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

Monday, 11 August 2014

Species Twiducatus Edchatnz (No Birds Were Harmed in the Making Of This)

Twiducatus Edchatnz


Twitter birds come in all shapes and sizes and many coats, but like a combination of black and bright colours. The female is usually identified by its avatar; she normally takes selfies from above in order to minimise chin flesh.  The male usually takes selfies from below in order to maximise height and may well wear a hat to disguise early loss of feathers.

Also distinguishable by having a small coloured, backlit device appendages attached to hands and heads down; a risky business for this species, as it may walk into things.

Spectacled Twiducatus


Enjoys flocking in brightly coloured Modern Learning Environments, with coloured bean bags, stools and various multi-level furniture items.  If these are unavailable, is not adverse to meeting on virtual cloud spaces and can swim in fast-moving streams.

Favoured habitat of Twiducatus

Feeding Habits:

Feeds by diving in and out of streams where it follows other Twitter birds and consumes their links. Works cooperatively however, by ensuring stream is freshly supplied with new links.

Also found in cafes where eating procedure involves firstly tweeting photos of coffee froth and beautifully styled cake arrangements, in order to impress other twitter birds with success as a hunter and collector of delicious foodstuffs.

Noisy flock of Twiducatus feeding in early morning light.

Reproductive habit:

The twitter bird begins as an unhatched egg which is nurtured by more mature Twitter birds.  They help it to develop feathers and a suitable profile without which it will not survive; survival is dependent on being followed and following other Twitter birds.

Young of Twiducatus

The Twitter bird then goes through several stages before it is fully mature:

At the curious stage, the new Twitter bird is affectionately tagged as a "lurker" and is allowed to watch more mature members of the species feeding and resupplying the stream.  The most mature members of the species who are successful stream divers, are also affectionately tagged as "queen".


In flocks will hug and shriek.  Ordinarily it communicates with shortened text forms and hashtags. It cannot utter anything with more than 140 characters to ensure that communication is quick and that all members of the flock can utter a tweet in the chorus.

Committee Chorus

How to catch a Twitter bird:

Twitter birds are attracted by uttering abbreviations and by giving them brightly coloured and shiny tools.  GAFE, UDL and MLE are current favourites as are LCD screens especially if accompanied by smart phones. 3D printers, ipads and Chromebooks are equally successful in capturing their attention.

Global Flock Numbers - Is It At Risk?

Twitter bird numbers, especially the subspecies Twiducatus, which we have highlighted here, are currently undergoing a rapid expansion in numbers.  There is a possibility that similar species such as Snapshoticus, Instagraminfinitum and Facebookaddictus might subsume the species, but there is no indication of that at present as the Twiducatus is enjoying global growth; it can feed at any time of day or night and in any geographical area or climate, as long as wifi is present in the atmosphere.

Odd birds are all accepted by the flock, ensuring that the flock maintains variety and a wide range of ideas. 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Flying With Your Flock - #edchatnz

By D. Dibenski ( ([1])) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I love language. That's one of the reasons I tweet.  I love the crafting that goes into the "pithy epithet" of 140 characters.

I love collective nouns.  A school of fish. A pride of lions. A herd of cats. A bowl of nuts.

I love being part of a collective noun.  A thought that came from Danielle Myburgh at the start of the conference was the challenge of being "the lone nut": the person not afraid to take risks, to go against the crowd, to make a change for the positive, to sing in the silences and dance in the stillness.

A lot of twiducators seem to feel like lone nuts in their schools.  They are fired up about the learning through Twitter, and the power of using other digital technologies for connection and collaboration. They want to find out more about modern learning environments, digital literacy, blogging, gaming and coding.  And sometimes - maybe more than sometimes - they want to share and no one wants to listen.

More than once I've listened to educators who feel that frustration.  It might be good to stand out from the crowd, but being an outlier is a lonely thing.

So opportunities like #edchatnz are great for us. It truly is a place where we swim with the Twitter stream instead of feeling like we are battling against the rapids.

And we like the opportunity to feel that collective togetherness by being in the bowl - in the flock of Twitter birds.  Some of the birds are sharing sky space like the lovely folk of the Hobsonville Point schools, who opened their wings and shared their nests. (Apologies for the mashed metaphors, but I am enjoying myself).

For a weekend we are no longer the lonely nut or the ugly duckling; we've found our flock and we can't stop the singing in our heads.

Replying to Reid...the #edchatnz Blogging Meme

If you get included in the blogging meme: copy/paste the questions and instructions into your own blog then fill out your own answers. Share on twitter tagging 5 friends.

1. How did you attend the #Edchatnz Conference? (Face 2 Face, followed online or didn’t)

It was a MUST attend for me. I'm one of the early #edchatnz crowd – and well, the “queen” it would appear – so one must make an effort! I love @MissDtheTeacher and what she has done to BITS and wouldn’t have missed it.

I told my team, leapt in the car after a meeting on Thursday afternoon, and drove the three hours to Auckland where my lovely tweep friend @CaroBush was hosting “the girls”. We went to #Educafe with @EmmaWinder25 and @andrewcowie and had the most marvellous think tank time…but I digress; that’s another post.

Next morning it was on the road to HPSS with @CaroBush, @digitallearnin and @annagerrit – and I think we were first there!

2. How many others attended from your school or organisation?

Just me.

3. How many #Edchatnz challenges did you complete?

Hmmm – certainly #selfies, #grelfies, #melfies and #twofies.

Also assisted @digitallearnin with the dance challenge in @andrewcowie’s digital literacy breakout.  She held the camera while I yelled at everyone, “Get up! Dance! It’s a challenge! DO IT!”

4. Who are 3 people that you connected with and what did you learn from them?

@boonman who is a well-known advertising face (had to ask him if he really was himself) but did his best work on our Twitter video. Funny guy! Smarter looking in real life. (He he.)
@AKeenReader who reminded me that we all have an influence on each other and it’s so important to make those connections and have that support.
@mattynicholl whose whole face lights up when he greets someone.

But I want to say EVERYONE!  I really get pleasure from meeting all the tweeps I talk to online, reconnecting with people I now regard as friends, new tweeps I didn’t already know and anyone who shares my passion for learning and sharing. So I could just add my “following” list!

5. What session are you gutted that you missed?

I would have liked to see @geomouldy in action, @nanogirl, and @rosmaceachern, who was talking about being a learning coach in this different school environment.

6. Who is one person that you would like to have taken to Edchatnz and what key thing would they have learned?

I can’t choose one. The people who should go might not be ready to go.  The teachers at school who would love to go but have small children or Saturday sport commitments and put their kids first.  The people who don’t get the whole connected, collaborative, online environment and being a global citizen.

I’d love people to see what an amazing network is forming through Twitter: my staffroom of choice, where hierarchies don’t exist, people share the same vision for learning and get each other.

6. Is there a person you didn't get to meet/chat with (F2F/online) that you wished you had? Why?

Yes – some names that constantly pop up on my feed like @DanceWellNZ, @nanogirl and the Ngatea lot who I promised @Neil_NPS I would look for.

I love putting the faces to the names. @nanogirl has been an inspiration in science and with her handling of the media.

I have to say though, that I met a huge bunch of tweeps! Yay! Lots of #grelfies and #huggingandshrieking to prove it.

7. What is the next book you are going to read and why?

I need to finish “Boy Writers” by Ralph Fletcher, which is inspirational and down to earth. He is a father of boys and a teacher of writing; Gail Loane recommended the book to me.

Next will be the #edubookchatnz choice, “Key Competencies for the Future” by Rosemary Hipkins et al.

8. What is one thing you plan to do to continue the Education Revolution you learnt about at #EdchatNZ?

Lots of things were reinforced.  I think that not being worried about being the lone nut is the most important thing. We aren't lone nuts and I'm already spreading the good salt.  The NZ Curriculum document is a good one, and I need to keep reminding folk what it says.

I'll continue to look at gaming with Minecraft and coding.

9. Will you take a risk and hand your students a blank canvas?

I try to now. My NAPP inquiry was about boys and writing and I am fascinated by the “feminisation” of education; some say it doesn’t exist. I think it does. One thing is less teacher talk, more discovery.

Who do I tag with this meme:


Monday, 4 August 2014

So What's So Cool About Coding?

So I've jumped in...I'm a learner too.  I've started an elective class in our arts and culture timeslot in a Friday, and I'm doing, where we work through projects.  At Educamp Auckland two Saturdays ago, Lesley Sampson aka @LaSampsonator decided to brave the "smackdown" and suggest we start a teachers' club.  Obviously other teachers are feeling like me.

Last night, very timely, the #aussieED chat was on coding; what a full and rigorous discussion! One of the best chats for resource sharing I've been part of, and a HUGE number of resources to go through:

I've now completed my first two exercises in, and feel chuffed that I've both made the time and completed the exercises.  They aren't that easy. I'm obviously not as logical or spatially skilled as I'd like;  I can see the benefit for my students for improving both problem solving skills, algebraic thinking, angles, estimation and following a logical sequence.  Maybe it's not a good idea to do this late at night...

My first two classes with the group of Tech Wizards have started well.  The boys - yes, all boys - are right into it and I'm nearly redundant.  So far they are working on which has been successful because I can set up a class, give the students individual passwords, then check out their work on a collective gallery page. I think we'll move on quickly, and there are one or two who want to move into more complex sites which I need to check out.

It's also a great opportunity to watch kids learn and think about aspects like letting them find out about the info.  So we're experimenting with shared Google docs, forms and self help videos.

Click on the picture to go to the video!

A mention in a tweet brought a collaboration with Craig Kemp aka @mrkempnz in Singapore. Because we are doing similar things with similar groups, we thought the kids could communicate through a doc or form.  So far so good.

I'll post again when we are further along!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

#educamptt How to Spend a Saturday Learning - Here, There, Anywhere!

While I didn't drive up to Educamp Tai Tokerau, I WAS there!

It was a fantastic experience sharing and contributing to the smackdown, and facilitating two workshops with the amazing Monika Kern (@BeLchick).

Spur of the moment stuff: I sat amongst the washing at home (well, almost) and talked about Coding and Minecraft with groups of teachers. Had a momentary panic about not having prepared resources but in the end, went with the flow. Being a talking head was enough.

What an amazing experience! No special outfit, no travelling for hours to Northland from here, no accommodation costs. And I managed to do some chores in between.(Well, the bed got made.)

But here I still am...storifying and blogging.  Sometimes you just have days like that!

It's All About Connecting - #connectedrotorua

We want these meetings to meet needs and wants. Twitter was suggested at the last meeting, so Twitter it was! (And I don't need to be asked twice.)

I think it's the MOST important arena for teachers to build their personal learning networks.  I've said it before - here's my post on being Attwicted to Learning.

It's harder to convince teachers of this however.  in spite of this, a dozen keen folk came out to find out why this is so.

Knowing Alex Le Long had presented on Twitter at the NZATE conference in the holidays, I thought we would spread the love and get her to share her presentation.  Thanks Alex! it was very informal, with questions and clarifications as we went along.  Two new tweeps joined up and others enthused that they would start using it more.

We moved on to the topic of Blogging. as the discussion went that way, I talked about protocols and security:
  • Don't forget that your school owns intellectual property completed in its name - so by inference - even student blogs.
  • That means you need some identification and some pastoral control.
  • Use the school name in some form in the URL so that they are easily found. we use "mokoia-int"
  • Blogger settings allow you as teacher or administrator to both be an author and moderate either posts or comments or both. Suggest you get in there!
  • Use first names, not surnames in titles and URLs and never identify a student with an individual portrait photo.
  • Decide on the purpose of the blog.  Will it be to publish beautiful teacher-edited work, or is it rather evidence of learning? The latter is more real and helps with parent understanding about where their learner is at. Say this in the blog description which appears under the title.
  • Use the word verification; there are unfortunately, too many spammers out there!
  • Advertise! Use twitter to tell the world about the blog post. Get your network to RT (retweet). Your young blogger will need readers and commenters!

Marnel talked about her Kidblogs.  She teaches new entrants and Year 1.  Even young students can post with a teacher's help.  And parents love being able to share their child's learning at home.

Her children participate in Kidsedchatnz too, for which she is one of seven teacher facilitators. Make sure your children have real places to read and write, with real just in time audiences! 

Thanks everyone for another great evening of learning and sharing.  Next time - Friday 5 September, we'll discuss eportfolios, so bring your ideas, your questions - and a friend!

Connected Rotorua Twitter Handles:
@mrs_hyde    @1MvdS    @ariaporo22   @lynmartin  @suewintersnz  @NeedhamVicki  @nobiek59   @JakBBB

We're Going on a Road Trip - and Another Saturday of Learning

I love learning and I love meeting face to face with those educators who are now my friends.

Marnel Van der Spuy (@1MvdS), Alex Le Long (ariaporo22) and myself (@mrs_hyde) rose very early and faced the Saturday morning darkness, fog and traffic to head north to Educamp Auckland.  This year it was hosted by Western Heights Primary in Henderson.

What a full room greeted us! All the usual shrieks and hugs of course, as tweeps from Nelson (@allanahk), Hamilton (@barbs1, @teachernz, @annagerrit), Napier (@Juliet_Revell, @maloneynz) and my lovely Auckland friends - @CaroBush, @digitallearnin, @helenoftroy, @MeganCroll1) I've left out so many but you know who you are!) - got together.  We've met on Twitter, and as we share similar ideas and passions about learning, we get on incredibly well!

Finally set eyes on @ReidHns1, @missesartech - lots of new friends to make too.

The smackdown is always a great sharing of ideas, and @FionaGrant was very efficient with the buzzer.  I shared a number of slides too:

Next off to the breakouts.  These are planned from post -it notes. participants choose what they would like to know more about and a timetable is created. 

First stop: Coding. The group decided to create a coding club for teachers in which to share progress on as we upskill ourselves. This was chosen as a great site to start for teachers from all sectors. This Google+ community will also allow us to share other learnings, musings and resources about coding. Thanks to Lesley (@Lasampsonater)and Tanya (@tanya) for getting us going!

Next: Minecraft. Thanks to Mark McLay for allowing us to play on his networked app on the ipads. Had a lot of fun with the other participants! I'm going to get back to him about how he has set up Minecraft at his school.

The last breakout was with Fiona and Amy (@AmyMMcCauley) to discuss applying for the Google teacher academy. The deadline was on Thursday ...maybe next year?

A final giggle at the airport as we saw the Napier tweeps off, and it was back on the road, where ideas and pedagogy are well thrashed by the time we reach Rotorua later in the evening!