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The latest news from E-Classroom.

E-Classroom Newsletter – August 2014

Here we are in August already with the year racing on rapidly! South Africa is a busy place right now with so many initiatives to improve the lot for our learners and teachers. One such initiative is a content market place, called Intel® Explore & Learn. It offers a one-stop for quality digital content aligned with the education system. All the current content is free, one can easily access a wide variety of content including text books, set books, revision books, interactive past exam papers and rich multimedia (audio, video and animations) through the platform. Paid for content will be available later this year.

Intel is encouraging members to register onto their platform and stand a chance to win two complimentary tickets to the One Direction concert in Cape Town during 2015. Click on the banner below to register:

intel-banner-newsletter

I have noticed recently that there has been a sharp rise in the number of technology conferences that are taking place in South Africa compared to previous years. It seems that there is an e-revolution hitting our schools and this could be the start to closing the digital divide that exists in our country. Technology can never replace a good teacher in the classroom but it can change the way we teach and take it to a whole, new dimension.

google-doodle

Google is running an amazing Doodle4Google competition just for South African learners with big prizes and they’ve asked me if I would include a message from them in my newsletter.

“Dear Teacher

Would you like your student’s artwork to be viewed by millions of South Africans on the homepage of www.google.co.za? Would you like your school to benefit from a R100 000 technology grant? Then we would like to invite your school to take part in the Doodle 4 Google ‘South Africa of My Dreams’ competition, which offers school children across South Africa the chance to design a Doodle to appear on Google.

At Google we use the homepage logo designs, Google Doodles, to celebrate different people, events or special dates. These Google Doodles are usually created by our web designers and represent important cultural occasions. However, this year we would like to open this space up to the designs of South African school children between the ages of 6 – 17 years.

As we celebrate 20 Years of Freedom in South Africa this year, we are asking learners to create a Doodle around the theme ‘South Africa of My Dreams’. We have a host of local celebrity judges lined up to shortlist their favourite Doodles, followed by the South African public casting their vote for the final winner. This Doodle will then be shown on the 2nd December 2014 on the homepage of Google.co.za for all South Africans to see!

To take part, visit the Doodle 4 Google website, download the competition entry form, get Doodling and send your entries to us no later than 22 October 2014. You will find an introductory brochure, which provides more information on the competition, online at www.google.co.za/doodle4google. On the website you’ll all find inspiring lesson plans that will make it easy to integrate the initiative into your daily teaching. We look forward to seeing your Doodles portraying our beautiful country.

Good luck!
The Google Team ”

I believe that Google has plans to start their Google Educator groups in South Africa this month. Be on the lookout for that announcement as well.

You’ll notice that, in keeping with the e-revolution mentioned above we are starting to include CAPS-aligned textbooks in e-book format on our website. We are making a start with Learner Books and Teacher Guides for Social Sciences, Grades 4 – 7.

Once again I would like to thank my many sponsors for their funding of the many resources you enjoy using every month. And I would like to thank you, teachers, for making good use of our e-classroom worksheets and lesson plans.

sponsors-august2014

In closing, we encourage you keep entering for the Old Mutual ‘Tell me your dream and win’ competition. Entry details are available on their website and our competition page: http://e-classroom.co.za/old-mutual-dream-competition/ where scholars can win R 5000.00 and R 10 000.00 for their school.

old-mutual-competition-form2
Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our Facebook page.

Until next time.
Serving you in education,

Natalie

NEWSLETTER: June 2014

E-Classroom NEWSLETTER: June 2014

Here we are in early June already as the year marches on! Thank you so much for your regular support of e-classroom. You’ll notice that our resource bank of CAPS-related worksheets and lesson plans on our website http://e-classroom.co.za is growing daily and we thank our many sponsors for making this possible. 

So much is happening technology-wise right here in South Africa. In a post on Twitter recently I read about the ‘Tshwane Free Wi-Fi Projecthttp://goo.gl/0FqIdz  The City of Tshwane is the first metro department in South Africa to offer free Wi-Fi in public spaces. I also saw in a report that DBE and DOC have partnered with Telkom to rollout the 2010 FIFA World Cup Legacy E-Connectivity Project in Schools. We are getting to that fork on the road where we choose either to inject technology into the learning process or not, and if we choose the latter we are really missing out.

The future of learning involves embracing technologies such as cloud computing.  This will most likely continue to change many aspects of our society, particularly education. Learning resources stored in the cloud means no more lugging heavy textbooks to school and includes having constant access to education materials.

mindmeister

At e-classroom we are endeavouring to keep up with the times and bring you new technologies to consider. We have recently partnered with MindMeister, global leader in education, to bring mind mapping to schools. Mind maps are a helpful tool for students to organize ideas and understand concepts better. Mind mapping allows for rational processing, in particular for students that may not be process inclined, but visually oriented. If you would like a free 30 day Trial for your school or to use at home contact peter@e-classroom.co.za. MindMeister is very favourably priced for education – R100 per student per annum if the school buys 20 licences.

googleed

I would like to urge you to consider registering for the not-to-be-missed Google in Education Summit that is taking place at Dainfern College in Johannesburg in July: http://za.gafesummit.com/.  These summits are held all over the world every week and are instrumental in getting teachers well-versed in the potential of using Google’s myriad of free technologies in the classroom.

There is another ICT conference taking place at Wynberg Girls High School from 07-09 October, namely the Innovate 2014 ICT Conference for Teachers which is a biennial conference run by e-schools’ Network. The Conference website is www.conf2014.school.za and currently they are calling for presenters. Read more at http://goo.gl/oJv0jR.

Microsoft has changed the name of its Partners in Learning Network for teachers to the Microsoft Educators Network http://www.pil-network.com/. They are on a big drive currently to encourage teachers to join this network (free) and partake of all its wonderful free resources and lessons for teachers.

We would like to thank our recent sponsors:

sponsors-june2014

In closing, we encourage you to keep looking at our competitions page – these are renewed all the time.  The Old Mutual ‘Tell me your dream and win’ competition. Entry details are available on their http://dogreatthings.co.za/education/ website and our competition page: http://e-classroom.co.za/old-mutual-dream-competition/ where scholars can win R 5000.00 and R 10 000.00 for their school. Faber-Castell have a lovely “learn to draw” competition for the foundation phase learners which can be downloaded from http://e-classroom.co.za/competitions/

competitions

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter and subscribe to our Facebook page.

Until next time.
Serving you in education,

Natalie

NEWSLETTER: March 2014

Hello to all our subscribers. Thank you so much for your continued support of e-classroom.co.za. So many things are happening digitally in South Africa and we are excited to announce that we have secured the rights to bring you the Smart Science® virtual science laboratories! Smart Science® online ‘hands-on’ labs provide outstanding science education created by Scientists for learners which provide:

  • Inexpensive and efficient STEM education.
  • Built-in scientific inquiry facilitating student discovery of science.
  • Online hands-on real experiments, not simulations.
  • Online lab reports, easy to write and grade.
  • Archive of lab reports obtained with a simple mouse click.
  • Retention of lab reports and all student work for 5 years.
  • Differentiated reading levels

Teachers are able to save preparation and cleanup time while providing safe hands-on laboratories that are better than traditional laboratories. Smart Science® labs provide real experiments and authentic data collection. They provide student-formulated hypotheses, inquiry, and discovery and are the only online labs with content reading, content writing, and historical perspective! Please email me for further details: natalie@e-classroom.co.za. The Internet had its 25th birthday last week, and it is really such an incredible resource that our learners need to be given opportunities like these to make the most from what it offers.

msglobalforumThe Microsoft Global Forum has just taken place in Barcelona, Spain and two teachers were selected to represent South Africa with their projects. One of our teachers, Cheryl Douglas from Cape Town received two ‘Third Runner Up’ positions. We are very proud of you Cheryl!

I love what Richard Knaggs shared about ‘Origin’ which is a collection of songs recorded and produced by Parklands College learners utilizing PARKLANDS COLLEGE STUDIOS (“PCS”). This is a ground-breaking film and sound recording studio at the College which they have great plans for. Richard says, “Due to the extraordinary talent at the College, what started out as small individual sound projects has blossomed into a great collection of world class material. This album will become the first of many and will fall under the project name “Project Sound Reach”. The proceeds of the album will fund the further development of the studios, as well as the recording of local, unknown, original talent, that will be included on future albums. The vision for Parklands College Studios is for it to become a launching pad for young, creative South African media and music talents, in all areas of the industry. Please LIKE Parklands College Studios (http://www.facebook.com/pages/Parklands-College-Studios/772709886090417) and listen to and purchase ORIGIN (https://itunes.apple.com/album/origin/id810078379).

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="198"]OM competition Old Mutual ‘Tell me your dream and win’ competition[/caption]

I’d like to remind you of our recent competitions we have online. The Old Mutual ‘Tell me your dream and win’ competition entry details are available on their http://dogreatthings.co.za/education/ website and our competition page: http://e-classroom.co.za/old-mutual-dream-competition/ where scholars can win R 5000.00 and R 10 000.00 for their school.

[caption id="attachment_16078" align="aligncenter" width="300"]CaC-competition-2013Pg1 Collect-A-Can 21st birthday competition[/caption]

Collect-a-Can also have a fantastic 21st birthday competition with a total of R 400 000 worth of prizes to be won nationally. The entry form can be downloaded from our website: http://e-classroom.co.za/collect-can-21st-birthday-competition/ It is a wonderful initiative for making a difference and earning some-thing back at the same time.

[caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="434"] Spur creative writing competition[/caption]

We congratulate our February Spur winners for the creative writing competition: Alexandra Scott from Timour Hill Primary and Simone Reeken from Weltevreden Park primary School. Please note that the competition continues until May 2014 and we encourage you to invite your learners to participate.

We would like to thank our recent sponsors. Without them, we would not be able to provide this wonderful free service to you:

sponsors-032014

Please look out for our digital Teacher Guides and Learner Books for Social Sciences (Grades 4-7) that will be online during Term 2. Please do give us feedback on these. We are always looking to improve our services to you, so we welcome your suggestions.

Until next time.

Serving you in education,

Natalie 

Follow us on Twitter https://twitter.com/eclassroomsa and subscribe to our Facebook page: http://goo.gl/1XTuNy

 

NEWSLETTER: February 2014

This is our first newsletter for 2014 and we, at E-Classroom, are excited about what 2014 holds for education in South Africa and globally.

The Internet has created a global village from the world which allows us global perspective. One thing is very evident – there are so many amazing people, ideas, teachers, programs, videos, practices, products, tweeters, and technologies out there that are making a difference in education and changing the lives of students on a global scale. There are few things parents focus on more than the education of their children. There’s always a burning question on the forefront of our minds – what more can we do to prepare our children or our students for their educational careers and unknown futures?

Vodacom Tablet SpecialVodacom Tablet Special
Education is vital and this year we want to build up our online CAPS-aligned resources to provide you with free digital text books as one of our main contributions to the South African education scene. We also recognise that in this digital age, tablets are becoming more and more affordable and available. We encourage you to take a look at our tablet specials from Vodacom.

Tablet use can take us so much further than where we were before. It’s amazing to think that a lightweight device such as a tablet can store every textbook in a student’s backpack plus extra reading books – and it also supports a multitude of new ways of learning and finding out. Many schools in South Africa have latched on to the benefits of using tablets in the classroom.

I’d like to mention our partnership with Old Mutual this year. Old Mutual’s mission is to enable positive futures and their investments in education also focus on initiatives that build excellence in the teaching and learning of maths and science skills. We have developed resources that cover the importance of environmental education and financial literacy which is aligned to the new CAPS curriculum. We trust that you will find these resources useful. Educators play a crucial role in developing financial literacy and helping our children understand the impact of their behaviour on the environment. These resources are available for download in the ‘What’s New’ section on the landing page www.e-classroom.co.za

Old Mutual

Old Mutual also have a fantastic ‘DREAM’ competition where scholars can win R 5000.00 and R 10 000.00 for their school! Details are available on the competition page: http://e-classroom.co.za/old-mutual-dream-competition/

Look out for our new resources to support World Wildlife Day on 3rd March. These resources, sponsored by IFAW, are CAPS aligned for grades 2-7 and will be available for download from the 17 February 2014. The notice will appear on our post note on the landing page.

We congratulate our January Spur winners for the creative writing competition: Pricessa Msomi and Sihle Miphomulo both from Umkomaas Primary school. Please note that the competition continues until May 2014 and we encourage you to invite your learners to participate.

We would like to thank our recent sponsors:

Sponsors

Until next time,

Serving you in education

Natalie

NEWSLETTER: December 2013

Dear friends

This is our last newsletter of 2014. I would really like to thank you all for your loyal support this year. As a result of your interest, E-classroom has grown in leaps and bounds. We are extremely grateful to our many sponsors who have helped us build up our CAPS-aligned worksheet and lesson plan resources. As you know these are free to our South African teachers and parents.

This has been an exciting year in South African education as far as technology is concerned. As I look around I see many schools starting on the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device Path), and many others embarking on the tablet route. Some of the better-resourced schools are implementing iPads, and many others are implementing the use of Android tablets. The CoZa Cares Foundation is also working closely with the new One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) South Africa Foundation as its implementation partner in South Africa. SchoolNet is training teachers in implementing technology in the classroom all over the country and both Google and Microsoft are piloting whitespace broadband in South Africa. White spaces are unused channels in the broadcast TV spectrum. They offer the potential to improve Internet connectivity where they are most needed – in the developing world. This could have an amazing impact on Internet availability in our schools.

This is just a glimpse of some of the things happening in education in South Africa. There are many more projects taking place and many others in the pipeline. This is very exciting for our learners because we are meeting them where they are at, and taking them much further than they could have gone without technology. There is a world-wide shift to using technology in the classrooms in many, many countries and to see South Africa embarking on the same route brings a feeling of great excitement. I believe that this digital emphasis could be the start to radically reducing the digital divide in South Africa.

Where does E-classroom fit into this space? Our goal is to support South African education in whatever way we can, bringing useful, free, quality content that is created around our CAPS curriculum. We are thrilled to announce our partnership with Intel in the new Intel Explore and Learn portal and Mxit, where our content will soon be part of the new Mxit Reach Portal. We continuously seek collaborative partnerships where we can extend our content reach even further.

In 2014 we will be embarking on an Ambassadors programme for matric students. We’ll be recruiting class champions in Kwazulu-Natal, Free State and Western Cape early next year and running a programme with them. 2014 will indeed be another exciting year!

We congratulate the Spur Creative writing winners for November: Shikhar Rajkoomar from Sherwood Primary School and Naailah Khan from Laerskool Louis Trichardt. We have had a wonderful response to this creative writing competition and we encourage you to keep sending your entries through.

Last but not least, don’t wait until the crazy back to school rush to buy everything you need to set you up for the New Year. Vodacom is now offering deals exclusive to school and university students, because they care about the education of our learners and believe in the importance of tablets as an essential part of a learner’s toolbox. Tablets help scholars to research, take notes and have everything in one place, instead of carrying the old-fashion heavy backpacks. The good news is that there are many great tablet deals available at the moment and your hardest choice isn’t going to be finding one, but deciding on one!

Vodacom has excellent deals available until 6 January 2014 and to see their exclusive deals, click onto: http://www.vodacom.co.za/personal/main/ohwoweducount?cid=dis-omd-auto/qybuvbto/y6/uvccbtjunovz/ejtx/2/iql/yqu

As an initiative to protect children, Vodacom has also introduced ‘Vodacom Guardian’ for parents to be in control of their children’s usage of the tablet. This can be downloaded for free from the following link: http://www.vodacom.co.za/personal/services/apps/vodafoneguardian

sponsors

Thank you for supporting E-classroom so faithfully again this year. Thank you to all of you who have worked so hard in providing a good education to our South African learners. May I take this opportunity to wish you a restful & blessed holiday season so that you are renewed in strength and vision for the opportunities that lie ahead in 2014.

Yours in education,

Natalie

October 2013 Newsletter

Dear Friends in Education

As always I would like to thank you and our many sponsors for your continued, faithful support of e-classroom. We are thrilled to be able to bring you a wide range of products from a growing selection of our popular, free CAPS-related content in all subjects to a range of SWAG Android tablets and educational books available at our online bookshop. It doesn’t stop there! We have great ideas for expansion so that we can serve education better.  There are many who are passionate about uplifting education in our country and we are very excited to be part of the educational shift that is emerging. In this newsletter I would like to focus on the impact that the right use of technology can have on our students.

google-ed-tech-summitI’ll start with the recent, exciting, first ever Google in Education Summit in Africa, that took place at Parklands College in Cape Town. It brought with it a fresh view of the enormous possibilities that are open to us as educators. The EdTechTeam led by Mark Wagner from the United States flew in a team of experts in education from around the world who, along with our talented local presenters, energised us with their knowledge, ideas and offerings.

The teachers who attended the Summit could be seen connecting, sharing ideas and getting really excited about the new ideas and technologies they were exposed to.  Many have expressed that this was the best conference they have attended this year. We cannot ignore the world-wide move towards the use of technology in education and how this can empower our learners and our teachers.

I’d like to mention a few ways that I believe the use of technology in a classroom can benefit our students.

Incorporating a technology device provides all students with an opportunity to make deeper connections with the content as well as their learning. Students are able to combine audio, images, drawing and text on a whiteboard to create a video that gives them a voice and an opportunity to make thinking visual. For example students can use the process of screen casting to demonstrate solving a math problem. They can more easily demonstrate their comprehension rather than simply presenting facts. Students can use drawing tools and audio recording to tell a story, provide an additional context or explain their thought processes.

Another aspect that I see valuable in the use of technology in the classroom is that the student not only has the opportunity to articulate his thoughts, but also to expand his understanding of the world through connecting with a global audience such as a student group in another part of the globe. Our students can become connected and global learners.  It has been proved that classroom collaboration can have a dramatic impact on student engagement and learning.

The use of a technology device in the classroom to empower student learning can provide endless possibilities.

Quiro-logoIn my August newsletter I mentioned a couple of guys from an education technology start up called EDGE Campus, with whom I’ve kept in touch, and they sent me an update on their tool, ‘Qurio’. They’ve been hard at work on this tool and it aims to make the lives of all in education significantly simpler when it comes to the area of assessment and testing.

For those of you that are in the dark, Qurio is a web based tool that simplifies audience interaction and data collection by allowing anyone to very easily create and distribute digital tests, quizzes, opinion polls and surveys. EDGE Campus are bold enough to guarantee that compared to the tools you’re currently using for these purposes, the new Qurio is simpler to use and will work across a wider range of devices.

It is freely available for all teachers and they encourage anyone who may be interested to give Qurio a try.

If you want to find out a bit more then go to their Keep It Simple website.

spur-feat-imageTo end off I would like to point you once again to our website – www.e-classroom.co.za  Please take a look at our expanding list of activity worksheets can be downloaded for FREE.

Don’t forget to enter your learners in the SPUR ‘Author of the Month’ writing competition. The September winners were Liam Yates from Sun Valley Primary and Sunisha Ramduth from Tok Tokkie Primary. Please keep sending your entries through – it is an excellent exercise to encourage learners to write. Do have a look at the competitions under our ‘competition’ header on the website. We have some exciting competitions with super prizes to be won.  We always welcome your comments and suggestions about content you would like us to include in the future. We encourage you to ‘like’ e-classroom South Africa on Facebook and follow us on Twitter: @eclassroomsa

In closing, we would like to thank our recent sponsors:

picknpay shield-logoImbo-LOGO consol

Thank you for your continued support.

Yours in education
Natalie

 

Newsletter August 2013

Newsletter August 2013

We are happy to announce that our  online shop is now live and that you can order the Pearson range of text books as well as the SWAG Android tablets – www.e-classroom.co.za/shop.  We have invested a lot of time and energy into sourcing tablets that have our stamp of approval. There has been a huge influx of different ranges into the marketplace recently, and we wanted to ensure that the brands associated with us were excellent quality and had the necessary certifications. One has to be very careful of cheap imports and people trying to  ‘jump onto the tablet bandwagon’. The Swag tablets do have certificates of approval from ICASA, SOR, ICATA and also IMEI numbers assigned for insurance purposes.

The Kids SWAG is designed to be the ultimate tablet application with comprehensive functions to cater for children aged 2-7, parents and grandparents. This comes with a vital ‘Parenting Tool’ which allows parents to monitor their children without inducing confrontation, and guides them through unavoidable encounters with the internet. Some other functions I enjoy is the edutainment content aggregator and the ‘my studio’ app centre which offers a fun production house for the ‘making’ and ‘viewing’ of creative drawings, photos and videos.

The Swag 101 is a 7 inch entry level unit with 512mb memory and supports wireless and external 3G.

The Swag 102 is a 10 inch unit with 1GB memory and supports embedded 3G.

The Swag 103 is a 7 inch unit with 1GB memory and supports embedded 3G plus calling capabilities with supported networks MTN, Vodacom and Cell C.

Each tablet has its own unique features which should be considered before purchasing and these features are available on the website for you to peruse.

Of course we want to give our customer’s the freedom of brand choice, and hopefully we will be including two other well-known brands to the online shop soon.

We are improving our development deliveries more efficiently now to meet our mandate to have each term filled with CAPS content for all subjects by the end of the year. This will include lesson plans, activities and answer sheets, as well as a ‘revision’ section for learners. We are also developing interactive content for tablets which will be available early in the New Year and working very hard to make sure our content is available for mobile, Mxit and ePub readers too! Our content, as you know, is developed and made available to any-one in South Africa for FREE.

We are still seeking writers for first and second Language for English and Afrikaans as well as Social Science, and language assessors. Please email: debi@e-classroom.co.za should you be interested in working with us.

Spur competition

I would like to mention that we had a fantastic response to the “Spur” author of the month competition, and the winners for August are Tamryn Thakurdin from Durban North Primary School and Jordan Laubscher from CBC St Johns in Cape Town – congratulations!

Please keep sending your entries through – it is an excellent exercise to encourage learners to write. Do have a look at the competitions under our ‘competition’ header on the website. We have some exciting new competitions with super prizes to be won.

Please continue browsing through our ever-growing free resources on http://e-classroom.co.za and we always welcome your comments and suggestions. Don’t forget to ‘like’ E-classroom South Africa on Facebook and follow us on twitter: #eclassroomsa.

To close, we would like to thank our recent sponsors:

Lucky Star

Sharp Electronics

Faber-Castell

Oasis Water –  Afrikaans

Waterwise –  Afrikaans

 

Thank-you for your continued support.

Yours in education
Natalie

Newsletter July 2013

For many of you, the third term has recently started in South Africa. We wish you a great term ahead. Thank you for the effort that you put into educating our children. I thought I would start off by taking some time to talk about the SchoolNet Conference that I attended from 2nd to 4th July in Bloemfontein and include some of the ideas that struck me while I was there. I attend these conferences to be exposed to new ways of thinking and talking about modernizing education, and to take note of the new technologies that are being promoted in South African schools. Of course it is always a privilege to network with others who are passionate about uplifting education in our country, and it was wonderful meeting so many interesting, friendly, knowledgeable, and helpful people in and outside of the different conference venues.

Firstly I must say a big thank you to the SchoolNet team and the University of the Free State team who had obviously worked really hard to make this a great professional development opportunity for our teachers. I thoroughly enjoyed the conference and especially loved meeting teachers who are followers of E-classroom. So many of you expressed your appreciation for our CAPS-related content that it made me realise we are on the right track in providing useful free content for you.

I noticed that the conference was very much a conference for teachers whether they were from disadvantaged schools or from well-resourced private schools. Sometimes I felt that the program should have indicated who the presentations were aimed at, whether for beginners in technology or for the more advanced, especially in the light of our diverse school situation in South Africa. Nevertheless, I loved seeing the enthusiasm of the teachers as they raced to get a place in the various venues.

I left the conference excited about the possibilities of using new technologies with our learners. I especially noticed the great interest in presentations that included tablets, such as iPad or Android. E-classroom will be distributing a range of tablets via our soon-to-be-launched on-line shop, and I realised afresh that this is definitely the way forward in South African education.

I noticed from the conference that the use of technology in education cannot be ignored and that teachers have the responsibility to use technology in the classroom in the most effective and meaningful way for their students. It was very useful having the input from the four international presenters and I definitely left the conference with a deeper perspective of our place as educators in the technology world.

One also gets to meet new start-up companies at these conferences that have been developed to make an impact on education. I’d like to mention one of these in this newsletter. Over the course of the past few months you may have possibly heard of EDGE Campus. They’re an edtech start-up company operating out of Stellenbosch. They recently launched their first education tool called Qurio. Qurio is a simple to use assessment tool built off the feedback of teachers who were tired of doing time consuming paper based assessments.

EDGE Campus wants Qurio to be the ‘go to’ tool for setting up tests, quizzes and surveys. They envision teachers using it frequently to enhance learning, rather than for benchmarking purposes. They’re building something really powerful, yet still simple to use, that can be used in many contexts across your school campus and, in fact, the education spectrum as a whole.

Qurio is free to use and Gareth and Paul from EDGE Campus would love to hear from you and are more than willing to come demonstrate Qurio to you and show you where and how to integrate it. They want to meet with schools, NGOs, companies, publishers, government departments, you name it. They’re that keen!

We encourage you to go and register for your free account at www.qurio.co.za or mail Gareth atgareth@ed.ge or get hold of them on Twitter (@edge_campus) or Facebook (EDGECampusHQ).

I would like to end off by inspiring you to continue browsing through our ever-growing free resources on http://e-classroom.co.za. You have probably noticed the improvements to our website recently. There are also some lovely competitions for you to tell your learners about. The most recent one asks you to encourage your learners to enter the SPUR ‘Author of the Month’ writing competition.  We always welcome your comments and suggestions. Don’t forget to ‘like’ e-classroom South Africa on Facebook and follow us on twitter: #eclassroomsa.

To close, we would like to thank our recent sponsors:

NuLaid Eggs (Balanced Diet & Healthy Eating)

Metrofile (Natural Science and Technology)

CSX (Lifeskills)

Spur (Literacy)

Thank-you for your continued support.

Yours in education
Natalie

May 2013

Newsletter May 2013

There’s no doubt that there is a reform in education taking place around the world at the moment and that the use of tablets in schools is becoming an increasingly popular trend because of all the benefits a mobile device offers. One model of doing this that I particularly like is where the technology almost remains invisible as such because the focus is on the necessary skills and content for the task. The technology just makes this more achievable with better results than had it been done without technology. In the classroom we want a technology that is so simple and easy to use that we can integrate it into any of our lessons. The technology needs to be mobile so that it can be used wherever the lesson is taking place; it should turn on quickly and stay on all day because of a long battery life, and a touch interface is also a great advantage in a device. All this is possible with a tablet. Using a tablet, learners can easily collaborate with those in their own classroom as well as those in another part of the world. They can innovate, create and publish presentations, videos, stop animation movies, screencasts, slideshows, podcasts, books etc. that supplement their written tasks, and hopefully also have instant connection to the Internet for guided research.

As an Ancient Proverb says, “Do not confine your children to your own learning for they were born in another time”  The 21st century learning environment is about empowering students with technology.

In light of this, we are excited to announce that we will be distributing the ‘SWAG’ tablet at the end of June. This android tablet is pre-loaded with fantastic education apps, CAPS content, games, parental control etc. It also boasts a fantastic dual camera and sound and video recorder. These will be available to order directly from the e-classroom website from the end of June. For more enquiries, contact nick@e-classroom.co.za.

TEXTBOOKS:

We are looking for good textbooks for the current CAPS curriculum that weren’t selected by the Education Department for use in schools. Please contact me if you have a learner book and teacher guide in your subject, as we might want to purchase them from you.

MENTORSHIP FOR A RURAL SCHOOL:

I received an appealing letter from a teacher in Harding this month which really touched my heart as he had gone out of his way to make a difference at his school. Here is a little excerpt:

‘My name is Zamuxolo Wiseman Mgumane, a teacher from Harding in the KZN. I am teaching in a Primary School at very poor rural village called KwaJali. The area is one of those that are very poverty stricken. We are in dire need of books (readers and non-fiction) for the learners as well as any other education materials. We are also looking for support from another school who will be able to assist us with mentorship for our teachers’.

When I spoke to Wiseman, I found him to be a very humble and dedicated person to his profession. He is trying against all odds to help this school as few people give thought to rural children. On week-ends he visits libraries to take out books for the learners so that they have some sort of access to content to support their learning subject. E-Classroom has decided to start a collection of books, both fiction and non-fiction, including dictionaries and encyclopaedias etc. to help set up a library for the Ntaba Primary School. If you would like to assist with a collection programme in your school or community, or consider them for a twinning/mentorship programme, please email me at: Natalie@e-classroom.co.za. Let’s help make a difference.

COMPETITIONS:

We have a lovely competition starting in June which encourages literacy skills for foundation right through to senior phase. Look out for this on our post note on the landing page of the website. This will be a fantastic literacy exercise for your learners.

CONTENT:

New CAPS aligned content is uploaded on a monthly basis, and we are now translating to different vernaculars. Notices are posted on our Facebook page (E-Classroom South Africa), so please follow us to receive updates.

CONFERENCES:

I look forward to attending the SchoolNet ICT in the classroom conference in Bloemfontein on 2-4 July 2013 at the University of the Freestate. I think you would be interested in the programme which still needs to be finalised, but here are the proposed themes:

  • Connecting classrooms – learning activities that use technology to connect classrooms beyond the school’s boundaries.
  • Learning with tablets – learning activities that are unique to the use of tablets in and beyond the classroom.
  • Learning with mobile phones - learning activities that are unique to the use of mobile phones in and beyond the classroom.
  • Innovative teaching – any teaching with technology that you feel is innovative, especially if you have entered the Microsoft Innovative Education Forum now and in the past, but not reserved for that group of teachers.
  • ICT leadership in the school – ways in which you have shown successful leadership of ICT integration activities in your school generally.
  • Curriculum delivery through digital content – how the inclusion of digital content in the curriculum has enhanced your teaching and student learning.

Contact Thethe for bookings: Phone: 011 403 5777

SchoolNet SA and Parklands College are hosting a ‘Google in Education’ summit in Cape Town on 26 and 27th September 2013 at Parklands College. This will be the first of its kind in Africa and focuses on deploying, integrating and using Google Apps for Education and other Google tools to promote student learning. SchoolNet and Parklands College have negotiated a special rate with the conference organisers – the EdTech Team from the USA. Early registrants pay only US$199 as long as they register before July 26. Visit http://za.gafesummit.com/ for more information.

CRITICAL THINKING AND PHILOSOPHY WITH  CHILDREN CONFERENCE:  Announcement from University of Cape Town: 30 August-2 September 2013. Topics: Critical Thinking, Enquiry-based learning and Philosophy with Children, including children’s literature, thinking in literacy, mathematics, science and life orientation/skills, Ubuntu, philosophy of childhood with pre and post workshops. Further information: icpic.cmc-uct.co.za

APPLY TO BE A MICROSOFT INNOVATIVE EDUCATOR: Expert

Teachers from South Africa and Lesotho are invited to apply to be Microsoft Innovative Educator: Experts to stand a chance of winning a trip to the Partners in Learning Global Forum. To do this you will need to fill in the online application form and upload a learning activity which includes a two-minute video describing how you used technology to enhance a lesson or project to the Partners in Learning Network. The final closing date for Microsoft Innovative Educator: Expert applications has been extended to 30 September 2013. Find out more on the Partners in Learning Network at:

http://www.pil-network.com/Discussion/488ae828-fa68-4ef5-83a0-faa249c866c4

AFRICAN STORYBOOK PROJECT:
In my last newsletter, I mentioned the African Storybook project. If you would like your class to write stories for this, there is still time to submit a story suitable for a Grade 3 reader. Closing date is 21 June 2013. Visit http://schoolnetsa.blogspot.com for more details.

Last but not least, we extend our thanks to Pioneer Foods (Pty) Ltd, Metrofile Holdings (Pty) Ltd, Lil-lets SA (Pty) Ltd and IFAW for their recent sponsorship.

Yours in education

Natalie

 

 

April 2013

Welcome back to school! As we start another term, I thank you for your consistent support. The monthly page views have steadily increased, with the latest reaching 1, 6 million viewers in a month!

Changes in education are happening at a fast pace, and the education world is taking notice of tablets, so this month I would like to focus on tablets in education. The age of the tablet is here, and this piece of technology which embraces touch technology is giving learning a whole new meaning.  It definitely looks as though education is heading towards a digitized classroom where the students are free to explore technology and collaborate with their peers around the world.

More and more classrooms around the world and South Africa are imagining the curriculum in terms of each child having his or her own tablet. I have been thinking of the ways that tablets can transform learning in our South African context.

History: Tablets can make learning about the past more understandable through the use of interactive e-books, videos, podcasts and games. These help us to empathise with the struggles and hardships of those who have gone before us.
Research: Every project starts with a bit of research and tablets allow students to have the Internet at their fingertips.
Home and school: Tablets can provide a connection between the home and school, and help to bring parents in touch with their children’s work.
Textbooks:  these can be created and updated more easily on a tablet. Students can highlight and bookmark easily, and the burden of carrying around a heavy bag can become a thing of the past.
Future jobs: The world is run by computers and the more students are familiar with them, the better equipped they will be for the real world.
2nd Language: Students can follow an individualized second language program and listen to the correct accent on the tablet. They can communicate with students who speak the language via Skype or Google hangouts.
Maths: Students can easily show their math processes and not just give answers. They can view videos explaining the material as many times as they need.
Reading. A tablet can also be used to help students learn to read with all the amazing free reading apps.
Writing: Rather than doing creative writing in a book and never looking at it again as time goes on, it is so much easier to do daily writing when each child has a tablet. Students can also journal and blog, and easily receive feedback from a variety of sources.

There’s no doubt that a tablet is becoming a popular and powerful educational tool for classrooms. We are in the process of researching tablets for the classroom, taking into account performance, technology, accessibility, safety and affordability. Hopefully I will be able to give you final feedback within the next few weeks on our preferred brand of choice.

The African Storybook project
I would like to promote an exciting project that I have read about on the SchoolNet blog, the African Storybook project. This project aims to create a huge website of stories for Grades 1 -3 children in Africa.  I see there is a free short, online digital writing and storytelling course being offered to teachers as well, which will encourage them to discover the writer within them and write a story for the website. It is hoped that they will then also get their classes writing for the project. Take a look under the free, online courses page on the SchoolNet website http://schoolnetsa.blogspot.com. The course starts on the 15th April. Why not sign up? This could be a good way to get involved in the digital scene that will soon become commonplace in education.

Competitions:

ViralChoice® have a fantastic competition running at the moment which involves children using their creative skills and technological minds to decorate photos of themselves wearing the ViralChoice® complimentary button badge and uploading their photo to URL: http://www.pharmachoice.co.za/vcj/. There are some fantastic prizes for the school and learners.

Collect-a-can has two competitions running – their 20th year celebration and rewards to schools for participating in can collection initiatives.

Our next Teacher Development session
This will take place on the 19th April in Cape Town at Canal Walk from 17h00-18h00. We will continue to host these sessions once a month. Please look out for the notices on our Facebook page to make a booking or email Debbie at: e-classroom@mweb.co.za. In this session we will show Foundation Phase teachers some of the technology that is being used around the world in classrooms. Teachers will also receive a goody-bag of classroom items from our sponsors, Bic, IFAW and Khoki.

Content writers

If you are passionate about education and would like to earn some pocket money, we are looking for content writers for the following subjects in Intermediate and Senior phase:

Life Skills (English and Afrikaans)

Mathematics (English and Afrikaans)

Natural Sciences and Technology (English and Afrikaans)

Social Sciences (English and Afrikaans)

Please email me should you wish to contribute: natalie@e-classroom.co.za. We have new content online for Foundation and Intermediate phase, so please keep visiting the website for updates. Remember to follow us on Facebook for weekly posts: E-Classroom South Africa, as well as Twitter: @eclassroomsa.

Wishing you all the best for a fantastic term 2.

Yours in education

Natalie

 

March 2013

March 2013

One of the very positive things about the Internet age, is that more and more teachers are being given access to use technology in their classroom.  It is quite amazing to see what young students are capable of achieving when using technology effectively in a classroom. But when is it good and when is it not good to use technology?

Technology can be used to enable the parents to share in the classroom experience.   I must say that as a parent I love the idea of a teacher having a classroom blog that allows parents to see what their children are doing in the classroom. Imagine watching a video made in the classroom where your child is presenting a piece of work for all to see or explaining how they tackled a difficult task.

The idea of collaborating with classes on interesting projects in different parts of the world using technology is a very positive experience for a class.  We need our students to picture the world as the global village that it is, with all kinds of cultures inhabiting it each with their own right to be who they are.  Skype plays a huge role in connecting classes to one another around the world. Technology also enables teachers to learn from each other through the tremendous sharing that takes place through social networking.

I have been concerned, though, by some of the ways that I hear technology is being misused. Technology should NOT be used simply to keep students quiet and engaged. It should not be used just to keep students busy while the teacher works with small groups of children for example. Students must be working constructively at all times. Technology should NOT be used to do what can be done without it.   In my opinion technology should enable a student to do new things that aren’t possible without the use of technology. So instead of just drawing pictures in a book, for example, the learners could learn to animate the pictures, publish them on the Internet and use their voice to create a story around the pictures.  

This brings me to give a report back on the first in our Teacher Development session held in Cape Town on Friday 1st March. Our teacher development programme is about sharing different technology tools and concepts that are being used around the globe with teachers in South Africa to promote effective learning for academic achievement. We have been researching meaningful teaching and learning tools and ideas that enhance these principles and have some lovely projects we can connect your school with which are centred on learning interests requiring teamwork, digital literacy skills, collaboration and communication. By engaging in authentic learning experiences about relevant issues, students and teachers work together, strengthening core learning while motivating learners and building self-confidence and skills necessary for the future. Teachers also learn how to use technology effectively in their classrooms. We will continue to host these sessions once a month. The next one will be on the 19 April. Please look out for the notices on  our Facebook page to make a booking or email Debbie at e-classroom@mweb.co.za.

Please feel free to send me any stories that you may have about the ways you are using technology for collaboration that I can pass on in the e-classroom newsletters.

If you are interested in connecting with schools globally for projects, please email me at: natalie@e-classroom.co.za We already have enquiries from schools globally wanting to partner on projects involving literature, book projects, life skills and community based projects. Any successful collaboration starts with finding the right partner.

Competitions:

We have some lovely competitions for schools and learners. You will find these on our landing page as well as under our ‘competitions’ header on the website.

ViralChoice® have a fantastic competition running at the moment which involves children using their creative skills and technological minds to decorate photos of themselves wearing the ViralChoice® complimentary button badge and uploading their photo to URL: http://www.pharmachoice.co.za/vcj/. There are some fantastic prizes for the school and learners.

Collect-a-can has two competitions running – their 20th year celebration and rewards to schools for participating in can collection initiatives.  

Sponsorship Opportunities:

We believe that every child has a right to education. Your sponsorship supports the development of critical education resources which are made available through the e-Classroom portal to primary schools for FREE. We have different packages available – for those who are interested, please contact me for further details: natalie@e-classroom.co.za.  We do need your continuous support in order to keep providing this FREE service to schools. In return, we thank our latest sponsors for their support:

Sea Harvest Corporation (Pty) Ltd

Lil-lets SA (Pty) Ltd

Rand Water – Water Wise

Please remember to follow us on twitter: @eclassroomsa  and Facebook  (E-Classroom South Africa) to see our updates. Please also remember to visit our online bookstore where we have lovely readers for children at very reasonable prices.

Yours in Education

Natalie

 

 

 

January 2013 Newsletter

January 2013 Newsletter

This is our first newsletter of 2013 and we’d like to welcome all teachers back to the classroom. Thank you for your support in 2012. We especially welcome all our new teachers in 2013. I’m sure the first few days were a source of both anxiety and excitement but by now you are used to flying solo, slowly putting everything you learned about teaching and classroom management into practise.  We trust your year will be happy and fulfilling.

We hope you will all add a bit of sparkle to your teaching this year by using some of our free worksheets that are added regularly to our website http://e-classroom.co.za/. E-classroom is growing in leaps and bounds. Since Intermediate Phase CAPS begins this year we have expanded to include Maths and Science Grade 4-6 worksheets and Grades 4-6 Life skills worksheets. This will be followed by other subjects.

We start the year by launching our “Professional Development Programme” where teachers will have the opportunity to learn about how to use technology in their lessons. This programme aims to show that the current world-wide trend of introducing technology in the classroom extends to the preschool classroom. Our learners are digital, so we need to make the most of it where we can. These talks will be held monthly. The first one starts on 01 March and will be held in the auditorium at Canal Walk, Cape Town. Entry is free, and teachers will have a chance to network and browse new products afterwards at the lovely KHOKI store, and collect awesome goodie bags donated by BIC. However, space is limited, so if you would like to attend, please send an email with your name and school details to e-classroom@mweb.co.za to register for the event which will start at 17h00 sharp.

We have become active on Twitter this year, so please follow us on @eclassroomsa. Of course, we’d also like you to look at our new Facebook page for updates: e-Classroom South Africa.

Have you thought about participating with your class in a global project? Since our last newsletter I had an email from Karin Stadler at Elkanah House in Cape Town telling us about some of her amazing global projects. I’d just like to thank you for mentioning my Crazy Crazes project in your September Newsletter. This is the first such project that I have initiated and I am extremely pleased by the response to it. We now have 16 international schools that will take part until May next year! It is early days yet, but our Grade 4’s love it so far! You also mentioned the Global Classroom Memento Scrapbook, which I had the privilege of working on when it was in Cape Town. I saw how it was presented at the Australian conference last week and there was a lot of excitement around it. This is truly a wonderful way of connecting schools and students around the world. ..”
Karen’s latest project is the travelling rhino project – a very worthwhile project which should bring international awareness of the plight of our rhinos. Take a look at Karen’s blog post about this new project http://karenstadler.wordpress.com/2013/01/16/travelling-rhinos-project-save-our-rhinos/ Well done for all these initiatives Karen. Keep us posted about your rhino project.

Remember to develop a love of reading in your students. Please visit our new online book store http://e-classroom.co.za/shop/ to see what we have available.  We are really excited about our bookshop and have recently added the lovely “Lula and Lebo” bilingual range. (isiZulu, Afrikaans and Sesotho). We also have the Science and Technology workbooks in stock for Grades 4-6 (English and Afrikaans).

We extend a special thanks to Bridgestone and Pick N Pay for their kind sponsorship of our recent worksheets. It is through sponsorship that I am able to keep developing free education content for you, so I am truly grateful to Companies who recognize the value in what we are doing.

Let’s continue to work together and support each other in 2013 for the sake of the learners in our care.

Yours in education
Natalie.