Tuesday, 23 December 2008

A key to getting things going

Me being starstruck at NECC with Kevin Honeycutt

Kevin's Keychain -what a great idea!!

Finally school has finished on what could only be described as a year of real ups and downs for me and the school. We have been going through a huge rebuilding and re-organisation programme at my school and the last few weeks of school were incredibly difficult with effectively only one third of the school available for use. The projects are huge and we are starting to see the finished product as we pack our bags for the long break.

In this climate of change, many find the process unnerving and the usual shedding of staff, non renewal of contracts, interviews, departures has really taken it toll on staff morale. The last week has been an attempt to heal some of this and look towards next year with hope. Meetings, planning and general unwinding have been a major part of the last week of school.

My year's highlight would have to be NECC and though the school has not asked me to present about my trip, I want to do something to create change. With so many other things happening it has not really been given a time on the school calendar, but with the reality of lots more computers in the school next year and my job as the head of curriculum for year 8, this was an opportunity to do some training of staff. I offered the opportunity to staff to come and have a sandpit session and try some new tools and said the session was voluntary.

The humour that has been required to survive around school lately was really needed on the day- the door the library was blocked by huge cranes lifting out classrooms and we had to enter by a back entrance. The whole session was one I had thought about for quite a while. I was extremely nervous about it - people feel so confronted by tec hnology and I didn't want to add to the problem.
I had been inspired by Kevin Honeycutt's presentation at NECC where he had used the simple prop of a keychain with a tag for each application or software that he covered in an inservice. These tags are laminated and have the link and a note about what the software is for on the back. They can go on the keyring he provides and the collection can be neverending- just like the learning involved. As Kevin says,'Teacher's love to collect things and if they are laminated they don't throw them out'.

This all sounded fine and then on a WOW 2.0 interview Kevin provided a link to his template and I downloaded it. Many of the apps on his template are great but some I wasn't going to use and some I would use weren't on there. So I had to learn Excel very fast and created seven new tags. These then had to be printed and stuck together, cut out and laminated. I found some cheap carabiners for them to use as the holders and after many hours of cutting and hole punching I took my self doubt and my packets of tags to the classroom. My dear friend Pam came along to help and although there were only eight staff who took up the offer, it was a great start to learning for me - how to deal with all the usual issues with adult learners - and for them.

I started with showing them 'Did You Know' and 'Pay Attention' on Teacher tube and then got them to make and account and favourite those two vids. Most had never done any of these things! I showed them where the embed codes were and said we would use these later.

Then we had a look at 'Searchme' a really beautiful visual search engine and Silobreaker which is a topic based news aggregator. After we had done these three I gave out the first sets of tags and instead of guffaws I had lots of delight and wows ! Those who had been taking notes relaxed and started to explore because they knew they could come back late and find what they wanted.

We moved on to getting a gmail account and some had done Google docs with me and I showed those who hadn't what it could do. Then we started individual blogs using blogger- none had done any of this before. First entry included uploading a photo . Then for the second entry they had to find a video on their subject area from teacher tube and get the embed code and upload it.

This process was about where we had a break. After the break I showed them Voicethread and got some started on that and also Animoto. By the end of the morning all had a blog and were happily blogging, embedding and uploading away. Several were starting to produce their own content. Most had eight new tags for their keyrings and could say they felt confident to do this on their own. My challenge to them was to ask them to be my assistants when I did this with the whole staff and most said they could!

So my reflections
- the small group was a blessing and having Pam and tech support person Euan Bradley as helpers was essential.
- the keytags idea really works! People are grateful for something given to them and the fact it is a handy prompt to remember the learning and to show what they did is fantastic
- this was a tricky group - almost minimal users and mostly older women, but they came and tried and were telling me what they had done next day. They were supporting each other and it was fun!
- the sandpit idea was good -come along and try at your own speed
- my main focus was 'How could you use this in your classes?' We could have done more apps but the conversations around this question were fantastic and for a group of tired out folk who just wanted to rest- I take my hat off to their professionalism and enthusiasm.
What Next?
Do it again with the next who are willing to come. The videos set the tone and focused people's minds on the task,
Have help to answer the questions.
Make lots of keytags- people want their one!!!
Go on to wikispaces,nings, social bookmarking , google readers, twitter- maybe an in-school one using yammer?, using the flip videos to create content themselves, movie maker ...
My list will go on and perhaps a wiki of what we do would be good- something like the 23 things site as challenge with lots of support and a list of go-to people for support... I am on a roll here!

Looks like I will be making lots of keytags ... thanks Kevin!!!

Here is the link for the template again -http://iconnectilearn.ning.com/forum/topics /2084620:Topic:6146 Please note you have to be a member of Ning to enter this site and the template is available in pdf , excel and numbers formats

Sunday, 14 December 2008

How does our role as teacher change?

Thanks to Ali Hall who had noted this video by John Travers about the notation of students work using a bookmarking service such as Diigo.I love Diigo as it combines the best of many other tools on one site but I am not so sure about the kind of use John is describing is one I would rush into with high school students, probably more with tertiary ones. To me the business of commenting on blogs is still hard- I am forever wishing I was better at commenting and being able to write reflective and useful points, but my brain struggles to think of anything apart from the mundane in response to blogs and I feel I let the kids down in this area. This video seems however to make the commenting process even more separated from the personal relationship which the classroom provides. Blogging is a step away from the personal, but also opens up the process to peers in the class and others outside. This idea as shown in the video to me seems something maybe appropriate for senior classes or tertiary work. What do you think?

Saturday, 13 December 2008

City of Books

This Is Where We Live from 4th Estate on Vimeo.

Found this piece of amazing creativity through Skelta 63. This one is authored by 4th Estate , but the videos there on the site are quite delightful.Here is another one by college humour, the group which made Font conference that i posted earlier. This is so clever , especially if you are an ex(almost) windows user like me

Thursday, 11 December 2008

My Wordle

Frances Baker's Wordle

My daughter has a blog about film and fashion and life and so I thought I would show her wordle . She thought it was interesting that the words were emphasised but it wasn't 'cool' enough for her so here it is.

Sunday, 7 December 2008

All about the people

The most exciting thing that has happened to me in awhile has been that Judy O'Connell has nominated my blog for the Eddies as a Best New Blog. Unfortunately I didn't make the final list, but just being nominated was such a boost. I have been thinking what I wanted to write about to respond to this and I have tried to start a post several times. Blogging less lately and mostly just putting up new gadgets or sites makes me feel that perhaps I am not really blogging in the sense that Will Richardson has challenged us about on the PLP project- sorry can't link to this one it is a private ning. I seem to just be collecting ideas and information. The more thoughtful and detailed posts I see on the other nominees blogs are so powerful and make me think- 'gee I wish I could put the ideas together like that'.

But really that isn't who I am and if I did an analysis of my site using typelizer I think it would reflect the kind of connector and accumulator I am. I connect- ideas , people whatever. Not on a grand scale, but a colleague says she is always so amazed how I see the Big Picture on things and I guess I have to honest that I am happiest skipping from new idea to new idea and thinking how I could apply it or passing it on to someone at school or nowadays to my PLN using delicious or diigo. It is those connections that have me glued to my computer in a way that nothing else has absorbed me and made me feel like I am growing more than I have for a long time.

Why am I writing this? Two social gatherings and one flashmeeting have made me realise how vital and exciting these links are when you actually meet the people to whom you have connected for some time. A Blogger's feast at Southbank last week gave me the chance to meet some people I have only known online and it was soo exciting. As I tried to explain in the OZ/NZ flashmeeting tonight, you don't have to go through the usual social niceties- you are already friends and the time f2f is so precious that you value every moment. At the same table we had people from four different states of Australia-all behaving as friends who just hadn't caught up for awhile. Magic!!

On Saturday I had a blogger's Lunch at my house for edubloggers- a bit nerve wracking as it wasn't very clear from all the yes/no/maybe tweets that came in for a week beforehand how many I would be catering for. But the sun shone, the garden looked beautiful and the folks arrived. The previous post has a slideshow of the photo session and we had skype and a ustream going for awhile, but the fun was in the people. The range of experience and interest in the group was huge- I haven't done links as there are too many, but we were all laughing about the things we do that we wouldn't necessarily tell other non-bloggers. Maybe it was AA for bloggers, but the conversations were great - even from teachers who had just finished the gruelling report writing marathon.

Yes the PLN gives me ideas, gives me support, gives me the drive to keep trying and keep learning. The nomination is lovely, but the people are the centre of this - not computers or software, - people trying to make sense of the world and to try to be better helpers for young people whose future world starts now.

Saturday, 6 December 2008

A Lunch of edubloggers...... Dec O8

Sue Waters comes to Melbourne so a lunch is held!! Four seasons in a day - crazy weather but great company and a lovely time.

Friday, 5 December 2008

Glogster and Capzle - two really top tools!!

Jo McLeay sent out a plurk saying she was looking at Glogster for Education. I have a look at Glogster before and felt it wasn't really something I could make use of, but on the main page was a link to these glogs about Schindler's List from a New Zealand school's wiki. Thanks to the great teachers at Katikati College. Can I make use of these? You bet !! What a sensational way of engaging students for ways of reading text!! Lenva Shearing is using them with her kids at Bucklands Beach and I will definitely be doing the same!

The second really fascinating and highly useable site that I have found through my PLN lately is Capzle It is an absolute treasure trove of ideas for presentation- reminds me a bit of Searchme and some of the time line creating products that have been around lately. Capzle is terrific- combines all sorts of media and provides a medium to link a wide range of forms of information into a very smooth whole. Thanks Tanya Sheko for the blog post!

Friday, 14 November 2008

New ways New forms

After a period of feeling very lost about what I am doing, it is good to find something to get interested in and see a real opportunity for promoting change. My current project is to create a wiki for use with teachers when I attempt to do training with them. When I set up a Google reader with them, what I need is a list of blogs by teachers in their subject area that they can turn to to read. So I have decided to create a wiki of teacher blogs by subject and at the moment by tweeting and plurking I have made a start. However the responses have been few and far between. Is this really something which hasn't been done before ? Why not? It seems to me the most logical way to get a high school teacher reading blogs is to link them to someone who writes about what they are dealing with everyday in the integration of technology, and for those who constantly claim they 'don't have the time' this could be much more directed reading. As a part of this whole attempt to get more staff involved I have also started Techo-Thursday - based on the idea of Anne Murchison and Jess McCullough of Walk-In-Wednesday. I have been trying this for two weeks and I hope that as part of the PLP project that this will become part of the culture. My wiki is designed to complement this, with a strong emphasis on Australian teachers. So as I grind slowly on to the end of the year, I take comfort in the new ISTE magazine which arrived today and talked about the value of coffee culture to provide good ICT training for staff. Yes I hope that I can capture staff and engage them with the information that is timely and relevant. So if you are reading this and have a suggestion or want to see where I am up to with the wiki, please check the wiki and add yourself or someone who is a high school teacher and add them. Thanks

Sunday, 2 November 2008

Spring rolls around again

Yes I know this is meant to be about teaching but I can teach horticulture too :) Well here are my pikkies from mid spring in my very large jardin. Hope you like them!

Feeling Older?

In my usual bowerbird way I was looking at some sites and I found Yearbook Me- looked like fun so I had a play but only one image worked - I didn't have a very good photo of me to work with and have been too sick lately so I didn't want a current one. The exercise was fun- scary and fun - mostly because I recognised that many of the styles were ones that I had worn versions of and had hopefully grown 'out' of. The whole Yearbook thing is fascinating- we don't really do that here in Australia and the kind of frozen snapshot of your life boils down to the annual school magazine with lots of fun photos,
But it did make me think- shades of Carrie Bradshaw here- "How do we measure our own growth?'
Is it in the hairstyles over time? I was shopping with my youngest who has just turned eighteen for an outfit for a family wedding a more formal evening one and having a good giggle at the things she found cool as they were almost identical to ones I used to wear- even the fabrics and prints were familiar. I remember my mother find it amusing that at the same age I was obsessed by beaded crepe 1940's dresses- ones like she had worn and I bought wardrobes full of them rather than the styles of the time. I liked the sense of a history that came with the garments and my daughters are both doing the same thing- finding 'vintage' quirky pieces rather than the chain store mass produced disposable pap. I am so proud of their choices and the fact they both have an awesome sense of what works for them.
But this post is not just about fashion - it is about how do I measure change in myself in my teaching? Jen Wagner posted recently about being authentic in our interactions with others - about making the enthusiasm we have for our online lives keep flowing through to our own schools despite the fact they may not know - or wish to know- what we are doing 'online'. So for me many of her statements ring true- things about ego and how I am perceived by others and recognition have played large in my mind lately due to a number of reasons, and I want to make a conscious decision to get beyond that as it has been very depressing and energy sapping. I need to get back to what the whole thing is about- the teaching and learning and the kids. Grants are great, meetings and conferences are great and I know I am less overwhelmed by the range of conferences online and even getting a bit 'oh yeah' about some. But all this means nothing if I am not connecting this in class- not just being the purveyor of a big box of fun tools, but someone who is now ready to change what is going on starting with me and helping whoever asks or is interested.
So getting back to the yearbook photo - yes it is scary because I know I am of an age now where that could be how I am seen by kids. But more than that- the image is of a different time a whole different way of seeing teaching, teenagers, the world and myself. Yes I have moved on way past the point I would have thought to be at, but the journey will have little meaning if it does not create change for others too.
How do you measure personal growth and change?

Friday, 31 October 2008

Thanks Blogger NOT!!!

I have just spent a really frustrating hour trying to remove a part of my blog which has appeared recently, BUT WHICH I DID NOT ASK TO HAVE ADDED!!!!! What is going on Blogger?? I have searched the layout and help section, looked at post settings and nothing I have marked has given permission for the ridiculous recommendations and star rating section which now appears after each post.
I do not want my readers to rate my posts, they can read them or not, comment or not - that is their choice, but no star ratings THANK YOU.If I wanted to have ratings I would go on talent show. Also I do not want people referred to the rubbish that you are putting in the recommendations section!!
I take this seriously and I do not appreciate what you little un requested addition says about my blog
So I went to the Twitterverse and was referred to draft.blogger.com where I did find the boxes but not ticked. Ok so this is a rant- but seriously- I don't want ads on my blog and I don't want these ridiculous extras. So blogger let me know what is happening and improve your game. I have been a very happy camper up till now but such a simple fix is really making me angry. Please FIX IT !!!

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Hehe Just trickin'ya!

Far Out I just got slapped with a wet salmon - really - I have not updated this since long before Shakespeare wast a boy... You would not believe I spend all my time in front of a computer. Please don't abandon me!.

I am lost in a sea of pseudo-olde-english with discovering time doesn't stand still, being distracted by the shiny, just generally being a worry to anyone unfortunate to cross my path, my day is full to bursting from crawling out of bed at 6.30 to 11pm at which point I fall asleep on the couch. I am wondering if I paid mine electricity bill. can't they see I am blogging.

I won't promise anything to you but I will write something that makes sense soon. Fully! What do you mean you don't believe me?.
-From the lazy bloggers post site !

Monday, 13 October 2008

A First Step on the Path- PLP begins

It happens sometimes- you get the feeling that something great is going to happen. Today the Australian cohort for the international PLP group had a meeting at Toorak College at Mt Eliza.This programme is Will Richardson and Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach's real effort to create sustainable change in schools by developing a continuous support framework for schools.They are putting their efforts and their reputations up to get real change happening and my school has been lucky enough to be funded to participate.

My team of four includes Pam Arvanitakis, Matt Lucas, Marie-Josee Mill and Natalie Vranjes. The areas that they teach in are diverse and their interest is what has brought them to volunteer for the programme. I hope that they found today both challenging and exciting- I know I did despite the fact that most of what was covered was material with which I am familiar. That wasn't what it was about anyway- today was about building a community - a group of teachers creating a personal learning network and a framework to try and change their teaching and ultimately their schools.

The teams came from private schools in Victoria and New South Wales and involved many travel hours for staff and much work by Jenny Luca who is organising the group. It was great to meet more of the folk I have chatted to on Twitter as well as Judy O'Connell and Dean Groom again and a number of new teachers and community members.

So what do I expect from this? Well, apart from the funding that allows staff from my school to access high quality in-service - a very basic but important virtue- this has the chance to create a network for collaboration and development both within Australia and with New Zealand and USA.The teachers involved are amazing people and I have much to learn from them. Will and Sheryl are so well connected and experienced that anything will be possible.

Much is before us and there will be growth in so many ways- Craig Smith at Knowledge Bank has been a great help for us as a group organising funding and we will be able to see how to create change within a school. Thanks to Jenny and Will and Sheryl for a very affirming day - optimism is hard to find and this was a day filled with it - food for those hard working teachers who are asked to provide so much of it for our students that sometimes the well does run dry. Maybe we are starting a new well spring?

Friday, 3 October 2008

viral voting for gen y

Just in case you have been living under a rock , how to use youtube to create change. Well done guys.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Shedding a Skin

After a glorious two weeks of gardening and generally unwinding from a really difficult school term - when aren't they difficult she asks herself- I am catching up on my listening to podcasts. I am listening to Jenny Luca being interviewed by the ED Tech Crew and sitting here nodding my head at so many of the things Jenny is saying. She has become a shining light in her blog writing and a must read either for her delightful School's out Friday posts or her increasingly challenging posts on the Web 2.0 world. Jenny writes as she speaks -with a characteristic honesty and very down to earth approach to her reactions to ideas or issues. What I like is that it is an Australian voice and a woman's voice. In this never-ending boy's club that is the Web 2.0 we need women speaking up and being recognized and Jenny is not afraid to speak up and is doing so with great confidence.

Her reactions to the conference experience were very similar to mine at NECC, excitement, being a bit star struck and then ultimately realising that what we as Australians have to offer and what we are doing is really terrific and we should be raising our voice and the flag. I am really looking forward to working with Jenny more this year through our involvement in the PLP network. It is because of Jenny that my school is able to be involved as she convinced the Dept to add a govt school. What a great opportunity for my staff and students.Thanks Jen.

The title of this post relates more to my state of mind which Jenny's podcast and her recent post about a year of change resonated with so strongly. I have been blogging for over a year and trying to sort out what I know and what I understand by the terms school and teaching and education. So much of what I am doing is so exciting and the potential takes my breath away. Yet when I go to school the same old issues are there. How is it possible to create change in an institution that by its definition is about maintaining a kind of status quo, where teachers 'pass on ' their 'knowledge' where students 'learn' what we have to 'teach ' them. In the light of this conflicting set of images, throw in a group of students who are so bored that even when you do step out of the box and try to do something different they reject it- too hard, don't get it' 'why we doin' this?'

So it is spring. Wall street is crashing, there is a drought, money is tight,etcetera.
But I feel like it is time to shed a skin- to stop letting it get on top of me. I have some energy again, we have lots of exciting new things to be engaged with at school - new buildings, new computers, a special grant for new training... I want to step out into the light and start a chorus of people saying 'yes we can ..' Thanks Jen.

Friday, 26 September 2008

Poetic Digital Storytelling

Found this simple how-to video on a great wiki created by Mark Spahr as a resource for training staff on using Web 2.0 technologies . The video itself is on Teachertube and is presented by Degerb.He uses six (?)different apps to produce the video and I love the Robert Frost poem he has used as a model. Would it really require six apps?
The wiki itself is a fine example of resourcing your staff for training and the idea of a lunch for those who come along is lovely. Reminds me of Jess McCollough and Anne Mirtchin's idea of Walk-in-Wednesday- all great ideas on how to capture the interest of time poor teachers to show them how to save time!

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Dave Walker

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

I finally discovered where the delightful cartoons by Dave Walker have a home on the net thanks to Rhondda's Reflections blog - a fascinating blog full of great information- well worth a look. Lots of the cartoons are on blogs but what is nice is that they are free to use. Thanks Dave and Rhondda!

Monday, 22 September 2008

Sticky note madness

Ok so I am on holidays and spending too much time online catching up on my reader.This one comes from an equally eclectic site that I always find something amazing on- English at kkc Well worth a read if you are a teacher of English. This one is lovely to watch

Sunday, 21 September 2008

It is Right in front of your nose...SEE?

Ok loath as I am to start getting political and ranty - there comes a time. On Friday I had a great email from Dr Craig Smith from Innovations and Excellence at the Dept. letting me know that we were able to be the only govt school to receive funding for the Powerful Learning Programme run by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Will Richardson. This is a great honour and I am so pleased my school will be able to access this programme and the knowledge it will provide for staff. The funding is fantastic and I have the awesome Jenny Luca to thank for the recommendation.I was so excited about this and I have the holidays to read up about the programme and discuss with others how best to make use of it. Super - love some good news, especially after the excitement of the arrival of our new macs.
I wondered why I have no comments under my new movie after tweeting it a few times to see what folks thought. It was my first real attempt to use iMovie and though very rough and full of poor camera work- because I was so excited I forgot I was filming on several occasions- and I felt I had really started to work it out. But no-one came or those who did , didn't comment. Disappointing I thought oh well.. never mind. But when I think about it it is so tiny in the sea of other peoples achievements and what they are doing. Five laptops in a school of 1200 students - do the math and the techies are having real trouble working out how to add them to the network. Reality check Sue and so I went back to planning how I would make use of them.
Then last night I was chatting to Sue Waters who was bemoaning the inability of twitter to be reliable- a four hour outage- and we chatted about my week. Somewhere in the conversation I mused about the fact that the PLP programme was great but the eternal issue of 'I've run out of Internet money Miss..' would raise its head and she was aghast. Yes our kids have to pay and yes if we do anything substantial eg my use of the amazing Carrot Mob movie (short version below) to discuss optimism and social change and the kids blow all their money on the download and I have students telling they are $7 in the red because of the movie I told them to watch.
YES Susan - THIS is what is stopping adoption of more web 2.0 technology and teaching more than anything else. No the teachers are not slack or luddites, it is just that anytime they stuck their heads out of the sand they failed because the system doesn't allow them to succeed. Students get $2 at the start of the year and they have to top it up all year. Many forget or protest, many parents refuse thinking their child has been playing games or just can't afford it.
I have had conversations with many classroom teachers about this and admin people as well. Our school budget and the plan we have been locked into by the department make it very difficult to change and what might happen if it were made 'free' worries these folk greatly.
So let me know- how does your school fund the internet? Do you students pay a levy? What plan is your school on? I need some solid help here and some suggestions to help change REALLY happen. Thanks to Sue Waters who then posted about this and has made me see what is in front of my nose and really try to do something about it.

Wednesday, 17 September 2008

Transforming the classroom bit by bit...

The interesting thing about trying to create change is that often you may be waiting around and hoping and planning for it for so long, that when it actually starts to happen, you may miss the moment because you are already trying to think about the 'next thing'. This almost happened to me yesterday. After weeks of waiting, the Macbooks which are being supplied as a result of the Emerging Technologies Grant from the Education Department, finally arrived in the school.It may put this in to perspective to say we have always been a windows based school and there are no laptops for students at all in the school.. these are the very first.
Gary Bass and Frank from Connecting Point came to school and brought some extra machines to enable all the class to have a hands on experience. As well as all my year eight class, a number of staff came and visited and had a play with Macs. Gary took the class for the double and they went through some of the differences in the operating system and then we set them loose. They used Photo Booth and had a great time exploring the effects. Then we dragged them away from that and began to explore Garageband. Several of the musos in the class went berserk when then realised the programme actually typed out what they wrote. Several played with the basics of podcasting and then we moved on to IMovie.
The double flew by and I actually had to tell the students that the bell had gone for the end of the day. They loved it and I was able to film the experience and the process of making this into a movie for the grant and for myself made me learn how to use the basics of the programme. It is still very basic, but it does capture the fun of the afternoon.
So who was doing the learning ?

Monday, 25 August 2008

Font Conference - some more light entertainment

Yep it is just awesome..

I know it has been everywhere, but I just love the idea. Just like the man who gives free hugs we need to celebrate that which we have in common and Matt does this so if you have been living under a rock and haven't seen this -enjoy!

Monday, 18 August 2008

Thanks Dave Truss -a cure for Monday-itis

Brave New World-Wide-Web
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: web2.0 technology)

It was a Monday and I had just had a double with my very demanding Year 9 class writing resumes and job application letters. My cat had come home to die and the thought of how much work I had to do and the constant sense that to create change in my school that is a wet, muddy building site filled with litter and kids who would rather be home in bed, would be akin to moving a mountain.
So, in the middle of my bout of Monday-itis, I turned on twitter and Dave Truss tweeted about a slideshare that was about not going quietly into your class. Take a look and there it is - a fabulous presentation that lifts my spirits and talks about how change must happen. Great work Dave and thank you.

Sunday, 10 August 2008

A Spot of Snow

Ok so now I have worked out the basics of IMovie, I have worked on my footage of a recent snowfall here and I am posting it as my second movie. Hope people enjoy the beautiful, but very brief moment we had. I love living here!

Saturday, 9 August 2008

Catching up. Keeping going. Getting the Picture.

So here it is on a rainy Saturday night and finally I can compose my thoughts enough to write a post. Well, thanks to a tweet from Lauren O'Grady I have downloaded Screenflow as a screen capture tool and it seems easier than some of the others around and it captures movies as well. This is my first try to celebrate the fact that the OZ/NZ educators ning has reached one hundred members. I am so pleased that such a little idea has grown . The main thing now is to make sure it is useful and provides a connecting point for educators of all skill levels and allows them to be able to find support and ideas for using ICT for better teaching.
The social aspect is growing too. I had such a great time at NECC and on the ACCE tour meeting people and connecting to voices that became real people as a result of the trip. We are planning a third Blogger's Feast this Thursday at La Camera in Southbank. This time we have many of the group who came first time and several who went on the trip so we can all catch up. the connection keeps going through emails and little threads about how much we all want to go to NECC next year in Washington, but at AU$8000 it is out of reach for most of us.
It has taken me awhile to sit down and actually write about NECC and the tour. I noted that the day I flew out was the anniversary of my blog and that the fact I was going to a computing conference in America was a reflection of how much this has changed me and my understanding of my job.The trip now seems to me to be something really special- a lucky moment in time where everything was wonderful and the meeting of a group was meant to happen. Sounds soppy possibly, but the more I think about the members of the group, the more I see what a remarkable crowd they are. I do hope we will all meet again.
The places we went, the conversations we had, the weather, the food, the fun all seem like a dream here on a cold Melbourne night, but the fact that my perceptions of what can be, have shifted so much make it real.
I am now using a new Mac powerbook computer, not a department loan machine, but my own one and adjusting slowly to having to use both platforms.It is a beautiful machine in design and use and I am enjoying exploring its potential.
One of the most immediately usable experiences of the trip was seeing the TV stations that two schools in New Zealand had created. Since coming home, my plan is to establish one ready for use in the new learning centre. My principal has given me the money for the software- Adobe Visual Communicator 3- and I have been spending time understanding the programme and working with Euan Bradley to make it happen. We have a blue and green screen, we have cameras and the space is still under discussion. We are working out lighting and the students are on the go with programming and design ideas. I have been watching School TV Made Easy tutorials and playing with settings and it is really absorbing me.The potential is huge and so hopefully soon I will be able to post the first episode.
Another change is that I have ordered Macs for the class to use for the learning centre and some flip videos. All of this is such a change for the school
So these changes are the immediate and obvious ones. I am hopefully - weather permitting - going geocaching tomorrow and have found the school does have GPS units. Maybe I can organise a staff one or one for the kids?

Sunday, 3 August 2008

The Anthropology of You Tube

Thanks to Jo Mcleay for the link to this amazing video. The links between the web, the audience,the choices we have and change just pop out of this and Michael Wesch's understated presentation of this are so riveting. A longer one but well worth the watch.

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Inspiration for When the Well Runs Dry

So when I started blogging I guess I was hoping that this would be a focus to me thinking more deeply about what I am doing in this job which I have defined myself by for nearly thirty years. Maybe I could put some great ideas on the blog in the hope that they would not slip to the sides like papers on my desk do when the day to day rush of what I do. Maybe I could experiment with software, maybe it would be the ubiquitous 'sandpit' that many bloggers write about.
Only occasionally though has my brain been lit up as it was by this talk which I found from the Constructing Modern Knowledge blog. It is a talk by Dave Egger who won the prize for 2008 from the TED organization- a source of great ideas and reflection. His development of a programme for students needing language support. It is simply inspiring and I hope that some day I can show it to parents at school and some retired staff and maybe we could do something like this. An idea has to start somewhere- this man is a visionary.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Podcast No1 All about Blogging By the students!!

http://www.gcast.com/u/sujokat/main Here is the link for my first podcast . I interviewed my year 8 class last term in a lesson where the class was working in groups and asked them some questions about our blogging. They have now been blogging for a semester and I am so impressed by their comments. When I feel discouraged about creating change, this is a lovely place to come as they make it all worthwhile.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

How are you living your days?

In Honor of Randy Pausch

By Barbara Locke, Search Analyst. A stack composed in Searchme as a tribute to Randy Pausch.Wisdom comes in ways you don't expect or plan for, and it is what you do with it that counts.Thanks Jenny Luca for this link.

Youtube Conversion

I have a fabulous daughter.
She taught me about how to download really simply from YouTube and then convert the video for itunes or quicktime.
Because YouTube is blocked in my school I need a way to show my students.So Kate has shown me how to use the activity window in Safari and then ISquint to convert the for Itunes and then made it so I could post it here - yes I am a noob and this is really basic, but I am learning to speak mac and kate wrote this !!;)

Sunday, 13 July 2008

A Claymation of The Hobbit? Fantastic!!!

One of my Year 8 students whose work I have featured earlier,just submitted this wonderful claymation which is her retelling of the whole story of The Hobbit. It is great work by a really talented and witty student- stay watching for the very amusing titles at the end! Awesome effort Penny!!

Friday, 11 July 2008

ACCE Tour 2008 Rocks!

Dave Warlick's NECC Animoto

Found on Mrs Durff's blog and I think it catures all the excitement that was NECC. I am working up to my own post soon

Thanks Judy

I wanted to keep a copy of this slideshare presentation that Judy O'Connell featured on her blog . This is a really thought provoking set of slides and once again it is another thing to think about. Thanks Judy.

Sunday, 22 June 2008

Bags Are Packed.

Sitting here in a contemplative mood watching the rain, both daughters at home and my bags packed. Tomorrow morning I leave to go to NECC. For me, traveling half way round the world to go to a computer conference would have been laughable a year ago, and a year ago I didn't have a blog so it is kind of reflective of the changes in my life and my professional awareness that tomorrow it is a year since I started my blog.DADA!!!
To list the changes would be very boring here- suffice to say that little in my life is the same and I feel better about the future of teaching than I have for a long time. I have met the most fascinating and dedicated people,found new knowledge and have a new perspective on my fellow staff.
So what am I expecting from NECC? The meeting with the fellow travelers from Australia and then some of our New Zealand friends is a huge part of this. The travel, the exposure to a broad support network for all the things I want to do know is important too. The actual conference is a big unknown as I have heard so much about it and how big it is. The range of presentations, both educational and commercial will be huge, probably overwhelming but also so exciting. The chance to step back from the everyday craziness and actually focus on what I am so fascinated by will be wonderful.
So my bags are packed with hope and expectations and excitement.. let the fun begin!!

Friday, 20 June 2008

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

So How do I.... ? Podcasting on the go!

It's funny how things converge at a moment when you just happen to find the need- does this sound too zen? Well as a result of our recent OZ/NZ Educators group meeting, with Joe Dale and Mark Pendleton leading the group, I have decided to try and tackle the idea of actually podcasting. I know that Jo Mcleay and I have discussed an Australian version of the EDtech Podcast with an emphasis on women, but the technical skills were something I just found a bit too daunting. Joe and Mark did a great job, but I got lost in the huge torrent of information, thinking that I would have to come back and listen to the recording later to make sense of it.

Later this week my husband gave me his old 20G Ipod - it seemed huge when we first bought it - as he now is totally absorbed by his new ITouch. The Ipod has a voice recorder and an ITrip transmitter. So ... I decided to get some raw files to play around with and then follow the information trail that my personal learning network- aka the twitter gang- had left for beginning podcasters.I also listened to Andrew Douch's podcast on Knowledge Bank about his award winning website and this was very encouraging-the guy is a legend and so committed and talented!!

So armed with my 'new' Ipod and mike I went to my year 8 class of bloggers and decided to do some research. I chatted to the class in groups of three- luckily I had a small office off the main room so we could talk; and I tried to think like Tony Richards of the EDTech Crew- a fantastic and very focussed interviewer.I asked them lots of questions about blogging this year and what they thought of it. The whole process was wonderful and I have nearly an hour of recording and I am so proud of my kids - they said such thoughtful and interesting things and it was surprisingly easy to do. In fact one group got out their mp3 players and began to interview each other on the other side of the room after they had spoken to me.An Assistant Principal came into the computer room while we were in there and the kids proudly showed him their blogs and explained what we have been doing.

That night I came home and tried to work out Audacity- still a bit confused there. Frank helped - and complained as always that it wasn't a Mac. Then I got online and got help. We downloaded the file- or is that up? and the collected the 'Lame ' encoder that converts files into mp3s and that is where I am at the moment. i have been sent files and tutorials and videos from several lovely people- Allanah King is so generous and so are John Pearce and Tony Richards. I have been to podomatic and made an account, checked out the ITunes store for Podcasts to subscribe to and also found royalty free music to use. Now if someone would write my 100+ reports and do my exam marking I could get on with the fun stuff!!

My next job is to get a name for my podcasts and then to put it together with music and even edit some noisy bits. Cos I am a newb at this it will take time but I have help just 140 characters away and I will learn before I go to NECC.
Watch this space- a podcast will arrive soon!!

Sunday, 8 June 2008

A view of the future now

Thanks to Dave Truss for the tweet about this video by Cisco on Teacher Tube. I love the imagery and the message - it is something to watch when I am feeling discouraged !

Friday, 30 May 2008

Pressure, Pressure...


The clouds of the end of semester rush are gathering. I have mountains of marking to do, assessment on tasks which I hope my students will have found meaningful and relevant, but the more I read in my blogging life ,the more unsure I am about what I do. Is the ability to write an analytical essay on a text a really vital life skill? What would these kids have chosen to learn about if they could have run the curriculum? Am I able to make some links about the wider world which for most of them seems only a distant roar they can easily ignore, focussing more on the pressing social concerns of relationships and social calendars for the weekend?
How does a Constructivist classroom work? Where is the curriculum based- on a set of skills that need to be demonstrated by the passage of the class over a semester? How will this fit in our new Learning centre next year and in the basically very traditional school in which I teach? How do we get teachers who are trained to work as effective solo units managing a group of 'learners' to change and the learners themselves to take on the very real responsibility of their own 'learning'?
Can I say at this point that I vacillate between absolute joy and excitement with the possibilities of what can happen in this sort of change and the negativity and doubt as the idea of supported change is such a hard one to have happen in an organisation which has the duality of being a transmitter of values from our past as well as being an institution which provides skills for dealing with a future which for all of us is not yet clear or known?
So here I sit, listening to podcasts about people doing great things, stretching the boundaries and making change happen while I have to write reports mark essays, tick worksheets and embed my comments into the kids folios. At the same time I am planning for going to NECC where I expect to be challenged even more by what is possible.
What is my dilemma? Is it that I am not coping with the pace of change? Is it that I find the demands of my job to have taken so much of my energy and enthusiasm that I should move on to something else? Is it that because I am aware of the possibilities that I find it so hard to deal with the realities of here and now as well of how to get 'there'?
I read, I blog - I try to be positive and see options, but at the moment the messages are coming in thick and fast and seemingly conflicting with each other

Sunday, 25 May 2008

A Digital Birthday Card

This is a capture using Jing Project of a tweetscan from my birthday. What an amazing moment to have all these greetings coming from people all over the world , many of whom I have never met face to face. It is a truly powerful sign that the connectedness of my network is very real!! Thanks also to those kind people who sent me a hi and to the help section at jing so I could work out how to do the capture properly - love that technology!!

Sunday, 18 May 2008

The First Bloggers Feast

After much talking and planning and tweeting we had our first Bloggers Feast in Melbourne on May 14th.Those present were Helen Otway, Howard Errey,Lauren O'Grady,Jo McLeay, John Pearce,Jenny Luca, Tony Richards, Al Upton, Pam Arvanitakis and myself.It was like a meeting of old friends as we finally got to meet those who are part of our networks and chat about issues which were surprisingly (or not) very common in our experiences as bloggers in schools. John is about to publish his book, written with Gary Bass- 'The Technology Toolkit, Helen was discussing being an Ultranet coach, Lauren changing work to keep growing her passion for it, Tony was interviewing all present, Jenny recovering from the highs of her SLAV presentation and new twitter follower, Al was talking about the 'Learning by Design'Conference he was attending,Pam and Jo and Howard were chatting with lots of new friends and me- I was playing with my new gadgets and just enjoying the fact that it was all actually happening.
The waiting staff were very amused by this group of strangers with lots of technology and were asking questions about what we were doing. It flew by, and we made plans for a bigger meeting on May 24th after the ICTEV conference at Melb. Grammar.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

My Very First Podcast !!!!

A week ago Lisa Parisi tweeted that Kevin Honeycutt was trying Yakpak and needed a few people to come in and test levels. So cos I love new stuff, I clicked the link and chatted with Lisa and Kevin and found out about the fascinating work he is doing. So last night after a really difficult day at school I was trying to organise a meeting when I saw Kevin was online so I sent him a tweet and showed my friend Pam what I was doing. We chatted for awhile and Kevin also had a web developer online and Kevin asked if he could record our conversation. It was after midnight in America and Kevin was tired and Pam and I were exhausted after a tough week at school, but we went ahead and did a show. It was challenging and extremely stimulating to exchange ideas across the world and I was so excited as was Pam who had never spoken in a conference call before. So here is the link and thanks to Kevin for his great work.Kevin's driving question was 'Are we really qualified to teach today's kids?' I would love some comments about the content!

Friday, 9 May 2008

Will Richardson - taking it to their door

Just in case you are like me and did not get tickets to see Will Richardson in Brisbane or Sydney or Melbourne, I am posting his first presentation. If only we had him to do this in every staffroom around the country.... Enjoy and do drink the koolaid!!

Sunday, 4 May 2008

NECC here we come

Ok I have been fiddling more and found how to export videos so here is one using the editing programme that comes with the flip video - apologies

The Flip Video Arrives!!

After much dithering and reading of reviews, last weekend I took the plunge and ordered a Flip Video from Ebay. It was a bit of a risk but we don't have a video camera and it offered one hour's filming and 2G of memory- so I was very hopeful that it would be useful and user friendly. Well, one week later the package which I was able to track online - thank you US postal service(what does Australia post offer I wonder?) and I have it in my hot little hand. Easy to assemble -just open and insert batteries that were included, turn on and film!!
It was as easy as that!. The sound quality I am still looking at - there is no mic input jack so you have to use the camera mic, but the picture quality is as you see below untouched. It does come with its own editing package which I will have a play with, but the above is shot- with no technique at all- sorry- in the main street of a local village that is very popular with the tourists. To download onto the computer you 'flip' out the USB plug and connect. I had a problem because my network cord was in the way , so I used my new 'Hubby hub' and it recognised it and setup in a minute. The movies were short and downloaded quickly, but they are taking a while to upload to the blog- my upload speed is very slow anyway. So there you have it- I am the possesor of a new pink- pink was cheaper OK?- flip video and will start using it in class as much as possible. The manual does not say whether I can use re-chargeable batteries so I will have to tweet about that one.

Sunday, 27 April 2008

The Australian twit list !!

Well., it had to happen. we had lists of bloggers by region and blogrolls. Now somebody @andrewsayers has constructed what is a basic list of Australian Twits. It is done by state and seems like quite a good effort on the surface, but a quick comparison with some of the key voices in my network and who he actually lists shows lots of gaps. The idea is great and as we are continually getting new followers or having to recommend people to follow to new tweeters, a list based on interests would be a great idea. Perhaps this can be done by a wiki or through our Diigo group? Andrew has started me thinking about how we use the network to create the network and strengthen it. Should we be constructing a more detailed one with people who are available to mentor on particular topics or is that trying to formalise the randomness and excitement that is twitter for something more constructed? What do you think?

Tweetclouds -a lesson in how the network speaks

There has been lots of fun talk around on twitter lately about some of the applications for twitter addicts, like tweetscan, twitterkarma and twitpics- just to name a few, but the one I have found most fascinating as an expression of what I have been doing for the last few months is the Tweetcloud. Here is my current one and I am so fascinated by the way I have used language and who my links are to. These are people, many of whom I have never met f2f, but they are people I hurry home to hear from at night and have been organising a group meeting on Flash meeting so we can talk together more about our jobs and our ideas.This cloud is more than just words -it is a visualisation of what is happening and very real!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Swimming not Waving

The first week back at school has been a great one for me in terms of moving forward in my journey into technology. The name of my blog came from my first few weeks of blogging- everyday there was another thing new to explore and so often I feel like a kid in a giant lolly shop.

The previous post where I described my lesson 'introducing/co-learning' Google Sketchup was wonderful and the second class was even more so as students explored how they would make their project have a minimal footprint environmentally.They explored the 3D warehouse and found objects such as solar panels and water tanks already constructed and ready to go. In terms of takeup, the geeky computer star boys were happily just fiddling around and chatting about the app, but a couple of the girls just absolutely zoomed and were actually creating detailed interiors to their building - much to the surprise and chagrin of the supposedly 'expert' boys. Way to go girls!

My school now has a second meeting every week apart from faculty and staff meetings and it is designed to allow for IT training. Last term I offered blogging and only two people reluctantly attended which was really disappointing. So this term when asked to do another blogging one, I suggested I would rather do Del.icio.us- and of course received a blank stare. Wednesday morning at staff briefing no takers on the list so I made a brief but excited announcement and by recess had 17 takers on the list. By the time of the class, I had 20 - a real audience at last, so I prepared a sheet, using my Del.icio.us bookmarks, diigo and my network. I used the Commoncraft video on del.icio.us which is found on Teachertube - another little lesson- and added a link to Sue Waters great post on her wiki that has great hints for the beginner and the more adventurous.
So twenty people did turn up, several just could not get on the network- wireless was down just then - of course, and the rest happily followed my directions and by the end were busily bookmarking and creating networks themselves. What a difference from my previous effort and I have had positive feedback from several staff since.

Diigo Oz Educators
My big effort at going in the 'deep end' and actually starting something has been starting Oz Educators group at Diigo. As I write it is currently at 37 members and I am so pleased there are new names I am not familiar with. So on Saturday night a tweet came through to watch a flash meeting on podcasting. A few of us popped in but the sound and vision were really poor so we chatted. Jess McCulloch and I decided to have our own one as I now have booking rights for Flash Meeting. So I booked a session and tweeted it and then got going working it out as we went. Eight people came in - all Aussies or Kiwis and we played with the software. John Larkin has already blogged about this - in fact within the hour and his screencasts give you a great idea of how it looked to the participants.
Thanks to Simon, John, Nirvana,Fiona,Jess,Sue and Sarah for being 'early adopters'!!
So we have started and now we are planning to try and have a big OZ/NZ Educators meeting in Flash Meeting at 8pm AEST. I have tweeted the link three times so far today and am planning my evening around the meeting. Hope it will be a positive beginning to building links for the southern hemisphere. I am also thinking of trying a Google forms survey as we go. Wish me luck!!'I'm Gonna Blog About This!'

Tuesday, 8 April 2008

A Personal Learning Network that works.

Second term has begun and after a two week break, classes are underway. My year eight bloggers are working away on their blogs and also completing a presentation for a grant of $1m. They have to workout how they would spend the grant for the benefit of the local and school communities and do a presentation for the whole class.Last year in the mainstream classes, they were in groups of four and had two weeks. This time , my guys have a week and only two or three in a group.
While sitting doing some planning work this morning , I remembered a programme that someone had mentioned that was a web based 3D drawing application. This class is full of really talented kids, could I find something to stretch them with this presentation? I couldn't remember where I had seen the app, looked through my tags on del.icio.us and the did the same on Diigo, but no luck. Did I forget to bookmark it?
So what does the well connected teacher do? Ask my Personal Learning Network!!
I tweeted the request and within a few minutes I had two answers, Google Sketchup!

Patrick Wegner and Susie Vesper were both finding an answer to my problem and I thank them as they demonstrate a very typical aspect of twitter. It is an invaluable source of support, both practical and emotional and is now something I rely on everyday. Yet how do I share this with others- they all say they are too busy and don't have time. Yet my tweet and the response took five minutes, I quickly downloaded the programme - it was free and had a quick play. Off to class after another ten minutes and while describing the task of the presentation to the class ,I mentioned Sketchup- several cries of 'Yeah I've used that' 'I know that..' came to me and instantly the chatter began and kids were discussing the programme and what it could do.
By the end of the double- luckily I had been able to get a lab booking- most groups were well on the way with their proposal for the grant and the majority were planning a 3D presentation of their plan. Some were even working out how they could bring a portable software app from home to use for the presentation. How exciting- and all because my network were there and the kids were able and willing!
While the kids were working, I had a play more with the programme and found the 3D warehouse and the search function. Seeing I am starting 'To Kill A Mockingbird' with Year 10 soon I wondered if anyone had done a map of the fictional town of Maycomb. Well two people have and the screencast above is of a fantastic one by Michael - a regular contributor. Sketchup is a very useable programme - easy to use and it allows you to walk through what you have made- great potential for spatial learners. I also am about to work on 'The Hobbit' and a quick search using 'middle earth' as my search term found all sorts of amazing structures. Google Sketchup is a great tool which could have enormous potential for teaching language- thanks network and my great kids!! I am looking forward to their products