Posts Tagged year 9


I can’t wait to start using Voicethread next Term!  I first heard about this tool at the AATE conference in July, and it turns out a few of my colleagues have been using it for awhile…if anyone has links to Voicethread projects they have done with their students I’d love to see them!

My initial thoughts are that I would like to use Voicethread for:

  • Year 9 poetry unit – students compose poetry and read it aloud with accompanying images for other students to view.  Perhaps also some collaborative poetry writing?
  • Debating Training – One week debates.  Students can record a real debate.  Starts with 1st Affirmative speaker, then following speakers get 24 hours each to respond; runs like a ‘real’ debate.

Some great tips and ideas for using Voicethread can be found on Wesley Fryer’s blog.  I have just joined the English Group on the Voicethread Ning, and am hoping to get more ideas and tips from there.

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David Griffin on how photography connects us | Video on

Another TEDtalk that I’ll be using in my Year 9 unit on digital storytelling.

The photo director for National Geographic, David Griffin knows the power of photography to connect us to our world. In a talk filled with glorious images, he talks about how we all use photos to tell our stories.

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Jonathan Harris: Collecting Stories

Artist Jonathan Harris discusses his latest projects, which involve collecting stories – what a great talk!

I’d like to show this to Year 9 when we start making digi-stories, to get them thinking about how images can represent people and their lives.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Gifted and Talented Action Research

In my school I am part of a group of beginning teachers that are completing action research projects in their gifted and talented classes.  Our school is half-selective, meaning half of the students had to sit an academic exam for entry.  The rest of the school is made up of local students, but we also run a G&T class in years 9 & 10 of the local stream.  The class I’m using for my action research is my Year 9 G&T class, and the unit I am studying is the videogame unit…fun research 🙂

In our school there is a focus on developing three traits of giftedness as identified by Renzulli:

  • above average though not necessarily superior general ability;
  • high level of task commitment or intrinsic motivation;
  • and creativity

The students in my class certainly do display above average ability, and my aim is for my teaching units thie year to boost their levels of task commitment, intrinsic motivation and creativity.  The videogame unit so far is proving successful in these areas – in today, the third lesson of the unit, students worked in their groups for the first time, taking turns at playing the games (Need For Speed: Carbon, and Street Fighter II) and at creating an account on our class wiki and making some new pages.

So far the level of task commitment and intrinsic motivation is sky high!  The creativity is off to a slow start in some respects, but I think we did some important work today in laying the foundations for creativity.  I spent a lot of times with the groups on the laptops today, making sure students were comfortable with their roles as writers/authors on the class wiki.  This creating of information, along with activities in later weeks where students will create their own video game concept and characters, is all designed to lead students into higher order thinking.

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Year 9 Wiki

I’ve just finished creating a new wiki, this time for my Year 9 class, and this time it is one that I am actually going to use!

I’ve created two other wikis before – one for my HSC class, which I made using wikispaces.  My Year 12s were struggling with the blog as it was, so the wiki never really got a start there.  The other wiki I made was a general purpose one, which I imagined all of my classes would contribute to, on every subject that they studied.  This way all of my classes, from years 7-12, over time would come to access this kind of mega-source of information.  What a plan!  What a community! But I decided not to run with the idea, because I don’t think the students really will go for the idea…I’m not convinced it’ll be so much fun adding to the site unless you really know the others that are making it too.

I’ve added a couple of YouTube videos on using PB wiki to my vodpod (click here or in the right-hand side bar).  Anyone else out there using a wiki ATM?  What is (not) working for you?

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The most engaging keynote that I saw at the AATE conference would have to be Daniel Meadows’ presentation ‘New Literacies for the Digital Age’. Daniel is an artist/photographer/storyteller from way back, and his keynote was about the power of storytelling, specifically the power of the digi-story.

A digital story, or digi-story, is a story that is told using a series of photos or other images, with narration and other sound layered over the top. Ideally they should only be about 2 minutes long, and use about a dozen images and a narration of about 250 words.

Daniel shared a number of digi-stories of his own, and from the Capture Wales project – what was refreshing was that his keynote was actually based on these digi-stories, with short explanations in between each to provide context, to highlight theoretical frames and positions, and make connections between the stories. I was so inspired by Daniel’s keynote that now I plan to use digi-stories in my year 9 class next term. I’ll still be basing next term’s work around ‘making meaning’, and the first 5 weeks will definitely still be focused on video games. But now in the second half of term, rather than students using a collection of digital resources for composing, I’m going to get them to make a digi-story!

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and for Act II…

I’ve been working on a short unit of work to do with my year 9 class next term once I’ve finished with the Video Games unit. I’ve decided that I’m going to run a ‘taster’ course in online tools that can be used to create or publish their work. We’re going to look at blogging, podcasting, uploading to YouTube and sourcing sound and images that can be used under a creative commons license.

I’ve decided to link both units together under the banner of ‘making meaning’ – weeks 1-5 will be based on how video games make meaning, and weeks 6-10 will look at making meaning online.

While students will work in small groups of 3-4 for the video games unit, they will work in pairs for the unit on making meaning online, to author their own blog. I’m going to be fairly prescriptive with what I want each blog to contain. Here are my current thoughts:

Students work in PAIRS to create a blog to publish their own compositions which must include:
• Central blog with a weekly post on class work or homework task, posts must include hyperlinks
• Widgets including at least admin, latest comments, categories and blogroll listing other students blogs, and other links
• A page for published poetry (including an image added for illustration or visual symbolism)
• A page for at least one published short story (embedded as a downloadable document)
• A page for published multimedia (embedded from YouTube)

Looking back over this list I see the requirements could seem a bit arbitrary, but I envisage that each of the required ‘pages’ will be linked to a series of weekly classroom activities/workshops.



Video Game Unit with PS2

I have finally gotten around to getting a printed quote from my local games retailer for TWO pre-owned black PS2 consoles.  Now I can get the cheque drawn from school and with the pink PS2 I am also getting next week, finally have enough equipment ready to begin my Video Games Unit with year 9 next term!

I am planning a short, 5 week unit for my Gifted & Talented year 9 class based around video games.  This will be the first time I have taught Video Games in school, and if it is successful it will form the basis of a forum I am running with Darcy at the ETA annual conference.

What I currently have in mind is a series of lessons for the first 3 weeks where students hear a mini lecture and participate in class discussion before breaking out into structured ‘workstation’ activities.  I will probably only give these ‘mini lectures’ one in every two lessons – each time we focus on a new aspect of the unit.  Three weeks will give me 15 x 80 minute lessons, in which I would love to cover:

  • video games as a legitimate ‘text’
  • genre in video games
  • gender issues (gendered avatars, worlds, audiences, marketing etc.)
  • violence in games & classification systems
  • video games and the media
  • games and fan fiction

In the final 2 weeks of the unit I was thinking of getting the students to develop their own games-related research questions.  They would use the 2 weeks mixing independent work on their research question with the composition of a range of set pieces of writing based on the games they had played in class or at home.

So, any ideas for what I can teach?

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