Wednesday, October 10, 2007


Classroom blogs are revolutionising the way teachers (and schools) communicate with parents, their community, how parents can interact with their childrens' class activities, allowing more people to be involved in their student's learning and discussion.

Room 10 at Pongakawa School recently posted some work on their blog that they were doing using Tony Ryan's thinkers keys. You can imagine their delight when Tony popped into their blog and added a comment.

Parents of students at Te Ranga are regularly visiting the junior class blog even though they are away overseas to keep up with their child's exciting learning developments.

Students themselves who are absent for a variety of reasons (overseas, holiday, illness) are still checking in to see what they are missing and to comment on what is currently being learned.

Often this type of sharing does not occur until the end of term report, parent interviews or the next visit tot he school. Classroom blogs now allow this interaction to occur. Parents and students alike are able to read, feed in comments, stimulate discussion, and keep up with the play.

And the children's community is growing. No longer are they confined to their immediate geographical location. The new neighbourhood i.e. the student's learning community is global. Blogs facilitate this development. Interaction is able to occur between classes and individuals, community groups and experts.

Is there any research out there in this area into the impact of blogs into the school community partnership? Perhaps it would be a worthwhile area for someone interested in an E-fellowship...

Aha you might say - this means that perhaps a negative factor exists as well. And there may well be. I'd love to hear of these. From my own experience, that's why I really like classblogmeister (yep I'll say it again and again Thank you for introducing me to it, Tom and Jody). Classblogmeister allows the teacher to filter all comments.

If you have had any specific feedback or concerns about class blogs and their impact on School home partnerships, I would love to hear them.

These are just some of the wonderful blogs I have come across:


Tony Ryan returned with us from Ulearn on Friday night and facilitated a workshop in "Inspiring Classrooms" the next day. 85 from our cluster - and from our neighbouring areas joined us in this calm but fast paced experience which saw us look at ourselves, our futures, our own goals and our practice. Tony's presentation, his handouts and his support material are up on the cluster wiki.

Check out the Inspiring Classrooms on the cluster wiki at

Comment Needed:

Have you used any of his suggestions already? How has attending this workshop inspired you? What difference has attending made to you or others around you?

It would be great if we could share these reflections and practices. How about telling us your story? You can do this simply by reply in the posting box, adding your name at the bottom of your posting and then clicking on the radio button beside Anonymous, before you click on Publish Post.

How about it?


Hi - Back from holiday, Back from Ulearn, Back from a cluster teacher only day with Tony Ryan last Saturday and on to the next thing ---

I have a presentation to do which focuses on the impact of blogging on home school relationships. I would love to include a range of responses from other teachers, students, parents who use classroom blogs. I know there is a wealth of experiences out there and such a wonderful generosity in sharing and it would be superb to have your thoughts.

Something to comment on? How about...

... What tangible differences has classroom blogging made to the interconnectivity between the home, community and - students - teacher

... What feedback have you/the the school received from your parent community on this involvement?

... What are some of the issues to consider?

--- Any other relevant comments would also be appreciated.

You will get full credit for your comments and if you would like to have participants check out your blog during the session, please send me the addy.

Thank you,

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Implementing IWBs and the Lessons Learnt - Flaxmere and Peterhead Schools

"It's all about relationships" a catch phrase of this conference heard repeatedly in the workshops so far. This is the final workshop for the day and I am interested in seeing how these tools are being used to make a difference to student learning and in this, what impact they are having on teacher practice. I like the way this project began as an inquiry and involved research - about 6 months of it before the decisions were made. The focus for the research was towards their vision for learning. Decisions made and the local licencing trust was approached resulting in funding towards the project for the five schools involved. The schools made a financial commitment too and the trust has been well looked after by the schools, given a high profile, are kept fully informed, receive feedback, and are invited to be involved in the school activities. This has resulted in the trust "roll out" of future funding. A win win situation for all. For more info check out
F2F Discussion time now ... be back soon

Wednesday, October 03, 2007


A team of 16 from our cluster with 10 of us presenting workshops. Not bad for our cluster eh? I am involved in facilitating two workshops this afternoon with an awesome group of people...


ICT Infused Inquiry with Gail Cochrane from National Library. Gail and I will be sharing the work we have done with our Nga tii Roa Learning cluster in defining the what, why and how of inquiry, examining the skills needed and the integration of ICTs, trialing and practicing in the classroom - an excitng journey which has evolved over the last 15years, with the last 3 in our cluster. While Carol isn't able to attend the conference, we have captured her junior school inquiry where she and her Room 3 class transformed the school sandpit. Mark Boyle, DP of Paengaroa School, will be sharing how his school adapted the common features we found in the inquiry process and incorporated them into their own school model, alongsid etheir school logo - The Fantail. Now called "The Fantail Takes Flight" Mark describes at as a journey from stationery to flutter to flight - and still they have the soaring to look forward to...


I am supporting Bruce Lendrem and Bruce Jepsen as we share what we have been doing in leading learning within their schools and within the cluster during the ICTPD contract time.

We have done things differently to many other clusters and it has been good to have this time to reflect on what we have done, where it has led and what we have learnt. We believe our cluster has been really successful. Things like making our Principals the lead teachers from the start, having motivators in a range of areas rather than defining set lead teachers, working with all cluster staff (ancillary, board members etc) and having sessions open to anyone who is interested rather than an exclusive group has all had its rewards. It has certainly been a privilege working with such an awesome and inspired cluster. This will be a good time to celebrate some of those success.

Am in the opening stages of Ulearn. Welcome, Minister's address, 1st keynote.... Have been blogging, pondering thorughout. Yep the concentration seems to be wandering. What do I want to get out of Ulearn? Have a become a newbie junkie? I want to learn new things. Surely in this world of rapid change, this will be easily achievable.

I struggle to get excited by the what I have already done. Watching videos and animations created by children has a limited lustre especially when treated as new exciting learning technologies. Five year olds were doing that four years ago. Web 2.0 tools, flickr, blogs, wiki, two years now.

I want to be challenged. I look forward to learning things that will impact into my practices. What new things will inspire me?

Here I am at Ulearn, still waiting for my head to arrive back from the other side of the world. Hmmm, in the whole 7 weeks we have been away we've had about an hour and ten minutes of rain. Yesterday in a short walk from the hotel to Queen Street fully equipped with a rain jacket etc, I got drenched. The rain bucketed down and it is still pouring on down. See? This is what I do. My mind strays. I am getting here. I think I am still in yesterday...

Yesterday I attended a podcasting workshop run by Jane Nicholls. We created and published a vidcast on podomatic. It was a bit rushed to do it justice so we (Pauline and I) posted our result under an alias. Yep pondered back into my holiday... Since our trip, I am still struggling with ideas about clothing - and the role it has plays in our societies. We began this as our podcasting topic but it became deeper than we had time for. Loved the conversation though Pauline. Thank you. We ended up doing a podcast on toilets and managed a vidcast on "Toilet Travel Tips aka Pissoires of the World".

How do vidcasts published on podomtic any different to videos uploaded to youtube etc.? Is there any differnece anymore? There seems to be a division in our thinking between these types of technologies but I am wondering if this difference has disappeared? Have these two types of technology now become blended, blurred together, merged?
Italy & Shangai

Again I want to post some thoughts captured in my travel notebook, so wil be back in to do this soon.
Eastern Europe

Will be back later and will add details of this trip to my blog

Friday, August 31, 2007

Amsterdam for the last four days has been interesting. Certainly a place where people can really explore their own boundaries rather those imposed upon them. :Liberated, tolerant society. A visit to Anne Franks house was sobering, the Red Light area interesting as were the side lines from it. Canal ride was beautiful, zig zagging thru, water ways. An amzing number of bikes as people mish mash their ways trough streets with cars pedestrains all going in different directions. Didn´t know that the houses used the hoists seen on each one to move their furniture in and out. Took bus to Delft, the Hague and Rotterdam. Now in Berlin. Arrived here this morning and here for next four days. Been out for an explore already. Off agian soon. Catch you laters....

Sunday, August 26, 2007


Hi there,

We are heading off to Covent Garden shortly to see the Lion King but before then I have access to this slightly dodgy computer – and hopefully I will get time to finish off a few lines. Hope you are well and enjoying some fine weather. We are! Blue skies and sunshine in London today J

I think I could become a fulltime holidayer. Aren’t they grand, holidays? We are having such an interesting time and have been blown away with how nice people have been and how smoothly everything has been going for us.

Ken and I arrived back in London at mid-day today after hiring a car and travelling North for the last few days. Dreaded the thought of driving in and out of London but it was much easier than we expected. 4 days, no accidents, 100 mile an hour driving and not one argument! We are feeling quite chuffed.

We left London Tuesday morning. Ken needed to get out and see how beautiful the country really is. The grime and bustle of London certainly wasn’t doing it justice. We headed up through the midlands, stumbled upon castles and quaint villages, houses with thatched roofs, winding narrow lanes which were incidentally major roadways, and were reminded of TV programmes like Heartbeat and Ermedale Farm (a programme I have only glimpsed). We seemed to be in a time warp. We visited Whisstledon, near Oakham, the area that the Watchorns came from which is near Leicester. A cousin of Ken’s (Jeff Watchorn, who lives at Grange Farm which is 700 years old) took us for a drive to the old family farmland and homestead, to the family church and grave yard etc. Saw plenty of Watchorn headstones – all related to Ken. We past by Rockingham Castle which took our breath away. Still lived in today, it was built by William the Conqueror, and is an amazing site. Like the imaginary Norman castles of old. Henry VIII stayed there as did Charles Dickens. Owned now by the Watsons, the family is plagued with a genetic illness which kills their people in their early adult years.

Headed then on up towards York and across to Manchester where I met up with my brother and his two beautiful daughters. They had travelled up from Bristol for the day. Oh it was so good to see them again and they were all looking so good. We visited the cemetery where my Grandparents and father lie. I contacted a man I had corresponded via email with, a son of an old friend’s of Dad’s. We met and he took Mike and I around to visit his Dad, so a couple of hours of reminiscing followed. Paul (the son) then rang into his work and took the next three hours off to show us around. He was so good to us. A very nice man, about our age. He drove us to where my grandparents had lived, where my father was born, where Dad had gone to school etc. Such amazing generosity. At one point as we were standing outside my grandparent’s home, an old man walked past. He wandered back in the opposite direction a short time later. Not sure of the area, Mike my brother, quietly approached the man and asked if he had lived here long. He was in his 80s and had lived here all his life. Did he know of the Preeces? (my maiden name). “Oooh yes, my mother was a Preece”. We all nearly fell backwards! He was happy to share what he knew but being rather frail and in the hot summer sun (yes – no exaggeration – blue sky, not a breath of wind, sunshine and heat in the middle of Salford!) any way with him being frail’n like, we didn’t want to tire him, so reluctantly released him to go on his merry way. Mike’s girls and Ken all remarked on the similarity in appearance between this grey haired old fellow and my brother Mike.

Having to make our way back towards London as much as possible that night, Mike offered to take us on a journey through Wales, travelling to Welshpool, and Montgomery where the Preeces originated from before they hit Manchester. What beautiful countryside. There must have been a lot of money to be made up North in the 1860s to entice the family away from such a beautiful area. Travelling from there alongside the River Wye, past TinTern Abbey showed Wales in its glory. How beautiful it is – and such a reason for every Welsh voice to rise up in song about their home country. I would be singing now – if I was Welsh – and if I could sing.

Leaving Mike and the girls at Bristol was sad but we needed to head on. Neither Ken nor I relished the thought of returning the car to its rental yards right in the heart on Kings Cross, with its no go areas, one way areas, unfamiliar streets and busy London traffic. We’d had a long day, and needed a good night’s sleep. A few stiff gins to steady the nerves may have been needed but we decided to tackle it with the full fear of the toughest Disneyland horror ride. Despite a detour, buses blocking out the essential road signs and a bad accident which threatened to get us hopelessly lost, we made it. Someone has been looking out for us every inch of the way on our trip. Not even one scratch on the car, no irate drivers yelling abuse at us – in fact just the opposite. People could not have been more pleasant or courteous.

And now? Hmm we have just had lunch and Ken’s fallen asleep on the couch in Renee’s lounge.


Just to recap – L. A. was fantastic. So clean, the weather was amazing – a bit too hot perhaps and just right for the compulsory siestas. We did the LA tour – Hollywood, the Oscars theatre, theside walk stars, Paris Hilton’s jail right in the middle of downtown LA, OJ’s one close by – drove by his house. Also Aaron Spellings 128 bedroomed hillside mansion. Most notable for me was the homes in an ordinary suburb with jail bars on the windows – to keep the good people safe inside. Not all of the houses had these but in some suburbs they did seem to. Spent a day atUniversal Studios. Felt ill after the “Mummy Ride” and wouldn’t recommend it. Double Yuk! The tour through the studios was very interesting. Learnt how they do some of the high speed chases, and special effects in movies. Didn’t see anyone famous – however there are so many famous and we are so out of touch now that we wouldn’t even recognise one if we came up close and personal. Went to a farmers market and played on the new i-phones. Hmmm can see these really taking off! I’ll have to wait for the cheaper versions though. Met a nice couple at a Mexican restaurant where we went for lunch. Invited us to their home in Santa Monica for dinner. Went to to Santa Monica beach and paddled in the Pacific Ocean – just as we do at Pikowai. On to Venice Beach with its aging 70s and 80 hippies and recovering population.

Glad we had two days to do the Disney Parks. We certainly needed that time to do it justice. Some favourite rides? Pirates of the Carribean, The Nemo Submarine and The Haunted House.

Flights have been OK. Air NZ superb. A bit of a bumpy ride from LA to Frankfurt, made a little more tense by a very nervous Polish man in the next seat to me. Frankfurt very warm. Weather has been great – although v little blue sky in London and the height of summer is certainly disguised here. Out of London though it has been superb.

We had a brilliant day in Windsor. Went through the castle, walked the streets of Eaton and listened to the posh accents. Finished the day off in Richmond where we met Renee’s friends for a dinner. A Sunday roast at a local pub which was very very nice. Ken shouldn’t really mix cider and beer though. The next night was a good one too – with Ken doing quite nicely on warm and flat pub ales. I cooked “a good down home” roast lamb dinner complete with broccoli cheese, carrots parsnips and parsley etc finished off with strawberries and chocolate icecream. A couple of the flatties were going out that night. When they spied what was on top of the oven, they changed their plans and were at home all evening ;-). We did have such a good night. Renee has such great flat mates. They have accommodated our stay extremely well and have gone out of their way to be helpful. Sooo very nice.

Not sure what we have planned for the weekend. Renee has something organised for us tomorrow (a surprise) and we thought we may head down to Brighton on Sunday. We leave for Amsterdam and Europe on Monday.

Meant to mention too that we have done the tourist sites – the Palace, 10 Downing Street, Westminster, big Ben, St Pauls etc. Went to Harrods. Looking at the jewellery there was like glimpsing the Tower’s jewels. Wow! Such massive gems. I was gobsmacked. Just stood there drooling. A very nice gentleman walked over and asked if he could help me – he thought I was a customer. Just about hugged him – did he really I was in that league?! I smiled and thanked him very much for making my day!

Well I had better get myself organised. This computer has been interesting. I never know quite where the cursor is going to jump to and several times it seems to have disappeared altogether during my typing – so not sure where the letters have ended up. Without the time to proofread, I hope it all makes sense.

Hey, take care

With best wishes


PS The Lion King was superb – such creative genious. Off to the soccer now – Arsenal playing Manchester. Hmmm think I will go with Manchester!

Monday, July 23, 2007


Our cluster journey continues to explore the realm of blogging with a session at Pongakawa School this afternoon.

  • Why blog?
  • What are the advantages?
  • What are your concerns?
  • How could blogging cater for the diversity of the learners in our classrooms?

Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Next week we are having a discussion about the use of wikis for learning and we would love to have some rich, real and relevant learning wiki links to explore - preferably at a primary school level. I have only just begun working with wikis, establishing one myself for our cluster, so it will be one step in front of the next! Will have to watch out for the potholes! Hmmm - falling in can be an adventure itself!

I have just become aware of the discussion area for each wiki page which is so awesome.
I am sure there are so many other exciting things to learn about wikis for learning. Vygotsky would be delighted. These Web 2.0 tools are "learning theories in action". What I have discovered already is that the pedagogy of learning alone should be enough to convince the most sceptical. The ease of using Web 2.0 tools and what they can do encourages all to get involved. I am beginning to feel like an evangelist and the excitement continues to grow!

Rethinking learning needs to be driven by a shared vision. This is where words and mind need to align and learning needs to have a strong presence.
We can't hold on to the old and the new. There simply isn't the room. We can all laspe into the same teaching we experienced unless we change our mental models, yet the world for our five year olds is so different to our own historical experiences. Many of us have the right words, can talk about the 21st century learning in a knowing even pasionate way. However it is our practice that counts. This is what the children feel, see, discern and accept (well, in their early years). It is our mental model that drives our practice, not our words. It is our concept/s that impact into learning in our classrooms. Where does 21st century learning really fit into our mind's model of teaching and learning? Did our practice today reflect the words we speak when we talk so enthusiastically about 21st century learners? Is there a digital divide?

When it comes down to it, the future is about "you". What did you do today to make it happen?

Rachel called in earlier (virtually) and shared how she facilitates blogging in her Nelson Central Yr 2/3 class. (See WHY BLOG? below) I did enjoy visiting her class blog and loved the Blogging Rules her class have created. She has also shared these links to her great little videos. Check them out. I am sure you will enjoy them too.... Great to create something like this for paren discussion.

Monday, May 28, 2007


How do busy classroom teachers get time to facilitate a class blog?

Our cluster is marvelling at the relevance and diversity of blogging for learning but not many have really begun this in earnest in their classrooms.

Rachel, Jody, Tom, Allanah et al - How do you manage it? What did you have to do to get started?

Nga Tii Roa Cluster members - What are the barriers?

I suspect most will say "Time" yet if this is a rich, real and relevant tool to motivate, engage and learn with, why hasn't it been given the time it deserves?

I would love to find out and perhaps help to get our class blogs off the ground and into the hands of our learners.

Recently on a visit to Te Awamutu, Gill Gibbs leant me her copy of Murray Deaker's autobiography, "The Man In The Glass". Not an avid listener of sport on the radio, I hadn't realised Murray was a teacher and his book had some interesting discussion aspects about behaviour in the classroom, the role of the teacher in and out of school as well as the sport he is so passionate about. It was an enjoyable read. What gripped me right from the start was the following poem, a poem I had shared with my son duirng his teenage years, sticking it to the mirror in his room. The poet is unknown.

The Man In The Glass

When you get what you want in your struggle for self
And the world makes you king for the day
Just go to the mirror and look at yourself
And see what THAT man has to say.

For it isn’t your father or mother or wife
Whose judgment upon you, you must pass.
The fellow whose verdict counts most in your life
Is the one staring back from the glass

Some people may think you a straight shootin’ chum
And call you a wonderful guy
But the man in the glass says you’re only a bum
If you can’t look him straight in the eye.

He’s the fellow to please, never mind all the rest
For he’s with you clear up to the end
And you’ve passed your most dangerous, difficult test
If the man in the glass is your friend

You may fool the whole world down the pathway of life
And get pats on your back as you pass
But your final reward will be heartache and tears
If you’ve cheated the man in the glass.

Friday, May 25, 2007


Just a quick flick before I head off. Several people have asked for Graphic organisers lately. Note the american spelling difference (Z) when searching. Graphic organisers need to be adaptable and people need to feel free to change them. e.g. PMI can become PMIIS etc. As we become familiar with how one works, reliance on them disappears, the organiser can disappear and use becomes automatic. Here are some handy links below.

Graphic Organisers Online.
- Some nice graphic organizers here. (Note spelling if you are searching)

Graphic Organizers
- A link also to Rubric info

Graphic organizers from ABC Teach.

More graphic organisers from

Education Oasis

If you have a favourite site we'd love to hear about it.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Our cluster journey continues to explore the realm of blogging with a session at Paengaroa this afternoon.

Why blog?
What are the advantages? What are your concerns?
How does blogging cater for the diversity of the learners in our classrooms?

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


WoW! Lianne's Habits of Mind Workshop yesterday rocked! Lianne whisked us away on an interactive journey into the Habits of Mind and had us sharing in the inquiry work she and her students had enjoyed. It was superbly pitched for those keen to introduce HoM into their classroom practice and into their learning inquiries. Don't they fit so well together! Rangiuru School put on a very warm welcome and added "Finding Humour" into the afternoon and into their exploration of "Thinking and Communicating with Clarity and Precision". is a very supportive website. The list of quotes for each habit helped us in our tasks and of great interest as was the book lists found under Resource Development. I have used these lists in the past, as a buying guide for our school library. Each list includes titles in alphabetical order and a number corresponding to which habits of mind the book illustrates.

We would definitely be keen to hear how others are using HoM


No cost. Spread the word! Time4 Online Conference: Engaging Learners in an Online Environment

28 May - 8 June
You can go in and register now.

There is plenty in there to checkout even before the conference starts.

Plans for this online conference are fast shaping up and you are invited to an exciting time at the end of May and into June.

Sheryl Nussbaum Beach is providing the opening keynote to set the scene for how the online environment caters for collaborative learning both for her own professional life and for students in classrooms. She brings a powerful message and will demonstrate in her presentation just how useful and easy these tools are to use.

In the second week of the online conference, some innovative and confident students will be sharing their experiences with the online environment, and talking about how learning has been empowered for them through Web 2.0. Threaded amongst these keynotes will be a raft of interesting workshops on why and how to use the technologies in classrooms and for teacher professional learning, supported by easy to follow tutorials and examples of the creative use already occurring in classrooms through out NZ. For all of you who like to visit classrooms and schools to get ideas and stimulus for your teaching - these visits you can make from the comfort of your own computer, or in a social setting with friends and colleagues. More information will come to hand each week about the NZ teachers who will be sharing their knowledge and experience with you during the conference.

Make sure you have the dates May 28th to June 8th marked in your calendar. Make plans with colleagues to view material and discuss how the new learning can be applied in classrooms. Get ready to get excited about what the environment can do for your students in your classroom and all with very limited technology skill required. All welcome.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007


This afternoon after school we had another successful cluster workshop where we created our own hotlists using Filamentality. What a great tool this is to link learning between home and school. Particpants marvelled at how easy it was and how useful for student learning, home partnership links and classroom management of ICT. Tools such as this aid inquiry and allow us to have students learning in small groups on inquiries based upon their interests. It assists 25 students to work in small groups exploring a range of various inquiries as opposed to all doing the same. We explored Hotlists and there are more options to find out about - scrapbooks sound interesting...

To access Filamentality go to:
For the one I made on the Brain check out:

RSS Feeds

Do you know how these differ from a blogline? I don't. It is late and I have an early start in the morning. Will post this in and fingers crossed I can come back and decipher RSS feeds tomorrow night. By Lee and Sachi Lefevedr, this is supposed to be good. From

Monday, May 14, 2007

ICT Infused Inquiry

A lot has been happening of late and I feel we are moving into a new zone. Coming to terms with Web 2.0 tools was one of our cluster goals this year and yep, I know that there are so many tools out there that we haven’t explored yet, but! We are getting into new territory and it is like landing in a new world.

Classroom blogs are progressing well and I take no responsibility for staff meetings that don’t want to stop. Isn’t it is great to leave before everyone else does or wants to!

ICT Infused Inquiry” kicked off with a great workshop last Friday with 15 of us combining our talents and sharing our thinking and practice. The day began with an Inquiry Trail and participants then shared their best or worst experiences with inquiry or technology. Definitions of Information Literacy were explored with key components being identified and new definitions formed by each group.

Information Literacy and Inquiry – Are they the same? How are they related? This provided some great discussion and with it, there seems no right answer. We would love more feedback on this.

What does a "rich inquiry" classroom look like, feel like and sound like?

Participants then used a rubric to reflect on their own classroom practice. And all this before lunch!!

After lunch a quick foraging activity provided an informative energizer before the hands-on computer activities. Short sharp research with key questions began investigations into inquiry models and Web 2.0 tools. We all learnt from the feedback sessions following these investigations. The cluster’s ICT Infused Wiki provided a good source of information and people are looking forward to collaborating through this, as well as the Moodle online environment. The benefit of the wiki is that it will still be there after the course is completed and can be continually added to etc. Feedback showed this to be a valuable day for everyone who attended.

ICT Infused Inquiry” aims to integrate Web 2.0 tools with Inquiries at a primary level. We initiated this online paper to serve the needs of our cluster and suggested ICT Infused Inquiry as a special topic towards the Graduate Diploma in IT in Education. Our small beginnings have grown and there is a keen interest by other clusters to be involved. We have decided to trial it with our smallish group this year and already it looks like Wintec will be offering it as a regular paper from next year onwards. We have a small but very special and powerful learning team. Gail and Vicki from National Library are there as advisors. Jan Marie and a group from the Coromandel cluster are learning alongside us. Pauline, a new cluster facilitator from the Waikato also asked to be involved and we are delighted to have so many people willing to share their own special talents and experiences to benefit us all.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


Most of us will have checked out a myriad of videos available at but have you visited ? They can take a while to download but certainly worth a regular check in to see what's new.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Thanks to Gordon Brune who posted this link in an email, I have downloaded a handy and free spell checking programme that allows you to spell check those text input boxes while in Internet Explorer.

IE SPELL works with Internet Explorer and provides a spell checking tool to use on your web box entries and responses. e.g. blog comments, web mail. It is easy to use and installs easily. To download, click the hyperlink at the start of this paragraph or on this:

Thank you Gordon. It will be a handy tool.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Hiya - Life is galavanting along and I hope you have had time to enjoy the sunshine. I have had a busy fortnight with meetings, work and a fantastic week long professional learning course. Will share more about that as I get time. However with ANZAC in mind I am wondering if you are looking for digital resources; photos, sound recordings, movies and texts? There are lots of other reasons to use it too.

Check out The National Library of New Zealand Digital Resources Website. You can access it through

This will take you to a list with a brief description of the collections with links to these on the left. Try out a keyword search of Matapihi and Timeframes.

It has many uses to stimulate learning and is a fantastic resource. Well worth bookmarking.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Hope you have all enjoyed the Easter break. Brilliant weather here, time at home, friends and family and always lots to do. I did enjoy the space to spend in the garden, read and catch up on some of those items in the ever growing To Do list.

The holidays have been short lived and the break concluded on Tuesday with a good “think tank” session in Inquiry which filled the whole day. The focus was on Assessment in Inquiry and went much wider as we explored our Philosophies, shared our research and our experiences in working in schools and looked at What is Assessment? Why do it? Types of Assessment, What do we want to Assess in Inquiry and the How of Assessment. Assessment seems to be the focus topic of late. ERO have produced a booklet "Assessment in Primary Schools: A Guide For Parents" June 2006 ISBN:0-478-11188-6. Copies of these can be ordered from

The process we used today was worked well. I could see a similar process used to look at e-Portfolios. Hmm, I feel another think tank coming on.... Thanks Gail and Bernard. I know we all got lots out of this session.

I have been reading and listening to a lot about Assessment - Assessing to learn, Assessing for learning. Yet I am still concerned that these do not fulfill my belief in “Assessment AS Learning”. Assessment it seems is viewed as a teacher task or teacher imposed activity. How does this encourage:
- personalised learning?
- intrinsic motivation in the process?
- our students to become life long learners?

Personalised learning encourages a shift from students as passive recipients to individuals who engage in an active two (or more) way process. Central to P.L . is assessment. If we aim to involve students in the process of learning then it is only natural to include them in assessment processes.

This is one reason why I like Rubrics so much. In a well designed rubric, the assessment process becomes transparent. Students see what is required and measure themselves within it. The next steps are visible. Encouraging their use in self and peer assessment allows all involved to use the process and points to where they need to go next. As students become more familiar with the role of a rubric, their involvement in the making of the rubric, and the assessment criteria becomes even more powerful.

People no matter what age, change themselves more powerfully than having others impose their ideas and expectations. As a parent I could never see the reason why a teacher and parent met to discuss the child’s learning without the child being an active participant in this conversation. Is their involvement not valued? Is it the parent and teachers role to manipulate the learner, accept the accolades on their behalf etc.?

I do not simply want to “train” children, to have them jump through hoops and measure them without their understanding the value and process involved. More powerful than this is to have students able to direct their own learning, to know what they are being assessed on and to have them involved in this process.

It is the process of assessment that is important. If we can equip our children with a clear process coupled with clear understood expectations, their independence in learning, their intrinsic motivation in learning and their development as life long learning is enhanced. Students can develop a scaffold which they can use and transfer to other situations.

In creating your own rubrics,

· Use more than three columns to prevent the gravitation to the centre. I like to use four.

· Put the best performance descriptor on the left hand side and progress across. This leads students to look across and consider the best practice first when selecting their position. Having the rubric laid out in the opposite way discourages the full impact of the best practice criteria as students stop moving across the page when finding their level.

· As you gain confidence, try involving the students in creating a rubric. You can select one and then work back wards. Look at your learning intentions and the success criteria.

· Have students use the rubric for self and peer assessment. Have them use a rubric to assess a task you undertake. Model this process.

Click here to check out the Rubistar site. I think it is one of the best I have come across. Sherry Chrisp introduced it to me. You can search for already made rubrics and use these to inform your own. You can follow the wizard to create your own online rubrics, available then on the site when needed. They can also be printed out.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


As we grapple more and more with personalized learning, learning in the 21st century and the impact of ICTs, the value of the partnership with our learner’s community becomes extremely important.

Our schools are changing. How are we sharing this in our community? Have we forgotten them? Do they still expect learning to be the same as it was when they went to school?

Are “they” an important part of our development? I believe “we” are!

“It takes a community to raise a child” is Old African proverb and one I know to be true. We need to all be engaged in caring for our students learning. What does this look like at your school?

Are parents/whanau actively involved in the learning? Is their input treasured? Or are they relegated to being passive recipients of information regarding their children's learning?

The more I consider it the more I would like to change Homework or Home lInk in terminology and concept. Home link is what we can do to support and value the partnerships in learning. It values what we all have to offer. It includes learning together and can occur at home or at school. It means working together and sharing the responsibility

As we journey forward in our schools, let's not forget our whanau. Let's initiate the home links. Let's have "student led" parent teacher conferences. If we value what we are doing, let’s make it transparent.

"A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm"
-Henrik Ibsen

What does “Personalised learning” mean to you?

It is a phrase we are hearing more about at the moment. Click here to check out
Wikipedia’s entry

Looking on the net shows it has been around for a few years now and is often linked to learning for the 21st century. Reading the wikipedia entry is exciting and makes me feel good about what we are doing in the cluster e.g. student blogging systems certainly support these developments.

Personalised learning is a must inquiry as schools consider their practice and future planning.

So what does Personalised Learning mean to me? Hmm… P. L. goes beyond individualized learning and into the depth of ownership in learning. It goes beyond the old cliché of students being actively engaged in learning. Students are involved in the processes involved in learning. Processes are transparent. Students know how they learn, why they are at school and their learning environment is just that! P.L. impacts into all areas of teaching and learning. There is strong emphasis on learning in schools, rather than teaching.

Have a look at your schools vision for learning. How strong is the learning statement within this?
(Do you know it off by heart? Is this vision the focus for all you do? Is it real, regularly considered and revised? Or is it a heading with little substance?)

P.L. includes individual and group learning, with students knowing how they learn and able to discuss the what and, more importantly, the WHY of their learning. Students know and own how their learning will make a difference to themselves and/or those around them. It’s about learners being able to transfer and apply their learning in different situations.

This is sooo exciting!

Friday, March 30, 2007


The wet and windy weather didn't dampen the enthusiastic welcome I received at Kihikihi School on Thursday. I had been invited over to share the work we have been doing in Inquiry. I did enjoy the the opportunity to share with such a receptive group of Principals and Lead Teachers. From the Inquiry Trail at the start to the discussion and reflection walk at the end, the conversations were buzzing. It is also always so invigorating to connect with passionate practitioners and with Donna and her team, I did just that. It was also great to see some familiar faces and to meet new ones. Thanks for the invite Rosetown.

Te Ranga School hosted our cluster share this term, with Gary and his staff providing a very warm welcome to the rest of the team. It is so good to have these opportunities to visit one another and see our special learning environments. Helen’s classroom hosted the afternoon session which reviewed our progress and shared our practices in Inquiry Learning. We have had a dedicated team of motivators who have inquired and shared within their schools, and this was a time for everyone in the cluster to get together to celebrate our journey. As we haven’t all been able to get to every session, this was a valuable time to fill some gaps, share our knowledge and enrich our repertoire. As everyone commented, we have certainly come a long way.....

“Thank you so much for today’s presentation out at Te Ranga. I found it very helpful as it filled a few holes for me but also highlighted just how far we have come as a cluster, let alone me as an individual!!!

“I used to get stressed at the thought of fitting in an inquiry but I have no problems now. An inquiry can take an hour or a term dependent upon the need. It is the process that is important."

Yep, we can’t keep filling our buckets. If we introduce something new, we need to ask ourselves what we are going to replace or do differently? As Mark commented, he has no problems with this now.

This session was a great time to review and springboard to new thinkings.

"The staff and I were very impressed and would like to have another look at your presentation."

"Could you please send me details of and /or copies of the following:
The posters
Info about the questioning dice
The info you showed us briefly about the brain (I don’t think I have seen all of that??)
And each of the key feature pages about Inquiry, from your power point today, where you had examples of what the children could do, written all around the page. You know what I mean???
Gee I hope I’m not being cheeky by asking for all of these?''

No probs at all. The brain link is down the page further... I am happy to share the resources I used. For those who haven't asked already, let's know which you want.

It is such a pleasure working with you all!

How could blogging affect learning is your classroom? In your life? This afternoon's session follows on nicely from our cluster share at Te Ranga. What do you think? Are you ready to have a go?

Yeah, such purposeful fun eh!


Well Helloooooo Trina. Great to hear from you. Yep, things are buzzing along here and we are having a great year. Of course we do miss you and other cluster members who have gone on to new adventures. I will be looking for a new one myself next year. Have no idea what that will be but I would so love to continue doing this sort of work. Am thinking that I would even be prepared to travel away so must be addicted!

Wow great to see too that you have been checking out this blog. So cool! Please go in and add comments. Just click on the comment link which is at the bottom of each posting, type your comment in the box, add your name to the end of it, click on anonymous and then publish. It would be wonderful to see more interaction happening on the blog. That way others can benefit too.

You asked for some "Thinking Sites".... Check these out:'s%20Resource%20File/Learning%20Styles%20-%20Thinker's%20Keys.htm

Keep in touch :-)

- Lorraine

Tuesday, March 27, 2007


After last night's meeting I have been asked to post my inquiry links for "Our Brilliant Brains". Here it is:

The hotlist was created in Filamentality which is a wonderful tool to post up weblinks to support student inquiry (and staff development). Having the links posted on the net allows students to explore further at home or anywhere there is an internet connection, involve their parents and extend their learning boundaries. Next term we will run some sharing sessions on this and you can create similar sites yourself to suport your students' inquiries.

Friday, March 23, 2007

aka "Pukehina Reaches Out Into The Community" -

This was the focus of a great night out for 30 - 40 people from around our community as Pukehina School reached out to share learning wider afield. There was a great mix of people and their involvement and questions showed how much they cared about their children's education. Very proud of what is happening in the school, Pukehina stimulated ideas and questions as they shared the new learning dimmensions that our happening in our schools.

Cherie introduced the staff and talked with warmth about the school's vision for learning. Pukehina PROUD features strongly in all that they do. I shared a little of the history of schools, the cluster developments and the impact of ICT in my focus on "How Education Today Has Changed Since Our School Days". Grace shared how she uses the Interactive White Board in the Junior School. Parents found the hands on session quite scary at first but stepped up to the mark and took the risks involved, enjoying the same activities that their children do. John shared his humour and enthusiasm in "How Teachers and Children Use Learning Intentions and Success Criteria" to focus learning. achievement and evaluation. The evening was interspersed with hands on games, interactive activities and spot prizes to keep us active. Lots of questions were generated which made for stimulating discussion. Bronwyn took us through some challenging maths activities which helped us all realise that our children are getting a great education, one that focuses on individual maths learning needs and helps each child to understand the math processes and have fun at the same time. Helen, from the school's BoT then rounded off the evening and further small group discussions, all positive, continued.

Yep we all went back to school and it was great! Parents, grandparents and others realised that it is no longer about how much or how neatly you write in your school books - but what difference our learning actually makes to each of us and to those around us. Congratulations Pukehina. This was a great idea which has certainly made a posotive difference to all who attended - and I am sure to those around them too :->

Thursday, March 22, 2007

RAECO Workshop

I never realised how much fun a RAECO workshop could be 8->. Robin is delighting us with his humour and his skills in covering library books. Twelve from our cluster, including 1 honorary member for the day (Jane from Aquinas), are captivated with what is being shared. Having enjoyed a similar course some years ago, I am relishing the chance to catch up with some other tasks on my laptop, all the while keeping on ear open to catch up with any changes. Thank you Robin. This is a proving to be yet another delightful learning experience which will benefit our school communities.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Learning Communities

It has been an eventful week and one of those where you can hardly imagine getting through it all.

Last Friday afternoon the Principals group had a very relaxed and interesting discussion on our cluster development towards sustainability of our Professional Learning Community. We seem to be doing well in this direction although the funding issue will impact heavily. We could tick all the boxes in the development of a learning community as a cluster group and it would be interesting to review these aspects in light of each school’s own PLC. Nancy Groh, Project Manager for the E-learning project was our special guest, joining us from Wellington. Lots of good ideas and affirmations came from the discussions. Perhaps a major value was in viewing parts of the DVD put out by the MoE “21st Century Learner – A glimpse of the future.” Distributed at Learning at School most of our group have not gathered their copy yet and this session showed it to be a valuable resource for showing to BoTs.

I have just finished a delightful session with Room 3 at Paengaroa. These five and six year olds are emailing their buddy class in Melbourne. They are exchanging travel buddies with Room 32 at Our Lady's School in Melbourne. The children emailed for the second time this week and are great teachers and learners swapping in their roles as needs demand. Victoria arrived, a soft cuddly teddy bear and was a happy, friendly member of the class. She watched as the class shared her arrival via email.

Tomorrow we have a RAECO workshop at Paengaroa School with ten people expected and then I fly off to take a staff development session after school at Te Ranga. Rotorua for Friday and then a school reunion to begin on Friday night. Should be fun!

Next week promises to be another busy one. Along with a full timetable and the regular bounces from earthquakes, it all ensures that we don’t rest too comfortably for very long!


Our Cluster Journey Together Into New Horizons.