Saturday, December 15, 2007

News from around the world

Newseum is an interesting site where you can mouse over a map of the world and the front page of the newspaper from that region will be displayed. There are a large range of countries included, many more from USA than the rest of the world and only two newspapers from NZ. It is an interesting window into what is important in different parts of the world on any one day though.
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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

How well do you know your way around our planet?

I have spent an enjoyable evening with my kids finding out how little we know about the locations of places on our planet. We found this site, Traveler IQ Challenge, that quizzes you about locations of cities in the world. There is a time limit and you progress through levels. We kept going so we could level up and I now know where Portugal is and exactly where Turkey is. It was amazing to see just how little I knew about world geography... 80 days around the world and I would be lost at Switzerland wondering to turn left or right to get to France! I've embedded the game here, but there are many other parts to the game. Have a go at locating the country based on its flag, that one is tricky.

This Traveler IQ
challenge is brought to you by the Web's Original Travel Blog

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Vote for Allanah!

Well done to our own Allanah King! Her class podcast, Allanah's Appleby Showcase, has been nominated in the Best Educational Use of Audio category in the Edublog Awards. Hop on over and give her a vote for the innovative things happening in her classroom. Voting closes on 6th December so be quick. Allanah is doing a great job at giving her students a global voice!

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Your Blog reading level

cash advance

Not sure what this is all about, but apparently you have to be a genius to read my blog... Hmmm

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Getting on the highway!!

(Or not)

Today I stepped outside my comfort zone.  (Warning this post is neither intelligent nor about education!). I bought a scooter!!  Why you may ask? I asked myself the same thing when I hopped on the thing, expecting to be able to fly off down the road and realised I was terrified! I was outside my comfort zone. This could be dangerous, I was taking a risk, what was I doing, I am a fully grown, seemingly intelligent woman!

It was the ride of my life (albeit down the road and around the corner before thinking I should take things slowly). 

Are you in a rut? I'm not advocating getting a tattoo, naval piercing or a scooter :). But live a little. (Now I'm thinking about the classroom) Take a risk, try that new idea you had, see if it makes a difference. Reflection is the key. Spice up your work life. Think about innovating and keeping things fresh. It will be extra work but it will be worth it. Life is too short to spend it doing the same thing day in and day out.

Live a little :)

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Technology is changing, we need to keep up

This video would be a good conversation starter for teachers who are still reluctant to touch the box in the corner of their room.

Embedded Video

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Saturday, October 27, 2007

Interwrite Makeover Video Contest

The kids from Point England School have done it again. They are in the running for the Interwrite Makeover Video Contest.  Click on the link and go and give them a vote, their video is awesome!

Interwrite Makeover Video Contest

"Kia ora from Pt England School in Auckland, New Zealand. We thought that all the movies uploaded so far were really cool so we decided to have a go. The song we used for our movie is a parody of “Stop, drop and roll” which is a song originally performed by talented NZ hip hop artists ‘Mareko’ and the ‘Deceptikonz’.

This movie is a collaborative effort by the Senior school team starring a group of 9-10 year olds and our very own rap star in the making: Mr Palmer. Our school uses ‘ICT’ or ‘e-learning’ to help raise student achievement as well as to celebrate our learning.

Senior School Team
Pt England School
Auckland, NZ"

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Friday, October 26, 2007

Kids @ Conference in Dunedin

Today was a great day. We have been running a Kids Conference in Dunedin over the last two days. 100 students from all around Otago come to the Otago University College of Education to take part in a two day conference. These students sign up for four different workshops ranging from Google Sketchup, animations, movie making, podcasting, digital photography, microscopic investigations and green screening. It is a fantastic two days with students buzzing with enthusiasm.
But this is the reason why it was so special for me. My students ran a workshop on podcasting. They were the only students to run a workshop in the entire conference. The greatest thing about this is that these students are not the gifted and talented ones, they weren't chosen for their confidence. However, they stepped up and ran the workshop and did an amazing job. This once again shows the value in a podcasting programme. These students had language difficulties ranging from a speech impediment, lack of confidence and lack of volume. This was not an issue though, as they have been practicing using their voice for the last two terms and know how to speak to an audience. These workshops have shown that the skills these students learnt through podcasting are transferred to speaking in front of an audience.

In this image above two of my students are instructing the three teachers who came to their workshop.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Podcasting with Kid Pix

itunes pic
Today I spent some time playing with Kid Pix. I have being saying for a while now that KidPix is a great software for producing podcasts quickly and easily with junior children.  Today I used this creative programme to produce a podcast on how to produce a podcast with KidPix :)

Pop over to my podcast page to take a look at this simple explanation. Here is another way to play with student voice in the classroom that is within reach of most teachers with any level of technical ability.

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Inspirational Teacher Meme

Simon has tagged me for the Inspirational Teacher Meme, so I thought I would play along.


1. You are to copy the rules at the start of your post.

2. You are write, in 150 words or less the story of ‘Your Inspirational Teacher’ from your school days.

3. Name and link 4 other bloggers and leave them a comment on their blog to let them know they have been tagged.

4. Tag your post ‘myinspiration’

Mr Pulley, my inspiration 

noddy_big_ears.jpgMr Pulley was my high school geography teacher. To me he looked like 'Big Ears' off of the show 'Noddy and Big Ears'. He was a towering man with white hair and a white beard. To me he seemed ancient. He always wore shorts and long socks with his pens tucked into his socks. He carried a box with him and it always contained magic. Mr Pulley had nicknames for all the students in his class and he 'knew' us. Which is a lot to say for a secondary teacher.  The magic of Mr Pulley though, was that he shared himself with us. He didn't just tell us about geography, he showed us his home movies of trips to foreign places. He told us stories of people and places and land masses and adventures. Everything I learned was through his story telling and it was powerful.  What I learned from Mr Pulley is that relationships are vital to learning. He is my inspiration because he showed me how to value my students and how to share my own stories with them. Thank you Mr Pulley.

I tag the following people:

Allanah K

Paul H

Greg C

Sue W

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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Oodles of Google

I have just watched the K12 Online presentation by Sharon Betts entitled Oodles of Googles. This presentation is a series of short videos outlining the options Google gives you for using the web for writing and storing your documents. I had heard of Google docs, spreadsheets and presentations but I hadn't heard of Google page creator. This page creator lets you build webpages and then hosts them for you. They are very basic. If you haven't had time to have a look at all the cool new tools Google has been bringing out, these simple videos from K12 Online are a good start. Just subscribe to the conference through itunes and the conference will come to you!

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Information Revolution

This video from the Kansas State University does a good job at looking at the changing pace of the Internet and the way we interact with Information.

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Saturday, October 13, 2007

Congratulations to Rachel and crew

Congratulations to Rachel and class from Nelson for winning first prize in the class category of the TVNZ Webchallenge Competition !!

You can have a look at their website here.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Inventing the New Boundaries - David Warlick

I have just finished viewing the pre-conference Keynote for K12 Online presented by David Warlick. This is a well presented video with enough to keep you interested for the full 45 minutes.

David said something that got me thinking though. He mentioned the 'digital divide', and I started to think about what that meant. A few years ago, that meant the divide between the people who had computers and those who didn't. Then more recently it meant the divide between the people who could access information and those who couldn't. However now, David points out, the divide is between those people who are connected to a network or community through their digital media and those who aren't. It's not about the equipment anymore, it's about the people. This was demonstrated beautifully by my 10 year old daughter who decided to walk in at that moment. She looked at the screen and saw David's smiling face talking away to me. She crept into the room because she expected David to be talking to me live through the computer and expected David to be able to see her. She waved and smiled at the computer until I told her it was a video. It was not too long ago that the thought of communicating with someone through the computer in that manner was the stuff of science fiction novels. Now my ten year old thinks it is the only way to connect with people. What are we doing in our classrooms about this digital divide? Are we teaching our children how to connect safely across the internet?

David also said that today's students "know how to play the information but they don't know how to work it." That's where we come in. My children all know how to pick up any technological instrument and play with it, but it is our job as educators to show them how to work the technology and the information and the connected networks for their own unpredictable future.

I have subscribed to the conference through iTunes so all of the workshops should be downloaded to my computer without my having to go to any effort (I love podcasting). Here is the link K12 Online Conference 2007

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Sunday, October 07, 2007

NZ Blogger's Cafe

NZ Blogger's Cafe
Originally uploaded by *** ICT U Can!
This post is as a result of my thinking after reading:
Bump on the blog
Tim Holt - Preaching to the ... You Know

Ulearn 07 was a very different conference for me. I have taken some time to try and figure out why. This is the 7th ICT/Educational conference I have attended in the last 3 years. What made the difference? I thought it might be that I presented more workshops than I attended and therefore I was intellectually drained. But that wasn't it, as I would hold this conference up as the best so far. Then it came to me. After attending so many conferences I have made many connections, I know a lot of people. I stop and pass the time of day with them and discuss what powerful learning they have engaged in, but it is somewhat superficial. This year at Ulearn 07 with the Blogger's Cafe, I made some strong connections. Meeting people who I have virtually known for the past year at least was remarkable. It was as though we had a foundation to build a community on. It is interesting, I have read about how the internet can help extend real friendships, with the Blogger's Cafe, I found that F2F can help extend virtual friendships. It was a privilege to spend the time with these talented NZ (and Scottish) bloggers, and I rushed back from each session to the cafe to continue with the discussions.

There has been discussion in the blogosphere about whether or not these Blogger's Cafes are a good thing.
Almost to a person, the best part of the conference really had nothing to do with the conference itself, but rather was the blog cafe. All of the bloggers talking to other bloggers. Sort of an incestuous feeding frenzy of writers not discussing the conference, but discussing themselves.

Nice blog Bob. Thanks Larry. Nice Blog. That’s quite a big widget you have there Bob. Why thank you.
The argument saying that the bloggers are removing themselves from the rest of the conference, forming a select group and spending all their time promoting themselves. I can understand these comments, but I will argue vehemently that we did not remove ourselves from the rest of conference, but that our participation in the Blogger's Cafe added a whole new dimension to the conference. It is also argued that it is near impossible to find the 'secret handshake' for this select group. I know for a fact that during our time at the conference there were many people who came up to the Blogger's Cafe to find out about blogging, and there were many people willing to share their time and expertise. For the current bloggers it was a treat to meet other bloggers, however the Blogger's cafe definitely served two functions. As I said before, our cafe was for both 'blooming' bloggers and 'budding' bloggers.
The bigger picture here, is of course, wondering how to get more members in the club. Is there some point that the dissemination of knowledge becomes so large that it becomes counterproductive?
This quote from Tim Holt is the position I was wrestling with in my post Troubled. I was so concerned about the sheer expanse of the Web community I was worried about it overwhelming me. My fault is that I'm an overachiever and if there is a blog out there then I must read it! But finding balance is important in all areas of our lives and this is just another moment in life for me to practice this skill :)

This conference and issue has raised more questions for me than answers, especially about the quality and functionality of virtual relationships. After attending ULearn 07 this year I now know the value of my online community and my virtual friends.

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Reflections from day one at Ulearn

Well, I hate to say it ... but I have been too busy to blog! What! How can that be? The reason is I am having a great time meeting people F2F!

The highlight for me of this conference has been meeting the minds in my aggregator. I have sat at the blogger's cafe with Chrissy, Simon, Rachel, Allanah, Ewan and Jarmin. Even though I really enjoy the community of friends I have on line, it was great to put a face to the blog. It was also great to meeting Ewan F2F after he has traversed the globe to join us here in the southern hemisphere.

Ulearn has so far been an exemplary conference. I began my Ulearn experience running a full day pre-conference workshop on podcasting. In my workshop was someone who looked familiar. It turned out to be Simon from Educating the Dragon. I haven't met Simon f2f before however have read his blog. It was a great experience. The day went well and we had a room full of new podcasters by the end of the day.

The next day the conference started with a bang with an inspirational keynote from Ewan McIntosh. Ewan gave us an entertaining overview of the issues we are facing in technology and education today. One thing he said that resonated with me was the concept of 'digital holiday makers'. As an ICT Facilitator I have come across those teachers who seem to excitedly grab hold of the ideas I am presenting in a workshop with a hiss and a roar. The problem is when I go to visit the next term the said teacher has finished with the idea and has returned to the previous way of teaching. The new learning has not embedded or changed pedagogy. This type of teacher is a 'digital holiday maker'. They take a holiday into implementing a new idea or technology and then return back to their normal classrooms or 'homes'. The teachers who really excite me are the ones who grab an idea, just one, and embed it into their practice. Then through reflection identify why that idea is valuable for the students.

Off to do more learning now. Will report back later.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Be a super hero

Mark left a comment on my post troubled with a link to a website - Be a super hero. I had left a comment somewhere stating that the source of my trouble is that I am learning all this neat stuff but don't have a classroom to put it all into and that I wanted to use my 'powers for good'.

I have taken up Mark's challenge and this is the result.Totally tongue in cheek , but it is quite fun. Have a go.

Thanks Mark :)

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

K12 Online

Tuesday, September 25, 2007


I have run out of things to say... My brain has reached overload and I need to reboot. I feel like I have fallen into a tech vortex and that all things outside of tech have disappeared. I need to reconnect with real life. I was reading a blog post recently (sorry can't remember whose it was) about how disruptive these new technologies can be. Twitter (which I love by the way) constantly interrupts our day. It is hard to enter a 'flow' of deep concentration because you are constantly interrupted by random comments from your 'friends'. These twits make you feel connected and a part of your 'friends' lives. But when you think about it... most of the people in your twitterverse you will never stand in the same room as. Are we forsaking 'real' friendships for the 'virtual' replica? Can a virtual friendship gain 'real' status? If I dropped out of the twitterverse, would any of my 'friends' try to contact me? If I dropped out of real life society, I know my friends would contact me to see why.

I suppose my question is... In the long run is this connectivity helping me or harming me? I'm not making any judgements just wrestling with the question. I'm also wrestling with the question "what do I want to do with my life?" which is quite interesting since i should be all 'growed up' by now :o).

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Flash Meeting with Friends

Today I took part in another global conversation organised by Paul Harrington. This Flashmeeting was attended by 11 educators from corners of the globe - England, Wales, USA and NZ.

The topic of today's conversation wandered around the use of podcasting and blogging in the classroom with some interesting discussion on home school partnerships and the digital divide. We have been requested to bring a friend to the next flash meeting, so if you would be interested in joining in the conversation, leave me a comment and I'll send you an invite with the details.

We are not only opening the doors to our classrooms, now we are opening the doors to our countries. I really enjoy seeing the challenges and celebrations from other education systems, and linking them to my own. Once again Paul, thanks for the conversation.

Friday, September 14, 2007

A very personal message

Today my husband sent me a message. It is very personal. It made me smile and it made my day.

I'm going to share it with you. Only because I think everyone deserves to be surprised by a message of love, and this website gives you the chance to do that. Check it out and send someone a surprising mesage to let them know you are thinking of them. Plus Dylan is cool!


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Monday, September 03, 2007

We can make a difference

A lot of my schools are  embarking on  a cross cluster inquiry this term under the banner "10 years to save the planet". Today when going on a walk through some New Zealand blogs I found this on Rocky Jensen's blog.

This video is produced by World Vision and is from Australia. It compares the lifestyle of a teenage girl in Australia suffering from 'Affluenza' with children from third world countries. The comparison is humorous and very powerful. Check it out.

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Monday, August 27, 2007

I believe ...

mondonation rip design rip
What do you believe? Well I believe one of the most important things we need to do as educators is ensure our students are ethical users of content and creators of truly original content.  We need to teach our students it is not all right to steal... words, images, ideas.

Why is this important? Take a look at this post about the new Britney Spears perfume. I was appalled... how about you?

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Tuesday, August 21, 2007

ULearn News


For everyone attending ULearn 07 in Auckland, here's a blog for your aggregator. ULearn News is the official ULearn blog where you will find all the latest information about this conference.

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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

NZ Bloggers' Cafe at ULearn 07

Hey all you NZ edubloggers out there, want to put a face to the blog?  The NZ Bloggers Cafe is happening this year at ULearn 07.  Come along and engage with other bloggers in some lively debate about life, the universe and everything.  This would also be a great place for 'budding bloggers' to come and learn some tips and tricks from 'blooming bloggers'.  The cafe will be open during morning tea and lunch breaks so come along and join in the discussions. The venue will be advertised in the conference handbook and I am told there will be some aromatic coffee available!

We will need people to help man the cafe during these break times, the idea for the cafe is twofold.  The first is so that we can all get together and meet in person the minds we have been reading.  The second is to be of help to other bloggers just starting out and who would like some tips and tricks.  If you would like to help, please leave me a comment.

I would like to kick the cafe off with a targetted discussion during lunch on the first day of conference.  There has already been a suggestion of looking at the issues raised in the Karl Fisch presentations, if you have a topic you think would be a great one to get us started please also leave a comment.

I look forward to meeting my aggregator in person, there are some great bloggers in NZ and I'm sure there are some I haven't discovered yet.

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Tuesday, August 07, 2007

What is the point?

I found this Youtube video on Christopher Sessum's blog.  Very thought provoking.  We often hear the question, "are we preparing our students for their future or our past?"  After watching this video I think you will agree that preparing our students for their present is just as important.  Let's sing and dance our way through life, seeing each step as an achievement in itself and not race towards the end (sounds like the name of a friends blog)

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Expanding Oral Language in the Classroom

I am not in the habit of advertising on my blog, however I had to share this book.  I have just completed reading this new publication written by Jannie van Hees.  Anyone looking for an understandable resource that outlilnes why Oral Language instruction is important need go no further than this book. 

Jannie not only outlines why it is important to focus on Oral Language but also explains clearly how to go about it.  Examples of real teachers and children in real classrooms are dotted throughout the book and there are lots of practical examples you could start off with in your classroom. 

Think about the question, "who does all the talking in your classroom?"

This resource is available from NZCER.
Expanding oral language in the classroom

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Monday, August 06, 2007

8 Random Facts Meme

I’ve been tagged by mstina on the 8 random facts meme

First, the Rules:
1) Post these rules before you give your facts
2) List 8 random facts about yourself
3) At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them
4) Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged

For some reason I find these memes quite fun :)  Here we go

  1. I once had a job writing poetry for a Gorillagram company
  2. My middle name is the name of a Walt Disney character and the mascot of Baby Champs champagne in England
  3. I was a state gymnast in Western Australia in my youth
  4. I like to do folk art painting
  5. I was a horsey girl when I was growing up, I owned three different horses at different times. My first horse was rescued by the RSPCA and given to me, a 28 year old ex Pacer who was more like a pet dog than a horse.  (he died :( after a wonderful year together)
  6. I like to run and play netball
  7. I went to a Spandau Ballet after party with the band, after attending their concert in Perth. By the way, this is the only concert I have ever been at.
  8. I once toured the North West of Western Australia with a comedian and his dance troup - "Big Daddy and His Dollies"
Okay, tag you're it:
1. Greg Carroll
2. Iain Bonney
3. Janine Clague
4. Paul Harrington
5. Allanah King
6. Sheryl Nausbaum-Beach
7. Derek Wenmoth
8. Rachel Boyd

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Friday, July 27, 2007

Singshot - Karaoke with comments!

Now I don't know if this is a good thing or a bad thing... With my singing it is definitely a bad thing. I had to try this site out in the interest of good journalism, so there is now a recording of my singing 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' somewhere out in cyberspace.  I tried the 'send to blog' function, but of yet it hasn't made it to my blog (thank goodness!).  However over night a few copies may show up as I pressed the button repeatedly, oops. 

Anyway, SingShot - Online Singing, Karaoke, Sharing, Ratings, and Community is a site where you can set up a profile, choose a song and record yourself singing it.  Pretty simple.  The recording is then kept on your home page where anyone can come and listen to you, leave a rating and a comment.  It is completely open so hopefully the comments are monitored by someone!  And I deserve any 'oh dear' comments that might be left on my recording!  You have to be over 13 to register, but I could see some students having fun with this one. 

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Now this is interesting!

During the course of my research into the use of podcasting in Oral Language I put a similar question to two groups of people. Firstly I asked a cross section of teachers throughout New Zealand to identify the elements of oral language that they actively teach. Next I asked a class of 24 year 4,5 and 6 students who have been podcasting during 2007 to identify everything they think they learn when they are making a podcast. I have put the responses in a table separated into the strands of oral language identified in the New Zealand Oral Language Matrix.

(click the image to enlarge)

The students have identified all of the same elements as the teachers except for some skills of speaking and listening such as eye contact, turn taking, and body language, which are skills not used in podcasting. What is impressive about this comparison is the amount of metacognition students have about their learning in the strands of ‘ideas’ and ‘language’. The students identified that they were learning all of the elements that the teachers had identified as important and more. The students included using sound effects and music to enhance their message, and using them to suit the topic. They also mentioned using the right amount of humour which showed cognition of the importance of the information being presented and recognition of if humour would be appropriate or not. The students also identified additional learning when podcasting which impacted their reading, writing and use of technology:
  • Use music no one else has used (copyright issues)
  • Write a script
  • To get better at reading by reading your script
  • Using the equipment properly
  • Learn how to use computers, GarageBand program
These students have shown that through the use of podcasting they are aware of the elements of oral language that make a proficient speaker as well as an effective communicator. It would be interesting to ask a similar question, “What do you learn when you give a speech” to a class of students whose main form of oral language is speech making, to see if the same awareness of the elements of effective oral language is present, especially in the strands of ideas and language.

Friday, July 13, 2007

That's going straight to the Pool Room!

This is cross posted over at “The Bloggers’ Cafe”

In light of the conversations that have been happening lately here and here about how the blogosphere seems to be distinctly American in flavour, I am going to add a bit of antipodean flavour to this post.

In my research into Podcasting this year I have been thinking about what it is that makes the biggest difference to student learning.  Obviously giving students the ability to hear their own voice is empowering.  Also having an expectation that it will be the student’s voice and not the teacher’s is empowering.  But the most empowering factor of all has to be the global audience.

pool room downstairsThis is where my strange title comes in.  Those people from my part of the world will be cognisant of Darryl Kerrigan and the ‘Castle’ (an iconic Australian movie).  For Darryl the highest place of honour for anything is for it to be put in his ‘pool room’.  You know you have pleased Darryl and produced something worthy if he puts it in his pool room.  Wes Fryer has been talking lately about his ‘Fridge’.  The highest place of honour for a piece of work produced at school and brought home is to be placed proudly on the fridge.  This is indeed a place of honour in a house of three children like mine.  The fridge has limited space! 

Fridge artStudents can now publish their work to the world, not just to the teacher, or the classroom, or the ravenous hordes stampeding the fridge at the 3:30pm “I’m starving mum” ritual.  I understood this, or thought I did, until I heard a podcast by Dr Tim Tyson.  He was talking about what he asked his students when they first ventured into publishing on the web:

What do you have to say that the world needs to hear?

What a powerful question!  It even made me tremble when I started on this blog post.  What do I have to say that the world needs to hear?  So I’m sending that question out to all of you…

What do you have to say that the world needs to hear?

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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Blogthings - A fun waste of time!

Your Aura is Blue

Spiritual and calm, you tend to live a quiet but enriching life.
You are very giving of yourself. And it's hard for you to let go of relationships.

The purpose of your life: showing love to other people

Famous blues include: Angelina Jolie, the Dali Lama, Oprah

Careers for you to try: Psychic, Peace Corps Volunteer, Counselor

Blogthings is a site where you answer all sorts of crazy questions and they come up with some philosophical insight into your character.  I did ask myself some paranoid questions as I looked at some of the quizzes though.  One, 'How evil are you', had me thinking, if I answer this honestly will the answers be recorded somewhere in some database and come back to bite me one day?  (Not that I have anything to worry about...really) :).  So as you can see, I have a calm aura, I resemble Angelina Jolie (what!) or perhaps a cross between Angelina, Oprah and the Dali Lama, hmmmm. 

I know, this has nothing to do with education, but hey, it's the holidays, time to have some fun.
Thanks to Ms Cornelius at A Shrewdness of Apes for helping me to waste a few hours on this site!  Beware some quizzes are not for those of us who are spiritual and calm, they may give your aura a slight blush.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

ULearn 07

ULearn is happening once again this year, from 3rd to 5th October at Sky City in Auckland.  I will be presenting three workshops, starting off with a full day podcasting pre-conference workshop.  This day will take participants through the entire process of finding, making and posting podcasts, all using the Apple software GarageBand.  The two other workshops are entitled, 'What is this thing called Podcasting, and why should I care?' and 'The thinking, moving, collaborative classroom is not a myth'. 

Whew! then I will look forward to spending time with educators I only get to see at these conferences, like Allanah King.  I am also looking forward to meeting Ewan McIntosh who will be keynoting at the conference, who's blog I have read for a while now.  We should put together our own Edubloggercon or Blogger's cafe at the conference!  Mmm, might have to get on to that one.  Anyone who is attending ULearn and would be interested, let me know and I'll set the wheels in motion.

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Monday, July 09, 2007

Podcasting and the power of comments.

I was introduced to Podcasting at the end of 2005 and started using it with my class in 2006. We thought that book review interviews would be a good way to start and we had very humble beginnings. Here is a transcription of one of our first podcasts:
Matt: Kia ora and what's up mate. I'm Matt and I'm interviewing Paora, He is sharing Jeff Wilson's book, Here he is now. Kia ora Paora, what is this book about?
Paora: Kia ora Matt, it's about Jeff Wilson and what his life is about in rugby.
Matt: Who is the author of this book?
Paora: The author of this book is Ron Palenski.
Matt: Do you have a favourite page?
Paora: Yes, I have two favourite pages, one page is on 111 and the other is on 194.
Matt: Well that's all we have for today folks. I'm Matt and we were interviewing Paora on his Jeff Wilson book. Bye

Mmm, I had a chuckle when I heard it, my favourite page is 111! I wanted my students to develop and learn in their own steps. So I posted the podcast. These students had produced a very good podcast with clear voice and expression, the only problem is that there was no content. That was my next step, I had to extend their language and ideas. Here is where the power of comments come in. This podcast generated 14 comments.

So the first few comments gave the students a bit of a kick, people had interacted with their podcast. John wished he could have a go at making podcasts at his school. The students were feeling good. The next lot of comments showed the power of conversation:

But here comes the real power of comments - critical feedback!

I didn't have to stand up the front of the class and wax lyrical about the need for more content in the podcast. With this succinct comment from John the boys self assessed and realised that the audience didn't actually have the book in front of them and couldn't see what was on page 111, so they would have to use more description.

Podcasting truly fits with a constructivist viewpoint of learning, students take the next step because they see what the next step is. It is Vygotsky's zone of proximal development in action.

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Sunday, July 08, 2007

Stuck in the Vortex and loving it

It is the school holidays here in New Zealand and we get to turn our minds and time to more frivolous things.  I have been exploring Second Life a bit further.  It is fascinating and is making me re-evaluate a lot of my thinking.

Wandering through Second Life the other day I went to visit KJ Hax at SLolar.  He was expecting a new intake of residents and had a party set out for them.  They were late in coming so he invited me in to share some virtual food.  After a while, more SLers started turning up and joined us around the table.  One very talented person decided we needed a dance floor and set about making one complete with music.  The next thing I know we are all on the dance floor dancing to 'Another one bites the dust'.  It was a strange feeling.  I was chatting with people and dancing in SL all the time in fits of laughter in my 1st life.  I must say I am not one for the night club scene and rarely take the trouble to get dressed up for a night on the town, so it was great to be able to dance all from the comfort of my house in my 'jammies'.  Now this occasion made me see the need to have a change of wardrobe.  So today I went out and purchased a dress for $25 Linden dollars, the currency of SL. 

This was another strange experience.  Shopping for something for my avatar.  There were some really way out things and the opportunity to take risks and experiment with your appearance.  But it is strange how I didn't want to do that.  I chose a dress that I would like in RL, I have made an avatar who resembles (very loosely) myself in RL.  My SL life has really become an extension of my RL. 

Now this is the educational part of my rambling... Wes Fryer often mentions in his podcasts the concept of a 'walled garden'.  He talks about students experimenting with blogging and podcasting in a controlled environment such as a school server.  In this way students can learn how to be ethical users and creators of internet content before being let out into the big bad world.  A bit like blogging with training wheels.  Now I have never been a fan of this concept.  I always thought that we should teach students out where the world is.  I am changing my mind. 

Second Life has a lot going on that you would not like to be exposed to.  Whatever is bad in RL is happening in SL.  You need to be even more careful because this is a new world and you don't know how things work.  It is a bit like being in a foreign country where even the signs are in a foreign language.  I am exploring SL in a walled garden.  I am spending all my time in Eduisland II where I feel safe and I am sure that I will encounter nothing I couldn't handle.  As I am getting my feet and understanding the world more, I feel a bit more brave to venture outside Eduisland II.  I am starting to see the merit in a walled garden for those educators and students who would like to get their feet wet before plunging into the internet ocean.  What do you think?

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Wednesday, July 04, 2007

A day in my Second Life

I have had an interesting couple of days exploring my second life.  I noticed a large group of people gathered so I went and joined them. There was an interesting mix of people from America and Canada all having a general discussion about education.  Most people present were bloggers and all were in a classroom of some sort ranging from elementary through to adult education.  The good thing about hanging out on Eduisland 2 is that you are guaranteed to meet other educators eager to talk to you about teaching and learning in their context.

After a slice of pizza we discussed the edubloggercon that was held before NECC this year.  In discussion it came up that having a Blogger's Cafe in Second Life would be a great idea.  Ryan Bretag has kindly offered his space in SL and is starting to furnish it.

On the wall inside the Blogger's Cafe, images of different blogger's avatars have been mounted. You can click on these images to visit their blogs.  It is all very exciting.  It is another way that the people who are having the conversations can connect with each other.  It is amazing how a virtual world can feel so real.  When I am chatting with someone face to face in SL it makes me feel as though I am really in their presence.  Which is impossible as most of the people I talk to are a world away.

Closer to home though, I spent some time showing a fellow Kiwi around Second LIfe today.  I very elegantly fell out of the sky and a person came rushing up to me and called me 'Jane' which surprised me as my avatar name is Jojash McmIllan.  I answered yes and who should be in front of me but Rachel Boyd.  We went for a walk around and I showed her all the sites in eduisland 2.  It is the first time I have gotten to talk with Rachel 'in person' since she is in Nelson and I'm in Dunedin.

But the real surprise of the day for me and the pivotal moment in my thinking about SL came when I bumped into a group of people on Eduisland 4.  They invited me over for a chat and it turns out that they were a group of people involved in handicapped education and were building a space to meet.  I was talking to one person and she told me how she lives her life in a wheelchair but when she comes into second life she can run, walk and even fly.  I know the buzz I got when I first tried out flying in SL, and she said that she got that same buzz from walking.  Now this really got me thinking.  Second Life could be great for people who are restricted in some way or another.  People who cannot leave the house, or have disabilities can meet people in SL and have company.  I know I enjoy the conversations I have in SL and I'm not restricted at all.  Imagine someone who has limited chances to leave their home...

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Monday, July 02, 2007

How are NZ teachers assessing Oral Language?

Picture_4.pngThis post will continue to look at the information gathered in the Oral Language Survey.  Teachers were asked how they assessed oral language in their classrooms. The most common response was through observation which was mentioned by 33% of participants.

It is interesting to note that only two oral language 'tests' were identified, JOST and ROL.  The Six Year Net is a testing procedure all students go through on entering primary schooling.  I am unsure of what KLST2 is (and would greatly appreciate it if someone could let me know in the comments if they are familiar with this term).  The NCEA is the national testing for our secondary students.

It seems that the majority of teachers are relying on observation with a combination of self, peer assessment and checklists and rubrics to assess their student's oral language.  Only 3% mentioned that they use audio or video.  Podcasting or audio recording are great ways to gather data over time for oral language assessment, and with the rapid improvement in technology recording student voice is getting easier.

The shocking thing to me is that 6% of teachers said they didn't assess oral language at all.

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Friday, June 29, 2007

If they can't share their voice at school then where?

36 NZ teachers were asked if they thought enough time was spent in classrooms on Oral Language, 22% said yes, 58% said no and 20% were undecided.

These same teachers were asked if they thought that it was more important to teach Oral language for different aged students. 72% answered no, oral language was important for all ages, 22% thought oral language instruction was more important for the juniors and 6% were unsure.

So then, how did these teachers answer the question, 'why do you think oral language instruction is important?"

"If they can't share their voice at school then where?"

"It underpins a child's success in everything they do"

The response that occurred the most was 'to communicate' (33%) followed by 'underpinning every other curriculum area" (14%), 'increasing confidence' (12%) and 'the basis for all literacy' (9%)

Other responses included:

  • clarify ideas
  • listening skills
  • clear instructions
  • learn to read
  • to discover and understand
  • to teach others
  • to set goals
  • to be able to use vocabulary effectively
  • to learn to write.
The conclusions that I draw from these results is that teachers recognise that a child's command of oracy is vital for success at school and in life. Teachers have also identified that maybe not enough time is being spent on developing this vital skill, or indeed, in letting student's speak. One teachers response "If they can't share their voice at school then where?" is the reason for my research.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

What is this thing called podcasting?

This term I have been working with a group of students to gather data for my research project on podcasting. I have made a mash up of the final podcasts these students made for me and posted it on the ICT U Can! Podcast. The assignment I gave the students was 'tell the world what this podcasting thing is, and why you like doing it'. Please head over to their podcast page and leave them a comment on how well they have done at

I have finished gathering data for my project now and the next term will be spent interpretting my findings. I will post further podcasts as I do.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Oral Language Skills

36 New Zealand teachers were asked to identify the skills they taught under the banner 'Oral Language'. The top ten responses were:

  • Listening (50%)
  • Questioning (44%)
  • Clarity (28%)
  • Volume (28%)
  • Eye contact (25%)
  • Body Language (22%)
  • Responding appropriately to others (22%)
  • Concise, organised structured message (22%)
  • Aware of audience (14%)
  • Turn taking (14%)

The New Zealand Ministry of Education has provided a matrix of Oral Language skills and I have put the skills identified as being taught by New Zealand teachers into the matrix:

When you compare the skills identified by teachers to the Oral Language matrix, teachers have identified all of the key skills as being actively taught. When you look at the top ten skills that teachers identified as being actively taught, 7 of those listed came from the category speaking and listening skills 2 from Ideas and 1 was to do with Language.

This result is refreshing. Even though teachers do have a heavy emphasis on the 'skills' of how to speak in front of an audience, it shows that there is more of an awareness of the importance of teaching students how to express their ideas. This fits more with my cry for more 'thinking communicators' not just 'proficient speakers'.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

How is Oral Language integrated?

36 teachers were asked which areas of their classroom programme Oral Language was integrated in to.

  • 28% responded that Oral Language was integrated into all areas of their programme.
Following are areas that teachers listed specifically:
  • 36% reading
  • 33% writing
  • 28% Inquiry based learning
  • 19% questioning
  • 19% topic time
  • 17% discussion time
  • 14% speech
  • 11% English
  • 8% social studies, science, drama
  • 6% reflection time, maths, technology, social skills, ICT, current events, debates
  • 3% self assessment, visual art, dance, music, health, physical education, religious education, visual language, learning intentions.
Some of the areas that teachers listed are interesting - questioning, discussion, reflection, social skills, self assessment and learning intentions do not really fall into the category of 'curriculum areas'.  Inquiry based learning is currently being adopted through many NZ schools and is supported by the current ICT programmes being run through the country.  Reflection, questioning, self assessment and learning intentions would be important skills to sit within Inquiry Based Learning (IBL).  Hopefully these results show that student talk is becoming more a part of the classroom when IBL is happening and classrooms become more child centred.

Do you have any thoughts in regards to this data?

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Where do New Zealand Teachers go for Oral Language teaching ideas?

In this post I am continuing my look into the oral language survey. 

Out of a cohort of 36 NZ teachers, 25% would rate their knowledge of how students learning oral language as poor to fair, 50% would rate their knowledge as good and 25% would rate their knowledge as very good.

Teachers were asked if they had attended any professional development in the area of oral language recently (in the last 12 months) 80% of teachers responded they hadn't had any PD in that area.  Of the 20% who had PD the sources were:

  • Reading Recovery
  • ICTPD cluster - questioning and inquiry
  • RTLB (resource teachers of learning and behaviour)
  • Critical Literacy
  • NESB - Jannie Van Hees (Non-English speaking background)
  • Head start development

When asked where teachers get most of their teaching ideas from the highest response rate (17) was from books, specifically:

14 participants listed websites:

9 participants listed colleagues as a source of ideas and support

5 participants listed their own experience

4 participants listed other professionals:

  • RTLB (resource teachers of learning and behaviour)
  • SLT (speech language therapists)
  • ICTPD Facilitators (Information and Communication Technology Professional Development)

2 participants listed podcasting and lastly 1 participant each mentioned television and Toast masters.

Are there any gems that you would like to add to this list?  Leave them in the comments and share the wealth.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Oracy in New Zealand

Age SpeaksSpeak no Evil, Hear no Evil, See no Evil

A few months ago I asked for people to fill out an Oral Language Survey as part of my research in the E-Fellowship programme this year. 36 teachers from throughout New Zealand took part in this survey - A big thank you to all those who took part. I thought I would begin to summarise some of the findings on this blog.

Of the 36 teachers who filled in the survey, 72% teach in the primary sector, 9% in the Intermediate and 3% in High School.

How many hours per week do you spend on the following literacy areas?

  • Writing - ranged from 1 hour per week to 8 hours per week with an average of 4 hours
  • Reading - ranged from 1hour per week to 7 hours per week with an average of 4.5 hours
  • Visual Language - ranged from 20 min per week to 5 hours with an average of 1.5 hours
  • Oral Language - ranged from 0 hours per week to 12.5 hours with an average of 3 hours.

In the responses to reading and writing, one person mentioned that they integrate these subjects and in the responses to visual and oral language three people mentioned that they integrated throughout the curriculum. One response to Visual Language read, "Don't know what this is".

I am just reporting back statistics straight from the survey here and would not like to draw too many conclusions as yet. This is only one part of my data gathering to form an overall picture. But I would like to say that it is interesting how differently teachers run their programmes. It seemed that teachers found it easier to calculate the times they spent teaching reading and writing as these two areas of literacy seem to stand alone outside the programme even when integrated. Other things are integrated into these areas. Visual and Oral Language on the other hand are seen as integrated through all other curriculum areas.

This does lead me to wonder whether enough specific focus is put on these two areas. If you think about the skills adults will need in the 21st Century (as far as we can predict anyway) it seems to me that Oral language is maybe one of the most important skill students can take away from our classrooms. A person with well developed oral language skills can communicate their needs and ideas effectively. Also students are interacting more and more with visual images. I believe being able to communicate and interpret visual images will be just as vital as being able to write in the coming years. I am not saying that writing is not important, it is. But it must be underpinned by effective oral language skills. The four strands go hand in hand. My aim is not to push Oral Language to the detriment of all other literacy areas, but to bring it out into the immediate family. As I see it currently, Oral Language is the third cousin in the back row of the wedding photo with his head obscured by the bride's veil.

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Replace the teacher?

On my run this morning I was listening to Jeff Utech's podcast, On Deck. Episode 7 of this podcast is a discussion with a group of year 6,7 and 8 students from TeenTek after they had watched footage of the new Microsoft multi touch interface. This was a really interesting discussion as the students predicted what technology like this might mean to their classrooms.

Jeff asked the question, "What could this technology replace?" The students discussed this for a while and after a few suggestions one of them said, "The teacher". A discussion then ensued as to how this could happen and the students mentioned that you could download textbooks and have your schedule on the screen and work through it etc. I started to think that these students saw teachers as the deliverers of knowledge and agreed with them whole heartedly that a teacher could be replaced if that was all they were doing.

Take a moment, think about your class, would they think you could be replaced with the latest cutting edge multi user touch screen technology?


I would hope that my students would think that this technology would be a cool thing to use alongside me. That we could do even more interesting and innovative stuff than we do now. That they would see that we are co-constructing knowledge and above all, that we are creating a culture of learning in our classroom based on relationships. Learning is constructed through interaction with others, collaboration leads to deeper understanding and seeing alternative view points. This cannot be replaced by downloading a schedule and a textbook, what do you think?

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

How cool is this!!!

I have been podcasting with my class since the end of 2005. I can not stop telling people about how powerful podcasting is in the classroom. It provides an authentic context for learning and gives students an authentic audience. Well, today we had something really exciting happen. Over on our podcast page from last year, Room5's podcast we received a comment on one of our book reviews. Now this is nothing new, we get lots of comments on our book reviews but this one was special... It was from the author herself! Check it out! Click on the image for a better view.

Imagine how the producers of this podcast now feel! They have put together a podcast reviewing a book they enjoyed reading and then received feedback from the person who wrote the book, how powerful is that. What a great motivator to not only keep reading, but producing scripts (writing) and recording podcasts (oracy). This is only made possible by the power of using the internet. I would love to hear of any similar experiences you have had. Let's celebrate.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

As I went on my travels around the blogosphere I came across this cool tool, thanks to Clay at Beyond School.

It is so cool! You could even embed it straight into a wiki I'm sure, but I'll have to try it out.

Wow, things are just getting easier all the time.

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Monday, June 04, 2007

Podcasting with Percy Jackson

Titan's Curse, Cover"Dreams like a podcast

Downloading truth in my ears

They tell me cool stuff"

Haiku recited by Apollo, god of the sun, in Percy Jackson and the Titan's Curse by Rick Riordan (page 147)

Podcasting has made it to the mainstream :) Rick Riordan has included this term in his book which has been ravenously consumed by my two boys in the last two days. Could it be possible that there are still teachers out there who think that this stuff will just go away?

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Saturday, June 02, 2007

Time 4 Online Conference

Podcasting Workshop:
Online Publishing with Audio and Visual Tools
Presentation one by Jane Nicholls Available now!
Description : Oral Language is the basis for all learning and is a powerful tool in itself. Podcasting is a way to harness the power of audio for authenticity - of purpose, audience, and context. What is this thing called podcasting and why should I care? This presentation is for those people who have heard the word podcasting and would like to know what it means. I will showcase podcasts for fun, professional development, and for student learning, and give you directions for putting your toe in the water and having a go yourself.

Time4 Online Conference Blog

If you haven't had a chance to check out the Time 4 Online NZ Conference, the second round of workshops have just been released.  There are some great presentations from classroom teachers and from students to motivate you into giving this stuff a go and some instructions on how to get going.  Go on, take a look, you know you want to :)

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A request for help


Hi all

I am currently undertaking research looking at the question:

In what ways does podcasting enhance oral literacies?

I have been gathering data in my own context but I would love to hear what other teachers have found when using podcasting in their classroom programme and add voices from further a field into my final write up.

I am intersted in authenticity:

  • Audience
  • Context
  • Purpose
  • Self confidence

If you could provide an example of your students demonstrating any of these things I would love to hear about it and incorporate it into my study.  Please leave me a comment on this blog including the country that you are commenting from.

Please could you include this request on your blogs with a link to this post, I would love to get as much information as possible.  It will be great to have a piece of research that says - This is worthwhile doing, and this is why.


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Saturday, May 26, 2007

Action Packed Classrooms

What do a bunch of dedicated teachers do on a Saturday in Dunedin?

Spend the day moving and grooving with Cathie Summerford of Fit 4 Learning! What else!

We were privileged to have Cathie Summerford come to Dunedin all the way from her home in sunny California to take us through the amazing power of combining physical activity and learning. I first attended a full day workshop with Cathie at the Learning Brain Conference on the Sunshine Coast (QLD) last year and we were so blown away by her message that we had to bring her out to New Zealand to talk to our teachers.

Cathie demonstrates powerfully the link between movement and learning and cites some persuasive research about how increasing movement in the classroom can help not only to engage students but to grow brain neurons too. One piece of research Cathie mentioned was the finding that voluntary exercise can even reverse some of the negative effects that bad diet can have on learning.

We learnt how to juggle for success and how to incorporate movement into everyday lessons to enhance learning. One participant said to me, "this is great, it's not another thing we need to do on top of our heavy workload but a way to do things better."

If you ever get a chance to go to one of Cathie's workshops, they are well worth while. As you can see from our photos, we moved and grooved all day and enjoyed every minute of it. Everyone was buzzing with great practical ideas that they could put into their classrooms the very next day.

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Thursday, May 24, 2007

Adventures in Podcasting Part Two

In this episode I will talk about different types of podcasts. Podcasts for fun, instruction, professional development and student learning.

Podcasts mentioned in this presentation are:

Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2007

iPlayMusic - Learn Guitar the Quick, Simple and Easy Way

TILT - Teachers Improving Learning with Technology

small voices

Room5's podcast

Welcome to Pt England School

nzedublogs » home

allanah » People Who Podcast

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