Tuesday, 28 February 2006


Helping Richard prepare and present 'Flash in the Pan' workshop was one of the highlights of L@S last week :-) A workshop by beginners for beginners and particpants told us later that is one aspect they particularly enjoyed. Almost everyone got their moon to go round the earth and have their letters move all over the screen and mostly end up in the right place ;-) It was fun practising the night before with our 'critical friends' - our team who were very critical after a few wines but i guess they prepared us well! Thanks to HP for letting us take their data projector away for the night. Richard has provided some of his source files for people to use. You can find them at the Flash Buddy exchange. On the subject of Flash a great little free tool for getting inside flash (for example - capturing sound & pictures out of a flash movie), or even just finding and organising your own files when you have a few of them is Swishsoft Media Browser - a cool, cool little tool!

EPS Update

The original purpose of this blog was to record what was happening in our schools! To inform school communities, & to cut & paste into milestone reports ;-) A bit of catching up to do in that department. So a round-up of what's happening out in our schools.
Eltham Primary School
It is good to see ideas picked up from Rotorua being adapted and used in the classroom already - good stuff Megan! Megan has been exploring issues with her students based around ideas raised on the Values Exchange. This is a site that profiles a number of topical issues - students can register, share their point of view and vote for what they believe. Megan used the data projector to introduce her class to the values exchange and to guide some background web research around the area of focus. Students went home and discussed the current issue with their family. Today they shared their ideas using the thinking hats to structure their thinking and cooperative learning strategies to share their ideas. Great to observe. Watch out for more detail on this at our next Wine Not Network.
Megan and i spent a little time discussing ideas for using the data projector in the classroom. Some ideas on Interact. We looked at a couple of sites - echalk was one to note - some useful resources there.
I had a lot of one on one time with teachers over the last couple of days. Some of the work we did was looking at record keeping and managing data with Excel - as this was a common area of need it highlights the need to adopt a school-wide system using a Student Management system. I know that this is an area that Eltham has been looking at and will move on as soon as the network system is back into place - not an easy year for this with the huge building upgrades & disruption to classrooms.
It was great to spend some time with 'PC teachers' and turn them onto the joys of Mac. Simple little things in i-Photo that Mac users take for granted were really generating some wows - that is so easy, that is so cool!! My advice - to them was take the school Macs home & have a play - they weren't hard at all - just different.
How's this for an analogy - How many people can you get in a mini? How many little people can fit around a Mac? Well maybe not a good comparison but thats what it reminded me of when i saw this keen little crew!
A different scenario next door in Elise's class as she had booked the 'apple boxes' and kids were spread out all over the room.

My highlights today- definately spending time with Sue's kids at lunch time watching a newly hatched butterfly spread it's wings and discovering with the children that pumice will float whether it's the size of a button, a tennis ball or a watermelon!

Sunday, 26 February 2006

Schmoozing@School - Rotorua

To Schmooze? " To converse casually, especially in order to gain an advantage or make a social connection."
Hey, i was schmoozing with the best of them :-)
We had a great week at conference - more to come in following posts.

Wednesday, 15 February 2006

Back 2 Basics!

ICT skills & competencies: after being a so-called 'IT teacher' i never wanted to look at a skills checklist again - everything was out of context and nothing was meaningful - i wanted my kids to just jump in there and do it.
After some talking to people around the schools (not just our schools but further afield) there is some surprise that our so called 'digital natives', many of them, are just as technologically illiterate as the next person!
Should we plan to explicitly teach basic computer skills and monitor and evaluate them in order to fill in the gaps?
What do we expect our children to be able to do and at different ages?
If our children are getting frequent opportunities to use ICTs in their learning, surely this makes those questions irrelevant - they wouldn't be able to complete the learning activities if they didn't have those skills in place already.
So what do you do? Maybe schools where children are not able to log on or save files to the correct place, or know how to write a document, create a picture, put it in etc are just not giving their children enough learning opportunities using computers.
Maybe a checklist of skills would help some teachers to make sure they are planning to integrate and therefore actually doing it. Having them set up a timetable in the classroom to ensure children are using the computer...
So there are some classrooms where ICT is just ubiquitous and if you're not one of those classrooms maybe you need your checklist & your timetable as a place to start.

Sunday, 12 February 2006


The wonder of the web just goes on & on. No wonder the buzz word is web 2.0 - today's web can do so much more - my latest find is Vimeo. A place to upload & share video, digg other people's video & leave comments etc. A bit like flickr but for video. A generous 20mb a week - a great place to share your kids work (if SchoolZone doesn't block it out as they have just done to Flickr! Grrrrr....)

Been selecting breakouts for Learning@School coming up in a couple of weeks in Rotorua. Got to be in quick to get your first choices - 850 coming this year - will be a biggie. Some interesting offerings too: Viral Learning; Protable technologoy ;-) Just goes to show the typing fingers are quicker than the brain! Had a play with SchoolMaster as St Jo's start learning how to use it with Terry Stowers - seems to be an increasingly popular choice - around this area anyway.

Friday, 10 February 2006

Back on the Blog!

Back on deck again so it’s goodbye (for awhile) to all this.

I have had a great break, hardly touched my computer (as you can tell by the blog posts or lack of), haven't read any of my feeds, listened to just a couple of podcasts but its good to be back in amongst it again – lots of people to catch up with, lots of reading to do, finding my feet with another timetable – an extra .2 up my sleeve – if anyone wants that time just let me know. There have been a few things coming up for that time in the pipeline - talk about that in another post. Good to exercise the old ‘grey matter’ again but as Karen Boyes pointed out the other day the brain is only grey when it’s dead – ohh! Yep tell that to Time magazine if u read their January feature 'How to Sharpen your mind' - frequent references to grey matter - uum who to believe & does it really matter anyway! I thought their article MULTITASKING: Help! I've Lost My Focus was particularly relevant to me - and you too if your reading this!

So Karen was in at Stratford’s teacher only day last week – covering Habits of Mind, Learning Styles, a bit of Brain physiology, lots of practical ideas about classroom strategies to promote thinking skills. A lot of similar ground to what we covered in our cluster teacher only day last year, though there were quite a few who weren’t there last year, but enough variety to keep everyone engaged and soaking it up. But as Karen pointed out early in the day there is a difference in knowing all this stuff and actually putting it into practice into our classroom – walking the talk or as Peter Senge describes ‘espoused theory’ – we know this stuff but do we really do it???? "To know and not to do is still not to know" This is a hard one for me not having the classroom time anymore & spending more time reading & talking about stuff with people than actually doing it myself... Some of what Karen has to offer i find a little hard to reconcile - on one hand all the stuff she talks about as i listed above is great but for me it just don't sit comfortably with the use of accelerated learning techniques to assist senior students to learn 'stuff' for exams - i wrote about this last year in "Builder's Houses, Mechanic's Cars, Teacher's Children". So in the words of Forrest Gump "That's all I have to say about that."