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!