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


  1. Wow! Fantastic blogpost. Especially awesome for us sad folk who couldn't make it! Having met you at edchatnz in the Catalina cafe, I totally agree that you should embrace your inner Tigger. That's who I met at edchatnz and you're enthusiasm and friendliness is infectious. You and Anne K both exude passion and excitement and its just awesome.
    Thanks for sharing all these docs in one place and takeaways in one place.
    Have a great first week back.
    Bridget, Christchurch - hope your daughter is doing well! ;)

  2. Pō marie Annemarie

    It's been an enormous week for many of us, but my hat is off to you, Camp Mother! A fantastic reflection that focuses on the things that really matter. Thank you for making us all feel so welcome, both in the real and digital world.

    It can be courageous step for some to join twitter, to "lurk" and discover. It certainly that makes a difference to those that are new to be welcomed to the online community. Hopefully they encouraged to find their voice in a positive and optimistic environment. I know that I was, by you and so many others.

    Twitter is not the only way that educators can be connected, and we tweeps would never advocate that it was. What we will tell you is that it has worked for us, and we can share the ways that it has both personally and professionally.

    Keep up the great work. Ka mau te wehi!

  3. Brilliant!! Totally agree with you. There are a tonne of fabulous reasons as to why you'd go to ULearn - and it is seriously awesome. You've given me a few sparks to light this ULearn blog post fire I've been creating the last couple of days. :) Love reading your writing. I hear your voice when I read and I totally love the Tigger comment. Have beeb called an excited puppy once before as a negative. I completely think that the excitement is what is most important. :) Learn by sharing and developing. Thanks again Anne-Marie - love my hat.

  4. A brilliant and exhaustive summary of an amazing event - and an event that you played a significant part in. You did an amazing job with the Twitter Dinner on Wednesday evening which had the opportunity for so many people to meet face to face for the first time. Your Kapa Haka group was sensational and you and your staff did your school and Rotorua proud. Fantastic event.

  5. Great read, Anne-Marie. It's always great to read other people's reflections and thoughts on such a a big event.

    Years ago I was a heavy user of the Google docs, but for the first time this year, I never used any of them. I valued the comments and discussion of twitter too much. It has come to be my 'note taking' system of late, which I think annoys other people - I know that I can go overboard.

    "Ulearn is all about good practice and real learning for all" is a very accurate observation. Like Derek Wenmoth said in his workshop that I attended, and in one of his addresses, Ulearn is now more about pedagogy, and less about technology - this was one of the key messages that came through for me during this year's event.

    Thank you for everything you did during and leading up to Ulearn week - it would and could not be the same without you.

  6. Thanks for taking the time to record these reflections and thoughts AnneMarie - a great read and overview of the event. Demonstrates to me how multi-faceted the ULearn event has come to be, along with the fact that the greatest value comes from being active in the community, rather than simply 'attending'. The contributions that you and others are making to the very active, ongoing connections and 'knowledge building' within the NZ education community is valued and much appreciated!