Friday, 24 August 2007

Making Movies @ Pitt

Today the kids took all their pictures for their Dinosaur movie. They had previously storyboarded, with a narrated script - so they had to time their narration & work out how many pics they needed for each scene, and the set had been created with painted backdrop & foreground as well as rocks & 'trees' for scenery. They began using the webcam to take the wide angle shots of the whole set. The computer was attached to the smartboard so it could be all operated from the board without bumping the camera & we could preview our shots easily on the big screen.
They did really well to work together as a whole group for most of the day, taking turns on the camera & moving the dinosaur characters (& sometimes the scenery too ;-) without any major scraps.My last day at school here today - i was meant to fly back to NZ today but the sea was to rough to get off the island & back to Chathams for the plane so I've got a couple more days to enjoy the weekend here. I have had a fantastic time here & am really going to miss it. Awesome place, awesome people :-)

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Panoramic Pitt

The views are so awesome here, a single photo (or any photo for that matter doesn't give them justice) I have been using Panorama Composer to create these Panorama's. You can export them as either a jpeg, an exe file or a complete webpage with a choice of viewers (i used Flash). Of course using a tripod would have helped line up these pics a lot better than they are. The link below each picture goes to the webpage where you can move around the photo, zooming in or out as you go :-)

Looking across Pitt Island from one coast to the other (Rangatira Island) in the distance.
Click here for Panorama webpage

Waipaua Beach (Hakepa Maunga to the left)
Click here for Panorama webpage

Waihere Beach & Mangere Island
Click here for Panorama Webpage

Home Schooling

All the kids came up to the house for school on Tuesday. The generator was being fixed so no power, no heating & it was freezing at school.

Silent Reading @ the kitchen table

Sorting dinosaurs to cast the characters in their Dinosaur Movie

Shrewsberry biscuit maths

I have been trying to set up the Polycom desktop software on a computer at school so we could join the Kids Conference this week. I had booked us in for a Dance workshop. We got as far as accessing the Virtual Learning Network bridge but found we had no sound! Aaaah - an afternoon of troubleshooting still did not fix it so try again tomorrow.

Thursday, 16 August 2007

Animations Fun @ Pitt

The Pitt Island kids created their first animations today. They have gone through a process of storyboarding, then created props & scenery to tell their stories. They are practicing for making their Dinosaur movies next week. Lots of fun :-)

Plantet Earth from rachelj and Vimeo.

Boom!! from rachelj and Vimeo.

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Classrooms' Connecting

Last week Room 5 children from St Joseph's school, Stratford had their first conversation with the Pitt Island children with Skype & the WebCam. Both classes are using SmartBoards so they got to see each other on the big screen. The quality of transmission during the skype call was good but it was a hit & miss affair to hook up as we kept getting a 'No Proxies' error. Sometimes Skype will deliver your chat messages ages after sending them & show someone as being offline even when they're not. So the key to classroom success for us is to be flexible with your timetabling, send a chat & finally when it comes through, drop everything else you're doing and dial in right away. Children at St Joseph's had prepared a presentation "Our Place" for me to bring to Pitt.

This week we skyped back from Pitt. Our kids had seen the St Joseph's presentation so had a few questions to ask. They have been working on more questions over the last couple of days and are looking forward to seeing Room 5 pop up again soon on the Skype network for another chat. Next week they will be making their "Our Place" presentation for me to take back to NZ with me & share with Room 5

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

TaraNet still Trucking On

TaraNet Principals and Lead Teachers met today and were joined by CAM VCing in from Buller High School. We had a bit of a hiccup to start with as we soon found that we were trying to run 7 sites off a 6 lane bridge. Oops sorry about that CAM & sorry too to the school i had to kick off the bridge & out of the meeting.
It was great to see all Principals & their teams at the meeting, continuing to show their support. A positive thing that these rural secondary schools, though we struggle with resourcing, are still working together to extend the opportunities for all our students through VC distance learning. It looks like the cavalry (MOE) may be rallying to support us and other elearning clusters as we grapple with issues around sustainability of our schools' cluster. Will find out more in due course.
Some of the issues are outlined in my report "Video Conferencing in Distance Learning: A New Zealand Schools' Perspective." (This is the report from my slideshow earlier in the week. Quicker to read & easier to follow, i think?)
If you are a Principal in a school which is part of a VC learning community (& there are 15 VC clusters actively running in New Zealand at the moment), and you are new to the whole idea of schools collaborating in this way, we have a number of new Principals in our cluster; then i recommend you read my report and some of the other readings linked here. One of the key success factors for cluster sustainability is leadership, shared vision and commitment from Principals.

VEN Report on ELearning Communities. Report to the MOE commissioned by the Virtual Education Network. Outlines the benefits, lists risk factors, highlights key elements of successful eLearning Communities. Raises issues of governance of the national network, need for MOE support for funding and staffing of eLearning communities.

Learning Communities Online: A support handbook for cluster schools.
Guidelines for schools developing or joining online learning communities. Provides a summary of the changing face of online learning for schools & overview of an elearning environment “The Barrel”. This is a draft document under consultation through the VLN website.

OtagoNet Leading the Way: OtagoNet Project Summary, April 2006. History of the OtagoNet eLearning cluster, outcomes for its stakeholders, funding issues.

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

8 Random Facts

I've been tagged by Sheryl :-)

First, the Rules:

  • Post these rules before you give your facts
  • List 8 random facts about yourself
  • At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them
  • Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged

8 Facts About Me:
  1. My favourite whiskey is Jamesons Irish whiskey
  2. I got kicked out of school when i was 14 (they let me back again)
  3. My first job when i left school was a rousy in a shearing gang
  4. I am a 1st generation NZer
  5. This Friday i fly out to Pitt Island for a couple of weeks
  6. My favourite flowers are daffodils because it means winter is nearly over
  7. I coach my two sons' High School A Basketball team. I also coach my daughter's basketball team
  8. My ambition is to win Lotto & make a career out of playing with all the cool tools i find on the Internet. (I have to win Lotto for that as noones going to pay me to do that!)
I tag:
Artichoke (this is the reason you are first on my list :-)
Tom (ha got you again)

Keeping the Faith

Only in a Catholic School.
Looking for divine intervention, these students thought prayer would help when their laptop went into hibernation & they didn't know if they had saved their work!

When the laptop shut itself down these two little girls looked at each other and said "We need prayer!"
They stayed on their knees until the laptop powered up & I found their work.

I have been known to give the same advice with some technical problems that get thrown my way :-)

Monday, 6 August 2007

Videoconferencing in Distance Learning: A NZ Schools' Perspective

Here is my first offering from the paper i am currently studying. I wouldn't say it's my best work - though neither does it bark like a dog (a kiwism there ;-) But pressed for time with work commitments pulling me in all directions, 3 neglected children & some leave coming up at the end of the week i feel that this presentation has been a bit of a slap-up. I wanted to share it in this public forum, this was one of the motivators that have kept me slogging away this weekend, and also because it's an area that has interested me for some time & that i have been more closely involved with in the last couple of years. To be sure i've got my facts right, and for further perspectives or insights - I would love some peer review so please comment:-)
(A written rendition of this will appear during the week sometime which will take less time to take in than this presentation & be fully referenced)

Thursday, 2 August 2007

Telecom Trembling??

Create custom animated gifs at!
Is Telecom shaking in it's boots today to hear that 83% of schools surveyed by the NZPF are planning to look for another Internet provider in dismayed reaction to Telecom axing the Schools Connection Points scheme?
Somehow i think Telecom may just be laughing up their sleeves that they have managed to capture so many of our schools in the SchoolZone net before taking away their much needed support for ICT in schools. Is it a knee jerk reaction for Principals to say we will just go to another provider?
Think it through - it is not just a connection to the Internet that Telecom SZ provides - its a whole managed Internet package. Think about the transition you went through when you changed to SZ - a new way of doing email, learning to use the MyDesktop, uploading users (rolling over the year groups every year), checking up on user internet use, filtering & blocking sites (unfiltering & unblocking sites), many have added on MyClasses - with whole courses being uploaded & accessed through Telecom SchoolZone. The list goes on: internal proxy servers taken out to be served offsite, school websites hosted on SZ servers, personal files of 1000s of NZ students & teachers stored in SZ Personal files boxes. (Hours and hours of staff training nationally - Phew!!) So just switch providers? What A Mission! For my TaraNet schools there is no other providers - Telecom is the only provider locally we can use for Videoconferencing into the VPN. (If you think TaraNet can do this differently please let me know)
When SZ first appeared around 2002/2003 for many of our schools it was like pennies from heaven - a whole integrated, easy to use tool for managing the wild beast the internet had become in our schools (secondary schools in particular). Of course it was great to have Broadband too - SZ & broadband at that time went hand in hand. I have long been a SZ champion but in the last year have been feeling a bit unsettled about having all our eggs in the Telecom basket. Other providers have stepped up with lower prices & better speeds, SZ has had hiccups with its new filtering system & some recent issues with email.
So where to next for schools - what are the options beyond SZ? What support will be needed to change - a truckload for sure. Your thoughts?

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Blog Bling with Bruce

I spent a pleasant morning with Bruce today (here discussing Quality Learning in NZ schools from Policy to Classroom Practise & everything in between). It is always good to talk to Bruce & share his perspectives on education. Visit his blog Leading and Learning and join in the conversations there.
The main focus of today was to help Bruce revamp his blogspot with categories so that he could more easily sort & find his articles (over 550 posts now!). With not a lot of bling in his sidebar we decided to update to the new blogger template a simple way to add page elements to your blog without playing with the html in the template. I love the way the new template tidies up the archives with drop down options on the months (& years) so you don't have archives listed a mile long.
It inspired me to think about tidying up my own blogspot. I looked at it when the new template changes came in awhile ago but was worried about losing all my bling on the side. So i have played with it a bit more and found it won't be a problem in the sidebar I can reinstate all my bling easily but i'm going to lose my signature flickr pics in my header. Hmmm some techie problem solving to do here - maybe another day.
Oooops maybe not - gone & done it now - think i will keep it as it looks so much tidier!

Digital Portfolios EFellows Research

In my Digital Portfolios searching yesterday i found Kerry Hall a 2006 EFellow
Here is the focus of her research:"My research will investigate what happens when learners are given the opportunity to be creative and take ownership of their learning and assessment through the use of e-portfolios. What does their learning look like and how does the use of e-portfolios engage this particular group of learners in deeper and more meaningful ways? With the child in the middle of the heterachy (Atkin, 2004) model how do the teacher, learner and community role change? And to what extent does this paradigm shift impact on the engagement, creativity and motivation of this group of learners?"
Thanks Kerry for sharing your research with you - you can download her full research report here.