Tuesday, 31 October 2006

Ka Kite Tahora School

Tahora School Est:1897:1997: Closed 2007
Today was my last visit to Tahora School, not only because this is Term 4, Year 3 (effectively the end of our BardWired contract) but because after 110 years Tahora will soon be closing it's doors for the last time at the end of the year. Another 'backblocks' school bites the dust - bringing to 5 in total just from our cluster over the last 3 years. It is a shame to lose the special character of these schools but i guess a realistic reflection of our rural remote population.
Farewells aside, we had a busy and interesting day at Tahora.
Carolyn will go on from here to teach in other schools - we spent some time exploring a range of software all of which have been blogged before: photostory, artrage, serifdraw, photofiltre, audacity... We looked at optimising images - individually & once they had been put into a document (who needs a powerpoint presentation of 50mb when u can cut it to 3?!) The kids had some help with running music in their powerpoints (freeplay) & were introduced to Alice. They also got back onto their blogs & hopefully they have updated them now and spent some time reading and commenting on the other edblogs.
I would like to do some more with Alice & have been working on getting an after-school programme up & running. But with all the crossing of the Ts & I dotting, school coordination (Term 4 is hopeless) it looks like this will be a starter for Term 1 2007.

Monday, 30 October 2006

Getting to know Whanga

I spent the day with some of the Marco kids at Whangamomona today. They are off to the Telecom Road show next week and are preparing content for the webpage they will be making to promote their district and the Whangamomona Republic Day. We spent some time in the township taking photos. My advise to them was to take lots of photos from lots of perspectives and not to delete anything - well we came back with over 200 photos! So a quick lesson on editing, resizing, compressing & a bit of work in store choosing their best ones to go on their pages. You can find these all on flickr and again on their website when it's published. The children interviewed local identities about events & places of historical significance & recorded the audio using the movie feature on their digital cameras. They learnt lots they didn't know about their own small settlement and I am really looking forward to seeing their finished work. I will be back out there later in the year to help them with the finishing touches to their site. Whangamomona Republic Day is January 20th 2007 - get there if you can.

Sunday, 29 October 2006

Sophie's Wots Hot List!

What's hot for my Sophie (10 years old :-)

Just lately it's been emailing penpals found through Kids MC & writing on the bulletin boards at epals.

Favourite stupid site Badger, badger, badger .

On this awful, boring wet day signed up to StarDolls, Disneyland Virtual Magic Kingdom, Club Penguin.

Longstanding member of Runescape, Habbo Hotel & Neopets. She can also be found on America's Army!
Needless to say there's lots of talk about netsafety in our house put into practise today when i helped her tell on someone swearing on the dance floor at Habbo. Also some talk about media marketing strategies as she registers online with forms that ask her millions of questions which she doesn't need to answer.
No wonder she gets bored when she's not on the computer - all these cool games and people to talk to at her fingertips. It's really hard to get her interested in other stuff. Roll on the summer & lets get out of the house!
If the world's population was reduced to 100 it would look like this:

Curriculum Consultation

Many of our schools took Tuesday as a Teacher Only Day to discuss the draft curriculum & feedback to the MOE in the consultation process.
I spent the morning @ Stratford where Bruce was leading discussion. We examined the teaching practises of the industrial age classroom as we experienced it growing up in NZ and discussed what we wanted a Yr8 graduate to look like at SPS - what skills, attitudes & capabilities we felt they needed. These were all generic to the rhetoric that supports the idea of a 'life long learner in the knowledge age' & has been articulated by all our BardWired teachers in 'visioning' workshops before. Pretty much all summed up in the draft curriculum vision - our young people will be...
  • Positive in their own identity
  • Motivated and reliable
  • Entrepreneurial
  • Enterprising
  • Resiliant
  • Able to relate well to others
  • Effective users of communication tools
Lifelong Learners
  • Literate and numerate
  • Critical and creative thinkers
  • Active seekers, users, and creators of knowledge
  • Informed decision makers
Actively Involved
  • Participants in a range of life contexts
  • Contributors to the well-being of NZ - social, economical & environmental
All very worthy attributes ok, but I can't help thinking that what we have criticised industrial age teaching for - moulding our kids to suit society (Another Brick in the Wall) we are still doing but for a different society 'The Knowledge Society'. No country wants to be left behind in our new "Flat World"! I really felt this also as I listened to Jane Gilbert speak at ULearn as well. Somewhere in the equation needs to be some student voice and choice...

Friday, 27 October 2006

Unblock Sites

Am I a sick puppy sitting up at night checking out the sitemeter on my blogspot? Yes probably I am :-) But there are some interesting trends come up as you flick through the sitemeter stats. Quite a few come to the site through google searches & the keyword that keeps coming up again & again is 'unblock sites' and all of them are from all over the USA. Wow heaps of them & just in the last couple of weeks too - all hitting on the "Filtering Frustrations" post. Has the powers that be been tightening the screws more firmly on schools over there - I wonder?
Yes we have our frustrations here in working within a filtered system but at least we don't have to go through layers & layers of admin to get to unblock what we want to use. Tim from School Zone shared a few tricks with me that people have used to get around blocks but i won't publish them here as i bet a lot of those searches are from students wanting to get out of the school system & into the real world!

Ask Dr Schmooze Clooze

The cable guys have been hard at work at Toko School for some time now. Here they are wiring up Richard's office & what a professional job they have been doing too. Everything is tucked & tidied away inside conduit (is that the word?) 4 power outlets to two cat6 outlets x 2 in each classroom throughout the school. Followed soon by the installation of a new SmartNet server. What a great initiative from the MOE for the few schools who have been able to benefit from this so far - hopefully more will too in the near future. Five of our 9 BardWired schools have already been upgraded through this initiative with one more in the pipeline. Thankyou to Douglas, Jonathon & team from the MOE you are doing a great job - keep working on that piece of string ;-) & keep it coming!
Richard has been hard at work devising the next cluster collaborative game due to kick off in Week 5 (6th November) It's called Ask Dr Schmooze and you can check it out on Toko's interact site. Get your kids involved & register now. Registrations from outside the cluster are welcome but you do need to be inside our Time Zone for this one. (maybe limited numbers with priority to cluster schools)
A big week for Toko next week with Camp Week - check out their camp blog to see what they get up to. This is a great way to share what's happening on camp with parents & the school community & afterwards an archived record of the event.

Wednesday, 18 October 2006

NZedubloggers Untie!

This little wiki has been sitting around for awhile - haven't blogged it b4 as i thought you were going to push it out there at ULearn (Jedd?) So anyway - blogging & podcasting is starting to gain momentum in NZ since the time i went searching (in vain) in March for some real examples for my TUANZ Web 2.0 presentation. So if you're not listed here (NZ only) then get other there and edit the page!

EPS Reloaded

Work has already started at Eltham Primary School on their new school buildings. Not only are the students documenting this on their blog but they published their first podcast/vlog all about it on podomatic. Yahoo - very exciting. Make sure you visit their blog & podcast & leave them a comment!
Megan & I revisited the long term ICT strategic plan today & it was really satisfying to look at how much has been achieved in the last 2 years. A long way to go but with a MOE assisted network upgrade together with a new block including learning centre - this time next year things will be really pumping along.
Having networked access really makes a difference but Eltham has soldiered on with the resources available knowing now that the light is at the end of the network tunnel sometime soon. Heather just by moving the computer from one side of the room to the other has discovered quite by accident today that she can now access an airport & so can get onto the internet & print. Sharon has created a 'webquest' without using the internet. This sounds interesting & will post this to Interact for sharing.

Tuesday, 17 October 2006


My last term at Stratford will involve some time every week supporting Clarissa in consolidating her expertise in a number of key areas we have covered before but which we need to establish some documented procedures in: Managing SZ users, establishing Cybersafety into learning programmes, exploring some new software... a range of things - still adding to the list. We started with SZ today & the first thing we looked at was keeping SZ honest - speed checks. School Zone reloaded, launched at ULearn, promises faster speeds for the same price - sometime in Term 4. So keep your ISP on their toes & check your speed. We also documented procedures for bulk upload of new users & what features user groups should have enabled - email, web hosting, file drop boxes?
I also spent the morning with Kim going over the ICTPD budget with a fine-tooth comb as we near the end of the 3 year contract. Not an easy task, definately head-ache material - but our forecast so far looks like we'll be right on the last cent - phew - i think!
The scary thing for me was looking at this budget shows my last payday will be at the end of term! I had not really given this too much thought until now - but can't avoid it now. So if you have a holiday job for me and/or 0.4 FTE for 2007 please contact me :-) I now have to get busy with a new CV - watch this space...

Sunday, 15 October 2006

Welcome Robert Swartz

Today I was proud to welcome Robert Swartz to Taranaki for his workshop tomorrow "Infusing Critical & Creative Thinking into Content Instruction" He very kindly put up with an entourage of hungry children as we picked him up from New Plymouth, checked out the workshop venue & had a brief tour of the New Plymouth waterfront. Though my children have never been so polite & well behaved as i saw them today! I did say to Robert that i would photoshop this picture but i photoshopped myself right out of it... Maybe take a better picture tomorrow.
Particulary relevant to this workshop is the work that is going on in schools around the consultation and implementation of the draft NZ curriculum in particular the key competency Thinking. So this to ponder from the draft document:

“Thinking is about using creative, critical, metacognitive, and reflective processes to make sense of and question information, experiences, and ideas. These processes can be applied to research, organisation, and evaluation for all kinds of purposes – developing understanding, making decisions, shaping actions, or constructing knowledge. Intellectual curiosity is at the heart of this competency. Students who have well-developed thinking and problem-solving skills are active seekers, users, and creators of knowledge. They reflect on their own learning, draw on personal knowledge and intuitions, ask questions, and challenge the basis of assumptions and perceptions.”

Spreading the Word!

Graham has asked for some input into his presentation at the K-12 online conference. His key questions "Why is Web 2.0 important for Educators?" & "What have you done to increase Educator awareness of Web 2.0?" within the conference theme 'Overcoming Obstacles'
The responses to these questions are recorded on Podomatic.

Click here to get your own player.

Listen to number 2 first - they are stacked in the wrong order - ooops!
Podcast shownotes ;-) ha ha
NZ edublogs - wiki directory of NZ educators & classroom blogs & podcasts - created by Jedd & contributed to by the rest of us.

Tom Sheehan "The Orchard"
"The benefits of blogging - it is real writing for real people. The children begin to understand that they are connected and belong. Many of them try very hard with their writing to make it as good as possible because they know that people all around the world are reading it - as well as each other. From a personal point of view my own writing has improved greatly over the last 12 months. I'm still a hack but I am improving." (my emphasis)

TUANZ 2006 Web 2.0 Presentation

ED Weblogs
- Barnsey would you like to comment on this post - your perspective on the questions?

Friday, 13 October 2006

Postcards from Makahu

An awesome day with Jenny & the Makahu kids. We went on a photographic tour around the district - the kids had chosen several places of significance that they wanted to 'shoot'. The tunnel, Hopkirks gardens, lakes, waterfalls & hilltop views from their own farms. They had done some work beforehand viewing & discussing landscape photography so with a few ideas, some great locations & lots of borrowed cameras we had a big day out! The children chose their best 3 shots of the day to print and create postcards with that will be judged in their photo competition on Lamb & Calf Day. Jenny is trying out printing on different media so that their work can be displayed on souvenier items (such as coffee cups) Today they have Whangamomona in their lense sights so look out for their work at the Whanga Republic Day early next year. The hospitality and the scenary @ Makahu were superb. You can see some of our pictures on flickr. This would be a relevant and valuable contribution to the PukeAriki "Our Mountain" project. Hopefully the next Makahu blog updates will have more examples of their best work :-)

Wednesday, 11 October 2006

Learn by Doing

Learn by Doing Knowledge is Power. Here stands the facade of Eltham Primary School waiting to be resurrected into the new school buildings. An important message and one that remains as Eltham goes through a period of change. This they will be documenting through blog & podcast as it progresses. I called in today to drop off the gratefully lent Mac and to borrow some cameras. Where will this cluster sharing end? It is good that we are sharing our resources in all sorts of ways!

Tuesday, 10 October 2006

Back 2 Skl!

Not a lot of hands on school stuff happening for me this week as I was pretty late getting my timetable in but still good to be back in school with the hum of activity all around. I have been working on a couple of proposals for various things hopefully to become reality this term & beyond - for our kids, for our schools & for my own professional pathways... Will blog about those when there is something a bit more firm there.

I have been following up on the progress of our TaraNet elearning students as they head into this final term & the high stakes testing that comes with it. Some mixed and interesting responses from them which will help guide future learning for those that follow in their footsteps.
  • "Everything is going fine with me. We're keeping up with our work and are now managing to actually have class every week! We do most of our work on the moodle website now, which is better than doing it in our books because we actually get results."
    the one VC class per week is not all there is to e-learning the whole learning environment and the interactions happening there are also very important.
  • "... chemistry is a bit harder though because the need to use the lab and i have to sort everything out myself and still havent got to doing either practical and passing yet"
    Point: in-school student support is critical for accessing resources outside of the existing school structure of timetable, people & concrete resources
These couple of responses indicate a larger picture that needs to be addressed in schools when we think of 'personalised' learning (I did hear this catchphrase touted at ULearn...) - there is a lot of support that needs to sit in behind this for students & changes schools need to make to their structures and systems to allow for it. A big ask to move beyond rhetoric to reality.
I have also been looking ahead to preparing our e-teachers for 2007 with this point to ponder for those who may be considering joining our e-learning community: "E-learning is not only a great opportunity for our students but is an awesome professional learning opportunity for our teachers. They can really follow their passions and interests by offering courses that they might not otherwise get to teach in their own school. I am talking here about those types of courses just off the edge of your traditional subject areas - for eg. Environmental studies, biotech, journalism. It is these sorts of classes that I think we need more of in our Virtual Learning Network."

Thursday, 5 October 2006

Thought Sheep

"If everybody thinks the same thing - somebody's not thinking!"
I was reading David's recently pulled post about how uncomfortable he feels to be considered a 'thought leader' and i wanted to comment but found that post has disappeared... Another whip of self-censorship which we all do ;-)
We all need 'thought leaders' someone who opens us up to new ideas, questions our attitudes & beliefs but that shouldn't make us thought sheep. I don't think anyone is innately a thought sheep but have been moulded that way - i think of many of our teachers (being very generalistic here) who as a product of their own schooling, colleges of education & then the dictates of the MOE have become thought sheep to the ideas of others. We are putting such an emphasis on developing critical thinking skills in our students we also need teachers who are critical thinkers. At no time in our education history has this been so important as we develop & implement a new curriculum in our NZ schools.
We are all thought leaders & need to recognise this in ourselves and in others.

Tuesday, 3 October 2006

Colour My World

A pleasure to work with a group of young women at St Mary's today. Part of a school holiday G & T programme (partly school promotion - why not?!) The learning intention: "To use use visual images, music & expressive language to convey a message within the colour theme." Our tools ArtRage & PhotoStory; our resource flickr (creative commons) and some quick learning bright young minds).
It did take me twice as long to set up as i spent with the girls (setting up users on the network & SZ and loading software etc) but well worth it.
Their work is hosted on Vimeo but you can check it out below too. I know you girls are all reading this blog post as we didn't have time to watch everybody's work so well done you did a great job today :-) Feel free to leave a comment where it says comments.

Introducing Yello on Vimeo

Colour Me Orange on Vimeo

Colour Me Pink on Vimeo

Think Pink on Vimeo

Blue on Vimeo

Born Pink and Black on Vimeo

Around Yellow on Vimeo

White Wonders on Vimeo

Blue on Vimeo

Colour Me Pink on Vimeo

Monday, 2 October 2006

Geek Girl Goes Mad!

This is the mess that is my kitchen table as i try & get organised after ULearn. I have put it off for long enough & now have been trying to get my wireless router working. I know this should be easy but... now i really feel for teachers and schools who have this stuff in front of them & don't know really where to start! The ICT Helpdesk is a good place but uuummm dunno if they do housecalls ;-)

BTW if u hve bn txtg & no answr eml 4 nmbr hve chngd
- another cellphone by the tech. wayside.

Hitch a ride to ULearn06

How does this social software stuff work?? Sometimes it really feels like smoke & mirrors 2 me. I blogged & posted some photos to flickr earlier today ooops yesterday & with daylight saving & a head full of ideas robbing me of sleep am just flicking thru some stuff online and have found this very interesting site HitchHikr - now i sort of have heard of it on a podcast somewhere but never really looked at it till now & still not sure how it works (if you know plz comment) So i come across this page on hitchhikr that has got lots of recent blog posts and flickr photos (the ones i posted earlier) Thnx David Warlick for making us so connected we don't know where we begin or end! I think it is all to do with tags - i used to think rss was the glue that connected us all together but i really am thinking tags are the thing! I am going back to make sure my previous posts are tagged :-)

Sunday, 1 October 2006

ULearn06 Timed Out

Good blogging intentions fell by the wayside as every day i tried to update this is what i got - grrrr. So what was i going to say?...
Yep - a great pre-conference workshop with Richard on the first day sharing our novice expert skills with a keen group of would-be webmasters. Hopefully we didn't send them away with suckier sites than they had before but maybe they have built some more on their skills and confidence. Workshop notes can be found on the ULearn site under presenter's material or you can get it here.

One of the highlights for me was taking a large group of teachers with us, many who had never been to conference before. It was disappointing not to be able to get them into the workshops they really wanted to do as they all filled up so fast but they definately had plenty available to challenge their thinking. Aaron stepped up to the challenge by making the connections between what he heard in Julia Atkins workshop, Adam Lefstein's keynote and study he had previously undertaken. He didn't quite elaborate to me at the time what those connections were but i am sure they were very deep and meaningful and will make a difference to his classroom practise :-)
For me conference is a great time to f2f with all the people i have contact with throughout the year and never get to see & also to tatau tatau e by presenting workshops & lots of informal discussions with colleagues.
You can check out the Bard Wired ULearn06 pics on flickr.