Mr Finlayson

Education and Technology

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Blogs

Posted by alexfinlayson on June 10, 2009

Those with eagle-eyes might be able to tell that all recent posts were updated on the same day – this is because I am completely unable to export my Education Queensland Learning Place blog into WordPress.

I have just spent a good few hours after work (which I’m sure to pay for on my return home) cutting and pasting from one blog to another -it was hellishly annoying – especially as images had to be uploaded individually and the current Internet connection is no faster than an asthmatic ant with some heavy shopping (thank you Blackaddar)

So , is it worth it? Blogging I mean.

I certainly hope so – I get (steal) a lot of good ideas from the blogs of other teachers – if a persevere then hopefully someone else will find something worthwhile in this blog.

I’m new to WordPress but here are some observations –

1) You get what you pay for (I didn’t pay anything…  hmm!?)

2) To my knowledge it has more features than other Blog providers

3) Their own spellchecker does not recognise ‘blog’ or ‘wordpress’ – interesting

4) It is very user-friendly to do the simple stuff

5) If you have a good internet connection you maybe won’t have issues with those things that make your forehead throb

I’ll keep plodding on but for now I better go home…

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Torn Notes and the Sword of Damocles

Posted by alexfinlayson on June 10, 2009

During the course of the game you come across a very important note ripped into two pieces and scattered between the different Ages. I orchestrated things so we would find one half early in the unit and the other closer to the end.

Note

When we found the first half of the note in the game I gave the students a copy of it for their journals and revealed that the completed note had been ‘hidden in plain view’ somewhere in our classroom for 5 weeks (the start of the unit) they were gobsmacked that I would be so coniving and of course I had to reign them in from tearing the room apart.

Instead of a mad treasure-hunt and upturning everything I gave the class a simple clue – The Sword of Damocles – if they found that story and read it, then placed me into the position of the main character, they would be able to discover where I had hidden the note…

Dionysius ordered everything to be prepared for Damocles to experience what life as Dionysius was like. Damocles was enjoying himself immensely… until he noticed a sharp sword hovering over his head, that was suspended from the ceiling by a horse hair. This, the tyrant explained to Damocles, was what life as ruler was really like.

For those who read the story they soon realised that if I was to be placed into the main role then my chair would be the throne mentioned as the seat of authority – it was then a small step to realise that the note was suspended above my head (taped to the rafters) just as the sword was hung by a horses hair. Those students who gave me the correct answer received the second half of the note for their journals and were sworn to secrecy – great fun – and what a great way to get them reading Greek legends.

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Sessions so far…

Posted by alexfinlayson on June 10, 2009

Well it’s been a crazy week. I think we’ve been in The Myst Room 5 times since my last post so we’ve covered a heck of a lot of work that I haven’t commented on. It’s been a strange and exciting experience teaching literacy in this way. Lots of other bloggers who have gone down this route comment on their students enthusiasm for it but I never really appreciated just how captivating the whole thing is. Every morning I am asked if we are ‘doing Myst today’, every day I am presented with new art work and new journal entries – all of which have blown me away but more importantly – I am seeing improvements.

Take today as an example – we finally entered the ‘temple with the red chair’ much to the students delight. This was a room we briefly looked at when we did our first tour of Myst Island. The children were fascinated by the creepy-looking ‘red dentists chair’, as they called it, so I – being a little sadistic – decided to keep that part until the end. Today, we finally had a need to enter the temple.

7ccf7847132dbedb5a14a5af3ab0380aI let the game stand at the doorway (see picture) for a long time as we discussed what we could see and the kids came up with some excellent descriptions for the chair.

 The music in the game changes as you get closer so we started our discussion with why a game would add music to one scene and not another – with some roundabout ideas and a bit of prompting (using the Rocky theme tune) we eventually decided that in this case it was to indicate something particularly important.

We stepped forward and the hand icon changed telling us that we could use the chair – our next discussion revolved around what might happen when we sat down – there were some very interesting and very funny (also disturbing) answers – we ended up talking about a ‘leather-bound, blood-red, human-devouring robot-chair’ – pretty gross and way-off but awesome ideas for a group of grade 5s.

  In the last week we have…

1) Used an internet game walkthrough to create a procedural account for completing the Spaceship Age (a difficult and time-consuming level otherwise)

2) Drawn maps of the Channelwood Age in order to better understand how the flow of the water-pipes effects the mechanics of the level.

3) Separated into two groups to debate which character, Sirrus or Achenar, we would rather trust and therefore free from their imprisonment

4) Tried to decipher what the other half of a torn note might say

5) Composed poems based on either ‘the misty walkway’ or ‘the bat-infested tunnel’

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