Saturday, November 12, 2011

Film Festival 2011

The Manaiakalani Film Festival was held on November 9th at Hoyts Extreme Screen Sylvia Park.
This was our 4th annual film festival and again saw 2000+ kids attend screenings during the day and a full house for the Evening Showcase.

Our first three Film Festivals were held at Tamaki College in their auditorium and last year our friends from the Tamaki Transformation Programme encouraged us to be brave and go extreme!

Film Extravaganzas have become popular with schools in recent years and we gained our inspiration from the Nati Awards on the East Coast.  I suspect the MADE Awards, also held this week with Bay of Plenty schools, may have had roots in the Nati Awards also.

Our cluster of schools made a conscious decision from the first  to make our Film Festival non-competitive and instead be a showcase of our "Learn, Create, Share" pedagogy.  It is complex enough to honour all the work put in by students and teachers when it is a celebration event, and I can imagine organising it competitively would be more challenging still.

We display all our movies on the cluster website here
and encourage people to follow the links to the class blogs where the movies are actually embedded.  That way the students can track who has been visiting and enjoy receiving feedback on their blogs. I'm sure there is an element of competition around how many visitors and comments their movies receive :)

A massive amount of organisation goes into a major event like a Film Festival, and this year we decided to create a website using Google Sites and to put all our organisation out there in the public.   That gave everyone a one-stop-shop to visit for all information from bus timetables to the role of principals when attending a daytime session. 
Link to Film Festival organisation website

Hopefully by making the organisation public other clusters and groups of schools will be able to use it too. And of course it will be much easier to retire from the Producer role if the organisation is easy to access!

More photos from the day were taken by Karen Ferguson from Tamaki College and displayed on Flickr here.

Apple sMACdown

One of the highlights of ULearn11 in Rotorua was the annual Apple sMACdown.
The session blurb began:

  • Innovate. Create. Celebrate.
  • Bring out the inner Fanboy / Fangirl.
  • Apple users get together for a fun session of sharing the interesting, cool, funky and fun things we can do using Apple products.
  • Share your ideas, favourite apps, tips and tricks with fellow enthusiasts. ....
We welcome all comers, but do begin the session every time with, 
"The only thing you are NOT allowed to ask over the next 80 minutes is - 'Will this work on a PC?'. Because for 80 minutes we don't have to care!"

Quite a crowd showed up and the panelists had plenty of competition from the floor for funky and useful tips with all the Mac addicts present.

Our website link is here

  • The contributions from all the panelists are linked down the sidebar.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the home page to find links to all the crowd sourced contributions.
Next time you have a few minutes you'll find heaps to explore and learn from , or book mark it and keep coming back.

Thanks to Matt Thomas, Allanah King, Georgie Hamilton, Marcus Norrish, Kent Somerville, Stuart Hale and Fiona Grant for your contributions to the panel.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Hope and a future

"Uganda is going to be as developed as America, as any other country."!
This boy has a fire in his belly and an inspiring goal .  Maybe our dreams for our students are a wee bit small!
Thanks to Julie Trell for sharing this from her to visit Sr. Miriam Dugan Primary School in Kamwokya, a slum in Kampala Uganda.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Do shoes help us learn?

This week the NZ Herald has capitalised on the school holidays to run a series of articles about schools providing breakfast for children aged 5-12 yrs of age and the paper informs us that numbers of kiwi kids attend school with no breakfast. They also inform us that breakfast is necessary for learning to occur.

In the same week we have had agitation provoked by the media about schools stating that access to technology is necessary for students to learn.

Various social media have picked up on this as well as radio and television.  I was intrigued to see a mention of the Manaiakalani project on Google+  provoke this comment from someone:

Hmmm. I live 200m from pt England school. First reaction is to witter on about the kids needing shoes before laptops... Or for the dairy across the road to stop selling legal pot substitutes.... (more online)

This has got me thinking about shoes.  When did the wearing, or not, of shoes in New Zealand schools become an indicator of anything, let alone students learning?

And for a 'showing my age' statement; 
"I didn't wear shoes to school in the primary school years and I turned out ok!" Actually, I did when it was frosty. My mother sent me out the door with footwear on most days, but it quickly went into my school bag.  Things changed at high school when shoes became a compulsory part of the school uniform, but barefoot and carefree was a common kiwi experience in primary school. What was your experience with shoes and school, and how do you think they influence student learning?

Below is a quick survey to find out about wearing shoes at school - and I would love to hear  more of your story through the comments below....

Friday, July 22, 2011

Teacher Dashboard + Google Apps for Education

We have been using Google Apps for Education at Pt England School for 3 years now. Russell signed us up when we were at the GooglePlex in California in 2008 - how's that for sitting right next to the help desk!

We began our implementation in a leisurely fashion, bringing onboard those who always put their hand up for new things first and then supporting the rest of the team to start using it.  But it was when the students became Google Apps users that the fun began because everyone was so keen. And the teacher's Google Docs home pages were swamped with documents shared by eager students.

We were very fortunate to meet up with Jan Zawadzki early in this journey and hear about Teacher Dashboard which his company, Hapara, was designing as an add on to Google Apps.  And we were quite vocal in telling him our ideas about how it could be improved to make our teaching lives easier! We get so many questions about it from other educators that we finally got round to putting this video together to give a Pt England School perspective on how we are using Teacher Dashboard.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

iPads Everywhere

That's right - at ISTE11 it seemed that everywhere you turned everyone was either using an iPad or running a session on them or talking about how they would be rolling them out in their schools in August (which crazily enough is the new year in the northern hemisphere) as their 1:1 device.

One of the interesting perspectives was that something that was deemed too expensive for our parents to afford (see video below) has become the 'cheap' option for  schools facing budget cuts and parents wanting to reduce spending from laptop programmes in affluent areas of society.

There was no doubt that the iPad is a magnificent learning tool, or as Gary Stager said in one session I attended, "The perfect accessory to a MacBook".  But our years of podcasting showed when Wes Fryer demonstrated a reason why every school needs iPads.  He approached Russell for an interview at the Google Party!  A crowded, dark, noisy room and was adamant that his iPad was equal to the task of an interview.  Wes collared a passer-by to hold his iPad (to video record) and with his highly directional iRig mic he conducted the interview you can hear very clearly below.

Imagine how this would change podcasting in the classroom if you had this set-up?  No longer would you need a quiet room, or a laptop/computer.  Watch this space - I think we are about to acquire an iPad kit.....

Monday, July 11, 2011

1:1 Programmes: Here, There and Beyond

The panel presentation I was part of at ISTE was pulled together entirely online, with all the participants living Here (Pennsylvania), There (California), and Beyond (New Zealand).  the differences in the schools represented went far beyond geography; there was huge variation in the approaches to setting up 1:1, school expectations, pedagogy, student socio-economic levels, teacher expectations, preparedness for 1:1 etc.

Bonnie Marks chaired the panel and we each presented an overview of how our schools were implementing 1:1 and the impact it has made on learning and teaching so far.

This Google presentation (below) was worked on in our own time zones and is what we each spoke to when it was our turn to present.

The panel responses to a question about some of best things that've come out of moving to 1:1...
  • Stakeholder involvement, in particular parents
  • Huge kid engagement across the board. Working at more times of day.
  • Where teachers used it well there was significant lift in outcomes (but not all used it well).
  • Secondary kids are feeling much more self directed. Completing course work more quickly.
  • Need buy in from students. In some schools students only wanted laptops if everyone was doing it (didn't want to be a 'geek' group!)

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hyperstudio just keeps getting better

One of highlights of ISTE always is getting a chance to catch up with Roger Wagner and the team around Hyperstudio. In the enormous trade hall at this conference it is very rare to find the actual developers of products sitting at a booth talking to people and gathering feedback, so Hyperstudio is the exception.

The standout developments I saw demonstrated at the Hyperstudio Booth this year were:

Green screen improvements - you have always been able to do green screen from years back, but the ability to use built in cameras and create green screen movies directly onto the card you are working on is great.

HTML5 - No plug ins necessary for online browsers (Chrome, Firefox, IE, IOS) means that finally it will be worth publishing stacks online.  Until now there has been a plugin for Safari, but we have found it a barrier for sharing stacks with non-techie people who are not confident about installing plugins.

Realtime Information and collaboration with Google Docs - this means that a Google Doc can be embedded inside a Card on Hyperstudio.  People are going to love the ability to finally have images, movies etc attached to Google Forms (currently you can't do this in Google Forms) to create more meaningful tests and quizzes.

Embedding any HTML code in a card - this means your voicethreads, animates, vimeos etc can be embedded in Hyperstudio.

The last three developments are still in Beta, but they will be a free upgrade for anyone who has a current license.

I just wish there was a Linux version so our Manaiakalani kids could use it on their netbooks!

New perspectives of Philadelphia

This is my second ISTE at Philadelphia, the first being back in 2005 when it was still the NECC.  I wasn't that keen on going back to Philly as the first time there I had found it a pretty unfriendly and unhelpful city compared to the other US cities I have visited over the years.

Well, in 2011 I got to experience it from a wheelchair and it was amazing! I broke my foot 10 days before the conference and we decided to go ahead with our travel plans anyway. People could not have been more warm, friendly and helpful in Philadelphia. From the cabs (we took dozens of those) to the hotel staff to the cafes to the conference centre - folk went out of their way to be kind.  Opening doors, offering to fetch and carry, and always offering friendly greetings.

The greetings. Seems like every second person who went past would have a quip:

"What does the other fellow look like?"

"I'd hate to see the other woman"

"What did he DO to you?" - looking at my faithful driver.

And sitting parked while my driver was scouting for supplies (or just taking a break) I met heaps of new and interesting people who took time to stop for a chat.

But I also had a new appreciation of a conference from the perspective of a wheelchair.  I saw endless table/counter edges, but frustratingly couldn't see what was on them!  Same in Reading Terminal Market - a place I had fond memories of from my previous visit - you really can't see the food on display from wheelchair height. When parked in a lecture theatre it was surprising how many people then came and stood in front obscuring the view. And I didn't get to take photos the same this time. Getting out the camera was often just one thing too many. I discovered collecting schwag is for the able bodied - it doesn't get offered to people dwelling below eye height, and if you can't see it you can't help yourself the same. But the name badges everyone wears on lanyards were at the right height to read this time!

No trip to the USA is complete without a bathroom anecdote or two!  I have some beauties from this experience, but have decided that discretion is the better part of valour this time round - regretfully. Suffice it to say that doubling the size of the cubicle and putting in a handrail does not magically make a stall 'accessible' to a person struggling to walk!

I hope that the impact of my wheelchair and crutches sabbatical has made me more empathetic to others in similar situations.

The other perspective that was so different this time round was brought about by social networking.  In 2005 social networking was in its infancy, so the conference felt like 20,000 strangers walking around who may have known the small group they came with but no-one else.  Six years later it was more like a big reunion of 20,000 people. Everywhere you went there were people bumping into old friends and people they had only met online before this week.  I guess it may not have been like that for half the attendees, but the difference for the other half was noticeable.

QR Codes

Last year at ISTE there was a lot of talk about QR codes.  This year, there wasn't so much talk - they simply were everywhere as a normal part of conference life.

In most sessions (including my own) the presenters displayed QR codes for their links to their online notes.  Most people had a blend of QR and print data on their handouts and business cards, but there were a good number who only used QR.

Teachers from Pt England School sent me off to ISTE with a big bunch of cards to give out with QRs to their class blogs.  I distributed these in the two sessions I presented at, so time will tell whether people visit their blogs as a result.

I discovered the downside to QR though.  I was determined not to use the data plan on my phone this time and end up with a large phone bill.  So I was reluctant to use the QR reader on my iPhone.  I began looking for a reader for my MacBook, so at least I could access the online notes and information when people only gave out QRs.

After some research I found there is not a lot of choice out there, and I ended up downloading an App called - QR Reader !  It requires you to also have Adobe Air installed and uses the camera built into your Macbook.  It does the job ok, but is a lot more fussy than an iPhone about getting the angle right when it scans.   I am also looking at something called QuickMark in the Apps store, but it costs $5.29 so is not something we will be putting on the classroom iMacs.

We would be very interested if someone has a better App to suggest - must work on an iMac and or MacBook.  Also looking for a good Linux reader for our netbooks.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Dance with the Dinosaurs

I was thinking of titling this "Hanging out with Dinosaurs" but that might have given quite the wrong impression!  

This time last year I posted about the highlight of ISTE 2010.  Well, Google have done it again.
We received our invite to "Dance with the dinosaurs, kiss a butterfly, and (mini) golf like a tiger at the Academy of Natural Sciences" and hobbled (in my case) on down there for a fun night out. And yes there were dinisaurs there and they were quite something to look at.

Monday, June 27, 2011

3 Minute Keynote Smackdown

What a great idea!  The final session of the Saturday EdubloggerCon at ISTE11 was introduced by Steve Hargadon as "your opportunity to hear in 3 minutes what some great speakers talk about in all the keynotes you miss!"  Or something to that effect.

So for an hour we were treated to some inspiring keynotes in successive 3 minute bites - perfect!  Snippets from these are below.

If there was one speaker we wanted to put on a plane back to New Zealand, it was Kevin Honeycutt,
Some quotes from his 3 minutes...
Our kids have digital limbs
We cannot amputate those digital limbs
We have to learn to use them
Give kids rigor and make them quote sources. You don't cite your sources I delete your post
'Where might YOU fit as a teacher'. Not "where does the tool fit'?

Earlier in the web 2 smackdown he demonstrated with his iPad and a cardboard guitar.

It was so much fun we had to track him down afterwards and get our own demo....

Introduction: Steve Hargadon

1. Kathy Schrock - Infographics as a Creative Assessment
She showed an inspiring 3 minute movie of her keynote outline to keep to her brief. 
An infographic is a visual representation of information. Come learn tips and tricks for using student-created infographics as an authentic assessment. The presentation will showcase how infographics are created and concentrate on the student literacy skills necessary to research, critique, summarize, and communicate information in a visual way to reach their audience.
2. Brad Flickinger - Unbelievable Elementary Tech Projects Spoke about what is going on at his school,  Bethke Elementary School.
Quote "21st C skills need to have 21st century assessments"
3.Howie DiBlasi - "Making Waves In A Changing Education World"
4.Cindy Lane- "Geo Apps Span the Curriculum"
More of Cindy's wealth of Google Earth/Mapstips and tricks
Gave us her URL for her presentation notes  Http://
Reminded us that:
  • Maps/ Earth/ Sketch up all talk to each other
  • Math lessons are possible using Google Earth (thanks Tom Barrett)
5. Joan Gore and Janet Corder - "Success Solutions for the High Tech Classroom"
Using LiveBinders with Junior students
6. Adam Bellow - "Web Tools to Make Your Classroom Rock!"
Likes to use Webtool rather than Web 2.0
Education technology is not about stuff
From his website about this keynote:
Come to a session that focuses on ten amazing web tools to make learning more captivating and exciting! We begin with a memorial for the term "web 2.0" and move on to explore tools that will bring new life into the classroom. The web tools focused on will reach across all subject areas and can easily be scaffolded for different age groups or student abilities.
7. Hmmmm.... forgot....
8. Steve Hargadon: "School 2.0"
  • Factory model of schooling is broken
  • Social media has brought a profound power shift
  • Freedom <----------->structure, and school has been at the structure end
9. Tammy Worcester: Google Projects for Kids!
10. Rurik Nackerud: "Sharing is Caring"
11.Kevin Honeycutt: Trends, Tools, & Tactics
see above
12. Katherine Walraven: Youth, Technology and the World We Want
Taking IT global
  • Hope challenge
  • Understanding challenge
  • Engagement challenge
  • Apathy challenge
13. Bernajean's Spotlight I-imagine: Waking Up a Generation for Greatness
From her website:
Calling all educators to illuminate students' sense of identity and purpose through exploring, mining understanding and imagining taking their place in the world. The I-imagine project creating 3-4 min vision videos is grounded in new research for inspiring hope, joy and action in students discovering and activating their own life-goals - living in the truth that their lives and talents matter to the world. Narrative story is one of the oldest and most proven tools for motivating individuals to engage in change, mobilized by inspired hope while activating positive actions NOW. Finding purpose and passion are the hallmarks of a life that matters, a life worth living. They are also the source of joy and happiness. The greatest gift parents and teachers can give their children is to help them discover, nourish and act on this truth NOW. Participants will explore the possibilities, research and process and positive impact when students create multimedia visions via docudrama stories AS IF their future life is NOW.
This sounded to be along the lines of  videotaped self-modeling as defined by Dr. Peter Dowrick of The University of Hawaii ie where he uses carefully planned and edited positive self-images of behaviour on video.
14. Scott McLeod: Where we are, where we need to go, and the importance of leadership
Leadership is the key to change
If leaders don't get it it's not going to happen
  • Perspective -why are they here
  • Practice. It's about who you are, what your practices are
  • Pedagogy. Know and define what your pedagogy is

ISTE 2011: Web 2 Smackdown

First up in Philadelphia for us was the EdubloggerCon on Saturday June 25th.  This was a great chance to meet up with friends and learn new things.

These are my notes from the web 2.0 smackdown.  If you have been using any of these feel free to add links to your work through the comments.....

Web 2.0 Smackdown - Organized by Lisa Thumann
3D printing software
Scratch kind of website for making games
records whatever screen you're on
create forms that go straight to your Drop Box
kinda like prezi
Casual Collaboration.
Mash your ideas and media together with friends in a dynamic whiteboard wiki. Using photos, videos, and other web content you can instantly create brainstorms, presentations, scrapbooks, and enjoy an interactive chat with more than 50 friends. 

no login required so great for school kids.  Create quick surveys
AnswerGarden is a new minimalistic feedback tool. Use it as a tool for online brainstorming or embed it on your website or blog as a poll or guestbook.
Find web2 tools, post it on the website. Kinda like netvibes or iGoogle
Be The Curator of Your Favorite Topic!
Create your topic-centric media by collecting gems among relevant streams
Publish it to your favorite social media or to your blog

Create organiser diagrams and mind maps online.  They give all educators free pro accounts.
Diagrams Done Right
We have rethought and redesigned the entire diagramming process to make it as easy as possible. Draw flow charts, wireframes, UML diagrams, and more with just a few clicks.
HTML5 and web standards make LucidChart fast, smooth, and reliable.
Collaborative. Work simultaneously with as many people as you want.
Keyboarding game. A social network.  Teach your kids to type.  Can limit the social network to the level you are comfortable with
30 day free trial. Also teaches Internet safety as they play
QwertyTown teaches keyboarding, an essential component of literacy for today's students.
Reinforces skills through safe online communication
Addresses Common Core Literacy Standards
Entirely web based
Customizable for learners with different abilities
A way to host your class within Google Apps.  Kinda like teacher dashboard but much more limited
Connect with People through the Pages you Share
allows you to take any URL and create a unique one
Learning guides
eg literature.  Allows students to choose a novel and has masses of information about the book.  Free text to speech so they can listen to this as well.
a really easy way to present and share your presentations
If you can’t see a presenter’s face their impact reduces by 55%!
Present.Me is a community for easily recording & sharing your presentations. If you’re a business – it could be to share within your own private space with your employees and customers, or publicly on to market to your prospects and collect leads.
Present.Me combines video, audio and your presentations in an easy and intuitive way, so your audience get to see and hear your message in the way it was intended. We’ve built the whole process with ease of use in mind, there’s no need to download specialist software – it’s all there in your browser already. And because it’s online, you can instantly share it with anyone you like, anywhere in the world.
Make games with GameSalad Creator
Create games for iPhone, iPad, Mac, and HTML5. No coding involved. All drag and drop. Similar to scratch. Embed code available for blogs portfolio etc. No flash, all html5
Storybirds are short, art-inspired stories you make to share, read, and print.
Read them like books, play them like games, and send them like greeting cards.
Create a story with their clip art. Keep adding pages. Collaborative storytelling. Embed on web.
Create your own cyber twin.  Possibly fun for adults, but kids would have to give it way too much information to make it effective - unless you were doing an embellishment genre for writing, then it may be great fun!
combination of glogster and prezi
Check out Amanda's great post about how she uses Popplet here.
Online image editor for the masses
Edit photos online. Kinda like photoshop express online
Online vocal builder and enhancer. They give you a word, you write as much as you can about it in the time allocated ie one minute.
You’ll see one word at the top of the following screen.
you have sixty seconds to write about it.
click ‘go’ and the page will load with the cursor in place.
don’t think. just write.
Then type in name and email and submit it.  Then you can see what eveyone else has written.
Flocab gives you the last week in current events in rap
hip hop in the classroom for vocabulary
Flocabulary produces educational hip-hop music and engaging curricular materials to teach academic content for grades K-12. The programs are proven to raise scores on state reading tests and are being used in over 10,000 schools nationwide. Heralded as "groundbreaking" and "necessary," Flocabulary has been featured on The Today Show, Oprah & Friends, and MTV.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Dream Job

How do you feel about your job?  Would you call it your dream job?

From time to time I meet people who don't seem that thrilled about their job.  I guess in recession times it is understandable why they don't move on, but I have often wondered why they would keep doing it. 

Today I came across this diagram when I was reading Jen Hegna's Moodle course on Creating Student ePortfolios with Google Sites (and yes, I did have a smile at using Moodle to workshop Sites....).

I feel blessed that my job has more often than not landed me in that sweet intersection of passion/talent/career. Hard work, crazy hours - impossible milestones! But if those 3 circles align it doesn't seem to matter.

How 'bout you?....

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Google Apps Transition Process

In the first half of 2011 we were notified by Google Apps that our school account was going to be transitioned into a new environment which would provide many additional apps and benefits for our users.
This was great news and something that we had been looking forward to.

It was not completely straight forward, particularly if you were a school with no full time IT admin staff or if you were a school who had been using Google Apps in a big way prior to the transition.

I decided to document our experience through a series of posts as we went through the transition.
Because Blogger is linear, the posts are in reverse order now, so this final post on the subject is to provide a table of contents in chronological order for anyone interested in benefitting from what we learnt.

1. Transitioning our Google Apps accounts
     Where to start

2. Impact of Conflicting Accounts
     What to do if you have used your school email address to sign up to other Google tools in the past

3. More servoices available to your school
    What new apps are available to your Administrator and your school

4. Transitioning User Accounts
    Move the whole school at once or select some pilot users to move first?

5.  Transition Process Complete
    Helping teachers and students access their apps (in our case Blogger) that have been moved from public Google accounts inside the school Google Apps domain.

Transition Process Complete

Several posts later, we finally get to enjoy the fruits of going through the painful transistion process with our Google Apps accounts.  We have apps like Blogger and Picasa inside our school Google Apps Domain and everyone is good to go.

There is one more step with the student individual blogs. Up until now the students from each class have been sharing a generic login to author their own blogs 

So the class teacher (who is Admin for all the individual student accounts) had to go into each blog from her Blogger Dashboard and choose Settings > Permissions >
then send an invite to the student using their personal Google Apps email address and invite them to be an author of their own blog.

This seems pretty straight forward:
The students receive an email in their gmail inbox, they click on the link which takes them to Blogger, they follow the instructions and, hey presto!  They can now sign in as themselves when they post to their own blog.

Well it should be that easy, but unfortunately the links to make that happen on two screens in the process are quite small and the text on those pages which catch the eye lead the student to start setting up a new blog.  So we made this next movie to remind the teachers and kids what to do.  They say it has been helpful....

Now all this is behind us.
Our students sign in to their own Google Apps account.
They can acess their Docs, their mail, their Blog, their Sites, their Picasa account, their Maps - all through a single sign-on process.

The good news is that for the schools in our cluster who only joined up to Google Apps this year, they did not have to go through this process at all.  Their accounts are already in the new Google Apps environment.

Hope publishing this learning curve has been of use to others who are going through it.