Monday, 12 December 2005

Plagiarising Richard - Bruce Hammonds

I hope you don't mind Richard but I borrowed your notes from your site
(they were so much more refined than the original ones you sent me)
I have been a bit under the weather of late, working at a snail's pace and finding it really hard to keep up with stuff. And this was important stuff so felt it needed to be on BardWired.
So: "Don't ask for permission, Ask for forgiveness!"
Thanks Richard @ Toko School

In the morning the Management team and anyone else that was able to get there listened to and talked with Bruce Hammonds. An excellent mornings discussion. Big messages for me were:
We are not curriculum delivery boys and girls... we make the icecream! IN other words we design the curriculum for the kids we have. We are best placed to do this and distant unmanagable curriculums from Wellington are not part the answer.
We are the curriculum experts! The untapped wisdom is ours!!!
We need depth not coverage! Fewer things well...
Realistic meaningful units are memorable for children.
IEP's for everyone...... personalised learning is the future for learning. Just a bit scared of this one....
Portfolios are shot, (always were) Children's exercise books, valued an cared for are the best samples of children work.
SO we have to look after them and not let them disappear!!!! Even staple two together to get a feel over time. Kids will value their books.
Children need to be taught shown modeled layout and design. They don't learn it through osmosis. Design is an essential skill.
Handwriting and book layout and care and attention and measuring, and planning , are vital skills and we need to be more tenacious with our children's exercise books. They are the standard we expect. They reflect our teaching.
Developing relationships is key to success. Collegiality not necessarily congeniality. A school with new ideas and direction and belief wont always be a smooth path.
Literacy numeracy and learnacy... do they still want to learn! LEARNACY what a good word. Do our children still want to learn... If they don't they will certainly fail.
The very word teacher implies a series of promises to children. What do we promise?

Questions to think about.
What is working well at our school?
What is not working well?
What do we need to do?

Just to add to this some recommended reading:
Blink - Malcolm Gladwell
The Tipping Point - ditto
Re-imagine - Tom Peters
In the Early World - Elwyn S. Richardson
Simplicity - Edward de Bono
Developing Teacher Leaders: how teacher leadership enhances school success - Frank Crowther

Monday, 5 December 2005


Not a lot of in-school time left - quite a few days coming up here @ SPS. Nothing formally organised (who would at this time of year..) But just getting around the classrooms catching up on where everybody is up to. Teachers are requesting my time to help them with the nitty-gritty 'How To' stuff. From how do you log on to the classroom computer (i kid u not!) to how do you use this Panoramic software - wahoo.

Spent some time with Fiona this morning. She organised her time with me in the classroom really well so she could have the opportunity to pick my brains and still run a class at the same time! (5 year olds on independent Activity rotations) I wish more teachers would organise my time with them so well. It was a bit tricky trying to set her up on a classroom computer that is not networked and which the CD drive doesn't work & running Win98 - YUK. So we couldn't introduce anything new - luckily Kid Pix is already installed on this computer so that will be a big focus for this class of 5 year olds. Hopefully there will be some changes in 2006 to access to quality gear & the network to bring it in line with the other classrooms.

Worked with Lynn - reviewing her FrontPage skills so she can make some changes to the school Intranet. The existing content needs a overhaul to make it more relevant and useful. We are not really making any structural changes but stripping & replacing content. So all Lynn needs to know is how to make hyperlinks and to use the Microsoft tools that are common on all those programmes - oh yes not to forget file management (no. 1 webmaster skill)

The rest of my time today exploring new software. The new networked printers have scanning capabilities so they are being used quite extensively & scanned documents saved to file. A lot of the time though they are not very useful just as a picture file. So you need some OCR software (Optical Character Recognition) to convert scanned documents to word files. You can download free software called SimpleOCR It lives up to it's name & looks really easy to use - you can register & pay a few bucks for it to convert handwriting to text also.

The other software i played around with today was Panorama Composer from Firm Tools. It is only a 15 day trial but fully functional & again so easy to use. Sherrilyn wants to use it to get a panoramic shot of her kids celebrating as part of their Christmas production presentation. My brief from Sherrilyn was to investigate the software that could do this for her & then give her a 5min PD session with it :-) Teachers are too busy to do a lot of this stuff - when it comes to exploring new software, trialling & problem solving. They know what they want to do they just want someone to give them the right tool & show them how to do it. So i can do that - it's my job :-) Here are the results of my trial. A 360 degree view inside my office. It is a downloadable exe file - let me know if you can get it to run - i promise it is safe - no hidden viruses ;-)

Sunday, 4 December 2005

Take a Chill Pill Miss!

Yes! I have had students say this to me - what a leveller! (When i was a classroom teacher that is - nothing phases me now... ;-) A change in the air around many of our schools as teachers are beginning to feel the load lighten & see the light at the end of the tunnel - summer holidays beckoning. If you are still feeling a little stressed then have a laugh at this. Thanks Richard@Matau for sending this one in. (I know none of our school communities rate an answerphone system like this one - or do they?)

"This is the message that the Pacific Palisades High School (California) Staff voted unanimously to record on their school telephone answering machine. This came about because they implemented a policy requiring students and parents to be responsible for their children's absences and missing homework. The school and teachers are being sued by parents who want their children's failing grades changed to passing grades even though those children were absent 15-30 times during the semester and did not complete enough school work to pass their classes.
This is the actual answering machine message for the school:

"Hello! You have reached the automated answering service of your school. In order to assist you in connecting the right staff member, please listen to all your options before making selection:

"To lie about why your child is absent - Press 1

"To make excuses for why your child did not do his work- Press 2

"To complain about what we do - Press 3

"To swear at staff members - Press 4

"To ask why you didn't get information that was already enclosed in your newsletterand several flyers mailed to you - Press 5

"If you want us to raise your child - Press 6

"If you want to reach out and touch, slap or hit someone - Press 7

"To request another teacher for the third time this year-Press 8

"To complain about bus transportation - Press 9

"To complain about school lunches - Press 0

"If you realize this is the real world and your child must beaccountable and responsible for his/her own behavior, class work, homework, and that it's not the teachers' fault for your child's lack of effort: Hang up and have a nice day!"

Friday, 2 December 2005

Digital Blue

Have a look at some of this stuff at Digital Blue - so cool! This little microscope is probably nothing on a proscope - only goes up to 200x magnification. But you can still get a really good look at a dead fly, the inside of a flower, do a time lapse on your lunch rotting, a chrysalis opening. Wow the possibilities are endless - you can hook it up to your computer to capture and work with your images.
Sitech Systems are NZ distributors. I went to a demo they put on the other day and saw a range of Digital Blue gear. To be honest i wondered why you would by a little 16mb Movie Camera - but when i saw it in action with the software onboard - i would definately pick up one of these just for claymation/animation work. The music mixer 'thingy' was pretty cool too - it is something that we don't do a lot of in our schools generally (except for Marco & Matau) Yet when our Taranaki kids go away to Wellington - what is the highlight? Capital E & in particular making music! It would be great to get one of each of these to try out amongst our schools. Approx $160 each - its peanuts!

Wednesday, 30 November 2005

RL vs VR

VR - Virtual Reality
RL - What online gamers call their other life - real life!
It is only through strong self-control and a million other things to do that i haven't totally immersed myself in Cyberspace (though when i first set up my Feedreader i was nearly there...)Even so I find it difficult to do a day's work without being wired & online.
"The Pearly Gates of Cyberspace" Margaret Wertheim - is my latest semi-read:
This is a very heavy philosophical book (picked it up from Artichoke's blog - should have known ;-) - examines the concept of 'space' and sense of 'self' through the ages. I only managed to read the last two chapters pertaining to Cyberspace. How to describe the concept of Cyberspace - i have tried this with kids as we explore Cybersafety issues - what is Cyberspace - it's a place but not a place, it's real with real people but people can be who they want to be there, no it's not out amongst the stars or inside your computer...You can't touch it or feel it (yet - maybe) but you can definately be there and experience it. And it is definately more and more where some of us spend our time and will do in the future. It's kind of freaky, kind of scary and kind of cool at the same time.
"With the advent of cyberspace we are thus alerted that our conception of the world, and of ourselves, is likely to change....cyberspace will alter our vision of reality in powerful ways."

Friday, 25 November 2005

The Road to Matau

Phew! I have lived all my life travelling these roads but I still never get used to the challenging drive. Though a good time to hook into my mp3 player and catch up on a few podcasts. One in particular today from Steve Dembo (Teach42) be careful what you publish on your blog or podcast - you never know what your employer might think of it!! Uuum - will keep that in mind ;-)
A no-text website is currently under construction at Matau - all based on pictures of the drive in to Matau, the Matau valley itself & close ups of significant places within the valley - pages linked together by hotspots on the pictures. Add some sound files & a Virtual Tour in the making! Yet to be published live. Alice is learning to stich together & resample photo's in Fireworks, insert them into a Dreamweaver page & create the hotspots. File management - again a biggy with webpages - set it up right first & you won't get lost with your files & folders trying to trace links that don't work.
The ED team has come together to determine their ICT focus for next year under the guidance of Richard. Some ideas already floating are student blogs across the schools & perhaps more trialling of webcams. Up & running within Matau but yet to link across the schools - watch this space :-)

DEJA VU!! I made a blog post like this last term! Same pic - same title...
(Is being a Facilitator like being in the movie Ground Hog day ;-)

Wednesday, 23 November 2005


Wahoo! I worked out how to do it! Just a test podcast on Miriam's test blog/podcast. But if you go here and drag the feedburner chicklet into your open iTunes you can pick up a subscription to the podcast on the site. It is a bit of a mission to set up but definitely doable - now just need to develop some content worthy of subscribing to now we have worked out the technical details :-)


For anyone who has ever been in the throes of analysis paralysis - which is coming up for me with the results of the ICTPD online survey. Impending ERO visits, annual reviews, MOE requirements (of any flavour). You would do well to read Malcolm Gladwell's 'Blink'
He talks about the 'Perils of Introspection'
Relate the experiences of a successful military commander to how we operate in schools...
"The overall guidance and the intent were provided by me and the senior leadership, but the forces in the field wouldn't depend on intricate orders coming from the top. They were to use their own initiative and be innovative as they went forward...Once the fighting started, Van Riper didn't want introspection. He didn't want long meetings. He didn't want explanations. "I told our staff that we would use none of the terminology the Blue Team was using. I never wanted to hear that word 'effects', except in normal conversation. I didn't want to hear about Operational Net Assessment. We would not get caught up in any of these mechanistic processes. We would use the wisdom, the experience, and the good judgement of the people we had." This kind of management clearly has its risks. It meant Van Riper didn't always have a clear idea of what his troops were up to. It meant he had to place a lot of trust in his subordinates. It was, by his own admission, a "messy" way to make decisions. But it had one overwhelming advantage: allowing people to operate withoug having to explain themselves constantly...enables rapid cognition."

Tuesday, 22 November 2005

Podcast Test

Have read that you can podcast through your blog. Am trying it out so i can help Miriam set up her kids stories blog/podcast. I think you have to host your mp3 files somewhere (in this case my SchoolZone webhosting space) and then link to them through your blog. That is the first step - see if it works. Then how to subscribe??? Uuum one step at a time...
Click on the image below - the sound file is Untameable Fire from

Monday, 21 November 2005

Have Tools - Will Blog

St Joseph's Y8's have been inducted into the blogosphere today. A project to keep them engaged and onto it in the remaining short weeks left to them in the little people's world of Primary School :-) Some deliberations on my part on the best tool for the job - Blogmeister is great for a more 'controlled' environment & i set up a teacher's account & had a play over the weekend but for ease of use it comes nowhere near the wysiwyg post editing tool. I think i would use Blogmeiseter with a class looking at the long term of blogging but this project is just a 'snapshot' a blink in time for these kids who will be off and out there real soon. So we tried to make it as user friendly as possible. Not to say there are no checks in place. All blogs are set up so any new posts or comments pass by me, and all kids have signed a 'Bloggers Pledge' Like an Acceptable Use agreement but more specific to interacting in an on-line space. The big idea is a Digital Year Book - blog postings that reflect their years at St Josephs, this year as Y8's and the years ahead. Well they're on there now & i can see already that there will be lots of unintended lo's (learning outcomes) - just will try & pull them in past the joke page blog posts to some more serious reflections (Yeah right ;-) You can find links to all their blogs here. Plz visit them & leave them some comments. They would love to hear from you.

Sunday, 20 November 2005

He'll be OK

Growing Gorgeous Boys into Good Men

This book comes out of Celia Lashlie's work in boys secondary schools called the Good Man Project. What is a good man? How do we help our boys grow to be good men? What awesome insights she brings straight from the hearts and minds of the young men she worked with. She has certainly woken up some ideas in me. A must read for parents and for teachers of adolescent boys/ young men.
Thank you so much to Rae for all the times I sat with her worried about one of my boys and she would say 'He'll be OK!'

"Do you think you'll ever have a life plan?
So how will your life sort itself out?
Oh, that's easy. I'll be about 25 and some gorgeous-looking chich will walk past. She'll have a great plan, so I'll just hook onto her."

Thursday, 17 November 2005

Lead Teacher Ramblings

Lead teachers had an eclectic, animated, very interesting, to the untrained eye seemingly random discussion covered a range of areas. (Well yes ok some of it was pretty random ;-). The coversation ranged from critiquing the 'Inquiry Process' , balancing skills, process, content knowledge to how can we set up opportunities for teachers to get into each other's classrooms - match them up with the speed dating technique (Doh!) & BTW has anybody seen Pete's Pond yet? and so it goes on :-)

How focused and structured should our workshops be? Though we seemed to ramble over many areas there were quite a few ideas and things to think about that arose. I think of us as a 'think tank' - feeding off each other, sharing the good, the bad & the ugly of what is happening in our schools, what we would like to see happening, coming up with strategies & ideas to make things happen. Keeping each other inspired and motivated. For me this is especially important - this team of people keeps me inspired and motivated - I would have a very lonely job otherwise - in fact i just couldn't do it on my own. Thanks Guys!

Wednesday, 16 November 2005


An Internet Cafe @ Huiakama? Hmmm - why not - set up a wireless hotspot point in the carpark with the school network safely tucked behind it & you could have a good little fundraiser without the imposition of visitors traipsing through on a school day. I can just imagine it might become a popular campervan stop on the Forgotten World Highway. Wireless is needed out at Huiakama anyway to have some flexibility in computer arrangements around the school & access to the school house.
Zoe, Emily & Cheyenne have done an awesome job creating their video for the Zero Waste competition - excellent cameo appearance from Clare and Billy the sheep! I was pretty proud to see all they had done on their own - they only needed me for a little bit of tidying up in the editing department. Good stuff girls!
Marilyn & Robert & I had a play with Kidspiration. Robert has Aspergers and works intensively with Marilyn - he really tunes in when using the computer - even so not necessarily on the learning outcomes you are trying to work on :-) Digital Learning Objects - ha! who needs fancy flash things when you can make them yourself in Kidspiration - these are the ultimate reusable, repurposing resources. The downside is you can't really put any feedback mechanism into them & you have to be really imaginative to stretch their use beyond traditional pedagogical activities. I would be interested to see innovative uses for KidPix. What we found on templates on line was really a lot of 'worksheet' type activities - which i guess are OK if it means your Robert is going to be more focused & engaged but what else? An area for more investigation here.

Friday, 11 November 2005

WickEd Makahu

Kids are getting into the finer details of movie making at Makahu. They have been learning about the different types of video shots (pan, tilt, zoom etc) they can use to present their ideas. Today armed with their poems about things around Makahu school (School Pool, the lambs, Flying Fox, Kowhai, Ponga...) they went out and practised their shots. Eden did a great job modelling the 5 second shot and keeping the camera steady compared to letting the camera run and following every action around the room! After the video was taken (all with a very loud plane in the background - they were doing a fertiliser drop up the valley all morning!) we went back to the classroom and the kids evaluated each others work. Some good basic skills worked on today. Thanks to Mike Whiteman - a fantastic resource out in schools about video technique - all schools should have this - look for it if you're doing any video in the classroom. Eden plans to get some quality work up onto WickEd TV. A great place to view other students videos, to publish your work to a wider audience and to pick up some good ideas and resources.

Thursday, 10 November 2005

The World Outside My Window

Oh to be a 'real teacher' again - at least on Sports Day or every now & then when i get sick of doing Office Stuff like today...

Wednesday, 9 November 2005

Almost as Good as Being There?

It's really hard quite often to get alongside teachers in the classroom to work on ICT rich activities with them & with their kids, and even when you get the opportunity it can often be a 'one-off' & nothing else happens till you return weeks later... So how to make it as easy as possible?? Here's another idea - work with the kids - then you get someone in the classroom who has an idea what to do (even if they are only 5 or 6 years old ;-) and also these kids have the drive, the enthusiasm and the expectation. Then bring the teachers on board - develop the curriculum planning, create very detailed instructions - printed & digital and make sure that the gear they need in the classroom works. Well I couldn't do anymore - it's all delivered on a plate. It will be interesting to go back to these classes in a week or two and see if the work i did with the kids has carried on into the classroom (or what will the excuse be this time?)

So this week at SPS i will have worked with kids from every class in the school - phew what a hectic schedule. A different focus for each syndicate - KidPix Chocolate Cakes in the Junior School, Flickr Colour Stories in the Middle Syndicate, Web Pages with Jen's kids, & soon Inspiration as a Research planning tool with the Senior kids. Detailed planning, printable 'How To' instructions with lots of screen shots and I spent a good part of today playing with CamStudio creating little 'How To' videos (Almost as good as me being there) - Phew...

But even with all of this i know i am working backwards - i need time to plan with teachers to do something they want to do, that fits in with their kids learning - where they are - and then I'd feel really happy about all this stuff I've been doing with the kids the last few days.
Though now i can see where the feeling to want to 'shoot the wounded' comes from! ;-)

Sunday, 6 November 2005

Engagement Plus ++++

What purposeful learning - all self-directed with a few tips from me.
My son would kill me (but i know he doesn't read my blog ;-)
It all started with an i-pod & a teenager & here are the steps that follow:

  • copy my cds to the computer to upload on my i-pod (download the most updated iTunes 1st)
  • i want to remix... editing software? file formats don't match?
  • download audacity - the file formats don't work - download the lame.dll to do it with
  • import cut & paste the bits of music
  • uum need to add my own bits - download acid express - get some extra loops & tracks in there
  • uuum the file formats just don't fit between these 3 programmes - download an mp3 convertor - convert and import back into iTunes - voila
What a proud mum i am - but may be not so - the purpose of all of this was to remix the most awful version of all Eminem's worst, rudest, foul-mouthed parts of different songs into one penultimate mean-as, rude-as song.
I couldn't help myself - as i am always looking for the next thing you could do "How can you work out how to download your remix on to your phone & create your own ringtones?" Did i say that?! i should have bitten my lip...
Fantastic skills - context??? pretty gross but i guess that's where the engagement comes in - now the challenge to channel the power and the purpose together.
As for the finished product - keep the earphones on Sean - i don't want to hear it!!!

Wednesday, 2 November 2005

Working the Web with Kids

  • Avoid Frontpage if you can possibly!!!!!!!
  • Always name your first page index
  • Never have any spaces or funny symbols in your file names!
  • Create your navigation buttons first - copy them over to each page - this avoids having 100+ buttons created by Frontpage to upload....
  • Avoid copying pictures straight from other people's webpages...
  • Sure you don't have to upload your own images, what if their link changes & have you even got their permission.... same goes 4 music....
  • Run your raw video through an editor first so you can achieve a file size in single digit mB instead of gBs.......and anyway it won't upload with a space in the file name

Here is a lesson for us all - Discovery learning is not always the best place to start! :-)
Getting the basics right can save hours of frustration...

The kids had been working on an Antarctica WebQuest - they chose to present their work on the web themselves. Here's an example of their work (the video is still to be uploaded)

Thursday, 27 October 2005

Ed Tech to Tech Ed in an Afternoon

Biz-Go Seminar with the 'propellor heads' (Techs) this afternoon. A seminar - well sales pitch really from many big business names in IT industry - some new contacts made, some old contacts renewed - drinks & nibbles good too :-)
It is interesting to note the common themes emerging from the tech world similar to our own - i guess they are following the trends to meet our tech. needs...
Covergence (integrated systems), Wireless, communication portals, content managment (analog to digital) & security.
I had a deja vu experience listening to Tandburg (backup systems) talk about the exponential growth in data (we know it as the information explosion) - our angle is how we navigate this for learning (Infoglitz, Infoglut, Infogarbage) - their angle is how to protect the data
Test your backup systems!!!!!!!!! Delete a file (make sure its not important) - go back a week later and use your backup system to restore it - do it now - just to make sure that you can...
Communication portals - intranet/extranet software solutions - phew so expensive - haven't they heard of Moodle
No open-source in sight of course (it's their business to sell this stuff) & funny that none of them had heard of the Pringle can wireless enhancer!!
I thought this HP Digital Pen was really cool - convert handwritten & printed hard copy to digital form - i know this is a big issue for our secondary schools (TaraNet Cluster) particularly who are trying to get their teachers work (traditionally pen & paper) into digital form for sharing.
Though a lot of the presentations went over my head - i did manage to get the gist of most it. Thanks to Gen-i (formerly Computerland) keeping me in the loop :-)

How Many Smart Boards?????

© FNO Press, 2005

Copyright Policy: While the copyright for this cartoon by Jerry King belongs to From Now On, readers may distribute and republish provided they reproduce the credit with a link to Jerry's Web site and to From Now On

Really??!! ;-)
Spent the day with lead teachers working out some ideas to help move teachers forward in integrating ICTs in their classroom practice ...
Working on Gladwell's 'Law of the Few' - "With the adaptions of innovations into a system you have the Early Adaptors to move this along to the Early Majority it is not an easy transition - here the Law of the Few is important as they help 'translate' for the rest of us - concentrate your resources on a few key areas." So our lead teachers are our key resource people - some been with us for awhile, some just joining us for the first time - all enthusiastic, energetic & hopeful (Fullan 2001) - ready to help drive change in their own classrooms & in their schools - wahoo!! Jamie McKenzie gives some good advice for lead teachers in his articles:
Traits of an Effective Technology Coach
& How Teachers Learn Technology Best
Good reading for anyone working with teachers. Really looking forward to Jamie coming to work with us in 2006 - if you're not in our cluster and you want to join us Saturday June 10th 2006 - drop me a line :-)

Wednesday, 26 October 2005

“I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation.Fear of getting failing grades, fear of not staying with your class etc.Interest can produce learning in a scale compared to fear as a nuclear reaction to a fire cracker!

Stanley Kubrick

Visit Bruce's Blog!!! Thx Richard
Looking forward to Bruce joining us in a few weeks to challenge our thinking more & to move us from just thinking about things to taking action & making real change...

Friday, 21 October 2005

Treat your Password Like Your Toothbrush...

Change it regularly & don’t share it!!

So don’t use silly password such as Fred! (or such like ;-)

Phew some pretty powerful computer forensic software demonstrated to us today – you can delete, you can move things around, but you can’t hide anything! Yes Henry you will need to ‘wipe’ your hard drive – formatting does not remove data from your machine – a screwdriver through the hard drive will but I think the MOE want those teacher laptops returned to Wellington.

Really interesting activities involving searching for hidden messages and pictures & then working out a response based on the NetSafety guidelines. Find the NetSafety Kit here
Trying to work out if something is inappropriate, objectionable or illegal, saw us searching for pictures of cats, chickens & cows!! As Yvonne so aptly put it Hornography & if it was a picture of a calf – even worse child hornography!!

Thanks to Yvonne Blanch & Mike Spence for leading this workshop. Full notes of the workshop can be found on Interact.

Wednesday, 19 October 2005


Welcome Liz to Bard Wired! Liz Malone has just taken over as Principal @ EPS. I spent some time bringing her up to speed on our cluster’s learning journey together so far. Phew – hope I didn’t confuse Liz too much!! But she is all logged on to Interact now – and able to check out our milestones there and try and get her head around it in her own good time. I also made sure to tell her what a great teaching team she has joined but hey she had already figured that one out.

Had a short time at staff meeting to introduce the DLOs (Digital Learning Objects) to the EPS staff - which turned into a bit of a fizzer as Firefox doesn't play a lot of them - i think something to do with the ActiveX on the pages (Firefox doesn't support ActiveX- which is one reason it is a more secure browser than Internet Explorer). I hate wasting teachers' time at staff meetings specially with technical difficulties!! Oh well, we did in the end get to browse some of the collection, staff were interested and keen to try out some of the CHOCOLATE DLOs. (It was great to find a relevant resource - the DLO collection is not wide enough yet to make relevant connections to a lot of classroom topics) Some advice for teachers - plan a structured use of DLOs to support learning in the classroom (as you would any learning resource) I am a little worried because these resources are digital & some of them are pretty cool then they will be used randomly, out of context, perhaps as rewards (some teachers still do this!!) and not in the powerful ways they could be used. Before you begin to use DLOs with your kids i recommend you read this article from Learning Media - Quality Teaching Using Digital Resources.

Bernadette is really progressing on the web site maintenance and has learnt how to create new links and make new pages so the newsletters can be archived and available on line. The real challenge is file management – how you organize your files so you can link to the right ones, & upload the right ones. Looking good check out Lots more photogalleries to check out there too.

I know it’s not my job to do technical stuff but if it’s a 5 minute job it’s worth it if its going to make the difference with a teacher getting onto it with their kids. (Though we all know it’s rarely 5 minutes ;-) So there were a couple of little jobs like that & worthwhile doing too…

Jackie’s kids are starting a unit on Chocolate so they spent some time exploring KidPix and decorating chocolate cakes - you can see more of their yummy chocolate cakes here and there is a full lesson plan on our Interact site.

Friday, 14 October 2005

Busting Busting

Busting, busting …
I never get sick of Making Movies… no I don’t really especially today working with such keen young film makers as the Douglas kids. Here is an outtake from TT productions entertaining little piece called ‘Flush’! The whole school had an awesome day planning & producing their films – they worked on PCs & Macs using Movie Maker & iMovie. My preference? iMovie by a long shot. Some tips for kids who work with me??? Never, never let Rachel touch your mouse – sorry Summa for deleting your movie – oops… You can see Flush here. Check out Dragon Production’s story about the cool huts they have been making. A popcorn & movie session at the end of the day was a great opportunity to celebrate their work!

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

Bloggity, blog, blog, BLOG @ Makahu

This post is for Eden @ Makahu to let you know about what we did today in your school. (This was the original purpose of me blogging "A Journal of What Rachel is doing in Schools." but i have branched out a little bit lately into other discussions)

Anyway - I worked with some students & Phillipa (for a little while) setting up a blog for Makahu School. If you're reading this now it's quite likely that you know what a blog is :-) but for the uninitiated just checking things out for the first time basically blogs are free (usually) online tools that are beginning to be used more widely in education – they are more interactive than a static web page as blog visitors can leave comments on each other’s pages and also they are really easy to use. You can set rss feeds on blogs (put one on your's Eden) and subscribe to other people's blog feeds so you can keep up-to-date with recent postings. They come into a new 'genre' of web tools that has been tagged 'social software' - things like blogs, wikis, podcasting etc - aka Web 2.0. You really need to read around to learn more about the tools - try Wikipedia as a starting point - I'm not going to write about all that here - phew!
The ways we can use them in education we are only just beginning to realise so it's very exciting. The downside (maybe) is that your kids are out there in the open on the www, so there are some potential issues you will be well aware of. So when we were setting up the blog today we discussed those issues – eg not giving out personal information & how to deal with inappropriate comments etc. When setting up this blog i made sure that any blog posts or comments were also sent to Eden's email so he can monitor the activity on his school blog. There are some tools out there worth a look at that provide a more closed environment (for example we use Interact that you have to access through a username & password). Blogmeister is one i have been meaning to get around to checking it out. Tom from The Orchard - link bottom right of this blog uses it - costs a small amount but more control for the teacher - if thats what you want... There are lots of links i could send you too but don't have the time right now - Google it - find out more - use it!

Tuesday, 11 October 2005

Flat Stanley @ Tahora

Kids at Tahora School have been Flat Out working on their Flat Stanley project. They have been reading Flat Stanley stories, taking Flat Stanley back to their farms for the holidays and taking lots of photos & telling Flat Stanley PowerPoint stories with them, they have been emailing buddies at an Auckland school and sharing their stories. Today they showed awesome creative, cooperative, and problem solving skills - along with a good measure of patience & persistence to create their Flat Stanley claymation. Here Flat Stanley becomes a kite and gets stuck in the tree!! Good on you guys. Today we fixed an rss feed on their blog so pop over and leave them a comment they'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, 9 October 2005


A lot of buzz about podcasting in recent conferences. Toko School have a Term 4 goal to produce a podcast - Go Toko! Here are some of their thoughts on the possibilities.Watch this space.

What is podcasting? Well it’s basically about subscribing and listening to audio feeds through the Internet. A bit like a ‘pick & mix’ of your own radio – when & where you want to listen to it. Portable mp3 players have really pushed this along - you can download to your laptop, your phone even & listen on the go. Also anyone can produce & broadcast their own shows (not that you’d want to listen to anything) – but it really makes it accessible for all (well those with the gear & the internet access but that’s another story) & it’s a democratizing media – we no longer have to be passive consumers of someone else’s stories or point of view but we get to shape the media ourselves. I won’t go too far down that track either but I’m sure you could write a thesis about it

So why would it be important in our children’s learning? Well for a start how about making meaning, sense of purpose and audience – whatever the ‘topic’ of the podcast. The ability to communicate in authentic ways to an authentic audience – whether it’s all the way round the world or to our own communities… Not forgetting the oral language skills all so necessary if you want to hook your audience – real or virtual.

The nuts & bolts of it – download the latest itunes – you don’t need a mac – pc will run it too. Go online (some links follow) & find something you might be interested in listening too. Just find the little button somewhere on the page that says subscribe to podcast & with both windows open on your computer (you might need to resize them & line them up) just drag the little button into your open itunes window. Voila (fast internet is a bonus here too) You can go into the podcast directory directly from your iTunes window & search & subscribe to podcasts this way also.

Podcasts I listen to:
Andy Carvin’s Waste of Bandwidth
Bit by Bit – Bob Sprankle
Bud the Teacher
Connect Learning with David Warlick
Ed Tech Coast to Coast
Paradigm Shift
Teach 42
(you can find these in the iTunes directory – they are all ‘edtech’ type podcasts)
What do you recommend??

Podcasts Sophie (9 years old) listens to:
Radio WillowWeb
Story Cast
Acclerated Reader Books
KPE (Point England NZ – Book reviews)

I have been searching high & low for ‘stories’ for Sophie – really there’s not a lot around …early days yet. Because this is a democratic media we actually have the ability to contribute to this & LibraVox are looking for readers to podcast ‘opensource’ books (including children’s books) Class project – maybe???

So if you want to produce a podcast – well we’re still working on the nuts & bolts of this one. You can record straight on to your computer – with a mac you have a built in microphone or get a good quality speaker for your microphone. If you want something cheap & portable get a little mp3 multiplayer – I use a legend (for listening – I don’t record – except little notes for myself). Someuse iriver (same sort of thing)

You can edit in audacity (freeware) or garageband on your mac.

Hosting your mp3 files podcasts is an area we need to investigate further – you don’t really want them on your own webhosted area – they will take up a bit of space and then there’s the bandwidth use as people access & download your files. There are a few recommendations and I guess you will look at them more closely when you have some podcasts ready to go…let us know!

Want to know more here are some links:
The Education Podcast Network

Podcast Alley

Podcast Directory

Cutting Edge

Otherwise Google it – let us know if you find some good ones!

Leading in a Culture of Change

A must read from Michael Fullan Thanks for passing in on Richard. I would like to pass it round our group some more but already the overdue fines are stacking up on it... Maybe Kelvin you've got this in your personal library ? - if you haven't we should buy it. On reading this book I found so much relevant to how our schools are already and could be working together and also to what is / could be happening within our individual schools. I think our leadership team has pretty much run the circle (above) to a degree & continue to do so but we now need to look at involving all our teachers in this process. I took some notes from his book below that give you a bit of an overview:
Fullan presents a framework for leadership. With the complexity & relentless pace of change leadership is key. Not the charismatic, superhuman leader which can result in episodic change but where we can all work together for sustainable change.
"...five components of leadership represent independent but mutual reinforcing forces for positive change....To be effective in complex times, leaders must be guided by moral purpose. Moral purpose means acting with the intention of making a positive difference.
Understand the change process
: 1) the goal is not to innovate the most; 2) it is not enough to have the best ideas; 3) appreciate early difficulties of trying something new; 4) redefine resistance as a potential positive force; 5) reculturing is the name of the game; 6) never a checklist, always complexity...
The single factor common to every successful change initiative is that relationships improve. Thus leaders must be consummate relationship builders with diverse people and groups... effective leaders constantly foster purposeful interactions and problem solving, and are wary of easy consensus.
Knowledge creation and sharing
...leaders commit themselves to constantly generating and increasing knowledge inside and outside the organisation...turning information into knowledge is a social process. All this complexity keeps people on the edge of chaos. It is important to be on the edge because that is where creativity resides, but anarchy lurks there too. Therefore effective leaders tolerate enough ambiguity to keep the creative juices flowing, but along the way (once they and the group know enough), they seek coherence. Coherence making is a perennial pursuit."
Fullan also talks about personal characteristics that all effective leaders possess: energy - enthusiasm - hopefullness. He warns about groupthink "Leaders can be powerful, and so can groups, which means they can be powerfully wrong. This is why the five dimensions of leadership must work in concert. They provide a check against uninformed commitment."
Fullan advocates "...slow knowing, the importance of learning in context, and the need for leaders at all levels of the organisation, in order to achieve widespread internal commitment.'
Slow learning "slow learning doesn't have to take a long time. It is more of a disposition that can be 'acquired and practised'...they see the bigger picture; they don't panic when things go wrong in the early stages of a major change initiative. It is not so much that they take their time, but rather that they know that it takes time for things to gel. If they are attentive to the five leadership capacities... they know things are happening all the time, even when there is not closure. In a sense, they take as much time as the situation will allow, and do not rush to conclusions in order to appear decisive."
Learning in context "... is the learning with the greatest payoff because it is specific (customized to the situation) and because it is social (involves the group). Learning in context is developing leadership and improving the organization as you go."
Leadership for many "Internal commitment cannot be activated from the top. It must be nurtured up close in the dailiness of organisational behaviour, and for that to happen there must be many leaders around us...The ultimate leadership contribution is to develop leaders who can move the organization even further after you have left."

Saturday, 8 October 2005

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Monday, 3 October 2005

Implementing ICT

Well I've been in study mode again - here are some of my thoughts on a question "Discuss your experiences of implementation of ICTs"

Implementation within our cluster has involved in the first place building relationships across our schools, Principals working together to develop a vision about the way they want their schools to work. I think this is what Julia Atkins calls ‘Educative Purpose’ – the WHY, Why are we doing this? Once you work out the why – which is based on our beliefs, then the what & the how will follow. Knowing the answers to our WHY questions maintains a focus and keeps us moving forward in the same direction. Principals & some ‘lead’ teachers went on a Bus Tour around other schools which had been held up to be showing examples of good practice. The discussions we had while & after visiting these schools and the workshops we have had since, has really helped them in forming a bigger picture of what we think is important in their schools. Principals are the ones who give license to our teachers to be innovative, creative and take risks; they provide the access to resources – improving infrastructure, finding money for extra PD release time; they communicate with the community about what is happening in our schools and so in effect ‘we are all dancing to the same tune’. Well that’s the rosy picture the reality of it in some schools is what is happening for the individual teacher in the classroom and what is the effect for our kids. We are asking questions now like “Why do I not see any changes in many of our classrooms?” “What are the benefits for our kids – does it improve learning outcomes, how do you measure it, should you measure it…?” At the end of the day its about making a difference in our classrooms – if all of our teachers have laptops, if the whole school is networked, if they have access to data display, mobile pods of computers, they have loads of PD opportunities, facilitator support in the classroom – then what, save a magic wand (by the way I do keep one of these in my office & try & use it from time to time but unfortunately it doesn’t work) what else do we need to do????

Do we keep working with our teachers but with a higher expectation that they will come on board? I know that in some of the Bendigo schools these expectations are explicit & accountable by way of goals in Performance Review. (Carrot & stick?) We look to key teachers who are doing great things to lead the way, provide opportunities to open up our classrooms to each other, opportunities to share, observe, time to do it! Recognition for the steps forward however small they may seem we have to remember the continuum our teachers are on has quite a large spread. I also think we need to involve our teachers in the ‘Visioning’ process as a whole school help them to develop a shared belief – this is a sticky one too – how much is genuine, how much is lip service, if spin-doctoring is required then its all a bit of a sham – can you really expect that teachers should share similar beliefs about teaching & learning??? Why should you?

Well this posting has not really been about the nuts and bolts of implementation but maybe more about the fertile ground you need to have in order to implement… I was listening to David Warlick the other day talking about technology in classrooms by way of categorizing ideas into “Can we do it today or tomorrow?” Meaning how easy is it to implement – if it’s going to take too much time and trouble, and the teacher’s don’t perceive improved outcomes – what is the point – don’t waste our time! So this might be a good place to start thinking about the what & the how of implementation – certainly the tools we now have at our disposal are becoming more available and easier to use, but we need to match this with our learning goals to make it meaningful also.

Sunday, 18 September 2005

ED Comes to Town!

Don't miss the ED (combined schools of Douglas, Huiakama, Marco, Matau & Makahu) Production, 'Dancing Through the Ages', at the TET Kings Theatre, Stratford this Wednesday 21st September - entry gold coin donation. It will be a great show! Get down there & support our ED schools.
I was lucky enough to have a preview out at Huiakama last week - lots of energy & enthusiam :-) Some ICT integration too with the routing of the music playlist through the laptop, through the sound system & some to come with some visual images being worked on to add to the storyline - have to wait & see for that one. If we had the webcams up & running they could be learning their lines together too (but maybe next time).

McLuhan - the medium is the message

"At the speed of light, policies and political parties yield place to charismatic images."
Marshall McLuhan 1911-1980

This may be a very apt quote in the days to come after last nights events (deja vu)
But i don't want to focus on the politics - would like to know more about McLuhan - his name keeps popping up all over the place though he has been gone for quite some time. It seems he is an influential thinker in the area of Communication & was the one to coin the phrase 'the medium is the message' A whole host of his quotes some of them so well known can be found here. I am looking to read some of his work though wouldn't know what to start with - any suggestions would be appreciated. Maybe I'll just take a trip over to the Massey Library & order a selection :-)

Saturday, 17 September 2005

Education Prepares our Kids for the Present not just the Future

Just been listening to David Warlick's last podcast where he gives the soapbox to Dr Tim Tyson from Mabry Middle School who speaks passionately about the difference between schooling then (for us) & schooling now (or for some of us the potential). Warlick advises that for most listeners this is preaching to the converted but this is a message we should be taking out to our school communities. Tim is awesome to listen to though I think he focuses strongly on technology as an enabler when we know there are lots of other factors enabling our kids learning - but maybe that comes in podcast part 2... One of the main things that made me think about this podcast was when Tim talks about the huge untapped potential in our children as builders of knowledge. 'Knowledge is the seed for change and action.' That for some time we have thought of education as preparing our children for the future when really they have a lot to contribute in the present. I won't review this any further - it is really worth a listen to & not too long & not at all boring. Jump over to the Mabry website too - very slick but lots going on there too with their own Podcast Central.
And if you think i would spend this beautiful day sitting at my computer - you're wrong - (except for this 10 minutes to make my post) I have been busy around the garden with my new little toy in my pocket & my earphones on!!!!

Monday, 12 September 2005

Flickr Flickr

Just been listening to Steve @ Teach 42 podcasting about all the cool things you can do on Flickr. I started using Flickr out at Matau when we were working out how to get pictures on our blogs - way back then (say 3 months ago - long time at today's pace :-) it was the only way we could get photos up & make our blogs hopefully more interesting... Now of course you just click the little picture button on your blogspot webediting page & can put a photo up with a simple browse & click.
OK so Flickr - still using it for all my extra photos that don't make my blog page and also another account for sharing family photos. Steve's podcast opened up a whole lot of awesome ideas about how you can use Flickr. I don't need to repeat his ideas here - just go to his blog post Flickr-fy your life
Hey, here might be another workshop for Learning@School 90 minutes playing with Flickr - i know it can be done :-)

Monday, 5 September 2005

Builders’ Houses, Mechanics’ Cars, Teachers’ Children.

Just been to a Parent’s Evening @ the local highschool “Tips for Parents” from a company called ‘The Art of Learning.’ The pitch was developing accelerated learning techniques, hooking into our Emotional Intelligence & the senior students have been taking a series of workshops with this company. The blurb sounded a lot like Karen Boyes Spectrum Learning workshops so I thought I’d go for a nosey. A big focus on setting up our kids for success within the school system – studying, passing exams… Well, I know all that stuff of course but you know it’s the story of the builders’ house being the worst kept in the street. What do I do to encourage ‘school’ success in my children – do I turn off the TV, playstation, hound them to do their homework (even though they say they don’t have any). Well actually, none of the above. Why? Of course I want my kids to succeed but I feel in a sense I’m still bucking the system myself – do I value ‘school’ success? Only for the pathways it can lead you when you get good grades, pass exams, get accepted for scholarships, uni. courses, great careers. So somewhere along the line the intrinsic love of learning that I believe is innate in all of us turns into an external drive for success & who sets the benchmarks for this? & is this when some of our kids lose their motivation because they have to do things rather than want to?
It seems a bit contradictory to me that secondary schools need to bring in external facilitators to motivate our kids & introduce them to learning strategies. If the core business of our schools is learning then why are we not driving this within our schools – why is it an add-on & not an integrated part of our school cultures everyday and not just once a year around exam time? The no. 9 tip for parents was ‘develop a family learning culture’ – how do our schools develop learning cultures & extend this into our school whanau? Instead of helping our kids adapt to the existing system so they can taste success what are we doing to make our school system more adaptive to our kids learning needs? Any courses for our teachers to be reinforcing and supporting this with our kids within the classroom? Short answer – teachers are too busy for all that. Well, hello! What are teachers doing that they are so busy to help our children learn? Trying to cover curriculum content, coming to grips with NCEA, setting & marking ‘work’, trying to figure out how to turn their new laptops on & then use them to record grades on…
OK so what did I learn as a parent? I need to spend more time talking to my kids, taking an interest in their learning, encouraging them to extend their thinking, finding out what sparks their passions & talking, talking more talking. So worth going tonight just for that – I don’t do enough of it.

Sunday, 4 September 2005

Mahoe High Flyers

Mahoe School may be gone but not forgotten.

Need some images to brighten up this page - there has been too many words!!

Teaching vs Learning

OK maybe i've been reading too much - but got to study - Assignment 3 not far away. (Groan)
Some ideas from Etienne Wenger "Communities of Practice: Learning, Meaning & Identity."

"A focus on teaching is not equivalent to a focus on learning. The two are not even mirror images. In an instructional context, such as a school classroom or a training session, the reification of learning (a focus on content) combined with institutional authority can easily create the impression that it is teaching that causes learning.... Instruction does not cause learning; it creates a context in which learning takes place, as do other contexts.
- Learning and teaching are not inherently linked. Much learning takes place without teaching, and indeed much teaching takes place without learning.
- To the extent that teaching and learning are linked in practice, the linkage is one not of cause and effect but of resources and negotiation
...Learning is an emergent ongoing process, which may use teaching as one of its many structuring resources"
Wenger contends that too much emphasis is put on pedagogical debate (eg transmission vs discovery learning) when at the heart of the matter is the ability of 'teaching' & 'learning' to interact around negotiated meaning and the structuring of resources for planned & emergent learning.
He discusses education as a tranformative process where the primary focus is on making meaning. He contends that students need places of engagement (activities with others, challenges & responsibilities, continuity to develop practices & commitment); materials and experiences with which to build an image of the world and themselves (developing our identity is important & can get lost in the institutionalised school); and ways of having an effect on the world and making their actions matter.
Phew - i think there's a quote below about an ounce of action being worth a ton of theory! I've been reading a ton of theory today... what can i do to take action??

Friday, 2 September 2005

SPS Shining the Light

Lighthouse or Navigator classrooms to show the way? What is a digital classroom? Well its not just the gear - but that helps shape the learning landscape. All teachers have their own laptops now, some will be putting their hands up to have fixed data display units in their rooms. This combined with access to a pod of wireless laptops. Show us what u can do!? :-) It's one thing for me to spend time modelling in classrooms - that is just a taste & very transient in the bigger scheme of things for the average classroom teacher. How often have I hoped to spark the flame, sometimes yes, but often no. The real multiplier effect will happen when teachers see it happening in each other's classrooms. Teachers often say 'If I could just see it in action'. Here may be the opportunity. Here may also be the threat - anything we do always has the potential to be a double edged sword. With Navigator classrooms there is the possibility of creating balkanism of the digital elite vs the resistors (though as Kelvin says we need the resistors to help us gain a balanced perspective). Jamie McKenzie (Learning @ School 2004) was very critical of the Navigator schools as being well resourced islands surrounded by a sea of schools who without. Julia Atkins countered this with her opinions that the Navigator Schools were influential in showing others the way (we know that from our own experience of Kim & Pat's visit there). So we need to focus on establishing good practise through resourcing, time to try things out & take risks, professional support, evaluation & reflection (some action research here?) and sharing it - again resourcing - support structures and time. Watch this space! :-)

Wednesday, 31 August 2005

Where Are We Going???????

Some time to read, some time to think in the last couple of days...

"Google is like God. God is wireless, God is everywhere, and God sees everything. Any questions in the world, you ask Google."
Alan Cohen, vice president of Airspace in "The World is Flat"
Thomas L. Friedman 2005

Check out EPIC (not the NZ version) I don't know if this is very scary or very exciting - both probably - but I do know that we are standing at the edge & some of us are just starting to test the water...

Saturday, 27 August 2005

"An ounce of action is worth a ton of theory." ~~ Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803 - 1882)

Friday, 26 August 2005

Te Aroha Regional ICTPD Meeting

Great for the team to get away again :-) Do we do some of our best talking on these looooooooong car trips - or was everyone asleep in the back seat or too kind to me to tell me to shut up. Some interesting ideas on what to do with teacher release time Term 4 - i wish i had recorded our conversation - i did scribble some of it down when i got home - but where is that piece of paper?? I need a palm pilot, i-pod, cool thingamyjiggy to keep track of the whirl of thoughts & ideas in my head.
So the day was OK - not terribly challenging - Douglas was a great presenter - a good overview of teacher laptops, other MOE ICT initiatives, the new e-learning strategy. Discovery learning with the Stanley Ave kids with a little piece of software Pivot Stick Animator - would overlook the software quite easily but i don't think that was the main point of the session. Yes Discovery learning - to a point - we all have to work it out at sometime for ourselves - everything changes so quickly how else are you going to be independent learners if you don't try things out & take risks. But I wouldn't use this approach as the only way - kids can also go a long way if we model some starting points and give some expert advice where needed to push them through their zpd... It would have been good to have some real 'chew the fat' time with the other facilitators - there was lots of small talk but no real nitty gritty beyond 'how's it going?'
Thanks Barb for organising the day - it was great to have the involvement of the kids (a reminder perhaps of why we are all there). All the photos are here

Tuesday, 23 August 2005

Everything Bad is Good for You!

Just finished this thought provoking book by Steven Johnson.

Try this thought experiment from the book: (a parallel universe where books are the new technological advance & becoming more popular than video games)
"Reading books chronically understimulates the senses. Unlike the longstanding tradition of gameplaying - which engages the child in a vivid, three-dimensional world filled with moving images and musical soundscapes, navigated and controlled with complex muscular movements - books are simply a barren string of words on the page. Only a small portion of the brain devoted to processing written language is activated during reading, while games engage the full range of the sensory and motor cortices.
Books are also tragically isolating. While games have for many years engaged the young in complex social relationships with their peers, building and exploring worlds together, books force the child to sequester him or himself in a quiet space, shut off from interaction with other children. These new 'libraries' that have arisen in recent years to facilitate reading activities are a frightening sight: dozens of young children, normally so vivacious and socially interactive, sitting alone in cubicles, reading silently, oblivious to peers.
Many children enjoy reading books, of course, and no doubt some of the flights of fancy conveyed by reading have their escapist merits. But for a sizable percentage of the population, books are downright discriminatory. The reading craze of recent years cruelly taunts the 10 million Americans who suffer from dyslexia - a condition that didn't even exist as a condition until printed text, came down to stigmatize its sufferers.
But perhaps the most dangerous property of these books is the fact that they follow a linear path. You can't control their narratives in any fashion - you simply sit back and have the story dictated to you. For those of us raised on interactive narratives, this property may seem astonishing. Why would anyone want to embark on an adventure utterly choreographed by another person? But today's generation embarks on such adventures millions of times a day. This risks instilling a general passivity in our children, making them feel as though they're powerless to change their circumstances. Reading is not an active, participatory process: its a submissive one. The book readers of the younger generation are learning to "follow the plot" instead of learning to lead."

Before you jump up & down about this slanderous attack on the the importance of reading it is a provocation for us to think that - Non-print based media is honing different mental skills that are just as important as the ones exercised by reading - Print requires effort, concentration, attention, the ability to make sense of words & follow narrative threads... Games - require some of the skills above - there is a lot of 'collatoral learning' - decision making through a process of probe, hypothesise, reprobe, rethink (scientific method) James Paul Gee, What Video Games have to teach us about Learning and Literacy.

Yep food for thought :-)

Cool Tools + Access = Motivated Learners

Well I hope so that's the idea. Me being an idealist again... I think there are a few other important factors to go into that equation like purposeful learning objectives, student driven opportunities & teacher support. What else belongs in the mix??
Don Tapscott in 'Growing up Digital' has this to say "Access is a critical first step...
Wiring the schools and populating them with computers is necessary but insufficient to ensure equal opportunity to share in the digital revolution. Children need access to computers and the Net, but they also need appropriate software and services. They need motivation to learn. They need a redesigned educations system and teachers who have retrained and reorientated. Innovative technologies cannot make up for educational professionals who lack innovative methods and merely replicate learning models that don't work."

Well Rome wasn't built in a day so the last couple of days I have been working on the 'appropriate software' @ SPS with the senior classes. Our sessions were called 'BEYOND PAINT' Drawing & photoimaging tools are really expensive (I wonder what a site licence for MX 2004 would be!!!) So we have been working with DrawPlus from I was amazed at the quality & range of 'higher-end software' that you can download from here now - desktop publishing, photo & image editing, graphic design, 3D animation & web publishing. All the kids had some hands on time exploring the features of DrawPlus in preparation for using it to create logos for their upcoming icecream project...
Here's a little jpg I threw together in DrawPlus:

Friday, 19 August 2005

DigiOps Takes a Dive

Maybe I'm too much of an idealist but I still think the big idea of DigiOps Community Technicians is great - i guess our schools did too otherwise we wouldn't have gone down that path together...
But the nuts & bolts of it are not so easy - without going into detail here - but i think with the disappointment comes a sigh of relief.
All the best Holly on your next venture.
Thanks heaps to Garry Falloon you are doing an awesome job - we will watch to see how the CommTechs and other DigiOps projects develop.

Thursday, 18 August 2005

Wine Not Network - Toko

Thanks Richard, Cathy & Kelly for hosting us at Toko this afternoon. Thanks also to Richard (Barnes) for sharing your Matau kids blogs with us. Lots of discussion about the access to a wider audience & the associated improvement in the kids written language, alongside that was discussions about how to keep our kids safe online in such an environment - using the blog tool settings to have all comments posted to the Principals address & raising kids awareness of issues associated with interacting in an online environment and how to deal with this. If you are interested in setting up your own blog go to - follow the online instructions to register and set up your blog & then tell us all about it!! Cathy walked us through a webquest she had used with her kids and described how they extended from this into written language and then movie making. Cathy has posted information about this at this Interact link. Richard shared examples of how their kids had used Movie Making within the Prep programme to create snapshots of school life (eg Jones Cup Day) and using Flash to animate the retelling of Maori Myths and legends. Using these tools across the curriculum is another way to present learning that involves just as much 'work' & definately more engagement & no dumbing down of cognitive skills. Kelly shared her story of the email buddies her class have been corresponding with - how this was structured for kids to be able to use the email programme efficiently and they types of interchanges they had with a class of children from Wimbledon. Some concerns about their buddies during the time of the London bombings and how they hope their kids will continue to write now that the UK class has moved onto a different teacher. (They are sharing a hotmail address) Thanks to those who made it out this afternoon - good to see you all there - next Wine Not Networking at Eltham (maybe a hands on Apple time) Bring a friend :-) !

Pixing it up @EPS

Yahoo KidPix3 has arrived at Eltham! It's great to have access to lots of cool apples but it's also great to have some software to work with (as well as iPhoto iMovies etc )Had some fun with a handful of 5 year olds - the trick is i guess small steps. I thought we would illustrate their writing but in effect you have to have playtime first to explore all the neat things you can do!! I focussed that in with an expectation that they would print something that had a background, their name on it & something they had made using the paint or draw tools. A big part of the learning curve for them was just to learn to control the touch pad and the clicker button. So lots of play time @ Eltham, get those Apple Pods out into the junior classrooms (already the senior kids think they need a pod just for them) and give them time to play and explore - when you think they have a handle on that, then introduce them to some structured activities. Teachers take your Apples home to play so you don't miss out on all the fun :-) If you want ideas for using this cool tool for learning search TKI Learning Experiences and look at the Snapshot of Learning @ TKI Software for Learning.
Spent some time with Jacqui exploring a range of teaching resources online and a range of learning resources online in particular WickEd (it really lives up to its name!)
More play time together with KidPix - Jacqui is going to structure a learning activity based around their Dinosaur topic - "What if Dinosaurs came to school?" Take lots of photos around the school, import them into KidPix from i-Photo and getting drawing and adding pictures. This is based on idea of Megan's from a wonderful book full of pictures of Dinosaurs in everyday present day life... Look forward to coming back in a couple of weeks and helping out in the classroom, maybe move onto putting their pictures into a slideshow, a soundtrack or narrated story to go with it, export it as a movie, put it on the website, show it at assembly....

Thursday, 11 August 2005

Digital Learning Objects

Our PD team discussed the use of Learning Objects as many of our schools have recently obtained the CD - so for them it's 'Got it! Now What?'
At the moment, from our discussion, we see that DLOs are just like a "box of stuff" - resources (wonderful that they are) that have just been put out to schools without much in support. How can we maximise the potential of this awesome resource for our schools?
What structures can we put in place for supporting teachers to use them effectively in the classroom? Two things would be useful here: Firstly professional development for teachers to better understand the wealth of resource available to them and how to integrate them into their planning. Something like the BELTs toolbox would be good - some software that sits alongside the DLOs or some type of LMS learning management system.
What is in the DigiStore - how can you search and organise this? We thought the CD was it... How many other schools are not accessing the full contents of DigiStore because they don't know what's available?
I know after some discussions with Joy Hooper that they are working to address these areas. Richard Bradley will be taking part in some 'research', feedback, survey with the Learning Federation & Joy so help lead the way. Please share your ideas about Digital Learning Objects in the comments below.


Yahoo at I-School - 2 days off to play :-) I think in PD-speak it's called 'Sandpit Time'. I am learning lots and becoming more familiar with the Macs (I've got Apple Envy & I want one plz) It is great to have a focussed workshop that lasts all day & not just the 1 1/2 hours you get at conference... First day making webpages in Dreamweaver. I have done some work with this programme - rehauling the SPS site and would like to do the same for when I find some time... So it has been entry level stuff & I must admit I was hoping to learn more about css style sheets and more but thats OK because there are some gaps in my knowledge - little things but important things - its the little things that matter!! So the most important little thing I learnt today was to optimise my images, get them just right before I put them on my page! This is a little something that I have regularly stuffed up in the past that makes a big mess of my page! We are being shown how to use nested tables (I dunno John R. what do you think?) - & the little thing I learnt today was that I should nest all my tables inside one big table - set to 800 pixels (not percent!)

Wednesday, 3 August 2005

Toko School

More movies & photostorying here @ Toko. Slam Dunk claymations (1 1/2 hrs start to finish) with R5 boys. They wanted to learn the process for when they are ready to present their retelling of Maui and the Sun. Practiced with toy cars, used art works for scenery, a bit of Plasticine, a bit of red dye for blood... Lots of fun :-) Kids made photostories of the disco last week and Toko School's day out at the skating rink - some narration, some groovy music & voila very much more interactive than browsing through an album. Lots happening with Maths Week Online here - if you didn't involve your class this year get into it next year - an awesome interactive learning opportunity. As students work through the problem solving activities they rack up points and get to bid for prizes. I can see here there are some kids that are very motivated & engaged with Maths Week - racking up a few points and prizes too! Access to equipment is a key enabler (and in many schools often a disabler) of making IT happen in the classroom - no problems with access here. Kids have lots of opportunities that it is a seamless part of how they work in the classroom - good to see :-)

Tuesday, 2 August 2005

SPS & Learning Software

I worked with Jen's team and their classes for a couple of days introducing them to some freeware learning software. There is very little software on school computers beyond the Microsoft Office stuff. We loaded them onto the classroom computer & also burnt them to disc for the kids to take home. They are more likely to get hands on time at home than in the classroom! (Purely a numbers game - 1 computer divided by 30+ kids just does not equate...)
I was astounded by the response of the kids who wanted software - from the 3 classes we burnt 40+ cds - we had two sessions where kids came and worked alongside me in my office (while i did other things) & they copied disc after disc while multitasking with 'Wacky Stories' from Learning Media.
Many kids when asked say they have computers at home but after talking with Kelvin he seems to think many might just say that as they don't want to say they haven't. So i wonder what the real figure is for computers in homes? What is the size of the digital divide in the wider Stratford area?...
More about the software - things like Artrage, Acid Express,some RiverDeep demo stuff, TUX typing and maths (Typing was identified by the teachers as a skill they wanted to see improving as it really slowed the children down when they were trying to complete work), also had some Grey Ollwits software - maths, language games - but a lot of this stuff is just like an electronic worksheet & not too exciting, plus photostory & movie maker 2 etc.
Check out Software for Learning on TKI

Thursday, 28 July 2005

St Josephs

Grandparents Day was the big focus for my time here this week. Doug had done a Movie Making Workshop @ ULearn & was keen for his kids to learn the skills. We started with a group of students who will become his classes initial ‘experts’ and support him when the rest of the class has the opportunity to be involved. This is tricky as far as time and management when the only computer capable is the one and only teacher’s laptop… More gear, more gear plzzz…. the tension here is more gear = more $$. Mobile pods would be a cost effective option here – maybe even Apples – some indications of interest from Rae & others who visited the Apple stand @ ULearn.
The focus of the kids Movies was ‘How has school changed since their grandparents were at school?’ Great brainstorming & discussion with the whole class, then the smaller group went off to storyboard, take photos & create their movies. The Computer Mentor team did the same thing too – interesting watching these older kids work – they are really intuitive users of new applications – they can work most things out themselves, helping each other & sharing ideas & discoveries. Mind you pretty simple programme to work with – you just need to follow the instructions down the left hand side!! Gearing up for WebChallenge with some senior students – worked with them as they explored other sites and brainstormed ideas for their own sites. They are all ready to go now – need to gather content, create original content, create some design elements & don’t forget to Register!
Kids set up the dataprojector at the grandparents’ morning tea so they could show their movies – I have never seen so many grandparents in one room at one time!!! Was asked to showcase some learning with ICT while the grandparents did the ‘school tour’ – so worked with a group of 5 & 6 year olds as they used some of the new DLOs (Digital Learning Objects) & revisited some reading sites such as Tumble Books. All totally contrived of course – didn’t fit into any of their learning programmes we were just playing around.
Also lucky enough to work with 2 of my own kids today – Sophie & James – that’s always a bonus!

Friday, 22 July 2005

Taihape – Footprints for the Future

Good to see so many teachers, on the last day of the ‘holidays’ too turning up for Taihape’s MiniConference. Many schools had made it their TOD & the whole school arrived on a bus together. Good to see also the involvement of BOTs (from Taihape School) I was able to talk to some of them over dinner the night before about how they saw their role changing from administrative processes – funding, property, compliance issues etc to being more involved in the learning journey of the school and the change associated with that. Lisa-Jane had spoken with them about all members of the school community being active participants in ‘lifting the lid’ on what is happening in their schools by using the 4 Power Model and examining who in the school has the Power over: relationships, decision-making, information & resources. How do our BOTs fit into the visioning & planning for learning & teaching in our schools – or by default is it left to principals & teachers alone (or even principals alone)?? Well Lisa-Jane was inspirational and thought provoking for many – there was also a range of workshops - at 45 minutes a session – just a taster for teachers to hopefully take back to their schools & investigate and develop further. I presented a hands-on Making Movies session. Teachers brought their own laptops, I provided the sound and pictures & walked them through the process of editing a movie. Once some of them had worked out how to operate the touch pad & buttons on their shiny brand new laptops we were away… My other session Developing Critical NetStudents was a bit of a disaster as I lost the plot halfway through having been working off the wrong presentation – I got so far found ½ my slides weren’t there & links were missing….aaahhh………kind & understanding group of teachers – all the CDs I made walked out the door with them so some resources for them to use & adapt.
It was great to have Rachel from St Joseph’s along to participate and keep me company on the trip over. I went to Hemi’s session on freeware/shareware – had a play around with Hot Potatoes & picked up a CD of loads of stuff (as if I haven’t got enough software that I haven’t got time to play with) & sat in on Jonathan’s MOE “What’s Happening” workshop – have asked him up to speak with Principal’s at our next Management meeting. Check out CORE for a brief review & pics of Taihape.

Thursday, 14 July 2005

ULearn 2005

Well the BardWired team hit ULearn & we learntit alright! Another great conference thnx to the team at Core-Ed. With 13 delegates we achieved maximum coverage tho it was difficult to coordinate time for debrief & sharing - you can join the discussion, add ideas & resources on Interact. Lots of talk there and back in the van (I don't think there's an alphabet game we haven't played yet!)Good to see new members to our team this year - getting to know others within the cluster (even if they do snore) & widening their experiences. The workshops I attended were 'out-there' Stephen Heppell - amazing guy - though at times i find him a bit random - he was Spot On in Auckland; Derek Wenmouth - COPs - communities of practise & Murray Brown discussing the proposed new E-Learning Framework (Now Digital Horizons is reaching its use-by date) All right what i'm thinking about now - with the future direction of the cluster & schools in our area and with the PGrad work i am doing at the mo. All in all very useful. Though i say i get tired of attending conference - Cathey from Telecom sums it up nicely - "It's just like that movie 'GroundHog Day'"; it is still a buzz - look forward to Learning@School, Wellington & ULearn, ChCh 2006!

Who was that strange man who accosted me outside my hotel?!?
(See if u can guess)

Graham's last fling as a member of the BardWired Cluster.
Still an honorary member tho :-)