Tuesday, December 28, 2010

More earthquakes

Believe it or not we were hit by more earthquakes on 26 December. (see blog posts in September) Everyone here was just starting to relax as the after shocks had settled down and then...

we were rocked by several big ones on one day and a lot of further damage has been caused. I have been very lucky as we have had very little damage but many of the buildings in the central city area were badly hit again. Some of the ones suffering damage this time had survived the first major one but not this one. Hopefully that is the last of them but they are predicting that it is not all over yet.

Sunday, December 19, 2010


One of my favourite web sites at this time of year is Portable North Pole.
You put in the information about your child (or a child that you know) and a Christmas video is made. They are just beautiful. Santa talks to the child about them in a video (you can also upload your own graphics of your child which are used in the video.
Last year my sister did one for a family member. She was Skyping them when the child opened the video. Children just love this one, try it and see...
Happy Christmas

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Using ICT in Literacy Instruction: Tips for Teachers

Guest Post

Using ICT in Literacy Instruction: Tips for Teachers

There are many benefits to using ICT in education, especially math and literacy – ICT is a growing field, and related skills are required for many types of work now. Technological developments continue to increase the widespread applicability of ICT in a variety of venues, from the medical field to the arts and everything in between. Using it to teach literacy and other educational subjects can give students a head start on learning how to successfully use ICT in daily life, which could increase their chances of receiving higher education opportunities and jobs.

Teaching with ICT can also help students learn material more efficiently with a better rate of internalization – so they’ll be able to recall what they’ve learned from you about literacy when they need to use it. The connection between information and ICT skills is great for students, especially where literacy is involved. With both communication technology abilities and literacy knowledge, students will be better prepared to interact with the world in a successful and rewarding way. So if you’re thinking about integrating ICT into your literacy instruction methods, try using some of the following tips from a Newcastle University ICT research team to get started on the right track.

Get Comfortable with Educational ICT

ICT isn’t the tough subject you might imagine it to be – it’s just Information and Communication Technology. By breaking the title down into its three individual components, you’re simply using these tools to help you teach literacy: information, communication, and technology. Brainstorm to come up with ways to include these tools in your literacy lesson plans, such as using word processors, presentation software, spreadsheets, database software, desktop publishing, graphics software, and more. There are also many online tools that can be used in effective teaching, such as introducing students to Google Notebook to keep track of online research more easily.

Identify Ways ICT Can Contribute to Class Objectives

Now that you have some potential ways to use ICT in your classroom, check your objectives to make sure that ICT has something to contribute. Using new technology just to use it doesn’t make for effective teaching, so unless the ICT activity brings something unique and important to the table, don’t use it. Students can be easily confused by activities that don’t relate to the content you’re teaching. While many forms of educational ICT are relevant to almost any topic, it’s important to make sure that your ICT activities are on-target.

Assess Students’ Current ICT Skills

Do all of your students know how to use the technology you’re considering for the classroom? If not, you’ll need to teach them how to participate in educational ICT before you assign any activities. You can check for ICT skill by doing a simple exercise in class that uses the technology you’d like to fully implement later on. While students are trying to complete the task, walk around the room to make sure everyone is familiar with the technology.

Assess Available Equipment, Resources and Back-Up Options

You’ll need to make sure that you have the resources to use ICT in your classroom. For example, you’ll probably need a computer lab with at least a few computers – about three students can share one computer at a time if needed. It’s also helpful to evaluate which types of software are available to you, what kinds of licenses they have (single or multiple), and what your budget might allow in terms of new software or other types of technology. You can even collaborate with other teachers to see if you can share resources, propose purchases that would benefit the whole school, and get some practical educational ICT advice.

Integrate ICT Activities into Lesson Plans

Now, the last step is to modify your lesson plans to include ICT activities. This doesn’t always mean tacking on ICT as an afterthought or as a lifesaver if you run into unplanned down time. The best way to integrate it is to re-structure your lesson plan, using ICT as a focal point in the lesson content and methodology. Your students will be better able to connect ICT and literacy if your lesson plans incorporate both themes seamlessly.

Bio: Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education, researching various online programs and blogging about student life issues. In her spare time, she enjoys square-foot gardening, swimming, and avoiding her laptop.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Using video to evaluate student teachers in the classroom

I have just been reading about this 'new' idea - using video to evaluate the student teacher in the classroom situation. This article is from the States.

Here in NZ this is something we used to do and also something we used to get students to do for their own personal critique. Students found that they learnt a lot watching themselves teaching although many couldn't believe it was 'really them' they were watching. The advent of the Flip video, ipod touch with camera and the like make access to videoing and editing assessible. Now many NZ schools do not like our students using videos in the classrooms due to the New Zealand privacy laws.

In some states in USA the students will have:
"more demanding requirements to receive their teacher license: Under a new
teacher evaluation system being tested in 19 states, evaluators will watch video
clips of student teachers delivering lessons in their classroom, and candidates
must show that they can prepare a lesson, tailor it to students of different
abilities, and present it effectively
These assessments are made by independent evaluators rather than the Teaching Colleges. It will be very interesting to see how this goes. As one professor said:

“It’s a big shift that the whole country is going through,” said Misty Sato, a University of Minnesota education professor who is helping to adapt the assessments for Minnesota. “It’s going from ‘What has your candidate experienced? to what your candidate can do.”

I am very strongly of the view point that our graduates need to know both about and how to teach. I wonder, if in the present environment, some feel that the theory (about) is more important than the practical (how) i.e. the 'about' rather than the 'how'. We are in the middle of changing our courses and are now lecturing in mass lectures rather than smaller classes (where people are able to model behaviours that can be used in a classroom).

Seems that those in the states have now gone through most of this circle and are bringing more 'how' back into their courses. I saw a newsclip in Sydney two years ago on the same thing - 'we think it would be beneficial for our students to have time in classrooms rather than lecture theatres' was the the person being interviewed said. We are not up to that realisation yet, I wonder how long it will take us?

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Virtual field trips in the classroom

A great overview describing the use of virtual field trips in the classroom is found on this web site.
Taking your pupils on a virtual field trip is a really good way to spark their interest or motivate their learning in a particular topic. It is often not possible to take a field trip particularly if there is distance involved but by using virtual field trips the world can be available to all children at any time.
Taking children to art galleries such as The Louvre while living in New Zealand is very appealing and now so possible.
LEARNZ is a New Zealand site which I have discussed earlier where New Zealand teachers and their classes can register (free) to be part of a variety of field trips. Coming up on their web site are two virtual field trips; Takahe and Wetland Treasures.
It is an interactive site with a lot of interesting and relevant information.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

ULearn conference 2010

ULearn 2010 starts next week on 5th October - Collaborate, Innovate and Educate. They are having a new stream this year for research where there will be speakers, papers presented and some posters displayed.

There is an interesting programme for teachers including such things as:

  • Using Web 2 tools in the classroom
  • Global communities
  • Virtual field trips
  • Developing iPod Touch/iPhone applications for learning

For those not able to come to the conference look at the web site for some ideas to use in the classroom.

With the earthquake (still getting those aftershocks!!) some people thought it would be cancelled or postponed but everything is going smoothly. It should be a really good conference.

Sunday, September 26, 2010


I have just been making a quick quiz to show my students how a Web 2 tool can be used. I have made this one using MyStudiyo. You can add movies and graphics to the quizzes and then children can add these to their blogs or wikis.

Some ideas to use in the classroom:
  1. Story writing - the children could have a story they have written on the web site with a quiz to finish
  2. Research project - children could write about the findings from a research project on the web site and have a quiz for the viewer to finish with
  3. Maths - children could construct maths quizzes to put on the web site and then others in the class could use them

Monday, September 20, 2010

What Do You Need to Succeed in Online Education?

There was a time when online education was the anomaly; today however, it is the norm. It has grown in leaps and bounds not just in the quality of education offered, but also in respectability and reputation. In fact, the University of Phoenix which offers both on-campus and online courses is the largest institution in the USA in terms of number of students enrolled. More and more people are choosing to study online for various reasons – it allows them to earn while they learn, they can set flexible schedules, and they don’t have to pay through their noses to gain an education.

While critics of online education are quick to point out that the success rate in online education is low because people tend to leave courses incomplete and the dropout rate is pretty high, the truth is that online programs are meant for people who are able to establish a schedule and who have the discipline to stick to their plan. It takes more than just the will to learn to taste success in online education, and to do your best, you must be:

• Determined: You must be determined to succeed no matter how many hurdles you face. It’s not just enough to want an education, you must be willing to do all it takes to ensure that you get one of the highest quality. There will be hurdles cropping up every now and then, you may be bogged down by work and other personal issues, and there will be times when all your efforts seem so futile. However, the key to success is to never give up. Stay on the path that you’ve marked out for yourself, and you’re sure to scale greater heights.

• Disciplined: You’re going to be juggling many balls in the air when you choose to go back to school and earn a degree online. With commitments to work, family and social relationships demanding your attention, your education could take a backseat. However, if you’re disciplined and set aside at least an hour every day to devote to your lessons and assignments, you won’t find the going tough when it’s time for your exams. Just as you make time to eat and do other things that are a part of your normal routine, make some time for your education too.

• Flexible: Even the best laid plans tend to fall apart because of the uncertainty of life; so unless you’re able to change track on the fly and reschedule your day according to the circumstances, you’re going to be stressed out and find yourself staring into the eyes of failure. Learn how to multitask – you can invest in a netbook or a smartphone and learn on the go, when you’re traveling or when you have a quiet hour at the office; know how to alter plans so that you’re able to get things done without getting flustered and losing control. Success in online learning is all about being flexible and knowing how to go with the flow.

• Ambitious: There are times when you need to look beyond your coursework and search for more information. Use sources like the Internet, books and magazines to collect data and information needed when you’re doing practical projects and when your assignments call for you to get creative and push the boundaries of your knowledge. Unless you are ambitious and try to be the best you can, online education is going to be just another thing that you do, not something that you must succeed at.

• Tech-savvy: And finally, it pays to understand technology when you choose to study online. There are a number of gadgets and applications that help you learn better and faster, and which help you get organized and become better managers of time. So invest in learning technology before you invest in the gadgets themselves, because unless you know how to harvest the potential of a device, it’s as good as useless.

So if you’re armed with these necessary qualifications, you’re sure to find online education as easy as a stroll in the park.

This guest post is contributed by Carrie Oakley, who writes on the topic of online college. Carrie welcomes your comments at her email id: carrie.oakley1983(AT)gmail(DOT)com.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Life goes on...

Life is returning to Christchurch. We have been incredibly lucky with no loss of life but there is a lot of damage around the city. At the moment buildings are being demolished and roads are being repaired. We are still having aftershocks.
Even though you think something like this does not affect you, it does. The other day I went into a mall and kept thinking; ‘I don’t want to be here if we have another aftershock’. These were continual but luckily have now died away.

Some roads are still being repaired but most have been repaired to the point that traffic can use them. Many people have found that the houses they live in are going to have to be pulled down and rebuilt which is putting pressure on finding them rental accommodation. It is very unsettling for people in that position.
This week I have been into several schools around Christchurch and found that the children are all coping very well. They know that if there is an aftershock they go down under their desks – they are pretty good at it. For many of them it seemed like a big adventure.

I was very impressed this weekend from someone in England (who I do not know) wanting to know how to make a donation to the earthquake disaster. As this is going to cost several billion dollars we need all the help we can get so I thought that it was lovely that someone wanted to help.

We have had a big storm over NZ this weekend - luckily Christchurch was not in line for this but down South they have had a big dump of snow and the weight of it caused the roof of a big netball stadium to collapse.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010


This was in the newspaper here (The Press) and shows the estuary straight after the earthquake. It looks as though there a lot of mini volcanoes. These were bubbling up during the earthquake which is what caused the sulphur smell we had.

This picture also appeared in the paper. As I said in an earlier post it has always been said that there is no major fault line over on this side of the alps.

The earthquake was centred around Darfield. A farmer from there went out and wrote in his field - right by a new fault line.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Earthquake update

You would not believe it but...

The city has now extended the state of civil emergency for another seven days.

This morning I was quietly sitting having a morning cup of coffee when the first of the after shocks (this morning) struck. It was very frightening - another big one but not as big as the initial one. The house shook and things feel down but nothing too bad here however in some parts the electricity went off again and more damage has been reported. Since then there have been several smaller ones.

Although New Zealand has fault lines it was always thought that there was not a major fault line near Christchurch. It has always been thought that a 'big one' would strike in Wellington. Well Mother Nature has proved them all wrong.

Earthquake wiki

Jill Hammond has started a wiki about earthquakes. This will be an interactive collaborative teaching and learning opportunity for our pupils.

It is entirely open and public which means anyone can edit the site so feel free to add your ideas or use it with your students.

Already there are some great ideas for teachers on the Share Ideas page as well as photographs and movies.

Monday, September 6, 2010

What was it like to be in the earthquake?

I keep getting asked what it was like so ...

I was sound asleep when I got woken up by the initial jolt. I realised straight away it was an earthquake; the house was shaking - side to side and up and down!! Very scary.

As a teacher I have taught disaster units where we have looked at such disasters as the Napier earthquake. During my life time I have felt other earthquakes.

My natural inclination is to want to get outside but that night I could not get out of bed, the whole house was shaking so much I could not have stood up. I have just heard about someone I know who did try to get out of bed and now has a broken ankle.

I just lay in bed, held onto the side of the bed and waited for things to stop. When they finally did stop I realised that nothing much had happened here - the power was still on and I did not realise about the water at that point.

I went outside and there was an awful smell of sulphur, that was from the estuary which had been bubbling stuff up. It was very quiet everywhere and quite eerie.

Family members and friends rang each other to make sure everyone was OK.

At that stage I did not realise how serious things were as none of the houses near mine were damaged. It was only when daylight came and accounts were on TV and radio that the full impact of what was happening struck. I certainly did not venture out on Saturday as I thought that it was better that people stayed off the streets.

It is not an experience you want!!

Still in a state of limbo

The inner city of Christchurch is still like a war zone. The uni is closed until next week. There are photos on our web site.

Schools are supposed to be open tomorrow but I have seen the state of some schools and I am not sure that some will ever be able to open again. One school in Dallington looks as though it will be condemned.

We had some big after shocks last night and everyone is still very jumpy.

Thank you so much to everyone for their messages of support (they have been coming in from all around the world) - it has been great, especially as we are such a small country and so isolated from everyone else.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Earthquake damage

Our water is now on!! I am so pleased.

As I have said we are so lucky in that there were no deaths. There is a lot of damage to property around the region (about 2 billion dollars to repair). Gradually things will return to normal but at present you just feel as though you are living in limbo and of course the after shocks keep coming. It is an awful feeling.


Stupid as it may sound, I now feel a lot better as I have had a shower. Not at my own home (still no water here) but I went to see a family member who had water on. I took all my stuff to have a shower there. We have portable loos at the end of our street and a tank where we can fill water bottles! I have to tell you it is awful not to have water!!

The husband has wisely decided to stay away for a while longer!!

Saturday, September 4, 2010


Still no water!! I was away visiting schools last week and as the earthquake hit on Friday night I have not been able to do any washing - I also need a shower!! Apparently the mains burst in a neighbouring area and there was water everywhere. We have not had anything like that where I live but our water has been off all this time. I am visiting two schools tomorrow morning (if they are open) so I need a shower!!!

Friday, September 3, 2010


The city where I live is now in a state of emergency.

We had a 7.4 earthquake last night. It struck at 4.35 in the morning and I was sound asleep in bed! I certainly woke with a start as the bed started to rock and roll.

I live in a 4 story house on the beach so luckily the house is on sand and just rolled with the quake. I have to be very honest and say that I was pretty shocked.

My husband is away for the weekend so I was on my own. I was too frightened to get out of bed for some time. Our water is off and a lot of broken glassware but no real damage. In the inner city a lot of buildings have come down and many roads have big holes. A lot of the bridges over the Avon River are closed so we are rather cut off but have plenty of food etc. Really we have come out of the whole thing pretty well as there are no reported deaths and only one serious injury where a chimney fell on a person.

Monday, August 23, 2010

NZ taking lead in classrooms of the future

TV NZ had a news clip on recently about classrooms of the future which is well worth watching.

Classrooms without pens and paper, and lessons given online, could soon be the classrooms of the future. This is already starting in some NZ schools.

A Ministry of Education pilot programme at Howick College has allowed students to use their cellphones in the classroom.

This style, called mobile learning, was moving the learning out of the classroom and into the family and community. Teaching and learning is no longer confined to the classroom but is also outside the four walls. Many classrooms have their own blogs and wikis.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

More on e-portfolios

As I am part of a group talking about our experiences with e-portfolios I have been thinking a lot about things that I have found this year.

One of the things I have always found is that you can not assume that everyone has the ICT skills at the start. Scaffolding must be put in place for students which will also help them to become independent learners. Someone this year produced tutorials with a lot of information on a page. Our students became confused and would ring/email or come and see me for extra help. I used 'just in time learning' and produced a small book of how to tutorials which were placed in our online learning environment. What students liked with these was that there was only one concept for each tutorial so that they didn't become confused.

Our students use Mahara as do a lot of schools here in NZ. They do not share their e-portfolios with each other although the option is there. I personally would like to see them sharing and giving each other constructive feedback.

I certainly agree with Ewan McIntosh's comment that e-portfolios should be:

for the whole, open web: otherwise we set ourselves up for nearly only
introspective learning with people who share our viewpoints, cultural biases and
outlook on learning and life.
I found that a lot of students wanted feedback from me throughout the course - how much better to get feedback from their peers as well as others from completely different backgrounds.

At an intermediate school in Auckland children have been developing their e-portfolios for some time. A long time ago I discussed Jess's eportfolio on this blog:

I find this e-portfolio inspiring as I can see how Jess developed this over the three years. You can see the growth in her learning as well as how she is also a ‘guide on the side’ to other’s learning (through discussion areas she has on her wiki, tutorials or videos she has developed for the learning ).

This e-portfolio was started in 2007 by Jess and developed through 2008 and 2009. It uses a range of Web 2 tools to demonstrate her personal growth and learning and is fully public as she uses several wikis and blogs. She has done blogs which include reflections about her learning for example there are different blogs for her science inquiries. In her wiki she has a page where she asked her parent’s opinions on what they would like to see in her e-portfolio. This was recorded and put into her wiki. She has developed an area for her own ‘voice’ where she talks about Web 2 tools and 21st century learning.

Jess gets feedback from all over the world – this is authentic and meaningful for her. It is interesting to see how these comments were continuing through 2009 and that Jess was still developing her e-portfolio then – becoming a life-long learner (although no longer being at the school). It is also interesting that the high school she goes to does not continue these on.

Sunday, August 15, 2010


We have been using e-portfolios with our students as part of their first year programme. These are to be continued throughout their training and hopefully beyond. I have made a small video to explain about the stages of the portfolio process and how the technology can enhance a portfolio - i.e. e-portfolio.

E-portfolios are being used in many New Zealand schools so it is important that our students understand them for when they are teaching themselves. We are using Mahara which has been developed here in New Zealand.

It is interesting that Mahara and other LMS are for private use or just with a small community of peers for example. I really like the way some children in Auckland used wikis and blogs to make their e-portfolios. Jess made this one back in 2008. You see some real value in her e-portfolio when you read all the comments that have been made. This is what other e-portfolios lack.

I have also made a Prezi about e-portfolios for anyone interested.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

The Tate Movie Project

The Tate Movie Project is a great Web 2 site for schools.

The project is for schools in the UK however there is no reason why other children cannot use the site. I set up an account to check it out. You design your avatar and then visit the studio where you become involved with making the movie. As you complete each step you get an award.

In this site the children design characters, write their story and make the storyboard. They use animation and sound in their movies. I can see this site being a great hit with children and would really motivate reluctant writers.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


I have just been reading Terry Freedman's post on spreadsheets.

I was so pleased to see someone voicing my thoughts.

The spreadsheet above was used for children to check their tables, there are different worksheets for each one.
I love spreadsheets for all sorts of things - I make many that can be used in all sorts of ways.

This idea is simple and can be used in any curriculum area. It uses a if/then statement, it changes the red sad face to a smiling green one and gives the user their score.

In this example the user has to solve the problems in order to uncover the hidden graphic.

I have found some ideas like this to be really useful and fun to use in the classroom. Many children then want to learn to make these themselves - learning in an authentic and meaningful context.
In our pre-service teacher training we do not use spreadsheets with our students in any way. It is such a shame I think as they are so great and versatile for the classroom. The thinking by many people is that 'spreadsheets are old hat, no one uses them any more'. I wonder if others agree with this?

Sunday, August 1, 2010


Another great Web 2 tool for the classroom is Creaza. This site has several different parts to it requiring one login.

Mindomo: With this tool you can make mindmaps for visual learning, developing creativity and problem solving. You can organise and present your ideas visually.

Cartoonist: with this tool you can create your own cartoons. You can use their professional backgrounds, characters, props, images and text. You can also create title cards, speech balloons, thought balloons, or scream balloons. You can also combine all this with your own images.

MovieEditor: MovieEditor is an online video editor to create movies, complete with professional-looking titles, transitions, effects, animation, music, and narration. It is a timeline-based video editor, similar to traditional desktop-based video editing tools. The difference - MovieEditor is web-based and a web browser with Adobe Flash gives you instant access! You can export the result to your favourite media player, or directly to YouTube or Facebook.

AudioEditor: AudioEditor is an online audio editor for recording, slicing, and mixing audio. It is useful if you want to publish the finished sound clip as a podcast.

This tool follows established conventions for sound editing, allowing you to place sound files along a timeline, across several channels.

You can also record sound and add it as a track on top of your final edit.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Digital Story Tellling

I came across a site recently which interested me. It is The Elements of Digital Story Telling. Digital story telling is a great idea to use in the classroom. Something the teacher needs to think about is the different types of media that can be used and the different combinations. Digital story telling may be done using a single medium, multiple mediums (where two or more mediums are used but not interwoven), or multimedia (where two or more mediums are woven together in a seamless presentation).

They are looking at such questions as:

  • What is unique about the digital environment?
  • How do users respond to it?
  • How can its potential be maximised?

These are all questions we, as teachers, want to know about.

On this site you will find:

  • A taxonomy of digital story telling
  • An analysis of current practices
  • A showcase of innovative story forms

Tuesday, July 27, 2010


I have downloaded a great tool from the web - and it is free (as a teacher don't we love the free stuff?). Dropbox.
Dropbox allows you to put files into a single folder and share between computers or with others. It is great.

Here is a great video to explain Dropbox.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

University Educators as Role Models

Guest Post
By Kate Cunningham

Educators are excellent and natural role models for the students they teach and are often held in fairly high regard. When learning a subject matter they are truly interested in, students can often be drawn to the professor in hopes of finding guidance, advice and support. And because students at the age of young adulthood often look to people of success and power when searching for outside influences, many will strive to emulate their professors in academic, social and professional ways. Generally, there are three types of role models recognized at the university level: academic, mentor and citizen.

Academic role models are the most common role models associated with university level educators and professors. As the name suggests, students will look to their professors as leaders in their academic discipline and admire their scholastic successes. Professors are academicians and scholars that have extensive experience and expertise in their field of study. They also strive to engage their students and to provide them with a thorough education. Research studies have proven that students that are taught by successful, interesting, encouraging and engaging professors often show improvements in their grades and personal growth. Academic role models challenge their students, provide them with stimulating information and foster their love of learning.

A mentoring role model is one who becomes personally interested in their students, their careers and futures. This type of professor is generally active in the field professionally and provides students not only with an environment of educational excellence, but also with moral support, encouragement, advice, and career development in the field. While there can be a fine line between mentoring and inappropriate relationships, many professors can take an appropriate vested interest in students who show great promise in the field. Experts believe that students with university level mentors have increased chances of career development and employment opportunities. This is due to the fact that fostering a relationship with a professional that is already in the field can offer students a great deal of insight, advice and connections. Mentoring role models can individualize their students, taking into account any special circumstance, limitation or talents. They provide career guidance by relating personal experiences in a supportive manner.

The last type of role model is that of citizen. This type of professor takes the education outside of the classroom and is incredibly active in the community. They aim to represent the school and classroom in the outside world and for the betterment of society. Students will look to these types of university level educators as a model for contributing, helpful and professional members of a community. This person could hold a leadership role in local government, volunteer with local organization and non profits or even organize charity events.

While there are several types of role models professors can embody, there is no denying that a professional educator who is engaging, active, compassionate and interested in the futures of their students can make a great impact on the young minds they aim to shape.

This guest post is contributed by Kate Cunningham, who writes on the topics of online university rankings. Kate is a Junior English Major at the University of Texas, and is also freelance part-time as a writer for onlineuniversityrankings.com. She welcomes your questions and comments at her email Id: cn.kate1 @ gmail.com.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Lifelong learning in a digital age

Steve Wheeler has put a new presentation into SlideShare, it says it all. I find it so interesting that in tertiary institutions, where they are training people to be classroom teachers, they lecture to their students about these points but still in the old dreary mass lectures (where you see the students dozing off - some things don't change - or text messaging - the newer way to disengage). I wonder sometimes if these lecturers ever consider themselves to be good role models for their students?

I know that some teachers or lecturers are slowly changing but I wonder how long it will take before others do? Does money have anything to do with it?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sir Ken Robinson

Love this video by Sir Ken Robinson: Bring on the learning revolution.

As usual he has a lot of really good thoughts mixed with humour. He suggests that schools make a shift from the traditional model to personalised learning where children's natural talents can florish.
It certainly makes me think about the way our schools are run at present.

Monday, May 24, 2010


Another great Web 2 tool (free) that I like is Youblisher. You upload your pdf files and it makes the document 'flippable' so the pages turn - it makes it more like reading a 'real' book.
I have embedded a small pdf (2 pages) so you can see how it works. This is great for schools - children could make their own pdf files to add to classroom blogs or wikis.

Compressing graphics in PowerPoint

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Digital literacy across the curriculum

Digital literacy across the curriculum

What another great book for teachers to download (free). This book is aimed at primary and secondary teachers who are interested in critical and creative uses of technology in the classroom.

Schools are encouraged to embed the use of ICT in all curriculum areas across both the primary and secondary schools. Teachers need to consider how the digital literacy can support the subject knowledge can help ensure that using the technologies enhances teaching and learning as opposed to being simply an ‘add-on.’ As teachers we try to prepare young people to make sense of the world and to thrive socially, intellectually and economically, then we cannot afford to ignore the practices of digital literacy that enable people to make the most of their multiple interactions with digital technology and media.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


A book for teachers, Movemeon, is available for a free download (or a hard copy may be bought) for teachers. This has been made from the Twitter community and consists of tip, suggestions and ideas. It has lots of interesting ideas about activities, behaviour, classroom management and feedback. It is well worth teachers downloading this book. Apparently another book is planned on school leadership.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


A large number of educational communities have been created in Ning generally using a free account. From July these are now going to cost depending your plan. There are three plans: Ning mini, Ning Plus and Ning Pro. The cheapest is Ning Mini at @2.95 a month. They say that Ning Mini Networks will be available for K-12 educators and their students that a 'major educational company' is sponsoring this. Higher education appears excluded from Ning's educational plan.

I have been reading Steve Hargadon's blog about this as well as the information on Ning. Steve's blog is a balanced account of the changes.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Pre-service training

I have just been reading Jessica Shiller's blog about pre-service training. She is discussing teacher training in America however a lot of what she has written is very applicable to us here in New Zealand. We had Teacher Training Colleges which have now been merged into the universities here. The one I teach at merged 3 years ago so we are still in the process of redesigning or changing a lot of the courses in our degree. We are also struggling with the best way to prepare our teachers for the classrooms.

I think this is particularly important as our classrooms and schools are also changing at a rapid pace (here in NZ we have Mission Heights with some particularly innovative practices). Teachers need to be flexible and open to new learning themselves - teachers are now 'life long learners' rather than expect to go and do the course and be an 'expert teacher'.

I agree with Jessica's comments particularly the last paragraph as this is also applicable to us here in NZ:

"whether teacher education is at a university or not, we need some standard for
what teacher education is. Teacher education should not dump theory nor should
it focus entirely on the practical skills that can only be applied inside of a
classroom. Teacher education should combine the theoretical and the practical,
but more importantly, it needs to give future teachers rich preparation so that
they can be strong teachers for kids"

I would be very interested in what others think of this.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Pre-service teacher training

We set our 1st year students a task to create a multimedia resource to use in the classroom with primary (elementary) aged children. The students were given a range of web 2 tools to use or they could use PhotoStory 3. The students were encouraged to use a tool they had not encountered before.
I provided online help tutorials as they were required - 'just in time learning'. As well students supported each other in group situations or through an online forum. This gave the students an experience where they were able to see how the tool (or something similary) could be used in their future classroom.
After making the resource they had to either give a link to their work or upload the work to our online learning environment. Many of the students who used Photostory 3 or Animoto then uploaded them to YouTube to be able to embed them in our online environment or into their e-portfolios. I wonder if there are many teachers who are providing experiences like this in their classrooms and how they are doing it. It is great to be able to show these students 'real life' examples to follow on.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Fantastic book for all teachers

Terry Freedman has done it again. He has put out a new book - The Amazing Web 2 Projects Book.

This book is free and has many ideas for the busy teacher. The best thing is all of these ideas come from teachers globally so that there are some really great ideas. These teachers have trialled the projects so you know that they are going to work.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Facebook in the classroom???

I have just been reading Ewan McIntosh's blog. He uses an example of Kimberley Swan and her total lack of understanding about consequences. His blog reminded me of a similar case here in New Zealand a couple of years ago when a teenager was derogatory about her place of employment. Her post was seen by her boss and she was sacked. Many teens here were very upset and did not understand why she had been fired. Lawyers were called in to show that the company had every right to fire her.

He further links to Lindsay who complained about her boss on her Facebook page; the only problem was she had added him as a 'Friend'.

Ewan's final sentence to sum up is fantastic (I wish I had thought of it...)

"If Lindsay or Kimberley had been taught by a real "real teacher", maybe they'd
have not only had a conversation at some point about how one uses social
networks for both play and work, as part of your public face, they may also have
had, subject to the filtering policies in their schools, some hands-on practical
sessions in privacy settings and the art of communication on the net."

Kevin Kelly talks about technology

In this thought-provoking talk Kevin Kelly muses on what technology means in our lives -- from its impact at the personal level to its place in the cosmos. It is worth having a look

Thursday, February 25, 2010


Netvibes is a free personalised page where you can organise your online content.

Netvibes allows you to:

  • Put your stuff in a page accessible from any computer or mobile device
  • Manage and update your facebook and twitter accounts from one place
  • Along with your personal, private page, create a public page viewable by everyone
  • Setup a "watch" dashboard to keep track of your favorites subjects
  • Pick a widget from a large catalogue of content and applications
  • Put a widget on your own blog or computer desktop
  • Share anything in your page with your friends


VoiceThread has an interesting presentation about using Web 2 tools in the classroom. There are some great ideas in here. There are several different slides to the presentation so make sure you look at them all. You might like to make some comments on different pages especially if you have had experiences in with the tools.
Voicethread 4 Education wiki has some great ideas for using VoiceThread in the classroom.