Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Last Lead Teacher Day

Last week, we had our last lead teacher day. We shared our action research which was interesting to see how much thought and planning had gone into all. It will seem strange not having the ongoing PD which I have enjoyed very much. I find that I have learnt the value of PD and being current. When I first came to Botany Downs, I wasn't that fussed on lots of PD (and I find some current colleagues have this attitude), but having to stand up in front of others and explain my PD, try and inspire others to take the "call" and seeing change across the school, I can see the value. I like having current PD, rather than feeling like the last school to be having PD even though we are probably one of the last schools to have the cluster funding for ICT and inquiry in the way that we have. Going to conferences like Ulearn and Learning@Schools helps with the focus of what is current in our field of inquiry.

Highlights for me have been the external conferences, visiting schools on lead teacher days to see and understand how other schools do things; (Schools can be insular places.)getting the data projector and other equipment so we feel more like other schools who have lots of equipment, and how I have changed as a person, and a teacher. I had to learn to stand up in front of others, think more on my feet, be proactive in being able to do the ICT and inquiry things so I could model this for others, and become more flexible about letting students on and with equipment (becoming the facilitator).

One of the biggest buzzes for me is when students can demonstrate their learning or say "I get it." This year my students have started to "get"the creating stage of our inquiry journey, they are independent users on the computer, and more recently, with a homework project have created slideshows that have internet links, using Goanimate, and generally sharing their work. It was great to see with the homework projects all the acknowledgements. One student commented that another didn't have the acknowledgements. Cutting and pasting is still a huge problem. They have a second homework project due, so we will see if the message as got across. When we were viewing, one student came up to me quietly and said,"I think my project is too long." She was asking to take it home and reduce hers as she had got very bored with another and could see the same would happen with hers. Learning has happened!!!!. We are "getting it" with ICT and Inquiry.

Action Research

After 2 terms we finished our action research. Marie and I have one more presentation on it to make to staff. With writing, 2 terms hasn't seemed enough time to make a huge difference. There was improvement but only within the level. I think in hindsight that my choices of students made it harder. This was because they had other factors which impinged on their ability or willingness to improve, eg home circumstances, and suspected processing disability.

Overall, I think doing the action research helped me focus my teaching. Sometimes, when reflecting about it I wonder would I have done anything different, as with the ASTLE identification of needs to focus on, I had to do a lot of it anyway. I would have liked more computers so that those other students in my class who would have like more opportunity to use a computer too, could have had said opportunity.

One of the students that I focused on believed he thought better using a computer. I never found it so for this student when I sat alongside trying to get the thinking and links into the story to improve it, but who is to say it is not for other students, or this student in a few months or years. The idea that "Oooh, look at me I am on a computer," is still a prevalent thought at my school, and still a distraction, so the thinking is still to come. For the more mature/responsible student this is not so. They do focus, and attempt the new learning that I am trying to instill.

I found it interesting that Marie and I chose different approaches to our action research because of the year levels that we teach, and because of our professional goals that we had set at the beginning of the year. Marie did lots of modelling with the mimio, and students using kidpix to draw, and create their stories, whereas, I used the mimio also for modelling, a little bit of kidpix drawing, and direct typing into the computer to overcome the student's dislike of using pen and paper because of poor fine motor skills. I also had student retell stories during reading time; ( a time honoured method of integration).

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Action Research

Marie and I finished our Action research project last week.  It has been interesting that we have both approached the same task from a different angle because we teach different class levels.  Marie worked more on using ICT tools for modelling, and I got my kids onto the computer write.  Sometimes I got them to plan or draw first or they just typed straight into the computer.  One student reckoned he thought better at the computer but I found no evidence of this especially as he needed teacher help and assistence to get a story structure in place, and struggled with understanding that lots of detail needed to go in to explain to his audience how his characters came to be there.   The research was interesting in that some of my kids inproved and some did not.   I think that for it to have worked more throughly, I needed to have had a longer time to work with my students.  2 terms was not enough.  I sometimes found it difficult to maintain due to various and frequent times out of the classroom. On a more positive note, I found that giving opportunities across the class to go on the computers made it slightly competitive for a chance, and when they had the opportunity tried even harder with their writing.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Ulearn Key Message


Digital Citizenship - Lee Crockett
  •     Take knowledge and make it wisdom
·         Educentric problem – paradigm paralysis – specific way to do school – not preparing students for their future
·         Screen is a place to project your identity
• Images and video are powerful enough to learn

Our student's are:
• Visually literate

• Visual right brain society developing, mix colour and sound

• Learners do better in multi sensory environment

I liked this phrase:
·         Tyranny of the Urgent takes us away from things that are important
I see this often happening in my workplace.  I wonder how will National Standards make this phrase so true.
I am begining to understand how instant gratification is important to my students, and how just in time learning is important to them rather than just in case.
The test for me is to ensure that the "Tyranny of the Urgent" does not overwhelm me.
Social Media: Steve Wheeler
Education is about teaching students not subjects

Can we blend the formal and informal learning?

Lifelong learning against the odds

All too often we are giving students flowers rather than teaching them to grow plants

• Generating content, sharing content, organizing content 0 blog, wiki, mashup, e portfolio, tagging

• Personal learning environment – personal web tools (web 2), personal learning network – where to connect to to find out, personal learning environment (social media landscape)

• With access to social media everyone has a voice – the architecture of participation

I am not sure I understood totally about social media.  This is probably because I am still not a fully willing participant in things like Twitter and Facebook, and am not sure whether I want to be.  I do recognise that because I don't want to do something that this should not limit the opportunities for children.  Maybe by teaching students who are not of an age to be on Facebook is useful at this time.  Yesterday, I was in a workshop which included Superclubs which I think will be good rather than Facebook.

Learning to Learn - Lane Clark
I really enjoyed how Lane talked about rigor in planning and preparation and in what students are learning.
"How we educate – not what we educate."
I also liked how her students get to celebrate and share their learning. It is interesting how it is a stage of her inquiry journey for students.  More recently, I have realised that we share our learning in class, sometimes we upload it to the blog and very rarely share with the rest of the school.
I had this "aha" moment as Lane talked about being at the end of the immersion learning and then "So What."  What can we do with this information?   In her example, the students decided to make books for other children.
Usually at the end of our Hook (immersion) we say, what questions can we come up with to learn more?  No wonder students often turn off.  I have the opportunity next week to put this into practise.  I am most interested in the outcome.
Other thoughts from Lane I liked were:
  • You don’t grow you brain if you don’t use part that is difficult
  •  Colour the inquiry stage so they know where they are (the students have a blackline of the journey.
I have a student who avoids the difficult, and colouring the stages would help them recognise where they are in our learning journey.

Going up in the World

I have 2 new toys - a touch phone and a netbook. My phone has not come with the instruction book yet and when I tried the net for instructions, the website had a problem.  I am learning my way through trial and error, and get better as I get over my fear of too many things.  I even used the internet on it yesterday.

I came to Ulearn with my netbook and have been typing my notes on it, and using the internet.  It is so much more light weight than my laptop, and often I find it frustrating when I go to do a capital and get page up instead and end does not go to end.  Overall, it has been good for me.  It was mentioned yesterday in one of the keynotes (I think) that touch is the way and the mouse is on it's way out since the ipad was launched.  At the Microsoft stand I used a laptop where you touched the screen instead of clicking or tabing. (tabbing)???
That's me, late to going up in the world.

Global Communities

My first day at Ulearn was the preconference day on a course titled: Global Communities.
I learnt about this really cool website called iearn. http://www.iearn.org/ .  Iearn has a projects page where students can join and collaborate in global communities so that their learning is not limited to their own environment.  These projects are often action inquiry where communities are improved.  I liked this idea because most of the inquiry units that we do at school do not have that social action or link with communities around the world.
Here are some screen shots of projects that attracted me for my Year 5/6 students.

I like the idea of Beauty of the Beasts as a first project as I know how much my students like art and our native animals.  Also it means they can learn about being part of a global community online before embarking on a larger project. 

We then moved onto making a project using weebly.com.  I decided to make a homework project.
http://room22bds2010.weebly.com/ .  This project is for next year and this webpage needs work.  I ran out of time to think my way through it on the day.

This morning after listening to Lane Clark I realise I will have to rethink my changes again.  Watch this space!!

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Action Research - Writing

I am finding this hard to do.  When I set a task students who do not have access to the computer can get envious though I say we have to share but it is tricky with 4 computers and 27 children.  I do notice the children I have targeted for the research do work better on the compter, even if just typing their writing straight into word.   Two of the students have long term habits of little writing, and task avoidence.  Suggestions for improvements can be a struggle.  I think longer term, using a computer all the time would help these students.

Integrated Learning: Pop Up Books

Today I showed by students a new programme using pop ups to create books.  They are excited about the programme at zooburst.com.  I am using it for my students to recreate Maori myths as part of our Hook activities for our Inquiry unit.  They are also learning the skill of drawing a character or part of the setting in paint and saving it as a jpg to use in the programme.  I only taught myself the rudimentary skills of the programme and demonstrated that with the data projector.  The kids will sort the programme quicker than I.  I did notice after their help with goanimate, that there are similarities between the programs.  This is good for my confidence.  Zooburt comes with embed codes so we will be able to embed on the class blog. Watch this space!!!!

ICT Lead Teacher Day

I had a good day today.  We had a fun time making a little presentation about the difference between inquiry learning and teaching as inquiry (action research).  We decided to make Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory teach Penny.  All three of us learnt how to convert Utube videos to avi when downloading, and tonight I have added a downloader to Firefox as an addon.  Sometimes it is very scarey thinking about how much I don't know as I am not an always on my computer type of person.  We are approaching the end of the cluster time and I do know that I am much more confident, probably know more than I think I know and I will miss the ongoing PD.
Being a lead teacher has made me grow in my ability to stand up infront of people and think more quickly, to give my student's more ownership of activities by being more relaxed, and has made me more proactive in trying new things.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Creating: Making New Learning

My students are creating mostly ICT activities to share their learning from our Inquiry topic: Where are we in Space.  Some groups are working on Goanimate, some are creating videos to put into movie maker, and others are using publisher to make booklets.I have one group who are doing an old fashioned poster with paper and pen.  The kids are really motiviated to create little stories to share their learning.

This is nearly finished.

GoAnimate.com: space questions by room21bds

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

Isn't it great.

What grabs children can surprise

I used a model of a character description and then drew the character and talked about painting a picture in the mind.  Instead of getting my reluctant writers to draw their character first, I said that we would share our writing aloud and draw each other's pictures.  It was amazing.  Everyone wanted to share, and as we often drew what they did not expect, so it gave them excellent information for their editing.  This worked as an activity for the whole class in inspiring them, but maybe not so much with action research.  Still my reluctant writers were keen to write so everyone could draw their character. Sometimes, I get surprised at what inspires children.  I put the timer on to get my kids to write quickly.

Action Research

Last week I had my reluctant writers draw their narrative character in kidpix, and then I had them write.  J wrote the most he had ever written for me this year.  It was good to see him inspired.

Saturday, June 5, 2010


I scanned in some introductions from a couple of books as examples of narrative beginnings.  We looked at them as a class, and then I sent 2 of the targeted students to write their example on the computer.  I had done this the previous day as well, but interestingly enough it worked better the second day, as these 2 students were keen to be on the computer.  They did not write much but they were much more enthusiastic. I live in hope.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Go Animate

At times with new programs I can be somewhat baffled and then run out of patience. I had thought when trying to integrate ICT I would get one of my reading groups to retell a story in the program.  Anyway, I gave getting the program to work as a challenge to my students.  They have succeed and are enjoying the program.  I now need to get them to make a set of instructions.

GoAnimate.com: little red riding hood by room21bds

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

GoAnimate.com: The Big Adventure NOT by room21bds

Like it? Create your own at GoAnimate.com. It's free and fun!

I found that being saying they had to create a story they did better work.  We did spend a couple of weeks just playing first.

Inclass Support - using the mimo and data projector as a whiteboard

Again I taught a writing lesson in a Year 4 class. Today we looked at making sentences.  I had a picture and we wrote nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.  The teacher I was modelling for said that she had learnt about writing and ICT. 

Today was a good day.  The students wrote excellent sentences and when we shared were very good at saying what they liked about each others writing.

Using Wallwisher

I used Wallwisher to get my students' questions for inquiry.  They enjoy using different laptops around the room rather than me standing infront writing on the whiteboard.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Staff Meeting

I had to talk about our lead teacher days that we had been to.

When we first started our contract and Mark Treadwell spoke at Sky City about how we do not know what learning will look like in the future. Is this the future? Personally I find this video scary. I worry about my own teaching skills and how I have to shift in my thinking. And yes, when will I ever have all the equipment I need. However, it is not the only thing I think about. We have essentially 2 terms left on our contract. We have made great changes and shifts here at Botany Downs but what will our future be? Our theme this year is Sustainability. At times, I find it hard to change but I look at my students. One only lights up when in front of a computer, nothing else motivates him. The old ways that still excite others do not work. This student learns in a different way from me. Remember SISIMO. Learning through sight, sound and motion. Sometimes I wonder whether I am meeting the needs of my students, and resent having to change. I like the way I do some things as a teacher as I have been successful with these methods. But it comes down to children learning and succeeding. I have come to the conclusion that my teaching has to be adaptive so I do not fail those students who could fall through the cracks because I have not met their needs. I challenge you with these questions: What is your vision for your teaching for the future? What is your vision for Botany Downs in 3 years time, or 5, or 10? Does it look like this school in California or can we go one better.

In Class Support - modelling

Today I went into a Year 2 classroom and modelled a writing lesson using the mimio.  Over the past 2 years I have taught myself how to use the mimo and projector as the white board. It's not rocket science just effort. This term I am going into to model a lesson to staff to encourage the shift in thinking from using the little board or modelling books.  I decideded to use writing as it gave me a chance to plan learning intentions etc for the students rather than off the cuff, when I went in as a specialist teacher with the laptops and the students used a programme.  Anyway, I had a lovely time with this class and they did some fantastic writing.

I used a poem about yellow things, and we talked about other colours and I wrote the things related to the colours under their headings.  One student wrote about the colour red, and the last line of her poem was red is the poppies, for the men who fighted in the war.  (fighted is her unedited word).

Red is like lava
Red is like blood
Red is like a fire engine
Red is like the sun
that makes me hot.

Orange as the autumn leaves
Orange as a juicy orange
Orange as the sun
that keeps our life and light.

Pink si like a rose
Pink is like a yummy strawberry cake
with some candles shining in the night.

Silver is a star
Silver is glitter
Silver is a tanker driving past my street.

Blue is the sky
Blue is the rain
Blue is Neptune
Blue is the ocean
that I swim in.

Sometimes I get more excited about children's writing than ICT.

Then this afternoon I went into a Year One class and we looked at a poem about the word big - My smile is as big as .....and wrote about My eyes are as big as....   Demonstrating the poem without a mimio pen and mimio but using the program with the laptop is much harder because you are dashing backwards and forwards from the laptop to the whiteboard.  Its not far but can be disjointed.  I am spoilt with my laptop right by my whiteboard.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Other languages on my blog

I have someone writing comments in what I presume is Chinese.  Since I don't know what the comment means I delete it.  I cannot risk it being a rude comment.

Getting the students to teach me

On Tuesdays I lose about half my class to choir practise so I have decided to have fun with ICT with the rest of the class.  Today I had booked our pod of 8 laptops so that I could get them to work out the Goanimate.com program from the Cool Tools for Schools website.  I don't know whether it is our server blocking but only the class work station would work the program properly.  I had had a go on Sunday an struggled to make the program work so I had the bright idea of putting the students on and they could then teach me.  They were definately enthusiastic but trying compatability views helped to some extent but I also don't know whether using the same login for all computers was stopping us too.  I think we were all frustrated.  I then tried some of the other website but had trouble loggin into them as well. Talk about best laid plans.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Lead Teacher Day

Saw an interesting video on students in California using ipods in class for their learning.  Belinda showed this after showing her photos of her Apple Road trip.  It was very thought provoking in that it demonstrated how learning is changing so fast with ICT.  I wonder what will be the PC equivalent to Apple in this regard.  I know that teachers are trialling cellphone use in high schools here in NZ but not being a big cellphone user myself, I know I lack the knowledge to totally understand how all this works.  I don't even know if I am ready for the concept.  I really liked how the students were engaged and responsible for their learning.  I am not sure that I like the idea of being paperless in regard of dictionaries and atlases or even just practising reading fluency from a sheet of paper but then, I am a confirmed book lover and hate the idea of curling up in bed on a Sunday morning with an ICT device (laptop, or ibook, or phone) to read. 

Mathletics and finding facts

We began a trial of Mathletics for homework this week for a fortnight.  I have been letting the kids get on at every opportunity.  They come in in the mornings at the moment and share what credits they have learnt with each other, or tell me they are on the Wall of Fame.  It is great to see them so enthusiastic.

My students have been taking turns or in groups to find facts to begin report writing dueing writing time.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Learning my Mistakes

I have just learnt to delete comments.  I had some comments in Chinese? but my ability in foreign languages is very small and limited to 2-3 phrases in French and Maori.  Anyway, I checked my settings and silly me and not made comments come to my email to for moderation.

Makes me worried what else I missed.

ICT integration Week 2 Term 2

Last week I was on Year 6 camp.  It was a great camp, and the most ICT was taking photos.  Anyway, back to school and getting back into classroom routine.  ICT on Monday was using the mimio to demonstrate handwriting, getting a reading group to make blogs for the class on their week last week.  Today, I was teaching 2 students to use movie maker to make a short film to share our Year 6 experiences. Sent a child out to photograph our new classroom that we will be moving into shortly and the camera died.  Luckily it was the lense not the SD card.

My new teacher laptop was set up while I was away, but it is not synchronising to the server, but connecting to the server so planning done at the weekend on my old laptop can't be picked up on the new laptop.  Also the wireless connection is not working.  Other than that, my new laptop feels new and lovely.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Cluster Share

Today was our cluster share afternoon of what we were going to do this year.  As always it is nervewracking to stand infront of many to share but it sort of gets easier.  It is hard to explain as I know that is contradictory.  Somehow you cope. 
I enjoyed the explanation from Shelley Park School of their school goals for the year.  It was clear and to the point and the viewing onscreen was generally easy to see. 
Elizabeth, my AP gave a comprehension recount of her breakouts from Learning@School.It is good to see to see others sharing.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Integration of ICT

On Monday, Marie and I worked on our plan for integraing ICT in our classroom programmes so we can present at Ulearn with Belinda.  Part of this will  include some action research with our reluctant writer students who will be identified from our writing sample. Our general focus for integration will be literacy.  We talked about maths but it can be difficult to get students from being consumers to creators.  I found I liked this phrase, and I guess it is at the stage of my learning that I actually now understand what this means.  Over this past two years, my students have mostly been consuming, ie accessing learning websites like digistore, NZ maths, WickED etc, with the occasional creating during inquiry topics.
I have started with a conscious effort to use my mimio as my whiteboard as the modelling book for whole class, one of my reading groups made a poster to save the environment from a guided reading story, we made group posters of our class treaty in publisher, and more recently, making postcards to publish our postcard from the planets stories from our Where are we in Space? inquiry topic.  Next term, I need to ensure in my weekly plans that I have students creating during guided reading, and having my reluctant writers working on the 3 computers in class, taking turns at a variety of ways of writing to inspire them.
This will take time and effort but I think quite exciting to move me and mys students to a different level with ICT in classroom.

Blinging My Class Blog

Recently I have been working on setting up my class blog by myself, and I have managed.  I'm not much of a bling person in anything that I do, so to decide to do that is quite out of my comfort zone.  I have recognised that my students do enjoy bling.  It took me a while to find a wallpaper that I thought suited the age range of of 9-11 with my composite class.  I had to refine search engines, and I looked at blogs like "Bling your blog" and the "cutest blog on the block"which I had used before.  Finding widgets was also interesting.
These websites I found useful:
Anyway, room21bds2010.blogspot.com is my class blog. I now need to get parents commenting so that it is purposeful for my students.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Lead Teacher Day 9 March 2010

Today has been a good day.  We heard from those who had been at Learning@School.  This was followed by looking at Action Research - research to improve our teaching.  Belinda would like each school to have an Action Research project at each school in the cluster.  We tried to come up with ideas so that we could do this.  Belinda had purchased for each school Action Research a developmental approach  by Carol Cardno.  On a quick glance this seems very readable.  As I want to present at Ulearn I tried hard to add an action research portion to  what I want to do but that was extremely hard.  I am not sure if it is possible at this stage, so WATCH THIS SPACE.

I had a good look at the website of an Action Research project http://helenrennie-younger.wikispaces.com/elearning+fellowship.  It was particularly great to see her work with junior students on inquiry and oral language.  There is still some reluctance at my school expecially with inquiry and ICT in general, and to be able to show this website at a staff meeting will be fantastic - ie seeing what they can do.  Some of the ideas will fit nicely with our inquiry topic we are just starting on "Where are we in Space?"  I also thought I might be able to adapt them for my Year 5/6 class to use also so I can do some PD with the staff on the thinkers keys as that came up at the last staff meeting to fit in with our space inquiry.