Harcourts Room, Ashburton Borough School

Year 3/4 - 26 students

Teacher: Sharon Taylor
Term 3 Week 7
The production has rather taken over life in our classroom. While I am thoroughly enjoying the work we are doing on the show, it is leaving little time for anything other than basics in the classroom. We have some exciting buddy myth writing at the moment, and I am aiming to publish in a variety of formats. Time will as ever be the limitation.
I am also beginning to suffer hardware failure - the pcs were old when I sourced them and they are showing their age.
The wiki and blog provided a great link when we had 3 snow days earlier in the term. A few students began to show an interest in keeping the wiki up to date, but didn't maintain the enthusiasm when they discovered you have to plan what to put on and edit it! When I reflect, I realize how many changes have occurred through the year. It is easy to feel nothing is happening, when the changes are small and quickly assimilated in the "normal" of the classroom. Different inquiry units have led us in a variety of directions. Some are more suitable to collaborative work, others practical experimentation, others whole class activity. It is a continuous journey, I am beginning to realise there is no destination, just stops along the way. We now regularly Skype to London and to a parallel class in the town. All my planning is on Goggle Docs.
What I would still like to achieve: all class members to be confident with Goggle Docs, to think beyond Word and PowerPoint, for most students to self-manage their independent learning.

Week 3
The term had just got started and we have had 3 days closed due to snow. Our inquiry this term is around myths and legends. We have a production, which I am hoping will lead to some digital photography and reflective blogging. We are also creating our own myths and I am looking forward to their choice of publishing. I like SAM animation, which would suit this work well. On the down side our internet connection is rather unreliable, which continues to frustrate me when trying to use Google docs or any other online tool.
Some current room photos:


Reflection start of term 3.
I have done a lot of reflecting over the last two weeks. Some developments over the 2 terms have thrilled me, others disappointed me. I could easily lay the blame for the disappointments at the limitations of the learning space, lack of “electronic” resources, restrictions imposed by the school’s curriculum (my school is working towards becoming a PYP school with the international Baccalaureate program). While these no doubt contribute, they are not the reasons.

So I am stepping back and trying each step a little slower, and will see where we go.
At the students’ request I have created more table spaces (desk, but not allocated or used for storage). I did have a big table, but it was too high for most of the kids and wobbled badly). Over the last term the desks gradually walked to new spaces – they like group work areas.
The computers are tied to the wall sockets (no wireless here!!), but they didn’t want the pcs within the group areas, so there are now pc areas.
I know this is just the start of the journey. I have many questions so I will continue to explore ideas and keeping reading and learning.

Term 2 - week 7
Back to being shaken around a bit this week. The children certainly were unsettled generally.
4 of our staff (including me!) are going to trial use of Myportfolio. We had a training session and one meeting to discuss where we are going. My first feeling is our students (and some staff) will need to be a lot more familiar with IT before they can embark on this (give us time), we would need a huge increase in computer access. On a rough calculation the whole school has 55 machines to 340 students. While that seems a lot, when it come to access it really isn't too great.
I wonder if anyone else is using Myportfolio and what they are using it for?
This week the students started adding bits to the wiki. I have got to learn to hand over ownership - not easy for a perfectionist!

We started the week completing posters and pamphlets in Publisher. They really took to this. Several have used Publisher subsequently for reading response work.
We also used Goggledocs for writing.

I am interested to know how anyone else gives feed back using this. Stephanie asked the same question on Skype the other day, but I didn't catch up with any replies. I am writing in the discussion box, but they have to actively look for this.
We also used Word for drafting. I used tracking to show corrections. This freaked them initially, but I think they understood. However I really wanted to comment rather than correct and could think of a good way to show this in word.
My biggest problem is pc access - if I book the laptops (a pod of 6) I haven't sufficient power sockets to run them (if I use battery they are then flat for the next class and I get my wrist slapped). They are not stored in such a way they they can recharge then. Anyway they are in great demand and considering I have far more computers than any other class I can't book them too often. I suspect the more things you learn and want to share/use the bigger the pressure to go 1:1.
Also my younger students particularly are very slow on a computer and letting them draft means tying up a machine to one student for a disproportionate amount of time. But I want to avoid just publishing electronically! How can I get them working a bit faster? They are still at the stage of wanting to "play" with every new tool they meet eg Word Art, inserting picture, changing font etc. On the positive side that is how they learn! Maybe I should just be more patient.
Tracking had a week off as we spent 3 days learning about worm farms. It did inspire their writing. Even my reluctant writers produced the goods this week. It was interesting to see how many students were looking for the tracking sheet. (I did tell them, but I have a number who appear not to listen!!)

Other aspects happening that am pleased about include increasing ownership of the classroom, such as preparing the date and other things on the board for the next day (some actually have worked out how to write the date in Maori without me prompting them), students selecting and running the reflection circle at the end of the day. Asking for a class meeting and using it to make positive contributions. Although I am amused they think it should be a duty responsibility to keep the rip sticks and scooters tidy outside and the line up shoes by the door!! I obviously need to work on accountability.

Term 2 - weeks 5 & 6
Pluses: some students expressing an interest in taking responsibility for wiki pages - great!! Plan to start a lunch time club next week for interested students. Some students being able to continue self-managing, really taking responsibility.
Minuses: 2 short weeks. In 2 weeks I have had CRT, public holiday, Teacher Only Day and BT release. Doesn't do much for continuity! Still trying to make up work lost in first 4 weeks of term. Major issues continuing with new server and internet connection - very frustrating.
Interesting: I found a spare large table that had actually been ordered for me at the start of the year. Ever trying to find what works for my kids I brought it into the classroom, only to find it is too high for the majority of Year 3 students - what would I have done with 3 of these tables?

We went of a teacher tour to 2 schools in Timaru for the TOD. One had a "digital classroom" which actually ran for 2 hours each morning with 20 students from Y5-8 who have 5 week blocks in this room. It was fair that all students had a turn, but I wonder if that isn't really just a studio by another name? But they had great IT resources! I loved the building - it was a recent amalgamation of some schools and must have been hard to work through, but lovely at the end. Each of the 4 areas were in a pod off a central space. There was also a teacher/resource area for each pod too. Despite going to see ICT integration we didn't actually witness much IT in action.

Term 2 - week 4

Dilemma this week of where to go next. 2/3rds of the class are coping well with managing themselves. They have not all managed the full amount expected, but are reasonably close and seemingly enjoying the freedom and responsibility. But the other third are not coping. I feel they need me to stand and look over their shoulders constantly to have any reasonable output in both quality and quantity.
I wondered if I had gone too far too quickly - I had opened up a 2 hour literacy window. After discussion with Jacqui we have decided I should pull this group back in and have a one page class tracking sheet for them - far easier for my management. That the 2 hours be redivided to 1 hour reading and 1 hour writing for all the class, but those capable of self management to still self direct. In addition to bring a rubric to guide them. I am not in class tomorrow or Monday, so explained today that there would be some changes next week and talked them through this rubric and my expectations.
Those that are achieving are certainly feeling proud of themselves. so easy to overlook the successes in light of those still working towards.
Presentation and Self Management

I write the date when reminded.
I underline and rule off with help.
I have not used my best handwriting.
I forget to leave a line for editing.
I usually write the date at the top underlined in red. I have ruled off at the end of my work.
I write on every other line.
I start at the margin.
I write neatly.
I always write the date, underline it in red and rule off when I have finished my work.
I write on every other line.
I use my best handwriting at all times.
I use capital letters and full stops with support.
I underline some of my spelling mistakes.
I check to make sure my sentences begin with a capital letter and end with a full stop, question mark or exclamation mark.
I underline words I do not know how to spell and try to use a dictionary to correct them.
I always use capital letters in the correct places and end sentences with the correct punctuation.
I identify my spelling mistakes and correct them using a dictionary.
I proof read my work and make sure it says what I mean.
Self management
I complete some of the MUST DO activities.
I do not make good choices where to sit.
I complete all the MUST DO activities with support.
I usually make a good choice where to sit to do my work.
I make sure I complete all the MUST DO activities in the expected time and have tried some of the CAN DO activities.
I choose to sit in a place that suits the work I am doing and with people that I will work well with.
Term 2 -- week 3

A third week with free timetabling for literacy; I am finally happy with the tracking sheet, but would prefer it to be electronic, but insufficient computer access to make that workable just for the present.
The higher level writers were given a relatively free choice of modes for publishing. Choices included Strip generator, PowerPoint, voice recording, newspaper report using fodey.com. They enjoyed the freedom. There was more positive feedback on the blogs.
I get the feeling the older/more able students are enjoying the freedom more than the younger students. I wonder how long it will take for them to reliably fill in their tracking sheets. For the time being I need to spend 10mins checking these before lunch.
The internet/server ran really well by Friday - here’s hoping that is fixed.
I have just attended a 2 day conference. This afternoon’s workshop was visiting a digital classroom. Each student had a Cyclone netbook. Only had positive things to say about integrating IT tools; nice to see another school’s approach. Also affirming for my own practice.

This week we had our introduction to My Portfolio. 4 at our school and several others from our ICT cluster schools will be on the initial run. Hopefully this will be an opportunity to collaborate more at a local level. Can’t help feeling it is just another page to start completing!

Term 2 - week 2
It was great to be able to share the classroom visits yesterday, albeit remotely. Thank you Jacqui for accommodating me. To be able to hear other's experiences and suggestions was reassuring and encouraging.
In the classroom it has been a mixed week. I was out of the room Wed (PD) and Fri (BT release), which meant that continuity got a bit out. The server is still creating havoc. Hopefully that will really get sorted this week! How long have I been saying that!
My greatest concern are the students who struggle to keep on task or make one activity fill a whole hour (that wouldn't matter if is was productive work, but this isn't). I intend to try and work on understanding of why we are doing this and accountability. But these are the minority. There is a group of students who are managing really well.
Things I want to implement following discussions yesterday -
  • Workshops they can opt into (maybe with guidance to start with at least)
  • Giving them the freedom to self manage while I get on with my groups/workshops, rather than standing over and "worrying"
  • Find some long lengths of light fabric to partition areas
  • Most importantly keep trying, reflecting and trying again.

Term 2 - week 1
Have had a week of 2 hours daily literacy with fluid timetabling. Feedback from kids (a sample from this week's learning blog):
"The literacy is very good and fun ." "I injoy most is everythink about this week." "i like when i do maths and the new folder that mrs taylor creaited." "my part about the term so far is the litrecy folder activetys they are really fun to do but i did not get spelling done from sarah!!" " I’ve enjoyed litercey because I like having to picking activetys."
So I guess it was a hit. Well until I had to grumble that their presentation had gone out the window because I wasn't reminding them every 5 mins! Many had to redo handwriting and revise news! I accept we do need to work on using a spell checker!
Have been amazed at how well they took to the idea. 2 students were totally phased - one would take himself to the library corner and look at his favourite Where's Wally book and the other kept asking me what she had to do next. A small number of the younger students didn't get through as much as I hoped - less able to keep self on task, but they did get the idea. But generally I feel it went better than I had expected and I am encouraged to continue.
I am using a simple tracking sheet in a manila folder, that already needs modifying, particularly to accommodate those that leave the room for reading & writing support. Actually once I wrote all the coming and going during the 2 hours, the fluid timetable makes so much sense.
  • The computers are not happy after the server change. I had a paddy this morning as the impact on the classroom learning is great. Maybe they will get sorted sooner rather than later. I have done all I can and they still do not go as they did prior to the change over. We have had a lot of control taken away from us - surprisingly the technical support don't want us teachers stuffing things up (can't altogether blame them), but on the other hand technical support needed to be available quickly and it proved to be a far bigger job than anticipated.
  • I'd love to have more computer activities, but just not possible. Currently have 2 set for spelling, 2 for handwriting, 2 for keyboard skills and 1 for blogging. My laptop is available if I clear the space around it, and another machine will hopefully get resurrected following my attempt to partition it. Probably set them for word processing/publishing.
  • Some of the desks, that don't have a screen to back up to, tend to "walk". Have put masking tape down as a guide for their position.
  • Spent a lot of time establishing activities and didn't achieve much of the group work that I want to - I guess I was not realistic in how long it would take to get the kids into the independent activities. Will work on this. I have to admit I am concerned about the lack of teacher input this week, but as long as that is only temporary I'll be fine.

Have changed my room around to make work areas - still needs a bit of tidying up before next week. Seem to have created some space from somewhere?? I don't feel this lends itself to the cooperative group work, but there are 2 tables in the centre and lots more floor space. Be interesting to see how in goes.
Downsides we have had a new server installed at school. Some needed reformatting to XP pro and then drivers needed updating. Some machines just won't play ball. Others still need a fair bit of adjusting. So I am hoping the children will be understanding when they get back that everything will not be instant and we will have to wait till the technician can come. It will slow us down for a while.
I am beginning to trial/develop my thoughts on fluid timetabling. My limited foray last year found the IT activities very popular and not enough machines to give access to all who wanted. I did provide many alternatives (this was for reading and they had a selection of graphic organisers), but these were not as engaging.

Also two screens have been damaged - one terminally and another now has a vertical line. Not sure if they got knock by kids or cleaners accidently. If only we lived in Auckland we could pick up some more from The Ark, but P & P is quite high to S. Island. It does make me realise how delicately balanced my classroom is regards hardware.

A little tip Jo showed me that I wonder how I'd ever missed was to freeze the image on the data projector - thus avoiding the screen saver coming on and allowing others to use the computer. This will be really handy as I had found putting my task boards on the screen was tying the lap top up. The kids very quickly adapted to their task boards being shown this way, but it does mean the WALTS are not visible on a wall in the room.

Weeks 10 & 11
The last two weeks have flown by. I enjoyed a day with Jo at Raumati Beach School. I gain lots of ideas and new perspectives through observing and conversations. Came back full of enthusiasm and warned the class that more changes were on the way!!
Lots to reflect on over the first term. Feedback from students made me realise they feel they have used the computers more (while I feel we have hardly started). I now have a core of students who have a good understanding of the basics and can pick up new ideas reasonably quickly and are willing and able to then in turn become teachers. So maybe we are now ready to move off where I had hoped we would in term 1!
We had a successful collaboration using Google docs. i found by inserting a table and allocating rows they didn't over type on each other. Still wasn't perfect, but was manageable.
Targets for term 2: Change classroom arrangement (working towards working areas- despite my small space), get students to upload and embed into own wikis. To set up and run a fluid literacy 2 hours. Have computers in use more consistently throughout the day.

Week 9
I think we are all getting tired in Canterbury. My time this week has been spent on paper work and preparations for 3-way interviews. I feel I have lost my way with the class wiki. I wanted to use it to lead their learning, but that just didn't work out to start with. This needs a good rethink over the next few weeks. This week coming I intend to try Google docs again. This time for a collaborative homework activity. I suspect only about a third of the class will try - try need enough skill to manage without parents as this may be out of the comfort zone for some. I have realised that one of my difficulties with Google doc stems from only having one class account. Short of creating accounts for all students, which we are not allowed to do currently, this is just how it is. Maybe the new server will be a time to change this? On Friday I travel up to visit Jo Fothergill. I am grateful she is willing to let me come and observe and hope to come back full of ideas and enthusiasm again.

Week 8
My last Christchurch refugee went home this week, but I still had another new student. Continuity has really been quite difficult to date.
It is good to see more students hopping on the computers, but there are still many issues of logging on to the server, the interent and various internet pages. But I have got some experts who are willing to help others.
School is getting a new server in the holidays, I anticipate many teething problems.
Not a terribly electronic week, but the usual things like students taking turns to operate the laptop (I use ActivInspire, but do not have an interactive board!),
Yes we did try collaborating on Google docs this week. OK I am a novice. Perhaps I should have heeded the warnings that sharing one doc on 7 machines was asking for trouble. It was great to see their faces as words just appeared in front of them. However words also started getting deleted, I just assume only one person can type at a time, so we moved to that, so each work group spent a few minutes on a document then opened another. I can't help wondering if this was better than newsprint and vivids. Possibly the wrong use. I'd love to hear how anyone else is using Google docs successfully.
I have moved my planning onto Google docs for 3 reason. Firstly to learn how to use it, secondly so I can update easily, and finally to have access from any machine. Following someone's comment on this site I explored Drop box. I am sure I will soon have to pay for capacity, but it is so helpful to have documents in one place but be able to access them anywhere. During the server update we will be without laptops for a week (some won't miss them, but I would have pre drop box!).
Earth Hour is about to start, so I have been told to switch off! E-learning is not so enviro friendly and I am at a Green Gold School. Any thoughts on that?

Week 7
The extra students certainly affected the group dynamics. When we came to some cooperative activities it felt as though any progress made had gone out of the window.
I found the Skype conference both reassuring and encouraging. So good to hear others discussing aspects that I too am working with.
This week I have noticed an overall improvement in IT confidence. There are still a few who have no idea how to go about using the computers, but their number is shrinking. Also I have notice some "experts" coming forward to offer help. All good stuff. We managed to make minicasts. I am waiting to see if I lose the PodOmatic account after 30 days, my understanding it is the Pro part that goes then. I do find it easier to record away from the computer (dictaphone or easi-speak) as there is less background noise, and my microphones are cheap and tacky (no school budget for head phones or mics!). We even had a little play with Strip Generator on Thursday when half the class disappeared for the best part of 3 hours to a choir practice.
I can't help wondering if finding their way around the wiki is proving too complicated (mind you they seem to be able to pull up the handwriting pages now.) Just can't see how I could simplify it.
Following the Skype discussion I have decided to brave Google docs for a "bus stop activity". Might be the blind leading the blind, but I have spent the morning after our local memorial service (courtesy of Canterbury's public holiday) familiarizing myself with it. I'll be able to report back next week. Have to say I have strated to put my planning on it & found the limitations of tables in Google docs very frustrating - am I missing something?
Also need to find focus for the blog. To date they have just been sharing goals, or PMIs etc. Possibly share their best piece of work? It is intended for reflection, not news, which is why it is password protected. We haven't got as far as students uploading or embedding yet. That feels a long way off at the moment.
Interesting point for the week - the students who struggle to self-manage have not been engaged by the computers. I had expected it to pull them in, but that hasn't happened yet.

Week 6
This week felt more settled, even though we still have 5 visitors from Christchurch. They have fitted in so quickly, it is hard to believe that they are only temporary class members.
I am finding that my hopes for e-learning are taking far longer to get off the ground than I imagined. But we continue to progress slowly towards our goals. I have a small group who are jumping on a computer at any opportunity to make a blog entry, use spelling city or, play studyladder. Machines are being turned off correctly at the end of the day and groups are working more cooperatively on the machines.
I have been offered a second hand laptop, which I hope to find time to set up in the next week. This will improve our machine to student ratio! But will mean a trailing cable for internet access - no wireless for me!
Interesting points:
  • I find having all the machines running can be very noisy, but it is such a song and dance to boot them up I am reluctant to keep turning them on and off.
  • I am not using my “library /computer suite hour” for ICT as I find we do not use the computers for a set task at a set time, but are on and off them throughout the day. I find this difficult to explain as other staff members assume I would want as much access as possible. (Note we change library books at another time!)

Aims for this week:
  • We will make our first minicasts (PodOmatic) this week. Here’s hoping!
  • Everybody will have made at least one blog entry
  • Add the reading the class wiki into the reading rotation

Week 5
No week is ever the same in teaching - one reason I entered the profession. Who could have predicted at the start of the year that we would be accommodating students from Christchurch. It certainly changed dynamics in the classroom. It has meant a lot less computer orientated work (increased my child:pc ration significantly) and a focus on classroom management was required. As no one knows how long they will be staying some rethinking has been required. All this has left little time for thinking and development this week. everyone is feeling stressed in one way or another. A week of resilience all round.

Week 4 continued:
Lots to reflect on this week. The earthquake on Tuesday certainly has had major impact in out community. It feels quite surreal to be carrying on as normal when there is death and devastation an hour up the road.

Cooperation is improving. We all made a Photostory recount. They will soon be on the wiki recounts. The idea of choosing their own working space is developing. A popular spot is behind the drawers of books (out of my sight!!). The boards are used all the time. I think I'll take the third one in too. Using the computers is engaging the children. Starting to give constructive feedback - 2 stars and a wish. Language of reflection is beginning to be used in the classroom. Had first comment on wiki from a parent. Completed testing (except for a few that have been absent). I feel I am beginning to know this class.
Introduced Studyladder - another popular tool. although as they were taking turns and working together the individual records will not be an accurate reflection of their work.

Aftershocks upset kids and machines - we need to learn to save on a very regular basis! (Pleased to say none of the machines have fallen on the floor, although the speakers do regularly.) Despite many hours of setting up the machines I am still finding glitches, such as a microphone not working, or a machine needing Adobe Flash (although I swear I installed it ubiquitously!). Some work still needed on tolerance of one another's abilities!

The resilience of children, the probability of getting extra students from ChCh, how some still think turning the monitor off turns the computer off, being asked why the school server login doesn't get the internet at home to name but a few. Some families having problems getting onto the wiki at home - at least they are asking.
Despite all the emotions around at present - everyone knows someone directly affected in ChCh routines are finally beginning to work. Still adapting spaces - will try and find some screens to help partition and provide display space.

Week 4:
Interesting week so far. Quake yesterday, camp planned for Thursday Friday cancelled.
Really pleased to see my first lesson of really effective cooperative working. Students writing recounts using Photostory. Grabbed the camera and took a few shots.

Our school is not up in the electronic planning stakes yet. I have changed my planning drastically as a result of reflecting on ideas on this site. This is still work in progress and I feel very self conscious. I have layered planning: a weekly overview, a weekly maths, writing and reading (once it gets up and running!). Our school is exploring the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Program and we have 6 Inquiry units a year. We try to integrate this as much as possible in the maths and English programs - with varied success. Limits generally are lack of suitable resources for lower down the school where learning to read is more dominant that reading to learn. There are restrictions imposed that challenge flexibility; we are expected to have 1 hour for each of maths, reading a writing every day (before 12.30. I also have interchange for phonics straight after morning tea). To date I am teaching "whole class" while establishing routines so secondary layer planning not in place yet.

Week 3
The class is beginning to feel more settled. But there have been a number of disruptions this week - a lot of absences, swim sports all Friday am, testing, preparation for camp end of week 4 to name a few.
Over half the class have started blogging, some even reflectively!! (I am wondering about my decision to password protect the blogs. I notice the rest of you haven't. But some of their thoughts are private and I don't consider that "open" material - this is meant to be a reflective blog.) Several have enjoyed recording and uploading recounts onto the wiki. Photos and work are beginning to get onto the wiki. Reflective language is starting to be used more confidently. Some good thinking skills are being demonstrated.
Getting feedback from parents and students who are looking at wiki at home.
They are not yet able to use the wiki to guide them independently and I think this will be an aim for term 2. Need a big focus on social skills before we can move into independent group work.
Having worked hard on writing recounts, we a re going to spend a couple of weeks publishing in different ways. Minicasts look ideal as we can take photos and record audio files ( not enough microphones for vocoroo style work and can't keep room quiet enough to record, much better using dicta phone and easispeak.) Also could try photostory and comic life. None of these children have used any of these previously. Hope it will provide an alternative style of learning and be engaging particularly for my lively Y3 boys.
Off to camp this coming week. Am taking box of cameras. Need to take LOTS of photos to use for recounts.
Have started to use drop box this week. (Thanks for bring this to my notice). I see a lot of scope for this personally at least to start with, despite having struggled with the proxy server at school. I couldn't type fast enough before the page crashed out!

Week 2

The class is still focusing on establishing routines and self-management. I guess I am disappointed that we haven't really got onto the computers.

  • half the class can now turn off a computer properly, 9 have made a blog entry, most can use create-a-graph to plot data.
  • I have introduced blogging, but again the whole language of reflection needs to be developed. The blank expressions on their faces shows me where I need to start.
  • I now realize there is a lot of work on cooperation and team building to do befroe they will manage in the way I an aiming, not to mention basic IT skills.
  • Having looked at the other classrooms in this group I am trying to think how I can use what space I have effectively. Our classrooms seem very small compared to many other schools - and positioning of the computers - dictated by LAN connections, is restricting. I also lack any corners (2 doors, a sink and a built in wall cupboard), so some creativity is called for.

Week 1

Well it has been an exciting week. Foolishly I hadn't realised the limit of the children's digital experience, so it is going to be one step at a time. Some still have no real concept of internet and wikis, so it has been a steep learning curve. I just keep in mind the progress last year's class made when I was stumbling along, rather than taking a planned direction. We will succeed!

Link to class wiki Last year's wiki is linked from the home page.

Frustrations to date: the server being down one morning and the classroom block circuit breaker tripping fairly regularly. The former will not be forever as the school is planning to move to another server soon (ish). The technician assures me higher fuse will stop the breaker tripping, probable cause being normal leakage from monitors etc.

Harcourts_5.jpg Please excuse the mess - these were grabbed as I was getting set up! The wiring has been tidied up!

I am a 2nd year beginner teacher who has been given a degree of freedom to explore.
I entered education as a teacher aide in the UK about 9 years ago. Having a self taught interest in computers I ended up with responsibility for the ICT. We then came over here in 2006 and subsequently I have completed the graduate training through Victoria, Wellington. I have worked in the same school since arriving, as teacher aide, cleaner, IT technician and now teacher!

My e-learning journey has been great. In the UK I taught IT skills on a weekly basis throughout the school, in a computer suite. I always asked, "How is this integrating IT into the classroom?" So I had been searching for answers and getting frustrated with budget restraints etc. At U-Learn last year Jo Fothergill introduced me to the idea of "Inspired Classrooms". With some kind businesses I have managed to boost my pc ratio to 1:3.5. If my class size rises I'll have to accept 1:4.
So this really is the beginning of my next step. I am delighted to find a group of like minded folk to share this journey with.

My class:
25 7 and 8 year olds. 7 XP machines (all different) plus my Toshiba laptop. The data projector has been hung from the ceiling this holiday. I have an easi-speak and class camera. I intend to take my old mp3 player and a dicta-phone in, both will record voices (if the kids can manage them). The school also has a 6 laptop pod, 2 video cameras and a set of 9 cameras which can be booked. I have an hour in the library which has 14 pcs once a week.

I do not intend assigning desks this year - which will be a new idea to these children. Like Jo I have boards I pull out on the floor.

I had never used a wiki until term 3 last year, nor a blog until term 4. So I am very much a beginner!