Wednesday, October 12, 2011

e-Learning Conversations Feedback

and more Favourite Conversations...

... quad blogging and using the technology fully with young children
Inanimate Alice
Google sketch
The talk at the start
Unfortunately I could only stay for the first two eLearning conversations but I enjoyed both. I especially liked the quad blogging idea and am sad our blogs are being moved to ultranet.
Where did the desks go and the website smackdown
Where did our desks go?
Building a  new school
Google Sketch
Linda's Goodle Docs and Lynn's e-learning in the juniors
Also really liked the Smackdowns for a quick and varied intro/taster to a wide range of tools/sites etc."
All of them.

What would you share with others about the day?
"Great day, relaxed.  Not strict.  Teachers talking to teachers.  No stress.  Every level.  Social."
"The great list of websites I have created from the day to use with the children.
Have already shared QR code info with someone and have talked them into using them!"
That it was fab and you could learn at your own speed.  Not too scary.
I have shared Evernote and Pearltrees with others. I am also having a close look at Diigo.  How inspiring it was to hear new things and reaffirm familiar/usual practices.
What great sessions were being run and how informative it was.
The importance of these weekend sessions with staff / colleagues who were not there and the value that you gain from it.
"They missed a great day!"
New websites and Apps.
Use of Survey Monkey survey for reading comprehension.
The websites I got from the smackdown, the ideas around 'The Class Without Walls' from Dave, the photography tips and guides
Fantastic day - punctual informative but informal. People who know and are in the job using and practising what they preach. Great to network and enjoy a shared lunch with others.
"That I learnt a lot."
It was well worth going.
Will investigate then share websites after I have used them well.
It was an amazing day of teaching and learning conversations with teachers who love what they do.
That it's well worth the time to go to to touch base with others and see what and how they are doing/using e-learning in their rooms, what they find works well, learn about new Apps, websites, tools.
I think the informality is a real big sell and it should be kept that way.  

Many thanks to all of those who attended and 'had conversations'.
I think the above comments speak for themselves

Monday, September 26, 2011

e-Learning Conversations

What a fabulous sharing and learning day. On Saturday the 24th of September we had our inaugural e-Learning Conversation's day. Point View school kindly hosted this 'free' event and teachers attended of their own volition.

So... what was different about this day? 

  • Each session was lead by teachers who volunteered to talk about something they were doing their in classroom. 
  • For some of these teachers it was the first time for them to talk publicly about what they do in their classroom.
  • In each session I could hear real conversations going on, questions, answers, sharing of similar or different experiences, new ideas. 
  • In most cases there were no presentations, just teachers showing photos of their classroom, websites they used, examples of work with students... and talking. 
  • It was very relaxed...teachers could come and go as they like.
  • This was not talking about what you could do in your classroom or in your Professional Learning, this was about what real teachers are doing right now!
It was a small group of 42 teachers from 16 different schools, 13 from our e-Learning PLN. The rest of the teachers had heard about it and opted to join in.

This I would consider is the best Professional Learning you can have... teachers who are passionate about their craft that they would give up one of their Saturdays to talk to like minded teachers from different schools all over Auckland.
Talking... Conversations... Face to Face...Fabulous Professional Development and Learning for all!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Kids and Blogs

I was working with Cheryl (@cjmcleod) yesterday and she was talking to me about her year 4 students and blogging. She was disappointed with the quality and standard of blogging and comments from the children. We had a look at the Kids Blog page on our e-Learning wiki and saw that Shaun (@mrwoodnz) had updated the page with lots of useful information.
We came to the conclusion that blogging and commenting needs to be modelled and talked about. So first steps are to look at the Kids and Comments slideshow I had made last year and have now updated.
Cheryl is going to use this as a starting point, she will embed it into her wiki so that students will always be able to refer to it.

Shaun has added a blogging rubric created by Kim Cofino

Cheryl and I decided that we need to adapt this one for younger students and add a comments row as well.

Cheryl is going to use the class blog posts so far and assess them against the rubric in a class session. They will also use the Kids Comments and Posts slideshow to discuss what makes a great blog post.
So let's wait and see, we will be looking forward to great future blog posts from Cheryl's classroom.

@MsLaidler posted on Twitter a link to another page of Kim Cofino. This one has a very useful resource called 'Student Blogging Guidelines'.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Classroom Walkthroughs

Seventeen members of the e-Learning Classroom gave up their Saturday to visit some of the classrooms in the local area. Through the power of Skype we were also able to 'virtually' visit Sharon's classroom in Ashburton.
The hardest job I had was to stop the teachers talking so I could tell them we were moving to the next school. We travelled 51.9 kms from the first school to the last.

View Larger Map

First off we went to Shaun's class in Bailey Road, Mount Wellington. He uses Google Docs very successfully in his classroom and he is the administrator for Google Apps in his school. Nearly all of the students work is digital.

Using hanging material to make  spaces in the classroom.
It was interesting to see how he has managed to make spaces in his Year 8 classroom.

Sharon from Ashburton was able to participate virtually through Skype. We showed her each classroom and she was able to listen in when teachers were talking about their rooms. In this photo Viv is answering her questions.

The next school was Willowbank in Botany. Here we visited 3 classrooms that share one large space. All of the other teachers were very envious of  the amount of room that the teachers were able to use.
This is the shared Awhina area at Willowbank. A year 2, 4 and 6 class share this space. 

After Willowbank was The Gardens School. They are fortunate to have 13 laptops and 10 iPads. The furniture has been specially bought for the room. Sara and Jan have created some wonderful self management strategies which I will write more about later.

At this school we also gave Sharon some time to share with us (virtually via skype) what she has been doing in her classroom. She talked about the changes she has made in her classroom setup and pedagogy.

Next was Somerville Intermediate. We visited 2 classrooms. First up was Steph who has embraced the Arts in her class and has allowed her students to have time to use Art materials. She has made significant changes in her room adding different spaces. One of her focuses at the moment is using Multiple Intelligences.

Dave was next, who like Shaun has concentrated on Online spaces. He has been using wikis (plural!) as his Classroom Portal.

Last of all we went to Point View. Kimberley was first who shared her wikis that she created for individual students, learning centres and her wonderful classroom environment.

Lynne was next who also has a wonderful wiki and a gorgeous room environment. What I found very special about her philosophy was that...'Yes, they are only 5 years old, but they can do anything'. This comment came after her telling everybody that in the morning students grab the laptops and go into the secret garden to play the games on the wiki.

I have asked the teachers to reflect on their day and to think about what they would like to do next time. We have several experts in different areas in our group so it looks like we will run 3 workshops on one Saturday where we share our knowledge.

From my observations the conversations that were going on were the most valuable part of the day.
I have asked the teachers to evaluate the day.

I have been asked by one of the participants what did I get out of the day.
  • seeing all the people who I work with who have met each other maybe once face to face or mostly online, talking like they had been colleagues for years
  • hearing the conversations that were so much about their pedagogy of teaching
  • listening to teachers asking each other probing questions
  • loving the fact that Sharon who lives in Ashburton was able to be part of a great professional development opportunity
  • the keenness of all to continue with what we have begun and their ideas for what they would like to do next
  • the passion that these teachers have for teaching and learning that they would give up their free time on weekends and nights to participate in this project

and as Dave summed it up in one of his comments on the evaluation Google Doc 'Meeting like minded people!'

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Online and Classroom Spaces

I worked with Dave and Steph at Somerville a couple of weeks ago and again Dave wowed me with the direction he is heading in with his online spaces. He has been the 'King' of wikis for a while and presented at L@S 2011 Web Tools For Schools

His class wiki worked extremely well last year and was a great source of resources for his students and a show case of student work. This year he has developed that wiki to be the 'portal' for his other wikis. He has developed separate wikis for numeracy, literacy and student Learning Journeys. I have asked him to make a Quicktime movie explaining how and why he uses so many wikis which he will add to his e-Learning page on our wiki.

Steph is new to our project but has been working on developing her classroom spaces. Like Dave she teaches intermediate children (ages 11-12). Like Dave her classroom does not look like a traditional classroom...there are comfy chairs and couches scattered around the room, she has removed most of her desks for tables and students use tote trays now. What impressed me about both rooms was that children were working in a variety of different ways, some were on laptops, others were working in exercise books, some were creating large posters, others were reading. In both rooms students were working collaboratively.
So, here are two intermediate classrooms successfully integrating their classroom and online spaces, visit their wiki pages on the e-Learning classroom wiki and then look at their own classroom blogs and wikis, it will be worth your time!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Collaboration...not just for students!

We talk a lot about collaboration and how it is important that our students should be collaborative and co-operative with each other. It is one of our 'Key Competencies' and an important part of our e-Learning classroom.
This is also the case with the teachers who are part of the e-Learning Cluster. Through the wiki I have seen an increase in collegial support between the teachers as they post comments on individual pages, offering advice and praising achievements.
I organised an evening chat on Skype last week, where we managed to get 7 participants available at the same time. We started at 8pm and it went for an hour but I think the teachers were quite keen to talk for longer.
It was wonderful to hear them asking questions, getting answers from each other either verbally or by posting links and downloads onto Skype.
Reading some of the updates on individual wiki pages was great feedback

'I found the Skype conference both reassuring and encouraging. So good to hear others discussing aspects that I too am working with.'
'Following the Skype discussion I have decided to brave Google docs for a "bus stop activity".'
'Thanks to everybody for the wonderful chat we had last week. It was great to be able to bounce ideas off each other.'
Jane who is one of the observers said 'was interesting to hear others and to see that people in our school are implementing ideas from the conversation, great way to collaborate across the country'

Since then I have visited some of the teachers and they have commented how useful it was for them and how they are looking forward to more 'conversations'.
The main theme that came out of the discussion was how difficult it is to get the children 'self managing' and the conclusion was that the teachers have to come up with some better management techniques. This will be a new page on our wiki where we will all contribute what works and what doesn't!

We have classroom visits coming up soon, where the teachers are giving up their Saturday to share their classroom environments with us. The participants who are 'geographically challenged' (by a few 100kms or so) will participate via Skype, so that they can be with us as well. We will visit 9 classrooms in 5 schools. I think this is going to be a great learning and sharing opportunity for us all.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Online Spaces

It's been interesting talking to our two Intermediate members of the e-Learning cluster over the last few days. I have posted previously about Dave (Year 8) where we talked about Social Networking and Digital Citizenship. With Shaun (Year 8) we talked extensively about his online spaces. He felt the same as Dave that he wasn't really developing any spaces in his classroom but I was able to point out after visiting his classroom that he has great 'group' spaces.

He is also starting to develop Writing and Science areas. He has a couch right in the middle of the classroom and he uses this for when he is working with a group and needs to use the IWB.

I suggested to him (and also to Dave) that they explain what the spaces are about and get the students to design the spaces in the classroom.

Shaun has developed some wonderful working online spaces.
His class blog is a forum for students to post work (and they love comments, so please support Comments4Kids), Shaun also posts diary updates of what has been happening in the school and classroom.
He has managed to get some other teachers on board and they share a collaborative Wikispace This is used for Homework, links and resources for the different curriculum areas.
He embeds student activities in the wiki such as the example below

Shaun makes extensive use of Google Docs in his own planning and student work.
Have a look at his e-Learning page where he is documenting his journey week by week.
His personal blog is worth a look as he has chronicled his own teaching and learning experiences over the last few years. I look forward to see how his classroom develops this year and what changes it will make to his own teaching practice and students learning.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Social Networking and Digital Citizenship

I worked with Dave today and was totally inspired by his enthusiasm and his commitment to the setting up of an e-Learning environment in his classroom. At the moment he is concentrating on his online spaces and the classroom spaces will follow.
He has set up a classroom wiki which is aptly called 'The Classroom without Walls'. This also has a link to his blog
Each child has a wikipage to publish work to, plus Dave has set up Kidblogs for each students. The class blog is used for general topical events, the Wiki for timetables, homework, general tasks, learning tools, tutorials, surveys and forms, planning and assessment. It is worthwhile checking out his own reflective blog which follows his own journey in teaching and e-Learning.
His classroom page on the e-Learning wiki is

Dave has been thinking about how he could get his students developing social networking skills so he has started his students on Twiducate. This is 'Twitter' for kids. To start off with he has set them up with accounts and passwords, and they have all had a go at posting comments. This is a great lead in to the 'Digital Citizenship' topic that will be part of his whole classroom programme.
We talked about how this is a great opportunity to talk to his class about "how we should post online'.
This slideshow is a great starting point at the beginning of the year to show students how they should be writing online.
Dave and I talked about how should the students write... should they be allowed to use text language? As his motto is 'The Class Without Walls' we talked about how posting online on a classroom account means it has the same rules as writing in the classroom, that there should be high expectations of the quality of writing. This fits in well with the Digital Citizenship work that the whole e-Learning cluster will be doing with their students.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Reflective Writing

One of the early outcomes that I am seeing from our e-Learning cluster is the wonderful reflective writing coming from the teachers
Kimberley has a Year 3/4 class and her reflective blog is called e-Learning 2011

Here are some of her thoughts so far with her e-Learning Classroom

The idea behind this blog is for my journey to be charted along the way as a means of documenting what takes place in my own learning.  

how do we, as educators, ensure that there is a balance in learning in our classrooms as we integrate e-Learning skills and the new (although now, much older) National Curriculum?

So we have to wonder, is it about the devices and the apps, is it about the web and the phones, is it about bluetooth or blu-ray...or is it about teaching the students how to think, question, work with others, be independent, be curious, challenge ideas, process the literal or lateral?

Children in Kimberley's class...They will site their goals. They will reel off a string of ideas around their next learning steps. They will explain to you how and why they make the choices that they do around their own learning based on what they find tricky. They possess an acute awareness about their personal goals and will not hesitate to take you on their learning journey, but do take care to strap in as they are usually on a wonderful ride!

In that short space of an afternoon, we planted the seeds of our class unity, our collaboration, our ability to problem-solve together, take turns, support one another and enjoy living things...all in the garden outside our room. I think we will be growing together this year for sure! 

And then we have Dave who has a Year 7 class, his reflective blog is called Digitools for Schools

The teacher now has no desk in the classroom environment. This is quite revolutionary for me, I don't know how I'll cope, or where I'll put those coffee cups and packets of panadol !
My main focus this year is to move in the direction of establishing an authentic elearning classroom. Whether I "arrive" at the end of the year or not remains to be seen, but I see it as an ongoing journey that probably has no "final" destination ... which is I think is good thing - keeps teaching / learning fresh and relevant.

First, the notion that classrooms in the 21st century should be "open walled" enabling learning to occur wherever and whenever. I've renamed our class wiki to help promote this idea in the minds of my students.
...thinking about the big ideas that underpin e-learning pedagogy, I've decided to create multiple online environments to document students learning journeys. 

Sharon has started making reflective comments on her Wiki classroom page

I am a 2nd year beginner teacher who has been given a degree of freedom to explore.

My e-learning journey has been great. In the UK I taught IT skills on a weekly basis throughout the school, in a computer suite. I always asked, "How is this integrating IT into the classroom?" So I had been searching for answers and getting frustrated with budget restraints etc. At U-Learn last year Jo Fothergill introduced me to the idea of "Inspired Classrooms".  

I am looking forward to following the journey these teachers are on, and the insights they have that will help others in their own change of teaching practice.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

First Days

I have managed to visit a few classrooms over the last few days and I have seen some wonderful classroom environments evolving. Teachers are embracing the ideas of 'spaces' and secret spaces are the most creative.
In this classroom Lynne has made a 'Secret Garden'. There is a closed in area for students where they can go to be reflective.

She has also included a secret door which leads into a small enclosed area, just big enough for one student.

Here is a guided tour of Lynne's classroom, photos taken by Lynne

Sara and Jan have gone with a nature theme as well.

And Kimberley has come up with this idea.

Shaun has created several spaces in his Year 8 Classroom.

Dave is concentrating on his 'online spaces' at the moment.

Everybody else are doing exciting things as well, which will be documented on their classroom pages on the e-Learning wiki.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The e-Learning Classroom

A few months ago @janedanielson sent me a link to Ewan McIntosh's presentation on 'Spaces in the Classroom'.

The Seven Spaces of Technology in School Environments from Ewan McIntosh on Vimeo.

Ewan's thoughts resonated with my own, this was the way I used to teach when I was still in the classroom.I called them areas and I became very creative in the way I used furniture and the space in the classroom and outside. When speaking with new teachers I always advise them to become best friends with the school caretaker because that is the person who will help you to find the equipment you need.
Towards the end of the year I was approached by 3 teachers from one school who said they were putting a proposal to their principal to set up an e-Learning cluster of 3 classrooms of different levels. At the same time another school approached me and said that they wanted to set up a 'Digital' classroom with 1-1 access. I have since put them on the e-Learning pathway. This is when I had the idea of these schools working together using a wiki as the lynch pin. Over the last four months several other teachers have discovered the project and asked to be involved. At last count there are 13 teachers from eight schools involved.
The expectations for these teachers is to be part of the e-Learning wiki, develop a community of sharing through participating in the discussions and publishing their successes and failures on their classroom page.
This blog's intention is to document the journey we make together.