Monday, 27 October 2014

Frogs and Snails and Puppy Dog Tales

Image attribution
In it there is a spaceship
and a project
for doing away with piano lessons.

And there is
Noah's ark,
which shall be first.

And there is
an entirely new bird,
and entirely new hare,
an entirely new bumble-bee.

There is a river
that flows upwards.

There is a multiplication table.

There is anti-matter.

And it just cannot be trimmed.
I believe that only what cannot be trimmed
is a head.

There is much promise in the circumstance that so many people have heads.


Recently my middle daughter, now an adult living away from home, admitted that one summer she had an accident which she hid from us, her parents.

We live on a long straight suburban road, just below the bit where the uphill incline starts to steepen. With a group of friends, predominantly boys, she took the challenge and long-boarded down from the top.  She's always been our "Xena, Warrior Princess," taller and stronger than her sisters, and always able to beat the boys in any sporting event at primary level.

But this time she came off, knocked herself out and skinned her arm from shoulder to wrist.  With a national rowing competition coming up, she decided to hide the whole event from her family, and suffered for a number of weeks under long sleeves and from the unknowing knocks and bumps of her unsuspecting family members.

While the story was told, the other kids in the room only laughed knowingly.  And while my husband rolled his eyes, his mother too, can recount the stories of her four children on their farm, three boys, including lucky car accidents, spotlighting and running over neighbourhood roofs.

It's what kids do.  And especially boys. It's about that risk and the fellowship of risk that belongs in childhood...which goes on until the mid twenties for some.

And my reaction mirrors the reaction of many teachers of writing when they see the "blood and guts" or toilet humour in the writing of boys. Really? Did you have to do that?

Ralph Fletcher, a father of four boys and a teacher of writing, addresses my concerns in his highly readable book, "Boy Writers."

He reminds me that the life of boys is very different from the life of middle aged female teachers.  I know that my students enjoy listening to the weird and wonderful writing of authors like Paul Jennings:

Finally it is time for bed. Cynthia changes into her nightie in the bathroom and then joins me in the bedroom. 'The cat's on my bed,' she says. 'But it doesn't matter. I like cats.' She pulls back the blankets.

And screams. 'Aargh. Cat poo. Filthy cat poo on my pillow.' She yells and yells and yells.

Just then Dad bursts into the room with a silly grin on his face. He goes over and looks at the brown object on the pillow. 'Don't let a little thing like that worry you,' he says. He picks it up and pops it into his mouth. But this time he does not give a grin. His face freezes over.

'Are you looking for this?' I say.

I hold up the bit of plastic poo that Dad had hidden under the blankets earlier that night.
(from 'Funniest Stories", 2005)

Do I accept that the boys in my class might also want to write like this?

In a series of short chapters, ideal for after planning quick reads, Fletcher outlines his findings, anecdotes and reflections, ending each with a list of "What Can I Do in My Classroom?"

Ideas he covers include:

  • giving boys choice
  • accepting their humour
  • understanding their unique voice
  • the place of conversation
  • handwriting and fine motor skills
  • why violence has a place
  • relationships
  • why fun is important

He leaves us with four main points to better nurture and support struggling boy writers.
1. Just let them write
2. Take the long view - you want them to want to be writers.
3. Consider pleasure.  Is it fun?
4. Think relationships. "We're not teaching writing - we're teaching writers."

As a mother of girls, this is a book I need to put in my kete along with Celia Lashlie's excellent text, "He'll Be OK - Growing Gorgeous Boys into Good Men"(2007).

It's a text I'll be buying several more copies of for our teachers as they launch into the second year of an inquiry into improving writing for boys and "reclaiming their voices."

Related blog posts:

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Embracing the Tigger in Us - Reflections on #Ulearn14

I love how I feel after Ulearn conferences and this has been the best so far.  It's taken me two days to sort, chew, digest, and ruminate over what are my major "take homes" and what I will look at first on Monday.  So here goes:

1. Friendship

Last year I met a lot of Twitter frequenters face to face at #Ulearn13 as I did at the #Edchatnz conference.  This was a chance to get together again and there were still new people to link with for the first time.  I got asked to say a few words at the Twitter Dinner on Wednesday night and these really encapsulate the way I feel about the educators I've met through Twitter: we get to know each person by their contents before we see the cover and we appreciate that we are all on the same page. (Someone tweeted it out but I can't for the life of me find it in the stream!)

I opened my house to fellow tweeps as others have done for me, especially +Caroline Bush in Auckland. our fellowship allows us to support each other and if it means we can go to more events more frequently, then great.  The social aspect is an important part of these conferences.  It's a chance to mull over ideas in a safe and comfortable environment.  It's that whole dynamic of having all your needs met.  We all need acceptance and to feel valued by our peers.  I genuinely get joy from all the friendships.  It blows me away that +Dean McKenzie and @dwenmouth found family, friend and school connections after a few minutes talking.  I loved hanging out with @nlouwrens and @mattynichol and to see them on the Saturday when they were waiting for their flights.  It meant a lot to be able to ensure that +Craig Kemp was welcomed and felt included by his Kiwi colleagues.  These are but a few of the experiences.

2. Connectedness

Friendship is part of this but it is more.  It's being part of the collective of passionate educators all
dedicated to lifelong learning.  It gave me huge satisfaction to see the teachers from my own school get how powerful this is.  That the Twitter stream is filling up with their tweets gives me enormous satisfaction and will need nurturing.  There is a definite buzz when you are "followed" or "retweeted" that makes you feel you are on the right track.
I love that this amazing group of women is now excited and energised for term 4 rather than regretting that the holidays have drawn to a close.  They have purpose.  They are excited by Universal Design for Learning and @KatieNovacUDL.  I've challenged them to present the inquiry that they are now purposefully planning and present it at #Ulearn15.  I am going to request that the Board plans to send the whole staff next year.

3. Akonga

I loved that we see we are all learners together.  Thirteen year old Thomas did an amazing job at our Minecraft Magic breakout.  It was his video, his ownership of the narration, his understanding of the programme.  Empowerment.  Tuakana teina.  The "aha moment" that being talented is not about being "below" the National Standard for writing.  His communication skills were exemplary.

Our kapahaka roopu blew everyone away with their Thursday morning performance to the 1700 strong crowd.  They were leaders, talented, strong.  I don't think they realise how special they were.  It is my job to make sure that they take this experience and run with it.

4. Learning with "e's"

I admit it.  I was self conscious about my over tweeting.  Didn't want to look like I had a problem and didn't want to cheese anyone off.  But I wasn't going to use pen and paper.  "E"-devices are now my way of life.

I tried to embrace the Google docs but I had lots of connectivity problems with those.  Something to do with too many folk trying to share, it was suggested.

So after a sigh, I went back to Twitter.  Why I had I left this? I love Twitter! I love 140 word summaries.  I love the interaction with others as I reflect.  Definitely a learning moment which I see others like +Leigh Hynes share; here's her blogpost.

My presenter lanyard takes its place.
I mentioned connectedness; it's also the collaboration we can have from "e"_platforms. I was able to plan and present a breakout with a group of educators I met online.  We planned with a Google Doc, created a Google slide and talked on a Google hangout.  It's "e" for empowering!

I read a great blogpost this morning about the amazing group of "e" for educators that are the "efellows".  I'm proud of the fact that I know so many of them this year and in 2015.  And it's all about "e" for education these days.  Some teachers and schools still think this a geeky conference for computer geeks (as if that is unpalatable) and they couldn't be more wrong.  Ulearn is all about good practice and real learning for all.


Not least is excitement! I loved this conversation this afternoon:

5. Embracing My Tiggerness

I need to be me.  I Tweet. I shriek. I hug. I laugh.  I love learning.  And no such thing as being too-Tiggerish, @fuse711!

I loved that I saw it and heard it in +Tom Barrett 's session and in  +Steve Mouldey 's session.  He also refers to it as being an "excited puppy."
It's not a persona - my own persona - that I embrace at school.  Interestingly, the feedback I got from my colleagues was that they liked this persona better.  So that is a huge take home for me.

6. Extended and Disrupted Thinking

Unless we get out there, we don't see where pedagogy is going.  As educators we need to constantly reflect on our practice and it is an honour to hear the ideas of others.  Just as modern learning spaces are about knocking down walls, modern learning practice is about knocking down barriers to learning.  What follows is a list of the keynotes and breakouts I attended and storifies from my connected educators!

  • Breakout One - Presentation : Modern Learning Environments: where learning takes place - +Mark Osborne 

"This session will explore much of the research into where learning best takes place. We will look at the drivers that are seeing many schools re-examine their physical learning environments as well as the research into their effectiveness. In particular, this session will look at ‘the site’ (your school’s location and its relationship to your community), ‘the structure’ (what size, shape and configuration the building should be) and ‘the stuff’ (furniture, fittings, equipment and technology). We'll also look at a number of case-studies of effective modern learning environments." 

Mark took us on a journey through the different paradigms of learning.  He looked at how our lives have been affected by technological change and why that should mean a change in learning practice.  He looked at schools such as Ngatea with Neil Fraser and Karla Hull; I feel really privileged to have been there and to consider them my friends!

From Nick Mason +fuse711 -

  • Breakout Two - Presentation : Teaching and Learning in a Community of Thinking - Yoram Harpaz

"This workshop will initiate the participants to the processes of teaching and learning in a community of thinking – a framework that my colleagues and I created and facilitated in Israel and elsewhere. The theoretical background of the community of thinking is based on five “atomic pictures” – of learning, teaching, knowledge, mind and educational aims. The practice of the community of thinking is based on three stages: fertile question, inquiry, and team and communal concluding performances. The workshop will facilitate the participants in posing fertile questions, guiding research, and producing concluding performances."

I wanted to go to this because the Community of Thinking is our Problem based learning Model.  Some clarification for me.

  • Breakout Three - NoTosh : Design thinking for innovation and inquiry - +Tom Barrett 

"Working together we will use the design thinking process to immerse ourselves in some of the chunkiest issues crowdsourced from you and the wider education community. We will define the real problems, generate new ideas and even begin prototyping some of our thinking. In addition we will begin to consider how this creative inquiry can be used in the classroom with our learners. Yes all within 75 minutes! Brains-on, Hands-on!"

My biggest take home was embracing my Tigger side!  Loved the collaborative approach and structure of design thinking and will add more as I digest it.

What is design thinking?

Minecraft Madness, Trailblazing and hacking other Minecraft tweets from #ulearn14 

  • Breakout Five A - Taster :: "Modern learning started in libraries" - so how do you create a future focussed library? - +Georgi de Stigter 

"The ever changing landscape of education has left one thing unchanged: the role of a school library. Even in a digital age students still actively seek out a quiet, open and non-threatening space where they can find what they need, when they need it. But libraries are sometimes full of restrictions around security, limited internet access, and laminated rule cards, and this isn’t really modern or future focused. Once the doors close at the end of the day, that’s it, opportunity to visit over. A future proof library on the other hand, is the complete opposite. This presentation will cover the journey of the recreation of the library at Hobsonville Point Secondary School, a modern learning environment opened this year. It will highlight the process of developing a vision and executing it, whilst discussing successes and learning opportunities that arose along the way.  If you are interested in re-envisioning your library for the future, please come along and find out more."

I've visited Hobsonville Point schools but didn't get to the library! It was great to see Georgi's journey.  The library as a space is evolving.  It's a topic much at the front of my mind right now.

  • Breakout Five : Making the most of your Google Drive using apps, add-ons and extensions - +Leigh Hynes 

"An introduction to some much loved add-ons, extensions and apps for Drive and Chrome that you can make work for learning in your class.  Learn how to use and get your students using these extras in Google Drive and on Chrome."

I arrived half way through.  Must get back to Leigh's presentation! Always useful material.  I asked her to come and support me at school with GAFE.

  • Breakout Six - Presentation : Creativity is not just for the arts

“This isn’t art, why are you asking me to be creative/draw/make something?”

"In all subject areas now we are looking for students to develop innovative ideas. If we want students to come up with innovative or creative ideas we need them to practice being creative. Build their creative confidence. As a geography and social sciences teacher, my journey to developing students creativity has seen me bring all kinds of tools to the classroom with me: chalk, post-its, pipe cleaners, tennis balls, boxes, QR codes, multiple devices, robots... All in the aim of getting students to think more creatively. If you are looking to increase your students’ abilities and confidence in being creative, then this may be the session for you!"

Leanne's storify

More Ulearn14 Storifies:

+Kirstin Anderson-McGhie  My Ulearn Related Tweets ; Things to remember from Ulearn14

+Marnel van der Spuy - Presentation Ulearn 2014

+Alex Le Long  - ULearn14 - It Truly Was the 'Mother of all e-Learning Conferences

+Kassey Downard  - #Ulearn day 1     #Ulearn day 2      #Ulearn day 3

Vanessa Cannon - Ulearn14 Reflections

+Tamara Yuill Proctor - Ulearn Tweets

+Pam Hook - Bridget Casse - SOLO Taxonomy in the Early Years

Jenni Markotsis - Ulearn - I Learnt

@jeanettem1 - Reflecting on Ulearn2014

Thursday, 2 October 2014

(Modern) Learning Environments

"She (was) a Mod" - but not today.

I'll be honest. It's taken me a while to explore this topic, for two reasons:

I took it literally. I was in an existing, older environment, with no power over changing "how we do things here."

The term grates on me. It's another bit of jargon. It's fashionable. It's a trendy term to throw around. Sorry Stephen Heppell, Mark Osborne and others who have been part of this conversation for ages. It wasn't in my "to do" pile.

I fell into the trap. 

Modern Learning Environments are not about the age of the school, the amount of glass, the trendy green, geometric, vinyl ottomans or the orange, corduroy bean bags. It's about how kids want to learn. Actually, about how each of us want to learn, including me.

A light goes on. I start to take notice. The twitter stream starts to ripple with how teachers in traditional schools are recreating their classrooms.

from "Teaching the Teacher"

Anne Keneally uses her efellow year to explore modern learning environments and I send out a challenge in our school for teachers to get their students to redesign the classrooms. Not much changes.

It is not that simple when you have a long tradition of classroom layout in your heads - even for the students. It's about deep and meaningful inquiry into how we like to learn. Without that, we fall into recreating traditional models or being mesmerised by the furniture catalogues and all that lime coloured vinyl - which our budget won't cover. Sigh. But it's not about the trappings. 

The word modern though, does conjure up a particular look. But how long will "modern" be modern?  I've seen a traditional classroom stuffed full of modern furniture that was showcased as a modern learning environment. I've seen an older block with walls punched out to make open spaces and one end furnished with old, donated, comfy sofas. Another modern learning environment.

We really need to delve into how we like to learn. We need that other modern gem, "student agency." We need learner voice and I'm a learner too, so why not start with me?

I liked school. I liked collaborating at school. I didn't think much of any of my classrooms; cold, rattly, grafittied, wooden chairs that ate your tights. 

For individual work, I preferred to wait till I got home. One of my favourite places was spread out on the floor with books all around me. I wanted space and I wanted it on my own. When I was reading I stayed in my small bedroom or tucked myself into a sunny corner of our sun porch, another private, enclosed space.


My own kids begged me to be allowed to come home to study, especially in their senior years, nearing exam time. The school was too rigid in its timetable, the teachers were boring, they were reviewing stuff they already knew, other kids were mucking all sounded very familiar. I have to say I was torn between meeting their needs and being a school leader who couldn't condone truancy! 

So let's look at that middle word: "learning". That's the key. Where do we learn best, as opposed to "do school"? Where you learn might not be where I learn. Whether extrovert or introvert we have different needs and at different times. And how do we learn?

I love to discuss things to clarify my own thinking; I read and I write to reflect. I like listening to other experts in their fields - but I want to choose to listen to them and I can't be under stress to take it in. I need to be well fed and watered, warm but not too warm and be able to at least, for a time, shut out any worries in my life. I like to be in an ordered environment; my room has to be tidy wherever I am. Sometimes I want background noise and sometimes I need silence. I want time to consider.

And does "environment" mean a building? I've talked about the spaces I like. But how else do I learn? 

I love my digital devices. I love that they allow me to connect, converse, collaborate anywhere I want to: on the sofa, in my car, in the doctor's waiting room...I love that I can talk with someone in Singapore or Orlando. I love that the only barrier about time is that I need to sleep sometimes when people are working elsewhere in the world. I love that I can replay or rewind that learning if I can't be there. I love that I can learn anywhere anytime. I love the word ubiquitous. It rolls off the tongue.

So now I'm watching how you want to learn. If you choose to play Minecraft, could that be a learning environment for you? Why am I spoiling it if I call it a learning environment? Is learning only a school activity that has been prescribed in a curriculum document or examination prerequisite? Of course not! 

Gone are the days when a school leader told me that it was unsuitable to call a game at school a game. It needed to be called a "learning activity". Oh dear. That sort of says that fun is not allowed.

We know better. We acknowledge that learning happens through play: life lessons like collaboration, creative thinking, problem solving, give and take, communication, disappointment, resilience, all take place in the sandpit. Hang on - these are pretty important tools that a citizen needs in their kete. 

And what of the teacher? How does that role fit in to a real learning environment?
I think of the teachers who have had the biggest influence on me:

  • My form 2 teacher who allowed a small group,of us to write our plays. We were fully immersed and presented them to real parent audiences.
  • The junior high teacher who let us explore the imaginary back worlds of novels like "The Sword in the Stone" about Merlin and Arthur.
  • My mother who always supported learning by attending every interview; who filled a chest of drawers with cuttings and project material.
  • My friend Sara who showed me that every four year old's "why" question was important and who could discuss why clouds were pink at sunset and why the sky was blue. Our kids were allowed to paint their faces and dig huge mud holes in her backyard.
The adults were there for the children: making sure they were safe, picking up the pieces, refereeing disagreements, scaffolding understanding, modelling good practice, making sure there were available resources, watching that the children ate and dressed warmly.

So if we learn through play, by being in comfortable, flexible spaces, or even uncomfortable outdoor risk-taking environments, face to face or virtually, in the real world or in worlds we have created online, let's get on with it. We are individuals and don't go out into the world known as boxed sets: "class of 2014."

It's time for real conversations about learning and the learning environments that have always worked. Forget the modern. Learning is not schooling. And modern becomes "how we do it around here" too quickly. And that's the point.


Other Links:

Sunday, 28 September 2014

The Great Debate - To Type or to Hand Write? That is the Question.

My first memory of sitting down to write was on my first day of school in Miss Persy's class at Bishopdale School.

I drew a beautiful picture of my family complete with a yellow spider sun and box house and Miss Persy wrote about my family underneath. She asked me to draw underneath her words so I did. A line. All the way around each of her sentences. 

I suspect I already could write as I like writing. I know that I didn't make that mistake again.

I remember writing letters to my grandmother and to cousins. We lived overseas for a while so I had a real purpose. It was a treat getting letters back. I wrote little poetry books with sugar paper covers attached with wool bows or staples. I had a lot of fun in Form 1 and 2 where my teacher allowed a group of us to write plays which we even performed on parent nights. These were usually based on books we had read and were definitely collaborative affairs. We carefully copied out the scripts for each other. Purposefully.

Even in the non exam years at high school we had imaginative teachers who allowed us to write the documents for medieval worlds. I remember a dictionary based on Jabberwocky and village magazines based on "The Sword in the Stone." We had copies of a lettering book and carefully traced or copied the fonts. 

But I'm not talking about hand writing drills. I remember going over and over letters at my expatriate school but discovering in New Zealand that my letters were not perfect enough. It was a real mission with an ink pen that had a scratchy nib and blotted the paper when I least expected it.

Handwritten essays at senior level were not so much fun. Writing and rewriting to make sure there were no mistakes - and second guessing where the grade or mark out of 20 came from.

By this time I had thrown away the cursive script as unwieldy, unattractive and belonging to my grandmother's letters. I printed neatly but had made my own style with little "a"s that looked like upside down "e"s and circles above my "i"s.

By varsity I had developed a scrawl suitable for taking down notes quickly although I still neatly printed essays, with that same rewriting I felt I needed for a quality product to impress the marker. I remember rewriting job applications many many times in order that the prospective employer would be impressed by my obvious thorough attention to detail.

My fingers still show the disfigured knuckles and sometime callouses of all that pen holding.

Then I stopped writing. I wrote comments on essays as an English teacher and my own banda sheets but I no longer "wrote". No audience, no purpose, no time.

Along came computers. What joy to type a letter which I could revise and send out to friends and family. I loved setting out the Parents'Centre newsletter. Why? 

An authentic audience. The ability to write and rewrite. The ability to satisfy my OCD tendencies with a beautifully typed piece of text.

I've promised myself this blog post for some time. I've read arguments about handwriting and typing. I'm not finished and I don't believe any of the pieces of research I've seen are conclusive.

I do know that writing is about joy of expression, meeting needs to communicate and choosing the best available tool for the job - my choice of tool.

I know students who didn't read a book until they wanted to read the road code.
I know students that only write in exams as a means to an end; but they text or use Facebook.
I have seen the "aha" moment on faces when Grandma replies to a post on a blog. 
I've heard students talk about the joy of writing on a laptop because they hate their handwriting style.

I enjoyed writing because I was creating. I do a pretty good two finger typist thing and would hate typing lessons just like I hated handwriting drills and other "have to complete" things. You know when you have to fill out a form or do a long survey? No joy there!

My 22 year old daughter completed her degree online. I completed my post grad paper online without ever touching a pen or paper. I actually made a point of it. I didn't want to rewrite text off bits of paper. I hate the piles of paper on my school desk that other folk have given me and that still require homes; while my computer drives are neatly filed and easily accessible.

So if I'm completing everything digitally and online, I wonder how my students will be communicating ten years from now?  We worry about the fine motor effects of not writing and the neural pathways that are not being formed, but should we? Are we not making other future focussed neural pathways? Developing our brains rather than our pencil holds?

Pam Hook's collection of research -

Thursday, 25 September 2014

I'm a Learner of Mandarin

Lilli leads us through the numbers.
Lilli is our Mandarin language assistant. She's in New Zealand for a year as part of her degree and she is assigned to several Rotorua schools where she takes classes in Mandarin language.
In order for her to do this, a registered New Zealand teacher needs to be in the room.
Wednesday after lunch sees me in the language room with half of W3.

I sit next to Ellie who is mildly uncomfortable that Mrs Hyde is in the seat next to her.

Concentration and fine motor skills.

Lilli leads us through folding a booklet with Chinese numbers and basic sayings.  Fortunately I get it right. Phew!

Now she writes the first five numbers on the board and leads us through the pronunciation. I learn that the macrons tell you how to say each word - flat, slide up, slide down.

We repeat this with the next five numbers.

We learn about the significance of red as a lucky colour and view some intricate cut paper shapes from China. It's our turn and I learn a lot about the paper folding and scissor skills of the students.

All too soon it's over...but I've enjoyed the experience. No finishing work at the back of the room for me. I'm a learner.  I might even learn a new language!

Red paper cut outs are a Chinese tradition.
Showing off our creations.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

"Build it and they will come" - The Inaugural Educamp Minecraft

Thanks +Michael Fawcett for providing this!

It started at the first Connected Taupo meeting. Steve Katene and I started to say "What if...?"

We started a Google doc and Monika Kern joined in.  It seemed like a great idea...

A few months later, we contributed to the Education Aotearoa magazine and somehow the idea got printed as an event happening in term two.  All of sudden the pressure went on to actually make it happen!

A few tweets went back and forth and finally a date was settled on in Term 3. Educamp Minecraft went onto the Educampnz wiki -

Kassey Downard, Monika and I put our heads together - literally - in a Google hangout and came up with a programme loosely based on the educamp format (see the wiki).  We used Twitter to invite known users and the #edchatnz crowd.  I emailed local schools and the Connected Rotorua group.  Our Home and School committee catered soup, rolls and cake and Monika and I sorted out details like chocolate fish and coffee on the Friday night before.

Saturday dawned and we were down at school sorting out all our last minute details.  And we were off!

Twenty six folk arrived from as far as Keri Keri and Wellington.  Natalie, Steve and Wendy brought students and Kassey had six of our Mokoia kids on site to both present and tutor.  The teacher experiences were fantastic.  Shaun Woods skyped in from Christchurch.  Students from Richmond and Te Kowhai Schools presented their creations; so did our kids.

After lunch, akonga had the opportunity to play in the "sandbox" in Kassey's classroom or talk to Steve and Michael with the pod of ipads Steve brought from Napier.

Here is the Google slide:

Highlights for me were:

  • the passion of educators who came together from all parts of the North Island to join together for a Saturday of sharing expertise and learning from peers and students
  • the development of a Google community for Minecraft teachers - ttps://
  • the student voice from a range of students from different schools, age groups and backgrounds
  • the detail, collaboration and problem solving implicit in the student projects
  • the success of the day - it all fell into place!
Thanks to everyone involved.

Here is the Storify:

Other reflections:


Visitors from Bruce McLaren Intermediate in Auckland and Te Kowhai School in Hamilton.

Mokoia experts sharing their Hoot city collaboration.

Sandbox time.

Akonga at work.

A Mokoia student talking through the PC version with the ipad experts from Richmond school in Napier.

The teacher questioning the teen experts.

Working with Mr Katene.

Steve brought this pod of ipads with him.

Connected Educator Month

I found out about Connected Educator Month at the #Edchatnz Conference:
It's an honour to be asked to help out and be coordinator for Rotorua.

Marnel van der Spuy, Alex Le Long, Anne Eastcott and I met to come up with some ideas.

The first is a Teacher Chat run like a face to face Twitter chat.  Alex took part in this at the conference so she has been volunteered to coordinate the questions at our Connected Rotorua meeting on Friday 24 October at Western Heights High School at 4.30pm.  It's the start of Labour weekend so we hope we get some people there!

The second is Pass The Blog -

The tricky thing is to get everyone to post! I think it will need a concerted effort this week.

You could join us:

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Trekking to the Tron

I love unconferences.
The right people come...and in this case I had @ariaporo22 and @kasseylee11 with me.
The latest ideas are offered.
The most popular ideas are elaborated.
Educators share and connect.  They know who to ask for help.

Wednesday, 27 August 2014

Reflecting On Being a Digital Learner

I responded to a forum on the Virtual Learning Network and thought it was worth cross posting here...

What learning are you accessing and how?

I'm one of those folk who has to know what's happening everywhere all the time. Someone else called it FOMO - fear of missing out!  So I have notifications set up on my email for all my VLN groups. If I don't have time to read them all at least I can see what is being discussed.

I've started my Masters in Educational Leadership as I fully believe that we need to be more aware of the research and ideas that are out there and better informed.  I like the idea that Finnish educators are well educated with masters degrees. Academia is not the only necessity as a teacher, but it helps if you do have at least literacy and numeracy above Level 3 of our curriculum and I do worry that that is not so. If we want credibility as a profession we need to be the best we can be. And we have to attract the best to our profession.

I did my whole post grad paper online and didn't use a pen.  I managed with online tools and like the fact that I have everything curated and filed instead of flicking through bits of paper.  I can also restructure or reuse a piece easily without having to start again. Tessa Gray once challenged me about being a digital educatior and using a pad and pen. It made sense to me. Even my shopping list goes on to an app on my iphone.

In 2012 I completed the National Aspiring Principals' programme and loved both the learning and connections, several who I keep up with even now. Much of our learning was online with discussion in a VLN forum or in MyPortfolio - the latter not my chosen platform, I must say; it is clunky.

The people I keep up with are on Twitter and that professional learning platform is HUGE for me.  I love the links, the topics, the chats. I like that I can access learning anywhere and anytime.  Kerri sums it up:

And these people I truly regard as friends. Time and time again when I meet them face to face at educamps or conferences, it strikes me how much we like each other. We have been enabled to get to know the contents of the book rather than judging the book by its cover.

What are your top "go-to" places for online professional learning?

1. Twitter and my PLN – and you pick up who to ask about what and where!
2. Virtual Learning Network
3. Google
4. Waikato – because that’s the university I've started my post grad study with.

Do you capture your learning (and reflections) as evidence towards the Registered Teacher Criteria? How?

I keep a reflective blog - and this is it!  We are frequently reminded that we must leave a positive digital footprint. But it’s not just about not doing things on line that show bad judgement.  It’s about being “google-able.” These days you NEED to be found online. I know school leaders who are not advertising in the Education Gazette and only online because they want connected educators.

I go back and tag my posts with the Registered Teacher Criteria.  That way I am keeping evidence.  I’m not doubling up, and it’s just in time.

How are you sharing your learning with your school, colleagues and the wider education community?

1. Twitter - I’m @mrs_hyde and I connect a lot.
2. My blog
3. Posts like this
4. Staff meetings, educamps, Ulearn, Connected Rotorua (one of the start up crew, collaborative docs
5. The media- lucky enough to be interviewed by our Daily Post, the NZEI mag and Ed Review.

How do you balance your online time with the rest of your life?

Others would say not well, as I am often attached to a device. But if you are passionate about it then really, what does balance mean? I do put family first and I have times when I read “popcorn for the brain” novels, watch TV, garden and walk. And I don’t have my phone plugged into my ears as I prefer birdsong!

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Reporting and Interviews...subtitled "I wasn't going to tweet tonight."

...but Karla Hull reminded me that #ptchatnz was on, and the topic is one that many educators are worried about.  How do we report well to our families about our students? What do they need to know? Want to know?

#Ptchatnz is the brainchild of Ngatea School and Principal Neil Fraser led me to it. On the first chat, I think Neil, Karla and I had more or less a three way conversation for the hour.  We advertised it; I wanted to help. We talked about it at Educamps and on other chats.

This third chat was sensational.  Karla designed great questions.  The tweets streamed down the screen!

What we need though, is more parent voice.  Many of our followers are teachers.

I will enjoy mulling over the tweets in the storified collection embedded below (thanks Karla).

Last word must go to parent Martin Partridge, from Hobsonville Point Primary School.

If we use too much jargon in our tweets then I imagine that our reports and interviews are similar. Thanks for the timely reminder.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Thinking with the Think Tank - #Educafe August 7 2014

I attended an #educafe session at the National Library in Auckland at 6pm on Thursday 7 August 2014. I was staying with Caroline Bush  as we were both attending the #edchatnz conference the next day.  The opportunity to attend an Educafe was a bonus; I'd been to my first at Ulearn13 in Hamilton, and as it's all about talking, it's right up my alley!

Emma Winder, the originator of Educafes in New Zealand, starts us off on a big idea.  We sit down at a table with others, and there are a range of people from education and beyond.  There are big sheets of paper on the table.

"How do we help prepare students for the future they want rather than the future we think they will embark on?"

And the conversation begins.  we write down our points with felt pens.

One person volunteers to be the person who stays with the table to share the preceding conversation with a new group, and we all move and separate to new tables.

The ideas are free flowing and thought provoking. All too soon the evening is over, but we are all inspired.  New connections have been made; faces put to names.

And it's only the start of an amazing weekend for me!

EduCafe Term 3 2014 on PhotoPeach

Learnings and Future Learnings...from the #edchatnz conference

This is my fourth blog post about the #edchatnz conference; from what I've seen on the Tweetdeck streams, I'm not alone in my excitement.

In @ReidHPS's meme challenge, he asks us what we would have liked to attend.  We had to make choices and those choices involved missing people and sessions which have had an obvious impact on others.  So here are links to resources, presentations and #storified tweets which gather in the goodness.

I plan to come back here to read and reflect as there is not a hope that I can do it all right now.
Thanks #edchatnz tweeps who did all the work for this collection.  Special thanks to @chasingalyx who gathered all the links in her "Superpost of Resources."

Alex's Superpost of Resources

Sonya's Listly of Reflections 

Anne Kenneally's #storify

Kimberley's #storify

Pam's #storify on SOLO

Anne Robertson's #storify

Simone's #storify on #kidsedchatnz

Karen's keynote on #storify

Alyx's #storify on the MP debate

Karen's #storify on Connected Educator Month

My #storify on Gamification

My #storify on Digital Literacy with @andrewcowie

My #storify on the inaugural f2f meeting of #Edubookchatnz

Lots of photos on the #Edchatnz community