Sunday, November 23, 2008

Friday, November 7, 2008

eTime Tour Day 1

Reflections Day 1: Viscount School

The culture of Viscount school is positive and welcoming. As soon as I walked in the door I was greeted by students and staff-alike – by name. The second impression I had was this school was all about learning. The students knew exactly what they were learning about – where they had been and what was coming next.
They were staunchly proud of their school and their achievements.

Inquiry at Viscount

The only criteria for any inquiry unit is that the learning must be authentic. Students must have a question that has no answer to it in order to be a true inquiry. A question was asked as to whether they were concerned about covering all curriculum areas and the answer was real learning is not put into spaces and that naturally most areas were covered. All students at the end of the unit participate in an ACTION. Students then self-assess looking at things like resources, questions and skills – biggest question is – has your thinking changed? The learner is the only one who knows owns this knowledge – self-assessment is integral. All learning is transparent.

Implementing Successful and Sustainable Change

Keith talked about these things as being integral for school-wide change:
• Collective motivation – actually making real changes not just pretend ones
• High levels of trust – with staff and students
• Risk-taking – teachers must be prepared to take risks. In order for that to happen they need to know that making mistakes is okay – by risking failure you risk success
• Courage of Conviction – must have shared convictions

In order for children to succeed they must know what success is. Opportunities for all students to succeed need to be provided.

Thank you, Keith and Barbara for allowing us the opportunity to visit your amazing school. I was blown away with the attitude of your students – they were focused and extremely well-mannered. Your inquiry programme is an excellent example of student-driven learning. I would highly recommend your school to any educator interested in best practice teaching and learning.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Tony Ryan: Thinking About Thinking Ulearn08

Tony Ryan – Thinking about Thinking

Meta level

Big 5 for thinking

“thinking as an optional extra?”

learning is thinking is learning

o self-talk
o code
o focus question – key question that draws everything in
o assessment tasks
o thinking strategies

strong digital literacy component

colour partners

signal – hands up but talking – not listening

Paired interview – max of 3 questions
Intellectually loaded – not glib
A interviews B

How do you think?

B then interviews A
NO interruptions

Anal – logical sequencial

2 types of time – chronos – ceros?

Developing an awareness for their thinking
What are you thinking at any moment?
What are you feeling?

Becoming self reflective and aware

“sky is blue”
say it loud in their mind


Nod along
Impassive face
Say it five times using fingers

how did you do that?

LOTS of ways of looking at learning – no one single theory

Model your thinking – say it out loud
You model everything

“think buddies” – up to age 10. Bring a toy in (about size of hand) talk to your thinking buddy ( a physical thing – talk aloud for a start then think it – 3rd step is to remove the physical thing

become deeply aware of self talk

lazy intellectually – doesn’t think – instead use self talking

curriculum - what
pedagogy – how (4-18)
assessment – how well we have done
reporting –

get kids to code your practice – have them code themselves

handwriting example

bad good
blunt sharp
dirty clean
slopes bad slope good

brain stuff/ memory

synapes 10-15 years most important time to work on synapse - impulsing as strong as poss
get alcohol AWAY

stretch the brain
sparkle questions
assessment tasks should be intellectually rigorous

Web 2.0 and Education: Ulearn08 with Greg Gebhart

Spotlight Breakout 3

kids are not critical at using information. kids like to blog but often in other ways like myspace
core of cutting edge teachers
huge number of teachers that havent come on board - big divide between teachers and teachers
49%of blogging done at school
google docs vs office suites
home on ps3 -- huge changes in virtual worlds
IWB's as chalk and talk - how do we engage kids in using these properly - pedagogy must be in place - talk show hosts
interactive desktops
hps new monitor - interactive desktop

technology adoption cycle.

ipod moved from being banned to being embraced and used in schools for podcasting etc

cellphones - coming up

websites for using with cellphones (some sites not available outside of us)
scanR - take photo of doc and get it emialed to you
Gcast - ring number - talk into phone - press # - recorded as podcast and is fed to rss
gabcast - same
talkshoo ?
qik - live feed from mobile
jott - reminders sent to phones
radar - picture conversation
3jam - send to groups
math4mobile - creating math on phones
wattpad -
myartspace - pics from museum
exam where kids had to use mobile etc to find info

how are we to get educators to here?
how do they learn how to use these things? learning is often play
"collective" - check presenters blog out
hitchhikr - cover all areas including education - good idea as a PD option
digital dossier

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Personal Learning Networks

Personal Learning Networks I believe are absolutely integral for quality teaching and learning. Tools such as Twitter and Diigo make forming and maintaining PLNs manageable. I am presenting a taster session at Ulearn on the value of PLNs. Please visit the wiki for more info. I would appreciate comments on the value of your PLN.

Could you please also help out by completing the following survey: for Sue Waters? Visit her blog here.

Thanks :)

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Dinner at Winnies for Ulearn

If you are keen for dinner at Winnie Bagoes on the Wednesday night (October 8th) please put your name and how many you are bringing along below :)

Designing a New School Curriculum

We have our first teacher only day today to discuss designing our new New Zealand curriculum. We started this morning talking about Key Competencies and how we can measure and quantify these across the levels in our school - still a work in progress.
We have now moved on to looking at Learning Areas and how these fit for us and what we see each Learning Area encompassing.
Our syndicate are attempting to generalise some skill based outcomes that will work across any learning area and integrated unit of study. We are using the Key Competencies to assist in developing these.
We are looking for some models of using KC's to develop generic Learning Area skill outcomes. Any ideas? I will keep you updated on our progress!

Thursday, August 21, 2008


I am just about to trawl through the many many options for breakout sessions for this years ulearn08 conference. There are so many great choices I really have to think carefully about what I want to learn about the most. What fits into my personal goals or needs?

I am also presenting 2 taster sessions eeek! In the first one I am looking at a comparison of 21classes blogging engine which I use for my class blog and edublogs which I use for my M3 Kids Making a Difference project. I will also be looking at the practicalities and scheduling for classroom blogging.
In the second taster I am going to talk about the value of Personal/Professional Learning Networks using Twitter, Diigo, Second Life and blogging etc. I am interested in having peoples input into their experiences and the benefits of their own PLNs. How important is your PLN to you?

Bring on ulearn08 -- I am really looking forward to meeting everyone from my PLN and other inspiring educators!

Mac Attack

I have just upgraded my TELA laptop and decided to change from a Toshiba to a Macbook Pro. I have been envious of colleagues with Macs because of some of the applications available such as imovie and garageband.
While I wouldn't consider myself an expert using a PC I do know my way around them pretty well -- including some geeky technical stuff. Now everyone will tell you that a Mac is easier and I am sure they are -- if you are not intimately familiar with PCs! So I have had some Mac anxiety the last few days. Culminating today when I went to edit a couple of goal setting sheets only to find they were Word 07 documents and the Mac didn't recognise them as Word docs. So they were opened up in the TextEditor. Which would have worked fine because I could have put it back on my pen and back onto a PC for editing. Except that I clicked on 'Revert to Saved' in the drop down menu because I thought that might do something interesting. It did! After clicking that I lost the original formatting and couldn't figure out how to get it back!

I'm sure it is all just teething problems. I certainly know I couldn't be without my wonderful Twitter network who come to my rescue and answer all my silly little questions!

Thanks Allanahk, fievels, fionagrant, lenva, heymilly, pgeorge, dorothyjburt, colwar and barbs1 -- you guys rock!

Virtual Attendees

Virtual Attendees, originally uploaded by FionaGrant.

Here I am inside Heymilly's laptop! I joined in virtually (using Skype) at the recent unconference in Auckland. It was great to be a part of it even though I wasn't actually there. I was able to listen to the conversations as well as being updated via Twitter and Skype chat. It was amazing to be in the 'company' of such inspiring educators.

Image by FionaGrant

Sunday, August 10, 2008

My Diigo Bookmarks (weekly)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The word 'blog'

There seems to be a lot of talk at the moment about the jargon surrounding ICT tools -- particularly the word 'blog'. We have heard 'blog' a lot lately. In the media, in schools and from other learning professionals. So what is a blog? If you are reading this then it is likely you already know, if not then I will attempt to define it.
Blogging is putting your ideas out there for others to read, reflect and comment on. Blogs are a reflective tool. For me, it helps to consolidate my views and ideas. A blog defines you. It forms a picture of who you are. What you stand for. What you are passionate about.

I recently had a discussion with a colleague about the purpose of blogs. He believed it was for getting feedback. I believe that it is to share ideas and is an outlet for feeling and belief. Getting feedback is just one of the bonuses. There is no expectation for feedback. When you get it it feels great but it is not the purpose for blogging in the first place.

Now, if I ask a direct question at the end of a post then that might be a different story. The questions might be answered. Or they may not. It may generate a discussion -- perhaps not on the blog but in someone's staffroom or living room. The reason I wrote this post -- to arrange thoughts in my head ready for a presentation -- not for getting feedback (although I would really really love it if you did comment!!).

Why do you blog? What purpose does it serve for you? If you don't blog, why not? How do you define 'blogging'?

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Private Life Really?

I read this article today from

This is a very interesting article with some equally intriguing comments.

Are teachers allowed to have private lives? Are we bad teachers if we do? Are we a special class of people? Are we solely responsible for the country's future as some believe we are?

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Good Teaching and ICT

I have learned a lot in the past few months. It is hard to believe that I didn't even know what blogging was 6 months ago! Now I wouldn't be without it.

The most significant revelation is that I am a much better teacher because of it. I am invigorated and inspired on a daily basis. My passion has been rekindled and I am reminded of why I became a teacher to begin with.

I often ask myself why I teach (usually in those moments when you are overwhelmed with the sense of responsibility) and I always come back to the fact that I have a chance, an opportunity to assist in and facilitate in shaping the lives of my students. I care a lot about my kids and I have yet to teach a child that I couldn't imagine making a difference to their world (Yes it's a cheesy and romantic notion but totally possible!). Check out my new class blogs (which are still under development) that are all about making a difference.

I believe one of the reasons that the ICT experience has brought a fundamental change to my teaching is the opportunity to network and share with like-minded professionals, teachers who are inspirational and talented.

I am again excited about my classroom practice and challenging my students.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

My reaction to losing the internet!

This is a 'copy and pasted' post that I wrote when I discovered I had no internet connection in my room for the 4th day running. I really wanted to post on the blog immediately but couldn't so I figured I could write it in Word and post it later! As you will see -- I was pretty upset!

I have just been informed that my classroom will have no internet for the next two weeks. I can’t believe how depressed I feel at this outcome. I am so affected by it that I have had to write this in a Word document to cut and paste later!
Another thing that has thrown me is how other teachers have responded to this news. They have said, ‘You shouldn’t rely on technology so much’ and ‘You will just have to teach the old fashioned way’. But mostly they just could not believe that it was an issue.

My day and unit plans revolve around the use of the internet:
• First thing we check our blog for comments and hits and review any interesting posts.
• During numeracy we use a fantastic site called Mathletics.
• Reading and Written language we use to take turns to blog about our learning or publish work on our wikis and blogs
• Finally, during topic we use the net for online educational games and activities on our Activboard as well as heavily for research.

We truly are a connected classroom that is unconnected!! Arrgh! I am so frustrated!

Fortunately, later that day I was told they were coming in first thing the next morning. There was a problem with the cabling. (An aside-- I am sure that the company responsible for installing our cabling and network did a half-pie job of it because we are a school and not a company that is likely to give 'repeat business'). So anyway, it was back for Friday and I can finally get back to routine -- and starting our topic for the term!

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Comment Challenge

I am participating in the 31 Day Comment Challenge. The first activity is to answer a series of questions as I ahve done below:

1. How often do you comment on other blogs during a typical week?

There isn't really a typical week for me. Sometimes I comment because I feel strongly about something and sometimes it is to help someone out. Generally, though, I tend to read and not comment that often. Particularly because I think when you are new to the edublogosphere you seem to have walked in on the middle of a conversation and it takes some time before you feel comfortable sharing your ideas (just in case you are way off track!)

2.Do you track your blog comments? How? What do you do with your tracking?

Not until about ten minutes ago when I read Sue Water's post on using cocomment and have since joined up! I have also linked it by RSS to my Google Reader and will monitor it through that.

3. Do you tend to comment at the same blogs or do you try to comment on at least one new blog per week?

I randomly comment. Some people I tend to 'get' more than others in which case I am more inclined to comment. I love reading new blogs and already have about 50 connected to my reader! I am hoping this challenge will encourage me to comment more often!

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Long Time Posting

It has been a while since I have posted. It is school holidays here in NZ and I have been spending a great deal of time reading about all the wonderful things other people have been doing!
I have come across some excellent sites -- thanks mostly to Kevin Jarrett (be sure to check out his blog as it is jam-packed with excellent resources). A favourite today is where you can create timelines. I see this being used extensively in reading as well as topic studies.
Mostly this week I have been joining online communities (or reacquainting myself) such as twitter, diigo, Classroom 2.0 and joining up with ad4dcss!
A lot of the conversations and discussions I have come across are very much ICT oriented which is great but I would really love to find a community that is all about teaching and learning. A community that can help with planning and ideas. Like-minded people who can assist in the creation worthwhile learning activities -- whether web2.0 is included or not? Is there anything out there?
For me, web2.0 and ICT are merely tools (albeit excellent ones) in learning. Let's not lose sight of that.

I have also had to change my template as the one I have been using has gone a wee bit funny!