Inanimatealice

inanimatealice is a multi-modal text used to teach digital literacy and narrative to Year 7 students. We use it at my school as the first text we teach. It’s a flash-based website. The reader becomes involved in the story, which is told with images, sound, text and interactivity. Alice is a young girl who has an interest in video games. She lives with her parents in a variety of locations around the world, including China, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. There are four episodes, beginning when Alice is 8, in China, and ending when she is 14, in her home town.

It’s a great choice for first text of the year because it’s possible to walk through it as a class together. Students aren’t required to buy or borrow a novel. It’s a good text to talk about together as a class, building an open, collaborative classroom culture. It’s easy to explain and see how a narrative works, and to emulate that in your own text. It’s possible to extend and support students as needed. There are lots of topics and issues raised by inanimatealice that make for great classroom discussion. The text is easy to read, using short, punchy sentences. It is also complex and rich, welcoming interpretation. It’s a good text to teach.

However, there have been issues. Not everyone likes inanimatealice. There are technical issues, especially load issues as it’s an online text. We’ve started an iPad program at our school, iPads don’t run flash without tweaks (inanimatealice is flash based). This means that the teacher has to show each episode off a laptop and smart board. We had issues this year with creating our own texts that include sound, without losing that interactivity. Some staff have suggested that narrative can be taught using alternative, good old paper stories.
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April 17, 2014 | Leave a Comment |

Reflective Blogging

Whenever learning happens, it’s important to consolidate that knowledge so that we are able to use it in the future. I remember reading Piaget and Vygotsky during my Dip. Ed; including their theories about ‘private self talk’. This self talk helps a child to construct their understanding of reality. The imagery is of building blocks put together and rearranged. It’s a sign of maturity when that babbling talk moves inside the head. Sometimes, though, it is important to take that talk out of the realm of thought and back into the real world. To reflect on what we have learned by writing it down.

All throughout my teaching training, the word that was always repeated was reflect. “Make sure you reflect on your practicum experience.” “Reflect on how your lesson went.” Reflect. It was stressed that these reflections are not simply a written record of what happened (though that can be useful in itself). Rather, a considered examination of why it happened. Can we change various inputs and expect different outputs? How was I feeling? What did I learn? This process of reflection enables us to be more aware of the process of teaching and to apply what we have learnt to our teaching style. I like reflecting, even though it is sometimes difficult, emotionally, to process all that is going on. I know that in my first year teaching, I was definitely in ‘survival’ mode and did not reflect on my practice as often as I should have. When you are drowning in a sea of paperwork, writing more just isn’t appealing.

Here I am, though, in the second year of teaching. I’m still new to the profession. But this year I feel drawn to reflect more. I hope this blog will be useful to me.

What about blogging? To prepare your thoughts for an audience requires you to test your ideas and clarify your thinking. Communication is the goal. A blog is a fantastic place to muse, to post your thoughts, to publish, to dare to think out loud. I’ve seen first hand the power of educational blogging through my FIT2001 series. Whilst the incentive was 3% of my final mark, I really enjoyed the process of writing and summarising the content. Other students seemed to find this beneficial as well, as my website statistics showed a spike of page visits before the exam!

Now I am an English teacher, I wonder how I can bring reflective blogging to my classroom. I am not so keen on encouraging my Year 7 students to start their own public blogs for the world to read. There are so many potential issues with cyber bullying and cyber safety. I wonder if there is some kind of walled garden blogging tool that we can use? This would enable the students to express themselves to their peers.

I teach Year 10 literature, and this semester I am asking them to create a writing portfolio of six pieces. I think that next semester I will ask them to create a blog so that they can reflect on what they are learning.

I have also kicked around the idea of a class blog, where the students put together content explaining what we have learned. This would be a good place for parents to see what their students are doing in class. I might launch this in Term 2 with my Year 7 students.

Lots of ideas to mull over. But I think that the process of writing them down has kick started my thinking process and will allow me to look back at these ideas as I go.

(As an aside, this text has been edited using the Hemmingway app.)

March 8, 2014 | Leave a Comment |

geography memory challenge

I have had a bit of fun the last couple of days with the Jet Punk world quiz, where you have 12 minutes to name all 196 nations of the world (officially there are 195, but they count Taiwan as a sovereign nation. That’s an interesting political issue that I won’t be going into.) Any places/nations that are territories of a sovereign nation (for example, French Guiana, Greenland) don’t count, and it’s the UK, not Scotland, England, Wales, Northern Ireland.

I found that my weak spots were Africa and Eastern Europe, but after lots of drills, I am able to get all 196, which includes the small city states of the world (like Vatican City.)

There is also the 50 United States challenge- keep in mind, if you read the comments, that most Americans memorise these at primary school.

The next challenge, once you’ve memorised the country names, is to match them to their shapes.
Europe East Asia. Africa, South America, Oceania. I can’t seem to find a North America/Caribbean quiz.

And for the crazies: World capitals Quiz.

February 11, 2012 | 1 Comment |

music I study to

This is what I listen to when I’m trying to be productive and study. It needs to have some oomph and rhythm, and yet not be too repetitive, annoying, or stressful.

Here’s a playlist I’ve imaginatively titled: “study no lyrics” – the track name is in bold, artist in italics, album in normal text.

American Wake (The Nova Scotia Set) Riverdance (Music From the Show)

The Butterfly Celtic Woman Celtic Woman

Celebration Michael Kieran Harvey In the Time of Sakura – the Piano Music of Mike Nock

Cerro Negro Fiesta Fiesta Downloaded Jazz

Classical Gas Mason Williams Music – 1968-1971

The Harvest Riverdance (Music From the Show)

I am the Doctor Murray Gold & BBC National Orchestra of Wales Doctor Who: Series 5 (Soundtrack from the TV Series)

Last Of The Mohicans (Last Of The Mohicans) Musica Paradiso The Very Best of Cinema & TV Classics

Minor Swing Rachel Portman Django Reinhardt & Stéphane Grappelli Chocolat – (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Music for a Found Harmonium Penguin Cafe Orchestra Preludes, Airs & Yodels

Music for a Found Harmonium West Australian Symphony Orchestra & Benjamin Northey Simon Jeffes Just Classics 2: The Gold Collection

Party Preparations Rachel Portman Chocolat – (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

Pride and Prejudice Carl Davis & The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Carl Davis: The World At War, Pride and Prejudice, and Other Great Themes

Reel Around the Sun David Spillane, Des Moore, Des Reynolds, Eoghan O’Neill, Kenneth Edge, Maire Breatnach, Mairtin O’Connor, Nikola Parov, Noel Eccles & Tommy Hayes Riverdance (Music From the Show)

Spanish Flea Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass

Star Wars Overture (Credits) Johannes Schwartz Sr. & South Pacific Symphony John Williams Sci-Fi Classical

Tsar Saltan: The Flight of the Bumble-Bee Queensland Symphony Orchestra & Vladimir Verbitsky Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov Cardio Classics – Orchestral Workout!

Vianne Sets Up Shop Rachel Portman Chocolat – (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)

William Tell: Overture (excerpt) The Tasmanian Symphony & Ola Rudner Gioachino Rossini Cardio Classics – Orchestral Workout!

I also listen to the Cardio Classics – Orchestral Workout! album; items by Mozart, Vivaldi and Bach; The Hallelujah chorus in full; The Sound of Music Sound track (yes really.) and when things get really bad, “The Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor (from the Rocky album). Also a “yes, really”. Unlike Sound of Music, which I’ve seen 20+ times, I haven’t ever seen a Rocky film.

What do you study to? Do you have similar tastes or am I just really weird? :)

March 21, 2011 | 1 Comment |

hurrah for the weather!

I had a glorious weekend, went up to Forest Edge camp (near Neerim) with the church youth group. The weather was amazingly good, not too hot, but definitely one of those summery spring days. I feel very refreshed and excited about what the summer holds, but I have to get through four more weeks of university yet.

Ah yes, the joys of having at least one thing due for each subject in the next three weeks, and then an exam in the week after that. However, my exam period is mercifully short and my summer holidays start before November does. Hurrah for summer!

October 3, 2010 | Leave a Comment |

how to: facebook places privacy (with pictures)

This article is based off of Facebook Places Out In Australia, How To Disable It from LifeHacker, I’ve added pictures to help you find the settings, and made this a step by step guide.

[ facebook privacy link ]
First of all, Facebook Places is a new feature added to facebook which allows you to indicate where you are and see where your friends are. So, if you see that you are at the same place (say, the movie theatre) you can catch up. No more “oh, we were there too! Shame we didn’t see you!” stories. It is primarily designed for people who access facebook on their mobile phones, but there is a feature where people can tag who is with them when they “check in”. This is not a new thing, sharing some things in common with FourSquare, which uses your location to “help you find your friends and unlock your city.” However Facebook has encouraged people to use their real names on the service, and perhaps it’s wiser if your identity and your location are not easily found on the internet.

This tutorial is for disabling and switching off facebook places, though of course once you know where the settings are you can adjust them as you wish.

At the top left of your Facebook page, choose Account,
and then choose Privacy. Choose Customise Settings.
[ facebook customise settings link ]

On this settings page, look for Places I check in to and change it to “only me”, by clicking on the box and choosing Customise. Also make sure that the “allow others to check me in” box is not checked.
[ facebook Places I check in to settings ]
[ facebook custom settings ]
Scroll down the page to the section titled “Things others share”. Choose Edit Settings and make sure that this setting is set to Disabled, to prevent others from notifying facebook of your location.
[ facebook things others share ]
[ facebook: others may not check me in to places ]

Now, you need to limit how much information your friend’s applications can know about you. Go back to the Privacy page and at the bottom left, look for Applications and websites and choose Edit your settings. Look for Information accessible through your friends and click on the Edit button. Make sure that the Current Location check box is not ticked and that you Save your Changes when you are finished adjusting the settings.
[facebook: applications and websites settings ]
[facebook: what my friend's apps can access. ]
[facebook: what my friend's apps can access. ]

Now your facebook profile privacy settings prevent your facebook from disclosing your location.

Please leave a comment below if you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer them.

October 1, 2010 | Leave a Comment |

creativehedgehog in spanish

I am pursuing a major in Spanish and Latin American Studies for my Arts degree, and having grown up in Bolivia, South America, I can speak Spanish. As I found out with blogging for FIT2001, keeping a journal is very beneficial to your learning. A journal that is published, such as on a blog, forces you to write clearly because you are writing for an audience. For Dictatorship and Democracy in Contemporary Spanish Fiction (SPN3730), one of the classes I am taking at the moment, has vocabulary exercises and journal exercises as part of the class work mark, and I will be blogging them for several reasons:

So, any future entries in the SPN3730 category will be written entirely in Spanish. I hope you won’t find too many errors here! Please, if you find any, please comment and correct the errors, my Spanish will be less rusty.

Creativehedog en español

Estoy haciendo un “major” de Español y Estudios Latino Americanos para mi licenciatura en Letras, y (por su puesto) puedo hablar en español, porque vivió en Bolivia, América del Sur, por muchos años. Para otra de mis clases, FIT2001, encuentro que el proceso de mantener un diario es muy útil para recordar la materia. Un diario publicado, como en un blog, se hace escribir en una manera clara, porque estás escribiendo para otras personas.

Para Dictadura y Democracia en la Literatura de España Contemporánea (SPN3730) me voy
a poner en este sitio de web los ejercicios de vocabulario y los diarios de lectura; estoy usando mi blog para estés razones:

Entonces, los artículos de blog en la categoría SPN3730 escribiré solamente en español. ¡Ojalá que ustedes no encuentran errores de lenguaje aquí! Por favor, si puedes comentar y corregir los errores, ¡mi español se encuentra menos empolvado!

July 21, 2010 | Leave a Comment |

2010 Semester 1 in review

Finally, I’ve put down my pen for the last time for Semester 1, 2010; now I can relax and enjoy a few weeks of holidays. Before I archive my uni stuff, I thought I would do a short review on each of the units I have taken this semester.

CLS3000

My lone arts subject this semester, Introduction to Critical Theory was the unit I chose because I could do it at third year level without any pre-requisites, I need a certain number of third-year points to graduate. I also could count CLS3000 as an elective for my Spanish Major. There is a lot of reading in this subject, but it’s really interesting stuff. Sometimes it was a bit hard to grasp the ideas, but the class discussions were always fun. I really enjoyed writing my final essay. At first this subject seemed really difficult, but in the end it was one of my favourite units.

FIT2001

My last-ever second year level unit, Systems Analysis and Design is probably the best unit I have taken so far in terms of student support. The resources available in the forums, Moodle site, Study Guides, Lecture slides, podcasts of lectures and podcasts of interviews, chat rooms and more! were made even more useful by the active involvement of Peter O’Donnel (aka POD), the Caulfield lecturer and chief examiner for the unit. Being friendly with the students over twitter, we could ask quick questions very easily. Sometimes the topics covered were pretty boring, but POD fought hard to make the lectures, tutorials and assignments interesting. I found that the best way to tackle the assignments was to have a go, then get the tutor to tell you what was wrong with your diagrams. My tutor was very helpful. Rocking up at the student consultation sessions was well worth it. A helpful tutor is basically giving you free marks when you ask questions! In the end, I think I know that a career as a Systems Analyst isn’t really what I’d like to pursue, but I wish more subjects were like FIT2001. Even having lecturers and tutors hang out in the forums before an assignment is due or before the exam would be a good first step. Speaking of the exam, the format of this subject’s exam was great. A good mix of confidence building easy questions and questions that stretched you.

FIT3084

In contrast to FIT2001, Multimedia Programming for the WWW was extremely interesting to me. We talked about HTML, PHP, JavaScript, Perl, CGI, CSS, colours, images, and good design concepts. The lectures were very good and enjoyable. I took lots of notes. However this subject was let down by the way it was run. This was an elective counting towards my computer science degree, not a common core unit so it was a fairly small class. The lack of an online community was a bit ironic considering that this was an Internet subject, and this led to the lecturer being flooded with emails just before the exam

The project was to create a design document for a website and then build it. This was worth 30% of the mark, which makes sense because it was group work. 30% is understandable as you don’t want to be pulled down too much if you’re lumped with a bad group. I found working in a group frustrating but we got it done. The assignment marking system was interesting, with a system of ranking by peers. I think this was useful to see what everyone else was doing.

The low 30% assignment mark made the exam a scary 70% of the mark. Due to the really broad nature of the subject, the exam was hard to study for and required lots of memorisation. The format of the exam was also annoying, with heavy black lines ruled through the question answering space. I prefer either thin lines (like in the separate answer book) or no lines (like the FIT2001 exam), not lines that cramp my writing. I also was annoyed that “look up in your own time” stuff was examinable, so you had no idea what really was going to be on the exam. Part of good exam revision is preparing for the exam format as well as for the kinds of questions, so the sample exam wasn’t as useful in that regard. The exam was out of 145 marks, not 100, which is a bit weird and awkward for time planning.

The tutorials were optional, and were like Q&A sessions, and could have been vastly improved if they had been held in a computer lab. The exercises provided were good, but there was no real incentive to try them. Having a piece of code on a screen to say: “it’s supposed to do this, but it does this” is better than having to demonstrate your code projected on the wall!

To improve this subject, I would make the exam worth 60% of the final mark, the two group assignments out of 30% and add a 10% tutorial component. Basically an easy 10% where you would get marks full marks for completing the exercise, half marks for attempting the exercise, and one mark for turning up.

FIT3086

Project Management. Before starting this subject I thought it would be pretty ordinary, but the first lecture got me interested. I really enjoyed some of the exercises: crashing networks is like a sudoku puzzle. However, the lectures soon became incredibly difficult to sit through. The tutorials were good, my tutor was really professional and helpful. The second assignment was pretty ordinary and annoying. Being forced to wrestle with Microsoft Project was pretty annoying also. The exam was ok, I hadn’t reviewed ROI but overall the exam was ok. It could have been made a bit clearer and less ambiguous- I’m sure language and learning would have been able to help. This subject has great potential, but it falls short. Because it has the potential to be so good, it’s sad that it’s terrible. I’ve heard that you can knock this subject over in two weeks during the summer semester.

Next Semester

Next semester I’ll be taking:

But for now I’m going to enjoy a well earned break!

June 30, 2010 | Leave a Comment |

FIT3086 exam revision: the writing bits

Reminder: 40% of the exam is writing/discussion type questions. In this blog post I’ll go over some of the key terms involved in the past exam questions.

Risk Management

The exam question in the semester 2 exam asks us to identify what risk management strategy is used in each scenario given. The risk management strategies to choose from are:

(Definitions gleaned from Wikipedia)

Project Charter

What we wrote for Assignment 1. The Project charter is an important document, basically specifying what the project will achieve and who is responsible for the work and how much money it’s going to cost. It is useful to hold the different parties accountable to their obligations.

Milestones

In Australia, we measure road distances in kilometres (km), but miles are used in countries like the USA, and used to be used in Britain. Along the road, milestones would mark each mile so you knew your progress as you were travelling. Even though we now have road signs instead of milestones, we still use the word milestone in project management to refer to events/goals that will mark the project progress. A Milestone may be getting the Project charter signed off on, or getting the design documents approved, or presenting a prototype.

Sponsor

The Project sponsor is a person who is high up the company hierarchy, and basically is “your friend in high places” who has the authority and connections to negotiate with the company for your Project. They are also a mentor for the Project Manager. As the project progresses, they are less and less involved, but are very important at the beginning of the project.

Scope Creep

Scope creep happens when the client (most likely the client, could be the analyst, or even the project manager!) requests more and more features. Perhaps they think that “hey, feature A could easily be stretched to include feature B” but the Project Manager needs to be clear on how much a new feature or function is going to cost (in both time and resources) so that the client can make an informed decision.

Another kind of scope creep is where your company has under-quoted for the Project and needs to add more features so you can charge more and break even. This is (in my opinion) unethical (dishonest) and should not happen. In practice, it often happens with government sponsored projects.

Scope Management

A WBS is a Work Breakdown Structure. It helps us see what work needs to happen and who needs to complete that work. We can see what needs to happen sequentially (for example, we need to buy the rose bushes before we can plant them) and what we can run in parallel (at the same time) so we can save time.

Iterations of a project plan might be needed so that the Plan meets the customer’s expectations for the project. Each time you present the new plan to them, they might see something else that needs changing… hopefully you will only have a few iterations of the project plan.

Organisational structure

In companies there are often many different different departments with hierarchies under the broad hierarchy of the company. In project managing, it’s important to have the authority to be able to talk to the other departments without being held back by the hierarchy.

Project Termination

You don’t want projects to hang around (they might start to go mouldy ;) ) so it’s important to finish them. Projects can be closed as successes, as failures, or as complete, but over time, budget, or reduced quality. Once a project is finished it’s a good idea to throw a party to boost staff morale for the next project.

Intangible Benefits

Sometimes a project might improve or deliver something that isn’t reflected in the accountant’s books. When comparing projects we can assign “weights” and “scores” to different aspects of the project to decide if it is the project we want. An example of an intangible benefit would be a project that improves the building facilities that improve staff morale. Happier staff might work harder, but that is something hard to measure and attach a monetary value to.

Project Management Software

We used Microsoft Project for this course, but there are cheaper alternatives out there. You can always grab a pen and some paper and sketch stuff out, but software makes it easier. You just need to input the data and the software draws and adjusts all the charts and graphs. The software makes a nice professional looking object to present to customers and management. They probably wouldn’t take you seriously if you presented all your doodles and drafts as a finished product.


Those are my thoughts, do you have any to add? Leave a comment, your contributions could be very useful!

June 22, 2010 | 2 Comments |

FIT2001 exam revision: sequence diagram

So, you’ve sat down and written out a detailed use case description for the first part of the case study. You’ve drawn your Use case diagram with cute stick figures and bubbles for the use cases. (Not forgetting the automation boundary of course!) Now you’re moving on to the next question.

A Sequence diagram (oddly the 2006 exam seemed to think that s was a vowel- “an sequence diagram):

June 14, 2010 | Leave a Comment |
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