IB say about TOK.

"Diploma Programme Curriculum—core Requirements." IB Diploma Programme Curriculum, 
Theory of Knowledge. IBO, n.d. Web. 02 Dec. 2014.

I recently went on some IBDP Librarian training, which put my mind at ease about TOK. 
I am a very practical person, so TOK seemed very scary to me. 
After the training I realised I had already been teaching lessons which touch on TOK, from looking at source reliability, to analysing who creates the news and why. 

    The main Areas of Knowledge that students will focus on are: The Arts, Ethics, History, The Human Sciences, Indigenous Knowledge Systems, Mathematics, The Natural Science and Religious Knowledge Systems.  You can read more about this on this TOK site.

Although I don't have sites to cover all areas yet and my resource list is still a work in progress, I wanted to share what I have so far. Hopefully other librarians or TOK teachers will see this..and then send me sites too!
Here is my complete list
This is a live document. 
The TOK tab is at the bottom of the page.

Here are some of my favourites:

A:Z The philosophy of (almost) everything

Conservative watchdog group for fairness, balance and accuracy in news reporting

Ask for Evidence is a public campaign that helps people request for themselves the evidence behind news stories, marketing claims and policies. We hear daily claims about what is good for our health, bad for the environment, how to improve education, cut crime, treat disease or improve agriculture. Some are based on reliable evidence and scientific rigour. Many are not. How can we make companies, politicians, commentators and official bodies accountable for the claims they make? If they want us to vote for them, believe them or buy their products, then we should Ask for Evidence. People come here to share their experiences of asking for evidence and to use the hub of resources and expertise to making sense of the evidence they receive.

Big Think is the leading knowledge company for the knowledge economy

Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.

You thought you knew...but you have no idea!

Play the game. Learn about Language

Using these new tools, is 
designed to help you follow the development of information 
and media, and attitudes about them, from the 
beginning of records to the present.

Hoax or fact is a platform that analyzes and explains 
the truths behind the popular hoax 
messages that we get to hear.

A great video from TED Talks, How Do You Know You Exist?

Peer reviewed philosophy articles.

LabintheWild tests your abilities and preferences when interacting with computers. At the end of each experiment, you will see a page with your personalized feedback, which lets you compare yourself and your performance to other people around the world

A website put together by Gareth Southwell, which includes philosophy, writing, comics and illustration.

An online, multimedia digital archive containing the profiles of 250 feminist psychologists who have shaped and continue to transform the discipline of psychology. Profiles are organized in two sections, "Women Past" and "Feminist Presence." All profiles on the Feminist Presence section contain original interview transcripts and video clips with the psychologist discussing their feminist development and academic career.

Mini Philsophy lectures. Subscribe to learn and boost your brain power!

A UK-based charitable trust to encourage an evidence-based approach to scientific and technological developments

THE SKEPTICS SOCIETY is a nonprofit scientific and educational organization whose mission is to engage leading experts in investigating the paranormal, fringe science, pseudoscience, and extraordinary claims of all kinds, promote critical thinking, and serve as an educational tool for those seeking a sound scientific viewpoint.

Strange Maps collects cartographic curiosities, mapping things like the place in the United States farthest from a McDonald’s.

Fantastic articles, videos and podcasts investigating various conspiracy theories.

A linguist and editor at The Week, turns monosyllabic grunts into long, fancy, science words.

The Wayback Machine is a digital archive of the World Wide Web and other information on the Internet created by the Internet Archive, a non-profit organization, based in San Francisco, California

A free online magazine with the goal of increasing understanding of other cultures through the English translations of foreign literature and commentary. Search by continents or environments.