Happy Steve

Innovation and Learning

Start with clarity of intent.

Now build it out with an evocative vision. Improvise progress by tinkering: with lots of trial and lots of error. The not knowing is the best bit: the mysteries the surprises, and from time to time the windfalls! 

Hello there, I'm Steve Collis! 

Click on "contact", won't you, and wave right back at me?

Filtering by Tag: Student Publishing

Just How Easy Print Book Publishing Can Be!

Ok I think I went a little over the top with the capitalisation of the blog post title.

Anyway, you probably already know my school runs an online bookstore, selling real print books authored by our students! See: : http://stores.lulu.com/realaudienceproject

This is an example of how we do it. This example suits Primary projects. I'll cover Secondary in a tick.

1. The students were engaged in imaginative descriptive writing with their teacher, Mrs Julia Harbor. They cared about what they wrote, especially because they saw our bookstore and realised their work was going to be sold and seen.

In this case they wrote about 'My Hiding Place.'

2. After editing and refining, they type up their description onto an A4 page, print it out, and get it proofread.

3. Now they add illustrations. This is what we end up with:


4. I scan the pages at 600dpi on a colour scanner. The scanner spits out a 130 mb PDF file at me.


(in case you don't know what a scanner looks like!)

5. I upload the PDF to our account at www.lulu.com 

6. I rescan another A4 page to act as the front cover, and another as the back cover. I scan them as JPEG image files, upload to Lulu.

7. I type in a title, description, and set a price.

8. DONE! It's on the market!

Check out the finished product at: http://www.lulu.com/product/paperback/my-hiding-place/13854240

By the way, Secondary is even easier. Let's assume your students have written a study guide, a novel, a student-written textbook, a set of poems, or whatever. Let's assume it is basically all text. Throw it into a Word document, upload the Word document to www.lulu.com, add a description, set a price, and bang! It's on the market!

We're going to set up a display where all past titles are available for purchase by visitors to our school. We'll order a few copies of every book in order to get stock running. 

Out of curiosity, I've just checked, and we've sold 80 books so far.

Please let me know if you've tried this idea too at your school.



"Professional Development Like No Other"

UPDATE: We're also offering 'taster' visits to our school. Come for a couple of hours and get a feel for what we're doing. Contact @anneknock (aknock @ nbcs.nsw.edu.au). Now on with the show: 

A dream of mine going back years has finally come to fruition!

My school is launching, no HAS LAUNCHED a professional development academy! We even have accreditation from the NSW Institute of Teachers so it's official!

Before I go further, here are the details, dates, and rego forms: Download SCIL PD Schedule 2010

COME YE COME YE! Come one, come all! Our vision: PD LIKE NO OTHER!Art gallery 


I personally taken the 'best stuff' from everything I've been working on for the past three years - virtual worlds, Beyond Borders collaborative student networks, and the 'Real Audience Project' (students publishing to the web, publishing their own print books, publishing a live internet radio station) and will be running full day workshops once a fortnight from next term through to the end of the year! All the stuff I blog about, I can now work with you, hands-on!

We're also running courses on using Moodle (We know how to use Moodle in ways that work. We adopted Moodle back in 2005 and almost all our teachers are highly proficient with it. We even have a large online study arm of the school http://hsconline.nsw.edu.au/ using Moodle for distance ed. ).

And what we call the "Learning Matrix". Imagine 140 students, 6 teachers, and heaps of computers thrown into one big wall-less learning space where students self-select into activities and take responsibility for their own learning journey. We've been doing this for three years, and the results are astonishing. COME AND SEE! We'll show you how we did it and how you might adopt similar structures. The results have been spectacular, both students AND teachers. "Conflict" is so often the defining feature of a classroom - but not any more, which is why our teachers are delighted, and the students getting on with the job.

 SCIL PD Schedule 2010 


Our vision: Professional development, like no other.

The people running the PD are teachers who are currently implementing the practices they are training. Teachers like me, and my highly esteemed colleagues. Our workshops will be peppered with "last Thursday when we did this, we discovered..."

The PD will involve observation of real classes of students so attendees can see the ideas in action.

The PD will be hands on, and practical from the start of the day, with a clear action plan and timeline in place for you to take away and implement.

The PD will be structured to encourage networking and ideas sharing, based on our common experiences of what it is like at the coalface of teaching, where the loftiest of ideas gets smashed against reality! Steve collis 

Each workshop day will also be just the beginning a journey, with attendees invited into a support network that continues to touch base, exchange ideas, failures, and triumphs in the following weeks and months. In every workshop we will be promoting the big idea of teaching - it is not a job, not a career, definitely a calling, but on top of that it is a GLOBAL MOVEMENT OF SOCIAL IMPROVEMENT. We are part of something bigger than just our local school. This thought is energising!

As you can see I am very excited by it all.

Please, spread the word about this! And come, come in droves and let's work together!

A Crazy Idea, All in One Lesson, & Blogged Directly from Class

As I type this, my Year 8 French students are working intensely on making comic strips by taking pictures within our virtual 3D world, which we call "Booralie Island". Now they're making comic strips. I'll paste the comics in amongst this text that I am typing.

COMIC 1, by Sarita, Danielle, and Rebekah






We're going to post the comics at http://nbcsfrench.wikispaces.com which is our website dedicated to publishing resources created by students. We categorise those resources by chapter and textbook, so any teacher or student who is using the same textbook can find resources that match exactly what they're looking at at the moment.


COMIC 2, by Connor, Joel and Ethan









I'd like to think that teachers who would otherwise use the textbook, might direct their students to check out our own special comics. I'd like to think that students will find it interesting to see the work produced by their peers in other places - perhaps it will give them a sense of connection with other French students. Also, it's a heck of a lot of fun. The fact I can find 3 minutes to type this shows they are intensely 'into' the activity. I can hear, right now, students discussing their camera angles for the comic shots! Students are asking for virtual money to buy virtual clothing in the virtual clothing shop to wear for the shots!


Comic 3, by Lee, Daniel D and Daniel MB










It's the sort of activity where, if you're not careful, the students will spend hours and hours getting distracted. I've been very careful to get them moving - keep the comics simple, but let's get them done here and now and have them posted by the end of the lesson. It's now 10 minutes after the end of the lesson, and I am about to publish this blog post and the comics below. This is crucial - I can't sustain uses of technology that take hours of my time. 10 minutes, I can handle!

AHHH We didn't all finish! Out of 6 groups of students, 3 groups finished on time - not a bad start considering I had to teach them how to position the camera in the virtual world, how to take screen shots, add speech bubbles, resize pictures etc. The frenetic pace to the class worked well because the students worked efficiently.

Next time we'll aim higher!

If you have 20 seconds, leave a quick comment and say which city/country you’re from – I’ll show the comments to the students. (I showed them the comments on the lolcatz blog post – you just can’t beat the effect it has on our class perspective!)

How to Embed a Voki in a WordPress Blog

First, to prove that it is possible, I've created a wordpress site and embedded a Voki in it – http://howtoembedvokiinwordpress.wordpress.com/

Second, I'd like to thank these two websites where I read, IN PRINCIPLE, that it was possible. However no one seems to have posted exact instructions so I will here:


Step #1 - (You can join www.vodpod.com but you don't have to for this to work.)

Go to www.vodpod.com/wordpress (click on link to open in a new window)

Special Hint: in Internet Explorer I had to then right click on
my toolbar and unselect “Lock the Toolbars” so that I
could expand my “links” toolbar, like this:


Step #2

 Go to www.voki.com, log in, and make and save your Voki.

Once saved, click on "My Voki" and then click on the Voki you want to embed in WordPress.

Select "Embed in WordPress" down the bottom:


Step #3 

- Click on "Get embed code" and copy the text that appears in the box:

Now click on your "Post to WordPress" button that you installed earlier on your internet browser:

Past the code you just copied into the box entitled “Video Preview” (delete whatever text is already there. On the right hand side give the web address of your blog, your wordpress username and password, and a title and text for your blog post. (You can change this later in WordPress itself).

Click on "Publish".


Step #4

Your new blog post is now posted by vodpod to your wordpress site on your behalf. Log into wordpress.com and you'll be able to see it, edit it, and if you click on "html" in your edit window at wordpress, you can even copy the vodpod code and put it elsewhere, such as in a wordpress page or in a sidebar.

Low Effort High Impact - A Year 6 Class Publishes Story

Hi everyone. I am working on some big blog posts on:

1. A powerful new phone service I've discovered allowing teachers to record themselves over the phone, and then students ring, listen, and respond. All this can equally be accessed through a website. 
2. Our 3D island and all the weird, wonderful, unexpected, and exciting ways students and teachers have used this environment for learning.

But for now... just a quick word about web publishing. I know I've posted about it before - but this technique just keeps coming back to me and is becoming my basic 'bread and butter' application of technology in the classroom. 

The technique: create a website and feed student output into it for the world to see.

This is the simplest technique in the world. Go to wordpress.com & you'll establish a free website within about 2 to 3 minutes.

From there, publishing student work is a matter of 'copy and paste'. 

It's a low effort, high impact technique. Teachers don't have time for showy tech tricks that take time and effort. If they're going to use technology it will have to be hyper-efficient, requiring only a very small amount of time and effort, but yielding an excellent impact on student learning.

The impact on student learning comes from their awareness of having a global audience. They get a map on their website with red dots showing location of visitors, and they get a counter showing how many visitors have come to their website.

Case in point - Mr Tim Stanwell approached me after hearing about this idea, suggesting his Primary class publish a science fiction story they had written.

I visited their class this morning and showed them how to post material to their website: http://ringoftime.wordpress.com . This took about 20 minutes. 

Since then, just today, they published a prologue and two chapters of their story. I mentioned it on Twitter mid-morning.

By this evening the website has had 170 visitors, and 6 or 7 comments. The kids are amazed. The teacher is amazed. Frankly, I'm amazed. 

Imagine how this has affected these students' thinking about what they write. This isn't practise, it's for real. They have a readership. What they say matters. It reframes the way they perceive their studies. It matters now. They have something to say, a platform to say it on, and an audience to listen, NOW!

This technique adapts to any age group, any subject. It's super easy, takes very little training (15 to 30 minutes), no planning or programming (you just take what students were creating anyway, and publish it), and very little maintenance time (just copy and paste student work into the website and click 'publish').

So, you know, I'll be blogging soon on some pretty spectacular tools, but very high in my mind at the moment is still web publishing. It's low effort, high impact, and perfect for empowering and inspiring students.

Examples from my school:
Year 5/6 Sci Fi story http://ringoftime.wordpress.com
Year 11 French Novel 'The Little Prince' study guide  http://frenchonlinelittleprince.wordpress.com
Year 11 Wordsworth Poetry analysis and reflections - http://wordsworthreflections.wordpress.com