Thursday, 27 October 2005

Ed Tech to Tech Ed in an Afternoon

Biz-Go Seminar with the 'propellor heads' (Techs) this afternoon. A seminar - well sales pitch really from many big business names in IT industry - some new contacts made, some old contacts renewed - drinks & nibbles good too :-)
It is interesting to note the common themes emerging from the tech world similar to our own - i guess they are following the trends to meet our tech. needs...
Covergence (integrated systems), Wireless, communication portals, content managment (analog to digital) & security.
I had a deja vu experience listening to Tandburg (backup systems) talk about the exponential growth in data (we know it as the information explosion) - our angle is how we navigate this for learning (Infoglitz, Infoglut, Infogarbage) - their angle is how to protect the data
Test your backup systems!!!!!!!!! Delete a file (make sure its not important) - go back a week later and use your backup system to restore it - do it now - just to make sure that you can...
Communication portals - intranet/extranet software solutions - phew so expensive - haven't they heard of Moodle
No open-source in sight of course (it's their business to sell this stuff) & funny that none of them had heard of the Pringle can wireless enhancer!!
I thought this HP Digital Pen was really cool - convert handwritten & printed hard copy to digital form - i know this is a big issue for our secondary schools (TaraNet Cluster) particularly who are trying to get their teachers work (traditionally pen & paper) into digital form for sharing.
Though a lot of the presentations went over my head - i did manage to get the gist of most it. Thanks to Gen-i (formerly Computerland) keeping me in the loop :-)

How Many Smart Boards?????

© FNO Press, 2005

Copyright Policy: While the copyright for this cartoon by Jerry King belongs to From Now On, readers may distribute and republish provided they reproduce the credit with a link to Jerry's Web site http://www.jerryking.com/ and to From Now On http://fno.org.

Really??!! ;-)
Spent the day with lead teachers working out some ideas to help move teachers forward in integrating ICTs in their classroom practice ...
Working on Gladwell's 'Law of the Few' - "With the adaptions of innovations into a system you have the Early Adaptors to move this along to the Early Majority it is not an easy transition - here the Law of the Few is important as they help 'translate' for the rest of us - concentrate your resources on a few key areas." So our lead teachers are our key resource people - some been with us for awhile, some just joining us for the first time - all enthusiastic, energetic & hopeful (Fullan 2001) - ready to help drive change in their own classrooms & in their schools - wahoo!! Jamie McKenzie gives some good advice for lead teachers in his articles:
Traits of an Effective Technology Coach
& How Teachers Learn Technology Best
Good reading for anyone working with teachers. Really looking forward to Jamie coming to work with us in 2006 - if you're not in our cluster and you want to join us Saturday June 10th 2006 - drop me a line :-)

Wednesday, 26 October 2005

“I think the big mistake in schools is trying to teach children anything, and by using fear as the basic motivation.Fear of getting failing grades, fear of not staying with your class etc.Interest can produce learning in a scale compared to fear as a nuclear reaction to a fire cracker!

Stanley Kubrick

Visit Bruce's Blog!!! Thx Richard
Looking forward to Bruce joining us in a few weeks to challenge our thinking more & to move us from just thinking about things to taking action & making real change...

Friday, 21 October 2005

Treat your Password Like Your Toothbrush...

Change it regularly & don’t share it!!

So don’t use silly password such as Fred! (or such like ;-)


Phew some pretty powerful computer forensic software demonstrated to us today – you can delete, you can move things around, but you can’t hide anything! Yes Henry you will need to ‘wipe’ your hard drive – formatting does not remove data from your machine – a screwdriver through the hard drive will but I think the MOE want those teacher laptops returned to Wellington.

Really interesting activities involving searching for hidden messages and pictures & then working out a response based on the NetSafety guidelines. Find the NetSafety Kit here
Trying to work out if something is inappropriate, objectionable or illegal, saw us searching for pictures of cats, chickens & cows!! As Yvonne so aptly put it Hornography & if it was a picture of a calf – even worse child hornography!!

Thanks to Yvonne Blanch & Mike Spence for leading this workshop. Full notes of the workshop can be found on Interact.

Wednesday, 19 October 2005

EPS

Welcome Liz to Bard Wired! Liz Malone has just taken over as Principal @ EPS. I spent some time bringing her up to speed on our cluster’s learning journey together so far. Phew – hope I didn’t confuse Liz too much!! But she is all logged on to Interact now – and able to check out our milestones there and try and get her head around it in her own good time. I also made sure to tell her what a great teaching team she has joined but hey she had already figured that one out.

Had a short time at staff meeting to introduce the DLOs (Digital Learning Objects) to the EPS staff - which turned into a bit of a fizzer as Firefox doesn't play a lot of them - i think something to do with the ActiveX on the pages (Firefox doesn't support ActiveX- which is one reason it is a more secure browser than Internet Explorer). I hate wasting teachers' time at staff meetings specially with technical difficulties!! Oh well, we did in the end get to browse some of the collection, staff were interested and keen to try out some of the CHOCOLATE DLOs. (It was great to find a relevant resource - the DLO collection is not wide enough yet to make relevant connections to a lot of classroom topics) Some advice for teachers - plan a structured use of DLOs to support learning in the classroom (as you would any learning resource) I am a little worried because these resources are digital & some of them are pretty cool then they will be used randomly, out of context, perhaps as rewards (some teachers still do this!!) and not in the powerful ways they could be used. Before you begin to use DLOs with your kids i recommend you read this article from Learning Media - Quality Teaching Using Digital Resources.

Bernadette is really progressing on the web site maintenance and has learnt how to create new links and make new pages so the newsletters can be archived and available on line. The real challenge is file management – how you organize your files so you can link to the right ones, & upload the right ones. Looking good check out www.eltham.orcon.net.nz Lots more photogalleries to check out there too.

I know it’s not my job to do technical stuff but if it’s a 5 minute job it’s worth it if its going to make the difference with a teacher getting onto it with their kids. (Though we all know it’s rarely 5 minutes ;-) So there were a couple of little jobs like that & worthwhile doing too…


Jackie’s kids are starting a unit on Chocolate so they spent some time exploring KidPix and decorating chocolate cakes - you can see more of their yummy chocolate cakes here and there is a full lesson plan on our Interact site.



Friday, 14 October 2005

Busting Busting


Busting, busting …
I never get sick of Making Movies… no I don’t really especially today working with such keen young film makers as the Douglas kids. Here is an outtake from TT productions entertaining little piece called ‘Flush’! The whole school had an awesome day planning & producing their films – they worked on PCs & Macs using Movie Maker & iMovie. My preference? iMovie by a long shot. Some tips for kids who work with me??? Never, never let Rachel touch your mouse – sorry Summa for deleting your movie – oops… You can see Flush here. Check out Dragon Production’s story about the cool huts they have been making. A popcorn & movie session at the end of the day was a great opportunity to celebrate their work!

Wednesday, 12 October 2005

Bloggity, blog, blog, BLOG @ Makahu

This post is for Eden @ Makahu to let you know about what we did today in your school. (This was the original purpose of me blogging "A Journal of What Rachel is doing in Schools." but i have branched out a little bit lately into other discussions)

Anyway - I worked with some students & Phillipa (for a little while) setting up a blog for Makahu School. If you're reading this now it's quite likely that you know what a blog is :-) but for the uninitiated just checking things out for the first time basically blogs are free (usually) online tools that are beginning to be used more widely in education – they are more interactive than a static web page as blog visitors can leave comments on each other’s pages and also they are really easy to use. You can set rss feeds on blogs (put one on your's Eden) and subscribe to other people's blog feeds so you can keep up-to-date with recent postings. They come into a new 'genre' of web tools that has been tagged 'social software' - things like blogs, wikis, podcasting etc - aka Web 2.0. You really need to read around to learn more about the tools - try Wikipedia as a starting point - I'm not going to write about all that here - phew!
The ways we can use them in education we are only just beginning to realise so it's very exciting. The downside (maybe) is that your kids are out there in the open on the www, so there are some potential issues you will be well aware of. So when we were setting up the blog today we discussed those issues – eg not giving out personal information & how to deal with inappropriate comments etc. When setting up this blog i made sure that any blog posts or comments were also sent to Eden's email so he can monitor the activity on his school blog. There are some tools out there worth a look at that provide a more closed environment (for example we use Interact that you have to access through a username & password). Blogmeister is one i have been meaning to get around to checking it out. Tom from The Orchard - link bottom right of this blog uses it - costs a small amount but more control for the teacher - if thats what you want... There are lots of links i could send you too but don't have the time right now - Google it - find out more - use it!


Tuesday, 11 October 2005

Flat Stanley @ Tahora


Kids at Tahora School have been Flat Out working on their Flat Stanley project. They have been reading Flat Stanley stories, taking Flat Stanley back to their farms for the holidays and taking lots of photos & telling Flat Stanley PowerPoint stories with them, they have been emailing buddies at an Auckland school and sharing their stories. Today they showed awesome creative, cooperative, and problem solving skills - along with a good measure of patience & persistence to create their Flat Stanley claymation. Here Flat Stanley becomes a kite and gets stuck in the tree!! Good on you guys. Today we fixed an rss feed on their blog so pop over and leave them a comment they'd love to hear from you.

Sunday, 9 October 2005

Podcasting

A lot of buzz about podcasting in recent conferences. Toko School have a Term 4 goal to produce a podcast - Go Toko! Here are some of their thoughts on the possibilities.Watch this space.

What is podcasting? Well it’s basically about subscribing and listening to audio feeds through the Internet. A bit like a ‘pick & mix’ of your own radio – when & where you want to listen to it. Portable mp3 players have really pushed this along - you can download to your laptop, your phone even & listen on the go. Also anyone can produce & broadcast their own shows (not that you’d want to listen to anything) – but it really makes it accessible for all (well those with the gear & the internet access but that’s another story) & it’s a democratizing media – we no longer have to be passive consumers of someone else’s stories or point of view but we get to shape the media ourselves. I won’t go too far down that track either but I’m sure you could write a thesis about it

So why would it be important in our children’s learning? Well for a start how about making meaning, sense of purpose and audience – whatever the ‘topic’ of the podcast. The ability to communicate in authentic ways to an authentic audience – whether it’s all the way round the world or to our own communities… Not forgetting the oral language skills all so necessary if you want to hook your audience – real or virtual.

The nuts & bolts of it – download the latest itunes – you don’t need a mac – pc will run it too. Go online (some links follow) & find something you might be interested in listening too. Just find the little button somewhere on the page that says subscribe to podcast & with both windows open on your computer (you might need to resize them & line them up) just drag the little button into your open itunes window. Voila (fast internet is a bonus here too) You can go into the podcast directory directly from your iTunes window & search & subscribe to podcasts this way also.

Podcasts I listen to:
Andy Carvin’s Waste of Bandwidth
Bit by Bit – Bob Sprankle
Bud the Teacher
Connect Learning with David Warlick
Ed Tech Coast to Coast
Paradigm Shift
Teach 42
(you can find these in the iTunes directory – they are all ‘edtech’ type podcasts)
What do you recommend??

Podcasts Sophie (9 years old) listens to:
Radio WillowWeb
Story Cast
Acclerated Reader Books
KPE (Point England NZ – Book reviews)

I have been searching high & low for ‘stories’ for Sophie – really there’s not a lot around …early days yet. Because this is a democratic media we actually have the ability to contribute to this & LibraVox are looking for readers to podcast ‘opensource’ books (including children’s books) Class project – maybe???

So if you want to produce a podcast – well we’re still working on the nuts & bolts of this one. You can record straight on to your computer – with a mac you have a built in microphone or get a good quality speaker for your microphone. If you want something cheap & portable get a little mp3 multiplayer – I use a legend (for listening – I don’t record – except little notes for myself). Someuse iriver (same sort of thing)

You can edit in audacity (freeware) or garageband on your mac.

Hosting your mp3 files podcasts is an area we need to investigate further – you don’t really want them on your own webhosted area – they will take up a bit of space and then there’s the bandwidth use as people access & download your files. There are a few recommendations and I guess you will look at them more closely when you have some podcasts ready to go…let us know!

Want to know more here are some links:
The Education Podcast Network

Podcast Alley

Podcast Directory

Cutting Edge

Otherwise Google it – let us know if you find some good ones!

Leading in a Culture of Change



A must read from Michael Fullan Thanks for passing in on Richard. I would like to pass it round our group some more but already the overdue fines are stacking up on it... Maybe Kelvin you've got this in your personal library ? - if you haven't we should buy it. On reading this book I found so much relevant to how our schools are already and could be working together and also to what is / could be happening within our individual schools. I think our leadership team has pretty much run the circle (above) to a degree & continue to do so but we now need to look at involving all our teachers in this process. I took some notes from his book below that give you a bit of an overview:
Fullan presents a framework for leadership. With the complexity & relentless pace of change leadership is key. Not the charismatic, superhuman leader which can result in episodic change but where we can all work together for sustainable change.
"...five components of leadership represent independent but mutual reinforcing forces for positive change....To be effective in complex times, leaders must be guided by moral purpose. Moral purpose means acting with the intention of making a positive difference.
Understand the change process
: 1) the goal is not to innovate the most; 2) it is not enough to have the best ideas; 3) appreciate early difficulties of trying something new; 4) redefine resistance as a potential positive force; 5) reculturing is the name of the game; 6) never a checklist, always complexity...
The single factor common to every successful change initiative is that relationships improve. Thus leaders must be consummate relationship builders with diverse people and groups... effective leaders constantly foster purposeful interactions and problem solving, and are wary of easy consensus.
Knowledge creation and sharing
...leaders commit themselves to constantly generating and increasing knowledge inside and outside the organisation...turning information into knowledge is a social process. All this complexity keeps people on the edge of chaos. It is important to be on the edge because that is where creativity resides, but anarchy lurks there too. Therefore effective leaders tolerate enough ambiguity to keep the creative juices flowing, but along the way (once they and the group know enough), they seek coherence. Coherence making is a perennial pursuit."
Fullan also talks about personal characteristics that all effective leaders possess: energy - enthusiasm - hopefullness. He warns about groupthink "Leaders can be powerful, and so can groups, which means they can be powerfully wrong. This is why the five dimensions of leadership must work in concert. They provide a check against uninformed commitment."
Fullan advocates "...slow knowing, the importance of learning in context, and the need for leaders at all levels of the organisation, in order to achieve widespread internal commitment.'
Slow learning "slow learning doesn't have to take a long time. It is more of a disposition that can be 'acquired and practised'...they see the bigger picture; they don't panic when things go wrong in the early stages of a major change initiative. It is not so much that they take their time, but rather that they know that it takes time for things to gel. If they are attentive to the five leadership capacities... they know things are happening all the time, even when there is not closure. In a sense, they take as much time as the situation will allow, and do not rush to conclusions in order to appear decisive."
Learning in context "... is the learning with the greatest payoff because it is specific (customized to the situation) and because it is social (involves the group). Learning in context is developing leadership and improving the organization as you go."
Leadership for many "Internal commitment cannot be activated from the top. It must be nurtured up close in the dailiness of organisational behaviour, and for that to happen there must be many leaders around us...The ultimate leadership contribution is to develop leaders who can move the organization even further after you have left."

Saturday, 8 October 2005

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Monday, 3 October 2005

Implementing ICT

Well I've been in study mode again - here are some of my thoughts on a question "Discuss your experiences of implementation of ICTs"

Implementation within our cluster has involved in the first place building relationships across our schools, Principals working together to develop a vision about the way they want their schools to work. I think this is what Julia Atkins calls ‘Educative Purpose’ – the WHY, Why are we doing this? Once you work out the why – which is based on our beliefs, then the what & the how will follow. Knowing the answers to our WHY questions maintains a focus and keeps us moving forward in the same direction. Principals & some ‘lead’ teachers went on a Bus Tour around other schools which had been held up to be showing examples of good practice. The discussions we had while & after visiting these schools and the workshops we have had since, has really helped them in forming a bigger picture of what we think is important in their schools. Principals are the ones who give license to our teachers to be innovative, creative and take risks; they provide the access to resources – improving infrastructure, finding money for extra PD release time; they communicate with the community about what is happening in our schools and so in effect ‘we are all dancing to the same tune’. Well that’s the rosy picture the reality of it in some schools is what is happening for the individual teacher in the classroom and what is the effect for our kids. We are asking questions now like “Why do I not see any changes in many of our classrooms?” “What are the benefits for our kids – does it improve learning outcomes, how do you measure it, should you measure it…?” At the end of the day its about making a difference in our classrooms – if all of our teachers have laptops, if the whole school is networked, if they have access to data display, mobile pods of computers, they have loads of PD opportunities, facilitator support in the classroom – then what, save a magic wand (by the way I do keep one of these in my office & try & use it from time to time but unfortunately it doesn’t work) what else do we need to do????

Do we keep working with our teachers but with a higher expectation that they will come on board? I know that in some of the Bendigo schools these expectations are explicit & accountable by way of goals in Performance Review. (Carrot & stick?) We look to key teachers who are doing great things to lead the way, provide opportunities to open up our classrooms to each other, opportunities to share, observe, time to do it! Recognition for the steps forward however small they may seem we have to remember the continuum our teachers are on has quite a large spread. I also think we need to involve our teachers in the ‘Visioning’ process as a whole school help them to develop a shared belief – this is a sticky one too – how much is genuine, how much is lip service, if spin-doctoring is required then its all a bit of a sham – can you really expect that teachers should share similar beliefs about teaching & learning??? Why should you?

Well this posting has not really been about the nuts and bolts of implementation but maybe more about the fertile ground you need to have in order to implement… I was listening to David Warlick the other day talking about technology in classrooms by way of categorizing ideas into “Can we do it today or tomorrow?” Meaning how easy is it to implement – if it’s going to take too much time and trouble, and the teacher’s don’t perceive improved outcomes – what is the point – don’t waste our time! So this might be a good place to start thinking about the what & the how of implementation – certainly the tools we now have at our disposal are becoming more available and easier to use, but we need to match this with our learning goals to make it meaningful also.