Monday, 25 September 2006

ULearn Today

I've just been in Derek's workshop "Web 2.0 and the School LMS? What's the connection?" A great introduction to 'web 2.0' but though i know all that stuff i just love listening to Derek because he always reminds me 'it's all about the kids!!!' And there are no better kids than our own to illustrate that point. I would just like to know tho how I could get my sons to be more like his daughter and actually do homework as well as all the other stuff they do online - their multitasking abilities don't seem to stretch that far...

Yesterday at the Art Centre coffee shop i had an interesting interlude with this young man as we took each other's photos - again a great reminder that it's all about the kids. Don't forget that this week @ ULearn.

And the final reminder are from our own little helpers @ ULearn Liam and Michael who say check out their cool web sites:

Monday, 18 September 2006

Filtering Frustrations

Well i did know it was going to happening - an upgrade of the School Zone filtering system. I had my opportunity to vote on appropriate school content but logging on today i find i can't get into my 3 most used sites - flickr, blogger & delicious.
You can log onto the Smart Filter database to see how they categorise sites here is the result of my search on some of my favourite sites. Blocked as personal pages - i think we need to look more closely at how we create these filtering categories they don't seem to take into account web 2.0 sites. It's a real tricky question - emerging technologies (such as the many that are now blocked) have huge potential to extend and amplify learning opportunities for our kids (& teachers) yet how do we balance this with providing a safe learning environment (filtered school networks)??
Schools do have the ability to unblock sites but who decides in a school and how do they decide without resorting to the knee-jerk reactions to block (or allow) without fully understanding the benefits & issues around Web 2.0 in the classroom. Some work to be done here :-) In the meantime schools plz unblock blogger & flickr so you can read this blog. (of course i am writing this at home on an unfiltered & fast.... connection)

Sunday, 17 September 2006

Blogging in Beta

You wouldn't notice but i am now blogging in Beta. This is great now i can do things like create categories (labels) in seconds where before it took me hours to work out how to make categories using a bit of code to tag my pages to Delicious and then back to my sidebar - phew - just a click of a button now! In some perverted way i like trying to work out how to do new things on my blog by looking at other people's blogs, searching forums for help, even emailing complete strangers for a piece of code - everything is getting too easy...

Friday, 15 September 2006

TaraNet LMS Decisions???

I visited Waitara High School today to catch up with new Acting Principal Jenny & Lead Teacher Marilyn. My main purpose was to promote e-learning options for Waitara students. I intended to explore the courses available through VLN but unfortunately no internet - SZ has been playing up in Stratford in the last few days as well & connection has been very intermittently slow or non-existant!
We had quite a talk about everything from infrastructure updates (go here to see where your school ranks on the NZ network league table), to ICT strategic plans, funding, SMS, the new Waitara High School website and Learning Management Systems (LMS).
LMS has been the subject of much discussion amongst the TaraNet lead teacher group as many of our schools have decided not to continue with KnowledgeNet & are considering alternatives. As i seem to keep returning to this subject I will post my notes that i have shared with the Lead Teacher group here:
  • Options to consider as Henry suggested are Moodle.
  • Schoodle is hosted Moodle option thru Wintec.
  • MyClasses as an addon feature to the SchoolZone desktop – the Volcanics cluster are currently using this and you can check out what it looks like through Mt Albert Grammars’ site. Telecom has yet to set the NZ pricing.
  • Interact – externally hosted or if you have a SmartNet server (Coastal I think) it is an addon feature to the new SmartNet server software – minimal setup cost $300 I think and no ongoing costs because you build & maintain it yourself. The TaraNet e-Campus has an Interact space though not used by online teachers so not fully utilized…need more PD here! Toko School have also started to use Interact and successfully used it to host the "NZ History Game"
  • Mindspring is based on MicroSoft SharePoint software but I think this is comparatively as expensive as KN.
  • First Class not sure what this costs – it has been used for sometime by Wellington Girls & I believe integrates with your existing server system so you don’t have to add your stuff separately to places on an intranet (Interact will work like this too on your SmartNet server)
  • still exists and is still free to use – the ICTPD national network used to use this before they switched to Interact.
  • Other choices could be online software such as wikis eg

Need to further investigate this to see what Wiki software can be hosted on our own servers?

For those who couldn't get to SchoolTech06 (like me :-) there has been a Wiki space set up to showcase/ share some of what is going on there.
Note there are MOE guidelines coming up soon – I would suggest u defer decision-making about new LMS till this has been released.

Thursday, 14 September 2006

Our Mountain Project

At our Lead Teachers Meeting today we invited Amanda Hewlett & Marisa Swanink from Puke Ariki to talk to us about initiatives coming up. I first met Amanda at TUANZ earlier in the year and she was very excited about the possibility of strengthening Puke Ariki community involvement through the use of things like blogs, wikis, podcasting etc. I spent some time with her & Marisa chewing the fat about all this sort of stuff. So it was really great to see them again today with news that a firm project is in place with support from the Community Partnership fund through the NZ Digital Strategy. We were pleased to hear that now building knowledge will not be one way traffic pushed out of Puke Ariki but something that we can all contribute to & participate in. Amanda & Marisa have worked quite a bit with Tahora school - researching & creating stories of the district, also with Richard Barnes at Matau School. Our team were really interested in how they could contribute with projects they had planned to do & Amanda left with quite a few further meetings with our individual schools organised - very productive meeting :-)
So more info - if you would like to be involved here are the notes we were given:

Our Mountain Project
  • Is a project designed to help collect and record historical and environmental material
  • It is aimed at strengthening the links between the various parts of the Taranaki region
  • It is providing a place for individual regions to show the uniqueness of their area
  • It encourages the development of and strengthens the research skills of the students
  • Provides a venue for their research projects to be seen by a wider community of people and therefor opens the possibility of links being formed.
How will it work?
It is a partnership between Puke Ariki and the school or community group.

Puke Ariki staff can help with
  • Planning the unit
  • the developing of students research skills at the Taranaki Research Centre
  • Assisting with the publishing phase; we can work at your school or at Puke Ariki. Having the students in small groups works the best for this.
  • There are 4 iMacbooks with professional multimedia software, scanners, video and digital still cameras available to enable students to present their work in multimedia format
  • technical support
  • site for work to be displayed on the Taranaki Wiki
  • an environmental issue
  • changes in the landscape
  • people stories, family histories
  • historical issues / events
Developing a PodCast
(normally no longer than 2 - 3 minutes - a small audio file that can be accessed through an MP3 player or iPod)
Examples are:
  • an interview with an expert
  • poetry reading
  • a recording of an experience - creative writing
  • this has bee used where two paintings adjacent to each other on a wall have a conversation together; it could be about the painter, the people who have viewed them, their past life, the techniques used to create them
  • radio drama; a rock on the mountain telling its story of being in a lahar
  • a person talking from the past using a photo as a focus
A Photo File
  • A collection of images taken by the students to record an event, place, experience. Some examples are;
  • 7 images of Taranaki taken at the same time each day
  • A collection of images taken from around Taranaki
  • A collection of images taken of people whom the students regard as being important in their community
  • A collection showing a process such as the making of something
  • Recording of geological features
  • Taped interviews
  • News reporter at the scene
  • A compilation of scanned images, maps, diagrams, text, to tell a story
We are open to ideas and would ideally like to meet with teachers to see how this could possibly work for them."
You can contact Amanda at

Wednesday, 13 September 2006

Lets Go

'Lets Go' is an iniative at Eltham Primary School to prepare children for school and to involve parents in their children's learning. Year 0 - 1 children are provided with a pack of carefully selected learning resources that they can take home and keep - books, readers, pencil, pad, maths games & information for parents. Parents attend two sessions at school and can take home the 'Lets Go' pack to use with their kids. It has proved so successful that it is being extended into other areas of the school with the Years 2 -3 'Up and Running' programme (& learning pack). If you want to know more about this programme contact Jocelyn. Eltham is unique also in that it follows the Te Whariki curriculum in it's NE class.

More Movies @ EPS

I used to think i would get bored with making movies with kids (I have lost count of movie making days at school) - not even!! What a great day it was. Watching kids in control of their own learning, being creative, innovative, working out problems, working together and getting into it all day long!!! From the time they walk in the door till when they go home in the afternoon - even your most on-to-it classroom i think, could not boast such total involvement from all of the kids all of the time. A great opportunity to work with Sharon, a long standing proponent of Movie Making @ School - such a wealth of experience she has to share - make the most of it EPS.
Some cool new tools on the web for video editing, hosting & sharing. Jumpcut and Eyespot - just upload your video or still pictures, music, record your voice overs and edit it all online. Very cool - there is so much to use on the web for free - all you really need is a browser (and a fast internet connection). gives you all your 'office' type tools plus 1 gb storage. Check it out.

Thursday, 7 September 2006


The PD focus for our leadership workshop today was asTTLe. Thanks to Kelvin & Richard for leading this session :-)
A Point to Ponder for me is the learning conversations we engage in when we work together using this tool as being more powerful than the simple use of the tool itself. That was evident today as the team discussed their experiences within their own schools that had been the result of using asTTLe.
Something about asTTLe that I didn't know about was a part of the programme that links online to a trail of learning resources that were were directly targetted at the next steps learning intentions as identified by the asTTLe results. Very cool.

"What data are we collecting and what has changed in teacher practice and children’s learning as a result of the data collected? and
If it has changed … how do you know?"

Kelvin's notes can be found on Interact (you need your Log On to access or contact Kelvin for a copy)

"Assessment Tools for Teaching and Learning (He Pūnaha Aromatawai mō te Whakaako me te Ako). It is an educational resource for assessing literacy and numeracy (in both English and Māori) developed for the Ministry of Education by the University of Auckland.

asTTle provides teachers, students, and parents with information about a student's level of achievement, relative to the curriculum achievement outcomes, for levels 2 to 6 and national norms of performance for students in years 4 to 12.

asTTle is a tool that operates in both personal computer (PC) and Mac environments. Teachers can use asTTle to create 40-minute paper and pencil tests designed for their own students' learning needs. Once the tests are scored, the asTTle tool generates interactive graphic reports that allow teachers to analyse student achievement against curriculum levels, curriculum objectives, and population norms. Research and development over 2003–2004 has extended asTTle into years 8–12 and curriculum levels 5–6.

The asTTle CD-ROM is available to New Zealand schools free of charge. The latest version (asTTle V4) of the asTTle CD-ROM can be ordered by completing the order form on this website."