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)