Monday, February 26, 2007

Why Blog?

“Our kids need role models and guides to teach them socialisation skills to participate in a connected community”
Graham Wegner

In the past I have used email as a learning tool for connecting students in my classes to a wider global neighbourhood. This has very obviously led to an increase in their understanding of other people’s learning and living but even more importantly a huge increase in their understandings about themselves.
Web 2.0 or 3.0 now - the new social networking tools have become the new learning technologies. Web 2.0 tools will continue to replace the more historic and passive formats. Yep, “E-mailing is for old people“ as one student commented. So true! Unless we grab the tools of our students and embrace them as a learning technology, our students will leave us behind and we will miss a superb opportunity to share our own wisdom with them as they glide into this new social information age.

Connecting students through global learning networks using blogs, wikis, podcasts etc can assist to make learning rich, real and relevant to our students. As Robert Minahan pointed out at the CyberSafety sessions, and to the surprise of their parents, and I suspect – their teachers, our kids are doing it anyway. They have their own beebo sites, myspace pages etc but few have had any guidelines into the safety and ethical aspects to be considered. We have left them to navigate through a mine field with no protection.

Web 2.0 changes our traditional paradigms on how information and knowledge are created, shared and used. We are in a now in a new world. We have Trade Me instead of garage sales, fishpond instead of bookshops, google instead of newspapers, podcasts instead of radio, myspace instead of the mall. Yep we can blog and wiki too. Rather than deny these new social networking tools exist, let’s embrace them with our students, and share our collective wisdom to benefit the future.

I blog to share and reflect, to have added input and learn from others, to be connected to my friends, colleagues and a much wider network and to be involved and learn alongside one another.

“Teachers have the skills and responsibility to teach students how to critically navigate the information overflow but only if they have working knowledge of the new information landscape.”
Graham Wegner

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Learning At School

For those of us fortunate enought to attend this conference, what was the highlight for you? To post your comments to this posting, or any others, just click on the comment link below the relevant posting.
Principals As Lead Teachers:

How are we promoting and sustaining the professional learning community within each of our schools?

Does your vision for learning adorn the staffroom wall or is it more visible in the practices of your school community? If we went into the classrooms and got alongside the students would we see it? What does your vision for learning look like in the faces of your staff, your BoT and parent community, on your ancillary staff, out in the playground?

This succinct 2 page article is a useful guide for schools and captures the key elements:
"What is a Professional Learning Community"
A worthwhile
read as we each continually reflect on our own vision for learning and the progress we as individuals are making towards it.

How is this happening in our own schools? What does it look like, feel like, sound like? Let's look at the key elements and discuss our findings....

I have always thought the actions of people the best interpreters of their thoughts. - John Locke

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Learning At School - Rotorua

I must remember to make my camera next time! Some photos would have been a real bonus.

The conference has been great. My own focus area for this conference was on enriching Inquiry and I wasn't disappointed. I enjoyed presenting the breakout with Gail. It went well and we always gain so much from this experience. During this first breakout session, we shared our cluster's inquiry journey, a lot of the work we have done in the past 10 plus years, sharing some of the many resources we have made and some of the ICT Tools we have found beneficial. It was great to be able to share Carol's class's Sandpit Inquiry also. Paengaroa are really moving well down the Inquiry track as are some of our other schools. Such an enriching experience for those involved. Our presentation focus on Questioning and Thinking, Finding and Using Information to Make a Difference certainly seemed to hit the mark and Carol's junior class inquiry displays this so well.

I missed the first keynote as we were preparing for our presentation but I hear the video by Sir Ken Robinson was great. It can be downloaded from Will have to catch up with that myself when I get a moment. I know others will want to go over this again too. Thanks to Douglas, and Telecom's bb access, I now have this clip in my trusty USB .

A real highlight for me has been the introduction to Classblogmeister. See the posting below. I'd highly recommend it to all involved in Inquiry or wanting their students to write and read with in an authentic and purposeful environment. Blogging can simply be part of your literacy programme, Thanks to Jody and Tom who shared their knowledge so well. This site can replace the IB5 learning logs used by so many of our cluster students.

Other sessions on Questioning and Virtual Networks will also impact into our cluster inquiry plans. Thanks to Rachel Jeffares for the session on blogging too. I wished I had a whole day to just learn and play with this! The keynotes by David Warlick and Russell Bishop were well worth hearing. I am only just beginning to get my head around the Web 2.0 tools available which really do open a whole new world up. Isn't education exciting! We need to not only embrace these tools but the people changes that have to be made as well. WHS's Mrs Kharana does this so well. Great to see Whakatane High School on the big screen, celebrating such an inspirational teacher. We have always felt privileged to have had Mrs Kharana teach our own children. Would like to view Russell Bishop's slide show all over again.

Our cluster is superb! What a great group to go conferencing with. Thank goodness we have the weekend to recover!

Yep a good few days. I enjoyed the networking with others in so many ways and appreciated the opportunity to be enveloped into such a knowledgeable and friendly group of people, all so ready to share their time, experience, wit and humour. Can't wait til next time!

Have you thought of having your own interactive class webpage? One where each student can post their own reflections and learning blogs? One where you as the teacher can oversee the content?

Classblogmeister, David Warlick's online blogging tool, is designed for schools with the safety features in mind. This site is amazing and allows everyone in your class to create your own learning blogs, build partnerships and respond with other classes and teachers online.

Let's face it, our kids are doing it anyway (beebo, myspace etc) but they have been given few if any guidelines to using this new media. Make the best of both worlds and use their tools within an educational setting to provide a platform which is rich, real and relevant.

I have this blog already but classblogmeister seems ideal for a classroom forum. Each person in your class can have an online presence which allows everyone to read and write with the world. This is an exciting platform to support your class learning and would be my most favourite find this year. Thanks to Tom and Jody for introducing it to me. Take a look at their class blog sites:

- Jody's Year One site:

- Tom's site:


Our Cluster Journey Together Into New Horizons.