Friday, November 28, 2008


I am loving this series of digital resources available through digiStore on TKI. Schools will need to register to access here.

iThink is a series of animated short features that include the unscripted voices of some engaging groups of children discussing their ideas on a range of topics from rubbish to relationships. The style is similar to that of the documation creations by The Simmonds Brothers and the UKTV series Creature Comforts.
I can see these being used with students in a variety of ways:
  • To model and promote dialogue between groups of students
  • Explore concepts in a real life context students will find engaging and can relate too
  • Demonstrate the use of animation to communicate thinking and new understandings
  • Students may develop their own iThink style animations to reflect on their learning.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Central North Shore Cluster Celebrates

Auckland turned on a spectacular day for our cluster celebration last Friday. Many thanks to Milford School for hosting us...the view of Lake Pupuke from the hall says it all.

It was wonderful to celebrate our eLearning journey together and look back over the past 3 years. Each of the schools presented a celebration of their learning and the impact of viewing these reinforced not only how far everyone had come but also how much we had grown in confidence...and what a lot of fun we are having learning together!

I have embedded all the presentations in the wiki here...(where!) I have cut some of the original sound tracks and replaced with FreePlay music because of copyright but feel confident that the images and video continue to convey these messages about our journey...

Change ...Everybody Learning Together...Shift Does Happen...
Student Voice...Thinking Differently

Finally what's a celebration without some dancing!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Congratulations Stephen and Helen!

We have acknowledged both our cluster and ICT PD network links as primary sources for staying current with both educational research and elearning trends as the cluster plans for 2009 and beyond. This also includes identifying opportunities for teachers to both continue their learning and to support sustainability of the learning community the cluster has developed over the past 3 years of the contract.

We are therefore very pleased to congratulate two of our teachers, Stephen Gordon and Helen Rennie-Younger who have successfully applied for teaching scholarships for 2009.

Stephen has been awarded 1 of 40 paid Primary Teacher's Sabbatical leave positions for 2009. The purpoase of his work will be to continue to build teacher capacity and understanding of eLearning and effective pedagogy and further inquiry into the development of the school's LMS to support professional development, eLearning and the NZC2007.

Helen will be one of the 10 e-fellows for 2009. Helen's research will be to inquire into strategies that may increase the level of motivation and engagement of a diverse group of young learners who are experiencing difficulties in producing written text.

We are very happy for both Helen and Stephen and recognise the value their work will bring to the continued learning opportunities for the cluster as we approach the end of the contract.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

"It's on the wiki" is in the Gazette!

Our Central North Shore Cluster wiki features in the latest volume of the Education Gazette this month. Nice work everyone ;-)
Catch a preview online here...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Cluster Reflections from uLearn08

We have set up a page on the wiki where cluster teachers who attended uLearn08 will post their reflections over the next 2 weeks. View it here.

It is also useful to see how teachers are applying some of their new learning with students. Helen attended an inspiring breakout from Sara Taylor which she recommends for all junior classroom teachers and has also tried out with her class. View Helen's reflection here.

What teachers are saying:

"Spending time with colleagues from my own school, the cluster and a range of learning environments in New Zealand is a wonderful opportunity to hear and see the great things that people are trialing and using in their schools" (Karen)

“A highlight for me would be the planning, preparation and presentation of our breakout with a member of my syndicate team. The planning and preparation process gave me an opportunity to reflect and highlighted how far we have come with our ICT PD...It was not just the tools that we were using that has changed but also how our pedagogy has shifted when planning... It was also personally very special to present at Christ's College (a lovely venue) in the same room where I attended an inspiring session in 2006. I would have never have guessed at that time that I would be presenting at the next Christchurch ULearn conference" (Stephen)

“The whole conference really got me thinking about how can I use my skills and knowledge and enthusiasm and passion to really enable my students to change the world!” ( Jo )

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Sunday, October 12, 2008

ulearn08 Reflections & Connections

Even before the conference started the impression was there were alot of first time presenters at a national conference contributing this year (including our own Felicity from Northcote Primary and Karen from Sunnybrae Normal, ably supported by Stephen and Helen - see their presentations here).

Through the conference back channels, twitter and during the actual conference it was wonderful to see and hear so many teachers sharing and supporting each other, receiving feedback on their conference preparation and tips and encouragement from those who had presented before. Having access to these online is invaluable and there is some impressive work and resources being shared, well done to you all. (see my delicious)

The technology is being utilised in ways that I find attending a face-2-face conference is quite a different learning experience for me than it was 4-5 years ago. For example can you follow this...

  • I am also keeping up with the next table's discussion in the Unconference on twitter ettiquette through the conference website backchannel
  • @heymilly is in another breakout and leaves a comment in twitter ( see below)

  • @mumbleboy and Luke in Auckland see the link in my twitter response to @heymilly and join the conference backchannel along with others from around the conference.

Will Richardson commented in the opening keynote that before we can teach differently we have to be able to learn differently. As I left the Unconference that day I wondered how learning would be for me if I were a student at school today?

Thanks to Christina for highlighting at the Unconference - Te Awamutu - you have a message.

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Saturday, September 20, 2008

Haere rā Lynne

We said goodbye to Lynne yesterday at Team Solutions. Lynne has been co-facilitating the cluster with me this year and has become a valued friend and colleague. She is off to Qatar on Tuesday to work as an elearning facilitator and we will miss her but I know she will be blogging about her adventures.

When friends leave you give them a gift and that was just what I was doing when Lynne turned the tables and presented me with something to remember her by. I think this will bring a smile to the faces of most of you who know me...Arohanui Lynne ;-)

Monday, August 18, 2008

Will and Sheryl at uLearn 08

The uLearn 08 conference is fast approaching and there will be an enthusiastic contingent from our cluster plus some of my curriculum colleagues from Team Solutions attending. Two of the conference keynote speakers are Will Richardson and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach.
Both Will and Sheryl's blogs are well worth adding to your aggregator. They share many interesting insights into their experiences and reflections of both their learning and the teachers and students they connect with.

It is so easy now to make a connection with speakers prior to these events through their blogs and podcasts and is often a useful 'heads-up' before hearing them at the conference. You might even leave a comment or ask a question on their blog for consideration and discussion at the conference.

If you are not using an aggregator to manage your online learning I recommend you invest the time. Read more about how to set one up here.

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Te Manu Aute: Web 2.0 Tools for teaching and learning (GATE - Arts)

This just in from Mark Dashper at Te Manu Aute...

You are invited to watch this Mediasite presentation over lunch on Monday: Web 2.0 Tools for your teaching and learning programme

"Te Manu Aute helps introduce some Web 2.0 - 21st Century teaching pedagogy as part of its GATE in the Arts programme. This first webcast looks at an overview, then each week we will have fun looking at one or two of the Web 2.0 tools and whether it could be applicable for your needs."

Date: Monday, 18 August 2008 (live webcast to internet and then available on-demand)
Time: 12:45 p.m - 1.15 pm
Duration: 30 minutes approx

Link: Click here
Requirements: Broadband connection, speakers or headphones
Help: Your computer may require a once only download of the new Microsoft free-ware 'Silverlight' (alerting you ahead of time in case you need systems admin rights). You will be prompted, so might be worth clicking the link above prior to viewing, just to check.
Login: The webcast should allow you unrestricted access if viewing live, or you can use your name logins you have been sent previously. Try it out to see anytime from now until the live start. Email if you need a login before 11.30am Monday.
Questions: Simply click the 'Ask' tag on the video screen to have questions answered in the presentation (live viewing only). Alternatively you may 'Ask' when viewed later (on-demand) for an email reply.

In alliance with the UoA and Team Solutions, Te Manu Aute present Talent Development Initiatives for Northland school students, gifted and talented in the Arts. Find out more online here (Te Manu Aute)

Friday, August 15, 2008

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

"There are no natives here"... says Michael Wesch as he reflects on his use of technology to support learning. His experiences also highlight a key message in the New Zealand explore new and different ways of teaching and learning. The reference to Prensky's (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants also challenge some of the assumptions that we might have around our use of technology and student learning.
As a cluster we are constantly exploring the changing role of the teacher and also our understanding of elearning as a pedagogical practice. Concurrently, while we recognise some students may have grown up with the technology and are confident adopters, this may not always automatically transfer to purposeful use that can impact positively on their learning? To engage with the technology simply to entertain without appreciating how it can be harnessed to make a difference to learning and consequently actions that are 'significant' involve development of new understandings about the technology for both teachers and students..."there are no natives here".
Michael Wesch explores these ideas and provides some useful frameworks, understandings and examples of a 21st Century teacher...well worth investing the time to listen and consider.

Thanks to Jo McLeay for highlighting.
More videos by Wesch and his students...Vision of Students Today, The Maching is Us/ing Us etc...

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Fire Engines and Praying Mantis

I dropped in on Room 3 at Northcote Primary last week. They have been learning about their community and the different jobs everyone has "because no one person can be an expert at everything." (wise words from Room 3). You can read all about this class of New Entrants and their learning adventures on their blog.
I particularly enjoyed their drawings of the Fire Engines and they have kindly shared some with me.

The slideshare, with drawings that have been completed this term, reflects the changing confidence and attention to detail that the students have developed over time. Some of the students have been at school less than a term so their teacher, Mrs Rennie-Younger, is very proud of them. Thanks for sharing your pictures with us Room 3.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

"It's on the wiki!"

I seem to be 'saying' and 'seeing' this more and more lately (Rachel says it warrents a tshirt But fair dues to the has been an amazing environment to support learning, for me over the past 2 years as a facilitator, and I know if I was in a classroom full time it would be number 1 on my hit parade. The ability to organise and share is not only a great way to connect and support learning programmes but gives both freedom, speed and creativity to my work flow.

Some featured wikis in our cluster include -Miss Gamby's wiki and Room12
Felicity (yr 1-2)and Jo (yr 5-6) at Northcote Primary are using their class wikis to enable students to access online resources to support current classroom learning and share this with home. Sometimes it can be challenging for the younger students to navigate and these wikis are a useful way for teachers to organise resources and improve access for students.

Charlotte and Nicola from Sunnybrae have used in a similar way to group learning objects for their senior students to access which has worked successfully. Rachel from Nelson Central has also simplified this for her 6 year olds by linking from individual graphics on their wiki to tags. Let me know if you have any other wiki solutions.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Cluster Share May 2008

Again teachers shared and reflected on a variety of elearning strategies they have been exploring over the last term. Thank you to everyone for your contributions and support.

All teacher presentations and links can be accessed from the cluster wiki.

As I moved between the sessions I noted how often teachers reported on the engagement of students in their learning as a result of their participation and opportunities to collaborate with others, including a wider audience beyond their school.

One example of this is Living Heritage (available free to all NZ schools), an opportunity for students to "become investigators and storytellers, collaborating with each other to research, write, and publish for an online audience". Students from Northcote Intermediate have developed and published an online resource from their explorations of Tawharanui National Park, its endangered species and the impact of humans . Alison shared the process her class went through to publish their inquiry and some wonderful examples of how elearning can be integrated for a specific, authentic purpose.

Also see Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand for similar opportunities for student's to share their stories ( bottom left of the Te Ara home page)

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Slideshare Tip

Many of you have started using slideshare to embed presentations in your class wiki and blog and have been disappointed by the recent addition of a link to other random presentations and advertising. Many thanks to Dorothy Burt for sharing her solution to this problem on twitter.
Give it a go and if you have any questions let either Lynne or myself know.

SlideShare - removing link to random slideshares when you have embedded in your wiki or blog.

Rest of the code remains exactly the same.
An example from Dorothy here

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Dear Room 3...

Thank you for emailing me your pictures and writing. Your butterflies and moths are wonderful with lots of detail, I could even see the little hairs on the moths antennae! I loved them so much I have printed them out and stuck them up around my desk at work...makes it look very cheerful on a dull rainy day. I have posted a picture below.
I know from reading your stories too, that you have been busy exploring and finding answers to all your questions. I am looking forward to reading more on your blog.

Have a wonderful Term 2

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Transforming Learning with Tony Ryan

Our day with Tony was about transformation through action. To first recognise and acknowledge that as teachers we matter and already do so much, so well. We are also learners and were challenged by Tony to explore strategies that not only strengthen our professional practice but also our heart and spirit...what actions inspire us every day? On reflection a couple of key messages included focussing our energies on "The Strength to Teach".

Tony Ryan (2008)

Also the importance of promoting thinking...the "capacity to think and create, and to enact solutions, will become the core survival skill in the next decade". An attitude shift here too in terms of how we respond to a problem. "Everyone is on a line from problem to solution" Tony reminds us. What makes the difference are our actions.
Links and resources which have been generously shared by Tony can be accessed from the wiki
Please share your reflections/highlights/thoughts by commenting below.

Also it was wonderful to have the opportunity to farewell Margaret, Principal at Takapuna Primary and acknowledge her contribution to the cluster over the past 2 years. We wish Margaret all the best and thank her for all her support.

Waiho i te toipoto, kaua i te toiroa

Monday, April 7, 2008

Cluster Share April 2008

Thanks to everyone in our cluster for participating in the first cluster share for 2008, specially to those of you who facilitated the breakouts. While this was a first time experience for some teachers both your presentations and your willingness to reflect on your learning and share new understandings with the cluster were much appreciated. Lynne has posted resources and links on the wiki however if you have further questions please feel free to email the relevant teachers.
Instructions for joining the wiki are online too... plus there are lots of wiki experts out in your schools that can help. Remember there are two stages to joining.
First - join wiki spaces and create your user name and password.
Second - login using your username and password then request to become a member of our Central North Shore wiki. This will allow you to edit pages. Please email me if you have any questions or catch up with Lynne when she is in your school next.
Thanks to Sunnybrae Normal for hosting us. Our next cluster share will be on Tuesday May 27th, hosted by Northcote Primary School. If you missed a breakout and would like an opportunity to see it repeated please visit the quick online survey here.

Please let us know if you are interested in contributing either individually or as part of a teaching team.

Monday, March 31, 2008

NZ Interface

It was very exciting to see Sunnybrae Normal School's hand message project referenced in the latest edition of NZ- Interface. Well done Stephen and Room 12!
You can access the article written by Sarah Jones from the MoE's eLearning team online.

NZ-Interface is a quarterly magazine that includes reviews, comment and links to online resources specifically relevant to NZ schools but also includes international trends and issues that are topical.

Teachers in NZ schools can register for a free copy of NZ-Interface online here.

Also if you look on page 11 you can see Lynne Thomas (and her new Mac) caught on location at the Bloggers Cafe at Learning@School.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Software for Learning

Stephen (Sunnybrae Normal) and I sat down with other teachers and advisers last week to explore Software for Learning on TKI. While there are a wealth of great sources for software support and information on the web, Software for Learning enables teachers who are purchasing software to source comparative pricing and support within New Zealand.If you are considering buying software or working on your school’s software budget it is recommended that you check the pricing as listed on the Software for Learning site before you buy. I want to stress this as I am still receiving reports of schools who are purchasing from retail and paying more than they might if they accessed pricing through the Software for Learning site. Also check out the Snapshots of learning where screen shots from software (both freeware and non-freeware) are used to illustrate how the software has been used in learning sessions in New Zealand schools.

If you have any feedback, contributions or suggestions for improving the site please contact Sarah Jones from the elearning unit at the Ministry of Education.

Also recommended:
Directory of Learning Tools compiled by Jane Hart

Educational Software compiled by Suzie Vesper

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Learning@School 2008

Participating in the Learning@SchoolConference, as always, is an inspiring start to the year for the ICT PD Cluster network. Our cluster had a busy start on Wednesday presenting in the first 3 breakouts. Jennie, Margaret and I shared our programme of professional learning and some of the strategies and recommendations for promoting teacher learning. Helen Rennie-Younger from Northcote Primary presented to a captivated audience of Year 0/1 teachers and Leanne and Stephen from Sunnybrae Normal explored how they have developed a vision for the use of ICTs to connect with their wider school community. Annie from Northcote Intyermediate also presented on Thursday, strategies for personalising learning through the development of their school LMS over the last 2 years. A great effort,well done everyone

As we enter our third year of the programme the increased focus on opportunities to process new understandings and challenge our existing perspectives and beliefs are essential. As a learning community these have included teachers presenting in their schools, at our cluster shares and at a national level. The planning and preparation involved also provide valuable opportunities for reflection and exploration of the impact of our teaching on student learning. I would encourage teachers to consider presenting. While it may be a little daunting at first, with the support of your Principals, lead teachers and facilitators it is a worthwhile strategy for promoting teacher learning and a great way to connect with other teachers attending the conference. We have set up a page on our cluster wiki with links, resources and copies of the individual presentations available for download.
I also attended a presentation of ‘Marvin’ the 3D animation programme that is now available for schools. I have posted on ICTinEnglish as I have been reflecting on its potential to support literacy learning across the curriculum.

Suzie asked me what was my conference highlight…it still has to be catching up with everyone again…and of course the spectacular efforts of all the presenters…you are stars!

More photos on Flickr
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Sunday, February 3, 2008

Cluster Update 2008

Happy New Year everyone!

I am looking forward to catching up with you all over the next couple of weeks. Firstly I would like to welcome Lynne Thomas to the Central North Shore Cluster. Lynne has joined Team Solutions this year and will be co-facilitating with me as I take on my new role in the organisation. We are privileged to have Lynne working with us as she comes with a lot of experience, including Project Director/Facilitator of the Remuera Cluster from 2004-2006.

Over the next couple of weeks Lynne and I will be seeing you either at Teacher Only Days and also as we work with those teachers who are presenting at the Learning@School Conference in Week 3. We will also be working with Principals and Lead Teachers to finalise the ICT PD calendar for 2008. Key dates including Cluster Shares and conferences are available on the wiki now.

To follow are a couple of resources that have come to my attention in the last week that you may find useful.

I subscribed to this free support service for primary education late last year which includes regular email updates and archived resources and suggestions for ICT integration including the picture library. This library is a collection of useful images and albums linked to specific classroom activities which will be supplied with the albums in the near future. Also there is a weekly newsletter 'Sharing Good Practice'. "The latest issue includes articles supporting the new picture library including a collection of ideas for making effective use of photographs and other images in teaching and learning. It will be followed up over the next two weeks by bumper collections of lesson2go all based on the Picture Library."

World Maths Day

World Maths Day - March 5 2008
Students from around the world are invited to join with others to take part in the free online World Maths Day Challenge to break last years record of 38 904 275 questions. This year the goal is to answer 50 million mental arithmetic questions in one day. The event has been designed for 5-18 year olds.

Find out more and register here