Wednesday, November 23, 2011

The Technology of Storytelling

Brilliant TED Talk by Joe Sabia. Joe takes us back to where the art of storytelling began through the clever use of the iPad - the 21st century storytelling tool. This is specifically relevant for many in Education as we delve into the various tools we can use for digital storytelling to engage and excite children in this 'art form'. I am sure I will use this TED Talk to show both teachers and children the endless possibilities technology provides.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Check out Exploring Apps Blog

This post is cross posted from our Exploring Apps Blog sharing an app called Strip Designer:-)  If you are not already a follower - head on over - would love comments on your favourite apps that we can share with other Educators.
I have been using Strip Design with the children at Whangarei Primary both on iPod touches and iPads.  This has proved a very successful tool for sharing digital photos.  The junior children have explored this app by taking their own photos around the school, adding them to strip design and writing small captions with some of the photos.  The senior children are flying as they add frames, text, colour and different effects to personalise their story.  Endless opportunties for creativity in their storytelling.  Here are a few step by step guides to using Strip Design...

Step 1 - Choose your style

Step 2 - Choose your template and number of photos you wish to add

Step 3 - Click on add your photos
Step 4 - Choose photos from photo album, facebook etc or use the camera to take as you go 
Step 5 - Have a play with your photos - add frames etc

An example of adding, changing style and colour of frame

Step 6 - Once you have your frames sorted you are able to choose text etc for title and words

An example of adding title - simply double click on words to change them - easy as:-) 
Step 7 - When done click Share

From here to can email or save to Photo Album

You are also able to open as PDF and if you scroll down... share via facebook/flickr and twitter

My very basic finished product!  Thanks to my Oxfam Adventure Angels team for sharing photos:-)

Monday, October 31, 2011

Disappearing Year!

As November arrives and I wonder where the year has disappeared to, I have this feeling of guilt as I realise that, yet again, I have not been as proficient as I would like at keeping my blog up to date during 2011. I spend many hours of my week, encouraging and supporting teacher's into the world of blogging as a tool for sharing teaching and learning and reflecting on their practice. I spend time commenting on their blogs and giving them advice and guidance. I write the occasional blogposts for other blogs and I am passionate about the benefits of blogging. I could talk all day about the amazing experiences I have had, the networks and collaboration that blogging has created for me, I really walking the talk?
Real walking along Taipa Beach October 11!

I know I need to think about better strategies for becoming a more regular 'writer' to my own blog. I believe it is highly important to reflect on my practice as a Facilitator and I AM going to improve:-)

Watch this space!

Meanwhile - check out my latest blogposts on these blogs.

Exploring Apps

CORE Education - Exploring QR Codes with Children

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Energiser's to Start the Day!

I was lucky enough to head to Christchurch on the weekend for our fourth ECE ICT Symposium.  Sharon Carlson, Ann Hatherly and I have previously held these professional learning days in Whangarei, Hamilton and Auckland.  Today we invited Matt Tippen along to share his 'Dad's perspective' of ICT for his children and family.  Matt is CORE famous for his 'energiser's' and finished his presentation today with a blast of energy!  Awesome to see all our ECE teaching whanau enthusiastic and joining in.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Cultural Differences

Thanks to a post on a blog I follow "Langwitches" I have come across this series of video clips from National Geographic.

These 4 short video clips give an incredible insight into the culture of the Sudanese "lost boys" and how they have struggled to find their sense of place and community in the USA. It gives me a real picture of what it is like for new immigrants entering any country, looking at it through their eyes and the difficulties they must face as they try to embed their culture and beliefs into an entirely new environment. In one of the video clips when the men are at the supermarket wondering over doughnuts and what they may taste like, the look of others in the supermarket seems to be one of "who are these people and why are they here?"

Their views on how they are treated by people in the USA, the way they see it and the reflective questions they ask in these video clips are very powerful and truly make me think. Having an understanding of other peoples culture, where they have come from and their environment is an important part of life.

As Educators, do we have this understanding of the children we teach who are from other cultures? What effort do we make to ensure we are meeting their cultural needs? Are we expecting them to fit into our culture and environment to the detriment of theirs? Questions worth pondering......

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Ko Wai Au?

Thanks to our Super Duper Agent at CORE Education for setting us this mission!

Mission Achieved:-)

Thursday, July 7, 2011


Back in July 2010, I traveled to Auckland with two teacher friends to attend Educamp at Summerland Primary in Auckland.  An incredibly inspiring "unconference" day networking with Educators across the sectors.  We drove home buzzing with ideas, conversation flowing and a seed was planted....  why not organise our own Educamp in Whangarei - an opportunity to encourage more Northland educators to collaborate and a vision of building our local networks.  Like any good seed, with sun and water, it grows!  Thanks to the support of Fiona Grant - Educamp Tai Tokerau (or in the twitter world #EducampTT) not only grew, but flourished!

Thanks to the power of technology - we spread the word - EducampTT - Saturday July 2nd:-)

Around 45 teachers throughout the day gathered to learn and share together at our incredible venue, St Francis Xavier Catholic Primary School.  The knowledge within the room was astounding!  Not to mention 4 Google Certified Teachers (all wearing their google socks!) - Tara Taylor-Jorgenson, Helen King, Fiona Grant and myself:-)  AWESOME to welcome a team of teachers from Pt England Primary School, Tara from Bairds Mainfreight in Auckland and Anne all the way from Mosgiel - now that's Educamp commitment!

The ideas flowed with the initial smackdown before we broke off into various groups to continue our learning.  3 x 1 hour breakouts throughout the day.

What's on top - seems to be a HUGE interest in iPads, iTouches and the creative use of these in education.  Conversations throughout the day were often around "You show me your app, I'll show you mine!"  What excites me most is the definate pedagogy behind the tools.  It is so clear that good teaching practice is ALWAYS what is behind using good tools:-)  

Google Apps for Education is beginning to trickle in, with a few schools in Whangarei taking this on.  With this comes the opportunity to delve deeper into utilising google docs, google sites, picassa web albums and google blogger - a few of my favourite google tools:-)  I enjoyed the unhurried casual atmosphere of  sharing my google knowledge with two groups of teachers in an "unconference" situation.  A great practice run for ULearn11 when the four of us present Google Masterchef.

GCT's hit the North:-)

A week later, the twitter feed has stopped twittering but I am sure all that attended are still buzzing from the day.  Highlights for me included catching up with my fellow GCT's and meeting other tweeters.  Developing a PLN was on also on top for many teachers so the opportunity for those that "tweet" to share their reasons/purpose and the benefits of a PLN was fantastic. Thanks to #traintheteacher for sharing her ideas and passion:-) 

So, if your looking for a FREE professional development opportunity to INSPIRE your love of teaching and learning in the 21st century - I would definately recommend looking out for EducampNZ.  Check out the wikispace for up and coming dates in Auckland, Tauranga and Dunedin. 
The best professional development of all - networking with like minded people!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

We are all Cyborgs Now! TED Talk - Amber Case

Thanks again TED for another "riveting talk by a remarkable person!" I really enjoyed Amber Case and her analogy of our "cyborg selves." Amber talks about how as technology in evolving we are becoming a "screen-staring, button-clicking new version of homo sapiens. We now rely on "external brains" (cell phones and computers) to communicate, remember, even live out secondary lives. But will these machines ultimately connect or conquer us? Case offers surprising insight into our cyborg selves.

Well worth taking 7 minutes and 53 seconds to sit down and watch and reflect on your life in 2011. How different is it to the life you had 2 years ago, 5 years ago, 10 years ago, 20 years ago. I reflected on the notion of how little time I have to myself to reflect and think. As Amber points out in her TED talk, this "me" time is so valuable - the time where you can sit with no interruptions from anyone or anything. How often are we actually on our own. When we are by ourselves we often are still texting, skyping or surfing the net. AH it's time to book a holiday to a hot sunny destination with no 3G!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I LOVE facebook and the social networking opportunities it provides for me.  I am even MORE excited about the prospect of Google+ for a few reasons....  I particularly like the idea of the "circles" - "share what matters, with the people who matter most." This will give me the option of creating different "circles" of friends - work colleagues, professional connections, family and friends all within the same platform.  At the moment I tend to use Twitter as my Professional Learning Network and Facebook as my personal social network but there is often cross overs.  Imagine being able to share personal photos with family and friends and professional photos with work colleagues all within the same platform.  The future, as usual, holds so many exciting possibilities to explore - I look forward to giving it all a go! Check out all the other cool information about Google+ here.  Google+Sparks, Google+Hangouts, Google+InstantUpload and Google@Huddle - I eagerly await in anticipation Google!

Thursday, June 2, 2011


For today's PD session we are going to explore Wallwisher and brainstorm ways we could use this tool in our classrooms:-) By either clicking on this link OR clicking on the pink "post a sticky" on the wall below - add your WHAT NEXT from ICT PD Vision Days on Friday and Saturday.

Follow this link for ways to use Wallwisher in the classroom:-)

Check out this blog post on other ideas for using Wallwisher in Education.

CHALLENGE - Use Wallwisher in your classroom over the next week and share your wall with us next Thursday morning:-) If you have a class blog you are able to embed your Wallwisher on to that.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Spell with flickr

H letter E little tikes letter A r pink tag letter T S
Having fun exploring as I put together a workshop on literacy in the digital world:-)

Monday, April 25, 2011

Visiting the Land of Google in Sydney

Google’s Mission
“Organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”

Last week I still couldn’t quite believe I had been accepted to attend the Google Teacher Academy in Sydney – this week it seems like it was all a dream, albeit an incredibly inspiring and motivating dream! Luckily it wasn’t a dream and I am now a fully-fledged Google Certified Teacher. Not only do I have the certificate, I also have the socks, the coffee mug, the headphones, the pens, the ruler, the apron, the notebooks, the umbrella, the bag and the hat to prove it! I have been successfully “Googlified”!

My head is still spinning and after a few days relaxing and eating chocolate over Easter I am now starting to reflect back over my days in Sydney. As I reflect back I am also excited by the prospects of what next. I have decided there is way too much to put in one blog post so have set my first goal. Over the next few weeks/months I will delve deeper into the tools for each Google app and post my thoughts and ideas in individual blog posts.

For now I will share my initial reflections about the two days I spent at Google HQ in Sydney. Highlights for me included…

• Hearing and living the Google Philosophy and culture, in particular the Ten things we know to be true that Mark Wagner adapted to suit the education environment – A great philosophy for 21st Educators to embrace.

• Focus on the student and all else will follow.
• It’s best to teach a few things really, really well.
• Democracy in the classroom works.
• You don’t need to be at school to learn.
• You can teach without doing evil.
• Improve teaching and learning by leveraging innovative tools
And the one that I particulary like
• Great just isn’t good enough☺

• Meeting, collaborating and networking with Educators from around the world – USA, Russia, Belgium, Japan, Australia and New Zealand were represented. With the power of technology we had made initial connections using Google Docs and twitter pre conference. It was amazing to meet face to face to further develop these relationships. Already collaborations are being made and will continue to flourish via the online environment. As a NZ contingent we are already planning on delivering a collaborative “Google Apps” workshop for teachers. Firstly at EducampNZ (4 locations throughout NZ), followed by ULearn11 in Rotorua.

Tara Taylor-Jorgenson, Helen King, Fiona Grant, Tania Coutts and David Winter
NZ Google Certified Teachers - Sydney 2011

• The tour of the Google Offices – WOW – incredibly designed workspaces, micro kitchens, café, gym equipment, games rooms, sleep pods, library, themed meeting rooms and yet another micro kitchen – Google policy ensures no “Googler” will be over 150 feet away from food! I can see how the working environment could work in a classroom environment – amazing spaces = amazing learning!

I am in awe of Google – their ideas run parallel to that of many great Educators – really thinking about the future and focusing on making it a better place and realising that the decisions we make now will affect us for years to come. Great Educators challenge others to think about where they want to be in the future and encourage others to look at the many ways of getting there.

I look forward to sharing my learning as a Google Certified Teacher and fulfilling my role as a GCT - “Ambassadors for change who model high expectations, life-long learning, collaboration, equity & inclusion, and innovation.”

I can't wait to get into Early Childhood Centres and Schools in Northland and "Googlify" others:-)

Favourite quote of the day shared by Mark Wagner –
“He who learns from one who is learning drinks from flowing water.”

And to finish off what I hoped would be a shorter blogpost than this… Did you Know??
The Original name for Google was “Back Rub”! Just doesn’t sound right does it “Let’s Back Rub it!”

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Creative Commons Images

In my role as a Facilitator I am often looking for images. Images that can be used in presentations, blogposts and on websites that are copyright free. I stumbled across this website and have just begun to explore:-)

The giraffe is the only animal born with hornsphoto © 2007 John Goodridge | more info (via: Wylio)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

A Different Kind of Team

For the last 6 months I have been part of a totally different kind of team - not the working variety but the exercise variety:-)  At a friends 40th in October last year I suggested we put in a team for the Oxfam Trailwalker.  3 of us keen as from that night - the 4th jumped on board as soon as we had the time to ask - the "Adventure Angels" were up for the challenge!  Establishing our team was the easy part - the logistics of training together for a 100km event however proved a little more difficult. Over the months we have worked hard on training both as individuals and as a team.  We have explored many amazing tracks along the way and have kept a blog of our training.  We have become close friends, learnt a lot about each other and shared many stories along the way.  We have pushed ourselves (and our feet!) to the limit, both time and energy wise.  We have dedicated our weekends to training and of course fundraising - $2000 being the required amount to raise to enter Oxfam Trailwalk.  So what have I learnt from this experience...
  • We can do anything we set our minds too - "Impossible is Nothing!"
  • "Pain is temporary but pride is forever!"
  • That although we all knew we could achieve the 100km as individuals, we needed to support each other along the way to make it as a team
  • Our support team was VITAL in getting us to the finish line
  • We all had amazingly supportive whānau who helped us along the way as well as never complaining (well not much anyway...) about the hours we spent training
  • Facebook is an INCREDIBLE tool for fundraising!
  • Blister plasters cost LOTS of money:-)

I have continued to reflect about what it means to me personally to be part of a team. Along the way I have realised that what I perceive to be "team" can be totally different from our others perceive it.  In my role as a Facilitator for Teachers I am constantly reminded of how important it is to work as a team.  Some teams struggle to find the balance while other teams have it sorted.  I am yet to find the perfect recipe for making that team work 100% of the time, but when I think about the mixture it took to get the Adventure Angels across the finish line it gives me more ideas about what makes a team work.  For me, it is  not about positional leadership, it is about supporting each other 100% of the time and knowing we all have different opinions that are worth sharing.  It is about truly listening to each other and valuing one another as individuals.  Most importantly it is about building relationships and the fun it can be taking the time to do that.  For the Adventure Angels it was all about walking - what strategies can teaching teams use to build relationships and spend time listening to each other???  How about entering the Oxfam Trailwalk in 2012???  :-)

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Infants and Toddlers Seminar Kerikeri

I was lucky enough to host my colleague Justine (from Christchurch) in Kerikeri last week. Justine is my "guru" for the care and education of infants and toddlers and is a treasure chest of knowledge:-) It was incredible to have so many Northland teachers join us for a seminar where Justine provoked our thinking around the pedagogy of care for infants and toddlers. Justine encouraged teachers to join CORE Education's online professional learning community, ECE Online. This will be a great tool for networking and sharing ideas, and will provide resources, information and reflective questions to continue our learning.

Justine used the analogy of "dance" to strengthen our thinking around relationships with infants and toddlers and what it should look and feel like. We watched a You Tube clip of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers and then reflected on why their dance partnership worked so well. Check out the words below that we brainstormed.... can you see the similarities???

Wordle: Dance Partners

And just to make those from Kerikeri laugh... here is Justine outside what she thought was the stone store!

Monday, January 31, 2011

Google Teacher Academy Application

I would LOVE to attend the Google Teachers Academy being held in Sydney in April this year. What an opportunity to continue by learning about innovative technologies alongside other educators from across the globe! Thousands of teachers have applied for this incredible professional development, me being one of them! The opportunity for hands-on-experience with google products and the chance to further my skills and knowledge would be a HUGE asset in my role as a Facilitator for CORE Education. Wish me luck!