All In A Picture

I like to start new topics or themes we have in the classroom with something to inspire students, whether this be a book, piece of music or a picture. Pictures can tell a thousand words so I was very happy to find Tag Galaxy thanks to Twitter.


Tag Galaxy creates a 3D planet made up of flickr photos, using specific tags.

Tag Galaxy

To start your Tag Galaxy you will need to enter a tag word (search word).  This will create a planet for this word that is surrounded by related tags.  Choose as many tags you would like and simply press on the centre of your planet to jump to the final product.


Instantly you have created your own planet of Flickr photos.  From here you can spin the planet and select specific photos and their description or use the arrow to look for more images.

Students have enjoyed using Tag Galaxy to find inspiration for writing, creating galaxies for them to gather ideas for their settings. It was also a great introduction to our Commonwealth Games theme of India.  We were able to see quickly and clearly the animals you might find in India.

How do you think you could use Tag Galaxy in the classroom?

How do you use Flickr pictures in your classroom?


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After watching in awe of teachers from Epsom Primary school taking notes on their iPads during a recent Literacy Co-ordinators meeting, I couldn’t stop thinking about how fantastic it would be to have one of my own. Well it didn’t take much convincing to head to my nearest Apple dealer and bring home the new piece of technology.

Then came the question of what to put on it!  Luckily enough for me @jjash tweeted her new blog for the iPad trial at Epsom Primary School. Perfect timing!  From this I was able to get a great list of free and paid apps to use in the classroom to get me started.

The next day it was the kids sitting in awe as I showed them my new ‘toy’. “Wow! It is so big!’ was a popular comment. Obviously they are used to playing games on the iPod touch or iPhone.  In contrast to this many of the staff commented on how small it was, before asking if I could make phone calls on it!


This week I have started using it in the classroom and now I wish I had 24 of them!  (Our school has 1:1 netbooks but have not used iPods before) It is hard to think of how to use it when you have to share it in small groups. But I must say my favourite feature is how quick it is to respond.

“Oh dear that child needs some practise on their timestables.” – press and slide and here you go!

“You want to know where Paris is on the map?” – press and slide and here you go!

No waiting for the netbook to start up!

My favourite app so far is Puppet Pals.  Today during guided reading the children used the characters to make an animation to do a retell of the story they had read.


I have also used Talking Tom Cat, which is a hit with the kids, to do character evaluations.  Talking Tom Cat is cat who responds to touch and repeats everything you say.

Children recorded themselves pretending to be a character in the book.  At the same time they can made the cat do some actions. An example was when a character was bossy they made the cat hit the cymbals and told the viewer to listen to what they were saying or else!

Do you use an iPad in your classroom?

What are your favourite apps?

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It is the word on everyone’s lips at the moment.  What is Ultranet?  What will Ultranet do?  How will I find time to use Ultranet? Why do we need Ultranet?

After being in England when they implemented their Learning Platform I was amazed at the potential it had but couldn’t understand why it wasn’t being tapped into.  I then questioned why it was so long coming to Victoria.

After ‘playing’ (due to staffing at the time I was unable to do the lead user training) for the last two weeks I realise why we had to wait.  This has actually been well thought out! It has all the elements the Learning Platform was missing! And it has been well implemented.  Don’t worry, I think it has its limitations also, but it is exciting that as of Monday we will all have this wonderful tool at our fingertips.

I have been mocked in the staffroom (in a good way!) of my enthusiasm for the Ultranet.  I admit jumping around and dancing the day I was finally able to get my book and login was probably a little over the top! But I think that deep down everyone is excited about what it will bring to education.

In my time ‘playing’ on the Ultranet I wrote this following piece on my Express Page Blog.  I can’t wait for Monday’s Statewide Ultranet Day and the chance to tap into all of those wonderful resources we have surrounding us – our colleagues. We have talked for a long time about bringing down the walls in our classrooms.  Well the Ultranet is the bulldozer we need!


Well the time has finally come.  I have officially logged onto the Ultranet for the first time.  I must admit that, for me, it has reminded me of being a kid again! Like the time that I counted down the minutes and seconds to my birthday because I knew I was getting a bike with gears, only to end up in tears the morning of my birthday because I had no idea how to ride it.  That is the feeling I have about now.  I have the tool, which will contribute to moving communication in education forward like never before and I don’t know where to start.  I know how to ride the bike (I have had one before when I worked in England for 4 years and I have all of the transferable skills from my blog and wiki). But it doesn’t mean I know how to use the gears to ride it well! Of course, I do as any 9 year old would when looking at the new bike they know they can’t actually ride.  I get on it!  Unlike the bike though, I think I will be able to remain injury free while trying it out. Hopefully!


Are you enthusiastic about Ultranet?

How do you see yourself using Ultranet?

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Handwriting v Typing

I have fond memories of handwriting in primary school.   I still remember my prep teacher showing the class how to write the letters in the air.  Later in school we practised everyday and the teacher would give us a mark out of ten.  My aim was to beat Juliet, the girl who consistently got 10/10 while I only got 9½.


I now wonder where it has gone?  Don’t get me wrong, I still do handwriting once a week. But it doesn’t seem to have the importance it did when I was growing up.

And now comes the question of the 21st century!  With 1:1 technology do we replace handwriting with typing?

One of my deepest regrets is not learning to touch type.  I can type quickly and sometimes I come close to touch typing but I still stand in awe when watching my doctor’s receptionist!  But watching the children in my class, the digital natives, using their index fingers to search for keys makes me shudder.

That’s why I do teach typing in my class.  We use a wonderful site by the BBC in England.  Some of the characetrs have very amusing English accents, but considering most of us were brought up on the twang of Big Bird I don’t think it will harm them too much!

On BBC Dance Mat Typing, you follow the animals advice as they show you the home row and sing songs about the letters you need to find.


It has certainly helped me in trying to touch type and I can now see children finding the home row and squinting to get their fingers to reach rather then searching for the correct key.


What are your thoughts about handwriting and typing?

Do you know any other great typing websites or programs?

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