Monday, March 31, 2008


I am at the Sitech Champion Schools Conference this weekend at Owhata School, Rotorua. We have just been welcomed warmly by students from Owhata school and the team from Sitech and Breathe Technology. Great to see such an enthusiastic team behind Garry: Jenny; Nat; Jonathan; and others. Sitech have now joined iwth Umajin and it is always good to catch up with Alison and Russell from Umajin. I'm loving catching up with my old cluster. Nga Tii Roa not only add to the familiar faces but front the workshops as presenters. Just to think 3 years ago....

My search light at this conference:

"How are the tools impacting into the pedagogy of teaching and learning?
Are the tools changing classroom cultures?"

Peter Kent, the opening keynote, touched on this at the start so we were off in the right direction for me at least. People often are locked in by what they don’t know. This was illustrated beautifully with a You Tube video to do with escalators:

It was good to hear Peter so simply put out 3 points of Good Teaching:

1. High expectation of learners (intellectual quality),

2. Environment which is supportive of students. What engages and is useful for stdts?

3. Learning which is relevant.

Technology will not improve anything if it is not linked and embedded into this. Peter suggests IWBs facilitate No. 2 above. I suggest that yep, they can. They can also provide support to an environment which is more traditional. The teacher at the front with the chalk....

It is not the teacher's job to use the IWB – The teacher's job is to manage learning, ask the questions etc.

3 levels of using the IWB – What type of interaction occurs?

  1. Best: Students asking questions of students and you.
  2. Middle: Students asking qs of the teacher
  3. Low Level: Teacher asking qs of students

IWBS support all 3 but good use supports the first.

E-Volution of E-Teaching. This led me to reflect on our own cluster's teacher inquiry process. I am left feeling even more confident that the thinking that went into our inquiry process provides a good foundation. It is a scaffolded process which will help us all to spiral on up. The progression supports the moving up from as Peter puts it -

"1. Using ICTs to do what we have always done. The tools have little impact other than superficial.

2. Choose one idea, need or problem to research, trial and implement.

3. Experiment, Review, Plan and Discuss

4. Share, Teach others, Reflect, Grow.

5. Embed and Spiral on Up."

It is not the tool that makes the difference in learning. It is the way the tools are used.

ICTs are different from many other tools. They challenge our practice. Being part of a professional learning community helps us to deepen these understandings, widen our perceptions and extend the possibilities.

ICTs have the potential to change the user but only the user can really change their own practice. It comes down to pedagogy. Our mental model, firmly embedded in our subconscious, is what controls our actions. We need to consider what our mental model for good teaching/learning really is.


I am feeling so lucky to belong to such a responsive and caring community. The problem we had with our slide shows has been resolved. SlideShare came to our rescue.

We had an amazingly quick and much appreciated response not only from SlideShare but from caring bloggers - Allanah, Tom and others. Thank you all very much.

As soon as I realised the problem and danger it posed, I posted my concern on the feedback panel at SlideShare and received the following in my inbox. Allanah showed the benefits of Twitter in getting an almost immediate response and has given me more food for thought in the benefits of Twitter.

For a clearer view of Amit Ranjan's fix you can visit the
following visit:

Hopefully other sites mentioned by Tom will take a leaf out of SlideShare's book and provide the same type of option.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

THE DANGER OF EMBEDDED LINKS :-(Has now been resolved - See Above 8^)

Has anyone else come across any problems or potential dangers in uploading slideshows using slideshare and the like into class blogs? We use classblogmeister because we like the safety features for our classes. Nothing is posted on the site unless it has teacher approval. We felt comfortable in using this as a tool for our students as it provided such a safe environment.
We have just discovered a danger in doing this.

Uploading a presentation to slideshare of a junior class maths activity that our class was so proud seemed great. We copied and pasted the link provided by slideshare into our class blog. Looked pretty good we thought. It wasn't until another teacher viewed it sometime later that we realised our folly. At the end of the slideshow, the slideshare web site links your presentation to others that are similar - and that is where the problem occurs. We didn't expect there to be any inappropriate links at all, no inappropriate maths links - in fact we didn't even think about it - but there definitely are. Phew! We are so glad we found this before any of our children - or their families.
Has anyone had a similar experience? Perhaps we could share here some of the dangers involved in what we are doing and the sites we are linking into our class blogs? This has come as an awful shock. To think that we could have exposed our 5 year olds to such material!
I would be interested in hearing from more experienced users.. and others who share a similar concern.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008


Easter and a much needed rest in Hobbiton, having left Martz at 5.30am for the long drive South. Downloaded a series of podcasts last night in preparation which I must say have given the trip flow. A real mix – Peter Kay and episodes of The Clithero Kid transported me back into an almost forgotten world – and what fun it was to be back there. Laugh out loud stuff while queuing with the early work traffic on Auckland/s harbour bridge. Great for the nostalgic mind. The Virtual Staffroom and Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat stood out to stimulate the thought processes.

Then some quiet reflection. Where am I with my blog? Why haven’t I been hitting into this more? I love the reflection time so why the gap? It isn’t as though I am not moving on. Perhaps more that I am moving too quickly. Difficult too when partner and kids complain because I’m “not on that thing again”. Hmm am I becoming addicted? Obsessed?

In the past after times of intensity I usually question myself. Why have I put so much into working? I should have taken the time off to paint, create, read, relax, walk, cruise. Yet there is still so much to explore…. How do people find time to twitter? Do they have a life beyond school or have their boundaries become completely blurred too?

This Easter I was going to….. not work, not tap those keys, not take the lappy away… Hmmm didn’t work. Why should I justify it? Am I going to live with the regret?

If it is on my mind I just have to get it off. I can. And where there is an empty gap, it gets filled again very quickly.

I have just listened to Jane Nicholls, Allanah King and co talking about twitter. Do I need it? Am I going to get in too deep? I know I just need to take the plunge, to experience the connectivity but networking takes more energy and the stimulation more desires to deepen my learning. Can my family hack it?

And all this on dial up! Providers can’t supply us with broadband. Life would be simple if they could. Perhaps that needs to be my resolve. Broadband or bust!


Great! – Just had a morning with 20 School Librarians at Hillcrest High. Linda had organised me to present a SLANZA workshop for the Waikato and Bay of Plenty members. 20 people gave up their Saturday morning, quite a few travelling from as far as Auckland and Tauranga to join in. I tis always good to see familiar faces in such an environment and to catch up with Anne from Katikati College was a treat. We had worked some of the GDITE papers together a few years back. Always a bit nerve wracking running workshops for people you don’t know and whose experience is also unknown but Fiona an dLinda made me feel very comfortable. I am always so very aware that people give up a lot of their busy lives to attend sessions like this and I am so conscious that this investment needs to be well rewarded.

The focus for these sessions was on “Library 1.0 meet Web 2.0” and then Traveling Together into Inquiry. It was to be the first of three sessions. A basic inquiry structure, tools to explore and hands-on activities helped wit the presentation to get people thinking. A realisation gathered as to the impact not only into our library and inquiry practices – but into our very lives. Tools like, library thing, google docs and so on. Way too many to mention.

There is often a rush by some to pick up tools, especially if they are free. Our face to face interaction and our question and answer session provided further stimulation and more questions. Are the moneymakers now from non Web 2.0 tools going to sit back and let this 'no cost' environment happen? Is there really no cost? Who will be most effected from these changes? Could we become dependent on tools and then held to ransom? How can we possibly monitor ownership and copyright in this environment? Are our thoughts really original? Will computers need software? Can we really monitor use and protect our kids? Can we any longer keep ahead of them? .... Do we need to teach differently?

A celebration of our new understandings and the links to inquiry provided more great discussion. Everyone contributed and motivated our outcomes. I loved it and went away encouraged and with a much fuller kete. Thank you!

The wiki which I set up to support our session which has been well responded to, more hits than I expected and people now gathering on site. It is so exciting to see this develop as quickly as it has and it is great to have tools than can be adapted so quickly and easily to respond to user needs. With talented and passionate people like this involved in our libraries and online, we are certainly in for some great things ahead.

Our next session is to explore in more depth the use of blogging as a tool in connecting our libraries. Participants will be creating their own blog, incorporating the tools explored in the previous session and again stimulating each others’ actions with new triggers. The last in the afternoon will take on a similar course with wiki.

A lot of time in setting it up, researching the tools and synthesising the possibilities but hey, it has been worth it. I am so glad that 15 years ago I took on the challenge of the school library. It has and continues to be a passion, a source of great enjoyment, networking and learning. Thank you to Linda and Fiona for the help in facilitating the session and thank you to all the passionate and talented people I met. Your input has added to mine and we have all become richer in doing so.


For over five years now I have been waiting. Telecom have said its coming and I have been patient, waiting and waiting, regularly checking in, exploring other possibilities to no avail and now I am desperate! I hunger to visit those who have it and those who offer it freely. A bit like a brothel really, I am willing to pay! I can't wait any longer. Who will help me score? What ISP will get me what I need? It will have to be wireless – satellite probably….. but I need the fix! Recommendations and suggestions needed.

Friday, March 21, 2008


This was emailed to me. I think it is a lovely story and worth sharing. Although I have tried to find out, I am sorry to say I have no idea of the source ...

As she stood in front of her 5th grade class on the very first day of school, she told the children an untruth. Like most teachers, she looked at her students and said that she loved them all the same.

However, that was impossible, because there in thefront row, slumped in his seat, was a little boy named Teddy.

Mrs Thompson had watched Teddy the year before and noticed that he did not play well with the other children, that his clothes were messy and that he constantly needed a bath. In addition, Teddy could be unpleasant.

It got to the point where Mrs. Thompson would actually take delight in marking his papers with a broad red pen, making bold X's and then putting a big "F" at the top of his papers.

At the school where Mrs. Thompson taught, she was required to review each child's past records and she put Teddy's off until last. However, when she reviewed his file, she was in for a surprise.

Teddy's first grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is a brightchild with a ready laugh. He does his work neatly and has good manners... he is a joy to be around."

His second grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is an excellent student, well liked by his classmates, but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle."

His third grade teacher wrote, "His mother's death hasbeen hard on him He tries to do his best, but his father doesn't show much interest and his home life will soon affect him if some steps aren't taken."

Teddy's fourth grade teacher wrote, "Teddy is withdrawn and doesn't show much interest in school. He doesn't have many friends and he sometimes sleeps in class."

By now, Mrs. Thompson realized the problem and she was ashamed of herself. She felt even worse when her students brought her Christmas presents, wrapped in beautiful ribbons and bright paper, except forTeddy's.

His present was clumsily wrapped in the heavy, brown paper that he got from a grocery bag.

Mrs. Thompson took pains to open it in the middle ofthe other presents. Some of the children started to laugh when she found a rhinestone bracelet with some of the stones missing, and a bottle that was one-quarter full of perfume. But she stifled the children's laughter when she exclaimed how pretty the bracelet was, putting it on, and dabbing some of the perfume on her wrist. Teddy Stoddard stayed after school that day just long enough to say, "Mrs.Thompson, today you smelled just like my Mom used to."

After the children left, she cried for at least an hour.

On that very day, she quit teaching reading, writing and arithmetic. Instead, she began to teach children. Mrs. Thompson paid particular attention to Teddy. As she worked with him, his mind seemed to come alive. The more she encouraged him, the faster he responded. By the end of the year, Teddy had become one of the smartest children in the class and, despite her lie that she would love all the children the same, Teddy became one of her "teacher's pets."

A year later, she found a note under her door, fromTeddy, telling her that she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.
Six years went by before she got another note from Teddy. He then wrote that he had finished high school, third in his class, and she was still the best teacher he ever had in his whole life.
Four years after that, she got another letter, sayingthat while things had been tough at times, he'd stayed in school, had stuck with it, and would soon graduate from college with the highest of honors. He assured Mrs. Thompson that she was still the best and favorite teacher he had ever had in his whole life.
Then four more years passed and yet another letter came. This time he explained that after he got his bachelor's degree, he decided to go a little further. The letter explained that she was still the best and favorite teacher he ever had but now his name was a little longer....The letter was signed, Theodore F.Stoddard , MD.

The story does not end there. You see, there was yet another letter that Spring. Teddy said he had met this girl and was going to be married. He explained that his father had died a couple of years ago and he was wondering if Mrs. Thompson might agree to sit at the wedding in the place that was usually reserved for the mother of the groom.

Of course, Mrs. Thompson did. And guess what? She wore that bracelet, the one with several rhinestones missing. Moreover, she made sure she was wearing the perfume that Teddy remembered his mother wearing on their last Christmas together. They hugged each other, and Dr. Stoddard whispered in Mrs. Thompson's ear, "Thank you Mrs. Thompson for believing in me. Thank you so much for making me feel important and showing me that I could make a difference."

Mrs. Thompson, with tears in her eyes, whispered back. She said, "Teddy, you have it all wrong. You were the one who taught me that I could make a difference. I didn't know how to teach until I met you."

Tom Chopin performs this song in response to the education landscape in America where, he believes, there is a heavy focus on teaching to the test. This has come at a cost to the Arts, Music, Thinking and Creativity.

He writes: “It’s no secret that American industry has outsourced most factory jobs to other countries to take advantage of cheaper labor costs. So why are we putting so much effort into a form of education in which there is no creativity? This is the time that our youth should be taught to think ”out of the box,” not be put into a tighter one!”
Reminds me of the Socrates quote “Wisdom begins In Wonder”


Our Cluster Journey Together Into New Horizons.