Review of 2011Now into its sixth year, it’s been another busy year on Seomra Ranga and it’s safe to say that, at this stage, the website has become a mainstay in the online educational digital landscape in Ireland.  Without doubt, the highlight of the year came at the very end with the unexpected and surprising win of the Best Individual Blog in the Edublog 2012 Awards. Given that Seomra Ranga was pitted against 139 top educational blogs from literally all over the world puts the win into some perspective. Again, many thanks to those who nominated the site for the award initially and then to all those in the Irish education community for supporting the site by voting for it in such large numbers. The win also validates the decision to change the site to a blog-based site when it was being redesigned in 2010.

Over the course of the year, visitor numbers to the site remained strong with thousands visiting the site on an almost daily basis and downloading free classroom resources. It’s always gratifying to recognise Seomra Ranga resources on classroom walls up and down the country when educational stories feature on national news broadcasts.

There have been lots of great features on the site during the year including an interview with Clare Ryan (CEO National Educational Welfare Board), a two-part interview with Harold Hislop (Chief Inspector, DES), Guest posts on Infants and ICT, Internet Safety, Subbing in Primary Schools. There were also two great Guest Posts from the outgoing Laureate na nÓg Siobhán Parkinson and from Tomás O Ruairc, Director of the Teaching Council.

2012 also saw the launch of competitions on the site where, in association with companies and booksellers, we gave away novels, teacher’s resource books, Gaeilge resources, Scratch books and iPad geography apps. These have been a great addition to the site and I hope that we will be able to continue to grow these in the next year. Thanks to David Ganley, I started publishing his great ICT in the Classroom eBulletins on the site this year. These contain great hints, tips and links to ICT resources that teachers can use in the classroom.

2012 also saw the launch of two Twitter projects through the website, both of which proved to be really popular with both pupils and teachers alike. The Signs of Spring Twitter Project was held in February (which was probably a little too early in the Spring) and the Signs of Autumn Twitter Project was held in October. Classes from all over the country took part in the project, and there were even some classes in the US and Canada that joined in, Tweeting photographs of what they were observing of nature around their school.

During this year I also got around to publishing the first filmstrip resources on the website. These were resources which were mainly created in the 1970s and 1980s for primary schools and which were lying around schools all over the country. I have started the process of digitising these resources and at this stage there are Gaeilge resources for senior infants, Rang I and some for Rang II. Some Geography and History filmstrip resources have also been published. Digitisation of these resources is really time-consuming so I envisage that it will take a considerable length of time to complete the process as I have approximately 500 filmstrips to digitise.

On the technology front, I attended a great CESI conference in February and I also attended the ICT in Education Conference in Tipperary in May for the first time where I presented at the CESI Meet on the Friday night and at the conference itself on the Saturday. I also attended the first CESI Meet North West in Sligo. I attended a summer course on Scratch and delivered technology courses on mobile technology and Twitter in the classroom. With my classes this year I took part in videos demonstrating the use of technology in the classroom and blogging in the classroom.

There are plenty of ideas and plans for the development of the site in the coming year – these include more interviews, guest posts, great links as well as lots more practical classroom resources. Please don’t forget that you can share your resources with others on the site, so if you’ve created a classroom resource just email it to me and I’ll put it on the site. Don’t forget that you can also make comments or start a discussion at the bottom of every post. If it’s your first time to comment on the site, your comment will not appear automatically until it’s been verified that the comment is not from a spam email. After that, you’ll be able to comment as much as you wish. Lastly, you can also engage with the site through our Facebook page or by following us on TwitterGoogle+ or Pinterest. Best of luck to you all in 2013.