Wednesday, 28 June 2006

Heads Up - Term 3 Bard Wired Newsletter

Cluster Collaborative Game
Following in the footsteps of the Lions Game last year, Olympic Games challenge & NZ Place Names scavenger hunt comes a new cluster game NZ History Challenge!!
Get onboard & get your kids involved! Suitable for small group teams Y5-8.

24th – 27th July Trans-Tasman Challenge!
“We're launching Mathletics in NZ in July commencing with a Trans Tasman Challenge - timed to coincide with the Bledisloe Cup and Netball tests. The Aussies figure they can thrash us at Maths if not rugby and netball - I'd like to prove them wrong!
If you're looking for ways in which ICT can motivate kids to achieve at maths check out our flagship product MATHLETICS at Its an online maths programme for Year 1 to 13 students that includes interactive curriculum content and a very cool game engine. I reckon its the best thing since sliced bread, it truly utilises ICT to deliver a unique and motivating experience. When I saw how motivated kids were to do MATHS (!!!) and how their achievement levels lifted and how much teachers (and parents!) loved it I had to listen!” Contact Yvonne Blanch

ANZ Maths Week 15th - 19th August
This site has been previously been successfully used by teachers at Toko & St Joseph’s – children engage in interactive maths games, have problem solving challenges & gain points to bid online for little prizes. Make it your Maths programme for the week!

NetGuide WebChallenge

A great opportunity to share student learning in a different way, to a wider audience – on the web. Registrations are open now – finishes 9th September. I am available to work with teachers & their students who would like some extra help with this :-)

My Cool School Movie Competition
This competition is being run in conjunction with ULearn conference in September. Get those experts from Kidz Day leading a group in your school to enter this competition. Details can be found here
A tip for competitors the requirements for the context of this movie are pretty ‘simplistic’ – if the kids want their movie to stand out from the others they should look for a twist, or an innovative angle on how to present their movie!

St Joseph's

Another day with kids modelling to me - I think I'm going to be redundant soon! Which is a good thing i suppose...
Carol's Year 3 & 4 kids were showing me how they were using StoryBook Weaver for their creative writing. They showed me that by assembling a landscape, characters & objects from the reasonably extensive (though pretty Americanised galleries) they could write their imaginative stories. None of them had an idea for a story before they started (maybe they would if they were more familiar with the programme features) but used what they found in the programme to build their ideas from. There was certainly no writers block with this group. Some reviews of StoryBook Weaver talk about it being 'time-tested' - been around for years & still going so therefore must be good... and especially helpful for reluctant writers. This was a pretty switched on group anyway so it would be good to observe some of our more struggling students at work. Affordable educational pricing for network licences too - can be found on TKI Software for Learning (link above)
It was good to catch up with Michael's class to view their final product - A Digital Class Year Book - that we were working on last week. This would be a really great project for any Year 8 leavers class - something beyond the traditional school photo - to create together, share with their school community & keep as a dynamic lasting memory.
Carol & I spent the afternoon planning Junior School visits for next term. We want to take all our Yr 1 - 3 teachers away to visit other classrooms - our areas of focus are effective use of ICT, inquiry learning, thinking skills and innovative classroom ideas. It is no easy task to identify schools within easy reach that are doing this - though we have put our feelers out to the wider network & waiting for some feedback - watch this space!


Tuesday, 27 June 2006

Lining up for Laptops @ SPS

It's great to have the opportunity to just observe in classrooms without being there to instigate, share, model something. I really enjoyed being in Sheenagh's class a couple of weeks ago as the kids all took the opportunity to show me something they had learnt through their classroom links page. I wish i had recorded the conversations they had with me - if kids are modelling to me, instead of the other way around then i know we are moving ahead :-)
Today i followed the pods of laptops around the school just to see what's going on. The senior pod was fully booked and used amongst the 4 senior classes during the day - in all classes students were completing action learning inquiry projects on some key questions that had arisen from learning about Children in Africa. Some were still researching & others were using PowerPoint to publish their work.

Year 5 & 6's have 'preferential' access to the other pod of laptops though this one is not booked out so heavily as the senior pod. Though it is kept in the info-centre and well used there when not in classrooms. In fact if the laptops are there forget about the older library desktops! Marlene was working with an extension group researching famous people, 'The laptops are great - you don't get held back - you just grab a couple and go!'
Paul's Y5&6 class showed me how they have been using the laptops to create cartoons (PowerPoint animations) The kids first had to come up with a storyboard that had at least two key story features (i guess that means a plot) they then had to 'sell their story' to two other classmates before they went into production & then they created the story together. Paul's learning intentions were technology based (ie using drawtools & PowerPoint to create an animation) & also cooperative learning. Next steps - curricular alignment - language would fit in well here.
Love these laptops! Thanks Kelvin for making it happen :-)

Monday, 26 June 2006


Well this has been a big distraction trying to get this graphic into this blog post so i give up here's the link instead.
Pretty cool pic! (source code on page says author unknown)

Thursday, 22 June 2006

Good Intentions

.... aren't always enough. The road to where? is lined with them. Reflect on the consequences of good intentions & change your game plan nxt time.

Heather (EPS) reflected that spending a 1/2 hour setting up a screen, dataprojector & laptop, 2 student mentors & Kidspiration to spend 10 minutes creating word blends together as a class was not as effective as writing them in her class book. So try something else - tomorrow forget the dataprojector we will use the clasroom computer screen instead & if that doesn't suit then back to the book. Though the opportunity to try things out is important at least to know that it's not the best way!

Michael (St Jo's) has acknowledged on reflection that his classroom project of creating a class year book has been a trade off between the pressure of finishing this work to a deadline, with the opportunity for all to be hands on. Classroom experts are great and have their place in supporting others but stand back and look at your experts - how many girls are there? Don't forget our girls, they are so easily marginalised and too often stand back and let the boys take over.
Many of our teachers are feeling the pressures of expectations - expectations to integrate ICTs in the classroom. It is great that they are feeling confident to try things out but it is equally important when they do this to critically evaluate the contribution to learning vs how practical is this to implement and adjust their practise the next time.
Well done Kim (St Jo's) for facilitating a school tutorial session today on using Kidspiration - sharing the expertise with others :-)

Tuesday, 20 June 2006

West End - The Thinking School

What a great opportunity today to visit West End School in Palmerston North with Jacqui & Megan from Eltham Primary School. Eltham had begun their journey down the pathway towards Curriculum Integration "The Eltham Way" to the point where they were starting to pull the threads together of what it would look like in their school - the nuts & bolts of it - how to make it work for them. This journey has stalled of late with recent staff turnovers and now they are looking to restart the process. Today, if anything, was an affirmation of current thinking & an opportunity to take away practical strategies & a framework to help scaffold the process.
Thank you to Gary Punler, Principal West End, for spending lots of time with us sharing the West End story and then setting us free around the school! Thank you also to all the teachers who so kindly put up with us traipsing in and out of their rooms with our cameras, taking the time to answer questions and being so welcoming. Kids too were excited about sharing their learning with us :-)
Gary's most potent words of wisdom were that be sure about the 'Why' and the 'How' will follow - whatever 'model' you put into place. Your staff really needs to buy into the bigger picture vision to make changes together. Everybody got on the bus at West End because they all believed that they needed to chuck out the 'over-crowded' curriculum and focus on skills for learning within an integrated curriculum. So how does it work here - well a picture tells a thousand words. Gary believes that they have not achieved full curriculum integration as literacy & numeracy are taught outside the framework then all other areas come within a term long 'rich topic', explicit learning intentions, rubrics, student portfolios within 'Thinking & Learning Strategies' (key competencies): Information Skills, Investigating, Working Together, Using classroom opportunities and managing learning time, Knowing We're Learning, Thinking strategies (the whole range here with a big emphasis on 6 hats but introduced across the school levels based on Pohl's framework). I am a bit biased here but i was surprised to see that ICTs didn't figure as an explicit part of their overall framework. There was a document that highlights ICT skills that should be used within the Integrated Curriculum. Apart from a couple of students publishing we didn't see much activity in this area. Digital photography was used a lot by teachers especially in the junior classrooms to model learning intentions and one class had been videoing their KapaHaka - a great way to self & peer assess. A curriculum review team looks out for learning areas that may be missed along the way that need to be picked up on with future learning. School teams plan together, with the first two weeks of a unit providing a wide knowledge base for students to ask their own questions and direct their own learning (i think the term 'front-loading' fits in here). There is a lot of self & peer assessment where students (with teacher guidance) provide feedback & feedforward for next steps. They have developed a very comprehensive CDP - curriculum development plan that provides the structure that they all work within. Overall it's not rocket science (don't we know all this stuff) but it's no silver bullet either. The point of difference though is this school has successfully pulled it together, they have worked together over the last four years to develop a model that works for them based on the needs of their children and not upon a document dreamed up by experts in Wellington. Gary sees this as a continual work in progress as he says there are no final documents everything is always a draft. He and a number of key staff have led the changes but he expresses pride in the fact that his teachers have picked up and run with this further than he ever expected.

Monday, 19 June 2006

Toko Tizz

What a busy place Toko School is today! Plenty of activity getting ready for the Methanex Maths Spectacular. Lots of work has gone into this in the past weeks all culminating in final touches today. More podcasts up on Toko Talk today as all students in Room 5 have the opportunity to contribute. Next steps some in-class sharing, reflection & ideas from that for improvement for the next podcasts. Some discussions in the Junior School on aligning reading assessment to work within the SchoolMaster programme to provide some meaningful & standard information to report with. Teachers talking to other teachers across our schools using the same programme and supporting each other with it - hopefully this helps...
Good to touch base with Kelly, Toko School lead teacher, who has been working with other teachers in the school. All teachers have goals about what they want to do with their kids for example Megan is looking at using ICTs in her junior reading rotation. So things are quietly ticking along with this. Toko Talents programme in the afternoon is nearly winding up for the term - where to from here?


Monday, 12 June 2006

Bard Wired's Bigger Bang...

Congratulations to the BardWird team - Kim, Richard, Carol & Megan for an awesome effort in organising our Regional Meeting, Teacher Only Day & BardKidz Expo. Thanks also to our willing band of helpers: Doug, Clarissa, Kelly, Kelvin. Sharon for the lovely food & Marlene & Karen for looking after us on those days. Bard Wired teachers too - giving of their own time, especially a Saturday! to be involved.
The hall looked great for the BardKidz Expo - it was disappointing that we didn't get many of our school community visiting the expo though many of our teachers and visitors for the Regional Meeting took the opportunity to check out the children's work. An expo like this though only showed products of learning as opposed to the processes they went through to actually get there (which is where the real learning is happening) I think next time our kids should organise this sort of day themselves (with our help) perhaps like a Kids Conference - there would be greater school community interest & involvement (like our recent KidsDay) & more meaningful for our students. Even so all the examples displayed around the hall would have been sowing seeds of ideas for many teachers for learning opportunities back in their own classrooms.

The Regional Meeting on the Friday, as always, was a great opportunity to network with other cluster people from around the region and to share in some PD together. Bruce Hammonds presented a workshop "Getting on Board a Vision to the Future" His presentation can be found on our Interact site. The Bard Wired cluster had the opportunity to share some of our cluster highlights & the BardWired blogspot was the presentation tool for this. So also an opportunity to showcase how blogging works for us. I spent some time (& it wasn't easy) working out how to put categories into this blog. Now each blog post can be categorised (through Delicious) & on the sidebar of this blog are category links - pretty useful really. Tessa led a session on the Learning Federation digital learning objects & everyone had some time for a play with those. We had a great turn out of about 20 people from other ICTPD clusters & our group certainly didn't go unnoticed in the small town of Stratford when went out in the evening :-)

Saturday, and the Teacher Only Day, we had a great turn out of about 80 teachers from our own schools, regional clusters and other local schools - Manaia, Omata & Hawera Intermediate. I think everybody, to some degree, was able to take something from this day to reflect on & perhaps influence their future thinking & practise or even to affirm their existing beliefs about learning & teaching. Thanks to Bruce, Jill & Jamie for their considerable input into our day. Presentations & links to our presenters sites are on the Interact site. All the photos from the day are on Flickr.

One of my highlights was to meet Jamie McKenzie, who i have been reading for a number of years and had seen deliver a fantastic keynote in Rotorua last year. Jamie delivered a great keynote for us in the morning on 'The Smart Use of Technologies'. I was a little disappointed that in our afternoon session I think we missed the mark with some of our teachers, perhaps not the best choice of workshop for such a large and diverse group. The activities were challenging for some & i think they found it hard to tie it into the bigger picture. Feedback was mixed about this workshop - some enjoyed the challenge & Jamie is definately right that learning (in this case teacher learning) should be rigorous. Some reflections from Richard of the day: "The big theme for me was again getting the kids thinking... and what makes for improved thinking in a classroom.. Well I guess it is insightful questioning that leads to enhanced thinking! Clearly a message for teachers... The accessing and then using the wealth of information on the web. Jamies slam dunk lessons are a step in the right direction, when used along side the unit that was planned and prepared for the children in our own class!"
We finished a hectic couple of days at Malones where Jamie proved he shares the same good taste in wine & showed what a mean end game he has in pool!
Please share your feedback and reflections about the day by clicking on the comments link below.

Sunday, 4 June 2006

Teacher Only Day Nxt Saturday

Really looking forward to an awesome weekend of PD coming up. With Jamie McKenzie, Bruce Hammonds & Jill Hammonds. I told some i have seen to check the blog to pick the programme for the day - oops so better put a link. Here is the programme for the day. We are also hosting the regional ICTPD meeting on the Friday & launching our BardKidz Expo on the Thursday. Phew a busy time coming up - looking forward to it :-)

Bandwidth Blues

Well not completely home is great. Look at this:

Sizzling along - u can check your speeds here
Thanks Slingshot - what a great service & 5Gig datacap too.
Unfortunately not the same story at school where with a SchoolZone connection we are still limping along at around 256. I have been trying to get the pipe widened for our TOD next week when we planned to have 30-40 wireless enabled laptops accessing the internet at the same time. I had worked though how we were going to boost the wireless access points & then moved onto the next step - get our ISP Telecom to come to the party. Well, sorry at a stretch we could get 512, to increase our speed at all we would need a different router & there are none available nationally that would give us 2mbps!!
So much for the unbundling of the local loop, promises of more speed - hah, empty promises - no wonder i and many others feel Teleconned!
It was easy for me @ home to switch ISPs but not so easy for schools when they are tied up with the whole SchoolZone package (which is great) except for the bandwidth - which sucks!

She'll be Coming around the Mountain........

What a perfect day on Friday to be driving around the mountain. This shot was taken from Oanui on the coast - if i had been a been a better timekeeper (not my strong point) i would have been able to stop & take pics all the way round & create a panorama but as it was i was pushing it to make my appointments.
It was great to go back to Opunake High School - the school is looking really spruced & it was awesome to see some of my past students now young adults - Y13s! Good also to see my old friends there. I did notice though what a lot of great gear (new computers, dataprojectors, cameras even Studio MX networked!!) that i could only dream about, and keep begging for when i was there. Thanks go to Yarrows for investing substantially not only in Opunake but many of our Taranaki schools.
I also called in at Coastal College & met with some of my TaraNet students there. Onto Omata School and surprised Pat who kindly took the time to show me some of the cool stuff he is doing with his kids - classroom learning links, kids movies & even a bit of flashing.
Though Friday was a cool little road trip the real purpose of my day was to catch up with TaraNet students and online teachers just to make sure they were OK, talk through some of their issues, introduce them to our online space and just generally touch base with them and others in their schools.


Bard Kidz - Movie Magic Day

It's taken me a whole week to blog about this - but what a great day we had!
25 kids & 10 teachers from our 9 schools got together at the TET stadium in Stratford to spend the day making movies.
Though i spent days wracking my brains to come up with a 'theme' for the context of our movie making exercise, I decided in the end to open it up to all ideas & let the kids decide. They came up with loads of different ideas from 'Cops & Robbers' - with a 'real' staged robbery of the local jewellers & a 'real' arrest from helpful local policeman Simon who not only fingerprinted our kids but locked them up as well. The horror genre seemed to have an over-emphasis of adults stalking children!?!?!... a few flicks about Stratford, a mystery investigation... all movies have been copied and sent back out to schools - if u haven't got your copy yet let me know.
We nearly came unstuck during the day when we encountered problems for almost everyone as they tried to download their video to laptops. I did anticipate that this would be where we would be most technically challenged during the day but not quite on the scale that we were. Lessons learnt were that this is ironed out in the home school before the day & means that students need to be using their own cameras & laptops and not picking up whatever was first to hand as we had done.
It was great to see so many parents and teachers arriving at the end of the day to watch the Popcorn Premiere (which sadly lacked popcorn because we were all so busy trying to finish on time that noone had time to make any popcorn)
I-Movie is great but Movie Maker 2 is quite limiting especially in the area of audio & effects - It would be really great to move beyond Movie Maker2 and have some software that lets us do a lot more. For more ideas & resources for teachers check out the Making Movies area on Interact
The learning opportunities throughout the day were just awesome & would cover every key competency/ essential skill that you could think of + more - but since i am not one for checklisting learning just let the picture speak for themselves:
You can see all the pics from the day & outtakes from the move here
(Unfortunately that slideshow has put them all in reverse order - see if u can work out which movie title goes with which pics :-) If you want to download any of those pictures go to Flickr

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