Monday, 6 October 2014

#EducampNZ Smackdown on Air

Tonight I got to participate in my second ever Google Hangout (my first having been our planning meeting a few days ago) and to add to the experience it was a live on air hangout, which meant that we had a viewing audience!  Talk about jumping in the deep end.

Our planning chat hadn't really required me to say anything, which was a good thing as my computer microphone decided it didn't like me wearing headphones and refused to pick up anything I was saying.  Fortunately, I figured that I'd be ok for tonight as I had my TELA laptop and an iPad as back ups; however, I realised after our meeting that I really didn't know how all the Hangout features worked.  This resulted in an entertaining 20 minutes this morning where I logged in on one device as myself and on another as my son, put them in different rooms so that I could check the microphones were working, and then dashing backwards and forwards between the 2 devices to see what happened when I pushed different buttons. I'm sure someone could suggest a more practical method, but I was the only person at home, I like to figure things out by myself until I know I can do them,  and the dog and cat were suitably entertained.

In any case, I felt confident that I knew what I was doing and was ready for the live hangout.

The purpose of the Google Hangout was to share the Educampnz movement and also ways of connecting with other educators, using the Smackdown format often used at Educamp.  This was our contribution to Connected Educator Month, which takes place throughout October.  If you want to know more about it check out the website here. There were several of us from up and down the country contributing to the Smackdown, ably facilitated by Fiona Grant.

As well as having the opportunity to contribute myself, I had a front row seat to listen to all the other contributors and the things they had to share.  I learnt about several ways of connecting that I hadn't heard of before and even got introduced to the term FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) in relation to being a connected educator - certainly something that I suffer from at times.  

I spoke about using travel buddies as a way of building national and international connections for your students.

Here's a sort of transcript of what I said during my part of the Smack down ( I'd pre-written notes because I wanted to make sure I remembered everything).

Travel buddies are a really easy way to connect your class with other classes, both nationally and internationally. I've been using travel buddies with my students since 1999 and I was able to create these learning experiences for my classes through my own online connections.

Travel buddies can be as simple and inexpensive as posting a flat Stanley in an envelope. This was the first travel buddy experience I participated in. After reading Jeff Brown's book, we drew our own flat Stanley's and posted them to a host class, we received theirs  in return.

When sending a travel buddy, you often send them with artefacts that represent or tell something about your town, city or country. These usually stay with the hosting class as a Koha for hosting.  The host class keeps your travel buddy for whatever amount of time you have agreed upon & they are responsible for keeping a journal or diary sharing what the travel buddy gets up to and include photos where they can. Back in the 90s and early 2000s this was usually a physical journal. These days it can be digital e.g. A blog post, Skype chat, google doc, or similar.

A few years ago Rohi the Kea went on a grand tour of NZ and was passed between several classes throughout NZ who all contributed to a collaborative blog. This was a great way for all the children to learn about different parts of NZ.

Last year my class hosted Snail and Whale who were travelling around NZ complete with the book about their adventures. This was easily incorporated into our literacy programme. When it was time to send them on to their next school we recorded inside the cover of the book to show who we were and where we were from.

Sometimes travel buddies go astray - Kara the kiwi never returned from her trip to Wisconsin. She was posted from the U.S. but never made it home. Rohi, was accidentally sold at a school gala but fortunately she was retrieved and was able to continue on her travels. This doesn't happen often but it worth keeping in mind - this is one of the reasons why I make sure mine are small, light and inexpensive. Keeping them small also helps keep postage costs down.

Travel buddies are a great way for teachers to connect and collaborate with other teachers and provides an engaging and accessible learning opportunity for their students

I have to admit to a huge sense of relief once I'd finished my bit.  I was also really pleased with how it had gone.  Having never really participated in a Google Hangout before, I have to say it was a fantastic way of presenting to others and I loved the collaborative aspect as well.

Here is a link to the recording of the hangout if you missed it:

This is a link to the supporting Google Presentation document It's open for you to edit if you have something to add.

Finally, I've included a link to my Wiki page about travel buddies and I've embedded the EdTalk video, filmed a few years ago now, where I talked about connecting through classroom projects such as travel buddies - just  in case you wanted to know more.

There are so many ways that educators can connect with each other, check out the hangout recording, browse through the presentation and give something new a try.  I certainly did tonight, and had a blast.

Travel buddies from EDtalks on Vimeo.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Blogging Meme

It has been a very, very long time since I wrote on this blog.  I've been meaning to for quite a while but couldn't think of anything worth saying.  Thanks to a blogging meme that has been currently doing the rounds, I have got the kick start I need to get this blog up and running again.

Essentially the meme works as follows:

  • Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  • Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  • List 11 bloggers.
  • Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated. Don’t nominate a blogger who has nominated you.

I was tagged by both Claire Buist & Kimberley Rivett so I decided to do one set of random facts but provide answers to each set of questions.  The tricky part is deciding who to tag myself as most of the people I would tag have already been tagged - some more than once.

11 Random Facts About Me

I own over 3000 books & most of those are novels or picture books.

I have lived in  24 houses, in 11 different towns/cities in NZ.

I have lived at 6 different fire stations - Dad was a fireman and the houses were on the fire station grounds.

I was born with short achilles tendons and as a result I walk on my toes - especially when I don’t have shoes on to hold my heels down.

I am the oldest grandchild on both sides of my family.

When I was 6 years old I was awarded second place for my painting of Guy Fawkes night in an art competition as part of the Wanganui A &P show.

I can't stand beetroot and no matter how hard I try I can't convince myself to eat it. 

I hate it when people call me Kirsty and often won’t respond if they do.

I have always wanted to go to Antarctica.

I have been as far south as Bluff and as far north as the Isle of Skye.

I love Jelly Belly Jelly Beans - they don’t last long when I’m around.

Here are my answers to Kimberley's questions:

1. Who is the most famous person you have ever met?

I met Rob Guest in Wanganui when I was 6 - he was performing in Half a Sixpence. He signed my programme and Mum bought me a 45” of his single “Hanging On”.

2. If you could spend a day with anyone from any era or country, who would it be and why?

Elizabeth the first.  I have been fascinated by her since I was a very little girl.

3. What is the greatest challenge you have faced in life?

Surviving a near fatal vehicle accident and then in the years afterwards helping my husband and son to cope with the impact it had on them.

4. What is your favourite childhood memory?

Summer holidays with my family - this includes my cousins and my grandparents.

5. What has changed for the better and the worst in teaching since you were at school?

For the better - recognition that each child has different needs and is at different points in their learning journey, instead of simply teaching the whole class the same lesson because they are in the same year level.

For the worse - public opinion about teachers.

6. Who is the most inspiring teacher you had as a student and why?

Miss Evans my 5th form History & 7th form Classics teacher.  She was interesting and engaging, had clear expectations and knew what she was talking about.

7. What do you need to change or develop this year (personal challenge time!)?

Continue to develop my leadership skills in my role as a Learning Leader.

8. Where would you love to travel to and why?

Canada because my grandfather trained there during World War Two and my best friend lives there.

9. If you went to a 'P' party (something starting with the letter 'P') what would you wear? 

Pyjamas - they’re just soooo comfortable.

10. If you were a super hero what would be your superpower?

The ability to heal others.

11. What is one thing you would change in the world if you could change anything?

That’s a tricky one - I think I’d like for everyone to accept that each of us is different and that difference is ok.

And here are my answers to Claire's:

1) What is your favourite book?

That’s a hard question - it would be like asking me to name my favourite offspring.  

2) What is your most precious device?

3 way tie between my Mac Book, iPhone and iPad mini.

3) iPad or Android tablets?

Always iPad.

4) What do you consider the most valuable thing you own?

My life - I’ve come very close to not being here on 3 occasions in my life and so I appreciate every moment I have and try to live each day as if it were my last.

5) What is your favourite way to waste time?

Surfing the web.

6) If a movie was being made about you who would you choose to play you and why?

Kate Winslet because she is a fantastic character actress plus her complexion is similar to mine.

7) If you could have an endless supply of food what would that be?


8) What's the best holiday you've been on?

3 weeks touring the UK.

9) What's the worst haircut you've ever had?

The one my sister gave me when she was 2 and I was 4.

10) What three things do you love most about your best friend?

She understands my warped sense of humour, she’s always there for me no matter what and she loves books and history as much as I do.

11) What is your favourite smell and what memory does it remind you of?

Wood smoke.  It reminds me of my Dad.  He was a fireman and often when he came home I’d hug him and he would smell all smokey.  Also when we went to visit him at work the room where they hung all their gear had the same smell.

My 11 Questions:

1. Why did you decide to become a teacher?
2. What are you most proud of?
3. If you weren't an educator what would you be?
4. If you could invite any 3 people in the world (past or present) to dinner, who would you invite and 
5. What advice would you give to your 18 year old self?
6. Do you speak another language? If so, what?
7. What television programme from your childhood would you like to see back on the screen these      
8. What's your idea of a fabulous weekend?
9. Blogging, Twitter or Facebook - which is better and why?
10.Which animal do you feel best represents you and why?
11. Do you think imagination is important? Why or why not?

I tag the following people:
@kiwispouse, @eMartian, @tinado, @dragonsinger57, @dragon09  & anyone else who hasn’t been tagged but wants to do it as I am running out of people who haven't been tagged already.