Tears

One of my Yr 5 students spent time today out of the class planting native trees for Arbor Day. He returned around lunch time, but I didn’t really really get a chance to talk to him about it this afternoon.
So I saw that he’d just tweeted a “Hey”.

20120601-174032.jpg

Four little words… “I’ll make a doc”. It’s been a long week and I know I’m tired, but that’s not why I welled up with tears.

Powerful stuff this motivated, independent learning thing.

[update] He shared the doc with me via Twitter DM because he wasn’t sure how to spell someone’s name. I wasn’t sure either so I texted a colleague. He waited… until I forwarded the texted answer. Sorted.

This kid is 9. Tweets and follows me with parental permission. Love it. 🙂

People, People, People

Saturday was my third #EduCampAKL and well worth the caffeine fuelled  drive up from Hamilton to Epsom Girls Grammar School. There were lots of new faces, plenty of familiar ones and a few online friends that it was great to meet face to face for the first time.

Full House at Epsom Girls Grammar School

It was a full house, populated by eager teachers/learners who saw the value in giving up their free time to connect with like minded colleagues from across the education sectors.  It was a day to further our understandings of third millenium pedagogy and the new tools that might be used to engage students and promote effective learning.

PD is often seen as something that is done to teachers (not always the case IMHO) but EduCamps/Barcamps are different. There are no reluctant participants; everyone who is there wants to be there. Twitter once again proved itself the WD40 of social oils and made it ridiculously easy to slip into conversations with strangers previously met online.

Ultimately though, the day was about people*. People sharing and discussing their thoughts, their successes, their pitfalls and reflections. A group of likeminded educators all willing to join with others to connect and collaborate. I wondered again what it would be like to work in a learning environment surrounded by these people.

He aha te mea nui o te ao?

He tangata! He tangata! He tangata!

Next… EduCampBOP …see you there!

 

*and I got a choccy fish 🙂

 

Speaking of QR Codes…

It seems my time is spent on Twitter these days, but here’s a new post for my edublogs blog. I saw a link from Mashable on Twitter today and it gave me an idea for a class project.  Here’s a quick video I made to explain.

Of course it needn’t be the student’s own face that the talking mouth is added to.  It could be a character from a book, an historical character or anyone/anything else that suits.  I didn’t use a QR code on my image, but if you use a QR Code generator and upload videos to YouTube you can use the same QR enabled device for many different objects.

The original Mashable post is here.

And this is me… (click the image to embiggen)

QR Me

teachernzandface.jpg

Education Reset

reset

Just a note before you start reading.  I originally wrote this full of expletives.  To get the real feel of what I mean you can substitute the “f***ed-bomb” wherever I’ve used “messed”.

We need a reset button.  A reset button for education.  We need to try turning it off and on again.  Somewhere along the way we messed up.  I mean the collective we of course, the multi-generational we that has systematically messed up education and reduced it to a numbers game; a  keno with a few winners and many more losers.

A reboot wouldn’t be enough though would it?  We’d still have the same guts in the machine.  The same ghosts of mass education’s factory fodder origins.  The same targeted curriculum areas, same bias, same old same old.  Same shit, different day. And still messed up.

I’ve lost count of the number of curriculum review meetings I’ve been to.  You know the ones.  Where we sit around with pens and paper, cutting and pasting learning outcomes, achievement objectives, rubrics and processes until they look different, but say the same.  Maybe we’ll plug in an ICT component, you know, so it’s integrated.  A semantic shuffle and same old messed up same old.

So a reset for education isn’t enough.  We need something bigger, more drastic.  It’s messed up and we keep trying to  fix it by narrowing focus, shaving corners, bolting on new subjects and reordering others.

Sir Ken Robinson and others talk about a learning revolution, but what does that mean?

Given a clean slate how would you set about creating a new education system?  Would it be location based?  What role would institutions play, if any?  What would you include, how would it be weighted, what would its purpose be?  There are plenty of posts and ideas about personalized learning, creativity based learning, pull vs push and lifelong learning, but what would any of these look like?

Or am I wrong?  Is education not as “messed” up as I think?

This One’s For You II

Watch the video….

Primary PLE Please

Hi Steve, your reimagining of the PLE fits pretty closely with my interpretation.  I guess you know how I feel about institutional and corporate fingers in the VLE, but I think to some extent it’s unavoidable.  Learners need a framework to hang their learning cloak on and, in many cases educational institutions are best placed to provide that framework.
That is, of course, if you accept that students don’t encounter the PLE/VLE concept or start building it until they reach higher education.  What if we were to start all this in the early years of school?  Scaffold 5 – 11 year old students in their development of a PLE like we do with core literacy and numeracy skills? Integrate it and weave it into their learning experience right from day one.  What would it look like?  Would it be modular, introducing new tools and concepts in tick boxed turns (like the linear learning that many schools seem to still seem to favour)? Or would it be up to the teacher and learner to identify and negotiate the best tool for the job?
At these early ages there is much modeling by teachers, eg., reading to, reading with and reading by students.
Maybe…
It would fall on the the teacher to share and use their own PLE in the classroom to model its use? Then a co-construction of a “basic” PLE by teacher and student.  Finally the student begins to walk alone…into a world of connected learning, branching out on their own as their learning needs dictate.
There are many barriers.  It depends on teachers having their own PLE, and we know that such teachers are a tiny minority. Not to mention COPPA and the restrictions that web tools put on their use by minors.
I read your posts and see that usually they are aimed at or discussing issues that affect adult learners, but I always try and turn them around and consider how they apply to my teaching/learning, my students/colleagues.  You’ve made me think about where PLEs fit for primary/elementary education and I’m seriously coming around to the idea that to organically grow an effective PLE we need to plant the seed in students as soon as they enter formal education.
Am I being unrealistic? I’ve always  had a Utopian streak running through me.

PLE

I originally wrote this as a comment in response to this blogpost by Steve Wheeler/@timbuckteeth, but it was rejected for being too long.   So here it is, exactly as the comment was written.

Hi Steve, your re-imagining of the PLE fits pretty closely with my interpretation.  I guess you know how I feel about institutional and corporate fingers in the VLE, but I think to some extent it’s unavoidable.  Learners need a framework to hang their learning cloak on and, in many cases educational institutions are best placed to provide that framework.

That is, of course, if you accept that students don’t encounter the PLE/VLE concept or start building it until they reach higher education.  What if we were to start all this in the early years of school?  Scaffold 5 – 11 year old students in their development of a PLE like we do with core literacy and numeracy skills?  Integrate and weave it into their learning experience right from day one.  What would it look like?  Would it be modular, introducing new tools and concepts in tick boxed turns (like the linear learning that many schools seem to still seem to favour)? Or would it be up to the teacher and learner to identify and negotiate the best tool for the job?

At these early ages there is much modeling by teachers, eg., reading to, reading with and reading by students.

So maybe…

It would fall on the the teacher to share and use their own PLE in the classroom to model its use?   Then a co-construction of a “basic” PLE by teacher and student.  Finally the student begins to walk alone…into a world of connected learning, branching out on their own as their learning needs dictate.

There are many barriers.  It depends on teachers having their own PLE, and we know that such teachers are a tiny minority. Not to mention COPPA and the restrictions that web tools put on their use by minors.

I read your posts and see that usually they are aimed at or discussing issues that affect adult learners, but I always try and turn them around and consider how they apply to my teaching/learning, my students/colleagues.  You’ve made me think about where PLEs fit for primary/elementary education and I’m coming around to the idea that to organically grow an effective PLE we need to plant the seed in students as soon as they enter formal education.

Am I being unrealistic? I’ve always  had a Utopian streak running through me.

teachernzandface.jpg

Paperless Day

I signed up for paperless day (April 22), but sadly wasn’t in class.  I kept my side of the bargain and my co-teacher ran a paperless programme for the day (and I most of the next day).

Students are busy working on movies, slideshows and blog entries about their day ( they’ll appear on the class blog), but here’s a taster of what Room 13 did.  Made entirely in Google’s Picasa with a soundtrack created in Aviary’s Myna audio editor.

teachernz-and-face-b

This One’s For You

Last night I saw this trailer on BBC World…

…and then my daughter told me that the Internet had been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize last week.  I was away at school camp at the time and out of “the loop” so this was all news to me.

I started reading around a discovered a few articles in support of the nominations, but many seemed to think it was a ridiculous idea.

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to the person who has “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” Is it so ridiculous that the Internet receive this nomination?

There’s a Māori saying in New Zealand/Aotearoa –

‘He aha te mea nui o te ao?
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata’
‘What is the most important thing in the world?
It is people, it is people , it is people.’

Isn’t that what the Internet is really about?  Isn’t that why we spend time blogging, tweeting or facebooking?  It’s the people.  It’s the people. It’s the people. It’s the global connections and dialogues sans Frontières that are just as real and valid as face to face connections that make the Internet such a powerful tool for peace.

So who is the nomination really for?  It’s for you…  and me…  and everybody else out there trying to make a difference.  Celebrate… it’s not often we get nominated!

teachernz-and-face-b

Just a Test

Following a tweet from @abfromz

abfromz

I thought I remembered something about how to, so I checked the Animoto site and sure enough there were some details about exporting to YouTube and then embedding the resulting video.

Videos

So that’s what @abfromz did… you can see her embedded video here.  It worked.

I decided that there must be an easier way and, after a few minutes searching found this “Embedding Animoto in WordPress!” – I followed the link to VodPod and dragged the bookmarklet to my Firefox bookmarks bar (also works with Google Chrome, but not IE8).

I went to my Animoto page, clicked the bookmarklet and…

vodpodchromeI was thinking of posting to my WordPress.com blog, but I’m using that for my 365 photos.  I knew that Edublogs was based on WordPress, so I filled in my details, added a bit of text and the video was embedded.  It took a few minutes for it to show up, but it worked.  You can see the embedded Animoto below…

…and that’s when I decided to make the test post into something more substantial.

more about “Just a Test“, posted with vodpod
teachernzandface.jpg

3D Printer

OK, so this is US$950, but imagine having one of these in your school.  Your students could really follow their design ideas to the finish with real parts, instead of using bottle tops, cardboard, papier-mâché and string.

teachernz-and-face-b

Goodbye, Hello

DSCF2594sml

2009 has been a strange year at school with lots of changes along the way.

The main difference has been my change in roles. No longer confined to my classroom five days a week, I roam across the school now. Four mornings every week are spent in other classrooms, working alongside teachers or working with specific groups of children.   From shiny, new 5 years olds to crusty 11 year old veterans and their teachers – I’ve worked with them all.  I’ve really enjoyed it, though I still miss the time I had with Room 9, and I sometimes feel like I have no base to call home.  Our classroom blog has been sadly neglected because of my new responsibilities, it hasn’t quite fitted with what’s been happening in class and in the afternoons there is so much to do in so little time.  Next year we’ll make it work.

A few highlights stand out.  The trip to ULearn09 in Christchurch was a major event in our school calendar and we were lucky enough to take nearly our whole staff.  Twenty-two of us descended on Christchurch from the sky, hit the road running (we landed 45 minutes before the first Keynote) and spent three days soaking up the fresh ideas and collegiality.  I met up with some of the internet freaks that my mother would have warned me about, my twittering friends.  It as great to meet so many of them in person.  Tony Ryan says it much better than I can, but if you’re considering going to ULearn next year – just do it! We returned to school in Term 4 energised and enthusiastic.  If we weren’t quite reading from the same page we at least had the same book open.

Working with new-entrant children is an education in itself… a reminder of just how much they assimilate in those first few years of school.  They’re, for the most part, eager, fearless and engaged learners.  Nearly everything has a wow factor for them and they are a joy to work with, their energy seems to soak into you.  I watched as a boy (at school for two days) took up the IWB pen and started using the shape tool to draw circles.  Within a few minutes he’d covered the board with a rainbow assortment of circles of varying sizes.  I looked away for a minute ( I was helping one of the other 5 year olds record their story with an Easi-Speak ready for sharing).  When I looked back at the IWB he had sorted the circles into groups, by colour or by size.  There were three left that didn’t obviously fit his criteria… so he promptly changed their colours and sizes and sorted them too!

I’ve seen massive shifts in attitude and ability in staff and I credit our trip to ULearn with a lot of this.  In particular there was one teacher who openly admitted her technophobia (you know who you are).  For 45 minutes a day, four days a week, over 8 weeks we slowly chipped away at her fears, building skills in a “just in time” way that meant everything she learnt was immediately relevant, useful and used.  Success!

At the end of Term 4 I found an envelope in my cubby hole.  In it was a note from the Junior Syndicate, thanking me for my help… it was worded so positively that I had to sit down and blink to stop the happy tears (I’m a big softy).

To wrap up the year I’ve been given ICT responsibility for the whole school.  I still have a classroom role, I’ll continue to provide professional development for teachers and work alongside students too.  I also have to focus on integrating ICT and IWBs across the school and curriculum and developing a tiered support network for colleagues.  With this comes the onerous job of outlining a three year ICT strategy for the school… something I’ve rarely thought about, but I’m looking forward to sinking my teeth into the challenge.

Oh yeah, to top it all off I’m moving rooms; same age students, different location.  We’re moving to vertically organised groups of classes, Years 2, 3 and 4 supporting each other and learning together.  You wouldn’t believe the “resources” that a teacher can accumulate after nine years in the same room.  Or maybe you would!

So, goodbye Room 9, hello Room 13.

Goodbye 2009, hello 2010.  Bring it on!

teachernzandface.jpg

Happy New Year to you all!

I See TED People

At TED|India the genius that is Pranav Mistry revisits his sixth sense device, shares other human interface devices he’s worked on in the past and shows us a possible future of ubiquitous information and gesture based digital interaction.   He also reveals that the software behind sixth sense technology is to be released as open source.

If you’ve seen sixth sense before – there’s more here, as well as an unusual use for a regular sheet of paper.  If you can’t wait, the real fun starts at about 8:00 minutes in.

Where does this guy get his ideas?

teachernz-and-face-b

Gravatar & Avatars

I discovered Gravatar over a year ago and have used it to represent me visually on blog comments and to give my online identity some consistency in other online spaces.  A few weeks ago I changed my Twitter avatar and, after recently leaving a blog comment with an avatar that didn’t match, I decided it was time for a Gravatar update.  If you’re not using  Gravatar why not give it a try?

Looking over the history of my evolving Gravatar avatars-

Avatar History

I remembered that between

gravy02

and

gravy01

@rakt had asked…

gravy03

and the simple answer is… I don’t use an avatar creator.  I make them from photographs in a variety of ways.

I usually start with a full face colour portrait.  Then I’ll change the colour/contrast/fill settings using Picasa.  After that I open the photo in an older version of Paint Shop Pro, Paint.net or GIMPshop, copy half of my face and play with the effects until I create something I like.  Sometimes I’ll flip the tablet screen and use ArtRage to draw or trace over a photo.  When I’m semi-satisfied I copy and mirror my half face, tidy things up and finish off in Picasa or whatever suits me.  Mostly it’s just playing and experimenting until I’m happy with what I see.

Here’s a few samples to demonstrate a little of what I do.

Of course it doesn’t always work…

Games and Future Learning

In this video from Edutopia, James Paul Gee talks collaboration, problem solving, knowledge creation and much more. Eleven minutes well spent.

Thanks George.

Second Life

200610
I’m on a couple of  learning curves at the moment.  The gentler one of them is Google Wave (more of that in a later post).  The other, steeper curve, is Second Life.  Both of them have reminded me of what it’s like to be a new learner, unsure of the next step, wary of making  silly mistakes.
So how am I learning?  I’m learning with others, and in Second Life I’ve been lucky to connect with a community that really welcomes new learners.  The only stupid n0ob questions here are the ones that remain unasked.  So, thanks for the warm welcome Second Lifers and Jokaydians, it’s been an eye opening couple of months.
Pictures2
I’m relatively new to Second Life, only really getting involved during the Jokaydia Unconference at the end of September.  Since then I’ve taken a few opportunities to join the Jokaydian community to further my Second Life experience and step a few rungs up the newbie ladder.
A couple of weeks ago I followed a tweet from @jokay and joined a Jokaydian foray, via Second Life, into Story Quest.  We met on the beach, geared up with backpacks and wal(k)ing sticks and, after watching the introductory video, we were transported by Marty Snowpaw to our destination.
On arrival it was immediately obvious that this was a carefully crafted world.  The lighting, objects and ambient sounds all combined to create an immersive experience (even on my lowly laptop) that drew me in straight away.
The underlying narrative was intriguing.  The story appeared to revolve around a recently deceased man and presented itself, to me, as an interactive biographical puzzle.  Who was this man Uncle D?  What had happened to him?  Plot elements and Easter Eggs were tantalizingly revealed as I explored (under the able mentorship of Jennette Forager).  I discovered references to “The Scarlet Letter” and I couldn’t help but read underneath it, seeing HIV/AIDS as the 21st Century badge of community shame.  Was this Uncle D’s story?  There were hints of sickness, of debilitating illness, of euthanasia.  Where was the story headed?
I know I could have discovered more if I wasn’t still learning the tools and I have a feeling the whole experience had much, much more to offer; a biographical narrative unfolding in tiny slices, equal measures of entertainment, education, mystery, wonder and enlightenment.  It was a powerful virtual experience, with a genuine emotive connection, made all the more real by the participants, writers and designers.  It just may be that virtual worlds are evolving into the next iteration of the narrative genre.  I wanted to dig deeper, but unkind timezones precluded further exploration and I was subsequently left with many questions unanswered.  Were the characters real or fictional?  Was this the story of an individual or a shaken cocktail of many?
As a novice in Second Life I’m still a bit of a lurker, listening rather than speaking, observing instead of participating, but if ever there was an experience to engage people in virtual worlds or virtual learning environments, this would surely draw them in.  Thinking with my teacher head- how much more powerful is a story that can be co-experienced with peers at a personal pace, with discoverable details that promote thinking, dialogue and multilogue between students?
All I know is that I’m going back, to discover more, to find the next clue, to read the next chapter, to know what happened, to complete the quest.
teachernz-and-face-b