LEGO Digital Designer

I have just come across this great LEGO creating software. This is free software that can be downloaded onto MAC or Windows machines. There is a PDF manual that can be saved from the website as well giving hints and tips about the tools available within the program.


This software would be great for doing some design tech work with your students. There are no instructions on how to build particular items so students could design and create their own models or bring in instructions from LEGO models they have at home and use these to build models within this program. It does take a little while to get used to the program but in half an hour with the use of the manual I created the car below, not brilliant I know but it demonstrates that in minimal time students could begin creating. The other positive is that most students are familiar with LEGO and the way it works so this should increase their ability to learn and understand the program.

The program allows you to take screen shots from any angle and save them to your computer. A great tool for students to present their completed model.

If you are interested in the program download it and have a play at home or if you have kids let them have a go and see what they think. If you would like to use it with your class I see no reason why we can’t convince ‘the school’ to put this program into one of the suites or onto the new laptops. Creativity, planning, design, building, working with a partner, presenting a product the possibilities for use in the classroom are wide ranging. On top of this I think the students would really enjoy using the program. My suggestion is that this program would be useful from Year 3/4 and up.

If you are looking to develop and broaden your pedagogy this program also offers the opportunity to explore a variety of methods including:

Use prior knowledge, collaborative, teacher modeling, student led, open ended task, goal setting, self paced, scaffolding, teacher feedback, skill transference, risk taking, share learning, , creative thinking, critical thinking, reflection, individual, group, explicit teaching of collaboration, explicit teaching of higher order thinking, authentic problem, multimedia, self evaluation, peer evaluation, explicit teaching of peer assessment, explicit teaching of self assessment, communication through practical, communication through art, communication through writing.

Socrative – Find out what your students know

This tool is excellent and I  will be using it in the next week or two with my stage 1 PE students. This Web tool/app allows for exactly the same type of feedback that the Activote devices provide with the IWB’s. Socrative allows you to preprepare quizzes or make up questions on the spot to find out instantly where your students are with a particular topic and use as another way of formatively assessing your students. Questions can be asked in the following formats – true/false, multiple choice and short answer questions.

To use this tool you need a wireless network, laptop or other device such as a smart phone, iPad, iPod that can connect to the wireless system you are using. For the year 11 and 12 students who always have access to laptops or certainly more so than other year levels this tool would be excellent. The teacher requires a device and so does each student participating (although I think multiple students can access one device if you don’t mind students taking it in turns). Another plus for this tool is that it does not require students to set up an account and therefore have to remember a username and password. Students connect with the teacher through a number that represents that teachers classroom (teacher provides the number to the students). Although Socrative requires students to have a device of some description it is a much easier process than the Activote devices provided by Promethean IWB’s.

Socrative also has apps for the iPhone and iPad (teacher app and student app both free). I could see this web tool working brilliantly in any class from year 1/2 up with iPads due to their ease of use.

I realise not everyone has access to laptops on a regular basis but you could use Socrative to run a quick test of your students knowledge in a computing suite or borrow 6-8 laptops and have them set up in your classroom permanently for a day so that you could get different students to do short assessment tasks for you during the day.

Check out the video below to see how Socrative works.

A new way to look at the world

Here is an interesting web site that allows you to look at the world through an interactive tool that increases or decreases the physical size of a country depending on the topic chosen. There are 5 main headings – People, Planet, Business, Politics and Living. There are 106 topics of comparision under these main headings. Click on a topic and watch the countries grow or shrink depending on how that topic impacts on that country i.e click on ‘population’ and watch India and China grow and Australia shrink. Run your cursor over the countries to get limited data like country name and percentages. The site also offers the same format for the US and Japan. A link to this site can also be found on the ‘Curriculum’ page under ‘Geography’.

To visit SHOW World click here.


For 20 minutes or so a day I go on Twitter and have a look at the ‘tweets’ the teachers I follow have made. Everyday I find something useful, it could be a website, a video, a blog post, a concept to use in my teaching, a conversation I can join in on (sometimes I start my own).

At the 7-12 meeting on Wednesday Ali Newbold made the statement that one off T&D is often not worthwhile as we never have time to implement or follow up the large concepts or programs that a 1 or 2 day conference provides. They often motivate us for the next week and that’s the end of that. Twitter gives me access to as many educators and their ideas as I like and I’m being drip fed those small useable pieces of information on a daily basis. A small sample of useful tweets/information that I have used from Twitter:


  • A PE teacher suggested I make links with the fundamental motor skills used in athletics to every day physical activities to try and demonstrate the importance of developing correct technique in athletics, not just to throw further, jump higher etc. This was in response to me talking about how I was running my athletics classes this year using a different approach to previous years.
  • The idea for ‘The Shadow Game’ came from a Twitter link. An inspired idea by a PE teacher (no jokes about ‘inspired’ and ‘PE teacher’ being used in the same sentence)! I tried it out last year and the R-3 students (plus some year 10’s) had a ball. Ed also came down and had a look.
  • A science teacher from Sydney and myself shared our sites that we created for staff in our schools. Helped us both.
  • I had a problem with an app on my iPad and through Twitter contacted the maker (another PE teacher) who helped me sort out the problem in 15 minutes.
  • Twitter has broadened my knowledge of education internationally. I have learnt about education systems like Finland’s through Twitter and the links to articles and video. I have read as teachers compare systems in the UK, Finland, the US and my understanding of these systems has grown.
  • Sometimes it’s just a statement someone makes that allows you to think more deeply about your educational beliefs like this one from @joe_bower “If tests & grades and creativity disappeared tomorrow which would you miss more?”

It has taken time to build up a ‘following’ list, but it has been worth it. The teachers I follow range from teachers of various subjects (mainly HPE) but also IT and the odd science teacher to JP and primary teachers to school leaders and internationally renowned educational theorists like Sir Ken Robinson. These people span the globe and cover over 13 different countries at last time I counted.

I know Twitter is not for everyone and the views we as adults have of social sites like Facebook and Twitter is not always a positive one. But I can honestly say that Twitter is the most useful Web 2.0 tool I have come across in terms of what it provides me on a daily basis. So if you think you might like to try Twitter, jump in, have a go – what the hell it’s free!


Some of you will remember that I mentioned an online tool called Glogster last year. This Web 2.0 tool allows you to create online posters which include video, audio, images, links to documents like word, Power Point & spreadsheets and links to other websites. It creates very interactive documents for students to present their work with.  Teachers can use it to collect together information in one spot as a way of presenting a new topic or use it to provide students with a resource that you create with relevant web links, images, video and audio.

Some of the features of Glogster include the ability for teachers to set up their own classes, create their own projects, have students complete those projects and for teachers to then mark the learning online and provide written feedback that goes directly to the individual student. Links to each poster could be sent home to share student learning with parents who can then access student work online.

The school pays $350 for a yearly subscription to Glogster which allows up to 12 teachers to create accounts (3 of which are taken). Currently Tanya, Kimberley and myself are registered and using Glogster. If you want to access Glogster you need to see me and I will email an invite which will include a link to follow. See Tanya, Kimberley or myself if you need any help. As with most things a little persistence and patience may be required.

Here are some student examples from term 4 2011 and a rubric I created to help assess Glogster posters (feel free to take the rubric and modify it in anyway you like).

Glogster Rubric

Madison – A poster showing the career path Madison would like to follow.

Rick – A poster about Australian Federation.