Wednesday, November 26, 2014

English Big Day Out PD - My presentation

Yesterday I went to the Dunedin HOD English Big Day Out. It was a fantastic day of professional development and another post will appear on the work shops I attended.

This post has the an adapted Office Mix of my presentation on technology in the classroom. This is just my story of how I have used it.

A link to the mix in case it doesnt load below:

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Being Brave - Office Mix

I have recorded my first ever Office Mix  and made it live! I feel this is a very brave step as I don't really like to be recorded or videoed. And to be even braver I have made it accessible to everyone - which I know opens the door for criticism - however,  constructive criticism is very welcome.

 I created  this video for my alternative level 1 English students prior to exams. I have rerecorded it trying to get rid of the 'ums'! The 'planning' video is currently getting a shiny makeover before going live.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

Replacing a paper based workbook with an online tool

Whilst at Ulearn 14 it has been interesting connecting with educators and sharing what we are doing in our classrooms - I thought I would write about an online tool we have been using at school.

At the end of 2013, we, as a department decided to trial using an online tool instead of the traditional write on English workbooks. After some searching online we decided to go with Education Perfect, Many schools in NZ are familiar with Language Perfect for student studying a variety of language. Ed Perfect are the same company but now cater for almost all subjects.

This year my school went BYOD officially and it seemed timely to look at how the students use resources and whether going online would improve their work and knowledge. I have been able to tailor or create relevant topics for students to study at home or as starters in class.

The great thing about Education Perfect over the paper based texts is the data you can extract from behind the program. I am able to see what questions students struggled with or excelled in. I can see how many times they attempted a question and more. I am able to set the content in relation to what is happening in the class. 

It has been used successfully in the English Department and we have signed up again next year.
Some of the benefits is that all task the students do are catered for their own learning ability, they get results straight away, as a teacher I gather useful data to assist with further learning, students have a degree of control, can access anywhere anytime...

If you are interested you can sign up for a free trial here:
These are my own views based on my experience of using Education Perfect. I am not employed by the company

From the Education Perfect Website:
Key features: 

  • Multiple questioning formats: questions are presented in a variety of contexts and questioning formats. 
  • Instant feedback: scoreboard and competition aspect 
  • Lists are customisable: to suit your curriculum exactly.
  • Access from anywhere: at school, at home, on holiday etc… 
  • Available on PC, Mac

What is EducationPerfect? 
Education Perfect is an online learning and revising tool that schools around the world have been integrating into their learning programmes in all Subject areas. 
With such limited class time, Education Perfect enables students to focus learning and revising at home. This means teachers can spend more time teaching the essential concepts with students coming to class ready to apply their revised concepts in context. It also allows the teacher to closely monitor a students’ progress. 

Students gain points for every item they learn, they can therefore compete against their friends in a fun, educational and safe environment at their own pace

#Ulearn14 Day 1

This is day 1 tweets from #Ulearn14 - just some of the many tweets. Will sort a better Storify after Ulearn.

@tameey day 1 twitter feed Ulearn 14

Ulearn14 is fantastic have connected with so many teachers - really brilliant.

This is my twitter feed for day 1 of Ulearn 2014 - using storify

Friday, October 3, 2014

'What it means to be a connected educator' #blogsync

Last night as part of Connected Educators month I tuned in at 8pm to listen to Chris Waugh discuss BlogSync. Basically you sign up to is a different topic each week for Connected Educators month (check out the website for the full list). You write your blog, post a link on twitter and use the hashtag #blogsync.

Week One: 1 October - 10 October:
'What it means to be a connected educator' - my learning life online, and how being connected has affected my work in education.

To me being a connected educator means I can support my students the best way possible. It is important to me to model what it is to be a learner. That knowledge and learning needs an authentic relevant audience. That as teachers we are not fountains of knowledge but need to gather information, synthesis it and use what is relevant to us. 

My learning life online ebbs and flows depending on what is happening in my day to day life. Often I find myself catching up online during the school holidays when the demands of day to day teaching lessen. 

So, I have a twitter @tameey. I have found twitter to be an invaluable to tool for learning about what others are doing, what websites, blogs etc are worth a read. I have followed conferences that I can't attend by following hashtags and using tweetdeck to organise the viewing of the tweets. Storify is another very useful tool for gathering up relevant tweets and displaying them on blogs.

I have this blog which you are currently reading. I started it not long after I began teaching and it does show my journey through teaching and learning. I also created this blog on MLE when I undertook a personal inquiry project last year. 

I initially signed up to Twitter and had a blog because I was teaching in a country school which was quite remote. I was the only teacher of English in the high school and needed to connect with other teachers of English. The online community of educators helps me to keep relevant and up to date with my teaching and learning.

Over the past few years I have tried to pass on the idea that our learning community it not restricted to 4 walls or to the school. I have done this through blogs, skype, and other tools. Recently I have been working with another teacher David Schaumman who is HOD of English at John McGlashan in Dunedin. Trying to get our students sharing work online and developing a community outside the 4 walls of our schools. It has had its challenges - as we wanted some realtime f2f. But it is something we will continue.

So, I guess my online learning has affected my work as I try to model and make sure my students are as prepared as possible for thinking for themselves. As well as  having the skills that they can apply to as many aspects of their learning as possible. This can only be achieved by being connected to other educators. I tell my students that 2 brains are better than 1 and to share knowledge in order to build and create knowledge but I think the photo below is better:

Mark E Western @shiftparadigm posted this picture on twitter this morning. It is a great visual for what it is to be a connected educator.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Connected Educators Month

Today as I was waiting for my coffee to finish gurgling on the stove top I took a look at the latest tweets on twitter. What should I see but a link to the Adobe Connect room for a discussion on MLE as part of the Connect Educators NZ month. Now, it had been a while since I had used Adobe Connect - I had forgotten my password! I knew there was a video function and I wondered to myself - 'Would the video automatically connect?' My concern being, that at 9 am, I was still in my pj's and dressing gown - it is after all the holidays!  I decided it was not worth the risk and quickly changed into my running gear, as that was what I had planned to do after the coffee. I need not have feared  - thankfully for everyone tuned in  only the presenters were visible!

This is one of the joys of Connected Educators Month. You have the ability to sit in and chat online with minimal interruptions to your day and yes, you can even be in your pj's and no-one will know. All Adobe Connect workshops are recorded making it impossible not to get the most out of the month. You also don't need a password to access the site as it has guest login's.

After the MLE discussion I did go for a run, mulch the garden, make a yummy lunch for my kids, catch up on a MOOC course. Then I was just in time for Karen Melhuish and team to tell us how different Ulearn14 is going to be and how much more connected it will be compared to other Ulearn Conferences.  Ulearn14 will have live streaming of breakouts to name just one change.

So, my message is this: Yes in NZ it is the school holidays but get online, connect with other educators - it will improve your practice and give you ideas.
So, tonight I plan to tune into Google Hangouts at 8pm and listen to #blogsync

Important links:
Twitter: #CENZ @ConnectEduNZ #Ulearn14
Connected Educators Month Blog
Archives for events
Calender of events

Connected Educator Month, October 2014 from CORE Education Digital Media on Vimeo.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Catching up on a live EdchatNZ

Last night I missed the #EdchatNZ on Twitter. My phone was silently pinging twitter posts as I watched my daughter's music concert. I knew it had to be a good one and was a little disappointed that I was missing it. 

But not to fear - social media is here!

As I sit drinking my coffee this morning and checking my email before doing the school run. I notice an email from @1MvdS in my inbox. I was pleased to see it was a Storify of last nights Twitter feed. Awesome! Then as I am reading through it I notice a link to a recorded live stream using Google Hangouts. AWESOME!! 

Last nights #EdChatNZ was a live stream chat from @GrantLichtman on 'Innovation in Schools'. It is well worth the listen.

Enjoy the power of social media in sharing ideas and learning.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Philosophy in English

A stand out workshop for me at the NZATE English teacher's conference in Rotorua was one on using philosophy in English by Yvette. This is what I am doing with my Year 10s after attending the workshop

So, my Year 10 who are very able are working on an inquiry unit with the broad heading of 'Reality' we have started by having a small investigation
Task 1: Brainstorm on Padlet  - Reality
Task 2: Have a look through the Padlet and see what grabs your interest. For hw do some searching on Google.
Task 3: Find at least 1 article of interest from a 'credible' source. Copy and Paste it into OneNote
  • What is the article about?
  • Who wrote it
  • Facts
  • Your opinion, thought about it, do you agree or disagree? why?
  • Your opinion on that area now
I booked them into the library to have a walk through 'Epic' and listening to a presentation on credible sources and using databases over Google and Wikipedia.
We ended up have a couple of unexpected lessons around credible sources and using databases. Students have been engaged with reading from journal rather than websites knowing they are more 'right'!

Students are now working in Knowledge Forum as they develop their ideas and work as a community to build knowledge. If you want more information on Knowledge Building visit the NZ site here.

A student told me today that she saw some graffiti on a bus stop that was relevant to her inquiry and took a photo of it. I was impressed by this thinking out of the classroom.

The next step is we will be looking at Plato's Cave and creating more in-depth  questions, discussion in relation to Reality.

I am quite excited about collaborating with David Shaumann from John McGlashin school in Dunedin. His Year 10 class and mine are going to work together on a film study. Whilst 'The Truman Show' would work well with this overarching theme of Reality, we will be using 'V for Vendetta'.

I am also creating a formal writing task using Knowledge Forum where students can contribute and evaluate ideas discussed and then create either a portfolio or formal essay.

By the end of the term students will have completed at least: A film study, formal writing, research inquiry, problem creation and solving, presenting, and much more.

Will post again at the end of the term and let you know how it has gone.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

NZATE Workshops - Iain McGilchrist

Sometimes, I think the best workshops are the ones where you sit, listen and do; rather than write notes. This was my experience, this year at NZATE Myth and Magic Conference. This was helped by all resources and notes being shared using google docs. A flipped conference!

To me my take home learning was the following:

Iain McGilchrist - Chicken Club

We were all captivated by a Ted Talk, from a young lad called Logan LaPlante on 'Hackschooling'. It is well worth taking the 11 minutes to watch. What strikes you about this video?

I won't be asking any student what they want to be in the future! He is quite right, happiness and what we do to be happy. 

It was interesting to learn that Paul McCartney failed his audition for the Liverpool Cathedral choir
Iain spent time sharing what he had learned from the professional readings on positive psychology. I really liked the idea of 'nudge' in the positive direction in order to get a desired result. 

This is the link to his powerpoint which contains a lot more information than I have written about. It really was a great workshop full of lots of ideas.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

NZATE Myth and Magic Conference (English teachers)

Last week I attended the NZATE English teachers conference. Giving up precious holiday time for a conference sometimes can be a risk; especially when it comes to selecting workshops! However, this conference was run incredibly well by Trident High School and hosted at John Paul College in Rotorua. Every keynote speaker had the audience spellbound and each workshop I attended was valuable.

Joe Bennett - told captivating stories from his time as teacher and about teaching in general
Michael Pryor - Inspiring us with Steampunk and fantasy writing. I would not be surprised if there was a sudden burst of creativity from the teachers listening. As he talked to us about creating a fantasy world and the pitfalls that can occur. "The Laws of Magic" and "The Extraordinairies" are two series well worth a look/read.
Ted Dawes - An amazing speaker who shared his journey from writing to publications and navigating the censors. I think everyone there will be reading "Into the River"
Dame Fiona Kidman - sharing how we she became a writer and stories from her life.

Below is the Twitter feed from Storify with links to resources. Blog post on workshops to come!

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Teacher Portfolio

For the past year I have been wanting to create an online portfolio of my own practice. I wanted something more than just the 2 blogs I try to keep current. After being given some links to other teachers who have portfolios and looking over these, I am playing around with this blog.
I have decided to play around with this blog as it already has posts from over the years and I can add pages (on the right). Currently I am little unsure quite what to add and how far to go back. So, I am adding pages with dates from this year and last year, as a starting point. 
I would love to hear from others who have created their own online portfolios and receive any advice on what I can do to mine.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

When a school goes BYOD - A teacher's reflection

When a school makes the decisions to go BYOD it is often after a lot discussion, work, PD, rewriting of goals and St Andrew's College (StAC) is no different. You can read on the St Andrews College Eblog about the school and student experiences; as well as what some teachers are doing. This post on  Digital Citizenship is interesting and gives a clear picture of the school vision. It is worth taking the time to read through the blog as it is full of interesting posts, images and video.

At a department and classroom level the exciting challenge was what can we do to embrace the change and vision the school has for: innovative, engaging and collaborative learning. At first it can seem a little overwhelming, all the possibilities.  Below are some of the tools we use and my experience with them:

One Note is part of the Microsoft 365 suit and a brilliant tool. At the start of the term I had every student create and English OneNote and share it with me. The ability to check a student's workbook in real time and provide feedback quickly is definitely a positive. A negative was that I suddenly felt I needed to check the student work all the time. I have had to put in place my own guidelines, for example, sometimes students don't know written feedback but want to know you have looked at the work; I use images for this.  My Senior students suddenly felt that it was all a bit 'big brother' as my expectations of the amount of work completed didn't necessarily match theirs! 
I like that I can create a workbook for different topics that can be constantly evolving and organize the activities differently to Moodle.

Moodle definitely has its place. I like how students can submit work here and it doesn't get lost! At the end of the year it is easier to get students to pull formative assessments from Moodle than their folders or even computers! Moodle has the ability to lock in student submitted assessments and this is something that I take advantage of as it means assessments don't clog my email and I can provide feedback in the form of track changes and up load it to Moodle again. I could use OneNote here but OneNote doesn't yet (from what I can see, but could be wrong) lock assessments. 
I have also used Moodle for one off relief tasks when absent. I used the create a page function and was surprised at how easy it was to embed media and links to the task on Slam Poetry. This St Andrew's College English Department Moodle Page

Education Perfect
The opportunity to change from a paper based write-on text book to an online tool for grammar, punctuation and other such 'English' based skills came about with an email in my inbox from Education Perfect. After discussing it as a department and having a tutorial from the Matt Foster who is in charge of English. We decided to give it go. All our students in Year 9 have access to this program as well as students up to Year 13. As teachers were were impressed with not just the student engagement of the website but also the amount of data and how it could be tailored to student needs. Students enjoy the competitive nature of the program and it has had a flow on effect with students learning key content through multiple learning opportunities. It will be interesting to see how this online software evolves to maintain student/teacher interest and needs .

TED Talks have now created TED Education and it was through this that I put together a lesson on Slam poetry. Whilst you can use the lessons and tasks on the site I tailored it to my class (using Moodle) and used this article from Stuff as well as my own tasks.

These are just 4 of the tools I am using in class with students from Year 10-13. I do give students as much choice as possible. It is about the integration of technology rather than replacing one form of writing/researching/learning with another.  

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My classroom has been transformed over the summer, new desks and new seating. A result of the research I did last year on learning environments. Now I want to write up some good programs that are more collaborative, individual and give students more control of their learning. One of the things I have done is introduce all my classes to OneNote.
We use Microsoft Office 365  at school rather than Google. It is taking a little getting used to but I really like the function of OneNote. Where I can create a textbook which is constantly being updated and one that can be shared easily with students. The students in turn have all created their own OneNote for English and have shared it with me. All was going quite well until some of my seniors clicked on - now they are not so keen. They are not so keen because I can see their classwork and where they are at with their HW- very quickly. The majority of students do like it as they are getting feedback on work they would not normally hand in. However, the ones who don't like  (one student has said it is  'big brother') suddenly can't work it, or don't get it or it's too hard.  
I will persevere with these students. However, it is interesting that we can hand  the learning to the students, give them more control, choice, and ways to work and they don't necessarily want it or don't want the responsibility or to be accountable. But this is only a few students.
What I am enjoying is seeing students click on to asking others for information. Actually getting out of their seats to share ideas or find someone else that can help them or using the resources they have to find the information. It is interesting to see how students change from feeling like they have to guard what they know, to sharing what they know. 
It is always interesting watching how a class comes together and even though I can teach two classes the same unit of work the culture and environment within them is distinctly different.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

New School Year - Fresh Ideas

Nothing like a new school year approaching to think about ways to improve on the previous year. I am looking forward to working in a new classroom environment and it has been rather exciting sorting out the learning environment. We have gone through this company 'Class' for the furniture and you can read about that on my other blog soon.

So what is the plan for my Year 10 (14/15yrs) 2014?

This year I want to have a strong literature focus as feedback from students last year said English felt a little like Social Studies at times. We are going to focus on '100 years of texts'. I want  students to have choice in what texts and in how they deliver the work.  This choice is something that is a continual positive with students and also allows their creativity. 

What we will do is create a timeline of decades from 1914 - 2014. Students will choose their texts from decades. How they do this is up to them. They could choose an author and look at a range of work, or a genre and examine how the genre has changed, it will be up to then. They will need to look at a variety of aspects within the texts e.g. character, but they will have to look at context. What was the world like at the time the text was created? What were the possible influences? Who was the author/director? and more.
Student will have to make sure they hit a range of texts, visual, written and oral. As well as presenting their work in a range of ways. This will be for term 1 and 2. Term 3 is creative writing with workshops by our in house author and final speech presentations in preparation for school speech comp. 

I am looking at showing the students how to use sites such as Scoop it to curate information. I will give blogging another go with the class. We started off well last year but by term 3 has lost our way - students losing passwords. I am not to sure what other sites we will use and I plan to search some out this week. I will post what I come across that look good. If you have any useful ones please let me know.