Learning is....
Planting a seed in our brain... learning to water, nurture and grow it.... so we can live on the fruit of our learning and plant more seeds.

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

We made a movie! Part One.

Back in April the 100 years since the launch and sinking of the Titanic was commemmorated.  The news media, social media and popular culture was saturated with all things Titanic.  And my students came back to school in the second term full of enthusiasm for all things Titanic.

They wanted to do a play about the Titanic.

They wanted to build a Titanic.

I said:  Sure you can write a play and build a Titanic.  But you can use the time before and after school, in breaks and when you have finished all your other work.  I've already got a full term of work planned out.

They did a great job of building the Titanic.  One of the dads went to town and got a big fridge box from an appliance store and helped the kids shape it.  That child then brought his drill to school to make holes in it.  I gave them straws, bottle tops, medicine bottles, skewers, wool, tubes, lots of hot glue gun plugs..... and they made a Titanic.

The writing of the play however was not so flash.  It started with a hiss and a roar.  But when I finally looked at it, it had three scenes each with two lines of dialogue.  I could see we were going to need some work on this.

Term 3 went by in a flash, and then I went to ULearn12 with an idea about how we were going to do the Titanic as a movie instead.  I went to see great keynotes and breakouts with Jason Ohler and Kevin Honeycutt who gave me the following great inspirations:
  • getting the kids to record their ideas on video.
  • fake it till you make it.
  • collaborative writing, sharing that writing, reworking that writing.
  • do it even if the budget is zero.
  • don't wait till conditions are perfect, just do it.
  • you'll never be great at something unless you have a go at doing it.
  • make your students famous.
For more specifics about what Jason Ohler and Kevin Honeycutt said and inspired, see the blogs about them I did after ULearn12.

I have to say I was also somewhat inspired by the Manaiakalani Cluster and their annual movie awards too.  The Two Helens (see another blog from after ULearn12) talked with passion about the learning their students got from making their movies.

So I came back to school in early Term 4 and went to the ALL meeting (Accellerated Literacy) and said my class would be writing a script for a movie and making a movie.  They looked at me like I was mad.  Time was to prove them right, but we have made a movie.

Look out for further installments of our movie making journey and eat your heart out James Cameron!!

Saturday, 15 December 2012

Walking Poetry - follow up from Camp

This piece of poetry was inspired by the Karangahake Gorge - the Tunnel and Windows Walk.  My poem (pictured below) is written slightly different from the model, because (if you have read my earlier blogs) I didn't do the walk.  We've also added in some extra parts because I wanted my students to use all their senses in this poem.

In the childrens' camp books we did a mind map using our senses to explain the Windows Walk.  We filled out this mind map the evening of the day we went on the walk in the Karangahake Gorge.  Back at school, the children photocopied their mind maps from their camp books and glued them into their draft writing books.  Above right, you can see the mind map I did in my camp book that I photocopied and put in the modelling book.  As we began to write the poems, I encouraged the children to look at the photos from the walk to help them add to their mindmaps if they were a bit sparse.

In my wonderful book on poetry there is a poetry model called Walking Poetry (see the photo, above left, of the model photocopied into the modelling book).  And this married very nicely with what I wanted to get the children writing.


As you can see I modelled writing the poem in the modelling book.  You can see that I have highlighted parts of the text in my draft and that often corresponds with text I've highlighted in my mind map and model.  I did this so I could specifically highlight nouns, verbs, adjectives and adverbs as I taught and we wrote, to enable the use of strong verbs and descriptive language.  You can see that I demonstrated rewriting if I wasn't happy with what I had written.  There are places where I have changed my mind about the word I'd used.  You can also see where I was stumped for a rhyming word, so I have brainstormed a list of words that rhyme and then decided on the best fit for the poem.  These skills were explicitly taught as I had students who struggled with writing.

I wrote my WALT and HWIK based on the model glued into the modelling book above, but as you can see I've tried to tell the students more explicitly what I expect in their poems from the picture below.

The origninal poem we modelled from only has three verses, but as I said above, I wanted my students to use all their senses in this poem.  Consequently we added in two more senses.  I also really wanted them to convey to the reader the mood/feeling/atmosphere of the Windows Walk.  And we strongly focused on adjectives and adverbs as these really help to describe the senses and atmosphere for the reader.

When it came to publishing the poems I asked the students to choose colours and a border that reflected the place and time the poem was about; consequently they have used muted blues and greens as it was a bush setting and the day was drizzly.  The pictures in the background were taken on the walk and we published it in Publisher, put the picture at the back and washed it out to get a watery feel.  Putting the title down the side was effective use of space.  We learnt a variety of new ICT skills in Publisher to achieve some of these effects - putting picture to back, using the washed out tool in picture format, using WordArt titles. The poems were trimmed around the border and mounted on a pale green or pale blue A4 coloure paper, and the finished display has a patchwork effect.



ActivClassroom: Actively engaging students in a modern learning environment

The last breakout I went to at ULearn12 was the ActivBoard one.  My class has had a SmartBoard since the beginning of Term 4 2011, but there was no SmartBoard presentation at ULearn12, so I decided to go to the ActivBoard one because I figured somethings just cross credit!!
This breakout was led by Rachel Clapp.  You can follow ActivBoard on Twitter at @ACTIVboardNZ which tweets updates and ideas.
Rachel began with the classic You Tube Clip Did You Know which has been updated for 2012.  It is a great thought provoker and gets discussion moving.
Then Rachel talked about Flip Charts.  To know how to make a Flip Chart go to this You Tube clip.  Rachel showed us a Flip Chart called Rugby World Cup.  It uses a reveal tool so kids can check the answers.

Top Tip:  Download flipcharts from Promethean Planet for free:  http://www.prometheanplanet.com/en-us/.  Some top contributers to look for are:
  • Barb Knapp  NE-Y4 - maths resources you'll want to steal
  • Pat Verhoeven  Y5-8 - maths resources

Rachel then introduced us to poet Kenn Nesbitt - he has great poetry for kids.  She recommended using his poem videos for sequencing.  She showed us how to change the colours of words to highlight verbs, adjectives, etc.  My class loved his poems when I introduced them.  They really appeal to kids and have lovely twists.  We did our own podcasts and created PhotoStorys to go with the poems.

Build Your Wild Self - this lets you make a new character and you have a choice of body, hair, eyes, mouth, clothes, headgear and more - this is a great starter for descriptive writing.  Before the children start their writing they can use the recorder in the ActivBoard to tell their story.

Thinkers Keys flipchart, created by Rachel, is a fun flipchart filled with activities based on the thinker's keys (Tony Ryan). Great for before school thinking and when children have finished their work. Suitable for whole class and small groups. These activities promote thinking, creativity and imagination. - this can also be download from Promethean Planet.

Question Keys - put up a picture - get kids to write five questions with that picture as the answer.

There are heaps of ready made Brainteasers on Promethean Planet readymade.  Search for Catherine Iler as she has many available to download on the website.

Rachel talked about enhancing ceativity
- use the screen recorder
- put on wiki and YouTube
- recording strategies and assessment of children's thinking
She recommended Bevan James from St Marys Rotorua as a great example of the above.

Science on Promethean Planet:
  • National Geographic
  • Horrible Science - have to pay for (Scholastic) but well worth it, all pages have notes, cost $2NZ.

Magic Reveal really is something I must use more!!!  Click here to go to a You Tube tutorial on how to use and create Magic Reveal.

There are resources specifically for New Zealand teachers for the ActivBoard at http://activboardnz.com/education/for-teachers/resource-packs/ including Te Reo Maori and Samoan language resources from ActivBoardNZ to download.  Other useful resources include Hectors World for cyber safety, Life Education resources, road safety, water safety, food safety, Sun Smart and Hiwi the Kiwi's fishing sustainability message - all destinctively Kiwi!!

Rachel demonstrated how to add music to the page.  She used a body and attached the music to different body parts, so then you can "pull out" the name of a body part and kids have to move it to it.

Top Tip:  Go to the 'most downloaded' on Promethean Planet and see who else you can stalk and get new resources weekly.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Linda Lehrke - Tinkering with the Possibilities

To be honest, I went into this break out for two reasons:
1.  I met Linda last year at ULearn11 and she was telling me about how excited she was to be starting in a brand new school starting from scratch in in 2012 and because she has been heavily involved in e-learning.
2.  I was hoping to get some great tips about i-Pads/tablet use in class.
Please excuse that fact that most of the following is in note form.  It is the highlights.  However, I was somewhat distracted by my troublesome TELA laptop, an HP EliteBook 8560p, which decided to play its silly games during Linda's session.
Linda opened with this memorable gem below:
We are in education - we are not a business!
We are in the business of sharing knowledge - not keeping it to ourselves!

Linda urged us to look at the keynote speakers - find their five favourite books - read those books - then be like them.

Teaching and learning today is...

  • Knowledge Generation
  • Student Centric
  • Ad Hoc - can be shared around, moved through the school
  • Creative
  • Open
  • Opportunity of Ownership

Rcommended Book:  Now You See it  by Cathy Davidson about attention blindness

BYOD - solves a budget problem for the school
But how do we change our practice and environment to accommodate the kid's needs?
Is your school ready for 1:1 with its wireless?
What about how you spend the school's money?

You can buy five e-readers for one tablet.  You can use one account for the five e-readers.

Get the best server for your school for the job.

Schools with their server in the Cloud can access it even if the school is destroyed by a natural disaster.

Teachers are taking three devices in schools - laptop, phone and tablet.
Kids in a BYOD school have three devices.
Kids in a no BYOD school have at least one device - but you're forcing them onto 3G where there are no filters or protections.

Look in your classroom at what devices you have got?  Desktops are cheaper than a laptop, and iPads are cheaper than a desktop.

Everything is HDMI (hi def).  Get a cable.

Wireless keyboards always need the batteries changing.  Teachers will use it as an excuse not to use it.  For those teachers, keep the wired one in.

Have three focal points in the room.

Touch screen tvs - interactive.
Apple tv - plugs into iPads and laptops.

And then my HP EliteBook 8560p spat the dummy on me again, so I left Linda's workshop a little early and went to tell the nice people at HP exactly what I thought of their products.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Making it work in your classroom - the two Helens

This is another installment of my reflections from ULearn12.  Welcome to my reflections on breakout #4:

This breakout was hosted by the two Helens:  Helen King and Helen Squires.  They teach at Point England School which is a member of the Manaiakalani Trust Project.

Point England School is in east Auckland, Tamaki.  The school is in a coastal area, well resourced with good technology and vibrant environments and teachers, where kids have a dream.  The school does a survey every 6 months about how the children are enjoying learning, using their netbooks, and how they learn.

The kids like using the netbooks as they are in control; they like having their blogs to share their work and have an audience that will comment.

How do they learn at Point England School?
Learn, create, share -  is the model used at Point England School.

'Four Pou' to hold up the 'whare':
  • values based culture  -  teach behaviour explicitly in term 1 each year
  • content knowledge  -  teachers have to be clever and be able to find out for themselves
  • pedagogical knowlendge  -  know how to teach
  • evaluative capacity  -  using a variety of assessments and analysing
Underneath the 'Four Pou' is:
Learn:  Google dogs, netbooks, hands on things/doing stuff
Create:  Make stuff, write stories, tell stories, claymation...
Share:  Podcast channel, school news channel produced by Y7&8 and presented by Y5&6, share normally, blogs, Google-docs/sites

How do teachers deliver: 
Google sites are used by the teachers to enable children to do their learning at their own pace.  The Google sites provide information for the kids, sites to use, activities you want them to complete.  Teachers no longer have planning folders and folders of resources - everything is instead online, public on the sites.  Consequently they really have to have the ideas behind the planning, teaching and learning solid.  Kids are always aware of what they are learning.  Google sites have become essential to Helen #1.

The children find the activities they are required to do on the site.  The children make movies to show their learning.  The movies help their learning, particularly when they got stuck one time, a movie enabled discussion to happen and move the learning on.  Get kids to make movies about how they learn, the process of making - do as an interview.

Point England School developed a CyberSmart curriculum -  they looked at the positive side, what the children should be doing rather than what they shouldn't.  Kids made movies about this.  If the kids find something online that they are not happy about about them, they screen shot it and sent it to the teacher to enable a discussion to happen.

Using multimedia in Helen's class changed the way the children interacted with the media and each other.  In Helen's class the tables move frequently, no set place to sit, no set place to learn or teach.  The movie making has improved the kids key competencies.  They choose to work collaboratively because they know they get a better result.

Helen's big tip for getting started using Google Docs:
Don't use a template.

I'm looking forward to trying this out!!!

Monday, 12 November 2012

Mike Scaddan - Making Magic Memories

The last time I saw Mike Scaddan speak was when I was a 'baby' teacher.  The local Principals' Association organised for Mike to come and speak to the teachers in our district, and I thought he was magic.  So I was excited to see that Mike was one of the breakout presenters at ULearn12.

Breakout #3:

Teachers are magic.

There is something I don't know that I am supposed to know. I don't know what it is I don't know and yet am supposed to know, and I feel I look stupid if I seem both not to know it and not know what it is I don't know. Therefore, I pretend I know it.


This is nerve-racking since I don't know what I must pretend to know. Therefore I pretend to know everything.
I feel you know what I'm supposed to know but you can't tell me what it is because you don't know
that I don't know what it is.
You may know what I don't know, but not that I don't know it, and I can't tell you. So you will have to tell me


R. D. Laing

There are three reasons to question:
  • want to know
  • someone else has the same question and is waiting for someone to ask it
  • good for the presenter, so they know what you want to know

Everything is memory

Without reviews, memories are misshapen or destroyed.
As a result, learning has to start from new foundations everyday.

Sensory input:
Experience & environment
Repetition or strong emotion
Sense and meaning

Senses will be activated by an experience and it will go through filters.  If it gets through immediate memory, gets through working memory, gets through emotional & repetition and sense and meaning, then you have it - a memory.

The order we learn from birth:
  • Olfactory  -  smell
  • Gustatory -  taste
  • Kinaesthetic  - movement  (especially the male - they need to fiddle, touch, move do.  The male right side brain is 15% bigger than the left side of the brain - it is the movement side of the brain;  the female left side brain is 15% bigger than the right side of the brain - this is the language centre of the brain).
  • Tactile - touch
  • Visual  -  for girls about 6, boys about 8
  • Auditory  -  happens about puberty

Memory - strongest to weakest:
  • Emotional  -  aisles in your memory
  • Procedural - Body language e.g. to ride a bike, to type.
  • Episodic  -  what happened in order
  • Conditioned Reflex  -  if I said cup, you'd say saucer
  • Semantic - content without context  (last by a long way)

Locational memory - kids doing maths on the mat, then they go back to desks with worksheets and become less accurate.

Kids who forget what you said - say:  where were you when I said it?  Get them to go to that location.... hopefully they will then remember.  -  the auditory kid.

Boys have to have rules, who is in charge, will they be applied fairly - then how can they break them?

Repetition is so important - talk about it, do it, explain it, show it - each time repeating the same content.

Everybodies brain is different.  A child's brain is different to a adult's brain, a teenager's brain in different again, an elderly person's brain is different again.

Boys are born with 50% of the hearing of girls.  They don't hear all the tones that females use, don't read the faces of the girls.  Boys need it straight and direct.

Multiple Intelligences is output.

How would you structure reviews?
  • Lego reviews:  each child answers a question, gets a piece of lego; each group uses their lego to build a tower.  Good for factual review or key words.  One team member with teacher at a time.  Upbeat music good.
  • March reviews:  put the skills to a march-repeat song.  Mollenburg March (the bread ad).  One tune, one review - or else it get mashed up.
  • Interviews:  in partners they interview each other about the lession.
  • Old McDonald review
  • Visual reviews:  Smartboard, graphic organisers, pictures, mindmaps.
  • Kinaesthetic reviews:  moving along a line from one end to another to state if you agree or disagree with a statement.  Frisbee throw: catch and answer - dial a friend if struggling.  Knots in a string for identifying things in order and then telling a friend what each knot was.  What grabbed you:  alligator clip on finger, add alligator clips for the other things that grabbed you.  Dice: six things to talk about on board.  Child rolls the dice and they talk about the thing of the number they roll.
  • If you didn't do a review, why bother teaching the lesson?

Fish clap!!  This is so cool!!!  With a partner, stretch your arms towards each other and gently press together.  Now 'clap' your hand against your partner's arm.

If I lift the bar children will grow.

Three things that I will take away from this session are:
  • More physical movement
  • Using the reviews
  • Repetition

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Kevin Honeycutt - Keynote #3 at ULearn12 - Collaborate, Innovate and Educate

Ok, so I am doing this completely from notes on Twitter.  After last year at ULearn11, I found that using my laptop all the time meant a flat battery and not many opportunities to charge.  It was tricky to balance during keynotes too.  Also my shoulders and neck needed realignment from lugging the laptop and other gear about.  This year I bought a tablet so that it could fit in my handbag and would be easier to use at keynotes and not damage my body.  However, until I find a good app for notetaking on it, Twitter seemed to be my best option  -  besides, I can also use the tweets of others (thank you to the others).

So after being in Kevin Honeycutt's breakout the day before, I was interested to see what his keynote would be like.  Yes, some of the same stories resurfaced, but Kevin had plenty more in his goody sack to share with the ULearn12 faithful.

  • Don't wait to get good at something to do it.
  • Make a video for your great grandkids so they know who you are.
  • Video your teaching so that the students can "rewind" when they fall behind in their learning.
  • Treat the scariest kid in your class like they are the only one you trust.
  • Twitter allows us to be surrounded by great minds and peers when we need them.  Twitter friends have your back; they are your support crew.
  • Do unto others as you would have done to you online.
  • Technology is another "language" and kids learn languages quickly so immerse kids in languages.
  • Our kids are good, but they are kids... they sometimes do stupid things - but we love them still!!
  • When it comes to Twitter/Facebook/other social networks:  Think before you push the button!!  Think:  Am I proud of this?  Would I mind if I am famous for this for the rest of my life?  Our kids need to think about this before they post.  Your kid's name is their brand!  Are they peeing in their pool before they get into it?  Google alert your kid's name for life so you know what they are doing online and what other people are saying about them.
  • These devices are like windows - the kids are using them to talk to other people, so they need to learn digital etiquette.  Teach the kids to manage their devices rather than their devices managing them.
  • What technology do our kids have in their pockets?  There is more tech in their pockets than what took man to the moon.
  • Party telephone lines were the original social network.
  • If you clean it up too much it's not going to be good learning.
  • Are you listening teachers?
  • Kevin makes his kid pay "rent" on his laptop  -  produce a piece of work you are proud of; if you like using apps, create an app.
  • If we get kids doing great things with technology, they won't have time to do bad things with technology... or anything else.  The trick is to help them learn to do it responsibly and safely.
  • Technology creates a buffet of opportunities.... but most of our learners are just eating the napkins.
  • Google the video on YouTube 'Charlie bit my finger'.  It really illustrates the idea think before you act.
  • Book recommendation:  The Coming Jobs War by Jim Clifton.
  • Kids are doing amazing things now.  A 16 year old can be counting up the takings for the day, shutting and locking up a shop for their boss, holding the boss' livelihood in their hands - and the next day they have to put their hand up for permission to go to the toilet.
  • An invention is an idea that no one agrees with.  How can we make it ok to invent?  It is messy, but we have to give the kids choices.
  • Kids can do anything, sell anywhere.
  • If all we are doing is getting kids ready to pass tests, we are creating middle management.  Why do I need to learn this?  Make it matter.
  • Teaching in juvie is like PD for teachers - full of angry people who don't want to be there and one of them may shank you.
  • http://www.rescuetime.com/  -  website recommended by Kevin to help with time management.

  • You are a safer when you drive with your spouse - they want to live too.  How good are you at texting and driving.  Draw a perfect circle with one hand and a triangle with the other at the same time.  Were you successful? 
  • Kid:  "I can't draw!"  If you are not willing to be bad at something, you'll never be good at something.
  • Cognitive blisters  -  kids always stop learning the guitar at the same place, when they get blisters on their fingers.  It is the same with other forms of learning, except the blisters are on their brain.
  • Band and Voice Band on the iPad look like heaps of fun and so creative.  Voice Band can turn your voice into a guitar!!  You can make the music sound like real music.  Anyone can be a musician!!  Check out more about it here:  http://www.wavemachinelabs.com/Products/voice-band
  • Don't just snack on other people's brilliance - produce something!!
  • Good teachers may plant the seeds they do not use in the shade.
  • Make the kids hate you for a day so that they will love you for a lifetime.
  • If you don't start, you can never get better.  Don't wait.  This is your life and you only get one shot at it.

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Educamp The Tron

I will now interrupt my reflections on ULearn12 with Educamp The Tron.  This was held on Saturday 3 November at Hamilton East School.  I first heard about it when I was at ULearn12 and met some key members of the group organising this event.  The first highlight was that it was free PLD.  The second highlight was meeting a lot of people who I have been following or talking to on Twitter.  The third highlight was those "Oh so that's...." moments when you learn about something new or get that better understanding.
After initial introductions and a little sharing about ourselves (and stickering ourselves with our names and twitter handles), we had a smackdown!!  Yeah, for those of you who haven't done a smackdown before (it was my first), various participants had two minutes to introduce and explain various digital/web based technologies that will enhance your teaching, the childrens' learning or grow you as an individual.  This was recorded on the Google Doc for Educamp The Tron.
Below is a list of some of the things that were introduced and that I shall be exploring for my own learning.  I have included links as and where I could, but the link to the Google Doc above will also be helpful.
  • www.pinterest.com  -  A content sharing service that allows members to "pin" images, videos and other objects to their pinboard. Also includes standard social networking features ...  and I have signed up....
  • www.evernote.com and evernote clearly  -  The Evernote family of products help you remember and act upon ideas, projects and experiences across all the computers, phones and tablets you use.  I still have to look into this.
  • www.storybird.com  -  Storybirds are short, art-inspired stories you make to share, read, and print. Read them like books, play them like games, and send them like greeting cards.  This was highly recommended by Kirstin as being child inspired.
  • www.audioboo.fm  -  a mobile & web platform that effortlessly allows you to record and share audio for your friends, family or the rest of the world to hear.  It was recommended as a good way to record the development of children's oral language and them reading poems, etc.  I've yet to look further into it.
  • www.edmodo.com   -  a microblogging network for teachers and their students, similar to Facebook in layout.  Edmodo provides a safe and easy way for your class to connect and collaborate, share content, and access homework, grades and school notices.  You can have as many groups as you want.  When kids go in they can view their calander to do what you want them to.  You can set up quizzes for the kids to do.  Kids don't have to have an email account to use it.  So I've signed up.
  • www.photopeach.com  -  you can automatically make your own free slide show in seconds. Upload photos, pick music, add captions in the show, and more!  This was also highly recommended by Anna.
  • www.edorigami.edublogs.org  -  still looking into this, but I think it is supposed to be good for reflection after a unit, getting feedback from the students. 
  • www.geocaching.com  is about finding little things in hidden places.  Better for big people who can drive than little people who can not probably.
  • www.scratched.media.mit.edu  -  where educatiors can share stories, exchange resources, ask question, find people.  Good place to get children to make things.  Give minimum intoduction, get them to do something and share it back, get them to do something and share it back.... it will grow. Logic problem solving....
  • https://sites.google.com/site/initialipadsetup for everything you need to know about introducing iPads to your school.  It is tried and true. 
  • Did you know that there is a calculator feature on Google? Just type into the Google search the calculation you want to solve, click search, and wham!  There is your answer a long with a calculator face.  Each new calculation you put in, it remembers your previous answers above. 
  • www.wikieducator.org.Digital_citizenship  -  Elements of digital citizenship, modules for learning and teaching, written collaboratively by NZ teachers.   
  • Digistore  -  Software for Learning will soon be moved into the enabling for e-learning contract.  http://softwareforlearning.tki.org.nz/ and http://digistore.tki.org.nz/ec/p/home.
  • www.wallwisher.com  -  Wallwisher is an Internet application that allows you and those you network with to post your thoughts on a common topic using electronic sticky notes on a shared digital wall.  
  • www.diigo.com  for bookmarking - you can set up a class account so that students can bookmark. 
  • Oz/NZ Educators - Google to find this active group on the net.  You can sign up to get lots of new sites sent to you. 
  • www.thinglink.com or www.meograph.com for tagging maps to tell stories, etc. 
  • www.timetoast.com good stuff for history. 
  • www.connected.org.nz for people in the Waikato to be connected to the e-teaching community. 
  • http://emergingleaders.school.nz/ignite-evening/  -  this is on Thursday 29 November, an opportunity for likeminded teachers to meet and share.  You need to register.  It is at 6pm for 6.30pm start @ Southwell (or possibly a lisensed cafe!) with drinks and nibbles.  Fastpaced, fun, thought provoking, social, local, global.... 5 minute talks by each person who have an idea to share with 20 pictures.
  • www.Youblisher.com  -  to make books that can be inbedded into your blog.  Anna recommended this as a good way to get that 'flick' feeling onscreen.  Within minutes, youblisher will turn your magazines, catalogs, business reports, presentations and all other pdf documents into publications with flippable pages! 
  • #kidsedchatnz  -  use this hashtag on Twitter to find out about the group that is setting up classroom chats on Twitter between classes. 
  • www.moturoa.blogspot.nz  -  check out this super cool blog!!
And then we broke for lunch.  When we came back, we broke into groups to discuss the things that we were interested in in smaller groups.  I had another A-ha moment or two here, and found other had similar opinions with the directions writing and School Journals have gone down recently.

Daily 5 for Literacy:
What is Daily 5?  Check out these two links for more:  http://www.thedailycafe.com/public/department104.cfm or http://www.the2sisters.com/index.html
Essentially it is about ensuring that your students get a good dose of reading and writing each day:
1.  Read by yourself
2.  Read to someone else
3.  Work on your writing
4.  Listen to reading
5.  Word work
The interesting fact is that Daily 5 is based on the work by Marie Clay.  These American ladies have taken Marie Clay's good work, and fed it back to us after the erosion we have been experiencing in Literacy is recent years.

The Book Whisperer:
Also recommended was the Book Whisperer http://www.bookwhisperer.com/
The book whisperer - google it -  buy the book  -  like it on Facebook!!
TIP:  Pull out a book in the library, read them just enough to hook them, and put it back on the shelf... watch them clamour.

Quad Blogging:
What is Quad Blogging?  Four classes each have their own blog - each class is focused on for a week and the other three classes visit that blog and make comments.  It drives traffic to the blog.  DeputyMitchell on Twitter is a co-ordinator for this programme and a source to find out more.

Blogdipping - if you want your blog to be promoted send them a post and she will post.

Monday, 29 October 2012

Khoa Do - Keynote #2 at ULearn12

Khoa Do is a great story teller.  He had a packed conference room in the palm of his hand.  This amazing teller of stories comes to us from Australia as a film maker and having the prestigous title of Australian of the Year in 2005.  He was born in Ho Chi Minh City in 1979, and in 1980 his family fled Vietnam to eventually settle in Australia.

Here is a link to Khoa Do's own website:  http://www.khoado.com.au/

Khoa told the amazing story of how his family came to Australia and the challenges they faced as a family and the goals he set for himself.

Khoa's key message was about the difference we can make to young people in our communities.

We all need resiliance - you will get knocked down over and over and over again.  But with resiliance you will carry on and success desite all of the obstacles.  Young people have to learn that they will not always succeed.  And sometimes we actually have to set them up to fail so they can learn what failure is and how to deal with failure.  Sometimes the biggest lessons happen due to failure - and I can testify to that!!

Sometimes it pays to be late!!  This was great news for me, as I am always late!  Khoa explained how sometimes the most amazing and fruitful things have resulted from him being late to an event or meeting.

Khoa explained that we do not always get what we want or into what we want to get into.  Sometimes we have to make our own way to achieve the goal we are working towards, and that may mean not going down a traditional pathway.  And sometimes our eyes have to be bigger than our belly in order to succeed.

We have to set ourselves up for success.  Did you know that not only does Robert De Niro know his own lines when he does a movie, but he also knows the lines of all the other characters in the scene?

Some key ideas to leave you thinking:

  • If it is what you are passionate about then that is the story we will tell.

  • Knowing your weaknesses sometimes is better than knowing your strengths.

  • Success isn't about what we're born with - it's about what we do with what we are born with.
Here is a link to Khoa talking about one of his latest projects, Falling for Sahara, which he worked on with Somalian refugees.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Kevin Honeycutt - Hooking Learners with Digital Tools

When you walk into the room you note straight away, beside the lecturn, is an electric guitar - no two - just spotted the black one against the black lecturn.  Hmmm, what will he do with these?

My second breakout at ULearn12 was with Kevin Honeycutt.  He was also the Keynote Speaker on Thursday morning.  I've been following Kevin Honeycutt on Twitter for nearly a year.  Why?  Because everyone else I was following was following him.  However, I really didn't know anything about him that much before I came in the room for this breakout.

Breakout #2:

Kevin came out with a stream of gems right from the beginning!!  It was hard to keep up, but I tried.  And there is so much more on his website:  http://kevinhoneycutt.org/
Sometimes people don't like you to be innovative.  It means they might have to do it too.  This quote stood out for me!!  I've so been there, and it can really hold you back.  So I need to strive to innovate so my students will too.
Have a YouTube Channel.  Kevin does:  http://www.youtube.com/user/kevinessdack?feature=results_main.  He has so much on his channel - personal observations, tips for teachers, videos of working with children.....  You will also find the best teachers on YouTube.  Kevin had always wanted to learn how to play guitar.... he found people on YouTube who had posted lessons, so that's how he learned.
We need to be in partnership with the parents of our students and one way to do this is to have parents nights at school to build that partnership.  While they are there, record parents saying one thing they are happy with about the school and then mash it up, put it on your website - it is free advertising and it is your community's voice.  These soundbites of parents giving positive feedback about your teaching, your school, and your class can be used to fight back against cuts.  We need to make our kids famous to keep funding and programmes.  We need to get free advertising.

Kevin did this when the Arts budget at his school was going to be cut.  With not much experience, not much money and not much equipment, the students at his school made a movie - and they made sure EVERYONE knew the were making it, had made it, were showing it.  He made sure his kids were famous so the Arts did not get cut at his school.
Kevin and his students did all this with just in time learning, a budget that was tight and led him to find cheap alternatives - but quality doesn't have to be perfect for the first time - as you learn, things get better.  He recommended making films about a variety of topics.
Thank 'em, don't spank 'em.  

When you are excited about the learning your remember it all. 

Good, passionate teachers write on student's brains.  As teachers, we are writing on the brains of our students, so we need to make sure that we are writing the right stuff.
Kevin recommended this website about brain based learning:  http://www.funderstanding.com/educators/brain-based-learning/
  • Teachers must immerse learners in complex, interactive experiences that are both rich and real. One excellent example is immersing students in a foreign culture to teach them a second language. Educators must take advantage of the brain’s ability to parallel process.

  • Students must have a personally meaningful challenge. Such challenges stimulate a student’s mind to the desired state of alertness.

  • In order for a student to gain insight about a problem, there must be intensive analysis of the different ways to approach it, and about learning in general. This is what’s known as the “active processing of experience.”
    And so Kevin went on to explain one of his favourite examples of learning that works to write on students' brains.  It is called:  Doomsday-1 Misson to Save Earth and this is the website link:  http://plpnetwork.com/D-1/D-1_Step_by_step.html
    The Challenge:
    Form a team and design a plan to save the world from an imminent collision with the Doomsday1 Asteroid and prepare a video presentation for the UN highlighting the merits of your plan.
    The Problem:
    We are in trouble!  A lone astronomer spotted an "Earth killer" asteroid that has come to be called "Doomsday-1" will strike Earth in the southern hemisphere in one year!
    The Plan:
    Become an expert about asteroids.  Figure out a way to save the Earth.

    The students need to become researchers to complete this challenge.  Kevin was adament that we need to make the kids find the source.  He said Google is a search engine, not a source; Wikipedia is a source, but the students must dig deeper - where did they get their information from?

    Children today are digital natives.  But they come to school and often have to power down.  Don't touch my lid!!  Kids are saying that they hate coming to school because they have to power down.  They are telling us, "Don't amputate my digital limbs by making me put the lid down."

    Kevin pointed out that some of our students that have been precluded from regular society are our best inventors - think about Albert Einstein and Steve Jobs.... what was their school experience like?

    In the US they are cutting the Arts programmes to save money, but these programmes are the best outlet for creativity.  Kevin said it is what the kids do with the knowledge - not how they get it!

    We need to "fake it till we make it".  There are apps that can fill the gaps in your brain - it is not cheating - I'm just bbetter at other stuff.  Skype across the hall before you skype across the country - take the new things in baby steps.

    Kevin asked some big questions:
    • Our kids will spend the rest of their lives in the future.  Are we getting them ready?
    • Why would we do what you say if you don't care about my family?
    The second question Kevin said not only applied to how students see their teachers, but also to how teachers see their senior staff.  Kevin believes that family is integral to being a good teacher and learner.

    As I wrote earlier, I follow Kevin on Twitter.  He can be quite the prolific tweeter!  And he so believes in the power of Twitter.  Once he was flying to a city in the US and his bags were flying to some other city.  He was going to have no clothes and toiletries.  He tweeted this, and the next thing one of his followers in the city he was arriving at tweeted him asking him what size he was.  When his plane arrived she was waiting for him with several changes of clothes.

    With Twitter you have a community that has your back.  I had this recently demonstrated to me when our new Novapay payslips arrived requiring a password to open it.  I had no idea.  But a question on Twitter, and it was not long before I had an answer.

    Kevin showed us this photo of a Twitter wall.  There is a child's face with a blank space and a Twitter handle.  It is velcroed to the wall and as the children arrived each day they used a whiteboard marker to update their status.  It was a good way to find out what was happening in each child's life that morning.

    But we need to teach our kids to have that "my keys are locked in the car" moment before they hit the post button.

    What does that mean?  You know that time you locked your keys in your car and how that felt?  And how you still have that feeling of possibly locking them in the car even now, so you are extra careful?  Well we need our young people to have that feeling before they hit the post button on email and Facebook and Twitter and other social networking sites.

    With two minutes to go the guitar finally makes its entrance.  Smoke on the Water.  TweetwoodMac tweeted that they wanted to jam.
    OK, so who knows why this photo imported this way
    round and why can't it be rotated in blogger?  Ta.

    And then Kevin showed out the second guitar - an iPad guitar.  Insert iPad and it lights up and plays like a real guitar!!

    Later that evening, Kevin and conference attendees were jamming outside the exhibiters' hall.  Most entertaining.

    Apparently you can buy one of these iPad guitars for $99 US.  Hmmm, now I need an iPad.....