Mitch Squires's Blog

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My 2012 Edublog Award Nominations

Posted by mitchsquires on November 27, 2012

Here are my 2012 Edublog Award Nominations.

Best Teacher Blog:  Upside Down Education, Amanda Dykes

Best Class Blog:, Laura Chaffey’s class

B€est New Blog: Mr Mac’s Blog Thingy, Nathan MacGregor

Best Library Blog: Momo Celebrating Time To Read, Margot Lindgren 

Best Administrator Blog: Darcy Moore’s Blog


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iPhone Apps in my classroom

Posted by mitchsquires on April 26, 2011

The following is a list of apps I use in in my classroom. They are all free except for StoryRobe, which is well worth the $1.19.

Student Creativity

StoryRobe ($1.19)- create simple digital stories using photos and audio with an easy upload to YouTube. Student Example

Audioboo – records speech and other audio and uploads instantly in to an easily embeddable format. Student Example.

Xtranormal – make short animated videos using interesting characters, voice recording or text and customisable backgrounds. Easily embeddable.

Animoto – used to create short, catchy slideshows with a musical background. Student Example

Vimeo – upload, edit and publish videos to the web. Easy to embed. Student Example

YouTube – upload and publish videos to Youtube.

MindMeister – create mindmaps that can be published and edited on an iPhone or on the web. Easy to embed.

Flickr – upload photos directly to this photo-sharing site. Student Example

PS Express – edit photos you have taken, including exposure, tinting, borders, soft focus, etc.

Comic Touch Lite – add captions or comic style thought/speech bubbles to photos.

Lino – a sticky notepad for sharing


WordPress – manage and write posts, pages and comments on blogs, including moderating student blogs.

Information Distribution

QR Reader – guide students to websites easily and quickly with QR codes.

Edmodo – manage your edmodo groups from your phone.

Other Tools

Mobile RSS – keep on top of all your reading on your phone.

TED Talks – concise, inspirational talks on anything and everything.

Australian Curriculum – the incoming curriculum goes digital.

Twitter for iPhone – connecting with educators around the world.

Check out this terrific blog from Steph Westwood at Cardiff North PS chronicling her iPod Touch trial and the use of a range of different apps with K-3 students.

Which are your favourite apps? What are you using with your students?

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Parent Teacher Night

Posted by mitchsquires on February 22, 2011

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My 2010 Edublog Award Nominations

Posted by mitchsquires on December 3, 2010

My nominations for the 2010 Edublog Awards are:

Best individual blog – What Ed Said
Best individual tweeter – @pipcleaves
Best class blog – Bailey Road Team 17
Best student blog – Emily’s blog
Best resource sharing blog – Steph Westwood
Best librarian  blog – Momotimetoread by Margot Lindgren
Best school administrator blog – LiPS by Roger Pryor
Best educational use of video / visual –  Kinderclips @louwinsr
Best use of a PLN –  #comments4kids Twitter hashtag – lead by @wmchamberlain and @mrwoodnz
Best use of a social network – Berthoud Elementary on Facebook lead by Julie Cunningham @techfacil

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10 ways to motivate students to blog…

Posted by mitchsquires on October 23, 2010

Collaborative post with Edna Sackson, a PYP teacher in Melbourne. Cross-posted at her blog, WhatEdSaid. She wrote some, I wrote some, we both wrote some. We had fun… kids could do this too!

From Ed: I love to blog. I’m an addict.

I like to blog about things that matter to me, things I’m thinking about and things I learn. I respond to things I’ve read. I share things that I discover. I reflect.

I’d find it difficult to blog if someone told me what I had to write about. I’d hate to have deadlines by which my posts were due. If I was expected to blog about things that didn’t interest me, I’d never produce another post. I don’t think I’d like someone correcting my writing. I wouldn’t like writing on the same topic everyone else was writing about today!

Why should younger, possibly smaller people feel any differently?

From Mitch: I was only ever an occasional blogger until this year, writing in fits and starts, however starting a class blog opened up a whole new world . Students loved having their work on show to a global audience, able to provide genuine feedback. Parents loved the ‘window into our classroom’. I loved the excitement I saw in the students, the motivation it sparked in them. After the initial buzz wore off, however, I had to find ways to keep the students interested…

10 ways to motivate students to blog…

1. Hook them in.

Post a powerful provocation to get them thinking. Get them to respond as a comment. Use photos, artwork, video clips. Suggest a thinking routine to scaffold responses. eg ‘Connect, Extend, Challenge‘ or ‘See, Think,Wonder’. Ask powerful, engaging questions about big ideas and accept all kinds of responses. Sam Sherratt’s class blog is a great example.

2. Freedom of choice.

Allow choice. Encourage students to write about what matters to them. Don’t expect everyone to write about the same thing at the same time in a uniform way. Encourage creativity rather than compliance. (I love this point. I struggled initally with the idea of set tasks vs student choice. While it sometimes bothers me that some of my students won’t post great classwork because it doesn’t fit with their own view of their blog, if I look at the bigger picture, it makes their blogs more authentic and relevant to them. (Mitch)

3. Don’t over correct.

Ed: Actually the jury’s out on this one. Some say blog posts should be final draft pieces, with spelling and grammar correct. I tend to disagree. I’d allow students to express their opinions, grow their thinking, be creative… but I may be wrong! Mitch: My general rule on this one is if the work is an assigned class task, I expect students to have thoroughly checked the accuracy of their spelling and grammar. If it is a personal interest piece written in their own time (most of what makes up their blogs) then I am happy as long as it all makes reasonable sense.

4. Help provide an authentic audience.

Share student blogs with other teachers at your school. Invite parents and grandparents to comment. A comment from a grandmother interstate, a cousin overseas or a teacher from a school on another continent is a powerful motivator for students. Tell your online PLN about them. Add a Clustrmaps widget showing global visitors.

5. Model good writing.

Blogging is writing. Share your own blog with your students. Write posts that model the sort of writing you’d like them to produce. John Spencer writes beautifully. So do his students at Social Voice!

6. Encourage different modes of expression.

Blogging isn’t only writing. Encourage creativity. Students might create videos, images or cartoons and post them. Great examples here from David Mitchell’s class blog.

7. Make global connections.

Students love to hear what their peers think. Help them connect with both an in-school and an online PLN. Collaborate with classes in other countries. Read about Australian Kath McGeady’s collaboration with a class in the US. Their Uganda project is inspiring! And have you seen the Alice Project, where ‘Three 10th-grade Honors English classes tumble down the rabbit hole to discover Alice’s journey first-hand’?

8. Encourage students to support each other.

Who doesn’t get a kick out of working together to solve a problem? Students love to show each other how to use that photo of their artwork to make a Jigsaw Planet, or record their speech as a podcast for their blog. If they have the skills, let them share them! (I love this one. ‘Kids showing kids’ is much more effective than teacher as boss of learning! -Ed)

9. Let them own it.

The theme. The widgets. The blog name. The posts. Kids love to take full control and place their own stamp on their patch of online space. Mitch Squires’ Year 3 student, Emily blogs here.

10. The power of embedding.

Help students master embedding web 2.0 and multimedia tools. They’ll be empowered to experiment and include an almost endless range on their blogs. See Steve Davis’s middle school English class understandings of text, expressed through different media.

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Blogging for Improved Student Outcomes

Posted by mitchsquires on August 5, 2010

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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Digital Education Survey

Posted by mitchsquires on July 22, 2010

Hi All,

I am writing a survey on ‘Digital Education’ for our Annual School Report. I was hoping to come up with some useful questions to help improve our school policies and practices. Please help me out by posting some ideas on this noticeboard.

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Connecting my Classroom

Posted by mitchsquires on March 29, 2010

It’s been just over a month since I made the long overdue decision to start a class blog. In that short time, I’ve been amazed by the responses from students, parents, teachers and many others. I’d been planning to start a class blog for quite some time, however it always seemed to be just one item too far down the to do list. Organising parent information notes, explaining to my supervisor and principal what it was all about, then actually coming up with something to put on it all were hurdles that stood in my way.

Eventually, I decided to bite the bullet. Initially, I set up a blog using Edublogs, a free blogging site. I posted three short posts – a welcome note to my students, three diamante poems students in my class had written the day before and an embedded Storybird that my class had jointly constructed.  It was this third post that really got me excited. I’d never quite grasped what it meant to be able to embed content until that point.

The next morning I shared the blog with my class. They were quite thrilled to see their own work published on their very own website. Soon, we were all hooked.  I spent the next fortnight pushing the limits of what I could do with the blog – embedding Flickr photostreams, Wordles, videos and even an online survey. The kids renamed the blog and began enthusiastically suggesting every piece of work they do be posted.

The real excitement arrived shortly when comments started arriving on the blog. So many positive comments really opened the kids and my eyes to the fact that their work was no longer just on display on the back wall of the classroom, but the whole world. Feedback from such a diverse audience including teachers from all over Sydney, NSW, Australia and even Wales and the USA kept coming in thanks to my Twitter network.

Soon, the blog was picked up by Roger Pryor, HCC SED, who offered us free hosting at . The feedback kept coming from teachers like Mrs Dem, Audrey Nay, Margot Lindgren, Bianca Hewes, Mrs Westwood and Jan Green, causing more excitement for the kids. We added a clustrmap and each new dot gave us a mini geography lesson every day. Each morning, the first question the kids have is ‘can we check the blog?’ despite most of them having checked it the night before after school. Conversations about comments and feedback have become a regular part of our morning routine, and the kids are buzzing every time there’s a new repsonse to their work.

One of the biggest benefits I have noticed from starting a blog is how much pride the students now have in their work. Every time we start some work, I am bombarded with kids asking ‘Can mine go up on the blog?’ With good reason too. The look of joy on the face of a young girl in my class when she was able to tell us the dot on the clustrmap in Sri Lanka was her cousins listening to the podcast of her speech was priceless.

With the advent in the last week or so of BlogEd, blogging in schools has just become easier, and I am now a huge advocate of blogging in the classroom. My advice: take a step on a terrific journey and start a blog for your class today!

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A Smattering of Web2.0

Posted by mitchsquires on March 24, 2010

Web2.0 is a term commonly used to describe online applications that allow users to interact with other users or contribute content to the website. In Web2.0, the user’s experience is active, rather than passive. There is an ever growing number of Web2.0 applications available, with many being made freely available and encouraging a culture of sharing amongst users.

Web2.0 allows users to create, collaborate, contribute, connect, share and participate in a learning community (Yuen & Yuen).

There are many different types of Web2.0 tools, including blogging, media sharing, online communities, wikis, creative organisational and analytical tools.


blog is a type of website, usually maintained by an individual with regular entries of commentary, descriptions of events, or other material such as graphics or video. Entries are commonly displayed in reverse-chronological order.

Some free blog providers include WordPressEdublogs and Blogger.

Example Blogs

Audrey Nay – Teacher Librarian on North Coast NSW

Momo Time To Read – Margot Lindgren, Teacher Librarian at Avalon PS

The Blog Dogs – My class blog

Media Sharing

There are many different types of media sharing websites around. These include video sharing sites (Youtube, Teachertube, Vimeo,, photo sharing sites (Flickr), Podcasting websites (Podbean) and other file sharing sites (Slideshare).


My Flickr

My Podbean

My Slideshare


wiki is a website that allows the easy creation and editing of web pages. Wikis are often used to create collaborative websites.

Free wikis can be created at Wikipsaces or PBWorks.

Some example wikis:

Cuddie Cuddie – Cultural exchange between looking at Indigenous culture in Australia and Celtic culture in Wales.

Cool Tools For Schools

Macquarie ICT Innovations Centre

Creative Outlets

There are plenty of creative Web2.0 tools that are user friendly and let you create interesting and appealing products. These include storytelling (Storybird, Picture Book Maker, Myths & Legends) poster making (Glogster), video creation (Animoto), collaborative media (Voicethread) and presentation tools (Prezi)

Some examples:

The Scientist Who Wanted To Experiment On Me Storybird

Web2.0 Glogster

School Picnic Animoto

Year 6 Literacy Voicethread

Surviving DER Prezi

Online Communities

Online communities are places people share resources and ideas. There are a ranges of different types of online communities such as microblogging (Twitter, Edmodo) social bookmarking (Delicious, Diigo) Virtual Worlds (Second Life, Quest Atlantis) and social networking (, LinkedIn)

Some examples:

My Twitter

My Delicious

My profile


Many Web2.0 applications are designed around organisation. These include brainstorming/mindmapping applications (Mindomo, Mindmeister, MyWebspiration,, online notice boards (, Wallwisher) and page organisers/RSS (Pageflakes, Google Reader).

Some examples:

Video Conferencing Mindmap

Year 6 at Heathfield Wallwisher

Pip’s Pageflakes


A number of Web2.0 applications provide data analysis. There are visual information organisers (Wordle, Tagul) and a range of free survey tools (SurveyMonkey, SurveyGizmo, Zoomerang).

My Class Wordles

Where next?

For oodles of practical examples of how Web2.0 tools are being used check out The Amazing Web2.0 Projects Book by Collated by Terry Freedman. This book contains examples of projects with links to their websites, information on how they were set up, etc. Very Handy.

TaLe’s Web2.0 and Social Media page

Check out 20 Web2.0 Tools for Teachers and Librarians for some more Web2.0 Tools.

Pip Cleaves’ Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy and Web 2 Tools Poster

Bloom’s Taxonomy & Web2.0 – Edorigami

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