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Saturday, June 21, 2008

Words of wisdom

Footnotes: As a teacher… from David Truss's blog

Thanks for sharing these thoughts David - I know I will be referring back to them regularly for reassurance when I am 'back in the classroom' next term. It is helpful to have like minded colleagues supporting this approach to teaching and learning, it is not always easy when you feel you are on your own with this one, and hard to imagine with the technology we now have at hand that so many continue to act as if they can continue to teach AND ASSESS in their time honoured traditional ways.

I guess you could say that at times I too have ‘acted my way into a new way of thinking’. My actions as a learner influenced my actions as a teacher, as these footnotes suggest.

¹ As a teacher, I don’t take any marks off for something coming in late. It is my job to make sure that students demonstrate their learning and meet the learning outcomes during the year. All time lines within the year are arbitrary (and usually teacher determined) and not a requirement worthy of penalty. Exceptions may be made where either Personal Planning or Goal Setting are part of the outcomes.

² As a teacher, I am very vocal about students needing to speak up and ask questions. “Don’t be a Marshmallow!” was a saying that I took from my Grade 10 English teacher Mr. La Point who used it to symbolize placid students sitting in his class and choosing not to speak up. At first being called Marshmallows in my class was funny, but soon students would catch on that they were not meeting expectations when they were being Marshmallows!

³ As a teacher my response to ‘how long does this assignment need to be?’ has always been, “It needs to be as long as it needs to be.” Students hate this answer, but after a while they get it. In a nutshell: I’ve read three brilliant sentences that have said more than three long-winded paragraphs.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Alannah at Tauranga

Here's Allanah in her workshop at Bethlehem campus in Tauranga. Allanah talked about her journey into ICT and demonstrated some wonderful examples of podcasting. One of the exciting features of Allanah's work are the national and international connections and discoveries she, her students and fellow teachers are making through their use of ICT.

Allanah also talked about how she uses other great Web 2.0 tools to enhance her own and her students' learning experiences. She has found, like many of us that twitter has been an awesome tool for making contacts and learning about ICT in education. Andrew Churches and I were both pleased to be still on Allanah's twitter list after hearing about her regular ruthless culls to keep followers (and followees I guess) to a minimum.

For my part I was lucky to have a great group of people attend our small but useful workshop on Marvin. Bellevue, Pongakawa, Matamata Intermediate, Otumoetai Primary, St Joseph's and Bethlehem schools were all represented so I will be hoping to hear from them about the great ways their students are using Marvin in the near future. Big thanks to Richard van Dijk for his support with the technical and teaching side of things for our group too - Matamata and Katikati are fortunate to have him as their ICT facilitator.
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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Marvin blogs and ideas

Thanks Allanah for sharing these with me on skype this morning - Sandra Roll's blog has some great ideas her class came up with for using Marvin
Having fun showing the kids the new MARVIN programme. They have come up with all sorts of great ideas of how we can use it.
  1. Could be put on kids blogs to introduce them. e.g. Hi, my name is John!
  2. Could do short 'film' about ourselves using the avatars.
  3. Could have avatars read our stories to the little kids at assembly
  4. If you lost your voice you could type and your avatar could do the talking.
  5. Instead of having published work on paper, we could publish using our avatar or avatars as the narrator.
  6. We could use the avatars to do our speeches. Would save getting nervous and embarrassed.
  7. We could put our presentations on youTube.
  8. The avatars could be 'tour guides' on our blogs.
  9. Mrs Rolls could set up the MARVIN avatars to teach the whole day. No more relievers!
  10. We could use avatars to do plays.
  11. We can use them to teach the younger kids about topics such as science, writing, bike safety or computer use.
  12. Could set up avatar to call out spelling words.
  13. Can make our own 'movies' to show that we understand a topic, e.g. statistics or Spanish!
Don't kids have brilliant ideas!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

26 Learning Games to change the world

These learning games were posted by David Warlick who also has a great blog himself, one that I look to regularly for inspiration. 26 Learning games to change the world - let's use them.

Great blog by one of our oft overlooked stakeholders - a student! 5 qualities of a great teacher, worth reading, revisiting, and remembering often.

Blogged with the Flock Browser

Things you really need to learn

This post on Stephen's blog by Stephen Downes is interesting and I'm sure many of you will agree with the sentiments here. The six things he discusses include:
1. How to predict consequences
2. How to read
3. How to distinguish truth from fiction
4. How to empathise
5. How to be creative
6. How to communicate clearly
Sounds simple enough here but the reasons and explanations he provides, along with links to back up materials and readings all sound pretty straight up and valid. I am looking forward to sharing some of these ideas with my students when I'm back in school in a few weeks.

Several blogs I have read recently, including Garr Reynold's excellent 'Presentation Zen' have encouraged me to further my offline reading so today I plan to hunt down and purchase the following - Brain Rules by John Medina, The Back of the Napkin by Dan Roam and Winging It by Keith Spicer.

Found a great slideshow on Web 2.0 - very clear and concise, and I'm sure will help me to explain some things to some people.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

elearning exchange Tauranga

Bay Central, Tauranga June 11
Thanks to Rochelle Jensen for organising this valuable ICT get-together for teachers in our region. Over 20 teachers from at least 13 different schools attended and it was a really positive, productive session. Dave Merton, Technical Manager from CORE was there and able to answer some of our more technical queries and to encourage teachers to enter students in the MADE awards (entries due 22/09/08).
Rochelle introduced the workshop with a discussion of the technology triangle which asked us to think about and place ourselves on it in regards to resources, skills and curriculum - interesting range of responses.
Jamin Lietze from Bethlehem presented a range of ideas that he uses in his class blog including student links and portfolios; Jamin also has his own professional blog here.
My presentation was based on Marvin software - a taster 'demo' rather than a workshop. There will be a workshop for this on June 20th at our Bethlehem mini-conference for the cluster group, and another full workshop scheduled for pre-conference at uLearn in October that Dave Ballard will be running.
The main outcome of our workshop yesterday was to establish an ongoing link between teachers so that we can exchange ideas and visits when needed on a less formal basis that will help to provide ICT PD between teachers when and as needed. Rochelle has already established a regional list-serve for online communication so educators need to email her to subscribe.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

YouTube - family1

YouTube - family1

Monday June 9 Mills Reef Winery Tauranga

The Way Forward Seminar presented by edTech

This included presentations by Douglas Harre from Ministry of Education who talked emphatically about the need for strong infrastructures in education to support teachers and learners with technology. He urged us to contact our political representatives to lobby for a fibre loop (such as KAREN) for our region. Another point of interest was his reference to the use of open source software and the saving that could be made there by schools having their own funding rather than the blanket payment currently made for software tools throughout the country. He stressed that it is not the tools but the pedagogical, collaborative approach available through technology and in particular web 2.0 tools, that will make the most difference to learners.

Hugh Nettar who was a previous MINTS scholar, now working for edTech offered a really interesting presentation and his messages were similar to those of Douglas. He talked about the availability and the changing nature of the way/s we receive and synthesise information and how this affects our approach to teaching and learning. Hugh referred to three 'pillars' of learning for today as 'co-constructivism, multiple intelligences and the taxonomies of learning' and then demonstrated how these were addressed in the ultranet Learning Management system he is involved with the development of.

Further presentations were of a more technical nature but all referred to the crucial factor of infrastructure in order to provide 'customer satisfaction' that is value added - way beyond the 'phase 1 fix and break' stage most schools in New Zealand are continuing to operate at. It was reiterated clearly that fibre loops are essential for high speed communication between schools, and that this is needed for teaching and learning to be collaborative and creative.

The vision for 21st Century learning put forward by Jonathon Beveridge (equico) was that
"Any student, teacher or administrator can do anything, anytime, anywhere they need to do it."
What is needed to achieve this is a team in the organisation that develops a clear vision; this vision is outlined in terms of priorities and budget and is carried out through best practice systems.

The seminar was well attended by teachers, school leaders and IT people from as far as Hamilton; it was another excellent opportunity to network and connect with like minded educators.

Friday, June 6, 2008

In Print - interface mag

Here is the first of our 2-minute guide series (what you see here is an extract - for the rest you will have to get your hands on the latest edition of 'interface')
Website for interface is here - you can check it out online, or order your own - there are so many ICT for learning ideas in here opening your first issue can be a bit mind boggling.
In a skype discussion this morning with a 'twitter' friend we have arranged to meet next week and have our first ustream.
This will be fun and we are hoping it is something we can introduce to learners as another useful collaboration tool. Look out for Richard and I next Friday on ustream.
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Wednesday, June 4, 2008

The twitter blog

The twitter blog has some great ideas and thoughts about using twitter. Twitter for librarians blog is a useful one, and the twitter short short story writing competition is great. In the last few days while creating a few animoto presentations (that all need a bit of modification) and uploading them to youtube, I have been researching teacher mentoring as PD. It is interesting that one of Vicki Davis's recent blog posts on Cool Cat Teacher refers to this specifically regarding social networking.and calls it Viral Professional Development. This is a pretty exciting discussion and I am looking forward to taking part in it via Vicki's voicethread and panel discussion soon.