Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Creative Commons- who can use my work

Yesterday the students and I worked on an activity using Flickr. I wanted the students to learn a little bit about Flickr and create some fun Christmassy things using Flickr images. There are obviously millions of images posted on Flickr with many beautiful ones tagged Christmas. But there are some of these that have All Rights Reserved and others that have Some Rights Reserved. Then there are others that have No Rights Reserved and lots more in between. So that prompted me to look up exactly what all of these terms really mean. It's something that as teachers we should all have our heads around as we prompt our students to work more and more with so much of the internet. So I checked out this great site Creative Commons.org which basically explains it all and more. It has a wizard that takes you through what rights you want to have and then gives you the exact license you need to post on your work. You can also choose particular rights according to the country you live in. I think that all of us educators out there need to make ourselves very familiar with these issues especially now that so many of our students are both accessing, using and posting on the web. I will certainly be having my Year 7, 8, 9 & 10 students learning more about this next year.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a
Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 2.5 Australia License.

Saturday, December 15, 2007


I just came across this cool little app called Plick. Very similar to Slideshare, it allows you to upload Powerpoint presentations to the web in order to share them with the world. It then allows you to embedd them into your wiki or blogs etc. Firstly, it enables you to add music or sound to the presentation by mashing the slides and the sound together. You can then download the new presentation as a PPT or a pdf. You can also add notes to each slide so that viewers can get a better idea of your intent. They have also just added the ability to upload presentations created in Google presentation to your Plicks. I still will probably upload most of our presentations to Slideshare as we do have a school account. But it's always worth checking out the competition as there just might be something worth moving for.
If you are interesting in exploring more of these types of applications try Splashcast or Slide .
Another really cool app that I have only played with a little but that I like the look of is RockYou.
I'll check these out a little more tomorrow as I'm working with the students on a web2.0 activity on Tuesday. It's meant to be a bit of fun for the last days of school so I figure I won't have to worry too much about the educational value :)

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Keeping on the straight and narrow

Many of our students have their own wikispace. For some it is their digital portfolio. They create much of the content in class and convert to digital form and upload it to their wikifolio. Some of the younger students create their digital portfolio in powerpoint and all of those students have their own wikispace ( a private one) and are enjoying adding things little by little. Even though all these spaces are private, which means that only those who are invited can see the space, many of the students have invited their friends and teachers to be part of their space. Many of the children also use their wikispace account to email each other.
Yesterday something happened though that scared the living daylights out of me. During lunchtime I was in The Edge ( one of our learning spaces) on computer room duty and one of the Grade 5 students came to me and showed me a couple of messages that she had received through her wiki account. The messages said things like, "I know who you are" and "I'm coming to your house to get you" . Immediately my heart stopped. I thought OMG this child is being stalked or approached by some creep. My first response though was to say that she did the right thing by letting me know and not to worry, that we would try to sort it out. As it was lunchtime I asked her to stay logged on so that I could send a message to wikispaces and then asked her to come back at half time so that we could talk about it some more. She came back a few minutes later and said it was okay because she knew who it was. After breathing a slight sigh of relief I asked her to tell me who is was and after a little bit of gentle probing we established the perpetrator as another student. The rest of lunchtime was spent having a chat to this student and as it turned out a couple of other students who were in on the prank. We talked about the consequences of this type of internet bullying and I tried to help them realise that although they may have initially thought it was funny there were very serious consequences for the victim and for our school. The kids were very contrite and I really don't think knew the possible consequences of their actions. I don't believe there really was a vicious intent. I think however it was a good lesson for them to learn and I certainly let them know how disheartened and frightened I felt. After all I feel responsible for them.
But for me it reminded me that we must constantly be vigilant. It also reminded me about the code of conduct that I plan to introduce next year. Although we do have a standard form that parents sign to allow internet access for their children, we don't have a form or agreement that our students sign. It's an oversight that I plan to address at the very start of next year. In the mean time I'm going to do a little research over the holidays to ensure that I find just the right voice and style. I want it simple and easy to understand, as it will be for all students, and I want it to be positive and affirmative yet very clear about the consequences and reasons for making such a code.
I hope that there are some teachers out there who will be willing to share their ideas or examples.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Women of the Web2.0 & Digital Storytelling

I have recently joined the Fernwood Gym in Bendigo. I felt like it was time to give myself sometime to get fitter and healthier. But for me ( I live in a small country town) it means an hour & 15min drive each way to get there. A big commitment I know but so far so good. I'm getting there at least two times a week and often I can manage three by staying overnight and going in the evening and then in the morning before driving the hour to work.
As I am driving so much I have been taking the opportunity to listen to podcasts along the way. For pure pleasure I listen to Hughesy and Kate from Nova100, a Melbourne radio station that I normally can't pick up. It's a lot of silly fun but it makes me laugh and what better way to start or end the day.
For stimulation and inspiration I listen to a number of different podcasts created by teachers from all over the planet. The one I listened to today as I was travelling to Bendigo to put in a step and a pump class was created by the Women of Web2 who are Vicki Davis, Sharon Peters, Cheryl Oakes and Jennifer Wagner, four inspirational women who are challenging us all and leading the way in using Web2.0 in the classroom. Although recorded a few weeks ago, I listened to an interview with Ewan MacIntosh and David Jakes. What particularly interested me was the discussion around Digital Storytelling and the purpose, pedagogy and learning opportunities around this particular type of narrative. The way that David Jakes described it was it begins with a story, created, written, told. From that narrative a script is distilled. In other words the meaning is finessed through drafts. Then once the script is created, the student creates a storyboard which includes the use of words, images, video, music. At this stage the students may have not even used a computer. Then once the narrative is storyboarded, they begin to search for or create images, music, short videos that will enhance and add meaning to the story. This is where the array of web2.0 tools can add to the potential and power of the story. The final and perhaps the most important part is the presentation or sharing of the story with fellow classmates and hopefully the online world. I can see that I have a lot more researching to do, but it has piqued enough interest to know that this is something I want to know more about.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Life isn't always what it seems.

Tonight I came across this interesting site created by Dan Brooke which demonstrates in a very clear way what Photoshop can do for the 'beautiful' women we see on our tv screens and in the popular magazines. Just hover your mouse over each of the words on the page and you can see what can be done. What a great way to show our young girls (and boys) exactly what goes into preparing an image that is then presented as 'real'. Despite the fact that I think we all know that this goes on it's still no wonder so many of us women are never satisfied with how we look. The woman in the image on Dan's site is Amber MacArthur who is a Web 2.0 commentator that I have listened to many times on net@nite, a podcast that she and Leo Laporte host. Amber also suggests that we take our girls for a video visit to Youtube to check out the Dove Evolution Commercial. Now they can see what a bit of make up, lighting and Photoshop can achieve towards creating a totally unrealistic perception of a perfectly beautiful woman in all her simple untouched glory. The power of
Check it out the youtube video here.

Better still take your girls (and boys) to the Dove Self Esteem Campaign for real beauty. What an interesting way to begin a discussion with both girls and boys about perceptions and (mis) understandings of our strange, strange media flooded world.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

John Pearce- an inspirational teacher

I attended the VITTA conference last week and if I say so myself I managed to choose some pretty amazing and inspirational teachers to listen to. One session that I really enjoyed was presented by John Pearce, a primary teacher in a Victorian school. Earlier in the day John had been presented with the VITTA Primary Teacher of the year. You know the deal, they start to read out the things that the winner has done and I must admit as soon as I heard things like this person has created some wonderful science resources, keeps a number of blogs, has his students create blogs and wikis for sound educational purposes that are recognised all over the world...well you know the drill. I reckon by the first sentence I knew it was John who was the winner. and it's well deserved. So I was very happy to go along and listen and watch him show lots of inspirational examples of how he has used these web 2.0 tools to engage and inspire his students. John very generously provided us all with a CD with many of his resources and ideas. I haven't yet had time to check it out, but it's on my list of things to do. There were a couple of little gems from John that I'd like to share. In explaining RSS feeds John used the analogy of a postman. In 'the olden days' we used to have to go down to the post office to get our mail. (without RSS feeds we have to go to the website, blog or wiki to get any updates.) And then they employed postmen. Now people didn't have to go to the post office. Their mail was delivered to them by the postman. (RSS feeds are the online equivalent to the postman) A cool analogy that is simple and easy to explain to teachers and kids alike.
Another great little gem was when John was talking about online etiquette and safety. He talked about the fact that he always posts the code of practice on the student blogs before they begin their online activities. He said that he used the "grandma rule" which is the idea that students should only post things that they would be happy to have their grandma read. How cute but cleverly in it's simplicity and clarity.
Finally the last gem I'll add here is that John uses RSS feeds for all his students so that he can be informed when students make changes to their blogs. This inspired me to do this with our students wikis. There were lots more fantastic ideas from John...thanks for sharing. Perhaps when I get to the CD I'll be able to add more.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Stephen Heppell and Future Trends

For the past three days I have been attending the Victorian Information Technology Teachers Association annual conference in Melbourne. This is, I think, the third year in a row that I have attended and the third year that I have presented as well. This year my presentation was called Wonderful ways with Wedderburn wikis and in a future blog I might reflect a little on the session. This post though is about Professor Stephen Heppell who presented the keynote on Day One. Prof Heppell is a world reknowned thinker and futurist in the area of technology and learning. What I gained from the keynote was a sense of the way teaching and learning is changing at an exponential rate. Obviously this isn't something that we all haven't been aware of. He presented us with lots of examples that illustrated the world that our students are growing up in. It was not unlike the Did You Know video created by Karl Fisch with lots of 'facts and statistics' that indicates the rapid rate that our world is changing. In fact one quote that I think he said was that there are something like a new school being opened in the UK every 4 days, that China has 1,173000 schools. There was lots of discussion and again lots of examples of the ways that educational bodies and in particular schools are addressing these issues through recognising and embracing new technologies rather than banning them and pretending that they don't exist inside the school gate. There was also some amazing teaching and learning spaces that are being created all over the world. He also asked us to consider the trends from the 20thC to the 21stC that he and other colleagues have identified. and then challenged us to think about where we currently are , where we would like to be and how we will we know when we get there. I can clearly see these trends reflected in web2.0 and it's influence on millions around the world. What does it mean for us now? Does it really change anything at the coalface? At this stage, I would say no...it is not enough to simply recognise that the world is exponentially changing for our students but to recognise that if we accept these observable trends then what is this going to mean for us as educators, facilitators and colearners? I wonder. There's lots more to explore.. in another post.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Arthus-the new generation of 14 Year Old?

Arthus is an amazing 14 year old student from who blogs. I came across a post about Arthus on a blog called the Infinite Thinking machine, an educational blog that is contributed to by some very emminent educational commentators.
In this post titled "A 14 year old talked Educational Technology- Steve Hargadon reflects on the type of 14 year old Arthus is and how he uses and moves in the online world. His suggestion is that Arthus is not your typical 14 year old and I probably agree with that. I'm not suggesting that other 14 year olds are not as articulate and maybe as prolific as Arthus as I can think of a few that I teach at my school but none of them, as far as I know keep a blog or contribute to the online educational debate. I stress though " as far as I know". To be perfectly honest I would have no idea what type of online presence our 14 years olds have at our school. I do know that a few of them have bebo, facebook or myspace pages but I don't know what their online monikers are and I don't have any online dialogue with them. But I digress.
What really fascinated me about this post was that in the Notes section Steve wrote about where Arthus started his online journey and even more interesting was the habits and behaviours of Arthus as he interacts on the web. Much of what is listed here is a very mature response to some of the challenges and fears that educators and educational institutions face. But what is even more interesting are the 40 odd comments that have arisen out of this post. You must check it out as Arthus participates and again represents himself very powerfully in a new and exciting world of equality- he gives as much as he gets. An example I think, of the (educational) world continuing to flatten- I'm not sure that this conversation would happen in the classroom where often unfortunately the teacher has all the power .

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Flock is great

After getting hooked on Flock, a couple of weeks ago it became corrupted and no matter what I did I couldn't download it again without the corruption message returning. And boy did I miss it. After some problem solving I finally found a little file that was causing all the problems, got rid of it and downloaded Flock again.
Flock is a great browser for anyone who is into online social networking community as it has so many cool little tools and widgets that you can add. For example, instead of having to go to my blog and log in to post something new, I can simply click on the Blog Editor within Flock and begin to write. I can also check out all my images in Flickr with the Media Minibar. I can upload new photos within Flock using the Photo Uploader and get all my RSS feed with Feed Reader. I'm sure there are lots more things that I will discover as I continue to use it.

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Saturday, November 10, 2007

Learning more and more

As I have been researching and building this information wiki for a couple of presentations that are coming up, I have been learning more and more about the amazing things that are available to educators in the web. In the past couple of days a couple of blogs have really helped my project. One is from CoolCatTeacher, Vicki Davis who recently blogged about the Web 2.o applications that she loves. What is even better the comments that have resulted from her post have added even more to the idea of thinking about what you find essential in the world of the Web2.0.
Chris Betcher also blogged about this in this post a few days ago where he describes the online tools that he couldn't live without. I don't think I can add to either of these lists and I guess in a way that makes me feel good because it means that I'm probably on the right track in my learning journey of web2.0 and its application in education. But what makes me even more excited is that the kids that I teach also seem to be getting excited about the possibilities. For example the Year 8's have to create a Service announcement about the environmental issue that they have been studying. And today two of the girls who have been working really well and who are great thinkers and enthusiasts asked whether there was something they could use to get some video from the web for their project. 15 minutes later they had learnt about KeepVid and VideoPiggy and were well on their way to finding something on TeacherTube to enhance their project.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Creating a Learning Wiki

I love wikis. Mainly because they provide an opportunity for anyone or everyone to create an online presence to share, to provoke, to describe, to collaborate. Wikis as we know simply enable anyone and everyone to create content online using easily understandable tools. Many of our P-12 schools are taking advantage of the opportunities for "collaborative construction" that wikis provide. But I love the fact that we can also use them for whatever we need to create online. At the moment I am working on my presentation wiki , Teaching-with-Technology, in preparation for a couple of conferences I am presenting at over the next couple of weeks. My aim is to have all the information that I need and much more on the wiki so that people who attend my workshop will have a type of one stop shop where they can get all of the information that they need. It will contain links for both teachers and students to sites that help them to be organised, collaborate with each other, learn from others, see examples of Web 2.0 being used in the classroom and much more.
Over the next couple of weeks I will continue to build on it and I would love some feedback or suggestions.

Monday, October 29, 2007

When is out of date, out of date?

A couple of days ago I was exploring a link to a wiki created by a class in New Zealand. It was posted to a mailing list to illustrate a good example of educational use of a wiki. And it was an excellent, genuine example. However as I was reading it, I noticed that the last entry was posted in about June 2007. My immediate reaction and consequent action was to stop reading and to move onto something else. Why?
When I thought about this, I realised that the more I read information and ideas on the web, the more I expect the posts, or entries to be 'fresh'. Why, I wonder. I would have no qualms about reading a non-fiction textbook that might have been published 10 0r even 20 years ago. What is different about the web?
Speed is also a need. I find that often I'll read something and if it doesn't 'grab' me, I'll either move on or at the very most, tag it and then move on.
I wonder what it says about me as a consumer? I wonder what this need for immediacy or action might say about our students as consumers?

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Visitors all around the World

I have always gotten a kick out of looking at the Clustr maps that sits on the right hand side of my blog. I'm not naive enough to think that all of those are visitors who regularly come back to visit my blog. In fact I'm sure that most of those are ones who just happen to stumble across it. However it is still nice to see the red dots building up.
Last week I got a message from Clustr maps to say that after a year of using the Clustr maps widget they have archived all my visits and I'm starting all over again. Oh well, it looked good at the time. I wonder if I can get more than about the 2300 visits that has been 'dotted' over the last 12 months. I know, I know there are lots of educators who probably get that many in a week and not a year...but I've had fun and will continue to use my blog as a tool for reflection. Having people 'stumble' across it is a bonus. And I do get a real buzz when someone leaves a comment.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Voki -creating a new you

Over the last few weeks I have been introducing our Grade 3/4 students to Vokis. What is a Voki you ask? Well if you ask the kids they would probably say something like, "It's this really cool site where you can make something that talks and moves. It can be a person or a cartoon or an animal. You can dress it and change the way it looks and then embed it into your wiki or blog by copying the code that is created.
The kids love it and I do too. One of the things that I do like about it is something really simple that looks a lot of fun. It also allows for students to create something that can go online without readily identifying them. But there is also the flexibility of the avatars to present the ideas of the students. One of the activities that I have asked the kids to do is to create a voki that talks about their passion. An activity that they already regularly do in class but here is a more powerful and exciting way to present it to others in their class and their parents.
Here's an example created by Maddy...

Get a Voki now!

Sunday, October 14, 2007

K12 Online Conference 2007

I am going to do my best to check out a few of the prestentations on the K12Online Conference 2007 which is already underway. The main presentations are beginning this week and the following week with some Pre conference presentations already completed. There are some pretty cool presenters check them out here.
Follow the schedule here http://k12onlineconference.org/docs/k12online2007schedule.html
If you read this blog regularly, you would know that I am pretty passionate about the value of wikis and this K12Online conference wiki is a pretty great example of how wikis can be used extremely effectively.

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Thursday, October 04, 2007

Happy Birthday James

james and danny
Originally uploaded by annieb3525
Happy 22nd birthday for Oct 3rd to my beautiful son James who is at trade school at the moment in Melbourne. This time last year we were preparing a 21st birthday party in the local footy sheds. This is James on the left with his good mate Danny only 12 months ago. My how time flies.

Blogging is worth it

I have been on holidays for the last two weeks and have taken a little break from blogging. But in that time I have received 4 or 5 comments on previous posts that I have made on this blog. Some comments were on posts made over a month or so ago. That is really heartening and encouraging as sometimes when you send these thoughts out into the blogosphere you don't really know if the only one reading it is YOU (as in me).  It made me wonder about the immediacy of the web and the feeling of moving on that I often get when I read or post something. I think it has to do with everything happening and changing so quickly on the web. It's like, once it's gone it's time to move on to the next thought. It's good though to every now and then go back and read and respond to previous thoughts. So thanks to Sarah, Jess and anonymous for waking me up again and getting me back on the blogging trail. Looking forward to another exciting term of fun !!

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Sunday, September 09, 2007

Adding images on the web

A few weeks ago I was reading Darrel Branson's blog The ICT Guy and he mentioned that he uses pic resize to resize images that are to be uploaded to blogs and wikis. In the past I have (and still do) teach my students how to quickly optimise images in Fireworks or Paintshop Pro. But pic resize will now also become an additional option for our students to use when they quickly want to resize something to up load to the web. It's so easy. All you do is select the picture you want to resize, choose quick resize, go through the options, download the image (you have to download it within 20 minutes or you will lose it) and the upload to your blog or wiki. Cool !!

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Recently I was in a Grade 3/4 classroom discussing the possibility of setting up some new blogs and adding them to the class wiki. As part of the activity we decided to explore the blogs of other students in other schools. My purpose was to have students consider why we blog and to hopefully see their value. One of the student blogs we looked at used an avatar that moved and spoke and looked pretty cool. Thinking I would be teaching something new I asked if the students knew what an avatar was and to my surprise some students not only knew what they were but had created them. A little further probing revealed that they had been taught how to create an avatar by older siblings. It made me wonder what else they knew how to do (many of them knew about myspace and youtube) and once again it forced me to consider the challenge we all have as teachers to keep up with the changes that are occurring in our students lives even as we read this article.

Talk about the Being green activity. Planning with skype

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Ubiquitous technology

When I went to South Korea earlier this year to run a workshop in Intel Teach Thinking with Technology I remember talking with one of the participants about the notion of ubiquitous technology. At the time I really had no idea what he meant and he explained that it was the notion that technology will become such a part of our lives that it will sit in the background working for us; available to us at anytime, anywhere.
The reason I thought of this conversation is that I am presently travelling on a school bus with Year 8 students from Wedderburn College going down to the Pixar 20 Years of Animation display at ACMI in Federation Square. While travelling I've logged into the internet via a wireless connection which means that I can do a little bit of work (or blogging) as we head to Melbourne. Every second kid on the bus is texting friends and family and we are listening to music via an FM transmitter that one of the kids has brought on their Ipod.
Serendipidously (it seems to happen to me alot) I was reading John Pearce's blog and one of his posts was about m-learning called Today Two Years is Tout d'abord in which he discussed in part his progress along the continuum of ICT capabilities. He concluded that in some sense he wasn't as far along as he thought when comparing himself to Alex Hayes a senior Education Officer with TAFE NSW who writes about m-learning in a very interesting presentation that he is presenting at a conference in Canberra very shortly. According to WikiPedia as of August 22nd 2007, M-Learning is "learning that happens across locations or that takes advantage of learning opportunities offered by portable technologies"
Check it out here:

But Alex's point made me think again about the fact that ubiquitous technology, m-Learning or whatever you want to call it is changing the way we work, think, communicate, share, talk, learn, manage, reflect. But has it yet changed the way we teach???? I think in your case John, the answer is a resounding yes.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Being Creative

This morning I went into the Grade 3/4 classroom. We began yesterday by setting up a wiki for the kids to create and post their ideas and reflections about what they are doing in class. In planning for this session I had a chat with Tanya, the class teacher and she told me that every Tuesday afternoon she challenges the students to be more creative by having them design, create, problem solve and produce an article or plan that addresses a particular problem or issue that she poses. For example she has asked them to design the best handbag for a teacher, or a farmer or a carpenter. They have designed and planned the best holiday for their family. They have designed the ideal spot for them to spend three hours relaxing and thinking.
As she was telling me about this I firstly thought- what a fabulous teacher- someone who values creativity and expressive thought and gives it the due time that it needs. It's no surprise to me that Tanya was once a pre-school teacher. But I also thought about how we could use the wiki as a repository for their ideas. We could scan the ideas that the children draw. We could have students descibe and explain their plans and upload the audio files. We record students demonstrating their inventions. I'm really excited about what we could achieve with just a little bit of effort and imagination.
Serendipidously I was reading a blog entry from Cherie Toledo this evening and she commented on a video presentation by Tony Buzan on creativity. He says "creativity is the engine of all curricular" That it's not about what we learn but HOW we learn. and that is the challenge for us as teachers. Not to teach facts and knowledge (although he says we have to do that) but to teach HOW to learn. By teaching and allowing for creativity we are unleashing the potential of every student, every brain.
check it out here:

Monday, August 27, 2007

Our new project- Being Green

This week we are beginning a really exciting new project with a school in Andale Kansas. The opportunity arose through some funding that I received through the Knowledge Bank. My idea was to create a connection with a school overseas and to develop a problem based project that used the Intel online Thinking with Technology tools So I approached a fellow Intel Senior trainer, Dyane who is a curriculum consultant in Andale. After about three months of planning we have finally started with our Year 8 students here and Year 7 students at Andale.
We did our planning via Google Docs which was a fantastic way to collaborate and share . We have set up a wiki using PB wiki for both teachers and students.
Beginning with a viewing of An Inconvenient Truth and a skype interview with Dyane and our students, the main task is that students will work in cross country teams and will research an issue that has some effect on their community. They will compare and contrast the differences between our two rural communities and prepare an environmental action plan.
The task after viewing the movie was to reflect on it in the wiki on a shared page for each group.
This is what one of the students said.
After watching 'An Inconvenient Truth' I was surprised at how bad the problem actually is. I never realised it was that disastrous, especially the part about the melting polar ice caps. It was a very confronting film. The statistics shocked me. It made me want to take action.

I am looking forward to learning about my American group members. I want to know how they look and what their personalities are like.

Another two students wrote their response together
The other day we watched an Inconvenient Truth.

It was really surprising to see all of the changes that could occur to the world if global warming continues at the same rate as what it is now and. What surprised me a lot was the amount of people and animals that would be affected by this. For example the polar bears drowning was a fact that reached out to us. Also that whole country could be submerged by water and the central town of Wedderburn might just be on the beach.

Also the increasing temperature and less rainfall was a concern to us as Ashleigh lives on a farm. But we have run out of time so we have to go Bye.

Tomorrow our students are going to calculate their own ecological footprint and add that to the wiki. I think it's going to be a pretty exciting time for us all.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Intel Thinking with Technology - another group trained.

This last 5 days I have been in Melbourne training another wonderful group of Master Trainers in the Intel Thinking with Technology program. I ran the program at Soundhouse at Debney Secondary College in Flemington, Melbourne. What a great set up they have there. Equipment ranges from a piano, drums and other musical instruments to a fantastic lab that has equipment set up for creating animations & film, audio & electronic music and I'm sure lots more that we didn't get to see. The lab itself was perfect for the training of the teachers and we were very well looked after. As I have done during the last 4 training groups we used a wiki to support the learning. It was used as a repository for information as well as a place where the participants could reflect on their own learning and share ideas with each other. Once again I chose wikispaces as the most convenient and easy wiki to use. Intel has now also just released a new assessment workspace for teachers to collect and store assessment tools such as rubrics and checklists. This new workspace is very similar in design to the Thinking with Technology workspace and provides a very convenient online repository for accumulating lots of examples of assessment artifacts.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Why Blog

Chris Betcher is celebrating his 1 year anniversary of blogging and he pondered about why he blogs and why it is important to him. I actually started my blog on October 12 2005 although it took a while to get into a regular routine. I'm not as prolific as Chris (he has written an average of three posts a week) but I have written 84 posts most of which have been written in the last half of 2006 and 2007. I remember writing a few posts about the topic of blogging last year. And I guess I haven't really changed my mind over that time. I still write to keep a record of what I have been thinking and doing mostly at school. I like the fact that it's there for me to go back to. Not that I do very often though.
I do like to think that it keeps me in track professionally though. I have even used my blog as a record of my personal professional development and have presented it as evidence of progress in our Performance and Development process at school.
Like Chris I'm not sure that there are many people who read it and unlike Chris's, I don't think mine is terribly insightful or clever. But for whatever reason I still do like to see my words in print even if I am the only one who reads it. Even so I do like reading other blogs and it's often where I get ideas to think about. It's all very social and friendly and a wonderful way to keep in touch with some pretty amazing educators.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Reading - What works

We recently had a discussion at our school about the value of Reading Recovery as an intervention program for students in Grade One who for whatever reason have not learnt to read as expected. As an ex Reading Recovery teacher I was very disheartened to hear that our region is reducing the level of support provided to schools to run the Reading Recovery program by changing the training of new teachers to every second year instead of every year. I'm not sure what this means for RR teachers who are already trained and working in schools. Traditionally they have a 6 weekly meeting called Continuing Contact where they meet with their RR tutor and discuss the progress of their students.
Today I came across an interesting article at the What Works Clearing House - a website that provides scientific evidence of what works in education. The article, entitled Beginning Reading discusses reading interventions for students in grades K–3 (or ages 5-8) that are intended to increase skills in alphabetics (phonemic awareness, phonological awareness, letter recognition, print awareness and phonics), reading fluency, comprehension (vocabulary and reading comprehension), or general reading achievement. According to the studies done so far Reading Recovery is the only one that has shown effectiveness in all four of the above areas. It simply reinforces what I have believed all along. The Reading Recovery program really does work. I have seen it in action and I know of many ex students who have continued to soar once they have been through the program. Without it they may have been in the too high percentage of children who slip through the cracks and end up without a functioning literacy.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Maybe the message is getting through

Today I was working with a Grade 5/6 class. They are building their Digital Portfolios in Powerpoint and while they have learnt lots of technical and practical skills the impressive thing are the ideas and thoughts that many of them are adding. But what blew me away today was a conversation I heard between three students. One was showing the others some images oon his DP of his pet lizard. The conversation went something like this. Student One: this is my pet lizard Lucky. Student Two: what is that other picture of a lizard? Is that Lucky too? Student Three: I don't think that is Lucky. I think you copied it from the internet. Student Two: What about copyright? Remember we're not allowed to just get pictures from the internet if they are copyrighted. Student One: Hmmm okay I did copy it. I'll delete it and get another real picture of Lucky from home.
All this happened without the kids knowing that I was listening. I was pretty rapt as earlier this year we did some lessons around copyright but I wasn't sure whether it sunk in. At least it did with these three!

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Being tagged has it's challenges

Maybe it is a smaller world than we think...in the last couple of days I have been tagged by two 'bloggers' that I regularly read. Thanks Cherie and John. The challenge is of course to then tag another 8 bloggers and I presume without tagging the ones that have tagged me. Now that's a bit of a challenge because when I read who they have tagged they are ones that I might have tagged as well. Tricky, you see.
But the task is first to follow the rules:
1) Post these rules before you give your facts
2) List 8 random facts about yourself
3) At the end of your post, choose (tag) 8 people and list their names, linking to them
4) Leave a comment on their blog, letting them know they’ve been tagged

1. I live in Charlton, a small town in North West Victoria and have lived here almost all my life.
2. I have travelled to Switzerland; Portland, Oregon; London; Seoul, Sth Korea; Cook Islands; New Zealand; sometimes for work and sometimes for pleasure
3. I have two children, Hannah and James.
4. Of five siblings, I am the only one who has remained in my hometown. My brother and sisters live in Bendigo, Brisbane and Zurich, Switzerland.
5. I teach at the school where my husband is principal. We have worked in schools together for most of our careers and seem to manage this very well.
6. I taught my daughter Hannah in Grade 4. The only thing she tells me she didn't like about it was that I never chose her for anything. I guess I didn't want to be accused of favouritism.
7. My great uncle, the later Gus Parish was once manager of BHP.
8. I grew up on a wheat and sheep farm.

And I'm not going to be able to tag as many as 8. I hope that people don't mind me doing it. I found it much harder than I thought because I know that a couple of you have been tagged in recent days. Not sure what this means for the progress of this tag but anyway here goes...

Now for the tagging





Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Mash Up awards

I just came across this great website http://mashupawards.com when I was looking for a definition of mashable content on the web. That led me to bookr - the winner of today's award. What a cool little application. I can see how we could create lovely little books for kids to read on the web using images that we have taken and posted into flickr. It takes no time at all to put something together and then to embedd it into a blog or a wiki. Put as many pages as you like .

This isn't a great example but you'll get the idea.

Blogged with Flock

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


I've just been skyping with Chris Betcher, chatting about this and that...mainly school and webby stuff. He's been raving about Flock lately in his blog and mentioned it again tonight so thought I'd check it out. Just quietly, I think he might be right. It looks pretty cool. I think I'm going to have fun playing with this new browser. In fact this is my first post using the Flock "create a new post" button. It says only one click to post and it's right. COOOOL !

Blogged with Flock

Monday, August 06, 2007

Oz teachers - the best mailing list in the educational world

OzTeachers is the most prolific and supportive mailing list that I have ever seen. It is amazing how generous and supportive the teachers are who belong to it. I honestly don't think I would have learnt a quarter of the things I have learnt over the last few years about computer technology and now Web 2.0 without the wisdom of all these wonderful educators. I have just been reading a really interesting discussion on the list about the use of social bookmarking in schools and in particular the popularity of delicious. It seems that there are a few teachers out there who are using delicious as a very effective bookmarking tool for students and teachers when researching topics required for school projects. I wonder however how much those who contribute so prolifically to the list are not the norm. I suspect so. I think we are still a long way from seeing the use of these tools as part and parcel of the reportoire of a student's or a teachers for that matter researching strategies. I guess it's our challenge to start making inroads.

Friday, July 20, 2007

I love PageFlakes

I know that I have written about PageFlakes before and raved about the convenience and value of it as a personal homepage and repository for regularly visited webpages, links and much more. This morning I opened up my pageflakes to see that it's been revamped again with lots of new widgets and flakes and a whole new look. There is even a flake now called Anything Flake which is one that anyone can use to design and create for themselves.

"The new Anything Flake lets you add any type of content from text to images or even build custom HTML applications. This Flake can be used to personalize pages and Pagecasts even more fully.

For non-technical users, its WSYWIG editor lets users write text, add images, or grab URLs or other content from the Web and drop it in. Essentially, If you can use Microsoft Word, you can make a Flake. For example, a new mom or dad might copy images from their digital camera and paste them into their Pageflakes page or Pagecast.

Advanced users can take the Anything Flake much further using HTML and Flash components.

COOL !!!

Monday, June 25, 2007


It seems that everywhere we turn these days someone is mentioning YouTube and the incredible way good videos on YOuTube can be spread across the world by work of mouth (or email) in a matter of what seems like minutes. In my experience most teachers still do not use the power and the ease and the accessibility of video to support, teach, enhance, influence, engage etc etc in the classroom. I have blogged before about Teacher Tube and the great things that are on it. Today I came across another site called VideoJug that is basically life explained on video. vidoes are tagged according to group or topic. e.g. How to clean your house the green way or How to put out a candle without blowing it.
People can even post requests for things that they would like to know and they then hope that someone will post a video to answer the request.
There is a whole section devoted to education with some amazing historical footage Check out in particular the section on learning.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Working with teachers and blogging for blogging's sake

I have been struggling my health a little bit lately, hence the blogging has suffered. But each time I think about it and not post, I realise that I'm losing the momentum. And I don't want to do that. The stream of thought that comes with blogging is really important.
So to keep things going I'm going to be a little kind to myself and rely on the generosity ( and brainpower) of others to ensure that I have something reasonably interesting to post.
Chris Betcher recently blogged about Bryn Jones 11 Things that make a difference in using ICT to improve learning.
Briefly they are
1. Emotional Support
2. A shared pedagogical understanding.
3. A constructivist philosophy
4. At least 4 computers per classroom
5. Help to access appropriate material
6. Just in time technical skills and support
7. Reliable infrastructure
8. Access to professional development(but not necessarily participating in it)
9. Links from home to school
10. Leadership
11. Flexible Learning Space
All of these factors ring really true to me in my role at school. For me personally I would add another couple. One is persistence. Most days I try to be like the blow up clown that is weighted at the bottom so that no matter how hard you hit it, it will keep bouncing up. I must admit lately I have really felt like staying down. But any change takes a long time and so in my role I have to accept that I just have to keep bouncing back, presenting ideas and encouragement over and over again until someone takes up an idea. (or until they are so sick of me they do it to shut me up)
Another is time. I am extremely lucky in my job to be able to devote a lot of time to learning and exploring exactly what is out there. (and I get paid for it!) If I was a full time classroom teacher I know I would still be passionate about technology but I wouldn't have the time to learn as much. I know I'm slightly twisting Chris's intent here but in Chris's post called The Challenge of being a Life Long Learner he talks about the relentless aspect of lifelong learning. And it's true. The nature of the web makes it even more so. So what teachers need is time to explore, to learn and to practise.
I'm sure there are lots more but that will do me for now. Thanks Chris and Bryn. You don't even know it but you are helping me through a rough patch.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Where do we go from here with WikiFolios

Years 7, 8 & 9 students all have their wikifolios created and I believe the biggest challenge now is how to support teachers in our school to feel comfortable and confident enough to create opportunities for the students to populate their wikifolios with examples that they have chosen that illustrate their thinking and learning. Last week in a PD meeting we brainstormed ideas of how we might do that. Teachers came up with lots of great ideas but the biggest challenge is still (I think) the organisation and preparation that goes with using technology. At our following staff meeting on Monday I tried to support that concern by showing some links on our school wiki to a couple of very useful and easy to use applications that can be embedded in the wikifolios. One is called SlideShare and it allows students to create Powerpoints, to upload them to the web and then embedd them into their wikifolios. And the second is called PhotoBucket. It allows students to create simple pieces of video and mash them with images, audio and text to create a cool little video which can also be embedded into their WikiFolios.

Friday, May 18, 2007

I need some advice

I have been thinking about the power of blogging and the way we use it in schools and as a reflective tool and collaborative tool for teachers and students. But I have been grappling for a while with the dilemma of where to place my blog. Until now I have been using blogger and have been very happy with the tools and ease of use. But my problem is that in many schools blogger is blocked and I wonder if this is not going to be an ongoing problem.
Edublogs on the other hand, is unlikely to be blocked in the near distant future and so I'm wondering if I should move over to edublogs. But what happens to all the posts that I have made up until now. What about the cool little add ons that I have on my current blog such as the flickr widget and the clustrmaps. I really love those things and would want to know that I can have them as well.
I think maybe the best thing to do is to contact a few of the regular edublogs users and see what they think about the value of edublogs and then do it. If you are reading this post and you have some thoughts I'd appreciate your input.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

This is what happens when you get busy...the less pressing things gets let go. Notice that I say pressing rather than important. This process of reflecting and sharing and creating ideas is important but perhaps is the thing that gets dropped off the list when there are things to do.
But I'll try to get to it more regularly if I can.
But here is something that caught my eye and prompted me to comment.
One of the things that I rely on most is the community that is out there who are willing to share their ideas.
A leader in the learning community for many years (I think) is Bryn Jones. ( sorry Bryn if you are a young gun) He runs the very successful company, Atomic Learning which provides online tutorials for teachers and ICT educators all around the world.
It's great to hear that he has now entered the world of blogging. See Bryn's Blog. I'm sure his thinking will be worth following.-
A case in point is one of his first posts which shares a very clever video creating an analogy...no I'll let you enjoy it and take from it what you will.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

The challenge is how we respond...

This video link was sent to me from a colleague, Dyane Smokorowski who is a fellow Senior trainer in Intel in Kansas USA. It challenges us to think about how the web has developed and how it is changing the way we think, work and play. I will show some of our staff at school this although I wonder if it is still a little too foreign and new and will end up confusing rather than supporting their understanding. On the other hand we have to challenge and recognise that this is all happening under our noses and if we don't choose to understand we will do so at our peril.

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Teacher Tube

I came across a post by Anne Bubnic who is a Tech consultant in California. She has a blog called Tech Savvy Teacher and writes about the way technology is changing teaching and learning. In this particular post she talks about the newly established Teacher Tube and how it was established by brothers Adam and Jason Smith. They have come up with a fantastic idea which I hope will establish a really positive environment for schools and teachers to share their videos. I haven't tried it yet but I hope that we will be able to embed these videos into our wikis and blogs just like we can with Youtube and Google Video.
But congratulations anyway to Adam and Jason for recognising that as we continue to recognise the power of Web 2.0 applications we need enterprising educators to lead the way.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Teacher Tube

While researching for a workshop for Intel Education in Brisbane this week, I came across this cool little video that Vicki A Davis has made and uploaded to Teacher Tube. I subscribe to Vicki's blog called CoolCatTeacher using Bloglines which has lots of great ideas and reflections about using technology in teaching.
My understanding is that Vicki is regarded as one of the leaders around the world who is using her blog to promote and share great thoughts and enthusiasm for the art of teaching. She was a finalist in the Teacher blog of the year and her class wiki won Edublogs Best Wiki in 2006
You may need to watch this a couple of times...I did...but it's message and design is very clever.

Digital Portfolios + Wikis

Last week I conducted a workshop for all staff and considered the question of how we are going to use wikis as the basis for student portfolios in Years 7, 8, & 9. The initial challenge for many teachers is to understand the concept of a wiki as an online website that can be created and edited by teachers and students, or anyone for that matter. And the second major concept is the potentially complicated notion of a digital portfolio as more than simply a repository for excellent work. Part of the workshop was to use the Intel Education Visual Ranking tool to rank different purposes for digital portfolios. The main purpose was to have staff discuss how they see portfolios being used with their classes and what learning, assessment and evaluation they might support.
The challenge is to create a shared understanding of what a portfolio is, how it is structured, how and what it demonstrates about student's learning and how it is used in parent/teacher/student conferences. The Victorian Education Department has some excellent online documents that support the understanding and development of portfolios through templates, documents and weblinks. For teachers in the department they access them through their department login although I believe that you can view some of the material as a guest. Try searching from this link for digital portfolios.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

Creating our WikiFolios.

Now that students in Years 7, 8 & 9 have created their wikifolios the time has come to talk with teachers about how they might have students add to their portfolio.
This is obviously the much more challenging area of digital portfolios. What does each subject add to it to ensure that students and parents find it a valuable source and record of student's learning.

Monday, March 05, 2007

A change is as good as a holiday

Why change the title from Educating Anne to Think, Wonder and Learn with the Web? 'Cause I can I guess.
I'm thinking that this year will be a new opportunity to explore what is out there in www land and to create new opportunities for the teachers and students at our school to think, wonder and learn. It's funny, I was just thinking that I sort of think of the web as something separate, it's out there, it's removed from us.
But of course it's not. It's constantly referred to. Every business, every media outlet, every educational institution to name a few, would be mad not to have an online presence.
It makes me wonder about those who don't or choose not to have access to the web.
As time moves on will it be harder and harder for them to function comfortably with no knowledge of how to get to a website, how to send email, how to buy things online?
But in order to learn you have to use it.
And to use it you will probably want or have a need.
Part of my role here at school is to create that need for both teachers and students.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Working with Wikis

This term we have hit the ground running after a few trials late last year of using wikis as an online precence for students and also for class programs.
This year I am team teaching Year 7 & 8 IT classes. I am also currently supporting the development of ICT and higher order thinking skills in three other grade levels, Prep/One, Grade 5/6 and Year 9.
The wikis that we have created so far are all linked through our main wiki for Wedderburn College.
From there teachers and students can link to their class wiki and their own individual wikis. Through the generosity of Wikispaces we have been able to create these wikis as private so that only the student and those that they invite can see it. They will be without advertisements because Wikispaces deems them educational. As an added precaution I have asked students to create their log on and their wikispace with their Cases number which is a series of letters and numbers unique to each student. That also means that if I as a teacher want to see any of them I know the url. It does mean that students have to invite their classroom teachers to be a member of their wikispace but that isn't hard and is a good exercise in itself.
We have decided to call them WikiFolios. I'm not the first one to think of that term. Although I did Google it and came up with only 16 hits in English which is pretty amazing. So maybe I am a bit of a trail blazer after all !!! :)

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Lost without my Laptop

Now that I am back in Australia after my amazing experience in Korea and in Bangkok I now have time to reflect on what I did. I have the time but not the technology.
when I left Bangkok my laptop, mobile phone and palm pilot got left behind at the hotel. It wasn't loaded into the transit van and I didn't realise until I got to the airport. By then it was too late to get it delivered to the airport.
So in between many many phone calls to Bangkok and to the courier in Australia, I have now been without my laptop for a week.
It has made me realise how much I do depend on it to do my work but also to function in my every day life.
With no laptop I have no address book for my emails, I don't have recent work (although thankfully I did back up important work before I left)
I don't have the regular software that I use in my teaching classes. I can't easily connect to the interactive whiteboard because I have to borrow a laptop.
It seems that everything that I do has added time and organisational things to be done.
It has made me think and reflect on just how much I do depend on it for my every day work.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Everything Korean

I have arrived in Korea and have been here for 4 days now. What an amazing country! I have explored a little bit but really haven't had a lot of time as I have work to do while here as well as some other urgent work for Intel that had to be completed. Nevertheless any spare moment I have taken to check out some of the views and society of Seoul.
Speaking only English provides a real challenge. There seem to be very few people who speak English and even the people in the hotel speak a very limited version of English. So I have spent much of my time communcating in a very limited way by sign language. Taxis are everywhere but again noone speaks english so to get anywhere I have to firstly show the concierge where I would like to go, get him to write it on a Hilton business card and then I show that to the taxi driver and then when I catch one back I show him the card with the Hilton on it. It's not always successful, I got refused in a taxi last night because I was on the wrong side of the street-it seems that they don't want to have to turn around!!!
Of course I can't read any of the shop signs although luckily the street signs and things like the railway and subway stations have both Korean and English sign. But even to write this blog I am looking at Korean characters in the login, the post section etc. As you can see, so it's a bit of a guess which button that I push. Even to tag this page is impossible as it's all in Korean. I'm sure that there's something that I can download but I'll muddle through for now. :)

I saved this post until I got back home because I quite literally couldn't read much of the page because it was in Korean text.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Friday, January 05, 2007

Thanks Adrian

Adrian Bruce is an avid blogger, webcreator and teacher who seems to be going from strength to strength with his website and his teaching ideas that he aggregates under his very comprehensive blog and his amazing website. Adrian continues to share his ideas and stories about the class that he teaches. His work is recognised by other educators all over the world. Just check out his awards page ! Each time I go to his website I seem to see something new. He's certainly prolific and has great teaching and learning ideas, particularly for Primary teachers. Check it out!

I notice that he went to Seoul Korea in 2005 as part of the Microsoft Innovative Teachers Award. Interestingly I'm off to Seoul on the 17th Jan 07 for a training Program in Intel Thinking with Technology. I will be training 30 Master trainers from all over Korea. It will be a very interesting and exciting time and of course I will be blogging about it while I'm over there. But I think I'll email Adrian to check out his experience.

This is one of Adrian's posters that he has created and shared on his website. Thanks Adrian!