Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Kiwi kids meet Will Smith

On May 5th the students who were involved in a video conference with Will Smith published this video clip on the Pt England School television network. So I'll leave it to Tanielu, Leoden, Paulitia and Sela (Year 6 students involved) to tell it from their viewpoint....

To read a blog post through the eyes of a ten year old you need to visit Leoden's blog.

Will Smith was honoured by the Simon Wiesenthal Center, Museum of Tolerance, in Los Angeles on May 5th for his humanitarian work. In preparation for this he decided to include students from around the globe in co-creating a poem about Tolerance. This logistical challenge was co-ordinated by Carol-Anne McGuire who is known to us as the Queen of Rock our World - the collaborative project Pt England students have been part of for a couple of years now. She is also the Technology Integration Specialist at the school Will Smith founded.
So during the Easter holidays the kids got to spend half an hour sitting virtually in the same room as Will Smith having a discussion about tolerance and particularly how aspects of intolerance have impacted their lives. And as they mention in the video clip, Peni was called back a couple of days later for a follow-up interview.
We have no idea if the footage from this will ever see the light of day, but even if nothing more comes of it these kids have had an experience that will be remembered for their lifetime.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Unconference 09

The Unconference held on Saturday May 9 at Pt England School has shown us again what a great opportunity these kinds of events are for educators to come together for high quality professional development at no cost (other than giving up a Saturday at a very busy time of the year). Thanks to the organisation of Fiona Grant and the ACES committee the day ran very smoothly and the NEN trial's wireless solution at Pt England was given a thorough workout by the attendees and proved it's mettle.
The day began with a couple of rounds of Speed Geeking to provide a bit of greet-and-meet, and also to get a feel for what people were wanting from the day. Peter Hall from Summerland School set the tone for the day with a challenging presentation about honesty and transparency in our classrooms and from there people found their own levels of interaction with a variety of venues to gather in and share. Fiona reminded us about modelling what we teach our students in terms of acknowledging sources, and reminded us of both the power and the importance of hyperlinking.
A particular feature of this unconference was the number of 'newbies' who had braved the event and so a series of workshops were set up to help them get some specific skills sorted while the serious geeks screen shared and networked in other places.
One of the interesting quotes of the day, "Why would you pay to attend a conference when you can attend an event of this quality for free?"

Thanks to Fiona and Russell for the photos. And to Joel, Russell and Phil for the technical support on the day. And particular thanks to Chrissie, the coffee cart lady from Car-puccino, who parked her mobile Cafe outside the school and kept us injected with caffeine!
*Update* Adding a link here to a wiki created by Sonya with extensive notes and links from what she learned at this event. She shared this on Twitter.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Students seeking teacher

It's becoming quite common to come across teachers online wistfully writing or tweeting about what they would like to do if they had the 'right' conditions to enable them to teach School 2.0 or use Web 2.0 or have whatever form of ideal 21st century classroom they can imagine. They would have motivated and engaged learners, they would have ample technology, fast internet, open firewalls, opportunities to innovate etc etc.
This week I have seen the other side of the coin; students who have experienced and enjoy learning in this way worried about who will be replacing their innovative teacher when she goes on maternity leave and taking matters into their own hands to film their own advertisement for the ensuing vacancy. They went through their usual process of brainstorming, storyboarding, scripting, filming and editing and produced this by themselves. With their permission I have embedded their movie below and if you want to see the full advertisement this link will take you to it....

And thanks to all those on twitter last night who helped spread the word! The students are waiting with bated breath to see those applications roll in - or just one application from the right person would be enough.