iPad Presentation on Transforming Learning

I am presenting a workshop for teachers in my area on how an iPad can transform learning. I made a good chunk of the presentation on the iPad using Keynote. I decided to activate iCloud for Keynote so I have it on my phone and Mac Book Air as well.

I put it here as I spent a lot of time making it and its good to share 🙂

My featured apps are hyperlinked so you can delve more deeply should you wish.

My inquiry around this topic can be found on my iPad Google site.

Interesting to note that my presentation has had 540 views in the two days since I posted it!

What I want my teachers to know about me

At the end of last year I asked my Year Four students to record their thoughts on an open Google Presentation

What were the five things that they wanted their new teacher in Year Five to know about them.

Here is the link to our blog with the embedded Google Presentation.

Have a flick through- the kids wrote some fun stuff.

All well and good. I was reading the class blog of new Twitter follower Hineata Blair from Hamilton East School this morning and was thrilled to see that she is intending to use that sort of idea with her class this year. She asked us what were the five things that you would like your teacher to know about you. I wanted to support what she has done for her children by leaving a comment so I wrote my answers as an adult learner to the people who might teach me in a classroom or lecture theatre.

This is what I wrote…

I want my teachers to know that….

  • I want to be inspired to want to learn what they want to teach me.
  • I want them to understand that I might not learn in the same way that they did when they went to school.
  • I want them to know that I want to be connected to other learners, not just the ones in my classroom.
  • I want them to know that I can show my learning in ways that aren’t writing and drawing a poster.
  • I want them to give me time to play, learn and share things that I want to learn about.
How would YOU answer?

Maybe this could be a meme. I am going to tag some people to write what their five things would be. As you write your answers could you share your thoughts in the comments or write your own post on your blog and link it back to this post. Try tagging five other people to do the same and we can see how big this post can get.






Please just leap in and add your thoughts about the way that YOU like to learn and tag others to do the same.

Here is how I constructed the lesson.


Our Favourite 2011 Blog Posts

We engage with our children through blogging throughout the year and I wondered if, in the spirit of collaboration, we might come together to share some of our favourite posts that we have published during the year.  Some teachers just picked the one post that was most memorable for them and some teachers asked their students which posts most resonated with them.

I also thought the resource may then be useful for others as they look forward to 2012 to see what others have been blogging about in other parts of the country.


As well as promoting the concept to our Link Learning Cluster I tweeted the link a couple of times to spread the word.

My next step was to think of a place to put the pages and web links. A year and a half ago my preference would have been to make a wiki but this year I have really appreciated the ease of use and cleaness of using a Google site. I often find Wikispaces tricky and things don’t sometimes turn out how you want them to when I am using a wiki.

At first I promoted the idea of people editing the Google site themselves and adding their own images and links but at the busy report writing time of the year people didn’t seem so keen on that idea so I just asked them to email or tweet me the links and I would do the rest.

I made a two column table on the Google site to keep the formatting even and had to add an extra column as the number of posts grew. Now it doesn’t look so pretty when viewed on my iPad but no matter.

As people sent me the link I took a screen grab of the post ( Shift + Command + 4 on my Mac ) and then hyperlinked the image and the URL web address.

This post is probably over long but I am writing it in Evernote on my iPad on a flight back from Auckland after having been evacuated from the Nelson floods. Contrary to public opinion I cannot hold back flood waters so attended a Sustainability Forum up north for a couple of days instead. Now I look forward to spending a few days slushing away the mud at home.

You are welcome to tweet or email me your links from your own blog before the new year and I can add them to the resource.


K12 OnLine QR Code Presentation

Over the last couple of weeks the K12 OnLine Conference has been churning out free, online video and audio workshops. Some time ago I was invited to prepare a presentation in the Sandbox Play chapter of the conference.

All of the presentations are available for download in iTunesU which is a good way to view them.

I feel I have a pretty good handle on QR Codes now and the concept is new to many so I thought sharing with others about what I have learnt along the way would make an interesting presentation. My presentation was a audio-visual recap of the QR Code blog posts of last term.

The video is 9 minutes long. You can download the original from Dropbox if you wish.

I made it as an enhanced podcast in Garageband because I can make Garageband hum way better than iMovie. It played perfectly on my computer but in one of life’s little mysteries it refused to upload properly and the audio and graphics were out of synch. I tried exporting it in a heap of ways and uploading to Zamzar, YouTube, and Vimeo but all I achieved was an email from Telecom telling me I was exceeding my monthly broadband allowance. I whined about it on Twitter and Julia came through with the idea of trying to convert the video using http://www.online-convert.com/. The conversion and re-upload to Vimeo worked so here it is in all its glory.

If you have a clever smartphone, iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad give QR codes a whirl. My class love them and they are really easy to create and share.

I would love to know how you get on. How are you using QR codes?

Education Review Article

A while ago NZ Education Review asked me to write an article for them sharing the path I took to change my practice over the last few years using ICT.

They published it in digital form today with Issuu which I quite like because it looks like a book to read and you can zoom in and turn the pages, just like the real thing.

The whole publication makes good reading- my article is on page 21/22. Click on the image to take you to the web book.

They even added a QR code to the article like I asked them too.


I’ve Got Speed

“I’m the urban spaceman, baby; I’ve got speed. I’ve got everything I need.

I’m the urban spaceman, baby; I can fly. I’m a supersonic girl.” Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band

At school today I had issues with internet speed so I went to http://speedtest.net/ and did a speed test. I was on my Mac Book Air so the test was wireless….

 I then went to a class iMac that was wired with an ethernet cable and got….

 Because I know people, I then rang up people who knew people and they did clever Loop internet firewall things. I then tried again. Vast improvement. Cooking with gas- as my father used to say!

 When I went home I tried again – I’d be interested for you to do a test and see what you get at school.

The Mission!

People have been asking me recently, “What can’t an iPad do?” Today I found out. Or at least I found out how I would try it next time to make it work.

I decided I wanted to make this whole project on the iPad and not touch the laptop.

On Thursday I recorded the class I was working with choral speaking a poem. I didn’t have my iRig mike with me so quickly grabbed the audio with the free app QuickVoice Recoder cos there wasn’t a lot of time before PMP.

I wanted to basically create an enhanced podcast like I do on my laptop with Garageband. Easy I thought. No great timing or editing involved. Piece of cake.

Not so much!

The big hiccup was that Quickvoice only has email out of the .caf file. For all the apps that my Twitter network suggested might work, like Keynote, iMovie and Reel Director, all needed the audio to already be in iTunes.

I tried emailing the .caf file to myself on the iPad from Quickvoice hoping that it would give me options like when you email and ePub- it asks, “Would you like to open this in iBooks.” I was hoping I would get a, “Would you like to open this in iTunes.” No such luck.

The iRig mike app has an iTunes File Sharing export function but I set myself to try and do the project without the laptop. I tried recording the Quickvoice recording with the iRig mike but of course as soon as I put the mike in the iPad jack it muted the sound out so it wouldn’t go through the speakers.

I had taken the photos of the kids’ monsters with my iPhone and used the Photo Transfer App to get the photos on to the laptop so at least I didn’t have to use any cords.

I would hope that there would be a great app for doing this but I couldn’t work it out. Not at least with a pre-recorded audio track. So I gave up and went back to the laptop and had the job done in five minutes. I uploaded it to Vimeo at least which gave me easy playback on the iPad without having to use Puffin that plays Blogger flash based videos.

The finished thing is here on the class blog.

Any advice on how I could have done this better would be greatly appreciated.


Home School Partnership #1 – Homework

One of the major goals for our cluster over the next year is to foster home school partnerships and I have been being doing a good bit of thinking about how we might approach this.

Tonight on Twitter there was a conversation around Ian Lillico’s homework grid concept and  Claire Buist asked if I had any good examples of how I use Ian’s ideas.

I started off by writing a Google Doc that I was going to share with Claire but thought it might be better as a blog post. So here it is…
I used to do the traditional ‘fill in the gaps’ homework but became a convert to the Lillico homework grid idea which lets children create together with their parents at a pace that suits them. Those who want to spend hours following up on a project can. Those who aren’t so keen need not go into it in as much depth. It allows freedom and creativity to thrive.

Once you ‘get’ the concept of co-constructing homework you can easily adapt it to suit your situation.

Here is a blog post I wrote last year about what I do.


Ian Lillico’s website can be found http://www.boysforward.com.au/

I also shared some of our homework philosophy in my last year’s K12 On Line Conference Keynote


First of all we start with a brainstorm around the ideas of things we could do based around a theme.

1. This is a brainstorm about the sorts of things we could do for Home Work


2. One of the things we decided on was tidying our bedrooms. The kids took before and after photos.



3. We had a music week


This led to Miriam sharing her incredible voice with us. Would never have happened if our homework was confined to ‘filling the gaps’ stuff!


5. This is our physical activity brainstorm.


6. Reading


7. ICT


One of the tasks was to send an MMS


And to share a Google Doc/presentation with me


8. Making


9. In this one I was sick at home but podcasted what we had to do for homework.


10. Here is what the homework grids looks like for us



11. Here is some feedback about what people feel about the homework. If parents left a comment then the kids didn’t have to do the homework next week! A good number left a comment!!!!


12. Kids loved doing their homework and even took it away on fishing trips!! Overdoing it slightly!!


13. And not particularly to do with the homework grid but the children used the side bar of the blog to get their spelling lists and individual spelling practice through Spelling City and used our Basic Facts wiki to learn their basic facts with downloads and hyperlinks to worksheets and Digital Learning Objects for their level of attainment.



Why Blog?

Why blog?

There are a lot of great reasons why teachers need to have a blog or wikispace but it was brought home to me this week of the most basic reason of why even the least internet savy needs to have a blog or wikispace.

Children need a generic place from which go to web spaces for learning without typing an impossibly long web address.

Imagine trying to have people to go to this web address without it being hyperlinked somewhere


I would defy anyone to type that and get it right. You could use a URL shortner like http://goo.gl/ or http://tinyurl.com/ but even then typing http://goo.gl/S80J3 and getting it right first time will be problematic for kids.

So here is a scenario!

A teacher has been told about a great website that they want to direct their class to like Spelling List Five of Spell-Write. The teacher has entered the spelling words into the website and saved the list.

The web address (URL) for it is http://www.spellingcity.com/view-spelling-list.html?listId=1914671

How are the children going to get there? The teacher could shorten it with http://goo.gl/xXOyP but typing even that will be time consuming with possibilities of typing it incorrectly and ending up somewhere where you didn’t want to go or having to start all over again.

If the teacher has a web presence that is the Home Page on the computer in their classroom all the children have to do is open up their web browser and there is the named link on the blog or wikispace. Even if you are out and about you can still find your resource if it is linked to the blog.

For a couple of examples look down the side bar of our class blog  http://moturoa.blogspot.com/ for reading and maths links.

If you want to know how to do this in Blogger here is a ‘how to’ on how to do it.


And this time I’ll hyperlink it so you can see how easier it is to find with a hyperlink.




Virtual Learning Network Resource

A couple of weeks ago I made a resource to support our Lead Teachers as we begin exploring the Virtual Learning Network Resource for kiwi teachers to connect and collaborate.

The VLN is a social learning community where teachers, learners, school leaders and facilitators connect, join virtual programmes/projects, share experiences, and develop new ways to support learning through ICTs.

Please use this VLN help site to help you find your way through the VLN and get the most out of the possibilities that it offers. The beginning video is useful in realising why this sort of learning is beneficial. If there is anything you would like me to add please let me know in the comments.

Screen shot 2011-07-11 at 8.28.27 PM

Ban Cellphones and Wireless Networks in Schools?

I received a short email today from a principal who had been sent a link from a parent questioning the school’s growing wireless network for fear of the danger of electro-magnetic waves damaging children’s brains and general development and likening ignoring the potential dangers similarly to the dangers of asbestos, tobacco smoking and lead in petrol.IMG_1619


My initial reaction was to say they need to get over themselves.

I use my iPhone as a snooze alarm to wake up in the morning so I sleep with the phone centimetres from my head, I have a wireless network at my home and school. I walk down the main street of town and pick up multiple wireless networks.

Are all these things doing us a damage? Or is this fear coming from a fear of all things digital?

To me ordinary radio waves coming through the air is like magic. In the old days were people afraid of radio? Are the dying bees of America a result of wireless networks broadcasting their poison?

A little support on what to advise would be very much appreciated.

My reflection on using RSS to learn and develop a Personal Learning Network

Here is my reflection on our journey to use RSS to communicate and learn from one another.

Our Nelson Link Learning Cluster is a group of thirty-five schools wide spread from Hira to Wakefield to Riwaka in the Nelson basin. As you can see we are geographically spread so opportunities for group meetings are precious and costly. We are a primary school cluster with one Intermediate School, one residential school for girls with special learning needs, one specialised special needs school, rural, urban, contributing and full primary. It can take an hour and half to drive from one school to another!

We are loosely based around The Loop collaboration of schools working on fibre ultra-fast broadband but not exclusively so.

Cluster Goal
Our goal is to encourage teachers to share e-learning best practice, encouraging reflection and sharing.

Goal: Ensuring collegial support by encouraging teachers and schools to develop reflective practices to reflect on and share their e-learning experiences.

Intentions- why did we do this?

  • To bring the cluster teachers together to share practice and see what other teachers are doing with their blogs
  • For teachers to personalise their professional development by reading the thoughts of educational leaders directly
  • To interact with educational leaders directly by contributing to conversation in comments.
  • For Principals to be aware of what teachers on their staff are publishing on their school blogs in the school name.
  • For Principals to encourage and participate in the publishing of their teachers
  • For Principals to personalise their professional development by reading what other principals and thought leaders are sharing on line

Interventions- What we did
The cluster facilitator had attended Learning at School in Rotorua some years ago and attended a workshop run by David Warlick on using RSS as a means to personalising your online reading experience.


As part of our Lead Teacher Day programme at the end of last year (2010) we had had an attempt to set up a Google Reader RSS feed but it was not as successful as we had hoped because we are such a large group of nearly forty people and not all of us could connect to the internet at the same time so many of were not able to set up and populate their RSS feed.


We thought that having an RSS feed was an important way to help us move toward fulfilling our cluster goal of share e-learning best practice so we tried again in 2011 with the venue’s new wireless internet solution and we were all able to be on line at the same time. A screencast video tutorial could give some assistance to those who found the process tricky.

As a resource we used a handout by Sylvia Tolasino and the facilitator was able to share her personal RSS and how to add a READER and SUBSCRIBE bookmark to participants’ web browser toolbars. For some even being able to view their browser toolbar was a challenge.


We started by facilitating a workshop on Getting Good with Google where teachers were able to create a Google account if they did not already have one.


Many teachers over the past six months had already created a Google Account so it made sense to use Google Reader for their RSS feed as Bloglines was, at that stage, in decline, and some schools already have Google Apps.

We had previously recorded our cluster blogs on our wiki so teachers were able to retrieve their colleagues’ blogs from the database.


Teachers were then able to choose which blogs to subscribe to with their Google Reader. People were then encouraged to comment, encourage and learn from other’s blogs found through their RSS Reader. The aim is to reprise the concept each following cluster workshop so that we can share our challenges and new learning.

We repeated this session with Principals at their next cluster meeting. Principals looked at the activity from the differing perspective of knowing what is happening in their school and to learn from reading the blogs of other New Zealand principals and educational leaders.

The facilitator wrote a blog post with links to NZ blogging principals and invited others through her Twitter network and blog to add any principals that she had missed. Principals could then easily see the hyperlinks to the blogs of others.


Teachers and Principals were able to create an RSS feed. Some later asked for more individual assistance to make sure that they ‘got it’. This was appreciated as it showed that they could see the usefulness and purpose of having an RSS feed.

Some, although they created an RSS feed at the workshop, have not followed through to use and add to their RSS in their own time quoting a lack of time or focus on other things.

Lead Teachers are still getting to grips with the practice themselves and many are not yet ready to share their new learning with others on their staff.

Impact on students/teachers/whanau
Some lead teachers have really taken the practice on board and are successfully forming partnerships with other teachers and their classes through their class blogs. Teachers have reflected how cool it was to have their peers comment and give feedback on their blogs.

The teachers who are regularly checking their RSS feeds are learning what others are doing in their classes and are beginning to open their class to others.

Next Steps

  • We need to revisit using RSS at future Lead Teacher days to ensure that the practice becomes more embedded.
  • We need to encourage people to, once they have read their new content, to move out of their RSS reader to converse and give feedback to the authors on a more regular basis
  • We need to encourage and support Lead Teachers to share the use of RSS with their team back at school so that it becomes a regular way to share their practice and personalise their professional development.

Reflective interviews with Cluster personnel

  • Sandra Rolls: Tasman Bay Christian School

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DyukDpfhwz4 2 minutes: 41 sec

  • Charles Newton: Cluster Consultant

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N8c6asqr_YI 9 minutes: 34 sec

  • Cheryl Eden: Richmond Primary School

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfknbwo6x7M 3 minutes: 41 sec

Child, Parent, Grandparent, Teacher

photoTonight I had the privilege of being in a friend’s classroom soon after the bell went on Friday afternoon. A family group had come in to ‘see how things were going’ and show the classroom to visiting family. As they were walking about looking at the classroom displays Sherryn showed the family inside the child’s KnowledgeNet page. I whipped my trusty iPhone out and recorded the conversation. She was sharing a graph that children had constructed. She then used Jing to record the conversation with the child about the graph and uploaded it to KnowledgeNet to share with whanau at home but as they were in the room they could see it on the big screen.

It was great to see the whole thing coming together.

Developing an RSS Feed for Principals

At our last week’s Principal’s meeting for our cluster we facilitated a workshop on developing an RSS feed using Google Reader specifically focussed on the the sorts of things that we thought principals might be interested in. We will develop this more over time but I thought it might be useful to list the blogs that we suggested we added to our reader. At the workshop we used a Google Doc but they click more easily from a blog post.

If I missed anyone that you think should be in my list please let me know and I will add them.

Our best reads…. Teachers in our cluster who edublogphoto-4

http://tracyprout.edublogs.org/ Tracy Prout – Tasman Bay Christian School

http://allanahk.edublogs.org/ Allanah King- Me!

http://cherryl.edublogs.org/ Cherryl Eden – Richmond Primary

http://kellimcr.wordpress.com/ Kellie McRobert – Nayland Primary

http://sarnee.edublogs.org/ Sandra Rolls – Tasman Bay Christian School

Kiwi Blogging Leaders and Principals

http://blog.core-ed.org/derek/ Derek Wenmoth, CORE

http://blog.core-ed.org/ Core Education Blog

http://blog.core-ed.org/greg/ Greg Carroll, Outram, Dunedin

http://edorigami.edublogs.org/ Andrew Churches, Kirsten College, Auckland

http://pr1nc1pal.blogspot.com/ John Dorman, St Paul’s, Nelson

http://leading-learning.blogspot.com/ Bruce Hammonds

http://regano.edublogs.org/ Regan Orr- Principal of Koputaroa School, Horowhenua

http://burnhamprincipal.blogspot.com/ Rob Clarke

http://wedontknowhowluckyweare.blogspot.com/ Luke Sumich- Summerlands, Auckland

http://maramastewart.com/ Marama Stewart, Pukeokahu School, Taihape

http://www.kaimai.school.nz/principal/ Dane Robertson, Tauranga

http://mikeanz.blogspot.com/ Mike Anderson, Waimari, Christchurch

http://thechalkface.wordpress.com/ Danny Nicholls, St Patricks

http://stanleyave-principal.blogspot.com/ Stuart Armistead, Stanley Ave, Te Aroha

http://mattskilton.blogspot.com/ Matt Skilton, Muritai School, Wellington

http://carolyn-stuartcomments.blogspot.com/ Carolyn Stuart, Tawa Int

http://thinkbeyond.co.nz/blog/ Cheryl Doig, Christchurch

http://awapunischool.blogspot.com/ Steven Soutar, Awapuni, Palmerston North.

Blogs that may interest you- leadership etc.

http://chrisbetcher.com/ Chris Betcher- ICT leader- Sydney

http://www.tonyryan.com.au/blog/ Tony Ryan- Learning Consultant- Australia

http://edu.blogs.com/edublogs/ Ewan McIntosh- Ed Leader- Scotland

http://www.principalspage.com/theblog/ Michael Smith, USA


http://edtalks.org/ Better still search iTunes for Edtalks and subscribe to these educational video podcasts and view them at your leisure.


http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/education Stuff- Newspaper link with a focus on education

http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/ Look for the RSS icon for ‘News & Hot Topics’ and ‘Professional Learning Articles’.

http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/ Look for the RSS icon for ‘Latest News’.

And Charles added that all principals should be following and commenting on the blogs of their classes and also shared some of the blogs in his RSS…

Education news and commentary…

http://www.ictineducation.org/ UK digest for “leaders and managers of educational ICT”

http://www.eschoolnews.com/ Amercian

http://www.educationmatters.ie/ Irish education digest

http://bigthink.com/ big ideas….not just about education

http://www.edutopia.org/ the George Lucas Educational Foundation

http://teachpaperless.blogspot.com/ a collaboratively written blog dedicated to conversation and commentary about the intertwined worlds of digital technology, new media, and education.

http://www.ucea.org/ University Council for Educational Administration Texas

Interesting individuals………

http://larryferlazzo.edublogs.org/ has great links to collections of websites

http://teacherleaders.typepad.com/the_tempered_radical/ – teacher Bill Ferriter’s hard hitting comments

http://theinnovativeeducator.blogspot.com/ Lisa Nielsen is an innovative educator in New York City

http://jeffthomastech.com/blog/ Jeff Thomas a Director of Technology at a private middle school.

http://bigthink.com/blogs/dangerously-irrelevant Scott McLeod (currently on sabbatical in NZ)

Since I posted this on Sunday people have added further suggestions via the comments or Twitter so here they are….

http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/News Ministry RSS for educational leaders

http://www.nzcer.org.nz/ NZCER

http://sethgodin.typepad.com/ Seth Godin, ideas and marketing

http://www.connectedprincipals.com/ Connected Principals- a collective principals’ blog

http://movingforward.wikispaces.com/Education+Blogs+by+Discipline Scroll down to find Principal Blogs to subscribe to

http://schooltechleadership.org/research/projects/blogs-administrator/ List of leadership blogs from Scott McLeod

http://speirs.org/ Fraser Speirs, Cedars School of Excellence, Scotland

http://www.n2growth.com/blog/form-over-substance/ Where CEO’s come to grow

Key Competencies and Web Tools

Since the end of last year I have been looking for an easy to use, collaborative mind mapping tool. Over the weekend I think I may have found one. Popplet lets you easily intuitively create Popplets, change their colours, text size, and links. I am having a bit of trouble with the collaborative side of things as my invites don’t seem to be getting through. I like it over some others that I have tried that are too hard to navigate and it does embed nicely elsewhere.

When you are looged in you can number the Popplets and out it into Presentation Mode and get a Prezi like experience without the seasick feeling.

You can export it as a pdf or jpeg which is also handy.

The task I was trying to do is link the Key Competencies to web tools that may support them but I am finding that lots of web tools fit across all the Key competencies and my mind map is looking a bit crowded.

Here’s a link to the actual Popplet and it as a pdf as at 28 March 2011.

Photo Competition Plagiarism

SunsetThe cluster is sponsoring a photo competition. It is all very exciting and we have had a two well attended after school resource sharing workshops on photography, time given to it at the Lead Teacher Day and Principals’ Morning so we are all set to go.

So we are starting to get a few entries. Last week I got emailed a stunning photo from one of my Year Four girls so she could enter the competition. I was suspicious that she hadn’t actually taken the photo because I didn’t recognise the skyline as being local.  Firstly I asked her where she took the photo and didn’t get a reply. I was even more suspicious.Screen shot 2011-03-27 at 11.57.06 AM

Fortunately Warren and Charles were about with a little advice on where to go to check out whether a photo has been used elsewhere on the net.

http://www.tineye.com/ was the site that was recommended. I uploaded the photo and was pleased (dismayed) to find that the photo was indeed borrowed.

I’m OK with children enhancing their photos with any tools they have on hand- iPhoto, Photoshop etc but just want the taking and enhancing be done by the child. In fact enhancing photos to improve them is to be encouraged.

Using the Tineye site won’t help with children entering photos taken by others in the family but will definitely help with photos taken from the internet.

This will be the basis of an interesting discussion in class on my next teaching day.

Getting Good With Google

A couple of weeks ago Tony Ryan spent some afternoons with us and encouraged us to invest some time in learning how to search the internet efficiently to save time in the long run. To support our Lead Teachers I made this resource that started its life as a Google Doc….. No point printing it out because then none of the links will work!!!!!

and other good ways to search the web

A lot of these ideas have come from this 100+ Google help page.


1. First of all we looked at some good tips for searching with Google

1.1 Alter the kind of search that Google does by changing your default to ‘safe search’.

1.2 Put speech marks around words if you want an exact match; eg when you Google Allanah King you get 5,360,000 hits. When you Google “Allanah King” you get 4,710 hits.

1.3 If you want page results from New Zealand make sure you select them from the left hand tool bar.

1.4 Use Google Advanced Search to search for a particular file format like a pdf or a ppt.

1.5 Use Wonderwheel to help clarify your search and refine with keywords and concepts.

1.6 Use Timeline to find out the timeline of when things happened through the decades – or to find articles from a particular month.

1.7 Use Google Squared to find out facts and figures about sets of things like ‘planets’.

1.8 Make sure Google Instant is on so that you Google can help you search intuitively and quickly. Use the arrow keys to skim down the search results and Enter to select. You can select Instant On in you Google search preferences.

1.9 To get results from a particular source enter Japan tsunami site:cnn.com will return pages about the Japanese tsunami but only from CNN news sources. Works with country codes as well eg earthquakes site:nz will give you NZ earthquake sites.

1.10 Some common search queries are as a screen grab below

2. Then we will look at some other great search engines

2.1 A great search engine is Delicious. You can choose whose online bookmarks you search through- these, yours, your networks or the look for the tags. A lot of the filtering has been done for you.


2.2 Google You Tube Search Engine http://www.youtube.com/

Use the Search Options to refine your search


2.3 One of my favourites is Qwiki– it cleverly reads you the search query with visuals to support it. Here is my blog post about it.

2.4 Another interesting one is Twurdy which attempts to give you an idea of the reading level of the search results. Great for a primary school.

You can also do a similar thing inside Advanced Search.

2.5 The next a visual Boolean Search engine, Boolify, that would help children             understand the concept of Boolean Searches.

Here is Andrew Churches handout on Boolean searches that might help clarify how Boolean searches work.


2.6 Next is QuinturaForKids– a search engine aimed at kids. It gives a word cloud which would help children refine their searches.

2.7 The next is Wolfram Alpha where you can find out all sorts of mathematical and data facts.

2.8 Very oddly is Spezify which searches for things in a text and pictorial sort of way. Try it to check out your own digital footprint. Here I tried it on my own name and came up with a heap of results from recently and way back.

2.9 Twitter searches http://twitter.com/

2.10 And lastly for the moment are some image search engines that you search for creative commons images that are free for you to us rather than stealing other people’s work from Google Images.

2.10.1- Pics4Learning http://www.pics4learning.com/

2.10.2- MorgueFile http://www.morguefile.com/

2.10.3 Tag Galaxy- http://taggalaxy.de/

3. And then we look at some other clever things that Google can do.

3.1 Google Translate http://translate.google.com/ and listen to many foreign languages.

3.2 Newspaper Map http://newspapermap.com/ A Google mashup that translate many global newspapers.

3.3 Google Calendar https://www.google.com/calendar/

3.4 Google RSS Reader http://www.google.co.nz/reader/

3.5 Google Maps https://maps.google.co.nz/

3.6 Google Docs https://docs.google.com/

3.7 Google Mail https://mail.google.com/

3.8 Google Labs http://www.googlelabs.com/ Things that might grow into big things. Google’s 20% time.

4. And we all did little quiz to see how good you are at doing efficient searches on the internet. Crunchies and Turkish Delight then followed.

Our Searching Practice Quiz

What have I missed that you would add to this workshop on making good searches?

Digital Portfolio

The cluster milestone and 2011 variation has been handed in and will hopefully get a big tick. As part of the variation it says that the facilitator is to keep a digital portfolio and to coach others to do the same.

As an ELF facilitator (eLearning Facilitator) I was thinking about that. What would you consider to be a digital portfolio for a teacher?

Would you consider my Edublog, my blog record of my professional development, our Moturoa class blog, my Tweets, my 365 photoblog, my Delicious trail, my Blogger resource blog, my podcast, podcasting wiki and my RSS feed to be a digital portfolio?

All of these things are public and I sometimes feel the need to write and share something to garner the opinions of others or just to vent my frustrations but don’t because I realise the line between being open and respecting the privacy of my colleagues and the children in my class.

Would maintaining a private reflective journal that no one apart from myself ever sees, shares or reviews be of any use to myself or others?

Your thoughts would be appreciated.

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Five Frame Story Telling

While we were up at Lake Rotoiti it was my job was to facilitate an activity with the principals which could be easily replicated in the classroom and which doesn’t require internet.

Firstly I give a hat tip to Amanda Signal and Jocelyn Mackay whose ideas I combined for this activity. I am a derivative.

I learnt from Amanda about five frame story telling- the title pretty much tells what you need to do. People take five photos that tell a story through those photos. For the principals I kicked it up a notch by giving them the theme of Leadership and they had to have the same prop running through the five photos.

From Jocelyn I had had the idea of making a CD ROM for each group with three different leadership type music tracks on each. They had to chose one of the tracks that best complemented the storytelling.

I had a number of tracks in my iTunes already but when I ran out of ideas I turned to Twitter for inspiration. People had a bit of fun helping me think of appropriate and less appropriate tracks.

People could chose the way they presented the photos but it had to be interesting and entertaining. The principals gave each other marks at the end- you can imagine how vicious they were in their marking but it was lots of fun.

There are a Flickr groups for the five frame story telling. This one for children and this one for educators.

If you are interested in viewing our plan click here. I was bad and I didn’t record the five photos that I used to show a five frame story. I should have.

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Share, Share, Share!

On Monday our Link Learning ICTPD cluster had the privilege of having Ewan McIntosh spend the day with us. Ewan came to us directly from Scotland at the start of a whirlwind New Zealand tour. We had a great turnout with people coming from over the hill to Salisbury School in Richmond.

This was the first time I had organised such an event and it went fairly smoothly although we were unable to get internet access for Ewan for the first half of the day. We could either have a beautiful but small room with one ethernet cable or a larger spacious room with no access. For Ewan to be internet-less made it hard for him and hard for us.

The local newspaper turned up at lunchtime and interviewed Ewan. We set up a fake photo and I got my picture in the paper! They cropped me from the digital version of the interview- life’s like that!

I took copious notes from Ewan’s presentation but I thought I would compress them down a few critical points as take aways.

For me it came down to one word-


Ewan encouraged us to share our practice. We have an obligation to those not able to attend a day like this to share our practice- the good and the things that didn’t go so well.

I found that I related a lot to this part of Ewan’s talk. Having just landed this fabulous job as Link Learning ICT Facilitator I would never have been able to do this job effectively if I had not begun sharing my practice only five short years ago. There are lots of incredibly awesome teachers out there that only small groups of children and their parents know about.

If you share your teaching, your classroom, you do open yourself up for a whole new world of collaboration and learning. I have been asked to keynote a strand of the K12 On Line Conference later this year by making a video ‘A Week in My Classroom’. My first impulse was to compress a month’s worth of ICT into a ‘pretend’ week but on reflection I think I will make a more honest video- the trials, the successes, the challenges. We’ll see how it goes as I share it!

What are some of the things that are barriers to our sharing?

  • Time is always a biggie and Ewan suggests we start a 100 hour challenge. Carve out an hour a day for the thing that we set our desires on doing and then do it for one hundred days. At the end of that time you can evaluate how well it went. You can’t say you gave your goals a decent shot at it unless you actually do it. Don’t expect perfection- be happy with ‘pretty good’. I recall an interview with Sir Peter Jackson when he said, “Films are never finished, they are only abandoned.” You can waste a lot of time trying to perfect projects- just do it!
  • Lack of momentum– leverage your project- think of things that you can do to nurture your project- to make it more successful. Pitch it to others with a ‘hook’ of having something in it that they want or would find useful for them- personalise it. Get others to buy into it to make your project sustainable.
  • Fear– fear of people knowing about your practice. I know that some people think the things that I blog share about are irrelevant but I get to moderate the feedback and the comments! In all my days of blogging and sharing I have never had to delete anything but spam in the way of feedback. People are either supportive, lurking or silent. In 2005 when I first started blogging I never really gave thought to the consequences- I just did it cos it seemed like an interesting thing to try. I wasn’t afraid because I didn’t know that anyone else would read or know what I was doing anyway. The benefits of sharing my practice has been HUGE. I now have a wide circle of supportive, helpful peers that I can learn from because we SHARE. These people are scattered around New Zealand and overseas- not necessarily in the classroom next door.
  • Not having the gear–  People who know me know I like the shiny toys as much as any Apple girl would but in my classroom I have a lot less gear than lots of others but I still do OK stuff. I have a data projector that sits on a disused fish aquarium stand and it shines onto an ordinary whiteboard with cords running across the floor to the wall socket. I have my TELA laptop, three netbooks and two old eMacs and a wireless internet connection that is sometimes dodgy in the way of kit. I supplement that an old handi-down digital camera from home and my iPod I got free with my home laptop. No Interactive whiteboard, no ceiling mounted data projector, no iPad, no Flip video, no Apple laptops, no computer suite! Fancy gear can help but is not a deal breaker. Last year we had one data projector to share among the whole school. I remember before we got that data projector we just gathered around the eMac!

So those are some of the things that can put people off sharing but the benefits can be enormous.

  • If you share your practice with others, they will share right back at you. As an example some people get on Twitter, follow a few people and immediately start asking for things because they have heard that Twitter can be really useful for finding out stuff, they then wonder why no-one replies and then say Twitter is just stupid. Firstly you need to connect with a circle of people who are interested in the same sorts of things as you. Then share some of your practice- build momentum for your project or idea.
  • If you share you don’t have to do all the work yourself. For example – Delicious– You take a little bit of time to register, put a couple of bookmarklets in your toolbar, add me to your network, network with the teachers that I network with and save some fabulous resources into the cloud for you to access after you have handed back you TELA laptop. This whole task would take about ten minutes but you would then have access to a rich resource base on all things educational- far better than a random Google Search and all there at your fingertips no matter what computer you are using or where you are.
  • Collaboration– if you are sharing with others you automatically open the door to others pitching in to build your project with you. As an example last term I set up a maths basic facts wiki so that parents could access our basic facts worksheets from home and help their children with learning and children could play on line games that supported them at their level. I then asked my Personal Learning Network to contribute more activities that they knew about. The resource is now considerably richer because of that collaboration.

Ewan shared a lot more throughout the day as well but these are the things that I particularly wanted to expand on in this blog post. We have an obligation to share our learning and our practice so that others who weren’t able to take a day from their classrooms can learn too.

There were eighty people at Ewan’s day in Nelson. So people what are you going to share?

My more detailed notes from the day can be found in download form here.

Cheers Ewan


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Life is not a race to be first finished