Mr Finlayson

Education and Technology

Coming back…

Posted by alexfinlayson on November 11, 2009

Apologies to those readers of this blog for my absence over the last few weeks – it’s been a very tough and trying time but thankfully I’m out the other side and can concentrate on what really matter – the kids.

As far as technology goes I’ve been quiet on that front for a while but we did explore Riven in class and I will write a few posts on that – we are approaching the end of the school year here in Australia and I will hopefully be using Myst III: Exile as a main component in my final literacy work with this grade 5 class.

Looking forward to getting back into it before the Christmas break

All the best



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The Highwayman 2

Posted by alexfinlayson on September 1, 2009

flip_videoMy guys are steaming ahead with their music videos for Loreena McKennitts rendition of The Highwayman – all filming is complete – now were are focussing on editing. I thought I would share a wonderful little trick one of my girls came up with while using the FlipVideo and Movie Maker – it’s very simple, very effective and I hadn’t thought of it… so well done, erm… we’ll call her ‘Bess’

At the end of The Highwayman our heroes are resurrected as ghosts – it’s a haunting end – and by using a Flip Video, Bess has made a very effective image of that resurrection. By having an actor play dead and then sitting up WITHOUT moving the camera – the image can be manipulated in Movie Maker to give a very creepy ghost effect.

I’ve re-created it here using my own image… when I get my class blog up and running I’ll provide a link for that (all images are thumbnails)

Step one is to import the video MM1




Step two is to place the video on the timeline of Movie Maker and Capture an imageMM1




Step three is to place this image at the start of the timeline and extend its length (greater than the length of the video)MM3




Step four is to add any special effects you wish onto the video (Bess chose {slow down half} and {greyscale}MM4




Step Five is to drag the video ontop of the still image thus merging them.MM5



You can view the video on the right sidebar in my Vodpod Widget (I’m too cheap to pay for the video upgrade) It’s called Mr F’s Ghost – I have to say though – the one Bess did is much better.

All the best, Mr F

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The Highwayman 1

Posted by alexfinlayson on August 26, 2009

My class are working on a poetry/media assignment  for which they are producing music videos set to Loreena McKennitt’s rendition of the classic Alfred Noyes poem The Highwayman.

We have studied the poem extensively (if you aren’t familiar with it – I urge you to read it – the TeacherFirst website provides a brilliant interactive study for your class)

and my guys are working hard on their filming, art work and animations for the video. One of the ‘extras’ of the assignment was to write to Loreena McKennitt – we received this in reply



Loreena McKennitt

How awesome is that! Many thanks to Loreena McKennitt!

You can listen to her song on YouTube

or here


Doctors order: let it load, turn the lights off, turn the volume up, get a nice drink, close your eyes and enjoy… repeat as necessary

All the best, Mr F

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Edmodo 4 – Negatives?

Posted by alexfinlayson on August 17, 2009

Edmodo 4 – The Negatives?

So I wouldn’t be doing my job if I didn’t give a run-down of the negative aspects of Edmodo.

1) It’s pretty easy to crack into  –  so with large groups – safety can be compromised. Should get parental permission (but you knew that)

2(ish) Kids can chat without teacher supervision

3… no… that’s it… that’s all I got. So if you can use Edmodo and you deem it safe, you’ve done all your checks, got all the permission slips back… go for it… it’s incredible…as this teacher says in an *ahem* well-written and thought-provoking post on Edmodos own blog – it really is a wonderful tool for engagement!

and can I just say that this anonymous post has a wonderful style and tone to it… it makes me feel that the author is a really cool guy (or girl – sorry) just trying hard to reach their students on an appropriate and engaging level without ruffling any feathers… good luck to him (or her) 😉

All the best, Mr F


That’s it… It’s awesome – if you can use it – use it!

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Edmodo 3 – In Class

Posted by alexfinlayson on August 12, 2009

Edmodo in ClassEdmodo

 The use of Edmodo in class is the one thing that caused me a few headaches… all the computers in the school bar my laptop were running Internet Explorer 6 and Edmodo requires 7 or better to run. I went through all the appropriate channels and was kindly instructed that I could upgrade two computers to Internet Explorer 8 – I would say that the hassle associated with this (IE8 is a pain in the backside) was worth it for the benefits of Edmodo but now that we can no longer use Edmodo… well… I’ve got nothing to say…

Kind of…

 So I didn’t particularly get to use Edmodo as much as I would have liked but in the small time available we did do a number of really cool things…

 1 Embed Videos


Vid RosenEveryone knows the dangers of using YouTube in class. As educators we have to be extremely careful and sensitive with what we let our kids see. Edmodo eases that burden by swiftly and smoothly allowing any video with an embed code to be placed directly into the posts without any of the extra paraphernalia that causes Youtube-related headaches. Not only that but you can ‘tag’ each post and effectively create a ‘videos’ page where they are all listed. 






2 Embed Flash



Many of you will be aware of the myriad of Flash resources out there – being English I’m a big fan of the BBC Bitesize website and the games/lessons that they freely provide the embed codes for. I have taken a number of these in the past and posted them on Edmodo the night before the planned lesson – thus allowing those attentive kids to get a head-start (turns out that that was nearly all!)

I post these into specific subject groups, tag them and then use them in the lessons.




3 Groups and Tags




I had a group for the three main subject areas Literacy, Numeracy and Science and created tags for subgroups – easily allowing access to digital resources as stated above. If students have subject-specific questions then I encouraged them to post here and we addressed them in class.






4 Links



BBC Bitesize again, subject-specific groups again and tags… again. This time I linked a brilliant game called Questionaut (will blog at a later date) for use on the IWB by fast-finishers. We actually ended up using it a number of times as a starter activity or a group plenary but still; very effective and efficient.




5 Absenses


 In the two weeks that Edmodo was a part of my class I had three different students off school for various reasons – each student logged onto Edmodo just after 9am and talked to the class via the IWB – I even set them work to do! (Cruel I know but they did it!)

I’m sure there are a million more uses but let me end it there… the one thing I will comment on is that we are preparing our students to be safe, confident, positive people in an increasingly risky digital world. Most of my class make private use of MSN, MySpace and Facebook – why should we fear to educate them in the mediums of which they are already familiar? It is our job to guide them in the safe usage of these tools – Edmodo is a wonderful means for this end.

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