Mr Finlayson

Education and Technology

Archive for July, 2009


Posted by alexfinlayson on July 25, 2009


Storyline To Be A Drum

I hope you all check out this little gem – especially lower grade teachers – Storyline – Famous stories read by famous people.


It’s great, I’ve been playing around on it all morning and just had to write a little something about it even though its Saturday and I clearly haven’t used it in class.

Some of the celebrities might not be well known to the kids but when it’s the likes of James Earl Jones (who, lets face it, is the voice of Hollywood) I don’t think it will matter…

Presented by the Screen Actors Guild it takes well known children’s stories – To Be A Drum, The Polar Express, Sophie’s Masterpiece, The  Night I Followed The Dog to name but a few and shows videos (your choice of bandwidth) of celebrities reading them. The celebs I looked at were James Earl Jones, Sean Astin, Elijah Wood and Amanda Bynes – all were really well done.

In ClassStoryline Activities

Well as I said its Saturday and I haven’t yet had the chance to use this in class but I definately see it having a place.

  1. Reading group activites
  2. Individual readings
  3. Silent reading for lower ability kids (subtitles of text can be displayed on-screen for them to follow)
  4. As a class project – make a vodcast/website of the same thing with your kids doing the reading.
  5. Generic literacy activities – using some of the many Activity Ideas that come with every story.

Has anyone been using this? Care to share any ideas or comments? I’m going to see about implementing it into my literacy work this work – I’ll start with idea 1 but I reckon idea 4 with the poetry my guys are writing at the moment would be great.

Storyline James Earl JonesAll the best, Mr F


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Timez Attacks

Posted by alexfinlayson on July 22, 2009

Timez Attacks

The cure for multiplication problems

It’s been a while since my last post so I thought at the beginning of this new term I would write about one of the coolest programs I have come across in a long time.TA6

Timez Attacks is developed by the people at

and is without doubt changing the way my kids view multiplication. The premise is pretty simple – kids hate multiplication and love computer games – so they’ve combined the two.

With a Doom/Quake-esque platform the gameplay is instantly recognisable and easy to pick up.

I downloaded the free version and was instantly hooked – and now so are my kids ( I will definitely be buying an upgrade but at the moment I’m broke – come on Union strikes do your thing!) There is also an option to purchase full-school licences as well (which would be better than your own pockets!)

The GameTA5

You play as this strange little green fella – I’m sure he has a name but my guys just call him ‘Squidgy’

You run around the spooky dungeon (nice little area for literacy development – see Myst lessons) until you come across a locked door – on the door you will see a sum (they start off pretty basic) with little cards next to it that represent the problem

TA4As soon as you approach the door it will fire out each of the cards and these will instantly turn into little creatures which you need to collect. Run around after the little snail-like critters until you get enough to correspond to the sum (example: 7 x 3 there will be 3 little critters and as you run over each one it will flash up the multiple, so 7, 14, 21)TA3

Once you’ve collected the right amount of critters you can throw them back at the door – this will then let you type in the answer using the keypad. After this, the door opens and the big bad ogre fella comes out…TA2

As the ogre approaches, various sums will appear on his chest you must quickly type in the correct answer.

Wrong answer – you get clubbed

Too slow – you get clubbed

As with regular computer games, the boss get progressively harder the further you play but here’s why I love this game so much – the sums are not consistent – sure, your first boss will only have the last sum you looked at – but bosses further along the track can throw any sum at you that you’ve looked at in the game – an excellent twist.TA1

Once you finish off the big fella, he spits out a key for the next part of the game… it’s great.

In Class 

The guys who developed this game ( really thought of everything and clearly understand a classroom environment – there is a simple admin program in which you can input class groups and individuals. I created a profile for every member of my class and generic ‘5F’ profile as well.

TA7The admin program keeps track of how much time has been spent on each profile and where that person is up to in the game – it’s great.

I’ve used this as a starter to Numeracy every day this week – placing the wireless mouse and keyboard on a small desk in front of the IWB and having students come up one at a time to tackle a sum – new sum=new student.

While this is going on my other guys are writing down each sum in the back of their math books and trying to figure out answers before the person using the game. I wish I could show you a video to illustrate just how enthusiastic my guys are for this game – there’s screaming and shouting and jumping up and down (if I let them!) all about multiplication! It’s amazing!

I’ll definitely upgrade when I can afford it (it’s only $40 or so but I’m broke at the moment) and I’ll be advertising it to all parents for their homes – I’ll also be pushing heavily for a school licence.

Negative points

If a kid is feeling like they don’t want to be involved – they could feel isolated (but that’s up to the teacher to sort out)

If you run it as a ‘shout-the-answer’ then the person in control may just type what they hear (but repetition will be beneficial anyway)

You won’t ever get the kids out of your room at lunchtime (seriously, I’ve eaten at my desk for 3 days straight)

I urge you to try it, Mr F

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Myst – The Interactive Story

Posted by alexfinlayson on July 11, 2009

So here it is – the final product. Hope it works. It’s quite a large file so please be patient if your internet connection is as bad as mine out here in Central Queensland

One problem – the hyperlinks don’t seem to be working so you can only read it slide by slide – which kind of negates the entire point – but you still get the general idea.

I’ve attached a PPT file which you can download for the interactive experience.

The Myst Story

Please can you leave some feedback via comments that I can share with my class, thank you

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