Saturday, 29 April 2006


Professional Learning Communities
The best thing to come out of our ICT PD cluster is how it has enabled schools to engage in professional discourse and share all the great things we are doing. A quote from Janet (Stanley School 2004)

“Perhaps the most satisfying part has been working together with other teachers in the cluster, getting to know each other, sharing ideas and solving problems. We have all been brought together through this programme and it’s been great. Generally we tend to work in isolation in our schools and it has been such fun this year to be part of a bigger team.”

It is very exciting to think that the last 3 years in 'the contract' is only just the beginning - the laying of the foundations, the sowing of the seeds of thought. I really hope so anyway. I look forward to seeing where it will lead us. I hope you don't mind Rae if i quote from your last school newsletter:
"...we recognise the need for further networking within our learning communities, and as such have had preliminary discussions about where to from here. We, of course, have been clustered together for ICT, and the networking that has occurred has been very worthwhile. The ICT contract finishes at the end of this year, and we were discussing ways of continuing the process - possibly through gifted and talented programmes, some literacy programmes, ICT, sharing and so on. We certainly need to keep talking and working together for the enhancement of our students learning in the future."
(that was my emphasis because thats what its all about really!! :-)

Thursday, 27 April 2006

EPS i-School

Ran a little i-School session with teacher's-aides at Eltham today. What a lot of fun exploring iPhoto & KidPix and talking about what they could do with their kids. Had some fun with the enhancement tools in iPhoto trying to smooth out the lines and make ourselves 10 years younger ;-) Looking forward to another session next week.

Thursday, 20 April 2006

Dead Cats & Laptops

What does a dead cat and this laptop have in common? Neither of them go!
When you drop a cat (a live one that is) they land on their feet - laptops do not!
This cat at some time in it's life was probably well loved. This laptop has never been loved.
It is difficult to tell the length of time these items have been buried in the dust - the cat could have been 8 years or 80 years. Though we know from the model of this laptop it has only been in this mummified condition for 18 months.
All in all this cat is in a lot better condition than this laptop recently returned by a departing teacher!
(This cat was found in perfect mummified condition by builders excavating for the new block at Eltham Primary School - can't tell u where the laptop came from...)

Saturday, 15 April 2006

Ka Kite Clare Bear!!

Farewell Clare - Huiakama kids, ED & me will miss u.
Watch out Otewa School!
Look forward to seeing u again next time I head north :-)

Tuesday, 11 April 2006

Spam Poetry

settlement was chin clipboard formulate the hush-hush postgraduate inconclusively arrest
pittance nappy bouncy
napkin ton, and inbred the cultural, on leaves forthcoming progeny dry ice molestation to melting pot,. phone call!!! matriculate a to pompous college a! sadden, cabin, thread. lovable sermon submerged... pharmacologist. splinter implore, counterclockwise, oily the
text the frankfurter.... resolute precautionary stunt royal unload the mousy dexterity, thumb the mousy chaplain and as an ground crew fox define chorus a sturdiness as an gory the streamline productive
smoky a as prosaic an freshwater of snowflake rookie

I have been getting a bit of this Spam of late & today was the first time i read it (i don't know why?!!) Though the whole doesn't make sense, there are some interesting phrases, even analogy & imagery (in my mind anyway...) I blog about this because it brings to mind Ray Kurzweil's Cybernetic Poet which i read about a while ago (when i had Massey Library at my fingertip - sigh) "The Age of Spiritual Machines". Kurweil writes about the inevitability of technology - it is part of our evolutionary process - though we have the power to shape it & control it (for now...)
He explains the Turing Test - when a computer is set challenges for determining if it has
achieved human-level intelligence - based on whether it can fool a human interrogator. He predicts will pass the test by 2029 as by this time readily available computers will have the processing capabilities of the human brain - All the way through this book it compares the general capabilites of a computer to human in the areas of Arts, Health, Education, Warfare, Politics, Philosophy - Computers are already able to produce visual art works & literature (poetry) after being taught (style, composition etc)
He predicts Virtual Reality - will be growing - computer hardware will be discrete worn around the body, moving towards neural implants, screen devices implanted on the retina. The Haptic touch will become all encompassing - VR will be seamless into RL (real life) - communicating & being able to touch across distances, download memories (dreams?
:-) when yr body wears out (huge extension on natural life because of new medical technologies) download yourself to a younger stable body. Keyboards definately out - voice to text speech recognition more sophisticated, control hardware
through body movements, & thought rather than through keyboard inputs. Use of AI (Artificial Intelligence) Agents that source, customise & personalise data - already happening - webbots.
Kurzweil discusses education as moving away from the schools as a physical base - all kids have the hardware (of the time) most real learning takes place at home, teachers facilitators of learning, cai (computer assisted instruction) reading programmes, paper based documents disappearing, flexible screens, digital books. (things we are on the way towards now)
It is heartening to hear this from Kurzweil "Although enhanced through virtual experiences, intelligent interactive instruction & neural implants, learning still requires time-consuming human experience and study." So though teachers of the future could well be projected in holographic form (see the remake movie 'Lost in Space') learning may have quite different forms and faces it will still be an essentially human activity. I don't believe we will ever be like Trinity in the Matrix who can instantly download a learning programme & learn to fly a helicopter in seconds. Though kids have said to me a number of times one day we won't have to learn this stuff - we'll just 'chip' ourselves with the information. Yeah Right!

Sunday, 9 April 2006

Interacting with Toko

Richard@Toko is just setting up an Interact 'intranet/extranet' on his SmartNet server. I spent some time on Friday exploring this with him & testing it out. You can visit it here - though you need to be a registered user to get into most of the site. Which is the whole idea - a secure, private area that can be used for sharing and communicating within the school and from outside the school as well. Richard is planning to use part of this site to host other schools in a collaborative project to support 'Gifted & Talented'. Look forward to watching this develop :-)

Critical NetTeachers

Had a good workshop session with SPS senior teachers, Megan & Lynn last week to look at links & resources about smart searching, cybersafety, web evaluation & copyright issues. Workshop notes can be found on Interact. Some good discussion on copyright issues particularly what constitutes 'Fair Use' - just because content is out in the public arena doesn't make it public property. How to know what you can use or not use from the Internet? A bit of a curly one... A great opportunity to raise the awareness and the ethical behaviour of our students and even some of our teachers as well. It's not hard to ask permission to use someone's work & it is important to reference and acknowledge sources. The notes on Interact have a lot of links to sites where you can access content that is freely available for use.

R Kidz 2 Wired 4 Their Own Good

"They're e-mailing, IMing and downloading while writing the history essay. What is all that digital juggling doing to kids' brains and their family life?"

The latest cover story in TIME is taking yet another look at our wired generation dubbing them GenM. I guess M stands for Multi-tasking ? They explore family life where everyone (including Mum & Dad) are connected to their gadgets & disengaged from each other for longer periods of time. They also challenge the idea of multi-tasking as being able to do things simultaneously when in fact the thinking processes are actually sequential - switching frequently (toggling) attention from one task back to another. Not the best thinking strategy for learning new tasks that require sustained periods of concentration or for taking the time for reflection. The article is positive in children's ability to manipulate information especially visual information and the social connectedness being wired brings but it asks us to bring back a balance of time spent 'sucking screen' to time doing regular face to face stuff with our family and friends. An interesting viewpoint from Steven Johnson in this issue too (have to subscribe to read it though) 'Don't Fear the Digital' - he makes a great analogy between learning the skills of handwriting & those of keyboarding. The keyboard gives you the power to connect with a much wider audience and to hone your writing skills in ways that pen and paper do not. He also advocates digital vs real-life balance and comments on the importance for kids to get outside & kick a ball around too ... common sense really - Marc Prensky said the same thing to me too.

Wednesday, 5 April 2006


Thanks Nicki for letting us know on the CompEd Listserv about the new offer to schools to purchase the full version of ArtRage today for peanuts! ($1 per licence) I was going to blog all about it but see Nicki already has. The image above was created in ArtRage. I sat alongside some 6 year olds today & introduced them to ArtRage - they needed little assistence as its pretty intuitive - maybe a little help to save their work. I have got a trial copy that i can demonstrate in your schools (you can download the free version) The full version though has a lot more tools, and the ability to work in layers which is a big plus.
If you want to subscribe to the CompEd listserv and keep up-to-date with whats happening in ICT in NZ Schools this is how:
Send email to with the following command in the body of your email message:
subscribe nzcomped
(make sure that there is nothing else in your email - signatures etc)

Saturday, 1 April 2006

Reinventing the Wheel Again

Another reason why it's a good idea to reinvent the wheel sometimes :-)

SPS Moving Ahead

SPS has just started to move ahead in leaps and bounds this year. It is good to see the enthusiasm of teachers as they talk about the different things they are doing with their kids in the classroom. A lot of leading from the front especially from Kim & Kelvin but also a host of key people around the at all levels of the school who are really stepping up to the challenge of using ICTs with their students and sharing with their colleagues. It has also been a great help to be able to overcome some of the technical barriers with the ongoing investment in infrastructure & hardware - this has not only been a financial investment but a psychological investment putting a little pressure on teachers to 'just do it' and giving them the confidence knowing they have some gear that works and are not just allowed to but expected to trial & innovate. Cluster funding for teacher release allowed me to work one on one with teachers in the Junior team this week. Teachers in this group are at both ends of the ICT integration continuum. We looked at a range of things from how to use the digital camera, creating templates for student stories, accessing online resources (including DLOs) an action learning project on the Commonwealth Games presenting in PowerPoint, using the Data Projector to demonstrate KidPix techniques & share student work. (The Data Projector is so popular in this class i had to point out that a bulb has a limited number of hours to its life - makes a change from teachers not turning on their computers - to have to suggest they should turn it off some of the time! :-) A big discussion point with Junior teachers was classroom management - we talked again about the three seat model which they are all familiar with now, using classroom experts, using the data projector or setting up the classroom computer in a convenient learning space (for modelling & guided learning), using Jill's model of Discovery Learning - kids trying things back & feeding back to the class what they have learnt, and using senior school computer mentors or buddy classes. It was good to see that all classes are frequently using the Reading Box resource i created for them last year during student 'choice' time and as part of their reading programme rotations. The listening posts are great for this - just plug them into your computer speakers and minimum noise during reading time.

Wine Not Network

We had a healthy turn out for our once a term Wine Not Network at Toko School last week. It was good to see all our PD team presenting to their peers. Everybody on the team has really been stepping up to the mark and making an impact around our schools. I am hoping/ hopeful that their great work will continue beyond the end of our PD contract funding and i will still be able to continue to work with them in some way...
Here Carol feeds back to the group on her recent trip to Opoutere School for a regional meeting. Opoutere School is part of the Kopu ICTPD cluster, has DigiOps funding & an e-fellowship as well... Carol also demonstrated 2Simple Create a Story software (more info in previous blogposts) Our RTLits & RTLBs are trying this software out with their students - supported by Carol & myself.
Megan shared the work she has done with her students with a focus on values, thinking skills & cooperative learning techniques, revolving around a web based resource the Values Exchange
(see earlier blogpost) Planning for this will be available on Interact soon.
Clarissa & Kerry talked about what was happening at SPS with the use of Data Projectors in the classroom and shared some conference notes from Kim. Teachers are applying to have Data Projectors permanently set up in their classrooms. They are trialling their use and sharing with their ideas with the rest of the team @ SPS.
Richard showed an Interactive resource supporting an Inquiry topic on Explorers which his class was currently working on. The resource comes from Birkdale Intermediate which gained funding from the Tindall foundation to hire a researcher & a web developer to create this resource. Not for open sharing though if you would like to see this resource you can contact Birkdale.
Room 5 Toko School