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!

Monday, March 19, 2007


Thursday afternoon and Te Ranga Staff will be exploring blogs. Classblogmeister is great and as a tool for learning it withstands my crap detector. It supports learning which is Authentic, Rich Real & Relevant.

I am exploring still and WoW! I have just uploaded the image of the Nga Tii Roa and me! I was surprised it was so simple...

Images have to be compressed to less than 65kb (I think). I used MS Picture Manager to do this. Once saved on my computer, I went into my classblogmeister page, then to Control Panel and way down at the bottom there is an option to upload the images.
1. Class Image will appear in upper LHC of the blog pages of all your students, and all your articles
2. Personal Image will appear in upper right corner of all your blog pages but not the students

I hope Maketu will try this out too.

Maketu Bloggers

Class Blogging is the topic of this afternoon's staff meeting at Maketu School. This will be a first for some and it would be great to have comments added on the value of blogging for their class and/or students.

It is always interesting to have people view your blog and it is great when they add a comment. Some however just quietly visit. It is also interesting to note where the viewers come from. A cluster map can do just that.

Have you thought about adding one to your blog?
Visit the Clustr Map web site. No, it isn't a spelling mistake, clustr is right.
- Get your own free account.
- Follow Instructions
- Copy the html they tell you to put on your site
- On Blogmeister, go to control panel and paste the html into the “About You” Window

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Enriching Student Engagement within a Learning Culture (Posted late)

I am sitting here listening to Barbara Anne Alexander ask great questions and these have prompted my own...
- How focused are our students on learning in the classroom?
- Are they aware of why they come to school and into our class?
- How willing and able are they to discuss/share their learning, valuing working as an individual and as part of a team. Celebrating our differences.
- Do they see themselves, and me as both teacher and learner? Celebrating their thinking, having a go. Being part of a learning community, knowing what it is to learn and why? Knowing how they and others learn and taking an active response in this, excited by the opportunities.

We are focusing on Enriching a Learning Culture. Sadly too many students never get the chance to explore “What makes a Great Learner?” or “How Do I Learn?” Yep, students year after year, are still ‘doing’ “Who am I?” at the start of each year. What a waste! Surely they know who they are!

What difference will studying this again at the start of each and every year, make to them? Let’s all embrace the learning culture and make our classrooms all about learning – a real live Learning Zone. Our role as teachers needs to be on learning, having learning focused conversations, asking children what they are learning, why they are learning and how they are learning it and equipping people to become real life long learners who value their school, their classroom, the Principal and their teacher as deep and meaningful sources for learning.

- Find quotes about thinking and learning and display them, posters around the learning zone
- QLC – Take a quote and pull it apart.
- Give chn the recipe for success, the cheat sheet to success is the curriculum
- Y Chart “Learning” Revisit at a later time.
- Poems about learning e.g. Acrostic, Definition
- Little Red Hen – Who is going to help us learn – We are said the Parents, principal, etc.

Where do you want your class to be?

The Key: "Not we are learning to" but "We are learning how to..."

Bronwyn is sharing her classroom practice in this area on the 26th April. Can't wait!

"The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write,
but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn."
~Alvin Toffler

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Class Web Pages:

This afternoon we looked at a website for Pukehina. Following John Phelps advice we are going ahead using Front Page. We also discussed each class having their own page and how Classblogmeister could fit so well into this aspect. What I liked was that nothing would be published without the prior approval of the teacher. Remember too to have student and parent permissions to publish student work and photos and to use the Internet, email etc. Well we were off. Grace and John both registered and created a class page each. Well the initial stages of them anyway. We learnt that:

- To register you each have to register the school.
You are then each given our own unique log in password (scroll down to see this).
- In Edit mode you see adverts etc. These do not appear on your published blog unless you specify this.
- Once logged in, enter your specific details, own password etc,
- You can choose one of 8 templates and provide a title for your blog
- Select "articles" link to post your comments on to the blog
- To add students, you need to add a class first. Click on the Class link and then Class Roster.
- Under Display names we chose first name and last initial for safety reasons
- Pictures can be added if they have been uploaded to flickr first. To load images on to flickr you need to join. To join you will first have to register for a yahoo account if you don't have one already.

We struck a problem adding pictures uploaded to flickr until I discovered they were actually gifs that we were clicking on. When we tried it again with jpg files we had no problem at all
  1. We copied the URL of the image from the image properties
  2. In the article box we typed all the following inside sharp brackets: img src="image_url" width="pixels" align="direction"
  3. We replaced img_url with the image URL
  4. We replaced pixels with the pictures pixels approx 72 pixels per inch
  5. We replaced direction with either left or right depending in which side we wanted the image to appear.

Students - you too can also add podcasts. These can be created in Audacity It's free! Once done, export as an mp3

Travel Buddies

Today was a first for a few. I worked with Carol's Room 3 class at Paengaroa and then a surprise presented itself to work with Kathy's Room 2 class as well afterwards. Both are venturing into travel buddies and I am only too happy to share my experience, over 10 years of travel buddies. I just love this way of learning for students, mainly because they love it so much too. It provides a great learning tool for children from 5 to 13 and their teachers! Over the years we have had exchanges to Ireland, England, Scotland, Nova Scotia, Alaska, Canada, USA, Australia and even a kibbutz in Israel, to name a few.

Travel buddies involves an exchange of a soft toy between classes of a similar age. While your class hosts the other classes buddy the children write in the buddy's diary, email the other class regularly, share information about each other's cultures and learning and a myriad of other activities. The children become very attached to the toys who have names, a passport, a persona, a date of birth etc. The students see their travel buddy very much as another class member.

It is great to see the uptake and how contagious this has become within our cluster. Travel buddies provides such a rich, real and relevant context for learning. It provides a genuine purpose in writing and reading and a scaffold for students to share and celebrate their own learning. It provides a stimulating environment for all of us to discover and learn about other people in our global neighbourhood. In learning about others we end up learning so much more about ourselves.

To find out more visit
I have a resource kit too with some of the examples and sample of work I have done over the years.

One wonderful addition to this activity is the development of a classroom blog to support the learning, and after school this afternoon I shared Classblogmeister with the staff at Pukehina School....


Our Cluster Journey Together Into New Horizons.