Saturday, 30 May 2009

Our School's Journey for Implementing the NZC

In 2010 all New Zealand schools are to required to implement the revised New Zealand Curriculum (NZC). I believe my school is well on its way in the implementation process. As a leadership team we have only been working together since July 2008 and I believe that we are working well together to implement changes with the staff.

In 2008, after the arrival of a new Principal (Mr Vaughan van Rensburg) who has a passion for ICT and the inquiry process we reviewed the use of the inquiry process at our school. Since 2003/4 an inquiry model has been used, however we observed that the inquiry process knowledge amongst staff members was a bit stale, inquiry units seems to roll over more than one term (10weeks), there was not a lot of authentic sharing of the process/knowledge and findings to come out of inquiry and there was not a lot of student lead inquiry. The Principal ran several staff meetings to re-address what the inquiry process is and how it can look at several stages in the inquiry. Teachers were then given a new template for planning inquiry (which didn't overload teachers with integrating cross-curricular objectives) the focus was on the inquiry process and skills to access and acquire knowledge. This year the inquiry process is being used in terms 2 and 3 for the first 7 weeks only, followed by a 3 week intensive "hands-on" science unit. by limiting the time the inquiry unit is done, we are requiring teachers to really focus and teach the skills that are needed, with the intention that all students will be able to present their findings/knowledge in the 7th week. We intend to trial a rubric of skills in the areas of questioning, collecting information, processing and communication, so that students can see where they are at on a continuum and where they need to go next with their learning of inquiry skills.

In term 1, 2009 we had a teacher only day combined with 6 other local schools. This day was facilitated by Hooked on Thinking consultants Pam Hook and Julie Mills. The focus for this day was a broad understanding of the NZC, the principles and the importance of developing a local curriculum, specific to the needs of learners in your community. This planted new ideas for many staff that linked nicely into the work that we were to implement at school.

At the beginning of term 2, 2009 we surveyed our learning community on their priorities for learning and their current understandings of life at our school. The parents and caregivers of our students were asked about the things they liked and for suggestions on how things could be improved. We were really pleased with the 40% response rate of feedback of our surveys and the overwhelming positivity towards the changes the new leadership team has implemented and for the current direction of the school. These findings have been collated and will be shared with our community in the next few weeks.

Our second teacher only day was held on 29 May. To make this day a success, we began at our staff meeting on 26 May some preliminary work to get teachers into the mindset. First we discussed the exciting opportunity available to us in developing a local curriculum with the flexibility that the NZC allows. That we needed to be open-minded and really think about what was important to us, and our learners. We shared several videos about 21 Century Learners/learning and Pedagogy and sourced these onto a wiki so that teachers could then view them again and to view the ones we didn't show. Staff at our school have not had any professional development in recent years in ICT pedagogy and this was a first preview for many about the seemless integration of using technology as a tool, and not as an extra to the curriculum. It is the curriculum that drives the use of ICTs; they are a tool for learning not an isolated skill. Staff were asked then to think about our students as the future adults and what they may need to be successful in the future? Staff were asked to think what they would need in their MIND (attitudes/dispositions), in their TOOLBOX (skills), and in their BRAIN (knowledge). Staff were only able to make 5 statements in each category, I then took these away to prepare them as WORDLES for our work on the teacher only day. After this exercise we discussed how several schools have created a visual metaphor for what a learner looks like, how these schools used these symbols and that we were interested in working towards creating a visual symbol on the Friday teacher only day. We looked at Selwyn Ridge School's "Kid on the Ridge", Coley Street's "Coley Kid Heart Model", Te Akau Ki Papamoa's "Seven Waves", Cockle Bay's "4C's." For home learning teachers had to think of a new visionary slogan for our school. Currently it is "enjoyment through achievement", which staff do not like and it is not used in any way (except for on letterhead)... we want to have a statement that is living and breathing; not just on paper.

On the teacher only day teachers were seated in small groups (4-5)that included teachers from each team (junior Y1/2, middle Y3/4, senior Y5/6) and other non-class based staff members. The first activity was for each group to share and decide upon a vision slogan that they liked, then looking at their slogan unpack what it meant by looking at the the Vision Statement of the NZC (pg 8) for students to be confident, connected, actively involved, life-long learners. Each group produced a statement for the 4 aspects of the NZC vision that were personalised for our PHS Learners. These will be reviewed at a later date, and a vision statement will be made in consultation with our Board of Trustees, and our parents too will have the opportunity to contribute ideas.

The second activity was to look closely at the Rototuna Learner model. We watched their video about their teaching and learning philosophy and looked closely at how they used their learner model in the action. As a staff we discussed what we liked about the model. In particular we liked:
  1. Philosophy of Formative Practice
  2. Consistent Language used across the school
  3. Simple graphic model based on a child
  4. A model that has 6 dispositions, some models we looked at had more/less. They chose 6 relevant dispositions that were consistently used across the school.
  5. Students, teachers, parents knew what each disposition looked and sounded like. Obviously there must be some kind of rubric to identify what each looks like at each year level/development stage.

We then broke for a delicious morning tea (always important when you are doing a lot of hard thinking!). After morning tea we looked at the WORDLES produced from our Heart, Toolbox, Brain activity at the staff meeting from earlier in the week. As small groups we looked at the trends of each WORDLE and what was the key attributes, skills and knowledge that was common amongst the ideas of teachers at our school. We then looked at one portion of our parent survey, what the parents/caregivers viewed as priorities in the curriculum. From here each small team had to come up with some dispositions that they though were important for a PHS Learner. As a leadership team we did not say how many, we were open to the ideas that came from each team. Each team then displayed their dispositions and we collectively discussed and debated what we liked. We ended up with 6 dispositions that were consensus amongst the staff: Communicator, Thinker, Investigator, Self-manager, Challenge-taker and Team player. It was great to see that everyone got to have a voice and be included (even teachers that are usually quiet contributed).

After lunch in our small groups we each had to work on a visual metaphor representation for the PHS Learner. This had to be based upon the 6 dispositions that we had all agreed on, and based around a vision slogan that as a group we liked the most. Each group got to share the symbols they used for each disposition and their visual metaphor. It was surprising how many teams had similar ideas. We then voted and came to consensus about what we liked for our visual metaphor. It was agreed that there was going to be a mountain (our school has "Heights" in the name so this was appropriate) and a child with a backpack of some kind with the dispositions on the child. One group had flags that had each disposition on it. We quickly realised that this would be great to use in the classroom also with the children. As a group we voted and came to consensus on the symbols to be used: Cellphone for communicator, magnifying glass for investigator, light bulb for thinker, back-pack for self-manager, a jig-saw puzzle piece for challenge-taker and hands united for team-player. We already have a strong values programme at school that is firmly embedded and reflected in the wonderful behaviour of our students (this would come into self-manager disposition) however, in the metaphor will be depicted as a heart on the student. We also discussed that we didn't want the child to be in school uniform, as we want them to be a learner in all contexts at school and beyond. (I hope to include some images of the day, and our preliminary drawings when I get back to school after the weekend here to share - so what this space!).

We asked the teachers to then complete a personal PMI of the day to give the leadership team feedback on how they liked the day and their feelings towards creating a shared vision and direction for learning at PHS. The teachers also voted on a new vision slogan for the school. Our new vision slogan will be: "Reaching for new heights together".

After this we had 45mins to start to plan and prepare for our community curriculum evening that will take place on 17 May. On this night we will share with the community our new vision slogan and work we have done towards creating a PHS Learner. We will seek feedback and trial our learner model over the next two terms ready for full implementation in 2010.

I will post a future blog about how we did our community consultation/curriculum evening.

At the end of this Teacher Only Day and reading the positive feedback from staff I can truly say that we have created a shared vision and model of a learner for our community. We had true collaboration and consensus. We had teachers speak up and not be afraid to share their ideas. We had teachers comment how their ideas were challenged and they learned new ideas from these challenges. We had true ownership!

Our next steps will be to unpack each of our learner dispositions and work out a shared vocabulary of what these dispositions look, and sound like. How these dispositions include the key competencies and further develop our interim curriculum delivery plan. Not forgetting to employ a graphic artist to draw up our vision and symbols (lucky we have a parent who is likely to do this for us!), however Vaughan has put a first draft together that currently looks like this.

Friday, 24 April 2009

An Inspirational Learning Community

This video clip on YouTube came via my Twitter today (Rt:@NZChrissy RT:@Shareski Via @ujdmc). I was moved to post it here and share.

Saturday, 18 April 2009

The 90-10 Principle

I got this presentation sent to me via one of those email attachments that gets forwarded around, however I stopped to think about the message in this one and wanted to share it via this blog. How do you react to the 10% of life situations that you have no control over?

Friday, 17 April 2009

Twitter Race for 1 Million Followers

I watched with interest the twitter race for the first person to have 1 million followers. There become a race between many celeb/webrities and I quickly watched with interest the race between CNN news network and Ashton Kutcher (a tv and movie star - I like to refer to him as Mr Demi Moore). I didn't follow at first and just watched lurking in the background while he did Live UStream TV to drum up followers... when I started listening to some of his reasons I actually tended to agree... in this world of web2.0 and instant news it is us the public that are the newsmakers, after all this is what we are teaching our students, about having authentic audiences and using social networking to communicate. I also liked that he pledged to donate 10,000 mosquito nets to the help fight malaria campaign.

I like this comment on Brian Solis' Blog "We participate on social networks to express ourselves and share a piece of who we are in the real world, online, to forge relationships with people we respect, trust, and admire and it inspires us to share, learn, and grow together. With every tweet and update, we reveal a bit of what we stand for and what moves us, forming a unique social graph that contextually connects us to others in an irreproducible network. It’s unique to each one of us, and it’s both empowering and powerful.We become media.We become influencers." I also agree that "We’re shifting into a rapid-fire culture that moves at Twitter time" and that "Twitter and the statusphere have become our attention dashboards". I only wish I had been so eloquent to write in this way... hence the copy & paste.
So how do you choose to follow? I personally have a small following (at present it is just under 200) and I follow 135 people. I do not follow everyone that follows me, and often I block people that do follow me too. I ideally only want to follow people that are in education, that I can learn and make connections with. I value the connections that I make from people from all over the world in education and find useful links daily through using my twitter network.
In my "real world" connections many of my colleagues and friends are not "into twitter", the profile of this social networking tool is definately being raised; my friends may raise eyebrows at my "virtual" networking connections, however I feel I'm at the pulse of knowing what's new and what's happening! I heart twitter!

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Take a Laugh at Twitter

I really enjoy using Twitter. It puts me in touch with other like minded individuals that are interested in education and the use of technology and web2.0 applications with students. Each day people in my PLN share links, problem solve and sometimes just ramble or comment about what we are doing/learning. Today this link popped up today which is really funny. One of the characters in this short 4minute clip reminds me of the reaction I sometimes face when I try to tell people about twitter... it's good to be able to laugh at yourself, and this is for all those out there that love twitter too!

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Sharing Inspiration

On my Twitter today a fellow tweep mentioned they were preparing to plan an art unit. This launched me into thinking about all the visual art resources that I have sitting on my computer in need of sharing. Many of you may already remember from my "7 things meme" my passion for art education, so I beavered away to create a new page on my wiki to inspire teachers of possible art lessons that can be viewed here. I quickly got some great feedback from my friends and hope that if you like what you see then you will post a comment here for me.

I'm also pleased to mention that my Te Reo Maori digital learning centre resource (that I blogged about earlier) was featured in a national ICT PD newsletter, so hopefully the use of this resource will become more widely known through this special promotion.

Sunday, 15 February 2009

Digital Storytelling Books

I came across this application while reading through several blogs and wikis this weekend. I jumped over to the site and created this quick little sample book. The great thing is that they have an educator side to their site and gives educators discounts off printing out these books in hardcopy. The educator link is .

| View Sample Photo Books | Create your own Photo Book

I couldn't work out how to embed the code into a post on my own. Then I saw on their site that you can automatically post it to your blog - so that is the step I have done. To write the post I simply just wrote what I wanted to say in the comments box and like magic it has automatically appeared on my site. I have gone in to add this last paragraph and labels for the post. I hope you have a play with and enjoy using it too!

Friday, 13 February 2009

Te Reo Maori Resource for every NZ class

In New Zealand one of our official languages is Te Reo, the language of our indigenous Maori people. As a classroom teacher not fluent in Te Reo but passionate about trying to incorporate Te Reo in the classroom I have made this digital learning centre to help the children (and teachers) of New Zealand learn and feel confident with learning basic Te Reo.

I would recommend that you print out the PDF version in colour and laminate - each week focus on a specific page until you feel confident. Have a good play and click on lots of things to listen and imitate the pronunciation. When the ERO (Education Review Office) visited my previous school in 2007 they commented to me that all workplaces especially NZ government departments and hospitals would benefit from learning basic Te Reo in this format. For several years I had pondered about sharing this with the Ministry of Education to "sell" but never got around to it! So because I'm so sure that I've made an excellent resource that works and that EVERY classroom in New Zealand should have a copy I'm giving it to the blogosphere FREE from my wikispace by clicking here.


Perhaps the MoE would consider sending me and my staff to the ULearn09 conference in Christchurch as koha for a resource that they didn't have the insight to create for all NZ children and teachers. In return I'd be prepare to do a presentation. Wouldn't that be wonderful! The whole staff could have professional development on the latest pedagogy and NZ curriculum. I'm sure that would be quite a reasonable cost associated for such a wonderful, much needed resource.

original photo: Maori Marae by Carmelo Aquilina found at:

Thursday, 12 February 2009

Techie-Breakie I - Reflection

Yesterday I took my first "Techie-Breakie" workshop for teachers. On my twitter the other day I got asked what one is; it simply is a short workshop/meeting before school to highlight ways in which the staff can use their laptops, class computers and web2.0 applications effectively.

I have planned to take these workshops weekly, running between 8.00-8.30am, however this first one went close to the school bell (which wasn't ideal, as teachers really should aim to be in their classes around 8.30am to ensure they are ready for the daily lessons ahead and building relationships with the children and parents that have arrived early at school).

The purpose of the first session was about using blogs because this year I have started three blogs for our three teams at school to share with the wider learning community successes and events of each team. The idea is that one class per week will be responsible for making a post of what they are learning in their class, or highlight an event. I am hoping that when staff see the power that an authentic audience has for student learning and how relatively easy it is to make a post, then they may feel encouraged to start their own individual class blogs. So a very brief post was made as an example to show the staff how to make a post.

I felt that I was well prepared, having made a wikipage of instructions and simple step by step handouts. It took a lot longer than expected as staff had not responded to an earlier email that was sent asking them to be a contributor/author to their team blog, along with a follow-up email that I had sent inviting them to come to the Techie-Breakie and to view the wikipage first. So the first session was spent mostly with setting up all the staff present with their Google Account, along with accepting their contributor/author invite for their team blog and then watching a demonstration of how I made the previous post and inserting an image.

How do I feel about this? Well I was actually quite pleased and went away from the session believing it was a success. It is only optional for staff to come to these workshops and out of 17 classrooms there were 11 teachers present, along with 2 student teachers, the other DP and our Principal; so 15 in total. I had a projector set up with my laptop so staff could see what steps to take, and a staff member who hadn't set up her accounts did it on my laptop for everyone to see, while I "coached" everyone else. I was able to go up to the screen and point out where they should be typing and working alongside staff that needed extra help. This was great for me, as a good coach should always be hands-off in my mind and the staff member should be doing! After the workshop was over, I made a follow-up email inviting all staff to go through the steps of what we did in the session by making a Google account, and accepting their invitation for the team blogs. I also encouraged the staff members present to go back and help our colleagues that did not come to coach them through this process.

The best warm fuzzy I got was when our assistant principal for the junior team later in the day made her first post to her team's blog. She inserted images all by herself and I coached her through using the Edit Html tabs to cut and paste the image to the correct position on the blog. I was really proud of her because she made a post with several images and text. I hope she now feels more confident using this feature and now she will be able to coach, lead and encourage the other staff in her team.

Where to next? Well my goal this term is for all teachers to make a post to their team blogs using simply text and images of an event in their classroom. From here I would like to introduce how to insert videos, slideshows, voicethread and moving images (like bubbleshare). At one of the next full staff meetings I need to recap internet safety with the staff and our responsibility to not break copyright by the correct attribution of sources.

photo credit: Beautiful Tools by Geishaboy500

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Techie- Breakie Number I - All about blogs

This mornig I have had my fist workshop with staff on how to set up a blogger account.
We are looking at how to add an image.Here is the image I have inserted
Here is my son and me at a school event.

Monday, 26 January 2009

Getting my son connected

Today I started a blogspace for my son (mr8) to help him get motivated with his learning. He unfortunately tends to lacks in confidence with his written work and struggles a bit with his math. I want him to feel excited about learning and using the internet and so am sort of conducting my own experiment. I believe it will also give me a great opportunity to work alongside him and strengthen our relationship (rather than always nagging about school work). This will be our portal to learn and discover together.

I want mr8 to be able to do everything to do with posting to his blog. I have initially helped to set up the layout of the blog (but he has chosen the theme and widget counters). He has written his first welcome message and is eager to get on his blog. He doesn't understand that first of all he needs to think, plan,reflect what he wants to put on there and what he needs to learn in order to do so. We have made a list of things like 1)take a photo; 2)upload photo from camera onto pc; 3)upload photo into blogpost; 4) write about it; and 5)publish it. With all this eagerness can you believe that I've got no charged batteries for the digital camera! What a way to put a dampner on the start of his IT journey (sorry son).

There is going to be learning journey for me too. Firstly to not give in to temptation to touch the keyboard and secondly to be patient. How is it that I'm more patient with the kids at school than my own children? So I'm hoping it's going to stregthen our relationship too. The first learning I've had to do is to work out how to use PhotoStory3 for windows. This is a free download. I'd heard of it before (at least 3 years ago now,but never used it). I quickly downloaded the programme and within ten minutes had quickly put this trial clip together. Now mr8 will be able to have a go and use the saved photos we have on our computer to make a Photostory to post to his blog. You can visit my son's blog here. Below is my first trial of using Photostory3:

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Why Bother getting Connected?

I came across this video about what this generation of 21st Century Learners needs to learn. It's message is that to prepare our students for the future in an evolving technological age we need to cater for their needs by CREATING, COMMUNICATING and COLLABORATING using technology. Watch:

But how can we get started? In a perfect world you would hope that you would let your staff watch the above, show them how to use a variety of web2 tools and they would shout "Eureka, I can see the benefits for student learning, engagement and achievement so I'm going to start today!". But alas, the world is not perfect and alot of staff members are not keen to step out of their comfort zones. What do we do with teachers that are reluctant because they don't know how to use the technology?

I haven't always been a whizz on the computer and was quite a technophobic before 2000. I started out slowly by ensuring that I was turning my classroom computers ON in the morning and committing myself to the notion that the students WOULD be using the computers. Of course my first experiences with computers in education was simply to publish the students writing but that was me using the computers not the kids. The first proper use of the students using the computer was through using digital learning centres. I have created many of these which educators can use, they are here at my wikispace. These are great for use with students from the primary/elementary sector (K -6). A digital learning centre reinforces, enriches and extends concepts taught as part of the daily programme and is a safe portal for children to access the internet. So I felt happy that they didn't have to type in any URL's that might lead them to dodgy sites if spelt incorrectly. The students could also access the wikispace from home and parents could take the opportunity to join in with homelearning. From the basic learning centres I then started creating my literacy programmes for early learners (5year olds) with a whole series of termly work called Learn to Read - they are available here.

From here I felt more confident to try different things on the computer. Using paint programmes for students to do follow-up pictures on, printing these out and adding stories, using the digital camera to document our learning and making readers of these events. Making digital stories using paint programmes, powerpoints and eventually being lead to creating blogs and wikispaces for children to use and share their learning. It all comes down to the willingness to embrace the technology and use it to make learning engaging for our students.

As technology evolves so too should our teaching pedagogy evolve to keep up to date, embracing and incorporating the technology. The benefits are numerous for our students and it is for them that we as educators need to change to engage and motivate our learners. Using web2.0 applications DOES this. If we can get teachers to start out small, to start to CREATE using technologies then they will be able to COMMUNICATE these creations with others (video, storytelling, blogs, podcasts) and ultimately this will lead to COLLABORATION (across the web with other learners in the global network).

Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach is an amazing American educator who has been to New Zealand many times in recent years as a Keynote presenter, she writes a blog called 21st Century Learning and just today she has written a new post on a similar theme to my own called "Why Change" which is has a very powerful message that I totally agree with. Please drop by her blog and read this post.

Monday, 12 January 2009

7 Things you probably don't know about me...a Meme

I received a tag from Mel Gibb (@moodlegirl) to share 7 things about me: A meme. I don't usually participate in these sorts of things but I'm on holiday with a bit more time on my hands so have the time to play. I also had read a few of these meme through my PLN and secretly was hoping someone would eventually tag me (so thanks Mel). I also liked reading Penny Ryder's Meme and thought it was cool, she shared some of her background with images (like Mel did)with us so being a visual learner I'm including images too!

1. I worked for the good ol' Golden Arches (AKA McDonalds) for 5.5years from the time I was 15. This is me on the left. I was a hostess, so just did the birthday parties for the kids, drive-thru and front counter. This is in the days when you did get served within a minute with service with a smile and you didn't have to wait for ages while they prepared your food from time of order. We used to have those big product bins and the food was chucked after it had been there for 10 minutes.

2. When I left high school (and whilst at Auckland College of Education) I did hair modelling for two of my friends that left school and went straight into hairdressing, so unlike Penny Ryder who has been only as radical to have a fringe once in her life, I've had several strange cuts, dye jobs, perms and hair ups! The photo of me in the red was for a hair competition which was really a lot of fun - the hairdresser won dye of the day for this creation - back then (1989-90) to have black hair like mine with bright red bits in it was unusual. Today I have long hair down past my mid back, and it is dyed every 10-12 weeks to cover up the grey!!!
3. My lovely mum pictured here died in 1993. She was only 44 years young when she died (from cancer), I was 21 at the time. So she will never get old and wrinkly in my mind - this is how she will always look. Her name was Gloria Dixie - my middle name is Dixie too! I think it is a rather unique middle name, it was my grandmother's christain name and it is passed through to the first daughter. I didn't have any girls so may be one day my boys will be able to pass the name onto their children.
4. Before getting into leadership and management roles in schools and being a self-proclaimed techno savy person, I was known for being an art educator. I worked at the Auckland College of Ed Children's Art School for two years and taught the 5-7year old kids. I also was the Co-chairperson of the Akld Primary Art Assoc. from 1997-99 and ran workshops for teachers every school holidays.
5. In 1998 I went on a 2 week trip teaching exchange trip to Detroit, Michigan. I spent one week each in a high and low decile school at Oakley Elementary and Alcot Elementary. It cost heaps to get there and my school at the time paid $1000 towards the cost so I sold hand painted glassware at craft markets to help boost my spending funds. I don't do this much anymore, however have done 80+ champ. flutes for two separate friends weddings.

6. Whilst I haven't done a painting for myself personally since leaving university I have done several murals at different schools that I have worked at. This one I did for a friend who owned a Lollipop's Educare Centre at Botany Town Centre, and this was a public mural that was 3.6m x 2.4m (so quite big) and it was on the side of their building. If you know Botany and stood from the $2 Shop across to the centre you would have seen it. (It was up for 4 years and now the business has relocated).
7. When I was little my parents managed the Sheffield Pub in Canterbury for 1 year and they used to pack us off to the ski slopes which was a lot of fun. In 2007 I returned back to the slopes on our first family ski trip (that's me waving)... after 25yrs it is NOT like riding a bike. It was really hard but I did get better. Although we did not go skiing in 2008, I hope as a family we can try this again this year.
Now to "tag" 7 people who may like to continue this "7 things". I appreciate it may not be your "thing" and you won't have any spell cast over you or a year of bad luck if you choose not to continue the game. You don't have to include images like Mel, Penny and I have, a list is fine.

David Woodcock (Room5ians Rule)
Lenva Shearing (Reaching Out)
Keisa Williams (monarch librarian)
James Naylor (skinnyjimmy)

Saturday, 10 January 2009

Top 3 Tips for Getting Connected in the Web

Recently I have helped a good friend get "connected" in the on-line world of web2.0 applications. In reflecting upon this help (or coaching sessions) that we have had, I thought it would be good for me to record what we did together so that others who are beginners on the web can become connected too.

I am by no means an expert and still am learning and discovering things everyday, however the more you immerse yourself the more you learn. There are so many wonderful people out in my PLN (Personal Learning Network) that have already made blogs and wikis to share how to do these things too. However, by recording my journey I can add my own reflections on why and how I find things. I would consider myself an experienced novice, open to learning. I will go over what we did and in the order we did it (as this may help?).

Starting out your digital footprint
I use the same log in user identity so that others can find me (and I don't have to remember what I've signed up as). For my web2.0 world I have (in most instances) used digitallearningnz as my user name and then used a strong password (including letters and numbers). I strongly recommend different passwords for online banking and for your workplace computer password (as often you may have to give your work log in password to a technician). I am a visual learner and have found it useful to use to watch many videos to discover how to do things or what things mean. I will include several of them in the following tips.
Tip #1: Open a Reader Account
Watch the following video clip to explain what a RSS Reader does and why you will need one. I got my friend to set this up first so that the subsequent Tips could fall into place.

To get started I also found it useful to watch the video from Google too:

I find it quite good once I have subscribed to a blog and it is loaded into the reader to rename the front of the blog subscription with the author of who the blog belongs to, e.g. when you subscribe to my blog it with say "Digital Learning" but to make it more identifiable in my subscription list I rename to say "Justine Driver: Digital Learning" for me this is one way of remembering who the blog belongs to in my PLN (Personal Learning Network).
Tip #2: Social Bookmarking using Delicious
Watch the following video clip to find out what social bookmarking is and why it is beneficial for you.

In delicious my account is digitalearningnz (note only one "l" when I joined, as I typed too fast and misspelt my own user name! LOL)Please feel free to add me to your network once you have joined to see my bookmarks.

What I find really important is that you MUST put the buttons on your Internet browser (this is what makes it quick and easy to use). It is great knowing that if my computer crashes my bookmarks are not lost and I have even more at my finger tips with my network.

I also find it important that when I find a blog (and I like the content) that I add it immediately to my READER account by subscribing to the RSS feed. A good way to find out where to find interesting blogs is to look and see whether the blog has a list of blogs that author likes - follow those links and start bookmarking and subscribing.

Tip #3: Twitter

I often get asked what is Twitter? or why should I be on Twitter? I find Twitter to be my most powerful learning tool at the moment. One member of my PLN asked recently "what are the 3 top reasons you use Twitter for?" 1)I have the ability to provide quick help and assistance to others and similarly receive help/advice. 2)I get near instantaneous connection with an extremely diverse group of people who willingly help and share; and 3) by using Twitter I have an increased ability to achieve a deeper personal connection to people in my PLN compared to normal blogging (thanks to @suewaters as this was her top 3 reasons to use Twitter and they sounded better than mine, but I agree. This video clip explains:

Again I find that once you have made a connection by following someone (feel free to follow me by clicking here) you can then follow some of the people that person follows and check out their web pages too.

I find it really important that you should fill out your BIO details in your settings section when you sign up to Twitter. Some people let anyone follow them however I only let teachers or educators of some kind follow me (so make sure you include these details in your bio). I also am selective about who to follow as time is precious and I don't want to read through stuff that doesn't interest me (this is just my personal view and others would comment differently).

I also didn't realise when I started with Twitter about two important functions 1) @replies - when someone does a post to the right of their message is an arrow that you click and your message will be put into that person's @replies box directly and it is a public message or if you want to write a message to someone specific you need to start the message with the @name symbol; and 2)Direct Messages (DM) are private messages that only you and the person receiving can read and they appear in your DM tab.
So you've done these first 3 Tips now what?
Now it is your task to develop your PLN by surfing the web; setting aside a little time each day to do some tweets (mini-blog posts) up to Twitter and make some connections. As you make connections and find websites remember to book mark them on your delicious and add them into your Reader. Ask questions and begin to make comments on blogs.

What's next?
Starting your own blog and learning how to use the huge array of web 2.0 applications that there are. But this will be another post for me to write, first it is time to immerse yourself and see what is out there in the web. Enjoy and please feel free to leave a comment or ask a question.

Photo credit 1: Hackers 1992 by Mike3D
Photo credit 2: Footprints in the Snow by Henri Bonell
Photo credit 3: Not Hawaii by Bravewest

Video Credit for "In Plain English" series by Common Craft found on YouTube

Monday, 5 January 2009

Welcome to the Human Network

It is now 2009, a new year has dawned and as I looked at my contribution to the blogosphere I was shocked to see that I hadn't made a posting at all in 2008! What did I do in the last year? Well I didn't leave the world of web2.0 alone I was simply putting my energies into other spheres of my digital network.

Today I worked alongside a colleague in getting her life connected in order to make her teaching and learning experiences more authentic for her learners. I say learners not students, as it is often the adults in the learning communities in which we work that indirectly learn from our interactions. It was an overwhelming day and a crash course in web2.0 however by the end of the day she had successfully made 2 blogs, opened a google reader account, started a network on twitter, watched "how to" videos on YouTube, bookmarked sites into a delicious account, made an avatar picture, started a wikispace and together we signed up for a series of online tutorials to learn more about eportfolios and building online personal learning networks. What a huge task but terribly rewarding.

This year I hope to post blogs more regularly reflecting on the journey I am making with my learning community in applying web2.0 applications across the school. The following video clip reminds me of the last year and how over this time I have learnt so many new and amazing things through developing digital connections - "where people subscribe to people and not magazines".