Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Why we "do speeches" in English.

And that, Ladies and Gentleman is why we do speeches in English!

Today is my son Alex's 22nd birthday. I posted this on another blog after his 21st birthday last year and on re-reading decided to re-post it. As we all wind down for the holidays, English teachers take a well-deserved pat-on-the-back for your efforts in teaching, facilitating, cajoling, encouraging and supporting all those students in your classes who have to "do" speeches. It's worth it!

“Good evening Ladies and Gentleman. For those who don’t know me, my name is Ben and I have known Alex since we both started school aged 5. I even have my name written down in case I was to forget it after taking advantage of the free alcohol, Thanks Bill.”  
And so began the best 21st speech I have ever heard from a young man speaking about his best friend. In our family we have all had opportunities to speak in public  from Captain’s speeches after a rugby match, 21st’s, weddings, funerals, family functions, assemblies, staff meetings etc.In fact, my husband Bill is seen as someone you don’t want to follow if you are speaking at a family occasion. However, last night this young man stole the show.
From this cliched start he proceeded to discuss George Washington’s revolutionist ideas with a quick reference to Napoleon and Che Guevara, a passing comment on Barack Obama’s charisma and finally a picture of Richie (McCaw of course). The speech detailed some of our son’s adventures and escapades, without the embarrassing tales that can occur on these occasions. He was witty, perceptive and absolutely genuine in his friendship with our  son. At the end he mentioned All Black Captain Richie McCaw and listed his qualities of leadership, modesty, intelligence, being trustworthy and dependable and referenced our son. However, all present were able to recognise the same qualities in the speaker. 
This morning as we all gathered for a clean-up and de-brief about the evening, we were all still amazed and delighted at this fabulous speech. We were all in awe of Ben’s wit and intelligence, something that is not always applauded in our sporting culture. Ben, you made your friends, your parents and I am sure your teachers proud last night.
Stepping up and delivering an unforgettable speech at your best mate’s 21st – Legend!!

This was originally posted on my other blog.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Constantly Learning - Another opportunity for educators

I came across this via Twitter (Thanks @BridgetCasse) I thought it looked interesting so I have signed up. I attended a workshop by Julie Lindsay @Julielindsay earlier this year at the GAFE
Summit in Christchurch so I knew one of the keynote speakers.  Looks interesting.

Here is the link to the Global Education Conference 2014

Monday, November 10, 2014

21st Century Learning - Two viewpoints

21st Century Learning-Two viewpoints

Mount Vernon Presbyterian School is committed to preparing students to be college ready, globally competitive, and engaged citizen leaders. Academic rigor remains a must, but adding a focus on 21st century skills enhances the education of our Upper School students. Rather than being passive consumers of information, we are teaching our students to be actively involved in solving complex problems, with a growing emphasis on project- and team-based learning.

The defining characteristic of a 21st century classroom is that it focuses on what students needs to learn and succeed in today’s global, digital age. In addition to mastering the core subjects of mathematics, language arts, social studies, and science, addressing broad questions, thinking along multidisciplinary and multicultural lines, and employing high order thinking skills to explore solutions to real-world problems are among the core competencies and skills necessary to successfully navigate the 21st century marketplace. MVPS faculty uses a blended approach, one that combines the richness of traditional academic disciplines together with 21st century skills. Both are essential, and we call the 21st century skills…
I really like the  Mount Vernon Mindset  which talks about skills for the 21st Century. Compare this to the ideas in the NZC about the key competencies

The other viewpoint is from Pernille Ripp, a 7th grade teacher in Wisconsin, Oregon.
This is a link to her blog.  She discusses how " We often confuse great teaching with constant innovation."
Some interesting points here and well worth a read.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Who can be amazed, inspired, sad, excited, enlightened or moved to tears in just one day?

"Who can be wise, amazed, temp'rate, and furious,
Loyal and neutral, in a moment? No man."   
Macbeth Act 2, Sc 3


Who can be amazed, inspired, entertained, enlightened, frightened, moved,saddened, moved to tears, hopeful and have their hearts and minds filled to bursting point?The answer is no man or no woman - actually any man, woman or child who attended TEDxChristchurch on Saturday 1st November at the Aurora Centre for the Performing Arts at Burnside High School Christchurch.

I have been a fan of TED talks for a long time. I have shown my students wonderful talks from amazing people and actually find it impossible to believe that not all teachers are doing this as well! In fact one of the highlights for me this year was going to the Eductech Conference in Brisbane and seeing Sir Ken Robinson speak on stage. 29 million people (including me) have seen his TED talk about creativity, so it was fantastic to hear him speak about this subject and more in June. The other amazing speaker was Sugata Mitra of the "hole in the wall" experiment where children demonstrated their ability to teach themselves. 

So, TEDxChristchurch was my opportunity to experience, firsthand the "magic of TED". And I was not disappointed. In fact I thought my brain would explode! And as I obviously enjoy near-death experiences of possible brain explosion, I shall be signing up for next year. 

I find it difficult at this type of event to take notes any more coherent than what appears to be the ramblings of a madwoman. I can only manage a few tweets. Luckily my good friend @annekenn live blogged the whole event for me. Thanks Anne. She also followed up by meeting several of the speakers and several of us were also lucky enough to meet them. What a humbling experience to meet Thomas Petschner and Tariq Habibyar, as well as sharing the joy and wonderment created by Mark Gee and his amazing moon silhouette.

If you didn't make it to TEDxChristchurch this year, then I suggest you hop onto their website
and get on their mailing list so you too can experience "the magic of TED" 
Form a queue  behind me!

Photo source @gmacmanus

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Why is being a Connected Educator important?

What's happening in your classroom?

I never really thought about being a connected educator in any depth before this month. However, Connected Educator month here in NZ and USA has really made me think about what is a connected educator and why it is important. In a Secondary School it is very easy to be an individual,alone in your classroom, door shut, teaching the same units you have for years, unable or unwilling to change. It may be that you see no need to change or you don't know what to change or how to change, your students may be connected with the world, are collaborative, creative thinkers and achieving to the best of their ability. But how would anyone know? Over the last few years I have come to realise the importance of sharing my practice, collaborating with other educators and increasing my knowledge about my subject, new technology and learning/teaching. How have I come to realise this? I have increased my understanding and knowledge through Post Graduate study, creating a PLN through Twitter, blogs, a variety of professional development opportunities,  such as attending conferences, workshops and teacher-led meetings. I was lucky to be awarded a CORE-Ed fellowship in 2013 which has expanded my horizons and again reinforced the need for modern teachers to connect with other educators and ideas in a multitude of ways. The world and technology are changing so quickly, that a teacher who is not connected to what is happening, is not only missing out on amazing information and resources, but so are their students. The smartphone, tablets, laptops and other technology have made information and knowledge accessible to our students 24/7. We can no longer be the "sage on the stage". By being as connected as our student we can share the digital world and learn alongside them. The world are students will enter when they live school will be a about collaboration, connectivness and creativity. How will they experience this in school if we don't know how ourselves?

Sunday, October 26, 2014

PD for free and you can wear your PJ's!

Holidays are a time when we try not to think of school. Apart from the marking and planning for the next term, it is a time for those sleep-ins, afternoon naps, time with family and friends, reading those books you have had out of the school library for some time (sorry to Linley, the lovely Librarian at my school), a bit of retail therapy and even trying out a new recipe. However, lots of us use holidays to spend time with other teachers at conferences to learn something new, catch up with old and new friends and perhaps be inspired. For example in the mid -term break, two colleagues went to the NZATE conference in Rotorua. This conference could be followed by a Twitter hashtag, a shared google Doc and workshops notes shared via Google.

The last holiday break was the first time I didn't go to ULearn for several years. In 2012, I flew to Auckland early on a Thursday morning, drove at breakneck speed to the Conference Hotel, and arrived just in time to hear my name announced as a CORE Ed efellow for 2013. Last year, I presented three workshops and enjoyed my last few days as an eFellow and listen to some amazing educators. So I was a little sad at not going this year - but for me it was "family first" time. However, I was able to follow the conference via the Twitter hashtag #ULearn14, shared google docs and live streaming of some workshops. Along with the conference, Connected Educator Month has been running. Based on an idea for educators in the US, this year CORE Ed have decided to facilitate this month-long series of events to celebrate teaching and learning in New Zealand. Again the connection is via Twitter #cenz14, the main list of events  and a variety of teacher -driven blogs, book groups, educamps, dinners, coffee meetings... The two hash tags to follow are #chched and cenz14

Many NZ teachers are now involved in specialist Twitter chats which take place on different nights through the week. I have contributed or followed #edchatnz, #scichatnz, #engchatnz and #pechatnz and more chats continue to grow.  #aussieed is on Sunday night 8pm -10pm (aus time ) which I find a little late for me but I can catch up the next day. Just search out the hashtag.

Educampdunners was last weekend and once again Twitter was used to tweet out links, ideas, photos etc. Later in the day those tweets were saved using Storify.  While an educamp is fantastic f2f PD, following on Twitter is a great way to get a taste of the action.  

If you are on Twitter and you are reading this blog, hopefully  you can relate to something I have written. If you are not on Twitter, you are missing out on such amazing PD, shared resources and shared community.
Give Twitter a try - you just might like it.

Here is a link to a Twitter Cheat Sheet put together by Alex le Long @ariaporo22

Image License: CC0 Public Domain / FAQ

Free for commercial use / No attribution required

Saturday, October 11, 2014

eCafe - Coffee and Learning Conversations

Over the past few weeks I have been running an eCafe for staff at 7.45am-8.15am. Surely, the lure of freshly brewed coffee, Meshino muffins and the chance to learn about a "cool" elearning tool would have teachers queueing up? Well, some people turned up, a little disappointing initially but the real benefit was not about who didn't turn up. The best aspect of a few people stopping by for a coffee and muffin was about sharing ideas and the learning conversations that we have had over those weeks.
Yes we looked at QR codes, Quizlet and embedding videos in Moodle pages. However, the amazing learning that took place was the sharing of ideas, discussing how we could use those tools to enhance the learning in our classes. How using different approaches and ideas could help our students. It was these learning conversations and sharing of ideas that was at the core of eCafe.
I think that we need to make time to talk about learning, not just about assessment. Yes, assessment is important and for Secondary teachers ,we plan our year, based on the assessment timetables. But learning is always at the heart of our core business. Somewhere in our department times we need to be having those learning conversations. And not just with our colleagues, we need to be having those conversations with our students. After a great seminar on boys' learning with Joseph Driessen, I managed to have a few of those (corridor) learning conversations with some of my more difficult boys. I felt it made a difference to them and me. It was not about discussing their behaviour in class, but about what we could do to make learning happen for them.
I believe that as teachers, we are always thinking about how we can improve our lessons, teaching, assessment, unit plans, learning, class management, time management, data collection, report writing etc etc. We need to stop the conversations in our heads and have those conversations with our colleagues and our students.  That's when the real improvement will take place.
Coffee anyone?

Monday, September 15, 2014

Sharing ideas and resources about learning.

I came across this interesting blog today written by Melbourne Librarian Rhondda .....
Read her BIO HERE. As I looked down her blog roll I recognised lots of people/educators I follow on Twitter, have read  their blogs, read their books, seen speak at conferences or even met!! (Chris Betcher) This particular post  had a list of interesting links to John Hattie, the maker movement, ideas about  libraries, apps for photos and examples of posters about Digital Citizenship. This was how I came across the blog. There is so much being shared by educators across the globe that it is hard to keep up. So I am always grateful that someone else has done the searching, sifting and sharing for me.
I have added this blog to the blog roll at the side because I think it could be a good one to follow.

This image is from Educational postcards created by Ken Whytock, sourced from

Thursday, August 21, 2014

10 Digital Citizenship Tips From Your Mother

This is part of a great info graphic on the Eudemic site  . There is a longer poster with Do's and Don'ts for students (and us) on Netiquette (spelling?)

The ideas in this poster and elsewhere in Digital Citizenship courses all promote the ideas of Respect, Protect and being a Responsible Digital Citizen.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

So what did you learn today?


How many times have parents(including me ) asked their children about their
school day. I remember my own children excited to share their learning and
adventures when they came home from Primary School.

What did you learn is also a question several of us have had to think about as 
we reflect on our learning at recent conferences and workshops.  I travelled to 
Brisbane in early June with five other teachers from my school to attend the 
Edutech14 Conference along with 4000 other educators. See my post on this conference   HERE
So I have asked Lisa, our librarian to share what ideas she has taken away from
the trip. She has written a very interesting blog post about changes happening
to the our school library, inspired by a visit to a school in Brisbane and a fantastic
workshop by American Librarian, Joyce Valenza.

Read the rest of Lisa's article HERE

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The secret of change - examples via Twitter

This image is a screenshot of a photo taken at #ignition14 and then posted on Twitter by
@Tina_P then retweeted by @carlacurious. I have also retweeted it.  One of the challenges for many teachers is that "new" can be challenging, we have had so  much "new" and let's be honest,  change can be difficult and scary.  However, it can also be amazing and rewarding. Following on from @Geo Mouldey (Steve Mouldey's post) on returning from a Conference or workshop. I have also been thinking about how we go about developing those sparks of excitement into fires of change, before they are extinguished by the buckets of cold water from negative colleagues, as well as the reality of a busy teaching life! (A little OTT?)
Many teachers these holidays are involved in personal PD, reflecting on their teaching and planning to make changes to impact learning. I think a good way is to choose one idea that fits in with something that currently happens in your class/school and try that.

I was struck by these three tweets demonstrating change in the classroom and "building on the new"
How much new learning was happening and how engaged were those students?

What will you be doing in Term 3 to change the learning in your classroom?

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Are we only listening to a single story?

Reflecting on Literature and how we form our views of the world, people and places. I came across this fabulous TED talk from Nigerian writer, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Sometimes it is worth spending 16 minutes to listen to a great story.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Is my Castle Ready Yet?

Not a phrase I have used often, well never really! I suppose Kate asks Wills
every so often. This is my castle printed on the new 3D printer. Admittedly, I did not draw this on Sketch up but I will be attempting to next week. I am working with a Yr 9 History class and the best three castles will be printed on the 3D printer.

I have been amazed by this new technology after watching this incredible TED talk where Anthony Atala talks about and demonstrates printing a human kidney.
The video below also shows how 3D printing can  transform lives. This is a great story about problem solving enabled by new technology

I shall just get back to the Sketch up tutorial.

Friday, May 30, 2014

One person can make a difference

Yesterday I joined with many, many others around the world to mourn the loss of Maya Angelou, writer, poet, dancer etc. My sadness at the loss of someone so amazing was echoed by others far more eloquently and with far more Twitter followers.

I know why the caged bird sings is a story of hope and it is always wonderful to show my classes footage of Maya Angelou reading her poem at President's Clinton's inauguration to show that we are not defined by what happens to us but how we define ourselves.

""My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humour, and some style."

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Friday, May 23, 2014

EFF - eFellows Forever!

In 2013 I was awarded an Core-ed eFellowship. For me this was  a huge honour and is part of my continuing eLearning/learning/educational/teaching etc journey. I was already involved in elearning with my classroom practice, University qualifications, educamps, presenting at conferences, running some Pd and being active on Twitter. However, becoming an eFellow i(e  joining  the "Fellowship" )has been an amazing experience. Last night I got to meet the 2014 eFellows, #efellow14. It was fantastic meeting Marnel, Ben, Rowan, Tim, Anne and Vicki. And of course catching up with Bec, John and Louise again.

 What was really fantastic ,was realising that here were some more amazing educators to add to my PLN or as I like to think of it, my personal wolf pack. For many teachers, their elearning journey can be quite lonely. They may be doing amazing, innovative things in their classroom, but there is not always someone to share those ideas with. This is where the PLN comes in. We are seeing the growth of fantastic, collaborative groups through Twitter, educamps, eduignite evenings, Core breakfasts,
events such as ULearn, Learning at Schools Roadshows, the VLN and now Pond.

So welcome to the Fellowship #eFellows14. Enjoy your journey and hope to catch up again soon,
most likely in the Twittersphere!

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Gafe Summit NZ14- Powerful Learning at its best!

Over the past two days I have attended another amazing #gafesummit right from my work desk, (coffee and heater) included. I hadbeen unpacking the learning from #gafesummit South I attended last week when I realised there was more learning available. Enter the Twitter stream with comments, viewpoints, shared docs, videos and lots of Google Goodies shared. How much Google Goodness can be shared, is it googleable?

So, now my turn to share - here is the link to the GAFE Summit North storify I have created as a record of teacher collaboration. I have not included all Tweets, so my apology if yours did not make the cut. Special shout out to @ClaireAmos, @Karen098, @MSimms on sharing notes on Jim Sill's You Tube workshop.

Also two brilliant blog posts from @chasingalyx on the two days.

Need more?

Read @anneken's blog posts from the South Island #gafesummit  and also @1MvdS for her storify
as well.

So it is now back to the grind... but wait, while my colleagues are unaware, I shall be approaching Term  2, not as a cat, but as a dog!
 Love, love this video - thanks you to those who shared the link. A real LOL moment all alone in the cold office!

And just one more - Now filled with Googleness, here's how we are thinking about teaching our classes in Term 2.

Friday, April 25, 2014

My subject is war...

Today is Anzac Day, a day that is very important here in New Zealand and Australia. We remember the soldiers from both countries, the ANZACs who fought and died at Gallipoli, Turkey. From the dawn services to special school assemblies to newspaper and television coverage, we New Zealanders remember our soldiers from all wars. As an English teacher, I always try to teach some War Poetry around this time. It seems that there are too many wars to choose from, and even currently images from the war in Syria and Ukraine dominate our news. For me, there are many war poems I teach or read to my students so that it is sometimes difficult to pick one or two. For today, Anzac day, Flanders Field seems appropriate. Image sourced from Wikipedia

Thursday, April 24, 2014

GAFE Summit Day 2

Day 2 Tweets in Storify

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

GAFE Summit Christchurch Day1 Storify and 2 cool links

1)Day 1 Twitter Feed via Storify 2)Jennie Magiera's Awesome Blog - Teaching like it's 2999 3)Live Blog - Day 1 from Anne K

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Forget big change, start with a tiny habit: BJ Fogg at TEDxFremont

If you don't like something, change it. If you can't change it, change your attitude.


I have been thinking a lot about change lately. I have changed jobs, I have changed houses(temporarily for earthquake repairs), I have changed schools (new job!) my city is changing(post Earthquake) education is changing, technology is changing, the weather is changing...

Change can often be seen negatively. Am I old enough to be one of those people saying "well in the old days..." Yes, Ok I have said that but sometimes it is not about the change itself, but how we deal with it. We often think that change will be difficult, we won't be able to do it, what if I can't do it, what if...

I came across this TED talk about changing behaviour one small habit at a time. It certainly made me think about how and why we change what we are doing. Change in an organisation needs to be doable, often needs to be a small change that can be embedded and is then sustainable. Successful change should be celebrated and shared. And if it takes some people a little longer and they see this as failure,  remember FAIL stands for first attempt at learning. 

Just what I was saying Tony, thanks.

Here's the video ( It is 17 mins long but I enjoyed it.)

Monday, April 7, 2014

Meeting an innovative educator -Making Learning Happen

Last week I was fortunate to listen to, and meet Abdul Chohan, from Essa Academy in Manchester. He is the director there and is an ADE and has The schools we work at are very different. This year I am lucky to be at high achieving school which has just implemented a 1.1 laptop policy with a robust (usually) wifi and full-time IT support staff.
"In December 2008, Hayward School - our school - was at the point of being closed down. Poor attendance and years of underachievement had cemented a culture of low expectations. Failure was often seen as inevitable. In each of the previous four years, the proportion of students getting five A*-C grades including maths and English at GCSE was below 30%.  Students lacked aspiration and staff lacked inspiration. Our use of technology was ineffective and expensive: " ...)read the rest

I had read about Essa Academy and their use of iPods a few years ago. I had also watched videos of students engaged in learning with their devices. It was great to meet Abdul and hear how far the school has progressed, now using iPads and creating their courses on iTunesU. Some of my takeaways from the afternoon were about how to implement change,having a school vision, building belief in students(and staff) being transparent and developing people. Teaching and Learning is about building relationships, no matter what school we are at. It is always about learning, not the technology. 

Below is Abdul's talk at the "Learning Without Frontiers" Conference 

Thursday, March 27, 2014

PD in your weekend? Why would you bother?

                                           (photo source

This post could also be titled, who would you give up your Sunday sleep in for? Or invite to dinner? 
Well that's easy.  Barack and Michelle, Richie ( of course) Sir Peter Jackson, Wills and Kate, Dr Lance Sullivan, Dame Ann Salmond, Ellie Catton, Lorde...
 But another question might be who would you give up part of your weekend or holiday to go and listen to. Who do you think is worth listening to?

Last year I went to the Elmwood bowling club to listen to Martin Crowe speak about his battle with cancer and his life as a NZ cricket legend. Yes it was a book launch, but he shared some insights into his life and talked about playing in cricket matches I had seen or listened to. I really enjoyed these few glimpses into his life.  Another person I heard speak at the Christchurch Cathedral was Terry Waite. I sat in the aisle and listened to an extraordinary story of courage, survival and forgiveness. I will never forget it.

However, attending educamps, lectures and workshops in the weekend(and holidays), I see this as an opportunity to connect with other educators, learn, be inspired and re-energised to teach again on Monday. I have written previous posts on the value of personal PD, some of it where I have been sitting on my deck in the sun, learning.
Events such as 
ULearn, MLE, Festival of Education, MLearn14, CoreEd breakfasts are just some of professional learning opportunities I have attended  recently. I see this as an opportunity to connect with other educators, learn, be inspired and re-energised to teach again on Monday. I have written previous posts on the value of personal PD, some of it where I have been sitting on my deck in the sun, learning.
 The opportunity to listen to international educators, sharing their views and experience is as the advert states "priceless". Over the last few months I have listened to 
Professor Stephen HeppellDr Julia Aitken, Kevin Honeycutt, Ken Shelton, Professor Steve Wheeler, Christian Long and Professor Michael Fullan. Professor Scott McLeod of the famous Shift Happens video and was a guest lecturer on one of my Masters papers at the University of Canterbury.
Add onto the list Fabulous NZ educators such as Derek Wenmoth, Mark Osborne, Karen Melhuish, Chrissie Butler, Claire Amos  and maybe you can see why I am happy to give up a few hours of my weekend to listen to presenters who I see as education heroes. 
Last weekend, I gave up my Sunday sleep-in, left the packing, drove to Wigram Airforce museum to listen to Professor Michael Fulan and Christian Long. In June, I am lucky enough to be going to a conference where Sir Ken Robinson is speaking.
I can't wait! Oh, and did I mention, I sat next to the current Education Minister on Sunday morning.

2013 version of Shift Happens and link to the wiki

(Waite was the Assistant for Anglican Communion Affairs for the then Archbishop of CanterburyRobert Runcie, in the 1980s. As an envoy for the Church of England, he travelled to Lebanon to try to secure the release of four hostages, including the journalist John McCarthy. He was himself kidnapped and held captive from 1987 to 1991)