Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Primary Science

You don't need to be a Scientist to DO Science! 

Don't think you need to leave it to the experts for your students to learn about Science, there are lots of great PD opportunities & resources to support you in providing Science learning opportunities for our kids.

Check out this online PD from the Open Polytech - no fees! Register now for July's intake.

"The Graduate Certificate in Primary Science Teaching (Curriculum) takes the perspective that science can be fun. It encourages the learning of science by doing science and discusses the effectiveness with which science concepts and principles are embedded into learning experiences. Through the programme practising teachers will become more confident in their science knowledge, and their ability to design and deliver learning experiences that support and inspire students to investigate and understand science knowledge and concepts."

ScienScience Alivece Alive provides outreach programmes in the Christchurch area, they also have some great open source resources. 
Follow them on twitter @sciencealive

Science in a Van
Science in a Van also run outreach programmes, anywhere in NZ.
They have a fantastic blog site, and you can also follow them on twitter @Science_ina_Van 

Science Learning Hub'The Science Learning Hub is developed by educators and teachers in collaboration with New Zealand scientists to provide resources for teachers of students up to year 10.'
Hear what teachers have to say about how they use the Science Learning Hub to support them in the classroom. Twitter @NZScienceLearn 

There are a number of Science groups in the VLN Groups area. The following three seem to be the most subscribed, open and active:
Science VLN Groups

Digital technologies and future-oriented science education
Not forgetting Science Online @TKI. Linked from TKI are a series of papers developed from the questions raised here:
"The Chief Science Adviser raised some challenging questions in his  2011 report. The Ministry of Education responded by funding three new science education projects. His questions were:
  • How can we “engage and enthuse” more young New Zealanders in science?
  • Is the science we teach getting students ready to address serious questions we will all face in the future?
  • How might science education help New Zealand's development as a smart, innovative, knowledge-oriented country? "
Some interesting professional reading.

Lastly not forgetting the VLN Primary School as a way to collaborate and extend Science learning opportunities across our schools. Currently we are running a Day Time Astronomy class - we welcome schools and teachers who have expertise to share across our network.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Virtual Role Models - Tuakana/Teina

This is a great story in the VPLD ning from Krishna about the value of their virtual connections with Rosmini College, Over the Back Fence Project. What are you waiting for start connecting with others and break down those classroom walls!

Virtual Mentors

Monday, 16 June 2014

Student Voice - Our kids expect it

Crazy Clever Kids
Our kids expect to have a voice in their learning - and so they should; including the details of what the music is like that they have to listen to while they wait for the audio bridge to be opened. We have advised Student Council to take this up themselves with Asnet Technologies who manage our audio bridge :-)

Here is their conversation:
" Halfmoonbay: (13:40) hey everyone
  Halfmoonbay #PowerMovesOnly: (13:41) Hi blackmount
  Halfmoonbay #PowerMovesOnly: (13:41) Hello everyone
  Tylah: (13:43) hi everyone
  Halfmoonbay #PowerMovesOnly: (13:43) hey
  #N¡k¡: (13:44) heey
  Tylah: (13:44) do you ever get sick of listning to the music on the phone??????
  Halfmoonbay #PowerMovesOnly: (13:45) noo
  Halfmoonbay: (13:45) yes yes i do
  #N¡k¡: (13:45) hah
  Halfmoonbay #PowerMovesOnly: (13:45) thats why in the next student council we may discuss the music on the phone
  Tylah: (13:46) i get sick of listning to "please wat for thee chairperson to join the conference
  Halfmoonbay #PowerMovesOnly: (13:46) we got really cool music on ours yahhh
  Tylah: (13:47) me too today but don't get it very often
  #N¡k¡: (13:47) please wait for the chairperson to join the conference
  Halfmoonbay #PowerMovesOnly: (13:47) hi rachel
  Halfmoonbay: (13:47)
  #N¡k¡: (13:47)
  Rachel Roberts: (13:48) hi Tylah we would give you the chairperson pin but then you guys would have phone parties without us!
  joseph&kase: (13:48) hey
  Tylah: (13:48) yeah  its ok i just figured out to mute it when it gets really aannoying"

Thursday, 12 June 2014

VLN Primary School - Semester 2 call for participation.

Schools are invited to enrol students in online learning programmes beginning in Term 3. Te Reo Maori (beginners to fluent), Mandarin, Japanese, French, Spanish, German, Afrikaans, Te Reo Maori Cook, & Maths Extension.

Teachers are warmly welcomed to participate alongside their students in our language classes, this is a great PLD opportunity for Learning Languages & teaching online.
Expressions of interest are invited to participate in ‘Over the Back Fence’ Health Project & DayTime Astronomy. Small schools with very low numbers of Y7 & 8 students are invited to cluster and join our Rural & Remote schools Project.Enquiries to primary@vln.school.nz

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Happy Birthday Bardwired - 10 Years Old Today!

Wow what a milestone, I am feeling old today as my baby hits double digits!

I was introduced to blogging by Richard & his students at Matau School & thought this would be a great way to keep schools in touch with what was going on around the Bardwired ICTPD cluster. Sure beats stuffy reports to Principals' once a month. It has been quite a journey over that time, with many highlights and in the last couple of years quiet patches too. My first post was a very factual account, in fact a list, of what i did at work that day...i think it only got better after that.

To start with it was text only, you had to have some working knowledge of  html to make anything else happen. Pictures weren't easy and it was four months before any images appeared on my pages.

Flickr arrived early in 2005 and that was the beginning of my love for Flickr. That was also the time i began to use hyperlinks but it was still awhile until hyperlinks became part of my deliberate writing style. My writing here waned when blogging became a professional requirement for my two other roles with the VLN Primary & VPLD; Twitter & Facebook also took over my attention. As with any pride & joy there are special milestones & highlights - here are a few of mine.

Here are some of my babies milestones:

First podcasts May 2006 - Prensky@School Marc Prensky's keynote from Learning@School
First video May 2006 on Vimeo - Kidz & Kitez @ Makahu,
First flash animation - Christmas 2006
First friends -  Tom & Graham - when i learnt that blogging is about conversations and learning together
First blog post from my phone - moblogging February 2007
First Youtube video embeds TUANZ 2007
First embedded slideshow - Around te Maunga May 2007
First avatar - Meez May 2007
First Panorama - Panoramic Pitt August 2007
First slap on the wrist for this post May 2009


Where Are We Going??????? - 2005 thoughts about Google
Connecting with others - Edubloggers Offices Photostream
Starting nzedublogs with Jedd
Life changing highlight - getting to know my darling Rick
Time 4 Online Conference
Dead Cats & Laptops - most interesting/gross picture
Helping Bruce update his blog
Connecting with others - 8 random facts meme (great to be reminded of those connections :-)
VLN Primary kicks off at Matapu School
The Future of Education (i just like this post)
Being 'published'
eLearning eBooks (i liked this one too)
N4L consultation  early conversations

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Investing in Educational Success - Systems change in the making.

Investing in Educational Success
Last week this Working Group report was released on the government initiative 'Investing in Educational Success'. All documentation including this report can be found on the Ministry of Education website.

Q & A was held with Graham Stoop on Thursday (advance notice would have been good) Check out the conversation here.

It is certainly encouraging that we are due for some change in our schooling system, the VLN Primary has been asking for system level change that will enable us to work in a sustainable & 'legitimate' way across NZ schools (see our Position paper). The VLN Community have been discussing the need for change going back many years. It is definitely time to move away from the isolating and competitive nature of Tomorrow's Schools and to work more collaboratively across schools. It won't be an easy journey, it will be complex & challenging and one that should be taken with a measured & critical approach.

There is a lot to digest in this report & it's background papers and it is worth looking at in more detail. Some of the points that were raised for me were:
  • Really worthy goals around schools collaborations, and working together to improve student achievement (this is what the VLNP is all about).
  • There seems to be a competing rationale or tension between the development of new professional pathways & rewards for school leaders, raising student achievement and changing the system to structure collaboration. What is the main intended purpose of this strategy? What will be the spin-offs?
  • Specialist positions (& accompanying release time & salaries) seems to be being held out as a carrot and one that the unions are picking up on, with the danger of stepping up the old boys network another level. It is already noted that the PPTA & NZEI have included their separate position statements within the report. 
  • Communities of Schools (CoS) - it is interesting to note this term being used; it is a main descriptor in the VLN Community charter. How will existing collaborations such as the VLN Primary & VLN Community be supported in the new educational landscape? Will they just be swept away with the changes?
  • N4L - has been highlighted as an initiative that would support this change. The N4L has been tasked to create a managed network for schools & also an internet portal Pond. The analogy for me is like asking your school server and website to join your BOT - how does that work? The N4L would need to be developed as a people network such as the VLN groups has become.
    Attribution: http://allthingslearning.wordpress.com/
  • Collaborative action doesn't happen through good intentions alone, it needs to be strategically approached, led and driven in an ongoing way. Working across schools, even the willing and engaged, is still akin to Herding Cats. There will be a lot of facilitation support (PLD) in the early stages of setting up CoSs.
  • 250 CoSs will be created - for some school clusters this will be a no-brainer; for others really challenging. How do you go from competing with the school down the road, to being expected to work really closely with them? One of the successes of the VLN Primary collaboration is that schools have more freedom working outside of their geographic locations, there is less concern about competition between schools. How will this work for schools of different sizes/ demographics/ community needs? How will this work for our rural & remote schools? How can schools participate in more than one community? Where will schools decide where they fit and for some schools will it be like 'choosing sides for basketball'?
I feel very positive about the prospect of meaningful changes to our schooling system that will enable greater collaboration, although I have some reservations about potential design & implementation of a huge undertaking such as this. It is a bold move based on a small local body of knowledge of schools collaborations. I am also wary of the different political levers that surround a restructuring of our system and am concerned schools can have a genuine voice in the process.

Next steps in the process - work streams on Communities of Schools; Professional Standards; Selection, Appointment & Appraisal. (All things that the VLN Community has discussed and developed over the years in our own CoSs).

Join the conversation and make sure your voice is heard #iesnz

Now we can really focus on the learning!

There is no excuse now for teachers who don't use technology to support student's learning. Pick up an Ipad (or similar) and there is an app that will do anything easily. Students can Connect, Communicate, Collaborate, Create with ease - point, click, move things around, upload, share.

When I worked with ICTPD (professional learning for teachers with ICT) there were many, many frustrating hours spent on developing teachers 'soft skills' of how to use technology, & troubleshooting a range of technical & connectivity issues before we could successfully bend the tools to our learning purposes. All that 'Structural Stress' is being removed with ubiquitous, accessible & easy technology. Now a teacher who says i don't have time to learn this is giving the time old kids excuse 'the dog ate my homework!'