Thursday, 14 November 2013

Chatting About Student Centred Pedagogy

Another great chat tonight with forty other twiducators from around New Zealand. It is so reassuring we have educators who are continuing to inquire about their practice.

Big ups to Maurie Abraham and the group of teachers he has gathered around him at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. They are having fun - yes fun - being able to design a school from the foundations up with people who are building a shared vision and being given permission to explore and experiment. It will be exciting to follow their progress as the first students enter their doors.

Sunday, 3 November 2013

#Edchatnz - Speed Dating With Twiducators

Every second Thursday I grab my phone, ipad or laptop and get ready for the speed date otherwise known as #edchatnz.

I don't miss this date if I can help it, as the topic is always one on top of a lot of educator's lists of what's hot right now. It is so good to get the feelings and experiences of educators across the sectors. It's definitely "turbo tweeting"; trying to keep up with the different conversations is nigh impossible and it's a necessity to find the time to go back and read what else has been going on.

The last #edchatnz was on BYOD. It was a rip-roarer and I got so much out of the conversation stream I was on. made me feel that it was definitely different strokes for different folks. We also looked at how best to bring our less confident teachers on board. A great sharing of ideas!

Thanks to Anne Robertson who talked about the power of this chat in her blog post :
 "The overwhelming theme that came through for me was the emphasis and focus on LEARNING.  We are all starting to get the message that PEDAGOGY has to drive the tools we use and not the other way round."

Anne used tagsexplorer to map the way the conversations moved; I had to laugh! I really get into it!

Thanks too to @MissDSciTeacher - Danielle Myburgh - who started this chat time going. It's become a feature of the NZ PLN.  

Here's my Storify - I still need to go back and mull over the ideas.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Attwicted to Learning

I had a laugh tonight going through a list of Twitter slang. I think I'm "attwicted"; but it's because I'm addicted to learning. And I like learning with others.
Twitter has become my short read. Instead of the paper or the Listener on a Saturday morning, I'll lie in bed and go through the tweets. Usually the main news is highlighted by the media news accounts and interesting issues are retweeted and commented on by some of the people I follow. Another dimension is added: discussion with other tweeps. Most of the folk I follow are fellow educators, so a lot of articles and links to resources become subjects for conversations too.

I've also found that it's possible to become a source of news or even an editor. I've tweeted @melissa_stokes in the ad break of a news broadcast about an error and had her reply that she'd get it fixed!

Twitter has become my main source of learning and keeping up with what's going on in the world and especially the world of education. I curate what I find with Evernote - and I even occasionally go back to check out my cache. 

I take notes on Twitter. Yes, I could use a Google doc, but I love sharing the learning and waiting to see if an idea will be challenged or added to. Take the writing workshop I attended two weeks ago. An eminent and respected guru of writing, she stated that research proved boys' and girls' brains were wired differently. "Really?" I thought, "I wonder what that research is?" And I asked that question of the Twitterverse as I sat there and got an instant reaction:

I collate the notes I tweet using Storify, which has a great embed option to show the tweets as a slideshow. Useful if you want to flick quickly to a point. And that's another point: each idea must be encapsulated in a neat 140 character block. There's something satisfying about succeeding in turning an idea into a pithy epithet.

The associated link is like unwrapping a gift - the tweet gives a taster of the goodies you are going to find. And it is a gift. Twitter is free and Twiducators share their wares unselfishly. Just for the cost of your data.

Collaboration is a huge benefit of Twitter. I've learned to do #timelapse photography by sharing ideas with tweeps like @dakinane, which have then led to school collaborations across the country, like #nzschooltimelapse . Around the globe, educators are conversing at set times on a range of topics. Every second Thursday at 8.30pm, educators get together to talk on #edchatnz. Students can now connect on #kidsedchatnz on a Wednesday too.

I've had a lot of fun with Twitter. There was the day I decided to use it as a #lazyweb and asked for advice on processing feijoas. A #feijoafrenzy began, recipes, ideas, photos all shared amongst a great deal of bonhomie. My freezer was packed with feijoas and the day filled with a lot of shared laughter, even if it was by hashtag!  Seems I wasn't alone in enjoying the fruit.

Meeting tweeps face to face is amazing. You can go from a conversation online to meeting them f2f for the first time and continuing that conversation as if you'd been in the room together and old buddies. Funnily enough, we have a connection that goes further than a smartphone. The highlight of Ulearn13 for me was meeting up with so many of these "old buddies". I can now sit in a waiting room or even alone at a cafe and not feel friendless! (And sometimes the tweep gets to sit in the cafe too, rather than just at the end of the phone.)

I found out at Ulearn13 that it's not just connection, communication and collaboration...there's also a little bit of competitive tweeting possible, all in good fun.  Nothing like getting a hashtag trending...

Hmmm - enough said about that!

Why is this all so important? Well for me it mean I'm already entering the future we are building with our children. The New Zealand Curriculum document, which has now been out since 2007, states:
NZ Curriculum, page 36
The last paragraph intrigues me as much as Captain Kirk's lines, "Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man (one) has gone before." Now, six years after the document came out, I can see some of the new and different ways of learning.

I challenge you "to boldly go", to explore and find out for yourself.
Tweeting perhaps?

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Connection, Collaboration, Co-construction - What We Do

Yesterday morning when I woke up, I started to think about what I needed to do for the week ahead. One task was to plan a staff meeting which would move the staff on in their thinking about the power of blogging.
Before I even threw back the sheets, I reached for my smart phone and sent a request out to my PLN: "Collecting wise "whys" about #blogging for staff mtg; with kids, as reflection, as eportfolios. Can you help? Links apprec. Use hashtag & RT."

Tweets came in over the next 24 hours as people read and retweeted. I connected with some great global bloggers. My Twitter connections even sent me their own presentations by Dropbox (@nlouwrens)and email (@BeLchick1) Wow!

Stephanie Thompson then encapsulated my thoughts in a blog post of her own:

So thanks PLN and thank goodness for the technologies that help me connect.  I can mull over a problem, debate an issue, fill a hole in my knowledge, share a success, share a problem.  And all before I get up in the morning!

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

Digital Discoveries - A PRT reflective blog at my school

It's great to see a PRT being systematic about her reflection; it shows me up! However we are all akonga, so should learn from each other.

My aim is to tag my blog posts with Registered Teacher Criteria; a good idea I think for blog posts with students where you could tag OTJ evidence. I took a sample lesson for this teacher. I had a detailed WALT - not something I'd do with the kids, but I explained to the PRT that I was showing her the things that she needed to work out about where her students were at. Her blog post includes a list of what I did and the students' reflections:

We've had a debrief now, where we talked about where to next.
  • She has given them some snapshot questions to see where they are at on the fraction continuum. 
  • We've talked about differentiating learning activities need to be focussed on learning, not just fun. We as learners do not like going over stuff we already feel we're experts at; this young teacher said it herself at last night's staff meeting! 
  • Has she thought about that with the activities she's planned for them? 
I'm practising my facilitative questioning - all part of my learning journey too!

Sunday, 26 May 2013


What a great weekend hosted by Juliet Revell, Matt o'Dowda, Kieren Moriarty at he magnificent Richmond school in Napier! Here are the links to the wikispace, photostream  and google doc, thanks to Juliet. I  have also added my Storify.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Minecraft - Lego Revisited?

I'm not keen about games, least of all card games; I haven't got the patience. I'd rather read.  As a child I played with dolls and occasionally stuff like Scrabble and Monopoly.  My own children favoured their Lego set and it's one thing I keep in the toy cupboard even though they've left those toys far behind.

I loved watching my children play.  Lego became a place where new communities were created and where they were lost for hours, completely mesmerised by the infinite power of their imaginations.  So it was with some intrigue that I had a second look at Minecraft after a student described it to me as "sorta like Lego."

Last year I discovered that a couple of students had downloaded the game and used it in class when they were meant to be on task doing something "educational."  I found the icon on the desktop of one of their classroom's computers. I asked about it and other students in the class "pimped" on the culprits.  Short of time, I asked the guilty parties whether they considered the game to be educational and they, looking at their feet, admitted that they'd been mucking around.  The game was duly deleted from the programme cache.  And life continued.

But I was curious.  What was this game?  Articles, blogs and links on Twitter started to appear.  I was already convinced that digital technology had its merits not least because it attracted students.  Blogging had been a successful tool in my writing programme because of its ability to reach a global and authentic audience. Lots of other applications were integrated into my teaching programme.  Games but not gaming.  The latter was not yet for me an "educational application".

And Minecraft?  It sounded like a war game.  Until David told me, "Mine means dig.  Craft means build.  Like Lego."

Time for a closer look.
cc image