The Sandaig blogs have been running since 2004, it is now time to move to a newer system for the school’s blogging. We have installed wordpress and are going to use that for most of the blogging at Sandaig from now on.

The new blog address is:

http://www.sandaigprimary.co.uk/otters

Where you will find the sort of posts you use to find on the old Sandaig otter’s blog, the poetry blog, Sandaig TV and all the other blogs. The only exceptions are the Head Teacher’s blog, which is staying right were it is: HT News and the Eco blog which will move to http://www.sandaigprimary.co.uk/eco.

If you link to the Sandaig blogs you may like to update your links. The older blogs will stay where they for reference but comments will be closed in the near future.

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At Sandaig I used pivot as a weblog system. it is a system I like. This blog run on PivotX a complete rewrite of pivot. When I started the Sandaig blogs, I choose pivot mainly on the basis that it uses a flat-file rather than a database for storage (pivotx can use either, I use a database here now as it seems faster) and you could have many subweblogs (we had over 20) running of the one install. Pivot is also an easy system to customise if you know a little html, so I could fit it in with the rest of the site easily (for example the HT News fits in with the rest of the site). Over the years the blogging system grew quite big and complex. We did try a wpmu install for a year, but didn’t use it enough to keep it going. I have been very happy with pivot except for a couple of times the config file has be corrupted and allowed a flood of spam in that required manual deletion. I had another one of these a few weeks ago and spent a Saturday morning deleting spam:(

So I though it was probably time for a change in setup. I could have upgraded all of the Blogs to the new version of pivot, but changing 20 odd themes and setting did not appeal especially as the school will not keep up the same amount of blogging. I decided to move to wordpress as that should be easier to maintain even if I am not involved. I like the fact that you can upgrade wordpress from the admin area of the blog. I also decided to sort of merge the functionality of most of the blogs into one. The excepting being the HT blog which will still be pivot and the eco blog which has been moved to a separate wordpress install. The eco blog only had a few posts so I though it would be simple to import them from pivot, via wordpress’ RSS import.

So I did a couple of wordpress installs and uploaded a couple of themes and messed about a bit. This all was fairly straightforward, I’ve installed wordpress a few times (amd wpmu too) so didn’t hit any major snags.

Importing from RSS gave me more of a headache, when I went to the import screen and choose RSS (or any other format) I got a blank page. I quick google show this has happened elsewhere but I didn’t see a solution i could use. I did a test on a test wordpress blog on this domain and could see the importer page there. So i made another install of wordpress here and imported the eco blogs rss. I then used phpMyAdmin to export the database from the mySQL database. using phpMyAdmin on the Sandaig site I dropped the relevant bits and imported the exported database. It went quite well, there are sill a few things to tidy up and i needed to change some of the urls in the database (as it kept redirecting my logon to this domain.) but all seems well now. I’ve created various class accounts and mailed instruction for use to Sandaig. hopefully they will get their heads round it soon. I believe there is an interesting International project in the works and hope to see that online.

I also hope that the blogs continue to get support for all the folk who commented there over the years, this is a great encouragement to the pupils.

I am moving from John @ Sandaig to John’s World Wide Wall Display. The RSS Feed url will stay the same.

I’ve been blogging at Sandaig since February 2005 and worked at Sandaig for over 15 years. I’ve had a wonderful time working there but am now moving on to take up a post as an ICT development officer with North Lanarkshire Education. At Sandaig I had an amazing opportunity to playfully experiment with emerging technologies. As you can imagine such and enabling and supportive environment is hard to leave, not to mention the feeling of leaving a class mid session. I am not sure what the future will bring but I hope to continue blogging about education and technology from a slightly different perspective.

I hope that the children at Sandaig will continue to blog about their learning and fun and I’ll still be trying to support that effort remotely if I can.

I could have continued to host my blog with Sandaig but feel that might lead to some confusion.

I am not sure how this move will work out from a technical angle, I’ll leave the old content were it was and I’ve copied it over to the new place. I’ve replace the comment box at Sandaig with an explanation. The RSS feed now points to the new blog.

If you are kind enough to link to me I’d appreciate it if you updated your links.
In a week or so I’ll replace the blog page at Sandaig with a redirect of some sort.

I’ve got the the end of a quick first week back at school. The first time in a couple of years I’ve had a class to myself, year before last I was doing ICT and last year involved a lot of learning support and team teaching. I am also back in Primary Seven.

A shock to the system as all my mushroom boxes have vanished and I need a quick trip to Pound Land.

I am beginning to get the classroom they way I want, I have a projector and a big bit of white paper on the wall along with a gyro mouse and wireless keyboard. A networked xp laptop and non-networked mac mini are positioned beside the projector so that I can easily switch back and forth between platforms. So far I am missing the ability to draw quickly on the board but enjoying the shadow free screen.

The children have used ICT in the previous year a fair bit, mostly research, word-processing and powerpoint and I worked with them on the wiki for a Sound & Light project.

I always like the first week or two of term and other times when the timetable and curriculum is not so fixed in stone and decided to get the children introduced to online tools, cameras blogging etc.

We got the Photo -a-day How does our Garden go galler off the ground to start with.

Next we started with the Simpsons Movie site making avatars which, I hope, will be used throughout the year as signatures on blogs and wikis. We had to use a horrible amount of kluding to work around the fact that we do not seem to be able to download the files on the school pcs (unblocking popups not withstanding). This become a good exercise in lots of things: print screen, cropping in picture manager and exporting as jpgs, allowing me to harp on about files etc. I had to download the saved images at home to slap together the pic at the top.

The children had more cropping to do to get a nice wee head shot of their avatar too.

We worked on one of my favourite start of session lessons, Bio-Poems, these use a strong template and give the children a lot of fun, this year we blogged these with the Simpson head-shots on the Sandaig Poets blog which give everybody a chance to blog. If you have a minute please leave some one a comment.

Finally, have talked about adjectives and watch a couple of youtube downloads on the subject earlier in the week, we made a quick photo movie about Feelings today giving the children more practise with the cameras and their first use of iMovie, it was also a great way to end the week as non of them though they were working.

Next week we start with a trip to Ayr so fingers crossed for the weather.

sandaig home

It has been a couple of weeks since my last post and may be a while before the next. This will be a even more unfocused post than usual. I part the last of activity has been down to being to busy and in some cases frustrated with technology. Network problems have slowed down some of the projects I’ve been working on in school and I’ve spend a fair bit of my NCC time fault reporting.

I have been using a couple of wikis with some success. On our own site I’ve been working with a class one afternoon a week on challenged based learning, the latest Instrument Challenge section of the wiki is nearly finished. This is using pmwiki. I am afraid that the method used to post images and sounds is a little too complex for a class I only see once a week. PmWiki requires the children to name the file rather than just upload it, this has lead to one or two cases of files being over written. Other files have been uploaded with out giving them extensions making them unusable. The attach, go back to page, and add image by typing. is more complex that uploading an image to a blog. My own class have been using a wikispaces wiki and one or two have started adding to their pages from home. We have had quite a few problems in school when wikispaces seems to freeze, I’ve not seen this at home but I text to use the text module rather than the wysiwyg. The freeze also might be caused by network slowdown which is also making both wikis sometime frustrating to use.
I am quite pleased with the possibilities of wikis although my heart is still with blogs. Hopefully next session I’ll have a chance to use wikis again, next time I’ll spend a bit more time getting the children familiar with the use before using then in anger.

I’ve not managed to use Exhibit, which I tested in the holidays, the network does not allow something that is going on there. I think I’ve managed to work around it with a wee kludge but it is not ideal. I do hope to let the children test it in a couple of weeks.

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The last week or so I’ve been preparing for our trip to the Netherlands. I’ve set up another blog: Sandaig Netherlands 2008 and A moblog of sorts incase we cannot find a internet connection. Hopefully the children will post audio, video, photos and text to report on the trip and talk to their families. We leave on Sunday morning and return the following friday afternoon.

garden logo

I also hope that my own class, most of whom I am leaving at school will keep up some online activity. maybe update the wiki and blog, but I really want them to keep up the How does our Garden Go photo a day project. They have been doing ell so far, posting a photo of our school garden everyday for a couple of weeks. The idea is to document the changes, both seasonal and ecological and practise and think about taking photos.

There have also bee nnew songs on the Sandaig Jukebox, another episode of Radio Sandaig and some Eco Ninjas posters added to the site in the last couple of weeks, no wonder I’ve not had time to blog.

There has been hardly a tweet from me this weekend, not because I’ve been away from the box but because I’ve been too busy in front of it. Apart from working on a non educational site and doing a bit of editing on the second edtechroundup podcast (this is not quite ready yet but will be out soon), I’ve been playing with a couple of new bits of the Sandaig Website.

Jukebox tn

Firstly I, created a new section to show off the children’s garageband productions. I blogged some GarageBand Plans a while back and since then I’ve been working with some children at the computer club, some from the Primary Six classes and got our music teacher involved with other classes. They have been making quite a few short songs. The Sandaig Jukebox is a work in progress, but it allows you to choose a playlist and listen to the songs. I hope to replace the Quicktime player with a flash one, have a comment or rating system and a few other goodies figured out at some time in the future. It might not work for everyone at the moment, I’ve not bypassed the click here to allow active x stuff on some windows systems, but you can get the idea.

The other thing I’ve been preparing is the Sandaig Wiki this will be my first venture into using a wiki with children. I choose PmWiki mainly because it seems easy to configure and install. I had already briefly tested it and it seems to work very well, I am especially interested in the fact that you can add features from the cookbook for example I’ve tried some Media Tests and even managed to adapt the Yuan.CC Flickr Experiments.

Anyway I hope to start work on two sections with the children this week: Sound and light where Primary six T, who I take for Science, will record there Science topic. and the Primary 6 Project which is for a group of primary 6 children who are learning to work together and cooperate. At the moment these children are involved in a Garageband task; creating music, designing CD covers and doing some psd work. The children will have a page each on the wiki to display some mindmaps, embed their music and art work.

Well that is the plan anyway, but we know where the best laid ones go. Hopefully I’ll have some success to report soon.

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Otters Blog

A while ago I was moaning about not managing to get the kids blogging, this sessions class are a very different bunch than last years and I’ve been struggling to get them posting to the blog regularly enough to get familiar with the tools.

The answer turns our to be, same as last session, to get the children to organise the rota, two children organise the random selection of a couple of others to choose what to blog about, take photos, and blog the next day (I download the photos before school).

Radio Sandaig has also been less than regular in its output. I’ve been trying to organise it by getting children from 4 classes to write and record segments, as teachers and children are busier than ever, it is getting harder and harder to find the time. Last session I was out of class teaching ict across the school and could make some time, this session I am back in class and have been using my NCC time. It was not enough, especially as the children had to write in their own time at home. This month I think I’ve solved the problem, on Thursdays I am having a Radio Sandaig Working Lunch this involves opening our media room up and letting the children write. We probably now have too much material. Interestingly this session I have more children wanting to write about outside school activities, mostly TV and movie reviews, than class work, I guess this is because they feel more ownership of their segments.

Next session I think I’ll take the podcast back inside my own class and develop it as a talking, listening and reflection tool as part of our language and pse program.

So despite a few frustrations (mostly with tools I’d love to use being unavailable for technical reasons or filtered out) I am feeling pretty positive about using ‘social media’ and online tools. I’ve also got a nice new project to unveil soon and a couple of interesting ideas (well interesting to me anyway) to blog about, more frequent posting ahead.

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I’ve updated my Sandaig Google Maps Experiment a little this weekend, getting ready for some international co-operation this session I hope.

I added a few schools and a wee popup control to the page to point to the school chosen.

the interface I made for editing the maps proved far too clunky for children to use, so I’ve been thinking of redoing that as a step by step process.

A frustrating afternoon.
I’ve not managed to get blogging embedded in my class this session yet, although we have dipped our toes in a little.
I have been working with our primary sevens, my class from last year and the other p7 who are starting to use our new wordpress setup.
I am out of class on Friday afternoons this session to work with other classes and so far I’ve been trying to get the blogging habit going with the sevens.
Last week the p7m guys ran out of time before many of them posted there first blog to wordpress. This afternoon I was determined that they would do so and some would get a second post with an image. They got their text ready, resized the images and then began to run into problems:

MYIPROXY ERROR: connection refusedwww.sandaigprimary.co.uk refused to accept connection on port 80
________________________________________
While trying to retrieve the URL: www.sandaigprimary.co.uk/

I think we had some other errors too. At this point I though it might be a problem with the wordpress setup as I had not stress tested it, but the internet seemed to be generally slow.
The second half of the afternoon I was working with Primary Seven S on their pivot blogs, and while some of them managed to post we got lots of the same error messages. so I started to think it was a problem with our site, maybe because 20 children were all logging on at once, but when some of the children went to some edublogs.org blogs to read other school blogs they got slowdowns and the same errors.
The biggest problem seemed to be with blog sites, more straightforward pages just loaded very slowly. I’ve raised a speculative fault, but don’t really know enough about how network errors work to guess what is going on. Any hints or advice welcome.

Earlier in the week i had more frustration as I came into school early to upload a bunch of pictures to voicethread.com and it didn’t work, I got one up but kept getting authentication dialogs popping up. I guess I’ll have to try uploading photos from home and getting the children to add audio in school.

I usually feel technically savvy enough for a primary teacher, but I do not know much about the ins and outs of the network, I guess I need to find out.

After all the fuss last year testing WP and Lyceum here with pretty poor results, I now have a working wordpress mu setup: Sandaig PupilsI’ve not got any children started, just trying to get the setup ready, so far all I’ve added the Anarchy Media Player and put together a widget to pull the links for the rest of the Sandaig blogs in.
I hope to run this for one of our primary seven classes while the other one uses the pivot blogs set up last year now renamed Primary Seven S

Hopefully I’ll be able to do some comparisons between Pivot and WPMU.

If you have any good wordpress mu tips, please let me know. I am especially interested in being able to set up site wide widgets by default.

Blogged from tm