Thursday, February 25, 2010

Twitterific Tweachers

I have always believed that teachers should use the frameworks and tools they expect their student learners to use in their own professional learning. In January I contributed to the Red Beach School teacher only day and enjoyed seeing how Lesley and Sarah and their team used their students' "Powerful Learning" model as the framework for the staff professional development day. It prompted me to do more of it myself!

Conferences are a great place to try out new ideas (if the submissions committee is brave enough to select new ideas!!), so Lenva and I decided to present our Twitter workshop at Learning at School USING Twitter.

We set up a twitter account @nztweachers , and the entire presentation was a series of tweets and interactions with the tweets of others. Now the presentation is over, the twitter account remains as a stand-alone tutorial on using twitter for teaching and learning. If you scroll to the earliest tweets in the archives and work from bottom to top to have a resource you can use for yourself or recommend to others!

At one stage during the presentation students from Bucklands Beach Intermediate tweeted in their gems.

This is the blurb we gave to the conference committee:

Twitterific tweachers:

This workshop will be a lighthearted introduction to the use of twitter as a t(w)eaching and learning tool.

Twitter can be used to support the learning of teachers and students in every area of their lives.

It can be everything from an online supply of the latest pedagogical ideas and resources for the teacher, to a shopping extravaganza.

This workshop will be a twitterfest rather than a presentation and will certainly be different from any workshop you have attended before.

To get a headstart and connect with us before the workshop, join and follow @dorothyjburt and @lenva and of course our workshop id @nztweachers


Learning at School in Rotorua provided another opportunity (excuse!) to spend some time collating the multitude of Google tools, apps, ideas and tips which have come my way. The GoogleFest workshop was billed as "an opportunity to explore a number of Google tools, share what we have tried and gather ideas to take back to our own schools". About 50 people turned up and fortunately the wireless held up for us all to go online and have a play.

This post is simply a directory to some of the resources I shared during this session. I created a Google Doc and shared it publicly so the participants could access the links quickly.

Many of the ideas and resources shared have come from the amazing GCT community. So thanks to Lisa Thumann, Lucy Gray, Kern Kelly, Molly Schroeder, Cindy Lane and Tom Barrett for their resources.

We have particularly appreciated the inspiration of Jerome Burg who generously shared and facilitates his Google Lit Trips concept. If you haven't tried it, you are missing a really engaging way to hook students into reading. Over on the Google Doc there are many links to YouTube videos and other easy to follow tutorials about aspects of creating Lit Trips using Google Earth.

One of the best ways to keep up-to-date with the latest on Google is via Twitter. You can follow all of the various Google 'department' tweets (eg Sites, Maps, Earth etc). I also have a column in my Tweetdeck which displays all the tweets which include the word 'Google'. There is no way I read even a fraction of them, but many times I have glanced at it and seen yet another user sharing a cool idea.

Please add any Google resources and ideas you use via the comments :)

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Word it Out

2009 seemed to be the year when word clouds became mainstream. They can be used across many areas of life, and teachers have found dozens of ways to use them creatively. I know that students love using them, particulary when they enter the URL of their blog and check what they have been focussing on in their writing. I do the same from time to time. You can read about it from a 9 yr old boy here.

This one below comes from a site introduced to me by @achurches on Twitter and seems like a nice change from Worldle. Word it Out does not have as many features yet (it says more are coming) but I find that Wordle is blocked in some of the schools I work in, so this might be worth checking out for that reason alone. I do wonder though if 'Wordle it' has become the verb for word clouds in the same way Google hijacked the search engine?

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Adults learn from Students

School is back! Three days in to the new year and there is a learning buzz in the air. Happy kids and invigorated teachers are always fun to be around. It is the time of year when routines are being set and monitors are being assigned to key tasks around the school.

One of the 'positions of responsibility' for Year 6 students at Pt England School is presenting to adult visitors. Auditions are being held today and somewhere between 4 and 6 students will be selected to fulfill this role for 2010. They will not necessarily be the most articulate or confident students (that is very easy to train them into). It will be students who have something important to say about their learning and who genuinely are doing what they speak about! They will write their scripts of what they want to say about their learning, talk it over with the teachers in the eLearning Team, and start preparing for the first group of visitors expected in Week 3 - a group from America.

This is a very empowering role for students and I love watching them develop in confidence and skill over the year. This group becomes (if the past years are anything to go by) the epitome of confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners at 10 years of age. Before the mantle is passed on to the 2010 team, I thought I would publish links here to the presenting team of 2009. Each of these students published what they had to share with visitors on their personal blogs at the end of 2010. If you are interested, follow through these links and watch the videos of their presentations.

Sela speaks about her learning through podcasting
Helen speaks about
her learning through PE.N.N. (our daily school television)
Paulitia speaks about
her learning through schoolTV (our public television programme)
Leoden speaks about his learning through video conferencing
Tanielu speaks about
his learning through blogging
Cruz was the team technician!

NZ Herald excels in Creative Writing

The past couple of weeks I have had the opportunity to work with clusters of teachers around the North Island as they prepare for the start of the new year. For me this is a fabulous learning opportunity as I get to learn from them and see the different ways schools take on the challenge of preparing for the year ahead. I get to speak about eLearning - one group went so far as to announce me as the eLearning 'expert'! I think it would be more accurate to say enthusiast.

One of the major points of my presentations this Summer has been about our imperative in 2010 to prepare our students with dispositions of digital literacy and digital citizenship, starting at the age of FIVE. In passing I talked about having Google Alerts set up to alert you to what is being said about you and your school. It is even interesting to know if
nothing is being said! As part of digital literacy I spoke about teaching our students to discern the accuracy of information of things they see and read online.

I had a feeling of deja vue when I sat down after speaking at the
Inspired Impact Conference and opened my laptop to check my email. A Google Alert had arrived while I was speaking to say Pt England School was mentioned in the New Zealand Herald. Of course I followed the link to check it out....

The Herald's creative writing skills became apparent from first glance at the Headline, because I had a vague memory of hearing about the reporter phoning the school early in December (hardly breaking news when it was a month old). I was sure I had heard that "The
media could make decile 1a schools look bad" was the thrust of the comments made. But the big alert to anyone who knows anything about the person being quoted - whether from sitting in staff meetings, participating in school and community events, or personally- is that he never uses deficit words like 'poor' to refer to our community or any decile 1a schools. Was it only for sensationalism that the editor chose to use the word 'poor' to talk about us in a headline (which of course is read by the community) or is that expressing an underlying attitude of this publication towards decile 1a communities? Hmmmm.....

Since the NZ Herald has not yet published Russell's letter of clarification, I have asked if I can add it to this post....
"Herald Reporter Andrew Laxton quoted me in his article on Education National Standards, 28/01/10. I wish to present my own unvarnished opinion: I do not ever, refer to schools or areas as being "poor" and do not pretend to represent all the low decile schools and communities of this country. I was clear with Mr Laxton that I support evidence based education and agree with many others, that parents and students own this evidence and deserve to have it shared with them as clearly as possible. I was equally clear with Mr Laxton, that there was no evidence whatsoever, of the government or the Ministry of Education ever wishing to create school 'League Tables'. Indeed, I challenged Mr Laxton that the only group ever to show such propensity was the media. Further, that if responsible reporting displayed value added, rather than a simplistic comparison of one school's position against another, schools like ours would look great and we could display to the public the truly excellent work we do. To this, Mr Laxton replied that the media reported what the public wanted. I hope reporting will also be be evidence based and truly educative. Russell Burt Pt England School"