Tuesday, December 16, 2008


I am not sure if many people use Sqirlz to animate water reflections from a still image. Here is a great example.

It is a simple programme to use in the classroom. Once the reflection is complete you have the options of saving as a gif, swf or avi.

I have used this programme for some time now and find it great to create water effects. The completed files can be used in PowerPoint, web pages for example.

I have often used this with my students when they are making a multimedia presentation as it is so quick and easy.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

100 useful web tools for education

A great place to find different web tools to use for all the different styles of learning. Christina Laun has written this to enable teachers to find tools that are best suited to different learners. You will find tools for mind mapping, charting and diagrams, video and photos, podcasts, presentation tools, audio tools, text readers, audio books, note taking tools, bookmarking, interaction and collaboration.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Studies Show Deep Understanding Derives from Collaborative Methods

I have been reading an interesting article from the Edutopia magazine about how deep understanding derives from collaborative methods.

This is very interesting for all teachers to read is the research to show how cooperative learning and inquiry-based teaching can have big dividends in the classroom.

"Evidence shows that inquiry-based, collaborative approaches benefit
students in learning important twenty-first-century skills, such as the ability
to work in teams, solve complex problems, and apply knowledge from one lesson to
others. The research suggests that inquiry-based lessons and meaningful group
work can be challenging to implement. They require changes in curriculum,
instruction, and assessment practices -- changes that are often new for teachers
and students.
Teachers need time and a community to organize sustained
project work. Inquiry-based instruction can help teachers deepen their
repertoire for connecting with their peers and students in new and meaningful
ways. That's powerful teaching and learning -- for students and teachers

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Web 2 tools

A very useful wiki for Web 2 tools. These are all free to use in the classroom and are in categories for easy access.

It is great to see how teachers (and others) keep adding to these and sharing information. With all the information now available it can be very difficult to find exactly what you want and by having all these links in one place makes it much easier for the busy teacher.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Measuring skills for the 21st century

I have just been reading this pdf file from Elena Silva which is very interesting and has implications for all educators.

"Skills that really matter for the 21st century—the ability to think creatively and to evaluate and analyze information—can be measured accurately and in a common and comparable way. These emergent models also demonstrate the potential to measure these complex thinking skills at the same time that we measure a student's mastery of core content or basic skills and knowledge. There is, then, no need for more tests to measure advanced skills. Rather, there is a need for better tests that measure more of the skills students' need to succeed today. … "

It is interesting to note New Zealand's standing in this table.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Open source software

I used a lot of open source software in my classroom. The children used such things as Tux Type and Tux Paint.

I was pleased to find a catalogue of Open Source Software which describes the software and lists the platforms it will run on - as well as the web link. Well worth downloading (13 mgs) for educators.
Of course there are other programs available but this lists a lot which will certainly give teachers some good ideas.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


To animate I usually use either Adobe Image Ready or Microsoft Gif animator. I have just been playing around with GoAnimate (another free Web 2 tool) and looking at the possibilities of using this tool in the classroom. It is very easy and children will love it. I can see a lot of ways making these animations fits into the Language curriculum but of course (with some lateral thought) they could make them around Social Studies, Maths or any other curriculum area.

I am going to use this tool with my students next year but would be interested to hear from anyone who has used it in their classroom.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


Glogster is an interesting Web 2 tool which educators can use in the classroom. Graphics, sound, text and video can be used. Here is a quick play about with the tool. I will be interested to see how teachers are using this in their classrooms. I can certainly see that there are probably some of the glogs others have made that are not appropriate for children (similar to using some other tools).

Monday, November 17, 2008


Another great Web 2 tool. MyStudiyo allows you to create a quiz (you can add graphics, videos etc as well as text) which you can then embed it into a web site or blog.
You can use this with your classroom which is far more exciting than a written quiz. Children can also create their own quizzes to use in the classroom. I would be very interested to hear of anyone who has had the children creating their own. I am going to create some quizzes to use with my students next year. We are planning a new online learning environment and this will be a good option to use during their course. In this way we (the teachers) should get a clear picture of the student's understanding as we progress. Hopefully we can then identify those needing help early so we can help them.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Animoto new feature

Animoto, as I have said before is a great little tool for the classroom. By putting your own photos in it makes a video for you - each one is different. It now has a new feature so that you are able to put in the text to go with the graphics.
On the home page of the site you can see a sample video. Don't forget that there is an education area where you can register. This allows you free downloads. Some of my students have made these to put into their web sites or into multimedia resources.

A poem about teachers

Trevor Bond has put up on TeacherTube a poem about why teachers are special. I think sometimes we forget as many times we only hear the negative things about teachers. Thanks for this Trevor and I hope that others also enjoy it.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

A vision of K12 students today

Having a look at this video on TeacherTube which I thought was great. Obviously this is not of NZ children but the points made a relevant to anyone who is a teacher.

See what you think:

Thursday, October 30, 2008

21st century learners

I rather like this video - it was put on youtube in response to a video 'view of 21st century learners'. It is called 'I am a 21st century learner'. It certainly gives educators some food for thought.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Kids search engine - Kigose

A search engine for kids is kigose. It includes some search tips (I suspect that these would be useful for everyone!). In the 'Internet Safety' area there is a section where you can input a site's web address to give you a diagnostic output about the site - very useful for teachers as it is quick and easy.

There are also areas for Art, Literature, Maths, Social Studies, Sports, Technology, and Science. By clicking on these you will find links to appropriate web sites.

In addition there is a 'translation' area where you can have text translated from one language to another as well as a unit conversion area. Very useful site to use in the classroom.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Phishing Scams in Plain English

Once again Common Craft have put out another great video on Phishing Scams in plain English. It is interesting just how many people are taken in by these so it is to be hoped that this might help to prevent that.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Web 2 research

BECTA have released a report about the use of Web 2. This includes such things as blogs, wikis, social networking with children between the ages of 11 to 16. This report looks at the use of these tools both in and out of the classroom.

The report found that these children used Web 2 a lot in their leisure time but a limited amount in the classroom environment.

The report found that teachers who are using Web 2 technologies found benefits such as:

  • Web 2.0 helps to encourage student engagement and increase participation – particularly among quieter pupils, who can use it to work collaboratively online, without the anxiety of having to raise questions in front of peers in class – or by enabling expression through less traditional media such as video.
  • Teachers have reported that the use of social networking technology can encourage online discussion amongst students outside school.
  • Web 2.0 can be available anytime, anywhere, which encourages some individuals to extend their learning through further investigation into topics that interest them.
    Pupils feel a sense of ownership and engagement when they publish their work online and this can encourage attention to detail and an overall improved quality of work. Some teachers reported using publication of work to encourage peer assessment.

I use Web 2 tools with my students. There are so many with so many uses. Teachers need to think laterally to integrate these technologies in authentic and meaningful ways in their classrooms. We look at how a tool works and then use Mindmeister (another Web 2 tool) to do our mindmapping on how this can be integrated into the classroom.

Monday, October 20, 2008


"Interactives" provides educators and students with strategies, content, and activities that can enhance and improve students' skills in a variety of curricular areas.

There are many activities here to use in the classroom in Maths, Science, Language, Arts and History. Many of these activities can be used to extend or reinforce concepts for the children.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Spell with Flickr

Another Web 2 tool to use in the classroom Spell with Flickr.

This is a simple to use tool where you enter a word - this word is then displayed using a set of images which spell out the word. These can be copied or saved to use in the classroom.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Web Search Strategies in Plain English

Something I have found (with adults as well as children) is that the only search strategy many people use with search engines is key words. Being able to access information quickly and easily is all part of being information literate.

CommonCraft have made a video to explain how different search strategies work.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Common Craft videos

Common Craft have put out a great new video about Google Reader:

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Cool Planet

Cool Planet is from Oxfam and is a site for teachers and students. Each part of the graphic has links to use.

For example I clicked on "Milking It" to go to an area where students are asked to compare the lives of two dairy farmers in very different countries.

  • How are they affected by international trade rules?
  • Who makes these rules?
  • What can we do to change them?

There are activities for the students to do as well as resources for the teacher. Great site for classroom teachers.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Educators and ICT usage

In Australia a report was commissioned, using McGregor Tan Research, to provide informed data to enable the development of new products and services relevant to educators and its key markets.

This findings from this report would, I suspect, be similar to one done in New Zealand.

Key findings include:

  • 85% of participants use the internet daily but
  • 41% said that they experienced barriers or blocks to effective use of the internet
  • a lack of investment in providing teachers with the techniques and strategies to use computers in their classrooms.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Free online mindmapping

Here are some videos showing how to use different online mindmapping.



Sunday, August 3, 2008

Storm in New Zealand

Last week I was in Nelson to teach the students up there. During this time a storm hit New Zealand. A few doors from where I was lecturing a tree was uprooted nearly hitting a passing car. Someone videoed the scene as it was happening and posted it on YouTube.

I am pleased I was not outside at the time!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Portal to media literacy

Michael Wesch has a new video on youtube about 'portal to media literacy'. This is a great video giving ideas about what people are learning in the classrooms - he asks the students! He then continues about what is happening in the classrooms. He makes some very interesting comments about questioning which is so important in our classrooms. While he is discussing a university campus most ideas are relevant to all areas of the school.

He talks about Web 2.0 and its impact on education. Some really interesting view points.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Tim Berners Lee on the Semantic Web

Very interesting video from Tim Berners Lee about the semantic web. I do wonder a lot what is going to happen next and how this will fit into our education systems.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Graphical online dictionary

Visuwords is a great online tool for educators, writers, students etc.

You put the word you want to use in an area at the top of the page and press the "go" arrow or "enter".
"A network of nodes or 'synsets' will spring out from the word that you entered. A synset is essentially a single concept that is represented by a number of terms or synonyms. Synonyms are words with different spellings that convey the same idea. For example when you lookup "seem", you see that the word is connected to four synsets each represented by a green circle. Green denotes verbs so all of these synsets represent verbs. Two of these synsets have the lone word "seem"; one has two terms: "appear" and "seem"; and the third has three terms: "look", "appear" and "seem". Each of the four synsets has its own definition. Hovering over a node with the mouse will reveal all of the synonyms for a given synset as well as its definition. Some synsets will also show a few examples of usage. These synsets link to each other and to other synsets according to entries in the WordNet database.
You can zoom the model in and out by rolling the wheel on your mouse. You can click the gray background within the applet and drag the mouse in order to shift the whole model around so you can explore. You can grab any node and pull it away from the others to clarify connections."
By hovering over any word a dictionary meaning will be displayed.
Wonderful tool for the classroom.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

21st century skills

Wesley Fryer has made an interesting video which is on his blog 'Moving at the speed of creativity' (love the name) about the skills our students will need to develop to enable them to take their place in society.

He lists the keys as helping learners of all ages to "regularly create, communicate, and collaborate with digital technologies as they further develop their higher order thinking skills."

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Social Media

Another great video from Common Craft which describes the basics of social media. Social media allows everyone to be a producer and allows everyone to have their say.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Web 2.0 Projects

Terry Freedman has put together a series of projects that have been used in schools using Web 2.0 tools.
This is well worth classroom teachers having a look at to see how others have been using Wikis, blogs, podcasting, Google maps, social networking for example.
I will be using this with my students to give them some ideas of how these tools can be used in the classroom.
This is such a great idea to have these all together and share these stories. With the way all of these ideas have grown so quickly (and will continue to grow) it is so important that teachers do collaborate and share with each other.
Thanks so much Terry!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Yenka software

Yenka software is:

"Yenka is a new range of modelling tools for schools, which let you simulate concepts and create content easily.
They are designed for use either by teachers or by students, on whiteboards or on individual computers."

They are now offering free Yenka home-use licences to students and teaching staff at recognised schools, colleges and universities. There's no need to purchase anything, and it's not time-limited. A teacher needs to register. Then, they provide licence codes so that both teachers and students can install Yenka at home.

Well done Yenka, great offer for students.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Online mindmaps for collaboration

Great tool that I am using with my students to create a collaborative mindmap is Online Mindmeister.

We have a free account which gives access to a limited number of maps each month. There is an option to purchase a premium membership which gives greater access. The free account allows for:
Up to six mindmaps
Ability to share and collaborate on maps
Ability to import mindmaps from Freemind
Ability to export maps as a PDF or RTF Ability to publish maps to blogs or websites
"MindMeister brings the concept of mind mapping to the
web, using its facilities for real-time collaboration to allow truly global
brainstorming sessions.
Users can create, manage and share mind maps online and access them anytime, from anywhere. In brainstorming mode, fellow MindMeisters from around the world (or just in different rooms) can simultaneously work on the same mind map - and see each other's changes as they happen. "

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Cool schools: where peace rules

Curriki, a nonprofit collection of open online curricular materials, has available for downloading free of charge a computer game called "Cool School: Where Peace Rules". It features animated characters, in situations at school, that ask children ages 5-7 to select an action for resolving a potential conflict, such as others crowding in line, refusing to share, or treating playmates disrespectfully. The game is designed to teach children about conflict resolution in an entertaining and appropriate context.

Also available to download are the instructions as well as teacher lesson plans and handouts for the class.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008


Boolify is a fantastic search engine designed for children to use. It helps them develop their information literacy skills by becoming familiar with Boolean searching.
It illustrates how each change they make changes their results. These results are filtered through Google's Safe Search STRICT technology but as they say "no filtering technology is 100% secure".
There are also some Word documents to download and use in the classroom which have some activities about evaluating web sites, basic Boolean searching and refining search results. Currently being developed are documents about Venn diagrams.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Study about how children use media

The Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) have launched a report, 'Seen and Heard: Children's Media Use'. 600 children between the ages of 6 and 13 were interviewed as well as their primary caregiver. The focus of the research was how New Zealand children use and respond to television, radio, the internet, and cellphones in the home.

This report is of interest to us as teachers as it gives us real data to show what children are actually doing. It tells us what they like, what they find disturbing and if the caregivers have any rules in place in regards to these. It is very interesting to see that many children are using the Internet on their own (53% mainly use the Internet alone). 29% of caregivers whose children have cellphones have no rules on how these are used. However children say:

When it comes to cellphone use, the most frequently mentioned inappropriate
behaviour is text bullying or playing pranks on other people (30% of children
mention this). Older children are much more likely than younger children to
mention this kind of behaviour (55% of 12-13 year-olds mention specific risk or
prank behaviour, compared to 39% of 9-11 year-olds and just 7% of 6-8

Relating to what disturbed children when using the Internet:

Sexual content or nudity (16%) most commonly upset children who have access to
the internet. Eleven percent mention internet-related risk areas that bother or
upset them, such as YouTube or pop-ups and advertising. Sixty-three percent were unable to mention anything that bothered them.

A very interesting report.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Learning to Change-Changing to Learn

An interesting video on YouTube. It is adult perspectives but very interesting and worthwhile to view. A great idea now would be to get student's views...

Saturday, May 31, 2008

The Mystery Curriculum

Jamie McKenzie has written an interesting article on the Mystery Curriculum. This is particularly of interest to us here with the new curriculum that has come out. His article points out about the call for numeracy and literacy skills while such things as having the 'ability to manage ambiguity, wrestle with paradox and entertain mystery' are lacking. This all provides food for thought for educators as to what we want to achieve for our students.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Classroom blogs

My students and I have been looking at examples of classroom blogs made here in New Zealand. It is great to see just how many teachers have a blog which their students are using.

This graphic (showing part of a classroom blog) was put into Motivator (create your own motivational poster online - free). Students can then save their poster to add to their blog another great Web2 tool for students to use.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

APA referencing

I get lots of queries about APA referencing. I receive another one over the weekend which prompted me to add this into this blog.
A fantastic web site I found is 'Son of Citation Machine'. I have used this for ages. It was previously just the Citation Machine but was used by so many people it crashed! They rebuilt it (thankfully) as the son of the citation machine. You just click on the APA referencing and then select what sort of material you are wanting to reference. You then enter the relevant details and click the submit button - this will then return your apa reference as well as how to cite in the body text.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Convert flv files to another format

I have been looking for a free converter to convert flv files to other formats as students often want to use these files in their multimedia projects.

I found a great program - Super © v.2008 - it is freeware and works like a dream.

I have made a flash movie to explain how to use this software and have embedded it into a PowerPoint presentation which is uploaded into my resources black box (left hand side of this blog). When it first appears you will just see a blank slide - it will play when you play the slide show (go to Slide show on the menu bar and down to View show). Feel free to use this.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mindmaps and critical thinking

I have just been reading:

Twardy, C. R., (2004). Argument Maps Improve Critical Thinking Teaching Philosophy, 27:2

This is very interesting although is discussing a particular piece of software to create argument maps his main thrust can be applied to other software that does similar things. At first he was sceptical about whether the use of argument maps indeed improved critical thinking skills but...

He found that students needed practice and that the three major components are argument mapping, quality practice, and scaffolded, structured learning.

"Practice is clearly important: argument mapping without practice would not much improve critical thinking. Likewise, clear structure and expectations will improve any subject. Nevertheless, I suspect that argument mapping is the key — that if a traditional critical-thinking class matched the amount of practice and graduated structure of the Reason!(software package) method, it would not show the same level of improvement." (p.13)

I suspect that many teachers using mindmapping software do not use it as fully as it is intended but just as a quick brainstorm. Many of these packages have templates to help teachers to use them to encourage higher order thinking skills.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Community Engagement in Education

Dr Cheryl Doig facilitated a CPPA workshop in Engaging the Community in Curriculum. Notes from the day have been uploaded to a wiki. This is wiki available for anyone to use as it does not have a password. Cheryl has uploaded files in here which suggest ideas for:

  • engaging parents and the wider community
  • student engagement
  • using technology to enhance community engagement
  • engaging with diversity

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Voice thread

I love what Susan has done with with VoiceThread. There are lots of comments and thoughts about how this could be used in the classroom (click on the faces to the left to see/hear comments about VoiceThread).


Love these and I am sure that children will too. They are from Lookybooks

Click on the pages to turn them. What a great activity for children both in the classroom and at home. Only problem is that you can't take it to bed! (unless you are using a laptop etc)

Thursday, May 15, 2008


I love this site! In here are answers to questions about e-portfolios, the rationale for using e-portfolios, links to Web 2 tools, and some fantastic examples of e-portfolios made by some Year 8 students - and the reflections by the students (see an example of one below). What these children are doing is fantastic and it is easy to see how much learning is going on while they are working on their e-portfolios.

"I believe that teachers should make the change from worksheets and excercise books, to technology and teaching computer literacy. Our parents and teachers are the last generation to choose whether or not they will be computer literate, and if they chose to not be, their students will be unprepared, for the future. Children and teenagers nowadays have to be computer literate. Almost every occupation and career will require skill and knowledge, to do with using computers.

Almost every student I know, prefers using computer programs to complete excercises and activities. The days of activity sheets, excercise books and textbooks are over. We ALL should make the switch to computers today!"

How long before some teachers do listen? - it is great to see that this teacher is the one who motivated these children.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008


I have been playing around with Animoto to see how it works and then think how it could be used in a classroom. It is a great Web 2 tool which can be used in the classroom in any curriculum area. To use the free part of the site you first need to register. You are able to make full length (cost involved) videos or free short movies.

The short free video involves uploading 10 digital images, selecting music (the site has music available to you can upload your own) and then letting Animoto do the rest! No two videos are the same so it is possible for children to upload the same graphics and have a different video. The videos can then be seen in Animoto or you can see them in YouTube or embed into your own classroom web site (or blog etc).

This video was made using photographs taken of the children at Star of the Sea in Sumner, Christchurch, when they were having an ICT conference.

There is an educational area where teachers can go. Teachers are able to get an educational account so that they can now create longer than 30 second videos for free and download them for playing and keeping on your computer. To get this from Animoto use this link and email Rebecca for an educational registration key before you register.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Bio-cube and other Web 2 tools

Bio-Cube (Web 2) is a great tool to use in the classroom. This can be used in different curriculum areas when students are exploring about the lives of famous people or to create a cube about themselves (a great idea at the beginning of the year).

After placing their name on the opening screen (to begin) students fill in 6 areas to create the cube which is then printed out. These can be put together to make a cube and displayed in the room as a mobile. A very effective tool.

Bio-Cube is only one of the interactive tools to support literacy that you can find a ReadWriteThink. You will also find lesson/unit plans to use each of the tools. There is a comic strip creator, acrostic poetry, Venn diagram creator to name a few.

One that those who do not have Inspiration or something similar is the Webbing Tool where students can make a mind map to print out.

"The Webbing Tool provides a free-form graphic organizer for activities that ask students to pursue hypertextual thinking and writing. The tool provides a quick way for students to trace out options and rearrange connections. Students can use the Webbing Tool to analyze readings as well as a prewriting activity and flowcharting tool. Students can drag the circle or box shapes representing their ideas to arrange any layout and relationship that they want. Each layer on the chart will have a different color border for the shapes that you choose."

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

"Whatever!" Mark Treadwell

Mark Treadwell's new book is out. This is a new paradigm and a new renaissance in learning.
This book is well worth getting - great value.

"Education is in the throes of the greatest paradigm shift ever experienced . . . ever! As a consequence of this paradigm shift, how we view education and its role in the community is set to dramatically change within a very short time span. This transition is initiating a global “second Renaissance” which will power economies and societies for the next 100 years. This paradigm shift allows learners new flexibility and capabilities, providing a simple underlying architecture for innovation and ingenuity via the provision of rich information and communication environments via the internet. Within this new environment educators and learners can instantly create dynamic learning communities within which learning transitions from knowledge, to developing understanding and then applying that understanding with wisdom." (Treadwell, 2008)

Monday, May 5, 2008

Rich Tasks

A Wiki I have used about Rich Tasks is on Beyond the Knowledge.

In the first part you will find

  • What is a rich task?

  • Why are they necessary?

  • Behind the rich task, setting up a thinking culture

  • The BIG picture

In the second part is about developing a powerful learning context

The third part is 'rich tasks and powerful learning'

The fourth area is 'putting it all together'

It has many interesting resources about rich tasks available on this wiki.

Thursday, May 1, 2008


Some time ago I was reading Marc Prensky's article Programming: the new literacy. I saw about a free downloadable program called Scratch. I looked at the web site, downloaded the program and have only now had time to look at it. It is a brilliant program for primary schools (and secondary schools)! What do students learn while working with Scratch?
I have other work to do but have been having great fun playing around with this instead! I can certainly see this being used in an authentic and meaningful way in the classroom. The program is very like some I have seen to buy.

Scratch is developed by the Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, in collaboration with the UCLA Graduate School of Education and Information Studies, with financial support from the National Science Foundation, Intel Foundation, and MIT Media Lab research consortia.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Backup Education?

Marc Prendky has written a very thought provoking article on how many teachers are still seeing education as preparing the kids for the past rather than the future. He has called this article Backup Education?
He says:
Communication, too, is a basic skill, with reading and writing merely the best methods of the moment. Now both reading and writing are both very useful methods, which, to be clear, I think we need to teach until better ways emerge for getting the same information. But once all books are recorded, the Web reads itself, and every child and adult has a text scanner in his or her cell phone that can read any printed text aloud, should we still spend all those years teaching our kids phonics?
Writing is merely a method for recording thoughts. Not long ago neat cursive penmanship was the best method we had for this, because it was faster than printing and universally legible. Now we have better methods, such as phones, recording machines, IM, and keyboarding. As our kids all get their own phones and laptops, do we really need to teach them the old ways?

I think he has some great points to make which are worth having a look at.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Podcasting in plain English

A great video from Commoncraft Show on podcasting.

Draft Digital Strategy 2.0

The Ministry of Economic Development in New Zealand has put forward a draft Digital Strategy 2.0 for people to comment on. This was as a result of a series of workshops and The Digital Future Summit 2.

People are invited to view this document and to comment on the proposed policies.

There are implications for the educational sector so it is important that we read this and make comments.

An example:

In Capability Actions ( 4.3)
Action: Delivering the NZ Curriculum technology learning
area (TLA):
Enable students to develop a broad technological literacy throught the
TLA (one of the eight learning areas for schools), that will equip them to
participate in 21st century society as informed citizens and give them access to
technology-related careers.

Contributes to Priorities: Developing digital literacy and
confence in the workforce and our communities
Lead Agency: Ministry of Education
Timing: 2008 - 210
Budget: Baseline

You can fill out an online submission or you can go to the Digital Strategy Wiki

Sunday, April 20, 2008


In2Ed is a site (I have used this one for many years) from a New Zealand ICT teacher. In here you will find many ideas to help teachers integrate ICT into their classroom programmes to enhance the thinking and learning.

You will also find many downloads which you can use in the classroom such as:

  • Six hats posters

  • Blooms taxonomy posters

  • Steps information literacy model

  • Thinking and learning resources

...and much more, check it out.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Learning technologies and schools of the future

British Council for School Environments has an excellent report for people to download about learning technologies and schools of the future.

The report discussess Web2.0 and its impact:

"Technology enables learners
effectively to bypass the transmission mode of pedagogy which has often dominated
practice in schools. Learners are instead
able not just to find out information for
themselves, but to join communities and
discussions where facts, information and
knowledge are challenged and tested."

There is an interesting table comparing 20th century pedagogy and 21st century ICT-enhanced pedagogy.

The report discusses the needs of teachers and how professional development may be delivered as well as the shape of education for the future.

"Will learning become a continuum between locations, as the personalized learning environment travels alongside learners, linking their communities at home, at school and internationally?"

The report is well worth taking the time to read.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Box of tricks - exploring the use of ICT in education

Great web site by José Picardo - Box of Tricks.

Box of Tricks explores the use of technology in the classroom. In addition there are resources to share, tips and ideas. This is well worth a look.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Making an online quiz and Ten reasons to use blogs in the classroom

I have just been playing around with a quiz maker which is so simple to use. What a great tool for students to use on their own blogs as well as teachers to use.

This one is made at MyStudiyo.com

Have fun.

I also found a video on teachertube that decribes ten reasons why we use blogs in the classroom. Very worthwhile:

Monday, April 7, 2008

Teaching online

A New Zealand magazine for teachers (Starters and Strategies magazine - online)

which has a great variety of lesson/unit plans for teachers. You will also find many links for free resources for teachers, for example this month is a link to download a manual on Developing Fundamental Movement Skills for teachers to use with their classrooms. It is worth going to this site regularly to find resources and ideas.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Turning on the light

Marc Prensky has written a thought provoking article 'Turning on the lights'. He discusses the way children are surrounded by technology and information before they come to school only to find that teachers are not building on this knowledge and they are quickly becoming bored. He points to these children learning less in schools but that their after school activities are those that are preparing them for their 21st century lives.

In order that educators 'turn on the lights' he suggests:
  • Give children the opportunity to use technology in school
  • Find out how students want to be taught
  • Connect students to the world
  • Understand where kids are going - that is, into the future - and help them get there

This is well worth reading.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mindmapping software

A free piece of mindmapping software is Compendium. It is a visual tool to mindmap and very useful in the classroom. The site has many examples to show how it is being used.

Compendium is about sharing ideas, creating artifacts, making things together, and breaking down the boundaries between dialogue, artifact, knowledge, and data.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Drawing program

A free graphics editor is Inkscape with has capabilities which are similar to other programs (not free). You can edit nodes or trace bitmaps for example.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Interface is a New Zealand magazine put out for teachers to help support the use of information and communication technology in their classrooms. New Zealand teachers can register to get a free copy.

Greg Adams, the Editor of Interface says: “Our aim is to provide fresh, inspiring and independent coverage of what’s important to teachers, both in the classroom and their working lives. My hope is that INTERFACE will give them more confidence in using ICT, as well as the enthusiasm to give something new a try.”

There are many interesting and relevant articles in the magazine as well as many downloadable (free) lesson plans for teachers.

Links to teacher's blogs are also found on the site. Teachers will find this so useful to see what others are doing in their classrooms and also to see classroom blogs.

Monday, March 17, 2008


Many people are now using Twitter. To help explain this is a video from YouTube.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Online library

International Children's Digital Library is a great site for children to use for online books. There is a great range of books for different age groups and interests. There are many books and many different languages. It is free to use which is always appealing. I have seen some young children (a group of three) reading a book online together as an activity. This worked really well and the children loved it. However I do see you may find it difficult to read it in bed!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


Educause Quarterly is an online journal from the United States with many interesting articles for those of us interested in ICT in the classroom.
I was particularly interested in an article on becoming Net savvy. This article points out that only 31% of searches succeed and that many use Wikipedia and Google as their first ports of call when looking for information without thought to looking at a library database.
It is important that our children do become net savvy and therefore it is important that all of us; parents, teachers, librarians for example, support our children to search for information quickly and efficiently. This needs to be done in a 'real life' context.
This article (and many others in this journal) are worth reading.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Handpicked collaborative projects

Handpicked collaborative projects is a site that has been developed for NZ teachers to locate pedagogically-sound, active, online collaborative projects for use in their classrooms. It is hoped that this site will aid teachers in personalising learning for individuals and for groups of students.

There is a link to Teacher Tap where there are other interesting ideas for collaborative projects. There are ideas such as:
  • What's it like to be an astronaut?
  • What was it like to live during The Great Depression?
  • Does water boil at the same temperature at different elevations?
  • Where in the world do fireflies live?

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Practical support pack

A great site from the UK with many ideas for teachers to help support them integrating ICT into their classrooms. Whether you are new to ICT or more experienced, these materials can be used by all teaching professionals. The materials include lesson plans, classroom resources and practical advice. Some really great teaching materials here.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Web 2.0 - some good videos

Another video from TeacherTube about Web 2.0. This is a great way to introduce Web 2.0 to others. Clearly illustrates and defines Web 2.

Another one I thought was great answers the question :who are our students writing for? and gives ideas for using Web 2

Monday, February 25, 2008

Quality teaching

Alton-Lee, A. (2003) says that quality teaching is identified as a key influence on high quality outcomes for students. She argues that the evidence reveals that up to 59% of a variance in student performance is attributable to differences between teachers and classes.

The ten research-based characteristics for quality teaching that she points to are:

  1. Quality teaching is focused on student achievement (including social outcomes) and facilitates high standards of student outcomes for heterogeneous groups of students

  2. Pedagogical practices enable classes and other learning groupings to work as caring, inclusive, and cohesive learning communities

  3. Effective links are created between school and other cultural contexts in which students are socialised, to facilitate learning

  4. Quality teaching is responsive to student learning processes

  5. Opportunity to learn is effective and sufficient

  6. Multiple task contexts support learning cycles

  7. Curriculum goals, resources including ICT usage, task design, teaching and school practices are effectively aligned

  8. Pedagogical scaffolds and provides appropriate feedback on students’ task engagement

  9. Pedagogy promotes learning orientation, student self-regulation, metacognitive strategies and thoughtful student discourse

  10. Teachers and students engage constructively in goal-orientated assessment

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Make animations

A great online site for students to go to make animations is Aniboom.

When the student has finished they are able to export the file as an animated gif to use in PowerPoint presentations, web pages etc.

However there is a need to be careful here as there is an area where you are able to watch animations that others have made and some have adult content.

Another program that is available - free to download is Scratch.
They have excellent support with pdf files and videos on the site to help teachers and students. I have uploaded the Getting started with Scratch pdf file into the files on the left of this site so you can download that and get an idea of the program.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Factors Affecting Completion Rates in Asynchronous Online Facilitated Faculty Professional Development Courses

As I am delivering some professional development online courses for teachers I found this an interesting article in the International Journal of Instructional Technology and Distance Learning (December, 07).

Study results strongly suggest that achieving comparable completion rates for online facilitated courses relative to classroom courses requires the development of support structures comparable to existing structures for classroom and web-based training courses. >

Well worth reading if you are delivering online courses. In the same edition is another paper "Longitudinal Comparison between Online and Face-to-Face Courses in an Adult Continuing Education Program" which also makes some good points.

Monday, February 18, 2008

The digital native and animation web link

We hear this term a lot. Do we all mean the same thing?
Here is a video (from TeacherTube) that defines one person's idea of a 'digital native' and gives us food for thought about our schools and teaching.

Also worth looking at is Tess Ewart’s Presentation Handouts web site where I found a great video and handout about using animations with children. Although she is promoting a piece of software for this purpose you do not have to use this to accomplish the same thing. I use a variety of pieces of software for animation including Microsoft gif animator (free), Squirtz (free), MovieMaker (free on PC), iMovie (free on Mac), Image Ready (part of PhotoShop) amongst others.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Interactive whiteboard lesson

TeacherTube has a great video to help with using interactive whiteboards. In this video they are also using Google Earth.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Show me the child

Based on 'give me the child until he is seven I will give you the man' there is a really interesting longitudinal study that has been done in Otago (New Zealand) which has been following people born in 1972.

As adults fewer than two-thirds of the original sample of 1037 people still lived in Dunedin, but 97% returned to volunteer yet more detail on their health and wellbeing.

The researchers have been collecting an amazing amount of data which shows a wealth of information that has implications for us as teachers.

The Listener has an article (which is very readable) about this study. Take time to have a look and see what you think.