Regional Photography Roundup

I have been working with some schools learning how to take better digital photos and last week we were focusing on close-up photography. If you can touch it you can take a close up of it. We had six digital cameras to play with and achieved some stunning results to share and as our cluster website is still down this seems as good a venue as any other.

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Also Jane from Ngatimoti showed this innovative way of using digital photography with her Year 7/8 children. She had the children take photos of each other from a not often used perspective- looking down from the top of the playground. The photos were then printed in black and white and children used their drawing techniques to shade and sketch themsleves form this new perspective thus avoiding the usual, ‘it doesn’t look real’ thing that older children seem to care about when drawing. To add further impact the drawings were then cut out and mounted in 3D so it really looks like the characters are reaching up- awesome.

At Upper Moutere we have been meshing their Topic “All Aboard” with use of Kid Pix and photography to make a stunning array of name badges.

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Making the shift

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach wrote an excellent post that reflects what has been festering in my mind since taking up the ICT Facilitator’s role this year. I have attempted to ‘make the shift’ in my classroom but how can I best encourage others to make similar moves in the way they learn and teach. She highlights nine principles needed to make a shift to 21st century learning pedagogies.

If I can quote her- “Real change, transformational change happens when there is personal ownership of the new technologies and concepts. Today’s new economy is all about human capital, which starts with the educators in a school and then extends outward to all members of the school community.”

  1. People– change is best sustained if people are able to support each other on their learning journey if they can learn in supported groups- we are not islands and the collaboration we strive for in our classrooms needs to be modelled by ourselves as adult learners. This is where action research can be such a powerful tool. He aha te mea nui? He tangata. He tangata. He tangata.
  2. Leadership because any sort of change can be threatening the support and guidance of those in leadership roles can be critical- the process can be so un-necessarily difficult when classroom teachers are not well supported by those they look to for leadership.
  3. Including all members of the learning community– everyone is part of the process- efforts need to be made to bring all on board- whanau, support personnel, professional colleagues, the wider community.
  4. iPhoto

  5. Developing a shared vision for how things need to be- the need to make sure that teachers together articulating the core beliefs. Our new NZ curriculum statement goes some way to addressing this issue.
  6. Own it– this phrase has been very powerful for me since I first heard Sheryl say it at TUANZ last year. It’s good to use 21st technologies personally before ‘going public’. Become familiar with them, practise and become used to them. My first experiences with communication on line was through the use of email- personally with relatives overseas- because I could see the immediate uses of it I became better at using it.
  7. Communication– we in NZ at the bottom of the globe can be as connected as anyone globally- geography has become less of an issue through UStream, Skype, Twitter etc. Communication with teachers and students outside of your classroom. I am able to communicate with people from UK, Australia, USA, Canada, Uzbekistan- all over.
  8. Know your culture and try to anticipate trends– Sheryl says that participatory media has a tendency to ‘go viral’- we need to try and think ahead of the possible consequences of giving these tools to children. A number of children in my class now have their own personal blogs not moderated by me. I endeavour to have given them the skills and common sense to be safe on line.
  9. We do not know what we do not know– new things will come along that are totally random- we can expect the unexpected. We will need to be able to run with these new challenges.
  10. The power of collective wisdom– we all learn together. We are all learning and what each of us thinks matters.

Thank you Sheryl for insightful post. I encourage my readers to read Sheryl’s blog in its entirety as she is able to write in much eloquently than I but I wanted to write my own version to help me move my own thinking along by giving it my own ‘spin’.

Adobe Photoshop Express

Here is another beauty from Paul HarringtonAdobe Photoshop Express for the poor! You register and upload your photo and use simple versions of the fixes available in the paid for Photoshop to fix your photos.

Adobe Photoshop Express
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There are some great features that are simple to use. The one that I used most here is ‘get rid of the annoying people in the background that spoil my wonderful prowess as a salmon fisherperson!’

The correct was a little blurry because I got a little carried away but you get the general idea.

Adobe Photoshop Express
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Other available editing tools are crop, rotate, auto correct, exposure control, red-eye removal, touch-up, colour saturation, white balance, sharpen focus and a variety of cool effects. For children I like the crop and straighten tool because it imposes a thirds grid on the photo to help children see where the thirds are. (We are doing a bit of that sort thing at the moment in some of our sessions).

You get 2GB of on site storage as well which could be handy. When you’re done you can email the photo, make a public slideshow or do what you want with it.

Art Rage

It has been a while since I have played with Art Rage but since I am busy migrating from my old computer to my new I thought I had better get the latest upgrade. What a wonderful Kiwi made product.

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There is a free version of Art Rage to download which is fully functioning but has access to less of the drawing/painting tools than the paid version. Good to play with until you get hooked. Last year Art Rage offered Kiwis licences for $1 each you can’t get any better than that so we bought 25! It is available now on PC or Mac for $25NZ.

There is a really good forum linked to their website for sharing your finished work and collaborating with various users’ nominated themes.

I am a pathetic artist but managed to create this masterpiece by using a photo from iPhoto (it meshes like any other Apple product) and used it as a template to grab colours and textures from. Seeing I took the original photo and painted the textured layers you can probably say it was the best art work I have ever created.

You can bet it will be one of the first things I will play with when I get a Mimio interactive whiteboard to play with for the year.

Questionaut - BBC - KS2 Bitesize - Games - Questionaut
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Thanks to Paul Harrington et al for this little quest. Questionaut is a fun quest as it attempts to get your brain to think logically and go exploring! At first play I found it rather frustrating until I realised that there was a rhyme and reason to it all. There are eight levels in the quest and at the end of each level you get asked a variety of science, maths or English questions.

For example in this level you have to put an icicle in the test tube, open the box of matches, open the LPG gas, strike the match, light the burner and turn the gas up to boil the melted icicle which forces steam onto the fan, which lifts the plug hole to let a wee man out to ask the five questions which you have to answer correctly to fill the fuel to get you on to the next challenge.

Marlborough Conference, Migration and Skitch - Newspapers From Around the World
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Yesterday was a big day with a very early start to drive over the Whangamoa and Rai hills to the Marlbourough Colleges’ Cluster Day- it was a major undertaking- they had closed the colleges for the day and given the kids the day off- the day before Easter Friday. 160 or so teachers came along to hear Greg Gebhert speak followed by two two hour workshops. With lessons learnt from the previous Lead Teacher Day I heard little of Greg’s keynote as I was busy making my computer behave and connect to the network before feeling comfortable that everything was going to go smoothly. I was presenting sessions on blogging with newbies- two hours was a good length- long enough to spend some time showcasing what a blog can be used for then long enough to actually play and make one.

I used our Moturoa class blog and our Blogmeister blog as examples and my Bling4yrblog blog resource with pdf handout on how to get started and how to add a few extras. The sessions were really humming along and I got a good buzz from the groups which was superb.

Photo credit: Marlborough Express On Line

Then it was off the Warren‘s place for help with a migration of my 12inch Apple G4 iBook that I had won in a radio competition to my brand new nearly all paid for 15 inch Mac Book Pro with RAM to burn! Things did not start out well and there was a few nervous moments as disks failed to be recognised but it all came right in the end and after a drive home in the dark I spent till 2am playing! Not to worry- the long Easter weekend looms.

The sensible path was not to migrate the applications downloaded off the net but to re-download the latest versions with Leopard fixes and the like. Everything is going smoothly and I am re-populating my dock. Only a few little question marks- KidPix and Microsoft Apps to replace. Click on the photo if you want to find out what made it back to the dock and what missed out!

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I have yet to locate the install disks for KidPix and Microsoft and then I can take up Ben’s kind offer of Parallels and we will be underway.

System Preferences
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Skitch did give me a little grief until I remembered our slight change to the SYSTEM PREFERENCES- NETWORK- AIRPORT-DNS settings of the additions of these two numbers!

Kudos to here for help to do this and to the soon to be departing Chrissy who pointed me to it last year and to my Delicious who let me store my bookmarks on any computer which made it very easy to re-locate that much needed web reference.

Lessons Learnt

Today was filled with a myriad of lessons learnt. Mostly ‘The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

Namely- don’t assume anything!

  • Just because you have been to a venue to check that you have a wireless connection don’t assume it will be fine when you go to use it.
  • Just because you can access the internet don’t assume that you will be able to access the Movie Making wiki you had laboured over to ensure that everyone had access to the resources you intended to use during the Lead Teacher Day.
  • Don’t assume that because you had jacked up a Skpe Video Call to talk about digital storytelling with Anne Mirtschin in Aussie that you will be able to actually speak!
  • Don’t assume that because you previously accessed Twitter that you will be able to five minutes later to tell Anne that I couldn’t get Skype to go.
  • Don’t assume that Lead Teachers have used movie editing software before.
  • Don’t assume that when you put a nearly full bottle of milk in the boot of the car to bring home that the lid would on tightly enough to keep all the milk in the bottle- I have spent the last two hours cleaning up a litre of spilt milk that had soaked into the boot carpet and down into the spare tyre well. No use crying over spilt milk but some valuable lessons were learnt today.

Last One- Mapua

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I have had a very busy week and realised I haven’t introduced you to the last of my 14 schools- Mapua Primary School.

Mapua is an Apple School so using their wireless system was a breeze. The school looks very styly with a mixture of older buildings, shade trees and a new administration block.

I was rather nervous this week at the prospect of spending a couple of days helping individual teachers at the high school with specific ICT needs. As a primary school teacher I was concerned that the secondary teachers would need answers to questions that I didn’t know how to answer. I found out that their needs were very similar to ones faced in primary schools. I had never been inside Moodle before but the interface looked fairly familiar, with a few twists but we were able to work things out. Helping adults is very rewarding as they see the immediate benefits of putting the new tools to use so we spent the days blogging, Moodling, Photoshopping, recording, exploring Delicious, making Powerpoint sing and validating websites. Plenty of variety to be going on with.

Twitter Power and a Slideshare Moment

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People have been asking me what this Twitter is all about? Today I was able to show them! I was at Tasman School showing them ‘Possibilities’- some of the incredible things you can do with a little imagination, a little skill and a little time- via the internet. We looked at blogging, wikis, podcasting, linking Skype, collaborations- the works.

I mentioned Twitter in conversation- not really meaning to go into it but got asked about it and found it hard to explain without a demonstration so put out a quick tweet asking for a hello. Within seconds I had received tweets from Brisbane, Sydney, Shanghai, Washington, Vancouver Island, Regina, Winnipeg and Wellington! Awesome stuff guys. Thank you.

On another Twitter related moment. Last night I got an iChat request- did I know how to get rid of the outside link you get when you upload a Powerpoint to Slideshare? No I didn’t!

I posted a Tweet asking for help. Simplyarun from Slideshare caught the tweet and gave me a hand to look good! He posted a fix for the problem within minutes. Awesome stuff, Slideshare. Well done.

Meme: Passion Quilt

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Chrissy Hellyer tagged me for this Passion Quilt Meme through Miguel Guhlin– the idea is that you post a photo of something that you feel passionate about children’s learning. For me this is developing connections between children globally and sharing our learning with our global community.

This photo is a mash-up of our collaboration between Paul Harrington‘s class in Wales and my own Moturoa class at Appleby. Over the year we had been building links between our classes- so much so that  children felt a personal connection with Paul and his class. The children were familiar with each other via our blog posts, podcasts and Skype conversations. The connection became face to face when Dino and his  family spent time in Paul’s class while on a family holiday in the UK. We came in to school late at night so we could talk to Dino and his  Welsh buddies directly via Skype video. The virtual friendships become real.

The photo credit from the Welsh end of the conversation goes to the Times Educational Supplement that did an article on how classrooms use Skype to link up globally.

3 Simple Meme Rules:

  • Post a picture from a source like FlickrCC or Flickr Creative Commons or make/take your own that captures what YOU are most passionate about for kids to learn about…and give your picture a short title.
  • Title your blog post “Meme: Passion Quilt” and link back to this blog entry.
  • Include links to 5 folks in your professional learning network or whom you follow on Twitter.

So here is my challenge to you to do the same…

Sarne’s View@sarnee

Widgets and Wikis@Keamac

Thinking Past the Square@heymilly