Thursday, January 19, 2012

Got a blog? Make a book!

 I never expected to find myself a fan of printing out blog posts, especially as a person who has shared satirical videos like this from way back.

However, this Christmas I ordered my THIRD book from Blog2print and on each of the 3 occasions I have been very pleased with the result. So why on earth would I want to have a hard copy of an entire blog?

On one occasion it was a gift to a person to recognise the 'completion' of a chapter in their blogging life; on another it was a gift to a person leaving a school (and a blog built up with huge amount of content) who wasn't sure what the school would do with the blog when they left, and the third one (which I have videoed below) was to create a quick 'coffee table' example of what the blog was about for occasions when I didn't want to log onto a computer. Sometimes books ARE simply quicker than going online in New Zealand!

All three of the blogs I created books for were rich with multimedia content, so it certainly is disappointing not being able to view the video and podcasts.  But it also reinforced to me the importance of creating posts that have text and images along with multimedia.  

We live in an increasingly device-rich world and it is not always appropriate to have sound playing because other people are often in close proximity who don't appreciate the sound pollution and headphones can be perceived as anti-social. So it is important to be able to grasp the main points about a blog post via text as well as video.

I am sure there are lots of sites that would create books from blogs but I stumbled across this one and gave it a go.  And having spent lots of NZ dollars in the process hoped for the best.  I was very happy with the simplicity of the creation process, the delivery time from USA to NZ,  the quality of the book and the very positive reaction of the recipient.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

High Achievers

Regardless of political stance, the Manaiakalani Schools were very proud to see one of our own; a local school parent, community member, Board of Trustee member for two schools and supporter of the Manaiakalani Programme from the beginning, enter parliament as the first Cook Island member of parliament in NZ.

Alfred Ngaro was also chosen to give his maiden speech in parliament in response to the Governor General's message at the opening of the 50th parliament in NZ.
As well as congratulating Alf and applauding his success, we were honoured that he made mention of Manaiakalani in his speech too - around the 9 minute mark... (see text below video)

Education with the right attitude can achieve anything, and I endorse the view of the Prime Minister that equity of opportunities of training and learning and mentoring deserves our greatest focus, and that the outcomes of successful employment, business development, and growth will follow. Great examples are the Ōtorohanga youth employment scheme, where the local council has taken the lead with a can-do attitude of reducing youth unemployment by providing training opportunities for all its young people. Or the Manaiakalani project in Tāmaki, where a blended approach with e-learning tools and multi-stakeholder support has seen a rapid rise in our literacy rates.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Generations of Bloggers

After three weeks at the beach and time to reflect on an action packed year in 2011 of new learning, innovation and challenges, it was hard to pick one stand-out event. 

My highlight personally and professionally would have to be presenting a workshop at ULearn11 in Rotorua with my own daughters.  Over the years I have collaborated on projects and workshops with a lot of teachers - many of them first time presenters. So it was a lot of fun working on a first-time presentation with my two daughters who have been teaching for two and three years respectively, and blog with their students.

We submitted a proposal we called "Blogging - a possibility for everyone" and began our 'blurb' with this:

Blogging has been around for a decade now and to many teachers it has become so mainstream that it is an automatic part of the class setup at the beginning of a school year. On the other hand, there are many schools and teachers for whom Blogging still has a very geeky vibe.
This presentation is designed to share experiences with Blogging, and lessons learned along the way, from a variety of perspectives:

  • individual, group, class and subject blogging
  • primary through to college students
  • decile 1a to decile 10
  • beginning teacher to been-around-for-decades teacher
The presentation is embedded below and some of the notes are attached.

We also created a quick links page for people to access the material we were talking about.

My personal pride in presenting this workshop with Georgie and Ashleigh is pretty obvious.
From a professional perspective it was great to be able to share the achievements and challenges experienced in high school classes as well as junior primary school and the middle school years.  Being able to share about blogging from the extreme perspectives of Deciles 1a and 10 (socio-economic extremes FYI to non-New Zealanders) offered a much more rounded picture than when I present blogging workshops on my own.  It certainly became clear that the issues and challenges are very different and this kind of online sharing (via Blogs) does not have a one-size-fits-all approach.

I was also interested that the high school teachers in the workshop were much more tolerant of the issues facing primary school teachers than vice-versa.  This was highlighted when we read through the written feedback forms where a few of the comments from primary teachers (yes - easy to work out who they were!) were quite judgemental of secondary schools. This is of concern to me because I work with Years 1-13 in our Manaiakalani cluster and know that to achieve a learning pathway that benefits all our students we need to be able to put ourselves in someone else's shoes from time to time.  

Fortunately most people took away our 'learning intention':

This workshop will NOT teach you how to set up a blog, but it will step you through the many reasons for using Blogging in your class/school/cluster.  You will hear about involving your school, parent and wider community. You will hear about things that work, things that are tricky-but-can-be-done and things that don’t work for us. You will hear many tips from the presenters about how to organise and manage both the set-up phase and the daily integration in the classroom. You will have ample opportunity to ask questions, like, “How come my lovely young Bloggers never get to do it once they get to college?”

PS: I should also mention that another highlight in 2011 was presenting a series of workshops with my son-in-law this year!  I was chuffed that Joel (who works in IT) was prepared to share a platform with his mother-in-law at a non-education event.

PPS: I had a number of opportunities to present with my husband again during 2011 which is always fun.

I am not sure which of the three groups produced the most heated debate during the 'co-construction' stage!