Kids Teaching Kids- Virtually

People have been asking me how I am enjoying being back in the classroom after a year out and about seeing the world and working with teachers instead of eight and nine year olds. Generally I am enjoying being back in the classroom but had forgotten the hours that classroom teaching needs to keep all the balls juggling in the air.

I do miss the adult conversations and the variety of being in a different place and working with different people each day but learning opportunities that we have been having lately at school keep me connected with people and places outside the walls of my classroom.

We are enjoying the conversations through Sylvia Tolisano’s Around the World with 80 Schools Project and enjoyed talking to children in Chrissy Hellyer’s class at ISB, Bangkok.

We also worked collaboratively with Myles Webb’s class at Melville Intermediate in the Waikato. A couple of keen students at Appleby had taught themselves how to use Pivot to make simple animations. I follow Myles through Twitter and his kids were keen to learn how to do it as well. We set up a session using Skype for audio and Adobe Connect Pro‘s screen sharing capabilities. Because Pivot is a Windows app and we are an Apple School I used my personal MacBook Pro laptop with Parallels (thanks Ben) to screen share. Children were able to see what George was doing with Pivot at our end through sharing our desktop while he was explaining what he was doing using Skype.


The session went exceedingly well and both groups enjoyed the challenge of the exercise.
Picture 5
It is very powerful for young children take control of their learning and make meaningful connections to ‘expert voices’ of a similar age to learn from one another.

Learning is Indeed Messy

Over the last few weeks we have been having fun in class exploring the world through the eyes of children in Kathy Rice’s class in British Columbia, Canada and today, Brian Crosby’s class in Spark, Nevada, USA. These learning experiences have come to us through Sylvia Tolisano‘s Around the World with 80 Schools Project. The idea is that participants enter their class details on a wiki and then link up whenever they want via Skype. The calls are only supposed to be five to ten minutes long but we tend to go longer as we share our music, clothing, weather, pets, population, sports. Learning is messy and things never go quite to plan.

So far we have visited 4% of the globe with our class blog comments and Skype calls. I wonder what percentage we will have by the end of the school year.

Here is where Sylvia’s students have been so far!

Before the event we have a bit of a look around on Google Earth to fly between New Zealand and the place we are going to connect with.

Then we brainstorm anything we know about the country that we are going to connect with. Before our Skype call- not a lot!

We then designed fairly open ended questions and allot people to ask the questions.

I used the Time Scroller widget to get our timing right and after a bit of negotiation as to a time the works we are underway.

I have Call Recorder set up auto record the call which I have edited in iMovie to highlight the interesting bits.

As a great extra to our call to Kathy Price’s class in British Columbia we were able to contribute to a Voicethread they had made to show us exactly how cold it was! Have a look- it’s quite incredible.

Thanks Sylvia. We’re going to have fun with this- Argentina here we come!

We now know what a toque is and know a lot more about being a Canadian!

Augmented Reality

ImageThe things you discover on the internet! As you do on a Saturday morning you have a little time to play while the washing machine finishes its cycle. Via my friend @tricias in the UK I came across this little piece of magic that I just had to follow up on.

The idea is that you print out a piece of paper and hold it up in front of your web cam and a whole virtual reality world opens up in front of your very eyes with spinning wind turbine, 3D and the sun shining above. They have two scenarios- the other is showing solar power! It’s just magic! Do it. You’ll love it. No idea how it works though but think of the possibilities. Here’s a little video to show you how it works….

Virtual World Video

To get the link to the piece of paper that you print off and to see the so easy instructions click here. It only took me a minute to print and play!

Piers and his Mum had a bit of a play with it as well. Have a look at Piers’ blog for the video the made.

When the physical and the virtual collide

The title of this post was going to be ‘When the real and the virtual collide’ but as I grow in the use of these Web2.0 tools the virtual becomes the real. Just because you haven’t met people before or don’t see them on a daily basis doesn’t mean that the interactions with them aren’t real.

I have just spent the last few days at the New Zealand Learning at School Conference in Rotorua. Unfortunately I missed the Andy Hargreaves keynote as my plane didn’t get in on time but from all accounts he was well received and his content was relevant. I will catch up with his keynote when things settle down a bit.

After quickly meeting up with some of my Twitter/blogger mates I launched into my first breakout session with Tony Ryan. I took a quick screen grab of one of his slides which was an excellent quick resource as to what I need to do to move on some of the sparkly ideas from the conference. I agree- you have to integrate what you want to do smartly or it will get gnawed away at by AsTTle tests, planning for camp, Meet the Teacher meetings ……. I have already moved on a couple of things so all is not lost. Best quote from Tony to me mid breakout session- ‘It’s all right, I can speak louder than your cellphone.’ Note to self- gotta put it on vibrate for next time! Thought of Jamin who last text me mid-keynote in Tauranga last month to ask if I had remembered to switch my cell phone off and to find out where I was sitting!! Congratulations Jamin and Jamie on the birth of your son, Noah. Love to you both.

✩ Next up was a spot of Blue Screen Magic. Like most things- its a lot easier when you have friends to help you.

Jane left instructions for the ‘how to‘ on her blog so all the hard work was done there. Fun techy stuff that you could use with kids. Thanks David, Disa and Jane.

✩ Next up was my workshop on Free Adobe Apps on Line which was done in the heat of the day. Unfortunately participants didn’t have wi-fi access of their own so the session was limited to a show and tell- not as interactive as it might have been. If you want to see the slides in a Google Presentation click here.

✩ I was in awe when Wes Fryer turned up in my next breakout talking about making enriched pdfs embedded in Google Apps for Educators and made into digital portfolios. He live blogged the whole thing which was great. Thanks Wes- that’s never happened to me before!

✩ I had the privilege in attending Wes’ breakout session on Powerful Blended Learning. We used Chatsy as a backchannel which worked well if you had had wifi- which I didn’t!

Repeat after us…. Hyperlinked Writing Is The Most Powerful Form Writing There Is.

If you’re not sure that hyperlinked writing really is the most powerful form of writing try clicking on any of the words- they link to web sites randomly plucked from my recently bookmarked  Delcious bookmarks.

✩ Next was a taster presentation ‘It’s all about Learning’ talking about unpacking the Curriculum and engaging children in meaningful dialogue about what it really means for them as learners. Good stuff. I liked that they had examples of the kids work- all messy and real. They had taken direct quotes from the curriculum and de-constructed it- just like you could de-construct a piece of text in a story you were reading as a shared book. Thanks Lisa and Belinda.

Pam Hook shared her vision with SOLO taxonomy. I have read about the rubrics before and frankly if hadn’t made a lot of sense to me but hearing her talk about it an and seeing videos of children talking about it all made it make sense to me.

✩ The last workshop was a one I aimed at beginners just talking about the sorts of things that I do in my classroom to foster a sense of community and collaboration with my class. During the session we quickly Skyped in with Brian Crosby from Nevada while he had a little classroom release time. I didn’t provide much in the way of a handout for this one but some of the key postings are here on a quickie wiki I made last year to show ERO some of the things we did. If you were in that workshop please ring me, email me or Skype me if you get lost or need some help.

Brian Skypes In You Tube Video

✩ A scary, fun, last thing that finished up the conference was Wes’ keynote. We sort of flashmobbed it with the Collaborative Dance Video that we made last year. Just as Wes was about to start we all leapt up and did our happy dance. Not to be left out Chrissy and a few kids from her class were able to join us via Skype at 6.45am from Bangkok International School. How cool is that. Wes was such a good sport about it all and joined in the fun. I am sure the video of Wes’ keynote will be on line soon but in the meantime here is a short clip of how our beginning bit went recorded on my computer with Skype and Call Recorder. If you are keen to find more look for the Flickr tag #lats09.

Here is Chrissy’s post and video about how it looked at her end. It was great fun for us all to catch up with Chrissy so far away in Bangkok and for her to catch up on our news!

After my heart had stopped racing at the scariness of doing a happy dance in front of all those people I was able to listen to what Wes had to say but again my battery let me down so I wasn’t able to record what he said but I am sure others were able to more eloquently than me any way but the two things that stuck in my head were…

Hyperlinked writing is the most powerful form of writing there is.

He aha te mea nui. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. ( In my own words- What is the most important thing? It is the people- we need to give kids the tools to be able to connect and learn.)

At the end of the day Wes, Glenda, Pesa and I had a great look around Whakarewarewa. What a nice way to end the conference- and I bought a beautiful possum and merino wool jersey for winter for half price when I went shopping on Saturday morning. Bonus!

Tweet of the Day #gr8t

For the month of March, a group of educators and lifelong learners will be picking a “Tweet of the day” and ReTweeting it with a tag: #gr8t
Hopefully, you will join us in doing this too.

There are a number of reasons why you might want to participate:
• To share what you value about twitter.
• To see what others value about twitter.
• To celebrate the power and wisdom of your Personal Learning Network.
• To find interesting people to follow on Twitter.

My choice for what to retweet with #gr8t will be a Tweet that I find interesting, or insightful, or humorous. It might link to something I enjoyed reading, or it might have something profound or even fortune-cookie-like that appeals to me:

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There aren’t really any rules to participate: Find a tweet you value, and share it!

For Example, here is a Tweet I’d like to share:
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And so I retweet it with #gr8t:

Hey- I’ve never been the first in the world to do anything- this might just be a first! The joys of being the first to see the sunrise.