E-Play with Buzzword and

Chris Betcher recently blogged about another new Adobe tool- Buzzword– an online word processor written in Flash. Very cool. The features that I particularly like are that you can upload a Word document and it looks just like it does in Word. You can create documents in Buzzword and export as a pdf or a Word document onto your desktop. Ideal for those without the $$$ to spend on Microsoft products. You can insert tables and graphics and do all the usuals that a normal person would want a desktop publisher to do.

Then you can share that document with others just as you might do in Google Docs. But here’s the really cool thing you can do as well. On the far right hand side of the screen you can see the icon- MEET. Thought I would give it a try and find out who I might meet.

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Turns out it takes you to Adobe ConnectNow- through which I can share my desktop with others. OK this looks fun but I need someone to share with. Enter Skype and Twitter. Raewyn from school was on Skype and I sent out a general Tweet asking if anyone wanted a little playtime! Colin Warren a educational tertiary level blogger from from Geelong, Australia, answered my call. Together we played and found out pretty much how to work the screen sharing application by talking about it with Skype and sharing the iSite video. The screen capture is of how it looked from my end as Colin opened up his desktop for us to look at. Through this medium we shared photos and movies directly from my desktop.

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I liked the interface and it all worked smoothly after we had played about for a bit trying to get the sound working. We nearly had to resort to using the HELP tab but resisted the temptation.

It is great to have a PLN that is so wiling to try new things and learn with each other across the globe.

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Here is how the screen looked in a screen grab from Raewyn’s computer. It shows her desktop visibe with my laptop screen viewable at the same time. It looks complicated but it really wasn’t.
I was struck by how relatively simple Adobe’s ConnectNow was and how useful it might be for teachers who are in need of a little online assistance.
By chance we were all Apple users- as it is web based I could see it as a great application to use across the platforms.

A New Zealand Font

This post is for the Kiwis and Aussies.

A couple of years ago I asked the powers that be in NZ if we could have a NZ font- you know the one we’re supposed to teach in school. They said that would be a good idea and that was the end of that. So I hit the internet and found John Greatorex in Australia who makes fonts. I emailed him and he said he would make me one if I snail mailed him with how they were supposed to look.

untitled (WP)
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About a month later he sent me the trial to test. I have used that font ever since. It is great for wall displays and making up really neat personalised writing exemplars.

A teacher asked me today where I got my font from and it prompted me to pass on this really practical find from a few years back

Click on the font graphic to see the whole set- $60 for a school site licence.

This is not an endorsement as he would probably no longer remember who I am but I thought it was worth a shout out!

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.”

Characteristics of an Excellent ICT Lesson

Terry Freedman, blogger and podcaster from the UK has just posted this on TechLearning Blog.

“Here in the UK we use the term “ICT” — Information and Communications Technology — rather than “educational technology”, and in many schools it is taught as a discrete subject. So what is it that makes an ICT lesson excellent?

In this list, I have tried to suggest some of the characteristics that may be present — although I hasten to add that one would not expect to see all of them in the same lesson!

This is taken from a much larger list that I published in my newsletter, “Computers in Classrooms”, back in December. You can download the newsletter from here, if you wish to look at the whole list. Look at the list below and tell me what you think:

  • The lesson forms part of a unit which forms part of a scheme of work. There is a good starter activity, one that gets the pupils settled down and in the right frame of mind to do the work the teacher has planned for them.
  • The teacher spends time at the start letting pupils into the secret of what the objectives (intended learning outcomes) of the lesson are, ie what is intended to be achieved by the end, and how this lesson fits in with the preceding and following lessons
  • Pupils are given open‑ended tasks (as far as possible), or at least not tasks with a glass ceiling. (Even lessons designed to impart a set of skills can still be more interesting than “drill & practice”).
  • There are plenty of resources for the pupils to use, enabling the teacher to give quality guidance, ie not confined to explaining how to save the document! Such resources will include “how to” guides and posters, on‑screen help (which the pupils will have been taught how to use), and each other.
  • Ample time is allowed for the plenary, thereby allowing it to be somewhat more useful than the POLO model: Print Out and Log Off. The plenary is an essential part of the lesson, used to check what learning has taken place, consolidate learning, and prepare pupils for the next stage. In fact, a lesson might have two or three plenaries rather than just one at the end.
  • Homework is set in order to consolidate and extend the pupils’ understanding of the work they have been doing in lessons.
  • Pupils are given plenty of time on the computers, with the teacher helping individuals and small groups.
  • Work is set at an appropriate standard, taking into account the pupils’ prior learning and attainment, and what is expected of their age group in terms of national standards.
  • There is a lot of questioning – probing questioning – and assessment for learning techniques are in evidence.
  • There is a good range of material to provide for differentiation (higher attainers and children with special educational needs) and personalised learning.
  • The teacher is aware of individual pupils’ needs, such as their individual education plans – and makes use of the assessment and other data she has – remember: data only becomes information if you do something with it!
  • Not all work takes place at the computer: there is ample opportunity for discussion and reflection. What is important is not the use of technology per se, but the appropriate use of technology.
  • Pupils respect the equipment and the room. For example, they do not leave discarded print‑outs on the floor.
  • Pupils are happy and confident enough to try out things which the teacher has not actually shown them: they ask help from each other or look at the posters and manuals that are available for them.
  • Pupils keep looking at the clock on the wall, because they want to get to a certain point in their work before the end of the lesson. They have a sense of urgency.
  • Pupils want to work at lunchtime and other non-lesson times.
  • Pupils want to show off little tricks they have discovered, such as keyboard shortcuts.
  • Pupils ask questions that the teacher is unable to answer.”

I feel bad because I have taken Terry’s post in it’s entirety to post here. I do so because it is such a great list and I identify so much with his points and I want to encourage people to read it who may not necessarily follow my encouragement to click and read. Posted with permission from the man himself- thanks Terry.

Feed Journal Newspaper

Again through my Twitter network via @Murcha from Aussie and @MrKp from the UK I found a link to a fun website, Feedjournal.com, that makes your most recent blog posts via the RSS feed into a newspaper

Lifeisnotaracetobefirstfinished.pdf (page 1 of 3)

article that you can download as pdf.

Life is not a race to be first finished pdf

To see what it looks like click on the above link or the graphic. Great if you’re not fond of reading on line. A thought ran through my mind as I re-read the newspaper- without this blog I would not have the motivation to write at all- and I have written and shared quite a bit over time!

And then to finish off I uploaded it to Issuu an on line publisher to give a cool little page turny look to the whole thing. To see it in a better size click on OPEN PUBLICATION.

It’s not like I don’t have plenty to do but I keep getting sidetracked by new finds and interesting conversations. The school holidays are great.

The writing of my first cluster milestone is starting to weigh heavily on my mind. I suppose its a bit like writing school reports- a necessary evil.

Animoto Educational Account

Good for Animoto for sharing their educational account so that teachers can now create longer than 30 second videos for free and download them for playing and keeping on your computer- great for playing and sharing if your internet is slow and spends a lot of time buffering.

As Ewan McIntosh says- it takes zero skill levels to create great videos. To access the educational side of Animoto use this link and ask Rebecca for an educational registration key. She does ask to be kept in the loop as to the kinds of things you are creating.

The quick example I made celebrates my first term as ICT facilitator for Discover IT Tasman.

Movie and Digital Excellence Awards

MADE Awards - By Schools for Schools - Details
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Here is one just for Kiwi Primary Schools! Today I got a few requests for Twitter followers and two of them were from the guys at Selwyn Ridge School in Tauranga. Through these links I found out aout the Movie and Digital Excellence Awards for NZ students. They say…

“The MADE Awards were started from a collaborative exploration of finding ways to celebrate student achievements in community settings by Tahatai Coast School and Selwyn Ridge School.

Students love to use digital media to discover, explore and communicate learning. Much of the fantastic work completed by students has an audience limited to their class peers, sometimes a school assembly, and occasionally to a proud parent who has popped into class.

The MADE Awards seeks to establish an outlet that enables students to show their work with a much wider audience, to be proud of their efforts and to share their learning. The MADE Awards, in partnership with business sponsors, seeks to reward the best efforts of entrants with fantastic ICT equipment which will further enhance the place of ICT in the learning world.”

I need to get back in a classroom to have go in one of their categories- commercial, music video, storytelling, curriculum and static image. Hope they do it again next year!

They will be judged in three ages levels to give everyone a go- Year 1-3, Year 4-6, Year 7-8.


http://www.bbc.co.uk - 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.

Historic Tale Construction Kit

Historic Tale Construction Kit
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I am in a bit of a blogging frenzy at the moment but couldn’t resist sharing this great find from Andrew Churches of Educational Origami fame. The Historic Tale Construction Kit is an on line storytelling site that is just so easy to use and I could imagine it hooking some kids into wanting to write a whole series of slides, developing character and plot along the way. Cheers Andrew.


OK- here is my latest find Jottit– a so simple way to gain yourself your own little quick web space for note taking. First of all you create a page- then you change the URL to one you like- customise the colour scheme and font- create another page that links to the first and away you go. It is a bit like Webotes but with this you can decide how you want to work- anyone can write to it, only selected people can add or just you!

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I intend to use it to write my notes about my ULearn Workshops that I attend.

  1. Developing Visual Literacy with Sara Taylor
  2. Moving, Thinking, Collaborative Classroom with Jane Nicholls
  3. Web 2.0 Intelligence with Tony Ryan
  4. Using a Virtual World in the Classroom with Jacira Meyerink and Nikki Hanks
  5. Bling4yrblog- me
  6. Global Podcasting- me
  7. What are we learning- inquiring minds want to know- Karyn Gray

Voki- a talking widget for your blog

This is a cool wee Voki gadget that you can add to your blog that lets you speak when you are too shy to stand in front of the camera or if you’re too poor to have a camera in your computer. For some reason it won’t embed in Edublogs 🙁 so I have to link it my class blog to view- just click on the photo!)

I found this through Welsh blogger Paul Harrington linking to foreign language learning blogger Joe Dale who linked to French learning site of Nodehill Middle School, Newport, Isle of Wight. We are all interconnected on the web. What do you think?

My Time4OnLine Conference Presentation

Download: Posted by AllanahK at TeacherTube.com.
This is my presentation for the Time4OnLine New Zealand Conference that starts on 28 May. Yay- you get a sneak preview! It is six minutes long and here is a pdf of the shownotes!

Time4OnLine Conference Shownotes

Now all I have to do is relax and enjoy the rest of the presentations.

Why do we blog?

We have been developing our Moturoa Class Blogmeister blog for three weeks now and the kids are loving it. David Warlick asked in the Blogmeister forum for some quotes about how blogging has affected our classroom dynamic, student attitudes, and, of course, student performance for an upcoming Tech Forum he is doing in Long Beach, CA. this week. I took the liberty of scalping some of the replies…Image

My response is that…

Blogging has given my class and myself a window out to the world from the South Island of New Zealand and our parent community an opportunity to participate in the classroom activities.We have an authentic global audience for the events that happen in our school. By blogging we know that people outside our classroom walls are interested and involved in what we do. We have a real purpose for writing to inform, to educate, to connect.

Through blogging we have built real friendships with children in different timezones, with different accents and beliefs. These links help bring the children across the globe closer together.

And here other people respond..

– celebrates thinking
– supports and reflects growth and thoughtfulness
– encourages self reflection and creativity
– invites a variety of perspectives
– widens understandings
– encourages decision making
– affirms and challenges viewpoints
– exposes our perceptions
– develops networks
– links people through thinking and learning
Lorraine Watchorn

Blogs can engage students in a purposeful practice of writing that can promote deeper learning. Blogging can foster classroom conversations that matter. My having a weblog shows them that I make writing a priority. My having a blog lets me share my writing and learning with my students who have blogs. We’re in this together and we learn with
and from each other. I use it as a tool in the classroom to ensure that the students and I are talking, reading and writing about how and what we are learning and thinking. We interact through comments. We have others outside our classroom enter the conversations. We work at building a community who respect and encourage each other. We learn to disagree agreeably. We write to learn. We blog to learn.
Anne Davis

Blogging has given my six and seven-year olds a window to the world. They see themselves as part of a global community–a community that shares things about their lives and feelings, reads what others have written and gives and recieves comments. This international audience gives my students a purpose and they are motivated to do their best writing on their blog.
Kathy Cassidy
Kathy is a keen follower of our podcasts as well. It is interesting that we link with other like minded Web2.0 enthusiasts around the world.

Dr David Whitehead Development Day

Here I am on the last Friday of my school holidays at Brightwater School and I thought I would have a go at live blogging from the venue. If we move too fast then I will give up and write by hand. David has show notes as well and Janice has links that will go up on our cluster web site later. Image

David is into language literacy and thinking tools. He seems like a nice bloke but as he might find this blog I had better say that. LOL. So here goes…

David believes we need future focussed, literate thinkers. As a nation we need people who know how to cut through the spin and get to the truth. We need critical, creative thinkers so we can survive the challenges of the 21st century.

NZ teachers are sensitive observers of children’s learning and thinking we should celebrate that and be aware of the dangers of spending our time trying to assess thinking skills.

We then looked at seven selection criteria for thinking tools. I have just tended to grab a thinking tool but David helped us see a sensible pattern and a criteria for selecting which particular thinking tool that you might use for a particular reason.

  1. Teaching and Learning linked – helping children learn.
  2. Smart Tools – not just reading but also writing, not only listening but also speaking.
  3. Subject specific – some tools best suit themselves to one subject eg using a time line best suits historical texts and narrative sequences.
  4. Text linked – if a tool evokes the same type of thinking as the tools then that’s the one you should use for example a T-chart is best suited to being a basis of argument or persuasive writing.
  5. Thought linked- memory, creative, critical, caring, reflective…
  6. Brain Friendly- aligned with how the brain learns naturally- visual imagery.
  7. Developmentally appropriate- some tools are best suited to particular age groups.

During morning tea with yummy muffins we made this concept map. The thing that impressed me with all of these thinking tImageools was that the same tool is being used across all age groups but with an extra component added at each level to develop the thinking. For example at the beginning level children simply record the have, are, can and give examples. They can then turn this into a text report with a simple definition, text body and an ending.

At the next step up level children can add group attributes and their report text may have an engaging opening (a hook), parts and more uses for the topic. Their text report then would have an interesting opening sentence, a definition, the body of the text which may include more detailed part description of and uses for the topic followed by a satisfying closing sentence.

Now David adds…

“When teachers use texts to engage students with different types of thinking, they operate on the brain as assuredly as neurosurgeons. The neural fabric in the brain is re-structured or pruned during every lesson taught. In this sense, the very structure of our brain – the relative size of different regions, the strength of connections between them, even their functions – reflect the lives we have lead. Like sand on the beach, the brain bears the footprints of the decisions we have made, the tools we have learned, the actions we have taImageken.”

You can see from David’s quote why he is so sought after. That paragraph is the most elequent on this blog so far! It resonates with a blog I read somewhere where a father was talking with his son about what he had learnt at school that day. The son said he had been building muscles for his brain. How cool is that?

Paul Wilkinson joined us virtually from Christchurch for a time and listened via Skype. With Call Recorder I was able to capture this sound bite from David about knowledge and knowing. This again wove itself into my thinking about creating learning in the classroom- content is only a context for learning and metacognition (there we are- the first time I have used that word in context).

David’s Sound Bite 2.5MB 2 minutes

This is the first time that I have tried to add audio to this blog and I will be very impressed with myself if it works. It did- I hope David doesn’t mind!


The other text type that I found particularly interesting and useful was the narrative. The narrative lends itself to sequenced timeline. In the past we would have constructed timelines, patted oursleves on the back and moved on. David suggested that a time line is not an end in itself but a process on the way to learning. We need to take it a couple of steps further for children to develop narrative plot structures in their writing. Simply to do that children construct a time line with different colours of text signifying prior and new knowledge. Then take one event on the timeline and expand it with who, where, what, how, why questions. Image

Seeing I was the only participant from my school I worked with Brightwater staff as they developed their more advanced timeline about their winning breakfast with Olympic triathlete, Hamish Carter, as a reward for 100% participation in the walk to school promotion.David suggests also we complete an events analysis…

  • Was it OK that this event happened?
  • Was the event really needed?
  • Did the event achieve its purpose?
  • What can we learn from what happened?
  • What could you change from what happened?

And then ask what can we learn about life from reading this text. This made the link in my mind to the Lighting the Literacy Fire post I wrote earlier about making text-to-self connections.

The day was well spent and there is lots more for me to ruminate on. I would like to participate in one of David’s study groups as it sounds really interesting.

Another highlight of the day were the contributions made by Paul Harrington in Wales and Paul Wilkinson in Christchurch. If you read the comments on this post you will see the conversation going on in there as the day progressed as well.

Paul has directed us to a useful Freeville Thinking Tools wiki that he is working on with templates for thinking tools and David’s shownotes will be available to us soon via Centre4 I presume.

Hopefully this blog post will become an interesting focal point for the on-going discussion of the thinking tools that we learnt today. If you are going to blog about it how about adding DrDavidWhitehead (no spaces) to your tags so that we can find your blog and link together.


One last thing before I go out and enjoy the sunshine…

During the day David put up a chart on the non-interactive whiteboard showing the links between the text type and the thinking tool that best suits it. This is what managed to get from my hand-written bird scratchings. I know I have missed some tools and probably got some wrong. Please help me edit the linking chart by adding your comments either in this blog or on Flickr directly and I will change it.

I enjoyed the day and learnt a lot that I can practically use in my classroom next week. Thank you David and Brightwater School for hosting us.

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Our Podcast

Jane Nicholls has just made a podcast about our Allanah’s Appleby Showcase Podomatic podcast and I was thinking about how far we have come with our podcast since we first started podcasting in August of last year.

ImageI have not mentioned it recently as we have had some trouble with the podcast being linked through our school website but that’s a whole ‘nother story and it is all sorted now thanks to Steve fixing the permissions on a server in Auckland from a hotel room in Bankok!

I am very proud of our podcast and the recognition it has received around the globe. I publish it in two different places because I want to show teachers who are not familiar with web design just how easy it is to publish to a site like Podomatic where you have a good level of control over the podcasting process. Linking it to play through the school website is reliant on the school’s web designer (me) having the time and inclination to help out!

I have made a ‘what a podcast is all about’ wiki if you are interested in taking podcasting further or if you would like to add your podcast to our Podcasting People Page so we can share our podcasts would be great. The page should be easily editable- if you have problems please let me know.
I would love to have more podcasts added to the list.

Lighting the Literacy Fire

My second professional development experience was on Monday evening when four of us from school attended a workshop presented by Jill Eggleton. Jackie and I had been to a course a few years back with Jill and Jo Windsor as well before she passed away and we had been inspired then so I was looking forward to re-visiting their work. They wrote the book Linking the Language Strands which was so good that I bought my own copy!

She talked about education being not about filling the pail but of lighting the fire. I don’t think she meant to reference learning in the digital age but it still resonated with me.

The piece of her presentation that I particularly took away with me is the ‘News Book’. She suggests how the approach could work across the whole school.

An item of news from yesterday is showcased- it could be a newspaper item, photo, news or topic of interest. The teacher prepares a short unseen text based on the article. From that text the teacher highlights (unlocks the text)

  • a language feature
  • vocabulary extension
  • main idea
  • a thinking tool
  • mental picture
  • ‘text to self’ connection.

We read the text together discussing the features, then read it aloud in an interesting manner and the booklet is given to an individual or couple to respond to visually. This activity is a really quick, meaningful way to engage students and spark an oral/written/reading activity. As I am getting to grips with this technique I have written little prompts at the bottom of the text to remind me of my next teaching point. Each day the previous day’s text is re-read for fluency and when the booklet is finished it then becomes a part of the classroom independent resource- everyone can read it and hopefully there is enough of a connnection with the text that people will want to re-read it.

After having done this four times now since Monday the parts I particularly like

  • the building of the mental image- asking children to think of the sights, sounds, smells etc of what is happenning in the text
  • the quick way to showcase some thinking tool or strategy- hats, PMI, thinker’s keys, question chains etc
  • the text to self connection- how can students relate a personal connection to the text. ‘How does this relate to my life?’

I want to buy the updated version of the book now!