This is a test post with a work in progress to see if my idea works.

It does! This is Chirp! Chirp! is like an audio QR Code. By having the free Chirp iPhone/iPad app open you can beam images, notes and URL’s by sound waves. I recorded the sound file produced when I made this note with Divshare so you can practice.

It is real easy to use to beam photos between iPads when you haven’t got email set up on them. Kids will love it!

Here is the sound file again as a link that can be played with out Flash. You will still need another device to receive the Chirp.

So what you have to do is download Chirp! Have it open and listen to the chirp. The first person to write what I chirped in the comments gets a surprise present.

The Chirp team have plans for an Android app but aren’t quite there yet!

Collaborative Google Wave Story

Christmas has been had and I haven’t quite caught up with my need for an afternoon nap yet. It is nice to be able to check in with my Twitter mates at times of the day when I am usually at work. American & UK snow storms, tweets about food and down-under sunshine seem to prevail. My RSS reader is empty and I am feeling the need to do a little collaborative something.

Allanah - Google Wave
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Kevin Hodgson (@dogtrax) suggested that we add to a collaborative Google wave story. I was a bit shy at first to add a few lines but what the hell. It is fun to leap in and have a go. The wave is open to all and Kevin has invites if you would like one. Give it a go and let your creative juices flow.

I still find it fascinating to watch other people edit collaborative projects like this in real time. Etherpad in its original form has been gobbled up by Google but as they have allowed the source code to be used by other people things like Pirate Pad could well fill the void.

The problem I see with using Google Wave in a classroom setting is the individual invites and log ins you would need. The joy of using Etherpad was anyone could just join in.

Also on the clever, creativity front here’s a little YouTube video rendition of the Halleluia Chorus performed by silent monks.

Learning From The Experts

Our highlight from last week was a Skype conversation with @NZWaikato’s class at Melville Intermediate in Hamilton. Every year at Appleby we take time to learn our mihi (Maori greeting). Drawing, as we do at Appleby School, from a predominately European background I find it difficult to put the learning into a authentic context. At ULearn09 I had the pleasure of meeting Myles Webb face to face and we set up a plan to have the experts in his class teach my class how to pronounce their mihi. My class is familiar with the traditions that underly how a Skype call is likely to go but Myles’s class had never tried to video Skype before.

I recorded the various test calls we made along the way while Myles beavered away behind the scenes to get the technology to work. After a number of trials we eventually got the connection going, much to the delight of both classes. Myles did well to get the audio going on his antiquated equipment but in the end couldn’t get the video to go. On the strength of the experience he has since gone out and bought a new webcam. The video below shows the progression of the call from our end. I was so impressed that Arahina was able to teach our girls their mihi so well. I was able to leave the girls alone to get on with it. You can tell over the period of the call the improvement in the korero. It will be great next week when we are able to continue the learning and we will both be able to see each other- we realised that we get a lot of clues as to whose turn it is to speak when we can see each other.

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.

Collaborative Dance Video

Here it is! After its conception nearly a month ago the collaborative video is ready to rock….

PreviewClick on the graphic to view the video with TeacherTube.

Angela from CORE asked me to do a write up for it for the Time4Celebration theme so I had to make up a scholarly dissertation on why I did it but it was really just a bit of fun. Here is the blurb I wrote for @Ageja

  • Purpose – The project started out as a bit of fun- it ended up that way too. We thought we would make a collaborative video in a similar style to the video that is wildly popular on You Tube. By having a collaborative dance video we were able to transcend cultural and language barriers as everyone loves to move and dance- it is pretty universal.
  • Process –I wanted the video to have an element of New Zealand wide participation but also wanted to include our global audience so I blogged about it on my education blog and on Twitter I also mentioned it when I was moderating the K12OnLine conference These avenues ensured that we got more than just New Zealand videos and added a little cultural diversity.
  • I asked that people email their videos to my little used gmail address so as to keep my main email spam free in case it got picked up by a spammer. I had a bit of trouble converting some of the videos as they came from various operating systems and in a variety of formats so I had to use a couple of online video converters and my clever Adobe Flash Video Encoder . I learnt new stuff cos I had to grab a couple of videos from people’s Blogger or Flickr accounts and turn them into movie files on my Apple. I used Orbit Downloader and it was fortunate that I had Parallels on my Mac so I could change the format using the free PC Format Factory to convert the Flash files into something that I could easily edit.
  • I used iMovie06 to create the final video as I haven’t got the hang of iMovie08 yet. I then exported it as a Quicktime movie file for uploading into ‘the cloud’. Along the way I either stripped away the original soundtrack or lowered the volume so that a universal sound track from FreePlay Music could go over the whole set to tie the thing together. I also added subtitles so people would know where in the world the videos came from.
  • The finished the movie was uploaded to Fileden so that people could download the 24MB file and save it without having to worry about buffering or viewing on possibly blocked YouTube or Flickr sites. I also uploaded it to Teacher Tube that was less likely to be blocked and YouTube so that kids could actually find it for themselves. In this way people could either view it directly with streaming video or download the higher resolution video if they wanted to to play it back for whole class viewing.
  • Product – People were asked to send in up to 20 seconds of video so I could put it together with the final cut off date 7 November- giving people plenty of time to organize themselves. The quality of the resolution of the video varied quite a bit as some teachers did not have access to digital video recorders but all videos were included in the spirit of global collaboration.
  • Reflection – It would be great to do a similar kind of thing again as it was so much fun to see what others had come up with and didn’t take very long to complete. It just needed someone with a bit of time on their hands to act as a hub for everyone to send their videos in to. Kids seem to have got into the spirit of it and look forward to seeing the finished published product.

Thank you so much to all the contributers and their classes from around New Zealand, Canada, Bangkok, the United Kingdom, @fionagrant, @charbeck, @kathycassidy, @lisibo, @efreeman, @nzchrissy, @keamac, @teachernz, @leannehough, @lenva, @jaminlietze, @njt24 and to the hundreds of kids and their teachers who enjoy a sense of fun and adventure who like to participate in a community wider than their classroom walls.

You rock!


A Passage through the Decades

This is what you get when you have plenty of other stuff to do. Oh it must be milestone time of the year again. My RSS feed from Sue Tapp in Aussie turned up this link to Yearbook Yourself. You upload a photo and scroll through the decades.

Sue asks how do we measure our change as teachers. I look back on the sorts of things I used to do with my class years ago that I thought were good. I reflect on them now and cringe- how teaching ‘fads’ come and go- what was good practice back then is no longer thought to be acceptable practice.

Looking back twenty years from now what will our students think of the sorts of things we are doing at the beginning of the 21st century. Will our education system still reflect the 20th century? Will we spend our days testing in order to improve student learning outcomes as they do in America. I hope not. (I’m pleased I teach in a high decile school if league tables become the norm in NZ).

This quote from the National Party Education Policy has me concerned as to what it really means.

“We will launch a Crusade for Literacy and Numeracy. And because parents want to know how their child is doing, we’ll introduce national education standards to help identify those pupils who are falling behind, and provide targeted funding to help them catch up.”

National Party Education Policy 2008

In saying that I would love to see more support for Te Kotahitanga that Professor Russell Bishop spoke about at ULearn07. Inspirational stuff.


The trouble is that if you were to travel through my family photo albums you would find some photos that look scarily like these.

Where are you?

While at the ULearn08 dinner I thought of organising a flash mob doing the Dancing Man before the Friday morning keynote and had it pretty much sorted before realising that there wasn’t a keynote on Friday morning. Doh!

So after that rather lame attempt Jane and I had the idea of us all creating one with our classes and I’ll collate it into a Twitter’s dancing video!

Here’s the link to higher quality downloadable video if you like. The video from there is much higher quality than the YouTube one- good for showing the whole class.

So here’s the thing- can you make a 20 second video of yourself and your class dancing and email it to me for putting together! I will strip your audio and put one sound track over it. Send it to

We have a dozen videos so far from all over the place. It would only take a minute or two to go outside- or inside- to film it and the kids really look like they’re enjoying themselves- and the teachers too!

The final date for emailing the videos is 7 November. You have one week to go people before you get to see the finished global collaborative dance video!

This is what I should NOT be doing!

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OK- I am deep in milestone reporting – crafting lofty statements that should focus on student learning outcomes and teacher professional development. What do I do? I show @efreeman down Christchurch way how to do Skype, chat with @achurches in Auckland and end up playing in iChat video with a couple of un-named types who I won’t name because they should be working too I suspect! Now that was very cool. I didn’t realise that we would all show up in video at the same time- we ended up morphing ourselves using PhotoBooth while we were chatting. A spot of light relief is a wonderful thing!

All Is Not What It Seems

Via my aggregator (sorry I clicked away from it before I recorded who gave me the link) I came across this little beauty written in the form of a webquest- All About Explorers. It helps students realise that all that they read on the web may not be entirely the real thing! A bit like the story of efforts to save the Pacific North West Tree Octopus!

All About Explorers | Everything you've ever wanted to know about every explorer who ever lived...and more!Just because it’s out there doesn’t make it good!
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All about Ferdinand Maggellan…

“This Portuguese explorer was born on October 12, 1492 in southern Spain. It is an amazing coincidence that he eventually became a world explorer, because that is the day Christopher Columbus first landed in El Salvador, thus discovering a New World. Magellan is best known as the first person to travel completely around the globe.

Early in his career, Magellan was first a soldier. During the Battle of Hastings, Magellan was seriously injured. His leg had to be amputated as a result. The wooden leg that replaced it never fit him properly, and he walked with a limp for the rest of his life. He also lost an eye after being shot by an AK-47 during the same battle.

It was not long before King Ferdinand of Spain noticed this rising young star with whom he shared a name. In 1519, at the age of only 27, the King enlisted the support of several wealthy businessmen, including Marco Polo, Bill Gates, and Sam Walton, to finance an expedition to the Spice Islands.

But Magellan, was not content to travel the ordinary way. He had to be different. Magellan took his five ships, led by the Trinidad, west instead of east. In the process, he discovered a new route through the Panama Canal, which shortened travel times to Asia considerably. In the process, he also discovered the Pacific Ocean, which he named after his daughter.

While in the Orient, Magellan traded with the Chinese for spices, silk, and small plastic toys which he could bring back to Europe and sell at huge profits.

In another bid to buck the trend of the day, Magellan continued west after this, and his expedition completed the first circumnavigation of the globe on February 29, 1562. Magellan, unfortunately, did not live to see the completion of the trip. He died of old age only six months earlier, but his accomplishment still stands today as a testament to human willpower and the spirit of discovery.”

Build Yourself a Wild Self

At the beginning of the school year (in the Southern Hemisphere that is) you might be keen have you students build themselves an avatar if you are not sure about putting individual photos on line or as a identity in Voicethread. Chris Betcher recently posted this find ‘Build Your Wild Self‘ from the New York Zoo. You can build your avatar and add animal features to it. Kids would love the opportunity to be wild and wacky.

Build Your Wild Self
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Here is my creation. Being aimed at kids it didn’t have a grey haired option!

I couldn’t let go and add an elephant truck or antelope horns but the option is there if it takes your fancy.

The New York Zoo and Aquarium websites are worth sharing with kids as well- hours of interest there.


In Nelson we have a Mac User Group meeting that meets once a month and I tottle along and add my five cents worth of tips and tricks that I have picked up along the way, as you do.
Following an email request for help I went along to help new Mac users, Lindsay and Jan, get the best from using iPhoto. I enjoy helping people and on the promise of a fresh orange and date muffin and a good cup of coffee along I went. I realised that I had visited the beautiful property once before while on a garden trail a few years back.

I got a very pleasant surprise as I turned up the driveway- the Lindsay was Lindsay Yeo! New Zealand readers would know Lindsay. I feel I have grown up with Lindsay– popular Wellington radio personality on 2ZB– creator of Buzz o’Bumble.

I told him of the time when I was teaching in Foxton and a largish earthquake hit Wellington. Lindsay told us via the radio to get in a doorway or safe place- I did and a few seconds later the shockwave reached us! Knowing in advance helped prepare me for the shake ahead.

Jan makes environmentally friendly, innovative cloth nappies (diapers for my American readers) for sale via the internet and wanted to be able to manage the photos he was taking for adding to their website,

It was really great to spend the morning with them both. Lindsay was a large part of growing up in NZ when I was younger. Another face-to-face connection that I would never had made without the power of the internet.

If you listened to 2ZB and know how to sing the Buzz o’Bumble song please leave a comment and I will pass this link on to him.


Over the last so long I have become an avid follower of the conversations brought about through Twitter.


There is much talk about ‘getting’ or ‘not getting’ Twitter. At first I thought it a bit of a toy but realise now that it can be much more than than that.

I follow the ‘Tweets’ of these people and 115 people follow what I say. Through Twitter I have been able to share some of the things we have been doing, get the word out about events, happenings and new tools, find out more about the thoughts of others, link to new blog posts, share ideas and feel connected to other teachers globally.

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You can tweet from your mobile phone and receive tweets even when you are away from your computer and you can privately direct message individuals within the 140 character limit.

The way to ‘get’ Twitter is to leap in- find some people that you want to share information and ideas with and ‘follow’ them and follow some of the people that they follow. From there the conversation spreads.

Here is my Aussie mate Chris Betcher‘s video on how Twitter works if you are more of a visual learner…

[kml_flashembed movie="" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

Through Twitter we invited the world to join our “What have we learnt with ICT? Voicethread and Lisa Parisi from New York had her class add valuable input into it and make it so much more richer. We are about take part in the new collaboration with our Northern Hemisphere friends who want to find out more about life below the equator. Lisa has made this comparing hemispheres wiki and we are going to help her class find out some answers to a couple of questions that I have always wanted to know the answers to as well- like which way does water go down the plughole at latitude 43 degrees north- clockwise or anti-clockwise?

Today Tweeterboard was brought to my attention , via a tweet of course. With Tweeterboard you can gauge how influential and ‘clickable’ your tweets are based on your conversations with other Twitter users.

Conversation Analytics for Twitter
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A lunch date with the boys

Dean Shareski, Chris Harbeck, Darren Kuropatwa, and Clarence Fisher invited us for lunch via UStream this morning. I had an hour to spare over breakfast so thought I would join them. They were in Winnipeg and I am in Nelson, NZ but the geographical limits didn’t seem like something we couldn’t overcome!
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The conversation was great- no-one was in lecture mode- just sharing our thoughts on blogging, networks and a sense of community.

About 20 of us from around the globe were able to join in the conversation, with good humour and a coffee.

While the conversation was happening I was thinking that my network is feeling more like a community to me- people who I have never met face-to-face but virtually through Twitter, Skype, Voicethread or blog make me feel welcome.

Trans-Tasman Virtual Staffroom

Reports are written, parent, child teacher interviews are completed and the dark cloud is lifting so I can share again.

Chris Betcher, Jane Nicholls, Chrissy Hellyer, Simon Evans and I joined to be part of a virtual staffroom conversation where we are able to support one another and share our great finds on the net.

» Blog Archive » Episode 20: The Kiwi Connection

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Chris, from Sydney, brought us all together via Skype for a bit of a chat about our practice. I encourage you to have a listen by clicking on Chris’ Virtual Staffroom logo. I hope you learn something from us and be entertained slightly as well.

Thanks Chris for bringing us together to discuss ULearn07, Twitter, blogging, podcasting, K12 OnLine, Second Life and more.