About Thinks

Sometimes good thinks happen and sometimes bad thinks happen. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between the two.

Some thinks need immediate action and some thinks may remain as thinks forever. Thinks can be angry and heated. Thinks can be joyful. Thinks should never be cold.

These thinks are linked to many other wonderful thinks and I like to attribute these.

These thinks do not necessary reflect those thinks of my employer.

Think long, think on.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Melville Intermediate's plea for help

Today in Maths we had a look at Melville Int School's Problem: Here it is Here is our video for them

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Videoing - a tool for reflection

This term we are doing the DARE programme. We are also exploring personal writing because the two fit in quite well together.

As a warm-up and a welcome back to school activity I handed out cards that had faces on them portraying different emotions. The kids worked together in groups and were required to 'act out' the emotion to see if the class could guess it.

The children were told that we would be filming the acts so that we could post them to the class blog so that other people could try and guess the emotions too.

Here is an example

Interestingly the emotion they were trying to portray was 'BORDOM' Shannon was yawning at Rionne's juggling. Because of the video footage we were able to play it back and reflect upon it over and over again. Pointing out that it also portrayed laughter, frustration and embarrassment. What other emotions can you see?

eFellows

So, I'm a 2010 Core Education eFellow which is a lovely honour. I get to hang out in Christchurch a few times this year with a fantastic bunch of like-minded people who do amazing things. Here we are.

I'm looking at the increased use of digital cameras (including webcams and video) in the class room and how the use of them can make the learning more authentic if, for example, they are used for blogs.

I first began to notice it when the kids in my room were putting a little bunch of songs together for baby Blake (as a part of our Roots of Empathy programme). It was a dreary rainy Tuesday morning, the baby was coming that day, I was a tad stressed. But it HAD TO BE DONE. The bell hadn't rung. Would it be possible to get them to do it BEFORE school officially starts? I grabbed the class organiser.
"Go spread the word that I need everyone here now" I said calmly
"Has the bell rung?" She questioned in disbeleif.
"Nope" I said matter-of-fact
"Okaaaaay" She trailed of.

Within two minutes they were there, some looking concerned, most looking confused and a few looking really angry (they'd probably been playing something really fun outside). They knew they didn't HAVE to be there.

"We're making a video for baby Blake!" I announced.
"And it will be going on the blog so Miss Bedford can see it"

The volume in the classroom was through the roof and the phrase "has the bell rung?" echoed all around.

I thought - there is NO WAY I am going to pull this off.

"Right, I screeched in desparation - we're doing Hello Baby Blake, Twinkle Twinkle, and ABC... The Webcam is on, We're counting down 3 2 1 ...

IMMEDIATE FOCUS

It was like a switch. I nearly cried with joy. These kids are video savy.

The video

They managed to record all the songs in less than 5 minutes and go back out to play. Published on the blog, dvd burned before morning tea. Everyone Happy.

So I thought Hmmmmmmm I need to capture this instant focus for many more things.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The single story

An excellent motivation to get the kids from Otara to tell their stories


Chimamanda Adichie: The danger of a single story | Video on TED.com

Prezi

I have heard a wee buzz about the place lately. Prezi. I was not quite sure what all the fuss was about until I went in and had a wee look. IT'S GREAT FUN!!! I'm happy to say I've made my first one ...

Here it is

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Anonomous guy


I liked the careful way the this guy so delicately slipped the writing of national standards into his list of things he'd done. He didn't make up the idea of them but he contributed to writing the actual book of them.

I wonder what would have happened if everyone they approached had said
"uuuum sorry Anne, better things to do with my life"
I don't blame them, we all have bills to pay and mouths to feed - I was just wondering.

He was also a part of the groups that were brought together for ONE WEEKEND (yes, one weekend) to write the back part of the curriculum (you know, the foldy out bit) . Interestingly I had just been listening to Mark Treadwell the day before who said to "just rip that part out".

It's not their fault. Rome wasn't built in a weekend ...

He was a gorgeous man. He didn't seem to mind that only a handful of teachers had brought the curriculum with them and happily handed out his spare copies of the curriculum, the progressions and the national standards that he had 'dug out' the night before at home. He had fantastic ideas, passion and years of experience. He had a genuine passion for literacy and learning.  His PowerPoint show was brought to life with fabulous picture book readings and he even gave me an "AHA" moment (which was pretty exciting). He had good practical examples and I left with screeds of ideas and a basic unit plan entrenched in my head for the next term. GOOD STUFF!

He had incredible ideas on assessment, REAL ASSESSMENT, which made me question (out loud - oh dear) why oh why do we have crappy Asttle as a recommended national standards tool. 

It was a weird moment when he approached me at the end and said "don't you go back to school and tell them I said NOT to use Asttle". Your secret is safe with me ... Anonymous Guy ...

Friday, July 16, 2010

Tony Ryan (Tony's Themes)

"This is a post about a superhero called Tony. It's called Tony's theme."
The above pixies song was in my head and 'stuck on replay' during the 3 Tony Ryan talks I saw.

There were many themes that he covered, one of the many that 'took' me is that we need to TRUST our KIDS and TEACHERS. Particularly in the context of gaming. He acknowledges that about 10 percent of games have little merit and points out that MOST of the games our kids are playing in online environments require enormous amounts of problem solving. He point out further that the skills from these games can indeed be transferred into the 'real world' with this cute story. He suggests that rather than trying to resist gaming and endlessly debate the merits and pitfalls of it, we should GOIAMO (get over it and move on) because it's here so why not work WITH it.

He also referred us to this good little read which also made me think that we really need to stop blocking facebook and twitter from our schools. Look at all the rich learning opportunities we are forcing our kids to miss out on.

Mark Osborne ePortfolios


I LOVE the idea of ePortfolios - especially in the way that Mark Osborne so carefully points out that they are a tool for reflection. He convincingly argues that he would happily accept a pen and paper reflective journal from a student at his school. His mission is to engage students in reflection - an ePortfolio is a tool for this.

I particularly appreciated how an ePortfolio enables us to see the WHOLE child in terms of assessing them through the Key Competencies. For example while a child may not be able to demonstrate 'Relating to Others' in the traditional classroom environment, a glimpse into their Saturday morning soccer game can show the teacher that the child can demonstrate competency in this area.

The ePortfolio product he uses is http://myportfolio.school.nz/ This has an added component that resembles social networking environments such as facebook. Students have profile pics, a wall, and the opportunity to personalise their homepage with attributes about THEMSELVES. Mark articulates very clearly how this enables him to establish a genuine and full picture of his students. Can you imagine how long it would take you to ask 30 students how their weekend was with great depth? This social networking environment can paint a picture of this in a very efficient way.

He also emphasised the importance of triangulation in that there is an ongoing dialogue between family, student, teacher (and the whole world if, and only if, you wish). Exciting stuff! He took us through many of the sophisticated features (such as enabling public or specific person) viewing for a specified time. He points out that this is particularly useful for potential employers etc.

Furthermore he points out that the compiling of these portfolios are by the student and the use of digital technologies such as webcams, video cams and cameras can enable students portfolios to become vibrant and meaningful records of their learning journeys.

Like I said in my Mark Treadwell post, we all need to get moving on this to ensure that no children are left behind.

Mark Treadwell


I felt a tad uneasy during this workshop - which is a good thing - i like that.

I think it was the way Mark presented cutting edge material in such a calm way. He casually slipped little gems into the conversation such as:
- Einstein's brain had a higher Neuron to Astrocyte Ratio than any other human being.
- Neurons take up only 7% of the brain whereas Astrocytes that take up 70% of the brain DO STUFF thus changing the 'model' we have had of brains for many years. This paradigm shift in brain models is remarkable. It reminded me of how we giggle at the ancient Egyptians who thought the brain had the function of the heart and the heart had the function of the brain. Further, the neurons vs astrocytes theory was offered as a very convincing explanation as to why rote learning is inefficient and ineffective using learning to read (neurons) vs learning how to drive a car (astrocytes) as an example.
- 'They' have discovered that severed optic nerves can be connected to the back of the tongue allowing the blind person able to 'see' out of their mouth. (This mental image kept me preoccupied for far too long). And when I 'came to' it got even MORE FREAKY.

Mark Treadwell showed us progressive concept based learning intentions where your own relevant contexts can be 'slotted in' he has a very good product (Whatever Next?) for this which I think would be a valuable school tool in the years to come.

So the scary part for me was a glimpse into the future of education in New Zealand over the next decade. I'm quite happy with the direction we're going in. I'm loving the potential of eLearning. What I found disturbing, however, is the potential to create a class of digital savvy kids leaving the others behind.

*disclaimer* Now bear in mind, this is MY PERSPECTIVE of what was said and I was still reeling from the 'seeing out of the mouth' image ...

Student Monitoring Systems (SMS).
So, as I understand it, the Government has been trialling SMS in a select few high decile schools where student's learning data is being stored electronically on the Internet. I'm okay with that. We've been doing this on a small scale with products such as etap.

The system itself is pretty cool - student's learning will be documented electronically. ePortfolios will be built up over the course of the students schooling and if a student was to change schools their electronic records will follow them. Gone are the days of clear-files being sent (if you're lucky) through the post many weeks after the new school requests them.

The student therefore leaves school with an electronic record where they can provide evidence of their key competencies and learning to potential employers and/or training establishments. Great!

Instead of school reports (as we know them) parents will be sent a text or an emailing alerting them that their child's SMS has been updated. Initially printing options will be available for those families without access to computers or cellphones. This , of course, will be breaking an age old custom - THE SCHOOL REPORT, but I'm sure we will cope considering how quickly we have moved on from picking up our prints and negatives from the local pharmacy. Further companies such as Fisher and Paykel are providing computers in their factories for employees to access such information.

What concerns me though is the potential for a 'digitally elite' cohort of children. Already there are schools that are at least two years ahead. This means that there is a group of children with an 'extra' two years of learning on their "CVs" a trivial point for our year one and twos but not so trivial for older students who are closer to entering the workforce.

Another thing that concerns me is the 'products' that are used for this electronic record keeping are reasonably expensive. I received a quote from KnowledgeNet where initial setup is $4000 plus an ongoing monthly fee of $280. As well as $800 a day for training. There are, of course, 'free' solutions such as the Ministry's Mahara. However a national system needs to be transferable between schools and have extremely high cyber-security features (KnowledgeNet).

Will the government be providing ALL schools with this fantastic product? NO, schools will have the opportunity to APPLY FOR FUNDING - (watch the Gazette)

Will the government have to secure the businesses that create these products to safe-guard the learning data of the children? (Hmmmmm I wish I had shares in KnowledgeNet ...)

Will this be made compulsory? NO, if things are made compulsory schools tend to resist them.

Therefore while I am thrilled with the concept of the electronic curriculum and SMS I REALLY HOPE that its implementation is fair for ALL CHILDREN.

Learning Network NZ conference


Over the past two days I attended the Learning Network NZ Conference at Waipuna in Auckland.

I thought this would be a good opportunity to start my own learning blog (as opposed to a classroom blog). The first posts will reflect my perceptions and reflections of the workshops and keynotes I experienced over these two days.