Tuesday, 27 February 2007

Skype Away the Distance

"the tyranny of distance didn't stop the pioneers" It didn't then & it certainly doesn't now - how easy it is to hook in with someone thru Skype (once i had worked out how to turn my headset on - yeah right i think i will look for a camera with a built in mike) Had a good yarn with Rick from Pitt Island today. We talked about loads of things for ages. I've been looking for another rural remote school to hook up with our Marco kids. So meeting Rick @ conference last week was a lucky find though i did plan to track him down and set up something between our two schools. I will be out at Marco regularly over the coming weeks so will get the ball rolling. I know our kids are going to love this :-)
A little bit of ICTPD distance learning happening in our skype conversation today. Learning how to capture a screen shot. Here's the one i took.
Rick's kids will be doing some work with powerpoint, art & animation soon so here's a link to my delicious powerpoint tag. You might need to revisit this link as i am still in the process of gathering resources that seem to be scattered all over the web. delicious is a great way to organise them & find them again.

Mobile Flickr

A request from Brent:
"rachel... you're not sending those pics straight from your phone to your Flickr account are you, like remotely? I'd love to be able to do that... so if you've figured that one out (from NZ) please post :-)"

Yes you can get your pics straight from your phone into Flickr. Moblogging isn't very streamlined here yet - unless someone knows how let me know.
You can get your pic to appear straight to Flickr but any comments or description you pxt with it doesn't appear & you get a link back to the Xtra photo album page. I don't know if this is the case with Vodaphone. I have tried sending pics straight to the blog thru both Telecom & Vodaphone & all you get is a redirection message & no pic. So it is a two step process if i want to blog the photo i sent to flickr then i have to go into flickr & send it from there with all the comments, tags etc i want to write. The potential for moblogging with our kids - field trips, school camps etc would be so awesome if only it worked a little better. No need for internet or computers - just a cell phone & of course depending where u are cell phone coverage...
Some links on how to do it on my Flickr wiki - let me know if you learn anything new :-)

It's a Wrap

L@S conference bites the dust for another year and a good one it's been too. For a great tongue in cheek read (i think ;-) read Arti's reflections.
My highlights:
Catching up with all my friends as these are the only times we get to f2f and of course making new friends :-)
Meeting David Warlick who inspired me as a beginning blogger some time ago and also meeting Tom for the first time - someone who i have had many conversations with through our blogs.
Keynotes were very good though i really thought Jennifer's (www.takingitglobal.org) was telling the same story that Michael Furndyk told @ ULearn05. The only breakout i attended was Derek's 10 Trends. The rest of the time (not) i was sitting down the lake front watching the waka go out - another highlight.
One more - Conor Bolton - dedicated eTeacher & Volcanics eLearning cluster facilitator running round town trying to find some VC gear to deliver his scheduled L2 Accounting class. The class was rescheduled for the next day and he ran his VC class in the trade hall from the Asnet VC stand in front of crowds of other teachers. I didn't witness this but heard about it. I was very impressed that Conor had the courage & the confidence to share his teaching practise in front of his peers and in such a forum - good on you Conor :-)

Scary Moment
Well I've already blogged this - not being able to connect to my Wiki site with all my presentations on...Well i think it all worked out ok in the end - nobody asked for their money back anyway ;-)

Looking forward to ULearn07 with Ewan keynoting. David lit the spark here - not that we haven't been trying ourselves but i guess there is nothing like a 'celebrity' blogger to make teachers sit up & take notice - especially one with such a lovely southern drawl. I am equally anticipating a great accent from Ewan and for him to fan the flames of the sparks that were lit in Rotorua.

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Here's the Boys

Quiz nite @ Malones

More Wiki Woes

OK am still not able to get into that wiki site with all my presentations - so here is my 3rd presentation moved over to Interact.
Fun With Flickr

Wikis Gone West?!!

Well here i am today in Rotorua presenting 3 workshops all prepared and ready to go on http://bardwired.wikispaces.com and wouldn't you know it i can't get on only through my own laptop and only running explorer.....aaahhh!! (it keeps timing out from the wikispaces server even when i have removed all firewalls hhmmmm)
I can't get into the main page of my blog either - Explorer keeps wanting to save it as a document --- very strange? I can see i will be flicking backwards & forwards between Flock & Explorer all afternoon.
No time to figure it out with 2 more workshops running soon. So the main link for my next workshop is here.
Blogging On

Tuesday, 20 February 2007

Social Networking & Schools

A cautionary message to School Zone schools from VEN (SZ educational governance group) about the use of social networking sites by young people and why they are blocked in our schools (though schools have the autonomy to unblock any sites and some are). Having highlighted the negatives which are well publicised in the media VEN asks:

"Young people are though using the medium to communicate - a lot. Harnessing the powerful opportunity that social networking sites provide is a real challenge for educators....We are interested in hearing positive ways that social networking sites have been used by schools for educational purposes, and would like to share these."

Lots of examples at http://nzedublogs.wikispaces.com/ Please list your school blogs, podcasts, flickr site... if not already listed.

Schools might find it worthwhile working through this 'educational scenario' as they decide how or even if they will open up social networking sites http://www.stratford-primary.school.nz/home/rachelj/web2/index.html

Allowing our students to engage collaboratively with others online raises issues of ethical, safe and responsible use. There have been stories sensationalised in the media of cyber bullying, inappropriate pictures and personal information published on student sites. People can behave in disinhibiting ways online, saying and doing things they would never do in a face to face situation. (Butterfield, 2005) (Chisholm & Fenaughty, 2006) This can have long lasting consequences as their ‘digital footprint’ may not be so easily edited or erased and could attract unwelcome attention or repercussions. For this reason many schools have blocked social networking sites through their Internet Management Systems. In effect this is a ‘head in the sand’ reaction. Young people are using Web 2.0 tools anyway and in growing numbers. 55% of US teens use social networks (Warlick, 2007); and 52% of all blogs are created and maintained by 13 – 19 year olds (Twist in De Craene, 2006). “Values and ethics are vital. You cannot control whether students CAN do these things. They can. You CAN control what you teach students! … Schools who ignore technology and ignore instilling values in their students could be reaping the negative consequences.” (Davis, 2007) Students need role models of what it means to be a responsible digital citizen. Teachers could do this by becoming involved in social networks and communities of practise thus also giving them a better understanding of what it means to be a networked learner. (Hargreaves in Lee & Berry, 2006) Schools should update their Acceptable Use policies to include the use of social networking and it should cover students use (relevant to school) outside of the ‘school gates’. Monitoring student use (as opposed to blocking) is important. There are many blog and wiki sites available that require log-on authorisation and comment verification allowing teachers to monitor and screen their students’ interactions. This may be a good safety net as students learn to walk safely and wisely in the wider networked world.” For the full paper click here.

Web 2.0 is the buzzword - it will be the walk & talk of Learning at School. TUANZ07 keynote speakers are edublog celebrities also so there will be no escaping the Web 2.0 bandwagon when it comes to town. In our enthusiasm for hooking in to the Connected World (& i am pretty enthusiastic myself) lets also not forget to be critical of the issues involved and how can we address them in our schools.

Sunday, 18 February 2007

Maps and Memories

As i prepare my flickr workshop for Learning at School next week i am discovering new cool things. I've been trying to find examples of annotations on flickr pics and turned up this one. There are notes all over the google maps picture that talk about places in the neighbourhood & things that happened when Mat was growing up. "This is where i got hit by a car when i was chasing the icecream truck..."
I am thinking about our Stratford Primary School jubilee coming up soon - it would be great to get a flickr group going of students & old students who could annote maps of the school & the town together - what a story they would make!

Another interesting find is Bloglines now has a feature called Image Wall that pulls in all the photos they have in their system (not just flickr). Definately not for kids as in their words "Curious, funny, challenging, good, bad, and ugly - it's all there." I viewed for a short while & it was very interesting but some of the pics that appeared were more than a bit dodgey (pornagraphic in fact).

I won't blog anymore of this you can see my presentation notes in progress at the Bard Wired wiki site.

Flickr Blog

Blogging straight from Flickr.
This image uploaded from my phone to flickr.
Sign outside O'Donaghues Stratford after shots were fired in Malones the bar next door the night before. This is hugely not like Stratford - not really the Wild West here...


Having a little play with Bubblr as i get together a Flickr workshop for L@S next week.

Wednesday, 14 February 2007

TaraNet 2007 Online

Another reason I have been too busy to blog lately. Have spent the last couple of weeks flat out getting our VC distance learning classes up and running. It was a buzz to join our first class this morning so much so that i wrote up a press release and fired it out to all our local papers - not too late for more enrolments.

TaraNet Press Release
"TaraNet E-Learning classes began today as Christine Hodge, St Marys Diocesan School, takes the roll with her Year 11 Accounting class. Students from St Marys, Forest View High School (Tokoroa) and Mangakino Area School will meet once a week through Video Conferencing for class.

2007 is the third year that distance learning has been offered through the TaraNet video conferencing (VC) network. French, Art History and Agriculture are other subjects being offered online by Taranaki teachers. TaraNet students also have the opportunity to choose from a wide range of subjects from other schools throughout the country. 40 students studied via VC in 2006 and enrolments are still being taken for 2007 E-Learning classes.

TaraNet is a cluster of Taranaki rural secondary schools collaborating regionally and nationally to provide distance learning opportunities for senior students. Schools involved are Coastal Taranaki School, St Marys Diocesan, Inglewood, Opunake, Stratford, Waitara, and Waverley High Schools. TaraNet is part of a wider network of schools, tertiary institutes and training providers offering courses to our students nationally. This distance learning education network is supported by the Virtual Learning Network (Ministry of Education). Full details of education providers involved and courses offered can be found at www.virtuallearning.school.nz

Benefits to students are the availability of subjects (in some case specialist or advanced level subjects) that are not available in their home schools and the flexibility to choose subjects that may be available in their home schools but cant be catered for because of timetabling clashes. With this method of distance learning, students have the support of a teacher with face to face contact weekly through video conferencing, interactions with other students in their virtual class and ongoing interactions through web based learning environments and email communications."

Yahoo - Last Milestone!

One reason i have been so quiet on the blog - our last ICTPD milestone (just a little overdue) is nearly complete. Here's the front cover a montage of just a small selection of the great times i have had with out Bard Kidz over the last 3 years. I feel really lucky to have had the opportunity to work with all these kids and over the last few years their 12 schools. I am still continuing my work with two of those schools and won't be too far out of touch with the others.

Wednesday, 7 February 2007

My Life in a Laptop

Changing laptops is worse than moving house! I've had to do it 3 times in the last 6 weeks and then again yesterday as my latest laptop is st&*&#*@#%ffed! How is it when you think you are sorting files, you are losing them, duplicating them & generally making a real mess of it. How is it i have tranfered my Outlook .pst file 3 times in the last week that i have doubled it up and it now is 6 gigs big instead of 3... This is very frustrating. Thankfully my kind mother has lent me her spare laptop for now (yes i really am from a whole family of geeks ;-)

On the bright side i have invested in a new sound system - sort of - Creature Speakers that connect to my Palm. Puts out a verrryyy good sound.

Technology! Love it - hate it!

Tuesday, 6 February 2007

Weavers' of Magic

I had been looking forward to yesterday for sometime to have the opportunity to listen to Celia Lashlie speak (Stratford Primary School TOD); and to extend my thanks to her for the things she had to tell us in her book “Growing Boys”. This book had such an impact on me as I worked through difficult patches with my own teenage boys.

Celia was up-front, down-to-earth, coarse and compassionate in her delivery, telling anecdotal stories of young people and their lives that were so far removed from the lives of any person in that staffroom today (outside of reading ‘Once Were Warriors’ – excuse the stereotypic generalisation …) She also offered her wisdom with humour & practical good sense ideas that really made you think about how we can make a difference to our students – especially to those most @ risk & to our boys.

Through her work in prisons and schools, as Prison Warden/Manager in both men’s & women’s prisons and then in the SES (Education), Celia began to make the connection between the troubled children she saw in schools, seeing their life paths heading straight to prison. So who’s most at risk of following the path to prison? They are kids we would probably now call ‘at risk’ in our schools, those whose family members are in prison or been through prison, who have backgrounds of violence, abuse and neglect – they may be born into it but nobody is born bad.

Celia calls teachers ‘the Weavers of Magic’ that they can make a difference whether they know it or not, now and in our children’s future. Here Celia tells a story of one of her staunchest most challenging teenage woman prisoners who they discovered had an extraordinary talent & love of writing. For all that had happened in the miserable life of this person (& Celia was very graphic in her description of that life) a teacher at some time had lit a fire and a passion for writing which this girl had carried with her. Teachers can provide the only safe haven that some children experience. So when that ‘ratbag’ is tearing up your classroom and making you pull out your hair out, find out where are they coming from (remember Maslow’s Hierarchy) and follow your instincts and not the manual. Don’t be judgemental but try and get alongside them when you see the opportunity (the 30 second moment) to let that child open up to you – even if its something you have no experience of, no solution for, just listen to them and affirm what they are saying – it helps validate the child’s perspective of reality (even though that reality might be pretty sad and awful…) Be persistent in building relationships with the family (especially the mothers).

Celia talked a little about boys in particular. How we need more men teachers (oh yes!) and how the education system is becoming feminised – boys need more relevant hands-on learning. She says within this feminised system we have lost the difference between ‘boys behaviour’ and bad behaviour, we don’t understand boys’ energies and touching is definitely out. We should push back against political correctness and follow our intuition, shut up and let the men talk and listen. Uuumm I'm sure i could do the first two things but I'm not sure about the next two....

We Need More of These.....

Holidays?? Yep maybe ;-) No we need more male teachers!!
Is it just NZ? or are we short of men in the classroom everywhere?