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"The Class Without Walls" is our class wiki which was started in 2010. I will continue to develop this space with my class this year.

"The Class Without Walls" is our class blog which was started in 2011. I will continue to develop this space with my class this year.

"Web Tools for Schools" is my blog which was started last year to document my journey with e-learning. The focus is on highlighting any digital tools that I've found to be useful within the classroom, you'll also find my musings on the process of establishing an authentic elearning classroom as well.

Dave Beehre
Yr 8 (Room 29)
Somerville Intermediate School
Howick



Some thoughts on Term 1 2012 ...

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Physical Spaces - this year I actually have MORE desks back in my class that what I did last year. Student preferences, their choice.
Personally, I 'm not a fan of the individual desks, they represent everything I'm trying to move away from in my own teaching practice. However, no money has been allocated to invest in furniture, so we make do with what we have got. Students still have the option of working where they want with who they want. Interesting enough, they all gravitate to the same "spaces" within the class with the same students. Around 12 students prefer to work not at a desk.

Online Spaces - We utilise a range of wikis, blogs and social media tools to support various aspects of the teaching and learning process.

Teacher Dashboard (Hapara) - A wonderful tool that allows me to manage and organise student work (google apps for ed) It has really simplified the process of providing feedback / feedforward etc in real time when students are using docs. Hapara allows others to "virtually" visit our classroom and comment on student work as well. Teachers have access to all classes. Last week some of the kids were surprised to find that the Principal had left some feedback on their work.

eportfolios - Google Sites is the platform the school will be using. PD for teachers will be happening this year.

The Class - A great bunch of kids, the majority are able to manage themselves effectively. All are aware of their preferred learning styles and how they could leverage such knowledge to support their own learning.

I was fortunate to "inherit" 7 students from the Yr 7 digital class last year. This has really been beneficial in terms of allowing them to support others in the class who were unfamiliar with how the various spaces worked and our approach to learning in general. Most students have embraced the changes and enjoy working in the environment.

The BYOD initiative is great. At the moment we are only scratching the surface in terms of utilising mobile technology in the classroom, but I'm looking forward to further exploring the potential these devices offer for learning with my own class.





Another year and more learning opportunities for myself and class ...

Equipment wise - 10 computers ( 3 desktops, 7 laptops) and a variety of devices ranging from ipads, ipod touches and iphones and other smartphones and laptops that students bring in on a daily basis. The school has implemented a BYOD programme this year, so really looking forward to the “extra” technology we can integrate into the classroom programme.

Last year I committed quite a bit of time and energy into establishing a variety of online spaces to support my teaching and students learning. I’m rethinking how I’ll use these this year, some will stay, some I’ll sure will go. Hapara is still not working in the school - a real sense of frustration around this as google apps accounts are all up and running, but just like last year, no effective means to manage work through them. I guess that’s what happens when you split domain names across the school. Hopefully, things will get sorted soon - watch this space.

Some areas of focus for myself for this year ...

  • Integrate our ALJ topic into as much of my programme as possible, have started with reading
  • Focus on multiple intelligences and getting the students familiar with their preferred learning style - organising a programme that caters for such ..
  • Digital citizenship will again be a focus for my class Digital Kids Wiki
  • eportfolios - will try and manage these through sites this year
  • Student self management etc


Here is how the class looks at the moment ....

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Space wise, some students wanted to keep their desks. I don't have a teacher's desk in the class. We have a few couches, half a dozen bean bags etc.


Four weeks into the year and we have completed two QR code based activities already - on a roll :)

The first involved a hunt around the school where the students had to find QR code clues and answer questions based on our introductory unit to the school ...

The second involved self portraits and ipads. I’ve blogged about it here - QR coded ipad self portraits.These generated alot of interest amongst other students and staff. Very pleased with how these came out.


















Term 4: Week 4

As part of our literacy programme, my class have been busy learning about a variety of poetry forms as well as writing their own original poetry. Their summative assessment task involved producing a google presentation of their work. As usual, I created differentiated poetry contracts ( 4 of them) to cater for the extreme range of abilities in my class. I "labelled" the contracts A+, A, B and C. Kids could choose which contract they wanted to have a go at.

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I had just assumed the 6 kids in my class who struggle with this kind of work would all choose the C pass contract because it required less input from them. Well, 4 of them proved me wrong (thank goodness). In fact, one of those boys chose to do the A+ contract. This was no mean feat as it required him to write 11 original poems, create 4 pieces of original artwork to support his writing, create 3 of his poems using image generators, create a sock puppet presentation of one of his poems using the ipod touch and finally bring all of his work together via google presentation.

I was so impressed with his attitude and effort throughout this task. He managed his time and resources really well. When he was stuck with something, he sought out others in the class who knew how to solve the problem. He saw going for an A+ pass as a challenge and was determined to meet that challenge. Just goes to show we should never under estimate what kids (or anybody for that matter) are capable of.

This task was the third one this year we have completed using google presentation as a presentation tool. I love it. As it is part of the google apps suite, kids can access it anytime anywhere. As a teacher this allows me to set tight time frames for various tasks when I factor in the time (school policy - 45 minutes per night) they need to spend on homework related tasks as well. Another major plus using this tool is it does away with uploading individual keynote presentations to slideshare which the kids then have to embed into their online presentation spaces - very time consuming. Google presentation doesn't have all the bells and whistles that keynote has, but I'm sure it won't be long before it does.

Here are a couple of examples of our class poetry presentations ...











Term 4: Week 1

In the holidays I presented at uLearn in Rotorua. Here is my presentation ...




Term 3: Week 6 & 7

This past week my students have been playing around with QR codes. I've been thinking about how I could use them with my class, I have been particularly interested in how they can be used to "connect" various types of media together, eg; print and digital.

As part of their weekly homelearning, my class have been completing a variety of tasks based around the Rugby World Cup. Each student has their own wiki page dedicated to their RWC adopted team. Students have been busy creating and completing all sorts of cool activities. My class have also created their own rugerbees as part of a short art activity. I came up with this idea (I'm sure it's not an original one) of creating individual QR codes which are then glued to students artwork. Scanning the code will take you through to the individual student's wiki page dedicated to their adopted team providing all sorts of wonderful information about their adopted team and country. We have stuck our artwork on the class window with an explanation.

By showcasing the artwork on the classroom windows, I'm hoping it will spark some interest amongst other students and teachers as to what QR codes are, and their potential use as an educational tool. Already my own class have been busy scanning some of the codes on the artwork using their ipod touches. This has been such a fantastic exercise in generating discussion amongst my class as to how else QR codes could be used to share and support other aspects of their learning.



Our Rugerbees with QR codes on selected student artwork ...
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A closer look ...
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Scanning the code will provide you with a URL for a student's wiki page ...
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Term 3: Week 5

Assessing students speeches using a google docs worked a treat. Only 4 out of 33 kids were unable to complete the task of embedding their doc into our assessment wiki as part of their homelearning task. All of them even managed to resize the doc and NOT delete the password widget on their page, their teacher was really impressed!

Having had such success, I thought I'd get my class to try another exercise using docs as a homelearning task. This time I created a single template for a self assessment task on an information report they had written. I shared this template / rubric with the class. I asked them to all make a copy of the template and rename it. I then asked them to self assess their reports against the criteria on the rubric template. It was a bit of a disaster. Many of the kids forgot to follow the first instruction to make a copy of the template and you can guess what happened after that. However, it did provide a great teaching opportunity in how the sharing features of google apps work.

This week I have also decided to use the same approach for creating learning pathways for maths. In the past, I have used inspiration to create these. Students would then create a copy of my template and evaluate their progress against the learning intentions. All inspiration created documents were saved in folders on the school server and then the students would copy them and upload them to their page on our numeracy wiki. I had been finding this process slow and time consuming and was looking for another way. Using a google spreadsheet to create a learning pathway template offers me a great solution. All I need to do now is share it with my maths class and get them to complete it and embed it as part of their weekly homelearning tasks, makes alot of sense.

Here is an example of the template
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Term 3: Week 4

One of my goals for my class this term is to focus on exploring google apps to support our learning. During the past two weeks, students have drafted and published their speeches using google docs. Using docs in this way has allowed students to access their work at home as well as at school. It has also enabled me to offer feedback / feedforward in real time, something which some of the students have found quite amusing - having 2 people editing a document at same time.

I also assessed each of their speeches on google docs. I will now share each document with each student. As part of their next homework task they will then embed their assessment onto our password protected assessment wiki. By using this approach, I will hopefully cut down on the time it is taking me to organise students documents; let the students take more responsibility.

We have also used google spreadsheets to create reading logs which the students have embedded onto their reading pages on our literacy wiki. I'm using this more as a checklist so students can self monitor their reading habits on a week to week basis, rather than a document for reflections on what they have read. I'm trying to really push self-management with some of my students and having a variety of weekly tasks they must complete and self monitor is one more strategy I'm trying in order to accomplish this.

Term 3: Week 3

My snapshot for learning for CORE ed was finally published the other week. Here it is ...



I had a lot of fun putting this together. What I particularly enjoyed was collaborating with Suzie Vesper from CORE using google docs and skype to create the final product. That process in itself gave me some insight into some of the skills we need to be teaching our students now, to prepare them for their futures.



Reflection on the term

It’s been a number of weeks since my last reflection, just haven’t had the time or the inclination to get my thoughts down ... I guess that’s what “holidays” are for - breathing space.

This term has been exceptionally busy. I have to admit, the second half of the term was just about survival for me. Throw in sickness, then exhaustion, report writing, 3 way interviews and extra curricula commitments ... at the end there it felt like just getting to work was an achievement in itself.

In spite of it all, there have been a number of positive things going on with myself as a teacher and my students. This term has seen 2 apple bus tour visits through my class as well as some visits from principals / teachers interested in eLearning. These visits provide great opportunities for bouncing ideas off others and hearing how other teachers are integrating eLearning with their own classes.

I even managed to wangle my way onto the back end of one of the bus tours and was released for the afternoon to visit Summerlands school out west. It was quite refreshing for me to hear and see a perspective on eLearning that a whole school has adopted as part of their culture - nice.

A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to work with Suzie Vesper from CORE Education. I was released for the day to work (via skype and google docs) on creating a snapshot for learning that will be showcased on their website in the near future. I really enjoyed working on this and once again found the experience really valuable in terms of having to clearly articulate my ideas and then reflect on the learning that had taken place with my students. This will probably make more sense if you view the snapshot.

Highlights in my class would have to be the digital citizenship programme I’ve been running this term, as well as our class focus on blogging. Getting my class blogging this year has been the best thing. It allows opportunities for teaching a whole range of skills from netiquette right through to critical thinking.

Self management continue to be an ongoing issue with a number of students in my class. I have reached the conclusion that for these particular students, self management will always be an issue and is not something that I’m going to be able to remedy. All I can do is continue to provide opportunities for them to make the right decisions as part of their daily routines. For the majority of kids in my class the spaces seem to be working fine.

Looking forward to the next 2 weeks for some “thinking” time :-)


Week 3

Some time ago, Jacqui asked me to share how my online learning environments are organised for my class ...


The Class Without Walls from the class without walls on Vimeo.




Week 2

A busy week (as usual) capped off by a visit to other schools on our PLN. This was really valuable, to finally put faces to names and see what's happening in the classrooms of others. Thanks Jacqui for organising this. Probably the most valuable thing I took away from the day was that there are actually other teachers out there who are like minded, they can see the future of education and are willing to embrace change (often at personal cost to themselves) in order to create classroom environments that are relevant to the needs of 21st century learners. I found this to be really encouraging.

I'm really enjoying teaching my kids about digital citizenship. This week we looked at digital etiquette (netiquette) The kids followed up the lesson with a reflection on their blogs. The challenge for them now it to apply their new knowledge to their online lives.


Week 1

Week one has been and gone and as I look back at my reflection from the end of Term 1, it's pleasing to see I've actually followed through on some of my ideas. Our reading programme is now in Block 1 which will hopefully eliminate the interruptions we were having in Block 2. The first 4 weeks we are focussing on literacy circles, all students have settled into their novels and weekly group roles.

We have had a great first week focussing on ANZAC Day. Most of our learning has been based on this amazing resource I was made aware of this resource through "twitter" - best PD resource you will ever find. I found the engagement I got from my class when using this resource was pretty much 100%. It probably had a lot to do with the gaming style of interactivity, audio, video, visuals etc which made up the website, really good stuff.

Our class recapped what we had been learning about digital citizenship this week. Over the holidays I had some time to think about gathering some resources for teaching / learning and to that end I have created the following wikispace. This wiki can also be accessed through our main class wiki / portal under digital kids I've based my model around the ideas of Gerald Bailey and Mike Ribble These authors talk about the nine elements of digital citizenship. The wiki itself is a work in progress and I will continue to add resources and teaching ideas as I find the time. I have "borrowed" many of my resources from other great wikis and personalised them for my class. Why reinvent the wheel?

For my class I've factored in a reflection element to all the tasks that we do. The reflections will be completed on our individual blogs. Reflecting on our learning is crucial to the whole process and I know my class will benefit from this extra focus. I'm hoping to get parents involved with commenting on students thinking this term as well. Shaun's class will be visiting our blogs from time to time to comment and my class will reciprocate by commenting on their blogs as well - great idea Shaun!

One of the things I've been thinking about lately is the idea of information overload. I know I'm suffering from it and I imagine that the kids we teach will probably have issues with it sooner or later. I don't have any answers, but I know it is something schools will need to address at some stage if they don't want their staff and students burning out. The futurist Thomas Frey has blogged about a number of critical skills that we don't currently teach in schools and this was one of them. His blog is well worth adding to your reader.

Our digital kids wiki ...
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Reflection

Over the break I've had a chance to reflect on how things have gone the past term. As I think about what my planning will look like for Term 2, I've made the decision to purposefully incorporate digital citizenship lessons into my weekly planning. As a class we have touched on various aspects of what it means to be a good digital citizen, but now I want the class to dig deeper and explore the nine elements in more depth. To that end I've been gathering resources and looking at how I will tailor them to suit the needs of my class. I'm allocating a set time each week to look at the various aspects of digital citizenship.

Another area of focus is with my reading programme. The way my timetable is currently set, we have reading placed after maths and before fitness. This is not really working for my class for a number of reasons. I've decided to move it into the first block to address these issues and hopefully this will allow us to get stuck into some quality teaching and learning.

In the first term we briefly looked at multiple intelligences and their relationship to our own learning. This is a topic we need to explore further as it forms part of the base for our own self management of our learning. The class have all done the test, but we now need to examine the results and ask where to from here.

Management of students and their learning will continue to be an area of focus, I don't think there are any shortcuts to this one - if there are, I certainly haven't found any.

Looking forward to another action packed term!


Week 10

Had the opportunity to attend the EBE cluster reflection session Monday morning this week. Glad I was able, as it was quite an eye opener to see how things are moving along with elearning at a national level - it's all good stuff!

One week of school to go before the end of term and I'm really pleased with how my class has adapted to our new "spaces". Getting rid of my teacher's desk was a necessary move. However, I still feel chained to a small desk at the "front" of the class as this is where my laptop and data projector sit. My efforts to get a projector installed in the ceiling have amounted to nothing - very annoying. Not sure what to do next. I feel getting the projector off a table will free up so much more space at the front of the class which in turn could become a valuable "watching" space for my kids.

The next step with physical spaces for my class will be the development of some curriculum specific areas. The obvious one would probably be art, shouldn't be too difficult - should it? I've always wanted to incorporate a performance space into my class as I've got some kids who I suspect would go for this big time. Have been talking to the property manager about resources - hopefully I can secure what I'm after.

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Kids self managing skills are coming along. The teacher now has to move his classroom management systems to the next level. I think I'll try and use some school holiday time to get my head around what's involved here and what is going to work best for my class.

I had one of those a-ha moments in class the other day - it really showed me why we need to be teaching digital citizenship and making it a priority in our classrooms. Our class had been looking at values and I had placed A4 sheets of paper with statements such as RIGHT, WRONG, DEPENDS ON THE SITUATION, I DON'T KNOW, OKAY - AS LONG AS I DON'T GET CAUGHT etc around the room. I then read a variety of statements to the class. The kids decided which response to the statement they would choose and then they would move around the room to stand next to the statement they had chosen. One of the statements I read was, "Having online discussions, with someone you don’t know, about private things."

In response to that statement, a couple of girls put themselves in the "it's not a big deal" category. When questioned about this by the rest of the class, they were adamant that it wasn't such a big deal. I then asked them whether they thought it was okay to discuss private matters with a complete stranger who stops you in the street wanting to talk. They said, "no - that would just be stupid" When I questioned them further, it became clear that they didn't see the internet as being "as real" as the physical world. It was like there was almost a disconnect between the two realities. I wonder if this is because of the exposure to online video gaming etc, which in a sense isn't real - this idea is then transferred to internet usage in general - It certainly made me think anyway. Needless to say, digital citizenship will be at the forefront of our discussions next term.

Week 9

Another crazy busy week here at school. Parent teacher interviews on Monday, a rather late night and again on Tuesday. However, it was good talking to parents and discussing with them their kids learning.

Our online learning spaces continue to grow - with an assessment wiki being added this week. Each student has a password protected page. I have been making use of google docs to copy and share self - assessment rubrics to kids accounts. The kids then self assess themselves against the criteria and embed their rubrics onto their individual pages on their "assessment" page. Easier said than done :-)

I now have 4 kids developing their own separate eportfolios using wikispaces. These wikis are privacy protected, so any sensitive information is secured. I'm really happy how these are coming along and I can easily see more kids being brought on board as their skill base continues to grow. I'm also encouraging them to continue to develop and add to these at college next year.

Shaun was asking me about our learning pathways for maths. Here is an example, measurement learning pathway This is the kind of thing that gets glued into kids books, so they have a pathway to follow. I thought it would be a neat idea to have an equivalent digital duplicate (it was created using inspiration - although hardly inspiring .. ha ha) I figure having this information online is going to make report writing easier for me ( I don't have to chase kids for their books - which by mid year half have either lost or eaten, believe me after 10 years of teaching I've seen it all!), and information is also freely available to parents and anyone else with an interest in the students learning (maths tutors etc) The kids take responsibility for evaluating their assessments against the set criteria, shading in the appropriate WALTS, screen capturing their pathways and finally uploading to their page on the wiki.

Today, I was asked to present to the management team at our school my system for managing class online learning environments. The school is interested in adopting a system for managing students online learning. I really enjoyed being able to share my ideas, will have to wait and see what happens as a result ...

I also have a new title - lead teacher for elearning - woo hoo - in monetary terms this means nothing, zip, zilch, but it kind of feels nice to have the recognition from others ... and also I get to go to various extra "things" like EBE reflection days - first one is on April 4th - can't wait - finally, a day out of the classroom for which I get paid for !

A couple of months ago I joined twitter. I was reluctant at first as it seemed quite overwhelming, one of the main barriers for me was, I just wasn't sure what to do or how the whole thing worked. Twenty or so "tweets" later I'm now a convert. I can't believe the amount of great stuff I'm discovering through following a few inspirational educators. Why didn't I do this earlier?? Anyway, I've set myself the goal of "tweeting" once or twice a week and "retweeting" anything I think others would find useful. I even took the opportunity to try and convince the management team at our school to try twitter while I had their ear during my presentation - will wait and see what happens with that one as well ...

Still haven't arrived at the place where I feel totally comfortable with how my systems for managing students and their work within the classroom is going. This is going to need alot more work and thought ... but that's okay - and that was the week that was.


Week 8

This week started with a visit from the Apple Bus Tour crowd. At one stage I had 47 kids and adults crammed into my class!! Last week I had a similar opportunity to share with a group of teachers from a school up north (over the bridge - the name escapes me at the moment), it was alot of fun talking and sharing with others who are interested in elearning etc. I found that through discussion with others, it actually helped clarify my own vision for my class and what I'm trying to achieve for my kids.

Today (Thursday) I managed to score a couple of 2 seater couches from a student in my class, all I had to do was go and pick them up - total cost = $0.00, which is good because I have no budget for sorting physical spaces. I have changed my room around (again), it seems to be working okay at the moment - kids can sit wherever they choose. Unfortunately, for the teacher he is still stuck at the front of the class tethered to the data projector (which is still sitting on a table) Three weeks ago I rang an outfit for a quote to get it mounted in the ceiling, still haven't got a quote!!

Yesterday, I ran a workshop with 6 kids in my class on sharing google docs and embedding them into their wikispaces pages. The intention was I train them, they then train a partner and before you know it everyone in the class has learnt a whole lot of new skills. Well, it wasn't quite as simple as that. We had a number of issues while trying to embed our documents, what I found out through trial and error was that safari isn't that flash when it comes to doing this kind of work. A quick switch to firefox and ... problems solved.

The last couple of weeks I have given some thought to how I will measure and document kids progress through various curriculum areas using a digital format. Jacqui's model has been really helpful with this. All the kids have set their goals for spelling and we have uploaded these to our "pathways" wiki. Each page is password protected to ensure privacy of information.

I have also been working with my maths class (we x group so I have a whole new bunch coming to see me) on establishing digital learning pathways for our number unit (this is also wiki based) These have come out quite well and are very specific, broken down into various learning intentions, what the student can do at the beginning of the unit, what they need to work on during the unit and what they can now do at the end of the unit. Having information displayed in this format is going to make my job of writing reports so much easier ... woo hoo (I hope) It will also make the sharing of information between student, parent and teacher more transparent, easy to access for parents and others who have an interest in a particular students learning ( after school tutors etc) - and that's the week :-)


Week 7

This week has been tough, with a capital T. I have had a few incidents in my classroom this week that have caused me to question whether my class can cope with all the changes that are going on at the moment with the way I teach and the way our learning environments are structured. Equipment has been damaged and trust has been violated.

Just reflecting on what has happened this week (the negative stuff), I've come to realise that it boils down to kids not been able to manage themselves appropriately. Fortunately, the majority of students in my class are enthusiastic about all the changes and are quite excited about the direction their learning is heading this year.

School life at this time of the year can only be described as "nuts" I've had a couple of late nights with school related activities this week and in the chaos I managed to forget about our PLN skype session on Wednesday - apologies Jacqui :-(

Onto the good stuff - the class google apps accounts are up and running and as a class we had a play with google docs. I got the class to draft a thank you letter to the parents who helped on our class trip last Friday. What was quite amusing was the looks on kids faces when I suggested using the computers for drafting, a few were adamant that we only used computers for publishing our work ! What was even more amusing was when I suggested they could finish their draft at home - puzzled looks and questions as I then had to explain about the concept of "cloud" computing.

Our online learning environments continue to be developed and we now have 4 new wikis up and running to support our learning. I also had the opportunity during the week to get a couple of kids going with their eportfolios. They have learnt a range of new skills which they will pass onto their peers as I bring more kids onboard with developing their portfolios throughout the year. I also enjoyed watching a couple of kids solving other kids wiki related problems :-) ... and that's the week.


Week 6

Crazy busy week, over halfway through the term. The desks are gone (most of them, my needs kids have kept theirs) and we have a few tables scattered around the class. Kids are either sitting on comfy chairs, bean bags or the floor or at a table group. Many of them have gravitated towards a particular spot in the room, kind of like teachers sitting in their favourite spot in the staffroom - human nature I guess. Some have claimed prime real estate (the couch) as their own - will have to look at ways of evicting them. Next step is to start developing the spaces within the class.

I'm still developing our class online spaces and I'm really quite excited about how things are going with these. It has been very time consuming, although I know the benefits for online classroom management will be well worth it further down the line. Have been using twiducate in the class for a range of language based activities this week - really cool tool. Kids are starting to understand the importance of using correct writing conventions when using the chat feature as well.

Friday was EOTC day at Motu Moana in Green Bay. A great day, stunning weather and it was good to see the kids in another environment other than school - and that's the week.


Week 5

Mid week reflection (before I forget everything). Finally signed up to twitter last week for the Learning @ School Conference. Still finding my way with it, can really see the benefits in terms of connectiveness (is that a word?) and very useful for finding resources via links others have posted - even managed to "tweet" one myself. Woo hoo! Interestingly enough, I read something somewhere (was it on twitter?) about how email as a form of communication is fast disappearing off the digital landscape while social media is the tool of choice for communication amongst the kids we teach. No surprises there, but if we accept this as a reality, how as educators do we respond to this to ensure our kids are making the most of such technology within our classrooms? Food for thought.

The quake in Christchurch continues to be at the forefront of our minds, and as a class we have been commenting on blogs written by kids who have experienced the quake first hand. A number of students from Christchurch have started at our school this week as well. My class were amazed at the quake website we looked at, and it provided an excellent starting point for a discussion around the disaster itself. A red and black mufti day is planned to raise funds for supporting those in need as well.

In terms of our own learning, as a class we have been busy completing family trees as part of our ALJ unit on culture / heritage. We have all learned a variety of new skills using inspiration and wiki editing tools. Check out this example of the work we have been doing - scroll down the page to see the family tree.

The desks are getting removed tomorrow - I sent a letter home requesting (begging) parents for help in supplying any old cushions, bean bags, couches, chairs etc to help support our class vision of creating a 21st century learning environment. I also want to get the data projector mounted in the ceiling, but that won't happen right away as it costs quite a bit. I'm thinking of setting the class an "Extreme Classroom Makeover " challenge whereby they plan the types of "spaces" they want in our class - could be quite a bit of fun ... watch this space.


Week 4

Monday - Swimming Sports

Tuesday - Mad rush to get organised for Learning @ Schools - still had a full day in the class and then travelled to Rotorua late afternoon. Earlier in the day I showed my class the youtube clip of Ordup School and how a classroom in the 21st century could / should look like. We talked about what "spaces" were and what our classroom could look like. Some of them were a little unsure about removing all the desks, but I have planted a seed - just need to water it now.

Wednesday - Learning @ Schools
Morning Keynote speaker was Scott Mcleod. Very inspiring and challenging. You can check out his website here Scott Mcleod
Alot of food for thought in this presentation. One of the main ideas I took away from his presentation was the need for educators to be continually extending kids in the top half of blooms, SOLO. This is where the domain of creativity resides - training kids for the future. What will happen to the curriculum with national standards? - will teachers be forced into a more prescriptive mode of teaching to satisfy targets etc - For me this stands in opposition to what educators SHOULD be doing harnessing and developing kids creativity etc. It's ideas that drive economy growth etc, where will these ideas come from?

The afternoon session I attended was a workshop led by Joan Dalton on student voice. This was really top notch. Great examples of student voice presented. The example of kids tutoring parents on making videos in the context of a trip to the Adelaide Zoo was especially powerful.

Thursday - Learning @ Schools
Morning Keynote speaker was Sylvia Martinez. Hampered by technical difficulties, nevertheless some interesting content.

My own workshop was in the first breakout slot. I had a really great time presenting and what I shared was well received by the audience. Special thanks to Linda L for the tech support. All learning from the workshop can be viewed here Dave's Learning @ Schools Presentation

In the afternoon I attended a workshop on Google Apps Teacher Dashboard. This breakout was probably aimed more towards the ICT admin person as dashboard is an application that sits on "top" of Google Apps and is used to organise classrooms files and student accounts etc. It was interesting and Bucklands Beach Intermediate was used as an example to illustrate how dashboard manages 700 eportfolios.

Friday - Learning @ Schools
First breakout was Nick Rate's presentation on eportfolios. Although the format was a stand and deliver 90 minute presentation with occasional audience interaction, I found myself fully engaged for the whole time. The content was superb, Nick answered all my questions that I was thinking about on this topical subject. I now know exactly how I'm going to approach the establishment of eportfolios in my own classroom. My favourite workshop. Thanks Nick:-)

The next session I attended was run by John Phelps and entitled "E for exciting learning" If I could use one word to describe this workshop it would be "fast." The main theme that ran through this workshop was that learning needs to be 'fun" John had so many neat ideas to share and I certainly got a lot out of this session (in fact 1.3 GB worth of ideas - cheers John:-)

The final keynote was run by Australian Brett Lee (no, not the cricketer) A former detective who was a specialist in undercover internet child exploitation investigations. Interestingly enough, the previous day I had a conversation with a colleague about how difficult it is these days to "wow" an audience with a stand and deliver 90 minute presentation. I found myself "wowed" by Brett's presentation. For me there was nothing particularly "new" in his message, but the way he presented it with a real passion and commitment made all the difference to his message. A real lesson in here for me about belief and passion in whatever you do. I'm definitely going to use some of his material to develop a cybersafety unit for my own class.

Final thoughts on the conference ... I would certainly recommend it to anyone who was considering going next year - really good stuff:-), and that ends the week.

Week 3

No change in the physical set up of my classroom, but I'm still thinking about it. I had another listen to Ewan McIntosh's presentation on the seven spaces of technology to try and refocus my approach to this. I think one of the big hurdles I need to get over is the notion of the traditional classroom setup. There are 34 classes in our school and ALL of them have very similar layouts, no-one has yet to travel down this road. I had a chat to my class about "spaces" and they all seemed keen to remove the desks and start a fresh. I've told them they need to source us some cushions, bean bags, chairs, couches etc, as my budget stretches to zero dollars. It will be interesting to see what they will dig up ... and create.

Our online environments are getting well used, kids are learning new skills and passing them on to each other which is great to see. This week we have continued to post our blogs, continued our discussion around "what makes a good blog post", played with igoogle - some excellent gadgets to be found there, used twiducate for a spelling activity, did some work with google earth and have been busy making family trees using inspiration. I really love the engagement you get out of kids when working with these tools. While they were doing some research using google earth and wikipedia for a letter writing task, I stood back and just watched them ... every single kid, without exception, was focussed on the task and engaged in their learning ... pretty cool.

Week 1 & 2

Week 1 was filled with the usual getting to know the kids (33 of them) and introducing them to the routines of Room 29. I've taken a different approach to choosing monitors this year, particularly my computer monitors. I decided I would just watch them and see how they interacted with all the equipment, who would volunteer to set stuff up, pack gear away etc - then I made my choices. I'm really glad I decided to do this, as I'm now confident I have 2 monitors who are doing the job for the "right" reasons.

I have put alot of time and energy into getting my head around our class "online" spaces and I'm really happy (at this stage) with what the kids are going to be working with this year. We have our class wiki, class blog, individual blogs and a platform for running our class social network. What I've really struggled with is getting my head around what my physical classroom spaces will look like (hence the lack of photos). I have a small group space and a "budget" secret space - but nothing worthy of a photo ... yet.

This year I've being given access to 10 computers so I have a rough 1:3 ratio. No more running around the school trying to source equipment etc ... and sending kids off in all directions. This really is going to transform the way I "teach." I can keep all my kids together in one place and run multiple activities in the one space ... bliss.

Jacqui visited the school this week, so it was great to get her input and bounce some ideas of her. We talked a bit about expectations when it came to online posting of kids writing etc, whether it was through chat or blogging, and I followed this up with my class. Our class had a great discussion around netiquette, what is and what isn't acceptable. Quite good to get this established at any early stage.

I run a computer pairs type system in my class with the intention of never having a computer in my class that is sitting unused for any significant period of time. This means I usually having multiple activities running at any given time, a bit of a shift for me in the way I do things, although necessary if I'm to get my head around facilitating an effective elearning class where self management is the petrol that makes the car go.

With that in mind I need to get management boards and activities sorted for each curriculum area, this could be my next focus. In terms of web tools, we have dived right in and my class has been using scribble maps this week ... very cool, plotting and annotating their "virtual autobiographies" It has been interesting seeing the kids that get the management side of this ... my map requires a code to access it, therefore I need to save my code somewhere where I won't lose it, where could I save it? ... we could save them in our dropbox account or on the school server in out class folders etc.

Half my class have posted their first post on their blogs, which is good, and my focus next week will be on using our social network for some exciting (hopefully) language activities.