Thoughts on teaching, technology, learning and life in an era of change.

Archive for the ‘ Teaching ’ Category

Year Ten History ~ Fini
November 10th, 2010

The Year Ten History course has completed. The students undertook the NSW School Certificate Examination in History and Geography yesterday. Feedback seems positive thus far.

The class has been an active, talkative and interested collection of young thinkers. They have been keen, demanding and a challenge at times. Great discussions, good arguments and excellent laughs.

Now, I am going to turn this conversation over to the students.

Year Ten History, can you please reflect and share your thoughts on the year just completed by answering the questions below using the comments link.

1. Which were your preferred topics and why?
2. Do you think the course was relevant? Explain.
3. Which parts of the course do you think could be improved or taught in a more constructive manner? Why?
4. If you could design a History course for Years 9 and 10 which topics or themes would you include? Why?

Meetup with Rob Newberry
July 10th, 2010

Finally got to meet with Rob Newberry last night. Rob and I have been exchanging notes via Twitter (@RobinThailand and @john_larkin) and also email for some time. Rob had been teaching in Thailand and he recently transferred to work here in Singapore with an international school as a director of IT. Very nice role indeed. We had a jolly good night. It always excellent to met members of your network face to face!

We met at Bugis MRT station and then headed off to Bukit Batok on the MRT to have dinner and couple of ales at the “coffee shop” where Shao Ping and I used to regularly eat back in the late 1990s and earlier this decade when we lived across the road in Block 254 and later up the road in Regent Heights.

We then cruised into the city and took up a posse to watch the world go by. Shao Ping and I often had a Mexican meal at the same place and engaged in some people watching. Rob and I must have looked out of place last night as I brought along the iPad and we were exchanging notes regarding apps and its use in the classroom. We talked about our journeys, music, teaching and working with tech in the classroom.

We are kindred souls in many respects. Rob is a nice bloke and if you ever have the chance to work with him go for it! I am sure going to try and collaborate with Rob during my next trip to Singapore in October. Bring it on!

More resources for students of Pompeii & Herculaneum
March 28th, 2010

Yesterday I created a Netvibes site embedded with a range of RSS feeds, links, media and photographic galleries all dedicated to the archaeology of Pompeii and Herculaneum. I shared the site via Twitter with Peter Clements, creator of the excellent AD79 Destruction and Re-discovery and asked if he could recommend any additional sites for the Netvibes site. Peter suggested three valuable sites.

The first is Herculaneum Panoramas, which features over 100 Quicktime VR movies of sites across Herculaneum including the Villa dei Papiri, the Theatre and countless others. It is brilliant. Students of Herculaneum can explore the site as virtual researchers and gain a feel of life in Herculaneum before the devastating Vesuvian eruption of AD79.

Then there is The Friends of Herculaneum Society, emanating from the University of Oxford. This rich web site allows you to view the Bodleian Library facsimiles of the Herculaneum Papyri and you can also read their newsletter, Herculaneum Archaeology. The aim of the society is to advance the education of the public concerning the World Heritage Site of Herculaneum and to create an archive of materials relating to Herculaneum and the work of the society.

Thirdly, Peter suggested the Fasti home page, FastiOnline. This site is a database of archaeological excavations in the Mediterranean region since the year 2000. Users can access the database via a map based graphical user interface. You can zoom into specific areas, Pompeii and Herculaneum for example, and gain information regarding specific excavations and the researchers involved. Once “inside” there is a variety of navigation methods that one can use to explore the data. The search engine is very useful and can allow students to quickly access specific sites.

And of course, there is Peter’s web site itself. AD79 Destruction and Re-discovery is such an incredible web site. There are descriptions of the streetshouses, businesses and public buildings of the various ancient sites surrounding Mount Vesuvius. The descriptions are supported with photographs of the sites. Rich hyperlinking within the web site allow users to explore the site and follow areas of particular interest. There are also pages dedicated to graffiti and significant personalities of the period. One of the most useful sections in Peter’s site is a page dedicated to specific Google Street View walks of the streets of Pompeii.

Kuala Lumpur
November 19th, 2009

I have just arrived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It has been a few years since I was last here. I caught up with my brother Frank one day back in 2002 and before that I did a presentation at an Apple sponsored education technology conference.

I will be conducting a series of “Web 2.0″* workshops for academics from 23 universities from across the region on behalf of the Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia (MoHE). I will be in KL for 8 days. I am working with Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore, on this project.

Both the MoHE and NTU are taking excellent care of me. They have put me up in an excellent resort in Putrajaya, Selangor state, and they flew me to KL business class which is a first for me personally.

I had no idea I was flying via business class. I was emailed the eTicket. I checked in at the economy counters. Boarded via the economy gate. No-one said anything. I discovered my good fortune when I was directed to my seat. Rather luxurious. I am not used to this. Well, I made the most of it. The seat next to me was empty as well. Bonus.

Since I started my long service leave from school, and let a few people know of that fact, things have started to fall in my lap. Good things. Hard work and passion has its rewards.

*I know the term “Web 2.0″ is a little cliche, dated and so on but it will serve the purpose in this case as it provides a common frame of reference for all involved in this project.

Comic Life ~ more than just comics
November 5th, 2009
Changing The Past

Comic Life is and incredible piece of software.

Every now and then a software application crosses one’s path and it immediately grabs your attention. Back in 1992 I was introduced to HyperCard by Dr John Hedberg. That application changed my career and my life. Thanks John!

Several years back I was attending an Apple Technology Day for teachers and right at the end of the day we were given a quick look at Comic Life. I was immediately captivated.

Plant Cell Diagram

Naturally Comic Life allows you to create comics. All sorts of comics. Basic, 1940s, strips, manga and loads more. Yet, it is capable of much more than that. You can skip the templates and simply allow the creative thoughts to generate and drag the various elements such as panels, word balloons, images and titles wherever you wish. If you explore the details panel for each element you can modify the style of each element to your heart’s content.


Recently I conducted some workshops over 6 days for a number of teachers from a variety of schools devoted to children and young adults with special needs. Part of the programme incorporated a Comic Life workshop. They all loved it. We all had a ball. We also covered digital photography, connecting, web presence and other connected stuff. There were teachers from Pathlight, Metta and the Cannossian schools in Singapore. Teachers also travelled down from the Korean International School in Seoul to attend the workshops in Singapore. I shall post some images from the workshops and examples shortly. In the meantime you might like to check out this pdf. Some of my efforts are displayed in this post.

Bayeux Tapestry
Solar System