Friday, March 30, 2007

TUANZ 2007

Keynote speaker Miguel Guhlin made the comment today that attending these types of conferences was often not so much about the workshops and geekware as the connections and conversations (see Pearl and I conversing on Miguels' blog) For me this characterised the day. OK, I admit, I learnt a couple of new geeky things (thanks Miguel and Nicki) but the conversations and sharing of ideas with a group of people who seem to me to be increasingly passionate has left an impression. A slide from Miguel's keynote challenges us to "harness the new collaboration or perish" experiences reinforce that these opportunities to collaborate are even more valuable now that I know they can also be continued virtually through these Web2.0 technologies.

I was challenged in my thinking more than once today...I don't have answers or alot of this clearly thought through in my mind yet...but I know that's OK! Brendon and Katya from Milford School were both there too and I am looking forward to hearing their response. So if you're reading this now and I connected with with you today...thank you.

Following TUANZ I raced back up to Epsom campus where the eLearning Team hosted an info evening for schools who are considering applying for 2008-10 ICTPD funding. Again more great conversations and some re-connecting.
Liz Waterfall from Glendowie College and Paul Manson from St Josephs, Takapuna shared with the group the impact of this programme on their teachers. I encouraged Liz to start blogging after listening to her story of the ClearLinks cluster, some wonderful analogies, valuable advice and encouragement. Finally Paul's passion and belief in learning seemed to sum up the collective spirit of everyone I connected with today when he described the differentiated approach to learning at St Joseph's...

"When we learn about autumn we don't just want to learn about it in science...we want to read autumn, listen to autumn, dance autumn and paint autumn!"

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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Cluster Share - Virtual Field Trips

The cluster gathered in force this afternoon (over 75 teachers) to support our first cluster share of the year hosted by Northcote Primary. The theme was exploring virtual field trips and how they can add value to the compelling and creative learning that is already happening in our schools. Special thanks to Helen Rennie-Younger and Nicky Ling for sharing their learning and experiences with us all. You can view Helen's presentation on our cluster wiki

Teachers at each class level also explored an archived virtual field trip and collaborated to record some of their thinking. I read through these and have collated into 3 pages at each level. Noticeable was the range of strategies and also recommendations from teachers who have already participated. Worth a read before you start a field trip.We finished with a conference call and questions to Audrie McKenzie, LEARNZ eduactor, who is currently on location facilitating a virtual field trip at spectacular Aoraki Mt Cook. eMail Audrie if you have any further questions or suggestions. Cluster schools have already registered for future field trips and we are keen to see the results of their 'virtual travels'.

See more about this event, including links to resources and photos on the Central North Shore wiki.

It's such an exciting time to be teaching... and learning. Northcote teachers report they, like their students, couldn't wait to get to school each day!

Coincidently YouTube announced their first video awards today. An animation from NZ simply called KIWI! won the award for most adorable by the YouTube community...worth a squizz if you have 3.09min.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Sharing our Learning

Inspired by some of the projects that Mike Anderson shared with us earlier this month, Stephen has set up a link from the Sunnybrae website to share student learning. This is a .mac account that is available for Mac users however there are lots of other alternatives available through your school Intranets and web based collaborative tools. If you have examples please let me know or post links on our wiki. If you are interested in exploring some of these tools let me know or browse some I have posted online.

Take a look at the work from Stephen's class.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Refining online searches

Working with some teachers last week exploring how we might utilise web tools to support many exciting possibilties...but still the issue of dealing with the amount of information and supporting students is laboured ..."They type in a google search and get so many responses... we need to ensure they have the necessary skills to decide what is relevant".
OK... I am not disputing that we need to consider this however I don't believe it is purely an Internet problem or a weakness with the the web. Yes I agree there is a lot of irrelevant stuff out there but we need to model as teachers and learners and support students in their decision making before they even think about typing There are lots of other options available for searching. My links for searching.

I am excited that 2 teachers from Northcote Intermediate are going to investigate this further as part of their action research...specifically exploring the use of a visual search engine.
Quintura and Quintura for kids... Enables searches that are visual and helps students find and filter out the information they need easily and interactively.

Quintura - Take the 'how to tour' from this is quick and explains how Quintura works in a few simple steps.

Quintura for Kids

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The New Face of Learning

Thought provoking article from Will Richardson who asks what happens to the traditional concepts of classrooms and teaching when we can "go online and learn anything, anywhere, anytime".
The web...once a 'read only' domain, perceived as a place to purely source information is now developing and evolving...a space where we can publish, collaborate, learn and share our voice, thinking, knowledge....where "creating content is almost as easy as consuming it."

A new learning landscape not universally embraced and while students increasingly use these technologies many schools are either blocking them or simply choose to ignore their existence or impact they are having on how students learn.

The New Face of Learning (Will Richardson, 2006)

Friday, March 9, 2007

New DVDs for schools

Look out for these DVDs in your school shortly. The 21st Century Learner supports the MoE's eLearning Action Plan that was published last year. The NetSafe Kit for Schools is designed to assist school communities to provide for safe use of the Internet.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Mike Anderson

It was great to have Mike, the Principal from North Loburn School
visit us yesterday and share some of his thinking, projects and passions for education. He spoke to a group of Principals and lead teachers from our cluster, posing some challenges and questions for us to ponder and discuss about learning and teaching in the 21st Century.
Some key ideas included thinking around ICT and learning as a process rather than a product..."today we are going to learn how to structure a narrative" verses "today we are going to do iMovie".

I also found Mike's analogies to "More Monsters, Fewer Millionaires" made a lot of sense. Do we want our students to know lots of stuff and be able to answer questions like those on game shows "Who wants to be a millionaire" or ... more like the contestants on "Monstor Garage" where a team of people are challenged to collaborate, plan, build and test a "monster machine" turning a stock vehicle into something else...Mike likens this process to a more authentic learning experience where we see evidence of many of the characteristics of the Key Competencies and also reflects the message from Learning@School keynote speaker David Warlick...

"Its not a future of security so we shouldn't be preparing them for one...instead we should prepare them for a future of opportunity...and that's done differently"

Have a look at North Loburn School's website to see some of the projects students are involved in ... is anyone interested in participating in the Rock Our World project?


A team of 12 from our cluster attended the conference this year in Rotorua. Jennie and Stephen from Sunnybrae and Annie from Northcote Intermediate also presented. Feedback was excellent... well can be pretty scary presenting! You will be able to find out more and read some of their reflections when Milestone 5 is ready next week. All participants will be feeding back to their schools as well, however if you are interested in some of the reflections from other schools please contact them, they have lots to share. I have set up a wiki for reflections and comment.

A highlight for me was listening to the video cast of Sir Ken Robinson, author of Out of Our Minds: Learning to be Creative. "In this talk, he makes an entertaining (and profoundly moving) case for creating an education system that nurtures creativity, rather than undermining it". This is well worth a listen and can be viewed directly from the web or downloaded. I have posted my favourite links from the conference on
plus links to support my presentation for Learning Objects

No laughing now but Deborah and I were immortalised by the infamous cartoonist, Malcolm Evans. I asked to be drawn with my Mac...but Toshiba were paying! If you send me yours Deb I'll post it pressure ;-)