Literacy development using Play School Art Maker App

The article by Jones (2012) titled Ipads and Kindergarten highlights many important points about using technology to develop literacy amongst young learners as summarised below:

  • Play based opportunities help to develop print awareness
  • Developing oral language and comprehension skills through play using a digital platform to tell and retell stories
  • Teacher needs to support, scaffold and provide rich opportunities for language learning
  • Apps such as Play School Art Maker enhances student centred learning by interacting with the technology, communicating with the teacher and peers, giving students choices and facilitating decision making – all important skills that students need to learn
  • Retelling a story is an important part of meaning making and comprehension
  • It is important to scaffold the re-telling or story telling process to ensure students understand the structure of a narrative event sequence
  • iPads can enhance engagement and learning, but there needs to be quality adult interaction to ensure the students are using the technology to its full potential


Jones, M. (2012), ipads and kindergarten- students literacy development, SCAN, 31(4), 31-40.


Along with retelling a story, this app could be used in later Stages, e.g. S1 or S2 to explore the thoughts and feelings of characters of a story that has been read in the classroom. It could be used as an assessment tool to gauge if the students have understood the story at a deeper level.


I recently downloaded Puppet Pals and played around with it and was very impressed with its capabilities. It allows the user to make their own story by choosing up to 8 characters and you can even use your own character by uploading a photo. The backgrounds that come with the app are limited but again you can upload your own. The characters can be made larger or smaller during recording which can add drama and another layer of meaning to the story e.g. through camera angles, up close, small size compared to other characters etc.

Just like Play School Art Maker this app allows voice recording but for a longer period of time, allowing ideas to develop more deeply. This app would lend itself to higher stage levels. It is easy to use and could also be used in ES1 classroom with enough scaffolding and supervision.

The uses of this app could be endless because of the ability to upload new characters and backgrounds of photos you take yourself. It could be used for any KLA, e.g. history to tell the story of a migrant or a person on the First Fleet, Science to tell the life cycle of an animal etc.



Reflecting on the reading – IWB

The most important aspect of using an IWB that will make it a useful classroom tool for learning seems to be the skill and professional knowledge of the teacher and the understanding that the use of the IWB will only enhance teaching and learning if it is seen as another tool, not a pedagogical approach in itself. It is used to enhance teaching, making it easier to display various resources and incorporate a range of multimedia in the classroom to add depth and meaning to teaching as well as capture student interest and attention allowing interaction between teacher and student and student and student.


Higgins, S., G. Beauchamp, and D. Miller (2007), Reviewing the literature on interactive whiteboards, Learning, Media and technology32(3), 213-225.






The Lost Thing – IWB activity


Lesson notes:

Aim: to use more adjectives to make our sentences more interesting and descriptive.


Shaun Tan The Lost Thing – book

IWB notebook file

1. Having read the book The Lost Thing by Shaun Tan, discuss the meaning of adjectives and why we use them (make our sentences more interesting).

Using the IWB activity above, ask students come up and move the adjectives to the appropriate boxes to describes the nouns in the picture. Discuss and model one with class. Students can suggest additional adjectives other than those in the word bank.

After completing the activity, model writing a sentence using the adjectives. Students should then write their own sentences.

Great Education Blogs

Here are a selection of blogs that I have found. They have made the cut because there are certain things I like about them and may want to include in my blog in the future.

Fabulous 5S (Epping Heights Primary School) –

Reasons this blog is effective:

  • Clean layout, lots of white space making it easy to read
  • Provides rules about Blogging and what is expected of students when contributing to the blog.
  • Includes news, information, notices for parents, updates, class work, events, student and teacher contributions making this blog relevant for all involved.
  • There are regular posts which make the blog up-to-date and interesting, giving motivation for people to re-visit regularly.
  • The class/teacher make use of various modes of media such as photographs, sound clips, video clips, text etc.
  • Some posts are short and sweet with just a few sentences combines with photographs or video to get the message across. This makes them more likely to be viewed/read than paragraphs of text. Keep it simple and relevant.
  • Some student posts are of topics of personal interest. This makes it motivating and engaging for the students as the teacher is not always telling them which topic to post about.
  • I like how the posts are sorted into KLA categories. This would assist teacher, students, parents and visitors, especially if they had an interest in a particular area.

Huzzah Grade 6 & 7 in Canada

This blog incorporates a lot of the features of the above blog Fabulous 5C as well as a few other features I think would be useful to integrate into my/our own classroom blog.

  • Call to action at the end of each post. A question is posted at the end encouraging comments about the post. This is great to get participation.
  • Having the links to all the of the individual student blogs is a great way to get people visiting the individual blogs too, increasing traffic.


I found this article which lists ideas of what makes a good blog. A good place to start!

Beyond Pencil and Paper

Useful tips and for integrating blogging into the classroom. Blogging can be a useful classroom tool and will enhance student learning and engagement if used effectively. The following ideas are from a paper written by Kim Pericles, Assistant Principal at Belmore South Public School. Click here to view the paper.

1. Blogging can be used as a platform for sharing class activities, achievements, work samples with parents, other teachers or even other classes around the world and enables feedback through commenting (Pericles, 2008, p.5).

2. Students are able to continue their work at home and blogging can increase motivation to do homework if a requirement is to contribute to the blog or comment on a post. A great project idea could be to produce a multimedia presentation based on a topic being studied (Pericles, 2008, p.6).

3. Blogs can be a ‘publishing’ platform used as motivation for students to learn the process of writing a draft and editing before publishing their written work to their personal blog or class blog. It also allows the classroom teacher to set up expectations, quality criteria through guidelines for publishing work. This ensures students are thinking critically about their writing and also allows for the classroom teacher to give formative feedback allowing students to work on areas of weakness. Using a blog gives students an authentic reason for editing and taking pride in their work (Pericles, 2008, p.5).

Reference: Pericles, K. (2008). Happily blogging @ Belmore South. SCAN, 27(2), 4-6. Available at:

Greenwashing and the media

A very interesting and thought-provoking video indeed. The video addresses the issue of the need to be critical when watching or reading anything, especially advertising material. This video makes viewers aware that large corporations will do anything to make consumers like a company, all in the name of making money. Greenwashing in this video refers to corporations making themselves look good in the eye of the consumer, making it seem like they are doing what the consumer wants them to do, in this instance like they are helping to save the environment, when in fact it is just a facade.

By the use of comedy, sarcasm and puppetry, this video can appeal to many ages and is definitely engaging and easy to watch and understand.


Making Meaning of New Literacies

New literacies are not entirely ‘new’ per se as they build on ‘old’ or ‘traditional’ literacies. They use the basis of traditional literacies (i.e. being able to read and write) but also consider the need for ‘knowing’ technology and possessing new skills such as using a computer or the internet or image editing software etc. They are also ever changing as “what was considered a new literacy yesterday may not be new today; what’s new today may not be so new tomorrow” (Houtman, 2013, p.7).

New literacies have also made the world smaller. We can send photos or videos to relatives on the other side of the world which would have otherwise taken weeks to get to their destination. We can read the latest breaking news as it happens just with a few clicks. When was the last time you went to the library for a reference book or looked at your dust-collecting set of ‘Encyclopaedia Britannica’?

New literacies allow us to use new and novel methods to make meaning. It allows us to create, mix, share, collaborate easily and sometimes instantaneously. We can combine ‘traditional’ literacies such as text, image, sound to create new texts which are displayed on the one platform, often enhancing the meaning which would be harder to portray using just one format (Lankshear & Knobel, 2102, p.51). In the classroom these days, this kind of literacy is more common than not, especially with the introduction of the IWB. We can bring the world to the classroom where as in the past, we had to take the class out into the world. As teachers, we need to understand how we can integrate these new literacies  in a productively appropriate way and enhance critical learning experiences of our students. In order to do this we need to start using these new technologies ourselves, immersing ourselves in it and this blog is a great place to start.


Houtman, E. (2013). New literacies, learning, and libraries: How can frameworks from other fields help us think about the issues? In the Library with the Lead Pipe.  Retrieved from February 14th, 2014

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2012). ‘New’literacies: technologies and values. Teknokultura. Revista de Cultura Digital y Movimientos Sociales, 9(1), 45-71.  Retrieved from Accessed February, 2014