Thursday, 25 September 2008

School Visits

taralogo I spent a couple of days this week getting out and about TaraNet schools catching up with elearning students, eteachers and lead teachers.

At Opunake Cody showed me his website he has made for his L4 Computing class. The challenge now is to find Cody another Computing course for 2009 that is going to extend on his talents & interests. He would really like to do the Otago Polytech Computing course which I tried every avenue to get him into last year but they wouldn't deliver to North Island students. It would be good to see one of our Northern Polytechs offer a course like this - I know there would be enough takers amongst FarNet, TaraNet & the Volcanics to make this a viable class...

Waitara student Duke showed me the work he had done on upgrading the Waitara High School website. He did a great job using Dreamweaver, Flash & Fireworks.  Very professional - a future in webdesign perhaps.

Coastal Taranaki has also now got its new website up and running - good to see a section on elearning :-)

At Inglewood I worked with Penny as she started to use her Moodle site to set up some work for her students. We went through the process of creating pages, links & a forum also practising how she would help her students logon for the first time. There is still a lot of work for me to do in our site to get some content in there but a handful of teachers around the schools are beginning to use it with their students (particularly at Inglewood). All TaraNet eteachers will be using Moodle to support their classes in 2009.

Thursday, 18 September 2008

St Mary's PLGs


Every week I have been attending St Mary's Professional Learning Groups. These are groups have an ICTPD focus and work together for 40 minutes before school one day a week. Today we had a sharing session with feedback from the different groups:

Wiki spaces – easy to use & free, , problem was blocked at the time, survey monkey – design surveys. Need to try these out before hand. Use plans, b & c. Kids very positive.

Protopage – not for all, but interesting to play with. Embedding videos – again blocking problems (You Tube). Can’t upload whole documents. Photos sometimes not clear. Handy as a home page for students.

Discussion on trial of unblocking YouTube Will focus first on teacher's use of YouTube and learn how to download and share video.

Powerpoint – steps of students making a product – photographs – visual instruction for students on the big screen.

Using the IWB – energy transformations – student were really engaged – manipulating objects to come up with an energy equation.

IWB – shared ideas, Created How To files on the Teacher Drive (Interwrite folder).

Digital Learning Objects – need to be clear about learning objectives. Front page of TKI, Digistore.

These PLGs are a great way to slowly but surely bring teachers along in their use of ICT in the classroom by  making time for hands on ICTPD within a safe & supportive environment. Throughout the discussion this morning it was good to hear the connections were being made between what teachers were learning & trying out in their lessons and the benefits for students. All had to say the students were really positive, motivated, & enthusiastic about what they were doing - even when it sometimes didn't work as they expected :-)

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Conservation Week


"Conservation Week is from 7-14 September 2008 and the theme is Meet the Locals, Tutakitia te Iwi Kainga.

To celebrate Conservation Week, the Department of Conservation will present a one hour virtual lesson each day from 8-12 September. The virtual lessons will help your students understand the native animals and plants, people and places that are unique to New Zealand.

You can also use DOC's Conservation Week education units to teach your students about conservation. Unit one is for years 1 - 4 and unit two is for years 5 - 8. Visit to download the activities for each unit."

Matapu School made the most of Conservation Week through the support of TaraNet and Telecom School Zone. They were able to borrow a spare set of VC gear from us and Telecom SchoolZone kindly sponsored an upgrade to their circuit to enable the connectivity required for video conferencing.

Here the students are talking to DOC education officer, Sarah Bond, from Westland about Punakaiki (Pancake Rocks)& the Glaciers. They also joined conversations during the week with DOC officers in Dunedin & Wellington and learnt about skinks & geckos and wetas. The VCs were the buzz of the school this week amongst students & their families.
Check out their blogspot.

Our local DOC education officer was invited to join us for these VCs but was too busy himself in schools for Conservation Week. Definitely an opportunity in the future for TaraNet to work with DOC and have  some virtual field trips coming out of Taranaki to the rest of NZ.

Matapu School have their VC gear till the end of this term - contact them if you would like to connect your classes through VC.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Heads up @ Patea

DSC01647 DSC01648

I met with staff at Patea Area School today and ran "Heads up on eLearning Workshop" via VC. Here are the staff at Patea in their Personalised Learning Centre watching 'Shift Happens'. I thought the workshop ran well from a distance - I was able to run through my presentation, including the movie without too much loss of quality (I think - that's the feedback I got anyway ;-) and engage in discussion with teachers. It was easier too to set up a presentation from the VC room than travel to Patea (save my carbon footprint), setup a data projector and try & configure internet access at the school.

Patea are looking to focus on ICTPD for their teachers & I will support them in working with their lead teachers, developing a vision & a strategic plan, goal setting and bringing in facilitators to work with staff in PLGs (Professional Learning Groups), regular in-class support & workshop sessions.

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

ePrincipals Meet

DSC01644 ePrincipals meet once a month in the forum of regular VLN meetings. It used to be Cam that had a penchant for hats but I think it must have rubbed off on Eddie...

One of the points for discussion was the enrolment process. It is coming up to the time of the year that we are all preparing for 2009 classes - new courses are due to go up on the VLN November 20th. We talked about the possibility of formulating a national enrolment policy to ensure we had coverage for the classes that students wanted to enrol in and to maximise the enrolments of existing classes - particularly those that had more than one class offered on the VLN and historically low numbers of enrolments. There is also concern for all of us about the uncertainty of confirming our students in VLN classes that are not offered by our own clusters. I think we do need to work strategically together on this but for our cluster anyway we are just beginning to try and work strategically at cluster level - let alone at national level. So far offerings of eclasses and eteachers has been pretty hit & miss. Schools want to be able to choose at will from the 'pick & mix' chocolate box but they feel hamstrung by what they can contribute as their own specialist teachers are not offered due to their own schools demands, and availability of staffing to release eteachers. If the MOE would come to the party and provide some .FTs to schools who have elearning students this would help with the flexibility of staffing and schools may be encouraged to deepen their eteacher pool. The Correspondence School receives funding for student enrolments - how can we achieve this for our schools?