Mawhera Taniwha- Google Drawings and Google Slides

Today we were learning how to make Google Drawings and layering them with transparent png images. We were going to ‘TOOLS- Research- Images- Free to use’ to find our images.

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We used ‘taniwha png’ as the search term so we would get images with transparent backgrounds.

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We found our background image and layered it and went to ARRANGE – send to back, to made sure it was at the back. Then we went and got the taniwha image and put it over top. The Taniwha of the Mawhera caves lives on!

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 11.00.48 pm

Then we took it a step further. We made an animation in Google Slides of the taniwha swimming up the river. The original image I used for the taniwha was black and it didn’t show up very well against the dark background so when I got home I imported it to Pixlr Editor (Chrome Web App) and changed the colour to white so it would show up.

Instructions for how to make transparent images and change the colour with Pixlr Editor are linked here.

To make the animation we made our first slide with the Taniwha on it, duplicated the slide and moved the taniwha image slightly, duplicated (Command + D or CTRL +D) and ever so slightly moved the taniwha again, repeating it. Then we just scrolled through the slides really fast and the taniwha swum up the river. Try it it’s lots of fun.

Kids will have a ball!!

You can also take it a step further by embedding the presentation into a blog or Google Site. All you have to do is publish it to the web and change the timings a little…..

Go to FILE- PUBLISH TO WEB and change the size to small and tick the box that says ‘Start slideshow as soon as the player loads’.

Take the embed code and copy it to where you want the presentation to load and change the timing. For where it says 3000 change it to something like 300. And publish.

So this way the animation will play without having to tap away to progress the slides.

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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Principals’ Conference- Lake Rotoiti

Last week I had the privilege of attending part of the Nelson Principals’ Conference at Lake Rotoiti. I was there to facilitate an ICT challenge but I went up on the evening before so I could capture the dawn on the lake- something that I’ve always wanted to do. Here is my Flickr set that I’m really pleased with. Here’s the five frame storytelling outline that we completed. Well done Team Drummond for your spectacular presentation.


They had David Gurteen talking about the Knowledge Cafe– the idea behind the knowledge cafe is to re-create some of the conversations that happen in the pub after the staff meeting, where people feel OK to really express themselves and challenge each other on an equal footing and say what they really think.

David quoted Theodore Zeldin on conversation, “Conversation is a meeting of minds with different memories and habits. When minds meet, they don’t just exchange facts: they transform them, reshape them, draw different implications from them, and engage in new trains of thought. Conversation doesn’t just reshuffle the cards: it creates new cards.

The kind of conversation I like is one in which you are prepared to emerge a slightly different person.

Theodore Zeldin (b. 1933) Historian & Author

David Gurteen’s comments: “I love this quote and use it in many of my presentations and workshops, especially when I am talking about the meaning of dialogue. I also tell people in my knowledge cafes that this is the sort of conversation they should be having – not a conversation where they tell people things but a conversation where they listen and learn in other words a ‘learning conversation“.

At this point I made the connection to Dean Shareski’s 2010 K12 OnLine keynote where he said “I am a derivative.” Me too- I am a derivative of all the people I know.

Conversational dynamics are better with smaller groups of four or thereabouts. It sounds a lot like our planned cluster unconference.

The process of a knowledge cafe- small groups, conversation based around a question, 5-10 minutes, ask a few people to move to another group, others sit tight and continue- coming back together but don’t report back- try and have another big group conversation- everyone can contribute. By changing groups the dominant ones when moved tend to be less so after being moved changes the group dynamics.

‘Who would like to share something with the wider group?’ For a larger group you may need a mike. One big circle at the end. Finally ask each person for one sentence in reflection of the process or the new perceptions as a result of the conversation.

The key outcome from a knowledge cafe is what people take away in their heads- a deeper understanding of one another, a better appreciation of your own point of view and the perspectives of others. A better understanding of each other and thus improved relationships and collaboration.

I would like to give the Knowledge Cafe a go at Thursday’s lead teacher meeting and in my classroom. I think the world needs more conversation- people tend to talk past each other not to each other.

And a final quote from Theodore Zeldin, “Change the way you think, and you are halfway to changing the world.

K12 OnLine Conference Keynote- A Week in the Classroom

So here it is…

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.

If you would like to wander through some of the links I mention in the video you may like to visit the presenter page on the K12Online site.

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?

Please feel free to ask questions through the K12Online Conference Ning so together we can learn from each other.

The joy of a conference like this is that all of the content will be available on line whenever YOU want it, at a time and place that suits you.

To see everyone’s presentations click here or search for K12Online in iTunesU for download. Each presentation is only about 20 minutes long so they are in very manageable byte sized bits.

365 Photo Challenge

Two whole months have gone by and I have managed to keep my New Year’s Resolution going and I have uploaded a photo every day to my WordPress Photo Blog. Admittedly I have stockpiled a few to use when school is all I get to think about in a day but I am quite pleased with myself. A big part of maintaining the interest is gaining inspiration from looking at other people’s photos and receiving feedback from people viewing my photos.

Here is a summary of two months worth of photos. Thanks team.

Jan/Feb 2010

365 Photo Project

Imagine if you will- it’s New Year’s morning and most people have retired for the night but a few of us on Twitter were hatching a plan. The plan started a little after midnight and finished, for me anyway, after 3am. That’s how long it took me to get started and be inspired by Chrissy Hellyer and Jude O’Connell to start a 365 Photo blog.

The idea is that you take a photo a day and post it on the web. I thought I would explore a different blogging platform that I hadn’t used before to avoid changing log ins. Some might say I have overdone this blogging thing with a family blog, a class blog, this edublog, the bling4yrblog, our podcast, microblogging with Twitter, Facebook. Linked In– whatever.

I chose WordPress to host my photos. With Jude’s prompting I chose the duotone theme from WordPress. The theme itself misses a few features that I would like but the great thing about it is that it samples your photos and automatically selects a similar coloured background. So here it is- now I’ve gone public I will HAVE to keep it going.
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

Here is a sample of how one of the photos looks in the theme. The duotone theme has a couple of limitations in that you can only post one image per post, it only allows three widgets and to get to a previous photo you click on the forward arrow- but you can’t have it all manuka!

The whole thing has gathered momentum and I am keen- not only because I have always loved taking photos but mainly because of the support and encouragement given by everyone in my blogroll who comments on my photos.

In a school context I am going to ask the children contribute in a similar sort of way to This was another platform that I started with but let go. Using this we get post every day and children can share their successes as they learn how to take better photographs.

In the past I have tried to keep a written diary but always lost interest- I think the thing that will keep me going with this project is having an authentic audience. The people who are also doing the project with us are awesome and give me a reason to keep trying.

My next step is to re-join the Nelson Camera Club.

Sunday Six

This is the first school holiday in a couple of years where I have had nothing to do  and I am relishing the early nights and late rising to bank a reserve of sleep that I can draw on when school starts again- yeah right!

As you can well imagine I have spent a fair amount of trolling the internet, twittering and exploring. Here are a couple of holidays finds that are worth more than a save to my delicious.

1. Ten YouTube URL Tricks– I often see embedded YouTube videos on class blogs and wonder if teachers realise how few clicks away from porn they think they are! With these easy tips you can disable the search box and links to related videos and more.

2. My Delicious– I have spent some time tidying up my on line bookmarks and putting them into tag bundles. @AngeNZ asked for a look through and I thought others may like a peek as well.

3. iPhoto09 Faces and Books. ImageI have just taught my iPhoto how to recognise photos of people and made a Photo Book of my recent overseas travels. That was so fun and the book of 68 pages ($122NZ) will be delivered in a couple of weeks. I can’t wait as I have seen the quality and professional look of iPhoto Books before but never actually made one. I could have printed it to pdf but thought I would push the boat out and have the hardcover book professionally printed.

4. Through Twitter links I have joined in on a couple of UStream professional development sessions in Canada and somewhere else. It doesn’t seem important really as to where the sessions were but thanks to Chris Harbeck for the invite to join in.

5. Drop Box– Drop Box is a handy Mac only tool- a bit like your own personal server to dump stuff onto between computers. You just install it on the computers that you want to be able to access your files on- in my case my home laptop and my TELA school laptop and it just sits in your top toolbar and you drop stuff in it to collect it from another computer. By recommending the tool to others I get a little extra storage but 3GB will suit me fine for the free version. Great for when a file is too big for an email and you can’t be bothered finding your flash drive.

6. Styks is a cross platform Pivot type animation free download in beta. Nice and easy for kids to handle- definitely in my 2009ToDoList.

    Encapsulated by Capzles

    If you have good people in your network you learn good stuff. Last night I caught a tweet by Wes Fryer about a another great digital tool called Capzles. He was impressed and so am I as I quickly made a Capzle from a few photos and a class digital story movie. I added some feedback text and an audio mix of my commentary and some FreePlay music. The features of Capzles that I like are the intuitive interface, the quick ease of uploading content and the timeline effect. It harvests the data from your photos and knows when they were taken and puts them in a timeline. It has great quality in full screen mode as well.

    It fits well inside Blogger. A bonus is that as it embeds you can chose to only have the audio play when you click on the little speaker icon. That’s great ‘cos I find it irritating to have audio play on a blog when it hasn’t been asked so the audio doesn’t come to you uninvited. The only downside I can see is that comments go live immediately. For school I would like to see some form of comment moderation or at least notification of new comments but I don’t think it would be a huge problem.

    For next year I thought it would be fun to take a photo everyday- children could add a photo highlight a day and we could grow our portfolio over the year embedded in our blog.

    Give it a whirl and create one of your own!

    Microsoft Innovative Teacher Award

    Screen Shot 2014-10-15 at 10.03.00 pm

    I am very proud to say that I an one of the twelve New Zealand finalists in the 2008 Microsoft Partners in Learning Innovative Teachers Award. I have been beavering away at making a poster to present at ULearn08.

    The poster space is about 1mx2m so I have plenty of space to fill. Here is my centrepiece. There will no opportunity for interactivity where I have to present my poster so I made this interactive one that people will have to come to my blog to access it. All of the watermarked photos lead to blog posts that illustrate how I create, innovate, communicate and collaborate.

    It took me ages to hyperlink the photos- you could test drive it for me!


    Update on Adobe Photoshop Express

    A while ago posted about Photoshop Express but hadn’t used it in a while as at that stage it was very new and rather slow. While with Adobe I learnt about the upgrades and the speed is vastly improved.

    Photoshop Express - Online Photo Sharing and Photo Editing
    Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

    I had a great chance to play with the new features and learnt a little about non-destructive editing. For example Photoshop Express has this cool effect where you can pop the colour. This is what it can do with an image of a bright red tour bus. It takes the two predominant colours and by rolling the mouse over the samples it changes the colour you decided to pop. Your photo changes instantly but you can still reset all your changes back to original if you want to.

    It can also do the basics of crop, rotate, resize, correct exposure, red-eye removal, colour saturation and do touch-ups like blemish removal and fine tune your photo. Under the fun effects you can play with the hue, tint, change varieties of black & white, cartoonise and distort.

    If you are a Windows user you may like to have a look at Adobe Photoshop Album Maker Starter Edition which lets you organise, crop, email and basically fix yr photos.

    A Beautiful Way to Search Flickr

    Sue Wyatt (@tasteach) twittered this link to Tag Galaxy for a visually stunning search engine for Flickr photos. You enter a tag, refine it and then see what your search finds for you. Absolutely stunning.

    Tag Galaxy
    Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!
    Tag Galaxy
    Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

    Speaking of photos- I hit a wall tonight. I ran out free storage of my Flickr photos so had to bite the bullet and pay some of my hard earned dollars on a pro account- the benefits of which are unlimited storage, a unique named URL, viewing and creation of sets- and the ability to upload high quality video. This makes it in into the elite league of things I have paid for on line out of my own money.

    Tools I have paid for are Quicktime Pro, Call Recorder for Skype and now Flickr. Oh! And one download of our big Voicethread. All the rest that I can think of are freeware, donated or paid for through school. There are a few freeware applications that I use so often that I would pay for if I had to but I shall keep them a secret in case they actually ask for cash.

    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.

    Regional Photography Roundup

    I have been working with some schools learning how to take better digital photos and last week we were focusing on close-up photography. If you can touch it you can take a close up of it. We had six digital cameras to play with and achieved some stunning results to share and as our cluster website is still down this seems as good a venue as any other.

    Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

    Also Jane from Ngatimoti showed this innovative way of using digital photography with her Year 7/8 children. She had the children take photos of each other from a not often used perspective- looking down from the top of the playground. The photos were then printed in black and white and children used their drawing techniques to shade and sketch themsleves form this new perspective thus avoiding the usual, ‘it doesn’t look real’ thing that older children seem to care about when drawing. To add further impact the drawings were then cut out and mounted in 3D so it really looks like the characters are reaching up- awesome.

    At Upper Moutere we have been meshing their Topic “All Aboard” with use of Kid Pix and photography to make a stunning array of name badges.

    Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

    Adobe Photoshop Express

    Here is another beauty from Paul HarringtonAdobe Photoshop Express for the poor! You register and upload your photo and use simple versions of the fixes available in the paid for Photoshop to fix your photos.

    Adobe Photoshop Express
    Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!
    There are some great features that are simple to use. The one that I used most here is ‘get rid of the annoying people in the background that spoil my wonderful prowess as a salmon fisherperson!’

    The correct was a little blurry because I got a little carried away but you get the general idea.

    Adobe Photoshop Express
    Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

    Other available editing tools are crop, rotate, auto correct, exposure control, red-eye removal, touch-up, colour saturation, white balance, sharpen focus and a variety of cool effects. For children I like the crop and straighten tool because it imposes a thirds grid on the photo to help children see where the thirds are. (We are doing a bit of that sort thing at the moment in some of our sessions).

    You get 2GB of on site storage as well which could be handy. When you’re done you can email the photo, make a public slideshow or do what you want with it.

    2007 Top Five Photographs in Review

    Inspired by Ewan McIntosh’s top five photo review I thought I would give it go myself.

    My first is of Tiny Ted the small geocache bear sent to us from Paul Harrington in Wales. I staged this photo down at Nelson’s Tahunanui Beach- so typical of the NZ summer. Paul and Tiny Ted were the springboard from which we forged links between our classes. Children could so relate to him and he became an integral part of our day. We miss him as he is now with April Chamberlain in USA.

    Tahunanui Beach on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    Uploaded with Skitch!

    My second photo is of Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and I as she visited Nelson for the TUANZ conference. I am indebted to Sheryl for her friendship, openness and how she took me under wing to mentor my entrance in to the Web2.0 educators’ learning network.

    Sheryl and Allanah on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    Uploaded with Skitch!

    My third photo was one I shared with Sheryl as Queen Elizabeth visited the College of William and Mary where Sheryl works. The photo tells the story of how I met Her Majesty when she visited Nelson when I was a ten year old. Sheryl posted it to her Flickr account and invited people to share in my 50th birthday celebrations. That photo garnered 36 global comments. Click on it to see the story in note form. I was in awe and it showed me the power of networking.

    Happy B-Day Allanah King and The Queen on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    Uploaded with Skitch!

    My fourth is of a group of children in my class collaborating on a wiki and learning together oblivious of the camera- the way learning in the 21st century should be.

    Uploaded with Skitch!

    My fifth is a photo taken by Jane Nicholls at ULearn07 with a group of New Zealand edubloggers and Ewan himself. It was a great learning experience when virtual friends became real life ones. Click on the photo to see who’s who!

    NZ Blogger's Cafe on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
    Uploaded with Skitch!

    My last is one of Mum and I taken recently. Mum and I have been through a difficult time with her diagnosis of Parkinson’s Disease but I still appreciate the time we still manage to have together.

    Copy of 071109_Farewell_Spit 030
    Uploaded with Skitch!

    I know I can’t count well. Happy New Year to one and all.


    I have spent the last few days exploring VoiceThread, a newish collaborative tool for recording voice with photos and inviting oral comments from others.


    To support and record my own use of Voicethread I have made a new post on my tech blog Bling4yrblog along with an actual Voicethread. It takes you through step-by-step how to create a VoiceThread. VoicceThread has lots of possibilities and I look forward to using it in my class next term.

    Here is my first effort with Voicethread.

    [kml_flashembed movie=”″ width=”400″ height=”300″ wmode=”transparent” /]

    Thank you John Pearce for your expertise in embedding VoiceThread in Edublogs. You are a star.

    Of course you are presently reading the blog of one of the biggest clutzes known to man! You need to make sure your Voicethread is public otherwise you will be the only one on the planet that can see it!!!!! Thanks Paul and Steve from Voicethread himself for your feedback.

    Handbrake and Animoto

    Today I had a lot of success playing with a couple of new finds.

    Download at HandBrake

    Uploaded with Skitch!

    The first was a link from Paul HarringtonHandbrake – a cross platform application that lets you turn DVDs into something that can be published in a podcast or played as a movie. I was a bit skeptical but will give anything a try. A quick download later and I was surprised just how straight forward it was.

    We had written a DVD a couple of years ago when iMovie was new and the source files had long ago been forgotten. Ten minutes later my selected DVD chapter was an MP4. I then turned that into a podcast with a much wider audience than it had sitting on a classroom shelf. This is one for the rugby fans with the World Cup coming up soon.

    [kml_flashembed movie="" width="400" height="360" wmode="transparent" /]

    get images [step 1/3]

    The second find from Ewan MacIntosh was Animoto. With Animoto you upload your photos and they can add the music and make very jazzy slideshows.

    I also added a ‘How to’ post on my Tech blog on how to use Animoto.

    Here is my practice run

    Thank you to Lynne Crowe via Twitter for the heads up that Animoto now embeds in Edublogs. Yay!

    [kml_flashembed movie="" width="420" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

    Skitch- fast and fun image sharing

    Now this is really cool. A few days ago I came across the demo version of Skitch. I emailed them and asked for a limited edition download. They emailed me back and said that when my turn came up they would let me know and I could try the demo. Then today Ewan McIntosh had five demos to give away- first in, first served. I was fifth!

    Life is not a race to be first finishedI can recommend this really cool Mac Tool. It comes from the same people who made Comic Life so you know how good it will be.

    Watch the intro video to see just how cool it is! You can…

    • Snap a website
    • Screenshot an application
    • iSight snap yourself
    • Quickly sketch an idea
    • Tap into your iPhoto Library
    • Re-open images from your Skitch History

    Say it…

    • Annotate with circles and gorgeous arrows
    • Add text that always stands out
    • Scribble and jot… it’s automatically smoothed
    • Re-size and crop by simply dragging a corner
    • Drag the file to wherever you like, no need to save
    • Return to what you were doing — in seconds — not minutes!
    • Paste your mySkitch link into any web-page, forum or chat.

    Uploaded with Skitch!