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!
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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!
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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!
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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.

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

Using Web2.0 tools in my classroom

Paul Harrington started a thread in Tapped In that I am responding to about the uses of Web2.0 tools in my classroom. Paul and I are helping in an on-line mentoring programme through links with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach with pre-service teachers at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. I thought you may be interested.

My class comprises 25 Year Four and Five year old children (8-9 yr olds) in a small rural five teacher school in NZ.

In 2005 we began a three year ICT contract in which the government financed targeted teacher professional development in Information Communication Technology. The funding did not cover hardware or software but in 2006 our school was fortunate enough to be able to finance a pod of 12 Apple laptops that came in a COW (Computers on Wheels) that we are able to trolley around the classrooms on a shared basis.

This year the pod is broken up between classes throughout the morning to allow support for reading/writing/maths programmes and available as a unit for whole class instruction in the afternoons. The COW is supported by wireless access through an Airport Extreme base-station and we all have eight wired access plugs in each classroom. All classrooms have access to our library collection catalogue through the class desktop networked iMac. Our internet access is filtered but our watchdog is happy to unblock any sites we ask within a couple of days.

I had been given the task of constructing a school website and this I managed to do with Claris Homepage- it had individual class pages, a page for newsletters and an email contact address and that was about all, but at least we had a web presence.

In late 2005 I attended a workshop on On-line Learning Environments with Mark Treadwell a NZ educational leader who intrigued me by taking a photo of us and putting it on the internet while we were in quick discussion groups. That was my first experience with blogging. He said it was easy and that he used Blogger.

I went home and made myself a personal blog which I practised with over a month or so and after that felt confident enough to have a go with children. At first I did the writing and taking of photos for our class blog but as we got better at it the children took over! All classes now have a blog and all the school blogs link together with children encouraged to contribute to each other’s blogs through commenting. Each week we have a new pair of blogging monitors whose job it is to record at least one post per week but we often blog much more than that as interesting things happen and I contribute class notices and the like as a means of communicating with parents.

In the blog we have links to a myriad of Web2.0 tools. For example

I made a Bling4yrblog Blog to help you put these into your blog if you would like a few tips.

Last year I also linked the blog to a class Delicious account which is invaluable for being able to direct children to a particular web site without them having to type the URL exactly.

We added a Clustrmap to show where in the world our viewers were and a hit counter gives the children a quick idea how many visitors there are to our blog. This give the students an idea of their real audience and we recently celebrated our 5000 hit party with Easter eggs and a healthy shared lunch!

Next term we will use Dave Warlick’s Class Blogmeister blog as a reflective tool – not really for sharing as I want all children to be able to post to the blog at the same time and not be overly concerned with correct grammar, spelling and punctuation as it would be in a more open published blog like Blogger. Blogmeister lends itself so well as a reflective journal for children to record their thinking.

After this blogging I felt more confident with writing on the web and iWeb came out as an Apple web authoring tool. It is SO much easier and simpler than other methods so I was able to re–construct the school website to be more interactive and thought I might have a go at podcasting because Point England School in Auckland had got an international award for their podcasts and they were on TV so I knew someone else was podcasting in NZ. The ICT contract financed a flight for myself and a local principal for a day trip to the big smoke.

Their podcasting was inspirational and I was hooked. Point England’s podcasts are focussed on improving literacy skills but ours are more general interest focussed on the happening s and learning in our classroom. If we can’t think of something to podcast about we do a book review! After considerable struggle I managed to get our podcasts subscribe-able through iTunes.

Every week I have three monitors who podcast- one to concentrate on the technical side and the other two to do the talking. The children are getting better at the technical side and I am fortunate enough to have a couple who really took to Garageband (our podcasting application) and can do the business pretty much without input from me- I just do the tidying up at then end. I believe every child should have the opportunity to have a go so the quality of our podcasting fluctuates a bit- but hey- we are all learners here! Sometimes we do whole class podcasts so everyone gets a go.
Through commenting on our tagged podcast we made a number of links around the globe- significantly with Paul Harrington’s class in the valleys of South Wales! They sent us a small geocaching bear- Tiny Ted and we sent them a Cuddly Kiwi that we share travels with via the blog.

A natural follow-on from this contact has been a number of Skype conversations, firstly with a local school and then further afield to Wales and Beth Sullivan’s class in Binghamton School, near New York. Again to start with a found one other person to Skype with and practised personally until I got the hang of it.

The biggest difficulty here has been the time differences but when there is a will there is a way and Paul invited his class in one evening so we could chat to them in our early evening. We are soon to do the same as one of my children is intending to spend the day in Paul’s class as he travels back to the UK on a family trip in late April. How cool is that!

In order to share our photos of our geocaching I started a ImageFlickr account and have recently begun tagging photos and blog posts having been showed the simplicity of RSS and the use of Bloglines to aggregate the blogs I follow. We have a class digital camera but I have bought a second hand digital camera that I allow children to take home and take photos with- of specific subjects- and then the child then posts it to our blog. A couple of children have recently started their own blogs which I am really pleased about.

Last year we played with creating a wiki with PBwiki related to our learning on Flight and that was very successful with children contributing from home as well as at school.

This year we are using wikispaces as it is a lot simpler and writing content is easier for my level of children to master.

Children also like to play with Google Earth and look at where they live but we haven’t really used it as a learning tool.

We don’t use a lot of emailing as my class email has been inundated with spam. I will create a new email address for the class when I get a spare minute and we will do a bit more emailing!!!

That’s about it really. There are challenges in using web based educational technologies in the classroom but the rewards are great in the way of communication and engagement from students.

As Paul said these tools were not all started at once and as Sheryl said- you have own something before you can give it away. I think the answer is to become comfortable with the tools yourself and introduce them in a meaningful context and you are sure to succeed.

Sheryl’s Blog Post

Sheryl has been hampered in her blogging by our lack of connectivity and time spent in the sunshine sampling the culture of New Zealand. She is now in Wellington where she delivers another keynote and workshop series. She has however recounted some of her exploits since landing on our shores on her blog 21st Century Collaborative. I felt so proud of Nelson and New Zealand as I showed Amber and Sheryl around. It is lovely to see our place through the eyes of others from time to time. It helps you appreciate it even more. Sheryl takes Tiny Ted with her and we wish them all the best for the rest of their trip and a safe journey home.


  ImageWe caught a plane to Nelson on the morning of 15th. Nelson is a city of about 45K but is absolutely breath taking. Much of Peter Jackson’s movie The Lord of the Rings was filmed here. As the plane landed we could see mountains and beaches. It was just like the advertisements we had seen for New Zealand before we arrived. Amber and I were very excited as we made our way via Taxi to the hotel. We stayed at the Rutherford Hotel, a very nice hotel in a room that had a view! About an hour after we arrived we were taken to dinner by TUANZ to meet all of the sponsors and funders of the Educational road show. I sat between Simon and Heidi and across from Ernie and Amber. Simon explained a great deal about New Zealand’s culture and people to me. I learned a great deal. The restaurant was called Bar Delicious and it certainly held true to its name.

During this conference I was to not only do my Keynote and Workshop, but I was asked to givImagee two additional workshops and the panel discussion. It was a full day. The highlight of my time in Nelson was being able to meet Allanah King. Paul Harrington had introduced us and we have been collaborating online prior to my coming to New Zealand. She has been working with my pre-service students in the e-mentorship and was a guest speaker with the Alabama teachers who are involved with the 21st Century project. I also got to meet Rachel at the conference who attended the Elluminate session Miguel and I had prior to my coming to New Zealand. It was great fun. The Nelson teachers were a delightful audience that laughed and asked tough questions. Many brought their laptops to my interactive sessions and created blogs, wikis, and social networking accounts as we went along. The conference ended with Graham saying this was the best professional development he had ever attended. He was presented with a bottle of New Z

ealand wine as a gift for his comments! As a huge surprise, when the final farewells were given and folks were leaving the conference Graham made his way forward and gave the bottle of wine to Amber and me as a gift of appreciation. Kiwis are a kind and giving people. That evening we went to dinner with Allanah and her precious mother Margaret. Margaret’s great, great grandmother was one of the original Nelsonians that arrived from England. She is a perky woman with a terrific sense of humor.


Most Beautiful Place I Have Ever Seen
ImageIf you could imagine the most perfect place on earth it would look very much like Nelson. There are hills and mountains everywhere that end gently at the most breath taking beaches.


On Saturday, March 17, Allanah took Amber and me to the market. But the market here is different than flea markets in the States; it is more like a mix of real art and quality wares. Each of the vendors was personable and many were friends of Allanah. Every person I have spoken to in New Zealand has treated me as though I mattered. You do not see that in the States, we are often in too big of a hurry and brush people off quickly. After the market Amber and I took a very expensive taxi ride to Abel Tasman to meet some of the TUANZ

crew (Heidi, Quinton, and Brad) to go sea kayaking. Our guide’s name was Angus and he did a very good job of explaining the basics. Amber and I were in a double kayak. It was such a thrill to paddle along the coast of such gorgeous scenery. We worked our way through huge rocks sticking out of the Tasman Sea. I saw birds and other creatures I had never seen before. The weather was perfect, breeze and sun. While traveling in our Kayak we passed Kaiteriteri beach. We then came to a beach where we stopped and came ashore and ate banana cake the caretaker of the Kayak shop had made for us and drank apple juice. It was the first time Amber had ever been on a beach with no other footprints. Amber and I decided to stay and explore the beach a bit more while the others went around the next bend to see what was there. We met two other gentlemen along the way who smiled and then disappeared. I got to see a starfish clinging to the rocks and other curious little birds that chirped and clicked loudly as a greeting.

On our way back the wind picked up and we paddled through some real waves. It was quite exciting. When we arrived back at camp there were others who also had gone on Kayaking adventures, all young and locals. It reminded me very much of my life as a twenty something traveling around the US, especially the time I spent on The Farm in Summertown, Tenn. The peace and calm is unlike anything I have experienced in a very long time. We road the bus back to the hotel and went in to take a long, hot bath.

The next morning, Allanah picked us up and took us to the World of Wearable Art Museum. Several years ago the wearable art competition began as a school fund raiser. It has grown to an international competition and has been moved to Wellington, New Z

ealand’s capital. The costumes are very much like what you see in Cirque de Soleil and the detail is mind boggling. I so wish we could actually wear clothes like that. I love the originality and creativity. In fact, Nelson is a city of artists, organic food, and people who understand how to work hard and then enjoy life.

After the museum we picked up Margaret and went for a drive to see the gorgeous country side. We visited the most amazing beach and picnic area and ended up at Allanah’s school. I fell in love. One hundred children attend Appleby School. I was immediately taken back to the small innovative school I created in Georgia. The classrooms were decorated with student art and creative displays to reinforce the concepts they are learning through project-based instruction. All of New Zealand’s schools are encouraged to use personalized learning strategies and inquiry-based approaches to learning. There was even a library.Image

The place I was most blown away by was the playground it was simply amazing. There were a series of pipes children could manipulate with water to not only learn some amazing science concept by doing, but also produce musical tones. The students can play in the dirt with trucks and buckets, they can climb trees, and have outside places to eat and study as a class. Allanah said they have the occasional broken arm from falling from the tree, but it is so worth it in the long run to allow the children the freedom of exploring nature and how their body moves in the sunshine. They have a pool and an Amphitheatre in addition to the custom designed playgrounds (created by a parent from Germany with expertise in that area). I so wanted to teach in a school like that–I was so appreciative to have been able to visit.

We ended the visit with a lovely lunch at an art center and watched fan tail birds spread their tails saying hello as we ate our meal.

Thank you Sheryl for your tips in helping me to get rid of the ugly fuzzy photos and replacing them with clear ones and for helping me ‘borrrow’ your photos and text.



Pageflakes – an alternative home page

Here is a Web2.0 tool that Sheryl put me on to called Pageflakes. With this handy tool and the power of RSS you can easily pull in any content you want right on to one page. You quickly do the usual sign up thing and you are away.Image

Anything with an RSS feed will embed itself into Pageflakes, like blogs, podcasts, wikis and the like. With Firefox you will know if a site has a RSS feed because it will have a little orange square at the end of the address line at the top. To make a new section all you have to do is to bring up the page you want (CONTROL-T will get you a new tab to do it in so you don’t loose the Pageflakes one.)

Once you have the page open that you want- highlight the URL (the address) and copy & paste it into the little box that opens up when you click on ADD FEED in the top right hand corner. When it has whirred for a couple of seconds click on where is says add to may page and it will put a little box with the last five entries on it on to your Pageflakes home page ready for when you want to scan your favourite pages. You can drag the little box around on the page and arrange your page anyway you fancy! Cool eh!

TUANZ 2007

After a great deal of anticipation on my behalf the TUANZ2007 conference came to Nelson at last.

It was a very much an ICT packed day as, as I was checking my morning emails Beth Sullivan from Horace Mann Elementary School in Binghamton, New York skyped me. It was very close to their school home time but the children were keen to chat and ask questions. Beth and I have been emailing and chatting for a while about setting up a collaborative jig-saw puzzle wall display. I was able to record & edit the conversation and made it into a short podcast on our Podomatic page with some photos taken from their blog. It was a great session and the link holds promise of a flourishing conversation. ImageI had been chatting with Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach, the keynote speaker for TUANZ, for some time and was looking forward to hearing her speak. Sheryl is the one who has given me so much encouragement and self confidence to speak up!

There were a couple of key points from the day that particularly stuck in my mind. Sheryl will put up her on-line hand-out at the end of the conference tour that will help elaborate my thinking but in the meantime here goes (with a little bit of extra Allanah thrown in for good measure)…

  • Children are born these days with a chip in their head. They are hard-wired differently from us!
  • Watch it, do it, teach it! The person doing the learning is the person who is holding the pen, or the mouse!
  • Technology will not replace the teacher, but teachers who use technology will replace those that don’t!
  • Teachers need to be multi-literate, not teaching children but helping them learn.

We can use our global connections to help us do these things. The teacher is the one to mentor or role model the technology use. Children managed to safely walk across the room carrying a pair of scissors. With modelling they can be taught to safely and constructively use the web. Don’t be frightened of the technology- work with it.

ImageThis photo for me says a lot about the power of collaborative learning. You can de-construct the coffee into its single components but how much better it is when those disparate parts come together. The students in our class are like the post-it notes. When we work collaboratively with blogs, wikis, podcasts and whatever our learning is so much better than it was when we worked in isolation. We learn from each other and with each other.

Thanks Sheryl for the opportunity to learn with you.

Tiny Ted, our geocaching bear



This page is really a tribute to a little friend of ours who is soon to leave us on the second big adventure of his life. He arrived from 13,000 miles away from Cefn Fforest School in the valleys of south Wales through our podcasting friend, Paul Harrington. While in New Zealand he got me into lots of interesting places that I would not have got on my own. He has his own trackable number worn as a dog-tag around his neck which is his own personal web page as well.

He went home with lots of children and had his photo taken in all sorts of places. As I walked him to cockpit of the plane on the way to the Learning At School conference in Rotorua a fellow passenger recognised him- not me!

I told the children today that I was intending to give him to my friend Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach from Virginia, USA, when I meet her at the TUANZ conference on Friday. One of my Year 4 boys actually started to cry (and then tried hard to hide that he was) at the thought of him leaving.

I had under-estimated the power of the connections made through the use of Web2.0 tools- blogging, podcasting and Skype. For this young man his learning had become very personal.

An online discussion in Elluminate

I wanted to be the first blogger to talk about our online discussion about technology issues facing New Zealand teachers that Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Miguel Guhlin hosted this afternoon in Elluminate.

I hiked off after school to Brightwater School, a ten minute drive, to catch up with Janice, Sheryn and Dobbie for a discussion with the TUANZ keynote speakers.


Janice was on a PC- sans microphone- so had to change to a trusty Mac!

Once we got the technical aspects sorted Janice was really excited by the possibilities of using such technology to discuss ICT with Sheryl live! It was really nice to be able to share the experience with other keen people and share the fun of playing with a new piece of technology. So simple to use but so effective!

Sheryl and Miguel asked us some probing questions about the NZ’s ICT landscape to better inform themselves before the conference begins and to also generate discussion among ourselves.

I believe the transcript is going to be posted on the TUANZ wiki at some stage. Please forgive our burblings. It is all just nervous excitement.

How we link together

This interactive Genealogy of Influence Touchgraph website shows in a clever graphic form how the things we do affect and influence others. It will take a minute to load so be patient. It would be a wonderful tool to show children with a little snippet of knowledge thrown in. Click on one person and the web links change to show who they were influenced by. The kids in my class sometimes think of that as cheating- I call it learning from each other!

I chose the screen capture as it links to our guy, Sir Ernest Rutherford, who first split the atom in 1917. Rutherford was born about ten kilometres from Appleby School. Did you know that? The father of the nuclear age was born in Nelson! Even then he was worried that his discovery might be used for purposes that would not best serve mankind.


I liken it also to the forms of communication we are capable of when using Web2.0 tools. The resolution of the uploaded graphic is not great but if you click on it you get the enlared version and can see in visual form the inter-relatedness of human thought.

P.S. As I had this photo in my Flickr account, Mike Love, the creator of the web site, left a comment on my Flickr photo. How cool is that!!! From his comment you can read more from his blog. To add your own comment click on the picture which will take you to my Flickr photo. That is incredible. I am blown away by the power of RSS.