How I see the SAMR Model

Everyone is talking about the SAMR model for eLearning.

A principal emailed me this week wanting to know more about the concept so I emailed her with a reply but thought it may be useful to add my thoughts more publicly too.

The SAMR model is based on the thinkings of Ruben Puentedura.

In a nutshell here is how I see what the SAMR letters stand for.

SSubstitution– would be you just used an iPad as a flash sort of text book for the kids to read and copy from.

AAugmentation– you might have the text book read to you via Speech Selection so that is moving things up a notch.

MModification– You might make your own book using Book Creator that includes graphics, audio, video and hyperlinks etc

RRedefinition– You might have students all collaborating making pages for a Book Creator including graphics, audio, video and hyperlinks etc and combining them in one book which you then publish it on iTunes.

I made this graphic using Explain Everything app to show the levels of SAMR.

SAMR Model

I think that the iPad can be an excellent vehicle to raise our game around learning but I am concerned that some teachers think that if they had enough iPads, or Chromebooks, or laptops or whatever, then they would be better teachers and the children better learners. Unfortunately it doesn’t happen like that.

I have seen some people place different iPad apps on a dimension of the SAMR model as though there they sit, fixed, but I would beg to differ.

Take for example the free app Tellagami for iPad, iPod Touch and iPhone. At its most basic level it is an avatar maker- you can change the look and features of a male or female avatar and take a screen grab! Easy enough but let’s put it on the SAMR model.

SSubstitution– You make an avatar, take a screen grab to use as a prompt for writing in writing time.

Tellagami Avatar

AAugmentation- You could create an avatar, upload a background image then write or record a script for it to describe a classroom happening, a visual mihi, or whatever as in this intro I made for an upcoming iPad workshop. Or a learner could take a photo of their artwork and their avatar could talk about how it was made and a self reflection on the process.

Launching Learning with an iPad from Allanah King on Vimeo.

MModification– You could combine the learners’ short projects into one segmented movie using iMovie. This example by Greg Swanson, ADE from Australia, shows this idea really well. His students each produced a segment for the instructional video to show evidence of learning.


RRedefinition– You might invite others, not from your school, or region or country to each make their own segment, then collaborate to make and share their Tellagami projects. The end result being a collaborative video like Paul Hamilton, another Australian ADE has done with this project.


So what I am saying here is try to think of and use apps that allow learners to create, engage,connect and collaborate. Aim for the Redefinition end of the SAMR model- don’t limit yourself to the mere Substitution dimension.

I would love to hear your thoughts and examples and thoughts on using the SAMR model in your classroom with your students.

2012 K-12 Horizon Report

Earlier this year I was asked to participate in the Advisory Board of the Horizon Report. The Horizon Report Advisory Board is a group of leading educators from around the world who pool their knowledge and expertise to try and predict what the trends will be in the educational landscape in the near future out to the next five years.

I was in awe of the other educators asked to participate and humbled that they would value my input.

To gain consensus we suggested trends and then voted on which ones we thought would come to fruition over the time frames suggested.

Key Trends that we identified

  • The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the Internet is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators.
  • As the cost of technology drops and schools revise and open up their access policies, it is becoming increasingly common for students to bring their own mobile devices.
  • Education paradigms are shifting to include online learning, hybrid learning and collaborative models.
  • One-to-one computing is spreading to a large number of countries and regions. Providing students constant access to computers and the Internet is an education game-changer.
  • People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to.
  • Technology continues to profoundly affect the way we work, collaborate, communicate and succeed.
  • There is a new emphasis in the classroom on more challenge-based and active learning.

 So here is what we came up with……

 Time-to-Adoption Horizon: One Year or Less

  • Cloud Computing
  • Collaborative Environments
  • Mobiles and Apps
  • Tablet Computing

Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Two to Three Years

  • Digital Identity
  • Game-Based Learning
  • Learning Analytics
  • Personal Learning Environments

 Time-to-Adoption Horizon: Four to Five Years

  • Augmented Reality
  • Natural User Interfaces
  • Semantic Applications
  • Tools for Assessing 21st Century Learning Skills

Embedded below is four minute video that explains it further and a pdf to download that explains each of the terms.


So what do you think? Did we get it right?



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.

Teaching Reading Comprehension with Dr Alison Davis

Teaching Reading Comprehension - Product Details @ Learning Network NZ
Yesterday I had the opportunity to spend the day with Dr Alison Davis who wrote ‘Teaching Reading Comprehension‘. This was the first non online or in-house PD I have attended this year and it was an excellent day with lots of new ideas about the deeper features of teaching reading comprehension and I wanted to share my take on it to further cement the ideas in my own head before implementing them in my classroom. Along with the theoretical there were lots of practical ideas as well. Alison knows her stuff and it is always good to talk with the people who really know what they are talking about rather than hear the message filtered through someone else’s eyes as you are doing here!

The focus of the day was on practical metacognition, looking at the pieces of the jigsaw that it means to be a fluent and accurate reader.

We, as teachers,  can make a difference- we can help children make accelerated progress to improve reading fluency beyond  what a child will do by maturation. There is a need for explicit teaching. Alison started by posing the question, ‘How much focussed reading time do we spend in deep reading instruction- how many minutes a week would it add up to. I have five instructional reading groups in my class and they get 20 or so minutes with me twice a week. Times that by 40 weeks. I had to do the sums a couple of times- I thought I had made a mistake. Allowing for other events that get in the way of instruction Alison has figured that children get a frankly rather pathetic- 12-18 hours of focussed reading instruction a YEAR!!! So how can we made that eighteen hours the most effective as it can be. We need to make the learning time BEFORE and AFTER the focussed reading instruction as good as it can possibly be looking carefully at what the kids are doing when they are not involved in the direct explicit instruction. The Reciprocal Reading approach came from the metacognition theorists- it hooks into what good readers do automatically and explicitly teaches it.

Knowing when you are learning, knowing when you’re not learning, what to do about it, knowing why you are learning and doing the learning. What strategies (tools) might you use when you are reading?? Like gardening- you have to know there are tools that you could use and then use them- the right tool for the task. Researcher  Michael Pressley found  that there are 40 odd strategies that good readers do to read fluently. Reading is an active activity- not a passive one.

Before the instruction it is crucial to activate Prior Knowledge.

Formative assessment WALTs…  We know we have achieved this when… Because… Success criteria- show me… Self and peer assessment as long as there is criteria to assess that your assessing peer can SEE.
Eg We are learning to visualise what we read because good readers see images as they read. We know we are successful when we tell our buddy what we ‘see’ when we are reading and give a word from the story that gives you a clue to the image that the text invokes.

Eg Leading to what did you hear when you were reading– what do you hear when the text says ‘said’? How much that word ‘said’ changes the tone of what is happening in the story? Exchange that word ‘said’ with whispered, stated, offered, replied, and the rest.

Importance of prior knowledge– how important that is- give it more of a place in the reading process- before the lesson with the teacher- giving children an activity the activates prior knowledge. When we talk about prior knowledge of

  • content- do they know about what is happening in the story
  • text selection – eg electricity first lesson might totally on the vocabulary children need to know to access the text
  • structure- main characters, characters, setting plot are things that happen in fiction but it won’t be there if you are going to read a non-fiction text. How an explanation differs from a narrative as a genre.
  • personal knowledge- the personal and cultural prior knowledge that children bring to the text

Construct generic graphic organisers to give some structure to this. Here comes the plug- buy the ebooks based on our NZ School Journals by yours truly here!

Example One- before reading a book about fishing have children complete the graphic organiser below to activate prior learning about fishing.

Allison Davis
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Example Two- This graphic was from a story one of my reading groups had used earlier this week- I had already made this one. I must be doing something right!

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Example Three- Children record the vocabulary they think they are likely to meet in the story and tick them off as they do meet them AND they can also tick off synonyms for those words.

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Example Four- Give each child a different picture/vocab from the book and get kids think about what they are going to meet in the story- thinking critically about what they are going to read.

Anything that brings kids to stickability so that it becomes automaticity.

Struggling readers use all the cognitive capacity into decoding so that less brain power is available to thinking about what they are reading. They reach a cognitive overload- there is just so much new stuff going on that child reaches overload.

For things to stick it has give kids something to hook their new learning into and it gives you some information on what holes and gaps that they bring to prior learning. I liken this a bit to putting the full stops in when writing. It has to be so STUCK that you don’t even really need to think about it- you just do it.

The Thinking Aloud Strategy- making the strategies accessible to others by verbalising, telling others the processes, thoughts and ideas that you used to make meaning from texts. Describe what you did with your prior learning, make learning process visible to yourself and others- like we do in maths.

Knowing what ‘good’ comprehenders do-

  • The ability to decode- phonemic awareness and knowledge, phonics and word attack skills
  • Basic sight words- and strategies to work these out- read and SPELL in isolation and in context to automaticity- overtly taught- really high priority- a lot of them are not phonemic- so you have to get them BY SIGHT- they are high frequency in their own right but also because they are inside other words as well.
  • Wide vocabulary- oral as well. The words need to be in there to start with!
  • Fluency and strategies to be fluent- out loud, absolute need for prior knowledge- REPEATED READING. Kids need this so less of their brain is taken up with the decoding/struggling and more can be left over for comprehending.
  • Accuracy and strategies for accuracy
  • Comprehension and strategies for comprehension- main idea, summarising…

But each of these bullet points is itself huge.

So when the kids are not with you kids should be…..

Repeatedly reading
Word recognition- what to do when I come I don’t know
Basic sight words
Developing vocabulary
Focussing on accuracy
Maintenance of past taught- like visualisation

WORD RECOGNITION– Pg43 targeted observation of what to do when you don’t know- word strategies- making connections with spelling learning. A note here- I have always been a big fan of whole language learning and this focus on phonemes and the like has me close to the edge of my cognitive overload! I remember when my teachers tried to teach me long and short vowels I just could not hear the difference even though I was OK reader. It wasn’t until I tried to teach it that it sort of started to make sense to me.

Phonemic Awareness  a phoneme is the smallest sound you can hear in a word- eg d, dad, d-a-d. Whereas phonemic awareness is phonics when you see them written down. The 26 letters of the alphabet produce 43-46 sounds- long and short vowels are actually important eg cut/cute AND when you add a suffix that starts with i you loose the e- that sort of thing.

  • Teach the most common rules- hard and soft sounds like hard c/ soft c. Understanding that there are exceptions but not that many with the more important ones.
  • Segmenting and blending d-o-g
  • Multi-syllabic words – list-en-ing
  • Morphological – the knowledge of the rules like compound words, suffixes, root words ( I say ‘base word’ cos my kids snigger when I say ‘root’.)
  • All of the ways that you can write that long ā sound- slay, straight, made, neighbor, prey, rein, rain, great,
  • Make word lists that involve seeing the pattern that the one sound can be represented in different ways, play games based around recognising the patterns.
  • Explicit teaching includes demonstration, explanation, information (what, why, when) scaffolded practice- guided to independent use, planned transfer access curricula, student demonstration, explanation and self reflection. Equipping kids with a range of tools they can use when they come to a word they don’t know.
  • Onset and rime– there is a list of the most common rimes- Ake, ain, ake, all, ane, an, ank, ap, ask, at, ate, aw, ay, eat, ell, est, ice, ide etc…. I thought Alison had spelt rhyme wrong at this point- just to show my ignorance!
  • Peeling away to shorter more understandable words eg un-surpris-ing-ly
  • How would you help a child decode ‘hospital’ page 47 or ‘benefit’; beneafit, benifit, beneyfit- are the spelling mistakes kids making phonetically acceptable. Spelling Under Scrutiny is something else I have been exploring this year also.

Things to do when you know that you don’t know a word

  • Sounding out
  • Vowel alert-
  • Tricky part alert
  • Rhyming
  • Peeling off the extras
  • Look for little words inside
  • Look for the syllables
  • Read on/ read through

A new section on TKI to help teachers with this learning… Click on the graphic to take you there…

Home - Sounds and Words
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Vocabulary Acquisition

Looking up in a dictionary won’t advance stickability. Many new words are learned indirectly. ALL kids need to be read to, older kids just as much as little kids. Ask a bookstore near you with staff who know kids books or the National Library.

Even ‘little words’ have big meanings. For example do a dictionary search for the little word ‘run’ use Dictionary on the Apple and if you are on line. They give 179 meanings for run- run up, run down, run in, run out…….

Before reading- subject specific vocab- don’t be afraid to teach the vocabulary particularly if its subject specific. New vocab needs to be taught in context AND morphology in tandem to enhance vocabulary learning. Pg 106

  • SPOTLIGHTING- Teacher writes a list of the vocab that might be challenging. Spotlight the words- seek and destroy. If there are red words we need to teach the meaning and its root word.
  • RED if you have no idea- we need to learn these words
  • ORANGE I have a bit of an idea- talk about them
  • GREEN–  I am sure I know that word- look at the green words- is it a word with more that one meaning. What is the meaning of that word in this text.

Loosing me a bit here after lunch and being a Friday afternoon and all……. Just found a free wifi access, checking mail, why won’t Twitter allow me to post…. Drifting……. Drifting……. Re-focus……

  • FOCUS on the base word eg if you don’t know ‘sustainability’ but you do know sustain then you are much better placed to keep the meaning of what you are reading.
  • Tier Words- Tier One Words– most frequently used- sight vocabulary- the must haves. Tier Two Words– frequently used- what are the words that are most important for children to know about Tier Three– subject specific- not often occurring in instruction to learn on as ‘on need to know’ basis.


Again some graphic organisers

Organiser One– synonym web- the word in the middle and synonyms spider out from it.

Organiser Two– The Cline- put the words into steps- rate the word on a scale-

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Organiser Three– Word Families- build the family eg happy, unhappy, happily, unhappily happiest, happiness, happier. Then talk about the  grammar of these words- which of these is a noun, adjective etc

Sketch the word. How would you sketch a word like sustainability but as you do you explain why you drew that, write your own definition, write the clues for it when used in a crossword puzzle, cloze procedure and the discussion that surrounds the marking of tense, syntactically or grammatically correct.

Focus on a word- in your teaching group…

  • Someone finds the base word
  • Someone finds a definition
  • Someone finds a synonym
  • Someone finds a example
  • Someone finds a antonym

Categorising Page 92 eg  focus on the word ‘irresistible’ find a place that is irresistible, a person who is irresistible, an event that is irresistible- cements the meaning of the word into your schema (things that you know)- stickability.


Teaching Children to use these strategies for understanding reading, to learn a number of different strategies either intentionally or unintentionally, used before, during and after, direct and intentional teaching is effective in promoting reading comprehension.

  • Summarising
  • Construction of mental images, visualising
  • Question generation and question answering during reading
  • Activation of prior knowledge
  • Prediction of up coming content
  • Inference
  • Clarification
  • Analysis and synthesis
  • Evaluation
  • Self monitoring
  • Ability to correct faulty comprehension

And at that stage we finished up the day. I found the challenging and informative and could well have spent longer delving more deeply but it was time well spent with some easy to construct and useful ideas for taking back to my classroom and sharing with teachers. Thanks Alison

Putting this post together was a bit of a mission but blogging it helps me ‘stick’ the learning in my own head if nothing else.

Greg Carroll added a really useful link to his post on a similar theme that I post here in case you don’t have a mind to read the comments directly.

I Hear Your Concerns- Yeah Right!

Not sure where to start really as some good things may just yet come out of National Standards if the whole thing is not rushed through and thought is given to the long term consequences and ramifications of National Testing. Unfortunately attending the ‘consultation’ meeting yesterday left me with more questions than answers. I wanted to blog my thoughts right there and then but didn’t want to appear to be a nerdy swat. The atmosphere was warmer than the hall we were in- and that’s saying something. Good Lord- one of the coldest mornings we have had and we are all sat in a huge school hall with NO heating what so ever. By the end of the morning I had lost contact with my toes.

Below is my takeaway from the meeting. I probably got it wrong in places but it is not my job to be a reporter. One thing I do know that at least I will quote myself correctly when I publish- unlike this chappie from the Nelson Evening Mail– apart from getting my name wrong he got what I said wrong as well. My question was ( and I quote ‘cos I wrote it down before I asked it ) “If a child is identified to be at risk as a consequence of National Testing what will be done to support that child above what is already been done now”. That answer was that the Ministry has put aside $35m for National Testing. I replied that I didn’t think that would be enough. Don McClean asked more eloquently than me,

“If we measure a kid’s height it doesn’t make them taller, so how is measuring kids nationally going to make them achieve more?”

To write my thoughts I have added my questions/thoughts in CAPITAL LETTERS in a Wes Fryer sort of way in order to separate them from the messages I took from the presentation.

The learned people engaged in reading the Ministry spiel made sure that they stuck to the script so that everyone who came to the meetings throughout the country would hear the same message. Anne Tolley, our Minister of Education started off virtually with a video. In the video she said that formative assessment informs our teaching.



The MOE people reitereated that National Testing is not about publishing league tables and it was all about noble ideals of developing partnerships between school/whanau/community. IT MAY NOT BE THE INTENTION BUT I FEAR THAT LEAGUE TABLES MAY WELL BE THE END RESULT.

The National Standards will connect with NZCEA Level Two and work backwards to what children will need to know in order to be successful participants in society. Benchmarks will be set at the end of each year level. Year 1, 2 and 3 will be reported at the end of a complete year at school and thereafter at the end of the school year.



If I got my listening right it is expected that 75% of Year Six children will achieve the standard and only 50-60% of Year 7/8. SO WHAT HAPPENS TO THE 25% OF CHILDREN WHO WERE SUCCESSFUL WHO NOW SUDDENLY AREN”T?

The mathematics part of the testing is not necessarily based on NUMPA learning but on the ‘big ideas’ in each learning area of maths. LOOKING AT THE ACTUAL TEST SAMPLE IT APPEARS THAT ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONS ARE HAND MARKED BY THE TEACHER AS ARE THE LITERACY SAMPLES. WORKLOAD?


I did like the use of the term ‘readability level’ of text as opposed to a reading age. I have long held to the belief that it is readability that is more of use in grading a text than reading age that implies that having on its own a high reading age, is more important than a deeper understanding of the reading material in itself. THE LITERACY SECTION OF THE NATIONAL STANDARDS WAS ADDRESSED BY JILL FORGIE AND I THOUGHT SHE SPOKE SOME SENSE. I HOPE SHE IS BEING LISTENED TO.









Other articles you may like to read

There’s even a National Standards Ning started by the NZEI

Greg Carroll has some views also that are worth reading here.

Don’t know who Subversive ICT blogger is but he/she makes some good points also.

“The point is that kids come in a variety of sizes and having a standard “height” for 6-year-olds is absurd. Someone will always come up short – not meet the standard. There will always be a distribution of height, weight – or achievement. Go find your Plunket book. If you set a standard “height”, all those short kids get hurt and resentful, and their parents fret, when it’s just normal for some people to be shorter (or just grow slower).”

Derek Wenmoth expresses himself on National Standards here.

Herald Newspaper Article written in March on Anne Tolley’s election promises.

Isaac Day‘s Reflection on National Standards.

MOE National Standards Forum Comments

I am adding more links here as I come across them.

If you know of any other places people can go to find out more then please add them in the comments and I will link from this main page.


Two for the price of one

Three great finds today- one was going to the afternoon pictures to see the NZ movie, “Second Hand Wedding“. I was really impressed with this movie- it had a great mixture of comedy and sadness, joy and angst. I would recommend it to anyone.

The second great find is a mixture of two really. A lot of people have been posting about Wordle which can have all sorts of classroom uses. But the best find is Flowgram which is in beta testing but it is an excellent tool for capturing and discussing web pages. To do so you sign up- add the URL to a web page you would like to discuss and then hit record and you are underway. You can also annotate and embed. To see what it looks like and to hear my cold ridden audio click play! Magic!

Here is a link to  Abhay Parekh the CEO of Flowgram talking about what it can do.

What do you think? I have ten invites if you’re keen to have a play yourself.

Waimarino Cluster Conference


I feel a little like an international jet setter these days as I presented two workshops at a mini-conference in Tauranga hosted by the Waimarino ICT cluster. Unfortunately I missed all of Michael Pohl’s opening keynote as I struggled with the Bethlehem College protocols of not allowing non technicians to connect any devices without a technician doing it- including plugging in the data projector! I had made a wiki showing some of the ways I embed ICT into my classroom practice and was trying to add the links in tabs in Internet Explorer one by one and the their PC lab computer froze when it got to something it didn’t like. After fighting the good fight a couple of times I gave up and went back to plan A and asked for help from the technician’s to hook my Apple onto their network which he did in a few seconds. I had made a back-up plan C of a Keynote of screen grabs but that would have been a lame imitation when trying to show the interconnectivity of the web

After lunch I moved onto a second group of folks wanting to podcast with a PC. An exercise fraught with complications I hear you say but I had asked them to download Audacity and the Lame Encoder beforehand to save time. I showed the assembled group a smattering of our podcasts and then we got down to business.

Following a similar practice run session with Upper Moutere School last week I managed a work around to record a digital story using PhotoStory3 and export it as a .wmv file which I converted using to a .mov file which can be uploaded to Podomatic which makes these podcasts with graphics ready for iTunes. But these sorts of digital mazes can be a bit bedazzling for novices.

Dewey Decimal Classification - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The final keynote was by Neil Melhuish, our MoE e-Learning Project Director. I had not heard him speak before and found his message interesting and challenging. I asked him if I record and edit his keynote. I was not disappointed. Unfortunately the sound quality of the recording left something to be desired so I won’t post it. Note to self- don’t chaw your way through crustly chocolate bars while recording with an iPod. They are very sensitive.

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Neil spoke about the way that we record knowledge in the 21st century. The challenging thing (for me) that he talked about that I hadn’t thought of before was the culture-centricity of the way we organise knowledge through the Dewey system. I have always accepted it as being the way that it is and thought of it without challenge. Looking closer though at say the Religion 200’s category. From 200 to 288 all of the subcategories are based on Christianity. All of the rest of the world’s religions lumped together only get 11 subcategories. This is the way Encyclopedia Britannica organises information in its 39 volumes. The way we can co-create knowledge in Wikipedia means that the rest of the world gets a look in- that’s a good thing.

Neil spoke also of the advances in giving children in developing countries access to 21st century learning via the OLPC scheme. I went to order one myself a Give1-Get1 OLPC laptop last Christmas but didn’t realise that the deal finished in 2007. I really do like the idea of giving a laptop and getting a laptop. Neil had a few to pass around. So much for my geekiness- I couldn’t even get the thing open!

I had to hop it smartly to the airport after the keynote and once there had a few moments to spare so opened my laptop to see if there was any chance of open wi-fi. I knew Neil’s nearby presence because I noticed olpc-mesh in my nearby devices. Even closed the clever little things were roaming looking for laptop friends to play with as Neil checked his luggage without shutting down the laptops! LOL

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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.

Making the shift

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach wrote an excellent post that reflects what has been festering in my mind since taking up the ICT Facilitator’s role this year. I have attempted to ‘make the shift’ in my classroom but how can I best encourage others to make similar moves in the way they learn and teach. She highlights nine principles needed to make a shift to 21st century learning pedagogies.

If I can quote her- “Real change, transformational change happens when there is personal ownership of the new technologies and concepts. Today’s new economy is all about human capital, which starts with the educators in a school and then extends outward to all members of the school community.”

  1. People– change is best sustained if people are able to support each other on their learning journey if they can learn in supported groups- we are not islands and the collaboration we strive for in our classrooms needs to be modelled by ourselves as adult learners. This is where action research can be such a powerful tool. He aha te mea nui? He tangata. He tangata. He tangata.
  2. Leadership because any sort of change can be threatening the support and guidance of those in leadership roles can be critical- the process can be so un-necessarily difficult when classroom teachers are not well supported by those they look to for leadership.
  3. Including all members of the learning community– everyone is part of the process- efforts need to be made to bring all on board- whanau, support personnel, professional colleagues, the wider community.
  4. iPhoto

  5. Developing a shared vision for how things need to be- the need to make sure that teachers together articulating the core beliefs. Our new NZ curriculum statement goes some way to addressing this issue.
  6. Own it– this phrase has been very powerful for me since I first heard Sheryl say it at TUANZ last year. It’s good to use 21st technologies personally before ‘going public’. Become familiar with them, practise and become used to them. My first experiences with communication on line was through the use of email- personally with relatives overseas- because I could see the immediate uses of it I became better at using it.
  7. Communication– we in NZ at the bottom of the globe can be as connected as anyone globally- geography has become less of an issue through UStream, Skype, Twitter etc. Communication with teachers and students outside of your classroom. I am able to communicate with people from UK, Australia, USA, Canada, Uzbekistan- all over.
  8. Know your culture and try to anticipate trends– Sheryl says that participatory media has a tendency to ‘go viral’- we need to try and think ahead of the possible consequences of giving these tools to children. A number of children in my class now have their own personal blogs not moderated by me. I endeavour to have given them the skills and common sense to be safe on line.
  9. We do not know what we do not know– new things will come along that are totally random- we can expect the unexpected. We will need to be able to run with these new challenges.
  10. The power of collective wisdom– we all learn together. We are all learning and what each of us thinks matters.

Thank you Sheryl for insightful post. I encourage my readers to read Sheryl’s blog in its entirety as she is able to write in much eloquently than I but I wanted to write my own version to help me move my own thinking along by giving it my own ‘spin’.

Questionaut - BBC - KS2 Bitesize - Games - Questionaut
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

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.

“Did You Know, New Zealand”

I am back home now after an excellent few days away at the L@S conference. I have ideas buzzing around in my head and I need to get them posted before they whither.

Simon Evans hosted a workshop entitled, “Did you Know, New Zealand?” focussing on Karl Fisch’s video and we debating what it meant in a NZ context.

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Simon used his interactive whiteboard to lead the discussion using DeBono’s hat thinking which was a good way to do it. He recorded the session with our handwritten notes in a slideshare which is best downloaded to read clearly. I was impressed with the technology.

Click here to see and download the presentation.

There was only six of us in the room F2F but more joined us via Skype and with the Cover It Live Blogging Tool. It was a very powerful session I thought on a variety of levels-not only with the way Simon facilitated the discussion, the way we brought in other people via the live blog commenters and Skype but also in the way the people in the room worked together to enhance the presentation.

As you can see from my screen grab it certainly made us keep intensely involved with the number of communication modes- listening, responding, researching, recording, typing, twittering. We really had to concentrate to do all these things at once.

Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

Well done Simon. It was a ‘high risk’ session that paid off.

How has computer use impacted on teaching and learning?

As our Waimea-South ICTPD cluster enters its final phase I thought I would construct a Voicethread to chronicle what we have learnt along the way with responses from all seven schools in our cluster.


I was really proud of the way my nine and ten year old students at Appleby School articulated what they felt their learning with computers had achieved this year.

I was also pleased that a number of teachers locally and around the globe were able to record their views. It would be great if you were able to add your own comments and grow the resource.

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If you want a ‘how to’ to on using Voicethread go to my Bling4yrblog for help.

Thanks to Chrissy for quicktips on adding Voicethread to Edublogs.

Archived Learning2.0 Conference Session

Sheryl is now safely back in Virginia from the Shanghai Learning 2.0 conference and has posted a link to the recorded archive of our Elluminate Session. I really do recommend that you listen to it as the other speakers were spot on with their contributions- well worth listening to again.

To listen to an Elluminate session click on the above link and you will need to give permission to open a Java application, it will check for the latest version and automatically load, wait a bit for it to open, it starts a little scratchy and then Clarence Fisher tells us about how he uses Web2.0 tools in his isolated school in Canada, followed by David Jakes, myself and Chris Betcher.

Uploaded with Skitch!
Clarence talks about how a class can be limited with just one teacher and the need to open the classroom doors so that children can learn from each other and other teachers/experts from around the globe.

This slide shows his representation of how a network of links has developed through blogging. Our class blog would be very similar I think. We learn things from friends and from friends of friends.

Do have a look/listen- you will not be disappointed.

Mediasnackers Podcasts

When trolling the internet I came across this Mediasnackers website with a series of very interesting ten minute podcasts from Wales I believe. My eye was immediately caught by podcast #88- an interview with ImageSir Ken Robinson. I have long been a fan of Sir Ken Robinson but there is plenty more of great listening here as well, focussed on creativity and youth using and creating technology in the 21st century-

Some names I know and some new ones to explore.

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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