The VideoConference School

Oct 30
Transition Girls Get Slimey!
SlimeyTrans2_double.jpgDuring Science Week, our Transition girls (4-5 year olds) engaged in a video conference to learn all about slime. In the virtual excursion we connected with Ben Newcombe from Fizzics Education who talked to the girls about slime properties, the process involved with making slime and things you can do with it.

One of the wonderful things about doing a video conference with a provider like Fizzics Education is that they ensure that the excursions are interactive. We were asked to bring in materials so that the students could do the experiments while Ben talked the girls through it.

Students used the following materials:
  • Cornflour
  • Water
  • Food colouring
  • Cups and spoons

Ben asked for a few students to volunteer and had the girls engaged in making four different slimes in 30 minutes. Suffice it to say the girls had a wonderfully 'slimey' time!

Mrs Shireen Winrow
Junior School ICT Integrator

Oct 30
5L mystery Skype
VidConSkype.jpgToday class 5L engaged in a mystery Skype learning game. This game allows students to connect with other classrooms anywhere in the world, without knowing the location. Mystery Skype is a step for schools to become more globally connected.

So how did we play? As this was our first time, we sent out a request on Twitter to Australian schools to see who may be interested in connecting with us, and we kept it a secret from our students. Students generated questions to try and determine where the school may be located around the world. From these questions the girls had to research the mystery school's location using google maps. Questions needed to be ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and included things such as, ‘Is there a train station running close to your school?’

Students had to draw upon prior knowledge, geography, research and problem solving skills to locate the school. They created mind maps, researched in google maps and looked and listed carefully for clues. During this experience, the girls learned team work and how important communication and collaboration is to reach a team goal.

The aim of this experience was to discover the name and location of the mystery school. Unfortunately, we didn't win this time, but the girls reflected and listed what they could do to improve for the next mystery Skype call. After the experience the students reflected on their own learning and said that while it was ‘intense’ and ‘challenging’, they thoroughly enjoyed the experience.

Where in the world will we connect to next?

Miss Rebecca Burgmann, Year 5 Classroom Teacher
Mrs Shireen Winrow, Junior School ICT Integrator
Oct 30
Abbotsleigh girls go nuclear
20150918_113355R.jpgWe live in a world that is growing smaller every day. Digital connectivity means that we can reach out to people geographically close by and far away, connecting our students to experts and facilities that may not always be present within our immediate educational environments. The video conferencing facilities at Abbotsleigh give our staff and students the ability to do just that; connect with experts!

In Term 3 our senior physics students planned, performed and analysed an investigation with radioactive materials testing for the penetrating ability. Two physics teachers partnered with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation (ANSTO) to provide the girls with a rich learning opportunity. One teacher, Alison Fell, commented that students valued learning about ‘techniques used to protect the ANSTO employees from excessive radiation’. They reported that ‘the conference was interactive, with a continuous dialogue between the scientists and students’. ANSTO had received the experiment procedures designed by the students and had the appropriate equipment ready for the girls to use. ‘This gave the girls a confidence boost about their ability to plan a controlled experiment.’

Learning environments that include industry experts allow the students to ‘relate to real-life scientists and professionals’, says teacher Sujatha Mehta. ‘The girls enjoyed being in control of an experiment that they had designed. The exchange of questions and answers made the whole experience very interesting and engaging.’

Mr Laurens Derks
Senior School IC Integrator
Jan 28
Interstate and international conversations for staff this week

showcase1R.jpgAbbotsleigh had a really exciting staff PD this week. You might think staff PD is not exciting … maybe it often isn’t if there is just speaking up the front but this was different - hands on and showcasing exciting projects and staff loved it.

Around the gym was a range of staff showcasing their in-class projects involving everything from digital art, augmented reality, a maker space, projects involving 3D printing, Office Mix projects and Weebly site creation by kids. There were also live video conferences from both teachers and content providers, both from Sydney and internationally.

We used Microsoft Lync to bring a couple of MIE 2015 teachers doing cutting edge projects with students in the classroom in to talk to our teachers. Ormiston College in Brisbane talked about the project Abbotsleigh and other schools have worked on where they used Office Mix tutorials to teach another class and then an Office 365 OneNote was used for collaboration and feedback between the classes while they worked together. Sacred Heart College in Tasmania talked to our teachers about how she is using OneNote to work more effectively in the classroom.

We also brought in Marty the Medieval Crusader from the Sheffield Museum in Canada, and the Museum of Human Disease at the UNSW, who had a number of specimens to discuss as well as a raft of options for staff to connect their classes with the museum and its expert staff.

The conversations between these remote educators and the staff in the gym were really exciting to watch. Many staff had never seen video conferencing working live at school and could see all the possibilities for expanding learning beyond the classroom walls and expanding staff connections beyond your colleagues at school.

Nov 19
PD in your PJs

PDinPJs.jpgWe have been broadening our uses of our video conferencing to include more varied purposes in recent months. We have been using HD video conferencing for many years and have a range of popular video conferences that are enhancing students' learning experiences in school but we have been expanding our uses of video conferences using web based video conferencing open opportunities such as to provide staff with PD in out of hours times from home.

We have been running a three week ‘PD in your PJs’ course for staff; something we have done as a one off before, but this term it is running as an ongoing series. We have been running sessions via Microsoft Lync on Office Mix (new software allowing students to add videos, audio and screen recordings to make their PowerPoints into interactive tutorials); Weebly – to make your own websites; and also great Apps from the Windows 8 store that teachers and students can use to create resources or Apps for reference.

Staff have found that the out of school hours’ time works as it does not need to be squeezed into their busy days at school. The Lync software has been easy to use and can work on any device, from anywhere, as you have an internet connection. It also has features that work for teachers such as the ability to share your screen and do a live demonstration while you talk and also to share a whiteboard that you can annotate with your stylus pen.

We have also been using web based video conferencing for Department meetings to allow for easier communication between staff and saving staff on the other campus from having to walk between the two sites.
Staff are always interested in something that saves them time and Lync and web based video conferencing for meetings and PD have proven to have great benefits at our school.

Mrs Naomi Manning
Senior School IT Integrator
Nov 04
Students visit reSATURATEryb

GCSG_gallery_resaturateR.jpgThe Grace Cossington Smith Gallery extended its audience out to Hale School in Western Australia this morning. Two Year 10 classes came to visit the reSATURATEryb exhibition via video conferencing. This is a new experience for the gallery to be providing content via video conferencing to external locations.

The classes walked through the three main exhibition spaces in the gallery via video conferencing. Space corresponded to the ­Modernist or Bauhaus division of colour into primaries: red, yellow and blue. The boys asked Mary Faith, the gallery Director, various questions and were particularly interested in the fact that the gallery walls had been painted to work with the exhibition. The boys also looked at the relationship between coloured objects and coloured spaces with the Director.  They were also lucky enough to talk to Lisa Jones, one of the artists, who spoke to them for a few minutes about her work, The Blue Line.

Mrs Naomi Manning
Senior School IT Integrator
Sep 10
Studying endangered species with Lee Richardson Zoo

LeeRichardsonZooR.jpgYear 9 Science had a wonderful experience with scientist Whitney Buchman, from the Lee Richardon Zoo in Kansas. The girls are studying endangered species as part of their topic Global Issues and Whitney discussed some these and even brought them into the studio from the zoo to show the girls. He spoke to the girls, answered their questions, used a green screen to show them diagrams and videos and, most successfully, he picked up live animals from his zoo and showed them as they were discussed.

The chinchilla, which lives in the Andes mountains of South America, was a particular favourite as he had a little one in his studio. He discussed the dangers of poaching and the girls were stunned to hear that one fur coat is made of more than 300 chinchillas. The black-footed ferret, North America’s most endangered animal, was also popular and the girls discussed reasons for it becoming endangered such as habitat loss, disease and hunting, while looking at some of the ferrets at the zoo. He also used a green screen to look at maps, such as one of the fragmented habitat of the endangered orangutan of Indonesia. The armadillo was also fascinating and the girls had a lot of questions that they were able to ask while looking at it running around and being held by Whitney.

Overall the girls were thrilled to see these unfamiliar animals that they may not be able to see at home and hear from an expert who could provide extra insight into the global issues they are studying in class.

Mrs Naomi Manning
Senior School IT Integrator
Aug 27
GCS Gallery connects to students

20140820_084101.jpgLast week saw an exciting event for the new Abbotsleigh Art Gallery – the Grace Cossington Smith Gallery - as we delivered a session to the Junior School via video conferencing. Mary Faith, the Director of the Gallery and an experienced Art teacher, ran a session with 6D on the HSC exhibition that started on the 19th August. Mary walked around the Gallery and talked about the exhibition, via video conferencing. She also had two guest appearances from Year 12 students who discussed their art with the Year 6 girls. Year 6 students were fascinated to talk to the artists and asked them questions, both about their techniques and inspiration but also about their studies and experience as a student. Video conferencing allowed them to view the artworks in detail, stroll through the gallery to get a feel for the exhibition, as well as talk to the Director of the Gallery and have a discussion about what they could see.
It was a wonderful experience for the Junior School girls to be connected to the Gallery and artists from their normal classroom and the beginning of an exciting journey for the Art Gallery as a Content Provider.

Mrs Naomi Manning
Senior School IT Integrator
Aug 04
Connecting students with survivors

speakers_bureauR2.jpgVideo conferencing has been used by students and teachers at Abbotsleigh to set up global connections and ongoing relationships that add invaluable insights for students. One such relationship is an ongoing connection we have had for the past few years with holocaust survivors from the NY Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center. 

Last week Year 10 classes talked to Mordechai Miller and an educator at the Museum who provided the class with such a unique insight into the Holocaust. The girls were incredibly moved by his story and appreciative of his generosity in sharing it. They wrote to him and outlined how the video conference had made a difference to their studies of the Holocaust and their understanding of the world.

Here are some comments from students:

Your story of recounting the years you spent in hiding in the ghetto and running was so moving for me. I cannot believe how lucky you were when that bullet nearly hit you but instead hit your suitcase! I enjoyed the video conference so much and admire greatly your obligation to retell your story on behalf of your mother.

Thank you for talking to our class about your personal Holocaust experience. We have been truly privileged to listen to you. Your story was very interesting and helped me understand more about the Holocaust for history.

Thank you so much Mr Miller! We appreciate the time you have taken to tell us your courageous story. It is really interesting to hear it from a survivor. You story taught us a lot and helped us with our understanding of the Holocaust. We know you have gone through a lot – thank you again.

Thank you for sharing your story. I can’t imagine what life would have been like. I hope that the events like World War II stay in the past and never happen again.

Mrs Naomi Manning
Senior School IT Integrator
Jul 30
Year 7 meet David Almond

skelligR.jpgYear 7 and their teachers enjoyed a video conference with David Almond from the UK last week, a connection that grew from the Abbotsleigh Literary Festival. The students have been studying Skellig for a few weeks now and had some questions they wanted to ask him, including:
  • What inspired you to bring William Blake into the story – what do you value about his work?
  • Since you have given a very vivid description of Michael’s house, garage and garden, has this scene been based on a place that you have visited or lived in?
  • Do you see yourself in Michael?
  • Why are there so many different covers for Skellig publications?
  • Were any characters in Skellig based on members of your family?
  • If you met Skellig, what is the first question you would ask him and why? 
The questions were asked by representatives from the 7 classes and teachers saw them prompt some interesting reflection. The girls were fascinated when he leaned back to his shelves and showed the girls his messy drafts. This was such an incredibly enriching and valuable learning experience for Year 7 and one that shows how video conferencing can allow for connections to be made across the globe.

Mrs Naomi Manning
Senior School ICT Integrator
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