A couple of days ago Chris Harte, who was in my group at the Google Academy last year, posted on Google Plus about an Add On to Google Docs ‘Easy Accents‘ that allowed writers to easily use accents when writing.
As I often do I emailed myself the link so I could look at it more when I had a moment.
This afternoon I had a moment.
Dan Baker had originally posted that he had updated the app but sadly the accents didn’t include Māori macrons, only French, German and Spanish. I took it upon myself to ask Daniel if there was a possibility of adding Māori. Dan lives in Missouri and the time zones must be compatible with a Sunday afternoon in New Zealand so there followed a quick flurry of emails and a shared Google doc and within the hour the job was done and being pushed out to Google servers globally.
Over the weekend I had the privilege of attending the Apple Distinguished Educators first ever New Zealand official get together in Auckland. Apart from getting to know one another better the main thrust for the event was to make a video potentially for iTunes U. We were put in to three groups of five with a Final Cut Pro expert on hand for when we got stuck and got on with it. It was a little like Masterchef with a final countdown for 4pm on Saturday afternoon. Almost two solid days of work for a 90 second video! The end result was pretty good though.
I am happy to say I have a couple of things in iTunes U already owing to my involvement in the K12 OnLine Conference over the last couple of years.
While we were there we were privileged to also hear from Rhonda Kite, the CEO of Kiwa Media. I was impressed, very impressed with her vision, passion and skills. We have such talented New Zealanders here.
It is Kiwa Media that have developed the Hairy Maclary and Wonky Donkey apps that I already had. Previously I had just had the apps auto play but now realise there is more to it than that. On my return to school on Monday we had a look at the Hairy Maclary book being signed as it was read. My class were impressed as they could sort of see what was being read at the same time as listening and reading. Then we had a go at adding our own narration. Fortunately the I had a parent willing to help and an empty classroom next door because I left my iRig noise cancelling microphone at home.
When I got home I used Reflectionapp to mirror my iPad onto my laptop and used Quicktime to record the screen and Vimeo to post to the web.
I would like to share my school day with teachers from Barbara Reid‘s ICTPD Cluster in Hamilton in the holidays.
I nade a couple of Keynote presentations and uploaded them to Slideshare so I could share them more widely and all the hyperlinks would work when viewed. I had to cull them a bit to fit them in under the 10MB upload file size.
The first is focussing on the junior school, the second on seniors. For the Junior presentation I also used the blogs of Sherryn Lines and Cherryl Eden to help illustrate. Thanks team.
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.
In my internet meanderings I came across Qwiki a couple of days ago and just this morning got my alpha invite. I am impressed.
I am not sure if they know where I live but their welcome page gives New Zealand as their search example. Well done guys!
The idea as they say on their introductory video is to make information an experience. You enter your search term (and I like that it auto fills so kids wouldn’t have to be able to spell their searches right) and you are informed about your search topic in orally with text and pictures. You are then given some related searches to peruse.
It is in its alpha stage so you can give them plenty of feedback on how to improve but I think it’s pretty good even yet. I enjoyed their pronunciation of Waitangi- Wait-angi! LOL It even passes the ‘jugs’ test.
I have a feeling this is going to be great. It will help younger children access information on the internet beyond their reading ability which is always a problem I have teaching eight year olds.
Welcome to my keynote for the K12 Online Conference. The whole process has been a learning experience for me as I made decisions about what parts of my classroom programme that I thought people may be interested in. I also pushed myself a little in publishing the video using iMovie09 which I wasn’t very familiar with.
When I showed my class the finished video they seemed happy enough with it and gave it a round of applause so I was pleased it got a tick of approval from my most important audience.
I started the class blog in 2005 and this Edublog in 2007.
I had no real idea how sharing what we do as a class and my reflections as a teacher would lead but it seemed like an interesting experiment at the time. It seems incredible to me now how I only started blogging and sharing on line five short years ago. The whole process has been transformative for me as a teacher.
The use of ICT has allowed us to share our practice in ways that have never been practicable in the past.
Before the availability and accessibility of online learning teachers were sealed in their classroom cocoons with few opportunities to visit others’ classes or learn from others’ experiences outside their neigbourhood.
The world of ICT has opened my eyes and the eyes of my children to a world of infinite possibilities.
My question for you is how can you share your classroom practice with others?
How do you collaborate and learn from others.
How are you able to offer children choices in their learning?
I have been asked to write a few sentences for the Education Review Publication on where I hope learning that uses ICTs will be in five years time. In case my responses never end up going to print here is what I wrote…
In five years I would hope that all schools would have reliable access to ultra fast broadband so they can access the work of others and effectively publish content that they have created. Alongside this children need appropriate hardware and a decent wireless connection to connect to that network. In five years time I envisage that we will have more access to more mobile devices because of their portability, price and popularity.
I see cloud computing being more and more prevalent. It just makes sense to able to access web based resources where and when you need them without the need for a specific operating system or device but I see the lack of bandwidth as a major challenge.
I would hope that many more parents would be able to participate in their children’s learning through sharing their children’s learning journeys on line — through blogs, wikis, e-portfolios and on-line collaboration.
I see social media playing more of a role in on line learning. People are social animals and we can learn so much directly from others who form part of our personalised learning network.
This morning I attended a talk by Lester Flockton at which we got to hear his take on how he sees National Standards in New Zealand. My view of them is filtered through doom tinted glasses so anything I might add can be taken from that point of view. These are my views and are to be taken in no way as a reflection on the views of staff or BoT at my school. My reflections are in italics. This is what I took from Lester’s talk. I don’t usually blog about contentious issues but I wanted to share what I heard from someone who knows more about it than most. Here is what I heard…
National Standards have their foundations in politics not education so how can you discuss them with reason or logic. It was a political decision to start the National Standards process.
We need to be strong to say what we think- will I actually post my notes as a blog post but people already know via Twitter what I think. Press had been asked to leave before the Principal’s meeting started so how different is my blog post from a post in a newspaper, apart from lack of readership of this blog. We have a culture of compliance in NZ- we need to THINK of implications for National Standards- its possible/probable impact on teaching and learning.
Here are some of the slides that Lester used in his presentation. To see them in a decent size hover over them and click fullscreen.
Pamphlets about National Standards were posted out to parents before Christmas. Interestingly no one in the room had received a pamphlet in the mail – they were posted and not given to teachers to hand out- no wonder! The pamphlets were filled with political rhetoric in talk back radio language like…
20% of students are failing (Lester says 10-15% of children are struggling for a variety of reasons). Every country has a large tail- to make a difference to those struggling kids there are needs to be a whole package of assistance that they need to become successful- a test without real resources to support the family/whanau is unlikely to be successful.
Identify struggling children early- like we don’t know already which children are struggling.
We need one national test to rule them all- thankfully but also fatefully National Standards don’t deliver one test to rule them all- each school/teacher puts their own slant on the standard.
National Standards are needed so children can be compared one school against another. Lester says that the Standards are already impacting with schools advertising for staff to raise standards. Schools should be collaborative not competitive.
Parents are tired of politically correct sugar coated reports. Plain language reporting- it was changed from plain English as by saying English it was not politically correct! LOL)
League tables- inevitable in the long run- John Hattie is going to be in working party to develop them. He says he wants to make them safe- only comparing like decile schools. Lester says NEMP data is much more dependable and reliable. Schools will be pitched against schools! Common data sources- you won’t find them with National Standards there really isn’t moderation between schools- league tables based on surface features- because they more easily measured. It will breed a whole new batch of data driven tests.
Revision of NAGs in November 2009- blue sheet. Lester handed out NAG revision handout. Now no need to assess AOs. Schools asked to report to MoE on demographic analysis and trends, weakness, and what they are intending to do about it.
If you have a good reporting process keep it but add on as an appendage to your normal reporting schedule in term one and term four. Bring data on from the end of the previous year- beware of children’s fading over the school holidays. Beware of last year’s teachers who are soft or too hard so you appear over hard with kids moving between average or below for example- if a child was assessed as average last year and you put them at below beware of the parental wrath- Beware teacher workload.
MoE timeline- BoTs report on trends and what schols intend to do to achieve those targets. There will be enormous variance across teachers and schools as on what is above/below standard. There needs to be ongoing moderation between teachers and across schools.
Looking carefully at the characteristics of the reading and writing standards- same word games as the Achievement Objectives- the characteristics of year five and six are the same- it will be up to teachers to make those judgments and actually put it in plain language.
The people who put the standards together weren’t teachers and were done behind closed doors without teacher practitioners being involved. Why trial something that is rubbish anyway? Overseas any improvement has come at the expense of a balanced, broad curriculum. Is this what we want- to follow failed overseas systems?
Trending to a data driven system. Children are not data.
The blog started from humble beginnings with me adding most of the content. Now it is mostly being added to by the children as we continue to link and learn with those outside the four classroom walls. If you go to the voting page linked from the graphic you can read more about the finalists, view their entries and vote.
Here comes the plug- please vote for Allanah King’s blog as I would love to have a little laptop to carry about. By voting you could win a 16GB flash drive as well.
Voting closes next Monday 19 of October so you haven’t got long.
Isn’t it nice how this blog and Interface share the same colour scheme!
A friend rang me tonight and asked what we do at our school as regards the use of pen or pencil for general writing. At my school everyone from five year olds up use a pen for writing and a pencil for maths.
I remember when I first started teaching we used pencil pretty much all the time and if you were ‘good’ at writing you got to use a pen and we always used pencil in your maths book. Juniors always had to use a pencil and I spent many happy hours sharpening pencils with my handy Stanley knife. At one stage we accessed a powered pencil sharpener- it only lasted a few days as it was so much fun that everything that could be stuffed in it was and was immediately sharpened to a form a lethal weapon.
In my class now we use pens all the time apart from maths- why do we do maths in pencil? I have no idea really- just because we do! I have a tray of pens, pencils, rubbers, rulers etc for focus learning groups so that children don’t have to waste time trying to find something to write with. We have class sets of art pencils, felt tip, highlighter and whiteboard pens for children to use.
I have a personal hatred of liquid twink and will happily use the dry whiteout roller to correct mistakes if needed. Children can buy their own if they want but most let the school buy it for them.
I take handwriting lessons with my Year Four/Five class on a usually regular basis and recently have started to reward effort and attainment in handwriting by giving them release to practise their typing ability. I have made individual sheets for children to copy the lessons from so they don’t have to peer at a badly written example on the whiteboard and I can model better on a piece of paper than a whiteboard.
John Greatorex and I collaborated a few years back to create a set of NZ fonts for Apple and PC and I have a copy of this on my computer. It is great to put good examples of WALTs etc on the wall in NZ fonts. I had asked Learning Media to come up with a NZ font ages ago but drew a blank response so outsourced the idea!
So that’s what I do! The teacher asked if I could help her find out what other people do at other schools. A tweet was needed! I was surprised to find out that most people tend to use pencil in the younger grades and move onto to pen as the children get older.
Today I had the pleasure of being invited to participate in in the Nelson Cluster ICT day.
It was just the thing I needed to reinforce my commitment to eLearning for my children. Also in attendance were some of NZ’s eLearning shining stars. Dorothy Burt kicked things off with her keynote outlining Point England’s eLearning Journey. Dorothy comprehensively hyperlinked her keynote with links to highlights of the learning experiences at Point England. She continues to be my podcasting inspiration.
As usual in these sorts of situations I found it difficult to connect to the internet and the battery on my MBP seems to drain as soon as I power up so I had to just listen to what Dorothy was sharing. Not a bad thing, I hear you say. But I found that writing/tapping as I listen helps me to remember and ‘get’ the message. Without access to recording my learning as it was happening I know that I missed some stuff I should have got- that’s why these sorts of back channels are so good. We should encourage our children to be able to do whatever it takes to ‘get’ our message. This thought reminded me of one of Lisa Parisi’s recent postings- doing what it takes to learn and remember in our own way- to move, to mash-up, to make.
Next I attended an I Can Animate workshop with Mike Foster from Nelson Intermediate. I got some good tips particularly to buy Resene Wham paint for a green screen backdrop. I thought I had taken a photo of his set up but it looks like a didn’t. I think a class visit might be on the cards before I have a go an constructing one for myself.
My mate, Jason, from Sitech called in to my class while he was here so that I could return the IWB he lent me for the term. Having the use of an IWB has been a wonderful, engaging opportunity for my class and I and we will sadly miss it as we go back to having to share our one data projector with the rest of the school. Jason did however give me another gadget to play with for a bit- a wireless tablet. Wacom has given me tablet but I have used it exclusively at home. I will give the kids more of a go with the wireless tablet I think because it won’t be so tied to the computer via the USB like the Wacom is.
I also got a look at this new straight out of the box workstation with a 37inch monitor all ready to hook up to your laptop. I thought it was a great way to bring the big screen to the classroom. I could see how we could put that to good use as well.
I then had the opportunity to share some of my own eLearning journey. Many of the links I used are on my wiki.
The conference finished off with a final keynote from Derek Wenmoth. In it he shared his wealth of knowledge and thoughts about the future for us all. Dorothy, Derek, Suzie Vesper and I had a very stimulating conversation about Derek’s latest posting, Without data, you’re just another person with opinion. As I get the last say ‘cos this is my blog- I think that the direction that NZ’s new government is taking to stir up the press to publish school league tables is NOT a positive move although I do believe that we should be rigorous in assessing the value added learning that children attain while in our care.
Derek is off to the UK tomorrow. Ka kī atu a au kia hoki ora atu a ia ki te kāinga.
The title of this post was going to be ‘When the real and the virtual collide’ but as I grow in the use of these Web2.0 tools the virtual becomes the real. Just because you haven’t met people before or don’t see them on a daily basis doesn’t mean that the interactions with them aren’t real.
I have just spent the last few days at the New Zealand Learning at School Conference in Rotorua. Unfortunately I missed the Andy Hargreaveskeynote as my plane didn’t get in on time but from all accounts he was well received and his content was relevant. I will catch up with his keynote when things settle down a bit.
After quickly meeting up with some of my Twitter/blogger mates I launched into my first breakout session with Tony Ryan. I took a quick screen grab of one of his slides which was an excellent quick resource as to what I need to do to move on some of the sparkly ideas from the conference. I agree- you have to integrate what you want to do smartly or it will get gnawed away at by AsTTle tests, planning for camp, Meet the Teacher meetings ……. I have already moved on a couple of things so all is not lost. Best quote from Tony to me mid breakout session- ‘It’s all right, I can speak louder than your cellphone.’ Note to self- gotta put it on vibrate for next time! Thought of Jamin who last text me mid-keynote in Tauranga last month to ask if I had remembered to switch my cell phone off and to find out where I was sitting!! Congratulations Jamin and Jamie on the birth of your son, Noah. Love to you both.
✩ Next up was a spot of Blue Screen Magic. Like most things- its a lot easier when you have friends to help you.
Jane left instructions for the ‘how to‘ on her blog so all the hard work was done there. Fun techy stuff that you could use with kids. Thanks David, Disa and Jane.
✩ Next up was my workshop on Free Adobe Apps on Line which was done in the heat of the day. Unfortunately participants didn’t have wi-fi access of their own so the session was limited to a show and tell- not as interactive as it might have been. If you want to see the slides in a Google Presentation click here.
✩ I was in awe when Wes Fryer turned up in my next breakout talking about making enriched pdfs embedded in Google Apps for Educators and made into digital portfolios. He live blogged the whole thing which was great. Thanks Wes- that’s never happened to me before!
✩ I had the privilege in attending Wes’ breakout session on Powerful Blended Learning. We used Chatsy as a backchannel which worked well if you had had wifi- which I didn’t!
If you’re not sure that hyperlinked writing really is the most powerful form of writing try clicking on any of the words- they link to web sites randomly plucked from my recently bookmarked Delcious bookmarks.
✩ Next was a taster presentation ‘It’s all about Learning’ talking about unpacking the Curriculum and engaging children in meaningful dialogue about what it really means for them as learners. Good stuff. I liked that they had examples of the kids work- all messy and real. They had taken direct quotes from the curriculum and de-constructed it- just like you could de-construct a piece of text in a story you were reading as a shared book. Thanks Lisa and Belinda.
✩ Pam Hook shared her vision with SOLO taxonomy. I have read about the rubrics before and frankly if hadn’t made a lot of sense to me but hearing her talk about it an and seeing videos of children talking about it all made it make sense to me.
✩ The last workshop was a one I aimed at beginners just talking about the sorts of things that I do in my classroom to foster a sense of community and collaboration with my class. During the session we quickly Skyped in with Brian Crosby from Nevada while he had a little classroom release time. I didn’t provide much in the way of a handout for this one but some of the key postings are here on a quickie wiki I made last year to show ERO some of the things we did. If you were in that workshop please ring me, email me or Skype me if you get lost or need some help.
✩ A scary, fun, last thing that finished up the conference was Wes’ keynote. We sort of flashmobbed it with the Collaborative Dance Video that we made last year. Just as Wes was about to start we all leapt up and did our happy dance. Not to be left out Chrissy and a few kids from her class were able to join us via Skype at 6.45am from Bangkok International School. How cool is that. Wes was such a good sport about it all and joined in the fun. I am sure the video of Wes’ keynote will be on line soon but in the meantime here is a short clip of how our beginning bit went recorded on my computer with Skype and Call Recorder. If you are keen to find more look for the Flickr tag #lats09.
Here is Chrissy’s post and video about how it looked at her end. It was great fun for us all to catch up with Chrissy so far away in Bangkok and for her to catch up on our news!
After my heart had stopped racing at the scariness of doing a happy dance in front of all those people I was able to listen to what Wes had to say but again my battery let me down so I wasn’t able to record what he said but I am sure others were able to more eloquently than me any way but the two things that stuck in my head were…
Hyperlinked writing is the most powerful form of writing there is.
He aha te mea nui. He tangata, he tangata, he tangata. ( In my own words- What is the most important thing? It is the people- we need to give kids the tools to be able to connect and learn.)
At the end of the day Wes, Glenda, Pesa and I had a great look around Whakarewarewa. What a nice way to end the conference- and I bought a beautiful possum and merino wool jersey for winter for half price when I went shopping on Saturday morning. Bonus!
Early in February this blog got a little recognition from the New Zealand Education Gazette so I asked the Wayne Erb, the reporter, if I could put a copy of the article on the blog and he said that would be fine so here it is for downlaod in case you missed the paper copy.
I did a couple of workshops- one on podcasting and another on Adobe OnLine. The feedback from the podcasting sessions were very positive with people enjoying the conversations and fun of it all.
Quote- “Podcasting looks much more straightforward than I thought. Great! I will try this!”
Unfortunately we had a bit of a problem all logging on to the internet at the same time in the second workshop but at least we got some useful tips on how to make good use of Google Docs. If you would like to look at what I was going to talk about in Google Docs as a presentation click on the graphic below and follow along by clicking on the arrows on the bottom left hand corner of the presentation.
The conference was held at Te Akau Ki Papamoa School. What a wonderful set up that was- the school has quite a distinct character and vision. Their vision comprises seven waves with the proximity to Papamoa Beach being recognised. Each wave is a separate learning goal. That visual symbol of the vision is great for learners to identify with.
Vision – Clearly define our preferred future. Provide a clear learning continuum.
Think – Focus on Higher Order Thinking, critical self-reflection, Essential Skills, individualised learning, in depth learning and research.
Learn – Provide the environment and opportunities for our learners to develop the skills, attitudes and values to contribute to society and to be self-motivating, life long learners.
Nurture – applying a Whanau approach in all we do. Providing a safe physical and emotional environment. Applying “good choices” and “restorative justice”. Nurturing each child as our own.
Grow – Assist learners to discover, develop, demonstrate and celebrate their talents. Apply Benchmarks to measure progress. Focus on goals and ways to achieve them.
Communicate – Celebrate the excellence we achieve. Share what we expect, stand for and believe in. Consult with our community regularly.
Shine – Focus on “Best Practice.” Identify, harness, develop, utilise and build on individual strengths.
What a great New Year’s present for 2009. All NZ teachers now have free access to the LEARNZ virtual field trips. Usually this would cost $75 per year for your school. All you have to do is verify your Teacher Registration number and provide an email address and you are away laughing.
If you haven’t explored the Virtual Field Trips before they have a demo link to a previous field trip about Mt Bruce Wildlife Park that has been archived that can be freely accessed but it will give a good look around the site. The virtual field trip has links to curriculum guides, audio, video, photos and heaps more.
If you chose to participate in a live field trip you will be able to talk to people on site via an audio bridge. All very cool and engaging for children.
The first field trip starts at the end of February and looks at Marine Reserves and there are others coming up on renewable energy, earth science, wind power, ancient NZ, freshwater ecology and much more. Give it a go- there’s nothing to lose.
I’m home safely after another brilliant ULearn08 conference. The whole thing is really such a whirl and I think you do need some time to internalise things but here are my thoughts as they come to me now there is nothing left but empty wine bottles and a head full of wonderings.
I’ve been at home out in the sunshine doing a little weeding with my fingers busy and my mind reeling about that word, CHANGE. I look reflectively at my own classroom practice and wonder how much it has really changed. How much connectivity I allow? Is it more about me and my teaching or about the children and their learning? I am looking forward to going back next year and putting my money where my mouth is with a new group of Year 1/2.
I want to do an action research project on the changes that podcasting makes on oral language. It will be great to have a fresh slate on which to write. My network will be invited to act as my peer review.
This was my first conference where I was more of a leader than a follower- in lots of senses of leadership. I lead a great group of six teachers from Discover IT Tasman cluster. What a great group to give up a week of their precious school holidays.
And I also did a workshop on podcasting which was very rushed but hopefully people will be able to follow up on when they have a moment. Here is the wiki link to that one. It would be great if people could add their podcast to the ‘People Who Podcast‘ page as they get their own podcasts under way.
If there is a next time I don’t think I will offer to present so much- there was so much more I would like to have been at that I think I might have missed some great opportunities to participate.
At our unconference the topic I brought to the table was that of Twitter- on line etiquette. While at the conference some people who maybe didn’t understand the public nature of Twitter thought it was OK to make derogatory comments about people who they knew were connected and likely to read them. Apart from being bad manners I think it is important for people to understand and help the children in their classes understand that what you write on the internet doesn’t just disappear after you push ENTER. What you write is a reflection of yourself as much as it is a reflection of what you think. If you want to say something potentially harmful maybe you should move into a more private conversation mode like Skype chat or F2F discussion at a more appropriate time.
I didn’t win the Microsoft Innovative Teacher Award but it was fun trying. I got to go up on stage and be acknowledged as a finalist which was nice. I had to laugh though as Warren told me I wasn’t to take my laptop up on stage. With more than one way to skin a cat- I took my iTouch and twittered with that. Lenva tweeted that she could see my fingers moving and new what I was doing!!! Hehehehe!!!
Tools wise I learnt how to make news items with Adobe Visual Communicator- another great tool for 2009. Watch this space as I get the hang of it and work out how to do a little blue-screening
One of the best personal moments was at the very, very end, just as I was leaving Jared Holden from New Plymouth came up to me and said how much he appreciated my blog posting and contributions to our community. I left with tears in my eyes and a light heart. What a nice thing to say. Thank you Jared.
It was a top class event for me to meet up and converse with top people from NZ and overseas, topped off with a great weekend showing Sheryl, Will and their families our stunning country.
Paul Wilkinson just posted this rather excellent find- Virtual Highway- which is a wonderful Google mash-up of a Google map of New Zealand and video of what the drive actually looks like. As the video plays a little car moves along the highway keeping in synch with the video. Here is a screen grab of part of my commute. Way cool.