Monday, 3 December 2007

Blogs in Plain English

Finally it is here... the long awaited Commoncraft video "Blogs in Plain English".

I have been hanging out, eager to find out how it would be presented and keen to also use it in any presentations or with professional development I do with teachers.

So what's the big deal about blogs???
Watch and enjoy....
(video embedded below)

Friday, 5 October 2007

ULearn Visual Dictionary of NZ Bloggers

OK, drum roll please.... this is my
Visual Dictionary of Fab NZ Edubloggers....

Hopefully you will already know them all and read them regularly like I do, if not, stick them in your aggregator NOW!

Almost of these fantastic educators I had the pleasure of meeting f2f @ ULearn.

(Oh and a warning..... yes I am in lots of photos with the blogger, so you'll be seeing A LOT of me - sorry) Plus, I'm going in alphabetical order by first name just to be different ;)

Click on their name or on the photo to go on a tiki-tour.

Allanah King, Nelson

Chrissy Hellyer, Napier

David Kinane, Auckland

Derek Wenmoth, Christchurch
Image Credit: Uploaded on October 3, 2007 by Edublogger

Fiona Grant, Central North Shore

Greg Carroll, Dunedin (we missed you @ ULearn!)

Jane Nicholls, Dunedin

Jamin Lietze (class blog), Tauranga (I will send you a chocolate fish when you finally start your edublog Jamin!)
Image Credit: Uploaded on October 5, 2007 by Edublogger

Jedd Bartlett, Christchurch

Lynne Crowe, Te Awamutu (we all missed meeting you f2f Lynne!)

Marnie Thomas, Auckland

Nigel Frater, Wellington
Image Credit:
Uploaded on October 5, 2007 by Edublogger

Nikki Gemmell, Auckland (great to see you back blogging, great to meet you properly)

Simon Evans, Hastings

Suzie Vesper, Wellington

NZ Edubloggers @ The Bloggers' Cafe
(thanks Jane for all your organisation)

Image credit: Uploaded on October 5, 2007 by *** ICT U Can!

Thursday, 4 October 2007

Day One of ULearn07

Day one of ULearn07 was such a buzz. A day full of new adventures, experiences and things to challenge and ponder in the mind.

Meeting several NZ bloggers has GOT to be one of the highlights.... you converse, share ideas, skype chat, email, read blogs etc etc with these people and it is such a great experience to finally meet them f2f.

Ewan had hinted in his keynote that f2f conferences aren't needed so much anymore (and I agree that this should not be our sole PD)but these experiences have been gold for me; nothing like finally meeting someone in the flesh, after ever only seen one headshot photo of them in your entire life (or for people like Teaching Sagittarian, having NEVER seen a photo of her at all!)

Derek gave the welcome message on behalf of Nick from CORE and Allanah and I even got an anonymous mention each with stories from our Twitter... now we KNOW you read your twitters Derek! (even if you are somethimes very quiet)

What a fun experience just a little later to have twittered away and then got into a several way skype chat in the middle of Steve Maharey's talk... a little naughty but skyping with Jane, Chrissy, Simon and Allanah (later also with Durff) ... we had LOTS of jokes and were able to 'further discuss' the 'pertinent points' Steve was making to the audience on a much 'deeper level'... ok, well that's not quite true, but that IS my story and I'm sticking to it!

Finally it was time for Ewan's keynote, and luckily Chrissy and Jane's batteries died and so we soaked up all Ewan had to offer. His keynote was great, inspiring but also challenging... and the wonderful Scottish accent only added to the charm.

My notes from Ewan's keynote can be read here; I shared them on twitter too and got a couple of replies from people like Lenva (who is over presenting @ Navcon) and Simon May (in China). Glad they found them useful.

During Ewan's keynote I skyped in Sue Waters (Sydney, Australia) who listened as best she could for about 15 minutes, before Ewan's accent was just too difficult to follow ;) and later Durff (America) joined us briefly via Skype

..... with the powers of wireless internet what a connected world we live in!

Image Credits:
NZ Minister of Education - Uploaded on October 2, 2007 by Edublogger

ulearn07 001 - Uploaded on October 2, 2007 by teachingsagittarian

Tuesday, 25 September 2007

Challenging and thought-provoking

Starting October 15th (just over a week after we return from ULearn) is the K12 Online Conference.

The “K12 Online Conference” is for teachers, administrators and educators around the world interested in the use of Web 2.0 tools in classrooms and professional practice!

At the moment presenters are giving us 'tasters' or short movies/presentations of what they'll be presenting on.

I particularly liked the clever and exciting use of animoto to promote Kevin Jarrett and Sylvia Martinez's presentation on “Second Life: K-20 Educators Exploring Virtual Worlds - Panel”.

One presentation teaser that caught my eye today was from fellow NZder Derek Wenmoth. His challenging and thought-provoking teaser is a preview to his keynote presentation on “The Promise of ICT: How Can It Be Realized”I highly recommend you check it out: you can either view the presentation above by clicking on the link or view the embedded video below. This has certainly made me very keen to check out his actual presentation and has also got me thinking. (good thing it's the holidays here in NZ!)

Monday, 3 September 2007

You have been told!

Last week my class just finished our giant (for 6 & 7 year olds) digital stories. It's taken a while but we are all very proud of the finished products and I thought share with you all and have a bit of a brag!

We took our persuasive arguments (written collaboratively last term) and used a combination of Kidpix, Movie Maker and voice recordings to complete our movies.

The result is just gorgeous! It was the first time my students have used Movie Maker independently but they found it relatively easy. Our major trick was having all files etc well named and all stored in one folder on our school server. It was a little hard for them to line the audio up with the correct slides, but with many brains together in the one group, they were able to be victorious with a huge feeling of achievement and accomplishment.

So have a view of one of the eight videos (embedded below)....
the students are quite persuasive & convincing-
so just remember - you have been told!

(Update: The TeacherTube embedded video wont load for everyone so I'm trying our Blogger embed above - fingers crossed)

Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Times they are a-changing.....

A positive sign that times are a-changing.....

One of the latest Education Gazette vacancies for the Nelson region:
(I get these via email; subscribed last year when I was seeking new refuge - still get them now even though very happy - NO am NOT seeking a new job! - I'm just nosey!)

Nelson Intermediate

Scale A Y7–8 permanent position. Commence term 1, 2008. Current
roll 378. We seek a motivated and enthusiastic teacher to join
our vibrant school.

Applications close 14 September. Applications can only be
downloaded from

Fabulous... a school using a wikispaces in addition and as an extension of a school website - and using it to host job application info for download....
who says we need tech geeks to do all that stuff for us!

Wikis are just so useful and empowering!

Well done Hugh and team @ Nelson Intermediate!

(Hugh is NIS' new Principal this year - I was fortunate to have worked with him for two years at Mapua School - I KNOW he has and will make fabulous changes)

Monday, 27 August 2007

Action Research, Reflection and our ICT Cluster

Currently the Time4Reflection Online Seminar is on in New Zealand.

This seminar supports New Zealand schools currently involved in an ICT Cluster with the data collection and review process.
The goal is to assist clusters to undertake review processes with their schools and with all stakeholders as part of the ICT PD contract. The seminar is also designed to help clusters develop evidence based practices which show shifts and progress, and can be used to inform:
  • current teacher practice
  • future implications for delivery
  • development of ongoing action plans
  • milestone reporting to MoE of the benefits of the programme

The seminar will mentor clusters in reflective practice through provision of:

  • workshops, podcasts, vodcasts, notes
  • thought leader discussions
  • effective practice examples
  • resources available for use by the clusters

Our ICT Cluster, Nelson City Schools, consists of nine city and rural schools; eight of which are primary and one which is an intermediate. We are in the first year of a three year professional development contract with the Ministry of Education.

Last week I interviewed our Cluster's Director (and also my school Principal), Paul Potaka, and made a podcast on the action research process, reflection and development our ICT cluster has/is undergoing.

Paul's contribution to the Time4Reflection Seminar is embedded below in podcast form... Sorry but I cannot locate the process diagrams that he references but it is still a very interesting interview in which you can see the journey our cluster has been on
.... oh, and you can also hear me struggling to produce my best "teacher voice" even though I have a cold!!!

Monday, 20 August 2007

Lost in translation...

Google Translate is a handy tool to use, (it can translate an entire web address if you enter the URL) although of course it's not perfect.

I just have to wonder how much gets lost in translation!

This post references my 'Why Let Students Blog' presentation (which is thankfully currently undergoing a 2.0 remix - the more I see it the more I dislike it!)
.... cue Google translate and you get this (French to English) which most of you will actually be able to read!

Here is the translated text:

The need to write is a curiosity of knowing what one will find. (Alain)

Just in time for the school re-entry, I discover this video of Rachel Boyd who enumerates the reasons for which the pupils would owe bloguer (T-Notes: Why let students blog?). I particularly retain the reference to convince my pupils of the utility of the school blogists, knowing that the image has a considerable teaching impact. In this time of total communications, the word of a professor, very factitious that it appears in the class, unfortunately lost of its gloss.

One will reproach the video for missing glare, just as the stepping of certain ideas. A criticism received well by its author who works with a version 2.0. While waiting, and always to exploit the force of the image, here a translation of the evoked reasons (click on the image for an enlarging):

The post and the comment supporting it (translated version below) makes me wonder has the message been lost in translation??

I do not know why I remain perplexed vis-a-vis the enumeration of all the these “advantages”.

If I arrived with that to convince Profs to leave the pupils bloguer (or webber!!! , because one can rempla├žer the blog by the clavardage, the email, the creation of Web pages, the exercise of the wiki, etc), it seems to me that they would accomodate the whole politely, but they would remain about it there. The Web has been there for more than 13 years, and the school does nothing but consume it.

The problem, these are not the advantages that one withdraws to be in a state of training (it does not matter what one learns), but the fact that the school is not perhaps any more the place where really significant trainings make…

Where are the pupils who, a few years ago, bloguaient like, for example, the small carnetiers of the Duty?

The school blogist? BOF… it is worthwhile right if one removes the “school” word i.e all that is attached to a ridiculous evaluation/tri measurement/.

At this beginning of re-entry, I do not have too the heart with the rejoicing.

By Gilles G. Jobin August 19, 2007 12:41 PM

I left MY comment (twice actually - DUH!) on the site seeking clarification and stating my actual intentions:

Hi there,

You have written an interesting post. However, it is a little hard for me to completely understand as I have had to use a translation tool to assist me.

You are right that I am working on a version 2.0... am I correct in thinking that you do not like the way the images have the colour reduced?

I have never been happy with my choice of text for the presentation as it is hard to read. My initial thoughts were to tone down the colour in the images so as not to detract from the message.

I would be interested in your opinion.

The argument is not for blogging to replace teachers, nor good teaching.... rather to allow students the opportunity to share their thoughts, opinions and more with an authentic, world-wide audience.

Kind regards,
Rachel Boyd, New Zealand

But one has to wonder.... will THIS message also be lost in translation from English to French??

Saturday, 18 August 2007

Slideshows will never be the same again...

I was delighted to come across this gem of a site this morning in my network and haven't stopped playing with it since! is a fabulous new site that allows you to make a slideshow like you've never seen before! (actually like a slideshow on steroids!)

Using Animoto you can make your own 30 sec 'photo video' (or movie trailer for your pictures) for free - just upload up to 15 of your own pics (or tell animoto where to find them on the Internet: ie Facebook etc.) and then either choose their music or upload your own! (There is also the option to pay to create longer videos with more images.)

The great thing is that animoto is automatic and it customises the video to your chosen music. You just choose and upload the photos and then choose some provided music or upload your own (ensuring it doesn't breach copyright!) Every video made on animoto is different and you can even choose to remix your video to create a slightly different show as well.

Check out these two animoto photo videos (original and remixed version) embedded below of Kia Ora Kiwi's adventures down south in Invercargill and Riverton, New Zealand. Kia Ora Kiwi is an established member of our class and is destined for international travel shortly.

If you're a keen spotter, you may even see NZ famous mayor Tim Shadbolt, a real (and not so real) tuatara and even the bike from 'The World's Fastest Indian' as seen at the Southland Museum.



Now that I have finished playing and have finally got to read my feeds, I've discovered Ewan and Paul H have also been enjoying having a play!

PS- Music is 'Flash60' from Freeplay Music

Thursday, 16 August 2007

AHHHH Teacher Tube!!

Hmmmm... I suspected something was wrong with Teacher Tube yesterday when my class and I attempted to watch 2 videos from Teacher Tube yesterday... and they weren't there or wouldn't play!!

Today I logged on and to my absolute horror was greeted with this cheery message:

It certainly makes you think about the longevity and importance we place on these sites to store our "digital stuff"!

For me personally, this month and a half of missing Teacher Tube videos, spells disaster not only for the videos/presentations I've uploaded, but also for the numerous videos I may have embedded from the site during the past month and a half.

Now I guess it's a matter of checking through and ensuring all videos play.... and then encouraging people (like David) to re-upload their videos so we can all enjoy them!

My Teacher Tube Lament:

Dear Teacher Tube,
I am distraught over the loss of all these videos and presentations uploaded over the past month and a half; and exhausted at the thought of having to check through all my recent video uploads and embeds

... BUT...
I DO still feel that you are an amazing free resource for the professional development for educators; and so I will forgive you (just this once!)
Kind regards,
Rachel :)

On a lighter note, check out this presentation (embedded below) by lmacdonald that actually does work ;) It looks to be a good conversation starter.

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

A NZ Bloggers' Cafe!

Jane Nicholls is amazing!

I am so excited that NZ is to have its very own Bloggers' Cafe at the Ulearn07 Conference in October. There were some whispers early in July from Jane that she was keen to assist in organising it, and after some fantastic feedback, she's gone and done it!

The below is from Jane's blog: ICT U CAN:

Hey all you NZ edubloggers out there, want to put a face to the blog? The NZ Bloggers Cafe is happening this year at ULearn 07. Come along and engage with other bloggers in some lively debate about life, the universe and everything. This would also be a great place for 'budding bloggers' to come and learn some tips and tricks from 'blooming bloggers'. The cafe will be open during morning tea and lunch breaks so come along and join in the discussions. The venue will be advertised in the conference handbook and I am told there will be some aromatic coffee available!

Well I WON'T be coming for the coffee (I can't stand the stuff!).... but I WILL be coming for the fantastic conversations and to meet in person so many NZ edubloggers I 'know' through their blogs and even some new faces!

Can you tell I've got my macbook back?

I've just gone back through my last 2 posts and plugged in what seems to be at least 20 hyperlinks as well as formatting etc!

I have been without my MacBook for the past week (it has been at 'the doctors' having very minor work) and although I was able to borrow a white macbook from work (my saving grace) it only had Safari as a browser.

After nearly a week I have now come to the conclusion that Safari is simply rubbish when it comes to blogging! - No handy toolbar to add formatting like colour, bold, italics etc and no hyperlink button! Plus it's a pain when editing in Wikispaces.
I have wished for Firefox SOOOOO many times over the past week except I don't have administrator privileges to install it on the school computer- I just had to "deal" with Safari. I will definitely be asking for Firefox to be installed on the mac pod/cow of laptops at school.

But now my MacBook is back and I am once again happy with everything in its rightful place and Firefox as my browser....
makes me realise all over again how much I love Firefox! :)

So as Lee LeFever would typically say in a Commoncraft presentation:
Firefox ..... yeah!!!

(NB: strangely these 'trademarks' of the Commoncraft Show were left out of the latest presentation: Social Bookmarking in Plain English.... want to complain about the lack of boos and yeahs or make a compliment?? - click here and comment like I did!)

Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Social Bookmarking in Plain English

Well the Commoncraft folks have done it again!!!

Hot off the Press and from the brilliant Lee LeFever that brought us RSS in Plain English, Wikis in Plain English and Social Networking in Plain English comes....

Social Bookmarking in Plain English!

This video focuses on using one of my favorite tools:!

Enjoy with the embedded video above or by clicking here.

Also see my links in the sidebar and feel free to add me to your network so we can begin to be 'social' together ;)

A Random Meme

Tagged Four times!!

So I’ve been tagged by Jane Nicholls, Graham Wegner, Rachel from Bard Wired and Gabriela for the 8 random facts meme. I guess I'd better answer!

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

Hmmm so here we go....
I've been thinking about this one and have decided to give you the extended/interesting version (!)
Read on if you dare...

~ Random Facts about Rachel Boyd ~

1) I am an only child but I was always well socialised, plus I spent my final 3 years of school as a boarder at Nelson College for Girls.

2) I was born in Australia (to Kiwi parents) and lived there (in Sydney) for the first 14 years of my life. Consequently I hold dual citizenship: Australian & NZ.

3) One of my most secret passions is drag racing - I have even been awarded with a "Fastest Female" trophy (!). My husband and I are huge 'car enthusiasts' and we have a "small" collection of classic and modern Mazda Rotaries (the oldest being made in 1969)

4) One of my finest moments as a child was dressing up as the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland and bellowing "OFF WITH THEIR HEADS!" to the teachers while pointing at them with my wand. Even though I had two working parents as a youngster Mum still went out of her way to make costumes with me. I was also famous for having fabulous themed birthday parties which Mum and I brainstormed and planned intricately when I was 10 - 14.

5) My husband, Lewis, and I have been together since I was 16!! (We only got married in January last year)

6) When I was 15 I painfully built my own website with Geocities using HTML coding (I had too much spare time in the school holidays) - I remember finding the site 6 years ago and showing it to my ICT lecturer at Teachers' College but can no longer find it since Yahoo has bought out Geocities out :(

7) Originally "Rachel Anne Shirley" my middle name was taken from the most famous Shirley worldwide - Anne of Green Gables. Also, I grew up as a baby wearing a lot of yellow as my gender (by choice) was a kept as a surprise for my parents.

8) Previous talents in my life to date have included playing the recorder, the clarinet (yes I played in a band!), performing in Stage Challenges and being a dance teacher of children and adults.

So now I tag:
  • Fiona Grant - Virtual North
  • Simon - Educating the Dragon
  • Melanie Holtsman: Once Upon a Teacher
  • Chrissy - Teaching Sagittarian
  • Lyn Ross - Catch the Wave
  • Paul Wilkinson - 24 Learning
  • Lynne Crowe - Rambling Reflections
  • Mark C - 21st Century Skills

  • Wednesday, 25 July 2007

    Blogging Styles

    This gem of a presentation on Slideshare contains a compilation of the 25 different styles of Blogging.

    Very useful to look through to get new ideas for your edublog or your classroom blog. Ignore the commercialised parts of the presentation (eg "buzz index" and "max times per week) and use the ideas to springboard off and think of how they could apply to you in your setting ;)

    Ones I am liking and thinking of trying in some capacity are:
    • LIST blogging - out of blogs I read the Cool Cat Teacher is the queen of this!
    • LIVE blogging - no I haven't done this yet.... yes Durff you can expect some of this direct from ULearn!
    • BRIDGE blogging - "writing for an audience outside your everyday reality" - I'm going to see if I can specifically apply this to my class and their blogs.
    Interesting also to look through your posts - you can see which ones of these 'styles' your posts align to. Check out the presentation below!

    Saturday, 21 July 2007

    Have you heard??

    This from Greg Carroll via the New Zealand Principal's Federation (NZPF)

    Have you heard??
    Next Season on Survivor
    (Rewritten by G. Lovegrove)

    Have you heard about the next planned "Survivor" show?

    Three businessmen and three businesswomen will be dropped in a primary school classroom for 6 weeks. Each business person will be provided with a copy of the school curriculum, and a class of 28 students.

    Each class will have five learning-disabled children, three with A.D.D., one gifted child, and two who speak limited English. Three will be labelled with severe behaviour problems.

    Each business person must complete lesson plans at least 3 days in advance, with annotations for curriculum objectives and modify, organise, or create materials accordingly. They will be required to teach students, handle misconduct, implement technology, document attendance, write referrals, correct homework, make bulletin boards, conduct assessments, complete report forms, document benchmarks, communicate with parents, and arrange parent interviews. They must also supervise morning tea and lunchtime breaks and monitor the entrance foyer.

    In addition, they will complete drills for fire, earthquakes, tornados, and shooting attacks. They must attend workshops, (100 hours), staff meetings, union meetings, and attend curriculum development meetings.

    They must also tutor those students who are behind and strive to get their 2 non-English speaking children proficient in English. If they are sick or having a bad day they must not let it show.

    Each day they must incorporate reading, writing, maths, science, technology and social studies into the programme. They must maintain discipline and provide an educationally stimulating environment at all times.

    The business people will only have access to the golf course on the weekends, but on their new salary they will not be able to afford it anyway. There will be no access to vendors who want to take them out to lunch, and lunch (raw vegetables and water) will be limited to 20 minutes. On days when they do not have playground duty, the business people will be permitted to use the staff toilets as long as another survival candidate is supervising their class.

    They will be provided with two days per term of Classroom Release Time, during which time they must maintain all individual assessment checks, running records, numeracy tests and keep all health and attendance records up to date.

    If the copier is operable, they may make copies of necessary materials at this time. The business people must continually advance their education on their own time and pay for this advanced training themselves. This can be accomplished by moonlighting at a second job or marrying someone with money.

    The winner will be allowed to return to his or her job.

    Pass this to any friends who think teaching is easy.

    Know anyone else who has this amazing job description?!

    Thanks Greg, what a great find... thanks for sharing - its made my day!

    Thursday, 19 July 2007

    Happy Blogiversary to you!

    "It's been 10 years since the blog was born. Love them or hate them, they've roiled presidential campaigns and given everyman a global soapbox."

    The above, from the Wall Street Journal... Isn't it amazing to think that blogs have been around for 10 years now!!

    This is my second year using blogs in my classroom and it's actually hard to look back at a time when I didn't use them. Especially this year, blogging has changed the whole tapestry and fabric that my classroom is made up of (and for the better!)

    I now teach a class of students that are highly motivated and enthusiastic when it comes to I.T., they understand more about the world around them and they feel like their ideas, thought, opinions and learning are truly valued by others (I could go on and on here...).

    And as for the effect edu-blogging has had for me on a professional level.... the connections with wonderful and talented educators I have made across the globe speak for themselves! I have grown through sharing my learning and ideas, become more confident in my "online life" and clarified, enhanced and cemented my ideas and thoughts. However, most importantly I have come to the understanding that even 'little-old-me' has something to give and share with the world that is of use to others:)

    So "Happy Blogiversary" to you all!
    [You can read the rest of the Wall St. article here where they interview people from all walks of life about their favourite blogs and the role of blogs in their lives]

    Image Source
    Image Source

    Saturday, 14 July 2007

    And I am gobsmacked...

    (Please excuse the late posting of this... it was hiding as a 'draft' when I'm sure I published it!!)
    Last night, at a very small cocktail bar in town, started out so well... and ended up with me ranting and raving to Lewis (my husband) all the way home!

    I met up with a friend I've known since high school and she brought along her brother (to be named "X") who's currently studying a Bachelor of Computer Science at a NZ University. Eventually the conversation turned to him and his studies and I expressed and interest in what his qualification was teaching him (javascript, CSS etc).

    But the conversation turned when I mentioned blogging, podcasting, use of wikis and skype etc in education.

    And the response.... you would have honestly thought I'd just invented the concept of educational blogging, podcasting etc!!

    His first reaction was "What! for recreation and leisure??" to which I answered "No.... for education and learning".

    Hmmm... this did not go down well!

    To X's credit I WAS given a few minutes to justify my use of these "silly" tools... and he listened politely.... but nothing I could say could convince! I listed benefits, gave examples and really got on my high horse.... to no avail.

    I was just banging my head against a closed door.

    This really got me thinking on the way home (out loud unfortunately for my hubby) .... do lots of the computer 'geeks' of the world think blogging etc is just the people's way of ranting and raving about useless, unintelligent subjects.... or are they just unhappy that the web has opened up to the ordinary Joe or Josephine of the world???

    image source

    On a journey to ULearn

    The countdown to ULearn 07 is on: from 3rd to 5th October in Auckland.

    I am excited to have been selected to facilitate two workshops: "So you've got a blog - now what??" and "They're FREE and on the Internet: Harnessing the power of educational games using social bookmarking".

    I'm also delighted to see other great educators I know who are also presenting workshops - Allanah, Jane, Simon, Suzi and many others! It will be great to meet F2F many of these educators that I know well through reading their edublogs.

    Highlights I am looking forwards to at ULearn07 would have to be the keynote by Ewan McIntosh from Scotland (who's blog I have been reading for a little while now) and the Bloggers Cafe that Jane suggested!!

    See you there :)

    Thursday, 12 July 2007

    WOW2 close to home

    School holidays are great!

    I raced home yesterday to listen to my first WOW2 show (I managed to catch the last 1/2 hour) - and a show very close to home indeed - "Over the top Educators from Down Under"

    Featured speakers were:
    Graham Wegner - Teaching Generation Z - Judy O’Connell-Hey Jude, Jo McLeay - The Open Classroom - and Jason Hando - Clever Learning.

    Women of Web 2.0 (WOW2) is run by Cheryl Oakes, Jennifer Wagner, Sharon Peters, & Vicki Davis. Show topics vary and there is always great speakers featured as well as WOW sites to check out.

    It was great to hear the aussie accents and the chat function that we had going on was great to be apart of. I "met" many educators whose blogs or wikis I have been frequenting for some time now.

    Many thanks to Chrissy - Teaching Sagittarian for posting the NZ time (1pm Wed) of the show as I needed that prompt to ensure I was around. I am now going to use Time Zone Converter on the World Clock site whenever I need to convert an overseas location time into NZ time.

    I am also going to try and listen to the first half of the show each Wednesday during lunchtimes when school is on... what a great idea Chrissy!

    To catch up with the show check out the recording here and go here to find out about future shows.

    PS - is this the part where I admit to being born in Australia and actually living there for 14 years??!!

    image source

    Monday, 9 July 2007

    A 7 year old and SKYPE!

    Today I sneaked back into my classroom to grab my school computer (PC). While there I took a quick glance through a few of my students' books... namely their reflective journals (these records of their learning are often shared and are not private).

    This short piece of reflective writing stood out to me:

    "Today I learned that a class can talk to another class in New Zealand or in a different country using a computer."

    See... a 7 year old can understand the power of Skype to enable communication with others within New Zealand, or indeed worldwide!

    We have been using Skype to communicate with our Auckland buddies who are our EXPERTS on reducing, reusing and recycling which is the topic we are learning about.

    We have had many 'dry run' Skype calls with our buddies during lunchtimes over the past 2 weeks (in preparation and sorting tech probs) and many students have enjoyed dropping in to have a quick chat and to check out the action.

    Our first "official" Skype call took place last week (our last week of Term 2) and proved a bit of a technical nightmare. Skype was thoroughly overloaded and neither party could place a call all morning long. Marnie and I even had to resort to cell phone calls to each other to see what the problems were!

    The afternoon proved better (probably the rest of the world was asleep) but the connection was still not great and our buddies couldn't hear everything- so we just had to do an "introductions" session. Bless these students who are so adaptable... they threw away their pre-planned questions and found something to talk about!

    We are looking forwards next term to asking our experts all of our questions we have about reducing, reusing and recycling... their school is Gold Enviro Award winners and definitely EXPERTS on this. We have lots to learn!

    It seems in NZ the afternoon is the best time to use Skype due to less people being online. Has anyone else found this?

    Enjoy this video if you're interested - highlights of the "introductions" between our classes of 6 & 7 year olds!

    Thanks Marnie for all your patience... I look forwards to linking up again and hope Skype will cooperate this time :)

    Wednesday, 4 July 2007

    NZ Teacher Trainees need YOUR HELP!

    Through my presentations on Time4Online and on TeacherTube I have reconnected with my lecturer/teacher of I.C.T. from Christchurch College of Education that I had when I trained to be a teacher!

    She taught me a lot about the basics of HTML, webpage creation and webquests; knowledge and skill of which was instrumental when I first started edublogging and blogging with my class @ Mapua School last year... Before the "new blogger" I was SO grateful to have that knowledge of HTML so I could "pimp", format and make my blogs exactly how I wanted them to be.

    It was nice to know that Di has put my presentations on the College Intranet for teacher trainees to see an example of what a current classroom teacher is doing. However, she had an important question to ask of me:
    "Did you find that the IT stuff did help with integrating ICT when you became a classroom teacher? What other things do you suggest we do with our students?"
    My teacher training in ICT was really good, I believe (for the time), I had a good general computer knowledge and a great bag of skills on various programmes. I had millions of ideas on how I was going to integrate I.C.T. into my classroom programmes... and that I did.

    When I look back at my last 5 years of teaching; the things I am doing with my class today is (thankfully!) VERY different to what I was doing four or five years ago... you could say I have learned a few tricks on the way!

    With the way that technology is rapidly changing "What other things do you suggest we do with our students?" is a difficult question to answer. We can't just teach our teacher trainees how to use 'programmes' any longer, nor can we soley teach them specific web2.0 applications/tools because by the time they graduate and actually get to use those tools in the classroom things will have moved on yet again!

    Please post any ideas/suggestions you have in the comments below.
    I have emailed Di and said I would leverage the power of "the experts" (you guys!) and know that she would be very grateful for your ideas... these can be used to further develop teacher training in NZ.

    Tuesday, 3 July 2007

    How addicted to blogging are you?

    So how addicted are you?
    What if you had to put it into a percentage?
    What would be your blogging addiction %?

    Just for fun, try this site, I was very pleased at the outcome for me (glad it wasn't 100%!) and was able to happily wave the results under a very surprised husband's nose!

    80%How Addicted to Blogging Are You?

    One Simple way to motivate...

    Isn't it funny how you don't realise that something you've naturally implemented in your classroom for sometime could be of use to others?

    Just last week a teacher @ work came into my classroom and noticed our "How many hits on our class blog?" poster that we have been using for at least the past two months. She instantly wanted to do this in her class too .... something I'd not yet considered as the idea didn't seem too innovative or new to me.

    So I thought I'd make a mention of it here for any of you that also might find it useful!
    It's not technologically flash, but it IS particularly useful if your students don't have a lot of access to computers on a daily basis
    (like in my classroom - we only have one class computer to use daily).

    How to motivate your class' blogging: one simple way

    In my classroom each week students take on jobs around the classroom, we call them "responsibilities"... and one of these is the "Hit Counter Monitors".

    These two children are in charge of monitoring the hit counter twice a day (once in morning at start of school, once in afternoon just before end of school) for the entire week.

    So for their job they have to log onto the blog and check our hit counter in the sidebar. Then they use the numerals to make the number on our chart so the whole class can see. (see this example from just before we got 2,000 hits a month or so ago)

    Every 2,000 hits we have a big class party so the class is very eager to see the numbers of hits climb.

    Each morning we examine our new number and work out how many more hits we need until we reach our target by adding in parts up to the nearest 10, then 100 etc (see me sneaking in a bit of maths there!). At the moment we are trying to make it until 4,000 to reach our next class party.

    For my class, this is a brilliant motivator for our blogging, (along with all the marvelous comments we get) on a daily basis where not all students have access to the computer at school on that particular day - it helps them to still stay in touch with the happenings.

    ... it shows these 6 & 7 year olds that people ARE actually visiting and reading their work... that they ARE reaching a real life audience and that their learning, thoughts and experiences really IS valued!

    If you think this might be beneficial in your class, you can download a PDF copy of the poster I use and the numbers to stick on from below.
    Download "How Many Hits on our Class Blog?" poster
    Download "Numbers for How Many Hits" poster

    Monday, 2 July 2007

    You Tube and PD

    Holiday time... and I have not much planned.... a truly marvelous feeling.

    So far I have enjoyed a few geeky pleasures like joining Facebook (after receiving my 4th invite from friends) and finally becoming a Second Life member (KatarinaMay Capalini) although I haven't yet logged on properly to SL. Allanah warns me that I may spend a wee while in SL bumping into walls and doorways so I am saving that pleasure for later on this week!

    Something I am currently working on at the moment is our ICT Cluster website (on Centre4) where I am an administrator. I found a neat flash widget that lets you display your You Tube playlist that I have added to the front of our cluster page.

    So, for the past week I have been searching for those MUST SEE You Tube videos that would be good for either motivational/inspirational/instructional PD purposes for teachers in my cluster.

    These are the ones I've got so far:

    The my newest vid being this one I found today on Suzie's Cluster Blog... a very entertaining look at blogs vs wikis!

    I'd love to hear if you have any other ideas for You Tube videos that I should add to the growing collection!

    Friday, 29 June 2007

    Social Networking in Plain English

    From the fabulous folks at Commoncraft comes the latest in the "Plain english" series of videos... this one is on Social Networking.

    To catch up with the other great Commoncraft videos on Wikis and RSS in "Plain English" click here.

    Monday, 18 June 2007

    Cool Cat Award!

    I was inspired today by Teaching Sagittarian's kind words today on Vicki Davis' blog...

    I'm sure you'll all agree with me when I state how truly helpful and inspirational Vicki's Cool Cat Teacher blog is... I have been an avid reader for over a year now myself... if you're not a reader you should definitely go and check it out (especially check her archives and most valuable posts).

    This post by Vicki and the associated comment by Chrissy led me to put into motion Chrissy's wishes to award the Cool Cat Teacher the:
    "Most Inspirational Educator of Educators Around the World Award"

    So we hope you enjoy it Vicki!
    You have even reached, encouraged and inspired us here down here in New Zealand :)

    PS - if you haven't checked out the Custom Sign Generator page yet - it's quite a hoot - you can make stuff like I have made above ... and TONS more! Great for when you just want a visual for a blog post or you just want to make someone laugh... check it out!

    Wednesday, 13 June 2007

    How vibrant is your workplace?

    Miguel (Around the Corner) and Scott (Dangerously Irrelevant) have both been talking a lot lately about CHANGE.

    A book that Scott has recommended and Miguel has just purchased looks like an interesting one for analysing and reflecting upon YOUR situation in your workplace.

    Apparently, the strength of a workplace can be narrowed down to twelve questions that measure the core elements needed to attract, focus, and keep the most talented employees.

    When you look through these questions, ask yourself, how would I respond to these?
    Scott also asks the question:
    How strong and vibrant is the workplace that we create for most educators?

    (click to view it larger)

    Now for a revealing moment for me... I can honestly say that my current workplace meets 11 out of 12 of those aspects ... and I feel very privileged for that! It is also very confirming for me considering the permanent change in schools/workplaces that I made at the beginning of 2007... especially when I would say my previous job honestly only fulfilled 7 of those aspects.

    On a further note, a comment in Scott's blog the first time he mentioned this book in 2006 noted:
    "As I read this list I wasn't thinking of myself. I was thinking of our students..."
    So we could also apply this criteria to our students:
    Do we give our students the opportunities to do what they do best everyday??