Sunday, January 11, 2015

Goals for 2015

I have been a bad blogger. So often I feel that I don't have anything to say, or that I'm not doing anything useful. I've really got to change this mindset, because it's not helpful to anyone! Secondary teachers especially need support and resources to get started, and I've got to remember that my little blog can be of use to another teacher who is starting out with minimal resources.  

So here goes, my blogging goals for 2015:

1. a "photo" a day. this can be anything related - a screenshot or link to something I've used that day, or an actual photo of something happening in my classroom.

2. a post a month. remember that not everyone is racing ahead of me with resources and that other teachers need a place to start, too. sharing what i'm doing can help someone else.

Not an extensive list! The idea is to keep my use of technology in the forefront of my mind rather than taking it for granted! And with a second #SecondaryHB Unconference on the books for Term 1, action, not words, needs to be my focus for this year.

Happy New Year everyone!

PS: First lesson of 2015. You cannot search for CC images from within the blogger posting page like you can in Google Docs!

Thursday, October 9, 2014

SecondaryHB Unconference

SecondaryHB held its first unconference today at Napier Boys' High School. Although we had a small contingent, as Fiona said, "the people who show up are the people who are supposed to be there."  Although catering forgot about us (darn holidays!), we ended up with a nice group who at least had cake and coffee!

We discussed far more opportunities for learning than were scheduled to present. That is the beauty of an unconference - you can take the discussion anywhere, because no one is expecting just "this thing I'm here to talk about." We even had a presentation from NBHS's newest staff member, who doesn't even start until Monday! And we were in awe (and envy) of Iona's 1-1 BYOD.

Here is our preso, and our collaborative notes, which include a wealth of teaching and learning options.

Thanks to everyone who attended today. We have already had interest from other schools in doing it again in Term 1, 2015.

You will find SecondaryHB here. Sign up to the mailing list and be the first to know the date/time of the next unconference!

Follow #secondaryhb on Twitter.

Being a Connected Educator - I am not alone

In celebration of connected educator month, this post is specifically for the Week 1 Challenge: What It Means to be a Connected Educator.

When I was a little girl, I had a nightmare. In it, I was a grown woman on a small, square raft, afloat in the middle of the ocean at night. It was very scary. Eventually, I could see a giant ship, and I was afraid it would run me down (I'd seen The Poseiden Adventure - those giant propellers!). I shouldn't have worried, though, because an enormous great white shark burst from the water and swallowed me whole, raft and all.

Sometimes, teaching can be like being alone on a raft in the middle of nowhere, and the pressures of
secondary teaching can sometimes, especially during terms 2-3, be compared to being circled by hungry sharks. Everyone is so busy, and at secondary, so pressured for results of different kinds, that it's easy to feel stressed and alone and at a loss for ideas. It's kind of like being pressed through a pastry tube during terms 2-3, and frankly, term 4 is no bowl of cherries either!

Being a connected educator is like salvation for a teacher drowning in the morass of secondary pressure. At first, it may seem like just another insurmountable item to check off your daily to-do list, but I described it today like so: twitter is like a river, always moving; it is not static, like facebook, where a post will politely sit on your homepage until you respond to it. no - twitter is full of life, and will pass you by if you're going to sit on the sidelines! but if you come prepared in your togs with your towel, and jump in and have a play, you will soon find yourself surrounded by others who engage with you. And unlike the fella sitting on the bank wondering why no one wants to play with him, you have, by the single step of jumping in, made yourself a part of something. Discovered a place where you are not alone, that there are others like you, and discovered, also, a river of another kind: knowledge. Twitter is awash with nifty ideas, links to resources and
tools, and friendship.

And it's not just Twitter. Once you've opened that door and started embracing what's out there in the online world, it's almost like Charlie entering the Chocolate Factory! So much stuff! Sitting down at my computer is like coming down the stairs on Christmas morning. I am filled with the same excitement and wonder, every day! Between social bookmarking, professional groups, and online PLNs, I find I am not alone - far from it! I benefit from being a connected educator, and so do my students. They get a teacher who feels rejuvenated, who is keen to try things with them, who offers the opportunity to do things differently, in a new way.

Remember, YOU are not alone! Become a connected educator. You won't regret it.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

#SecondaryHB Unconference - Connected Educators Month

October is a huge month for teachers. No, I'm not referring to marking (or report writing - we do that in our "spare" time, right?)! It's Connected Educators Month, and there's heaps on! I'm really excited that we can be a part of it; NBHS is hosting the #SecondaryHB Unconference on Thursday, 9 October at 10am. This is an opportunity for secondary teachers to experience an unconference event similar to educamp (we've been asked by the primary sector to avoid using educamp in our branding, but the idea is the same). An unconference is a relaxed environment that provides small group (and in our case, 1-to-1) professional development for teachers. An unconference demonstrates that we are all teachers and learners, simultaneously.

Unlike a regular conference, where you browse a programme to see who is presenting on what, and sign up to attend different lectures/workshops where you are the student, at an unconference the attendees are also the presenters! Because everyone knows something, and that something is worth sharing.

I was warned in advance that it is difficult to get secondary teachers onboard, and it has been ... challenging. We do, however, have a small group attending, and I hope to see more on the day. Not everyone has filled in the attending form yet, so I am unable to amend the presenting list. It's a work in progress! However, this is a chance for those who feel they are the "lone nut" to come out and socialise with other, erm, nuts :)

I'll be updating here with the collaborative doc. In the meantime, you can check us out here (updated for the programme and collaborative doc access), and tell your friends!

Monday, March 31, 2014

Google vs MS Office 365

My school is going to roll out Office 365 in the near future, so when I saw the webinar E-Learning Conversations: Where Pedagogy and Technology Collide. A conversation with Adrian Francis about Office 365 and Google Apps (Blake Seufert & Mike Reading) (27 March 2014) hosted by Teachers Training International I was keen to go along and find out if Office was ready to supply what I needed for my students. As I understand it, "Office 365" is a rebranding of sorts for LiveOffice, utilising the SkyDrive (now called OneDrive).

Teachers Training puts on a great webinar. There were plenty of teachers in attendance, with NZ teachers being predominant, though there were teachers from around the world. About 22 teachers joined me in the Google Doc for some collaboration, confirming Google as the gold standard for collaborative work (even the MS guy stated that Google leads the pack when it comes to collaboration, and that MS is always trying to "catch up"). Please feel free to utilise the doc in your school's discussions.

A webinar is a fantastic form for PD, with live video on G+ via Youtube, live questions in the sidebar, and a collaborative doc all running at the same time - amazing! I recommend Teachers Training Intl' as a resource. If you are not following them already, you definitely should. When the resources are posted later, I will update this post to include them.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

uLearn13 - In Summary

Good morning from Hamilton! I'm sitting in the auditorium at the Claudlands Events Centre in beautiful downtown Hamilton, waiting for the welcome/keynote speaker Ken Shelton to begin. People are flowing in steadily - it's going to be packed!

Ken's main message is that we have to be the agents of change. Change doesn't need to be huge or a lot. You can create huge transformation with just a small thing. He also believes that kids should publish, publish, publish! in all forms. you can see my notes (and many other great links) here.

My first breakout this morning is Googlefest. Here is my slideshow.


well, actually it's a few days later! just got too busy with all these ideas and great things going on around me, and meeting heaps of other teachers! after the keynote, i went to googlefest.

firstly, googlefest was quite scary - when we filled in the google form for the 'fest, i purposefully put my name in the middle of the list. after fighting my way to the venue with my trusty umbrella, scared to death i was going to fly away like mary poppins, but unlike her cool, collected self, be deposited into the river, i arrived wet and bedraggled, only to go on first! i was so nervous, i kept waiting for them to tell me to shut up, that my 5 minutes were done, but no! apparently i only went on for 4 minutes, even though it felt like forever. now i really know how my students feel. it was really interesting to see how different subject teachers were using google apps. so interesting that i forgot to tweet after a bit! i didn't even manage to take any notes on this session, because it went by so quickly. i meant to go back and top them up, but to my utter surprise, my name was drawn for the new chromebook! (it has a delete key - yay!) i'm still not quite over the shock of winning something! i haven't seen the picture that was taken after - probably unpublished as i stood there with my mouth hanging open looking like a dork.

i spent wednesday afternoon doing some shopping, and was so tired i totally forgot about the tweetmeet for dinner, and i was dying for mexican food to boot!

thursday started amazingly well, with ken shelton's google docs workshop. this was a fantastic workshop (and i'm stealing nathaniel's tweet idea - all credit to @nlouwrens!)

here is the list of things we did. this one is my complete set of notes so those things make sense. so many tricks and tips to make a teacher's life easier. seriously - my life this year could have been a LOT easier! from file names to searching within a document to creative commons - heaps of time savers. the citations tools made me so very jealous - thinking about all those hours (in high school) i spent in the library with our librarian's old upright typewriter, retyping the same page over and over to get the footnotes formatted correctly, and my students need only press a button! they are so lucky to have such phenomenal tools available to them, and all FREE. for goodness sake, do yourself a favour and follow ken at @k_shelton. he is one smart cookie, and not too hard on the eyes, either.

thursday afternoon i gave my own workshop on reading and qr codes that some of you will remember from NZATE in july. i added the qr code at the end so that my delegates could quickly save the resources. yet another purpose for qr codes.

thursday night was the dinner, and the theme was "all that glitters." i made a quick stop at the $2 shop for some glittery thingies (after a quick google of "dinner theme").

the primary teachers, as usual, put us secondary slo-mos to shame. they were decked out in amazing dresses, glittery suits & ties, and one memorable tutu! much dancing was had. however, us more sedate folks, @kaiakowilson and i, had a great time with our other seatmates (and what a yummy meal).

SOME of us had an early night, as friday was still a big day. i'm ashamed to say that i missed out on my first workshop, because although i arrived early in order to meet with some of the vendors in the exhibition room, i got caught up with eTV. it turns out that our school subscribes to eTV, and it's a great resource: you can view and edit anything off nz television - and you can request stuff from them too! i had a look at how many teachers from my school were using this resource i had heard very precious little about: a grand total of 0 teachers had used it in the last school year. seeing as how we had no PD at all on this, i spent quite some time at that booth learning about how to use the resources, and this will indeed be very helpful to me and my department, if the school continues to subscribe, and not cancel on the basis that no one is using it. many apologies to +Claire Amos - i had really been looking forward to your workshop, and thanks for the links on core-ed.

friday afternoon i gave my second presentation: text study in the digital age:

i have just discovered that you can add audio to slideshare, so will think about doing that! we had a lot of fun in this session, and the group put together their own inquiry-based presentation, though they were as loathe to present it as students are! you can view it here.

after the session, i immediately headed on the long drive home to napier, happy to see my husband and daughter again in time for dinner. and no, i didn't eat all the donuts on the drive home :)

don't forget, you can access the materials from all keynotes/presenters at the core-ed site here. and you can pick up links to collaborative notes, photos, and all kinds of goodness at #ulearn13.

as always, ulearn has re-energized me for term 4. next year's conference is in rotorua - a great venue. hope to see you there!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Doodle 4 Google 2013 Chosen Selection

Well done to all the Year 9 students at NBHS who participated in the school's Doodle 4 Google competition for 2013. The theme was "If I were an explorer, I would..." We had three classes participate this year, then all three classes voted on which 4 to send to the national comp. (We kept two choices back as "teacher's pick.")

Here are the winning doodles in no particular order (whoops, slideshare shrunk the titles a bit):

Best of luck, boys!