Sunday, 16 October 2016

Changes in my practice - Activity 8

Osterman & Kottkamp (1993) highlight that reflective practice is a means by which practitioners can develop a greater level of self-awareness about the nature and impact of their performance. Which then creates, an awareness towards opportunities for professional growth and development.
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My Mind Lab journey has been exactly the challenge I wanted. I have been able to work collaboratively with a colleague from my school to complete assignments which has been very rewarding. We have worked successfully together looking for ways to integrate technology with a more authentic context into our school. The Mind Lab has given us an opportunity to talk to like minded others about how to create better learning activities for our students.
I really enjoyed the first 16 weeks. Our DCL1 assignment didn’t go to plan but it set us up for having a focused growth mindset. We didn’t let our first grade bring us done and it actually gave us more reason to work harder. When the second part of the course started I found the online learning a challenge. I joined a Mind Lab Google+ sub group and started visiting the Google+ community more to see what others were doing from the Mind Lab March intake.
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Using Blogger throughout the whole year and sharing with Google + has been really reflective. I found it hard having my class blog and a Mind Lab blog but i enjoyed interacting with others at a professional level rather than as an adult with an audience of mostly 9 and 10 year olds.
Two changes in my own research informed practice in relation to the Practising Teacher Criteria (PTC) in e-learning are;
Criteria 1: Establish and maintain effective professional relationships focused on the learning and well-being of all ākonga. Through the Mind lab course I have made many significant shifts in my own practice. Experimenting with new ideas and tools has ignited my passion for using technology more effectively within my classroom. The biggest shifts in my practice include; understanding  the theories of leadership, design thinking, mindfulness, digital and collaborative approaches and using digital technologies in ways to develop 21st century skills.  
Criteria 4: Demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of professional personal practice.
The Mindlab experience has contributed to my ongoing professional learning and development of professional personal practice. One of the major changes in my research informed practice has been researching using peer reviewed journals. The literature review was a real ‘eye opener’ as in past appraisal projects I would find readings with the keywords to match the appraisal component. I wouldn’t necessarily think about it’s source. This year I treated the Mind Lab course as my appraisal tool as I was reflecting up to 4-5 times a week with my colleague about what we were learning.
My next professional development dream is to develop and refine my leadership skills. This relates to;
Criteria 5: Show leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning.
Learning about Leadership theories and styles was very helpful in my position as an ICT Leader. Using the research I am beginning to reflect on the different leadership styles used in our school and I am learning how to decide which would be most suitable for the people I am wanting to inspire. As an early adopter using digital technology to innovate change in our school I really need to focus more on praising others in different leadership areas. This will then ensure more buy into what will be a major part of bringing our school inline with teaching and learning for our 21st Century Learners.
From doing the course I am now interested in Educational Leadership and I believe that further study will allow me to develop my knowledge and skills.
Osterman, K. & Kottkamp, R.(1993) Reflective Practice for Educators.California. Cornwin Press, Inc. Retrieved on 7th May, 2015 from

Ministry of Education (nd). Practising teacher Criteria and e-learning. Retrieved from

Friday, 14 October 2016

Lego the way of the future

Lately I have been putting some Lego projects together at home with my daughter.
We started a project today and after 3 minutes we came to a stand still because my daughter had all the parts I needed.

What started out as a Tie Fighter ended up being 9 ships. There was at least 9 hours of build time as we worked our way through the instructions while creating our own ships.

Some of the sets my wife knows about

The last project we created

Here is a photo of my daughters Lego creator table. Most of it is Disney Princess Lego but BB8  has made the table
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I really love the symmetry that comes into play and the problem solving as parts are put together. I can see the children in my class bringing in old sets to play with or the possibility of the school looking into buying bulk Lego pieces.
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Lately I have been looking around the school for unused sets but all I have found are some early Lego Mindstorm Sets(not quite as cool as these sets but still usable). I haven't taken them because I want to keep them intact and resurrect the sets for others once the software is updated.

At the moment one of the sets is being used in my collaborative classroom I noticed it had a motor so I supplied new batteries and a group of boys were busy creating.

On a side note what I would really love is for Lego to donate sets of blocks to schools for creative play. I could also see them supplying sets to public libraries for issue just like jig saws. I would definitely use the loan facility.

Below is a video of some of the projects I am hoping to aspire to with my class.

Wednesday, 12 October 2016

Using Lino-

Yesterday in the staffroom I was shown this app by a colleague. I have given it a go tonight and I am happy with the results. It is still a work in progress as I haven't worked out how to share the videos and links with my learners but I have made a start.

Monday, 10 October 2016

My Interdisciplinary Connection Map - Activity 7

One of the potential connections from my map as my near future goal is using Twitter more effectively. I like the simplicity of Twitter as readers are given a brief blog. Posts are limited to 140 characters and can be sent from and received via text messaging in addition to traditional desktop applications.  Most of my parents have Twitter accounts and it would be a quick way to share with them relevant links to their child’s learning.
The Ministry of Education’s (2016) guide for Using social media to connect with your community  highlights that social media can help you:
  • direct your parents and community back to more information on your website
  • respond quickly to incidents and manage risks
  • weave the school messages through online spaces that your community uses in ways that are relevant to them
  • grow your understanding of how people use online tools to help you manage inappropriate communications or privacy settings.
A discussion about how information is shared would need to take place with my principal, staff and BOT. I would also check our School Docs page for any relevant procedures to follow and I would also seek support from my Mind Lab Google + Communities as they may have been through a similar issue using Twitter in their classroom.

An interdisciplinary environment as described by Jones (2009) is able to combine more than one discipline and creates teams of teachers and students. Connections are made across subject areas, while also allowing reflection on their own personal experiences. When students see how things connect they can see that their learning has a purpose which should help them be more motivated. Mathison & Freeman (1997) suggest that interdisciplinary/integrated/integrative approaches are not simply attempts to combine two or more knowledge bases, but they are more inquiry oriented, hands-on, and connected to the real world.
A disadvantage of an interdisciplinary curricula is it is time consuming and takes collaborative teamwork to create. Jones (2009) highlighted that this form of teaching can create problems such as lack of sufficient time for collaboration work. In my collaborative team we currently have no time allocated for planning. As I work with two other teachers (as they work part time) I have to manage their classroom programmes over the week and identify any issues or learner’s needs before they become too big to resolve.

Another issue for teachers as identified by Barton & Smith (2000) is selecting what content is covered. Within the two classrooms I work in there is an ongoing discussion and at times we operate as individual classrooms as we try to cater for the different abilities/needs of our students. For finding resources libraries can help compile sets of books, and video materials. But consideration of what other options are available when resources are not readily available. Our management team sets a curriculum plan over three years. If a topic doesn’t get covered or enough time isn’t spent on a topic it can also create further issues about what takes priority. Having a one size fits all approach doesn’t work across the school so we try to have general topics and make them age and content specific to the learners.
Research demonstrates that an interdisciplinary curriculum can help students learn recognize that there are a variety of perspectives that can be considered in an effort to understand most issues as students reach beyond the typical constraints of a single content area.  As learners engage in interdisciplinary learning deeper learning can be fostered through critical thinking creativity, collaboration and communication skills. All of which are part of the partnership for 21st century skills. (Lacoe Edu, 2014).

Barton, K. C., & Smith, L. A. (2000). Themes or motifs? Aiming for coherence through interdisciplinary outlines. The Reading Teacher, 54(1), 54-63.1.
Jones, C.(2009). Interdisciplinary approach - Advantages, disadvantages, and the future benefits of interdisciplinary studies. ESSAI7 (26), 76-81. Retrieved from
Lacoe Edu (2014, Oct 24) Interdisciplinary Learning [video file]. Retrieved from
Mathison,S.. & Freeman, M.(1997). The logic of interdisciplinary studies. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, 1997. Retrieved from

Ministry of Education (nd). Using social media to connect with your community. Retrieved from

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Using social online networks in teaching and/or professional development - Activity 6

This year I have started to use Social Media again in my practise for Professional Development (PD). I have been using Google+ with the Mind Lab March Intake group and I am also part of a Google+ sub group. From being part of these groups I have felt I have learnt more PD wise than I have through my school professional development. I am also part of The Virtual Learning Network (VLN) but I do not use the site regularly as Melhuish (2013) termed it, I am a ‘lurker’ as I read people’s posts but I do not contribute.
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(Photo : Google Images (Creative Commons))
My original intentions for joining the VLN were;
  • To share ideas,
  • Ability to network with others,
  • Have an open platform to discuss,
  • Able to manage own learning and information flow.
  • Connect with other teachers that are often faced with similar challenges to myself.
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I stopped using the VLN out of frustration as I could see online the digital technology I wanted to trial in my own classroom but getting Hapara or having a better LMS wasn’t feasible. Fortunately we are now looking at these crucial pieces of technology.
The Connected Educators video and Melhuish (2013) thesis highlighted for me that although I have a formal top-down communication for what professional development I have to participate in I do have social network sites to use as an opportunity to connect with others that suits my own goals and needs.

The Kathy Cassidy video ‘Using Social Media in the Classroom’ identified how children they use other tools to show learning besides just the written word. Children in my classroom are encouraged to use Blogger and iMovie to share things they've done. This year I also created Google for Education accounts for all of my children. The parents of my room were upset the children had access to Gmail and Blogger. I realised very quickly I hadn’t communicated to the parents the purpose of what I was doing in class online. If I had communicated better I would have had better buy in. Also legally Gmail accounts are not be created for children under 13 years old. If I had visited the VLN or Google + communities I could have interacted with others and sought support on how to best approach this.

The Social Media for Kids video reminded me of the skills that children need for being more socially responsible on the web. The programme the children followed talks about understanding how to participate safely when using social media and being a safe online citizen. It is a timely reminder to revisit cyber safety in the classroom throughout the year not just when issues arise.
Image result for virtual learning network commons images
The Establishing Safeguards video highlighted that using social media shouldn’t stop teachers from using social networking as part of teaching practise.
Teachers will need to;
  • Consider what is purpose,
  • Decide if it benefits teaching and learning.
  • Think about process,
  • Plan it
  • Discuss with others
  • Talk to community about why they are using the too.
The development of ultrafast broadband and more children having access to personal devices has required better strategies for schools in protecting children from websites and people online with unknown agendas. Further education of how to share images and information online has become critical.

Melhuish, K.(2013). Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrieved on 05 May, 2015 from

New Zealand Teachers Council.(2012). Establishing safeguards.[video file]. Retrieved from

Office of Ed Tech. (2013, Sep 18). Connected Educators. [video file]. Retrieved from

SocialMediaForKids (2014, Aug 15) Social Media For Kids® The Social Media Education Experts.[video file]. Retrieved from

Tvoparents. (2013, May 21). Using Social Media in the Classroom.[video file]. Retrieved from

Thursday, 29 September 2016

A Mindful Activity in development- Marble Roll

In the last week of term 3 we had a school production so in the last weeks heading up to the End of Term we really pushed mindful activities in class. I raided my daughters toilet rolls (Who has 40+ toilet rolls? - I know, crazy, right) that she uses for art and crafts and we tried Marble Roll. 
Why: Marble Roll is a cooperative game for teaching mindfulness

Materials: empty paper towel or toilet paper roll for each child, one marble for the group photos

The children stand in a line, close together. Each child holds an empty paper towel or toilet paper roll. The child at the head of the line puts the marble in her paper towel roll and tilts it slightly so that the marble rolls into the roll of the person next to her. 

 The object is to try to move the marble from the first person in the line to the last person without dropping the marble. No catching with hands allowed! If someone drops the marble, she must start over again at the beginning of the line.
From Planting Seeds: Practicing Mindfulness with Children (2011) by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Community.  

Things didn't go as planned and we couldn't get past one or two children. The toilet rolls were too short. Using different sized tubes meant the marble got stuck on the lip of the cardboard and having 40 participants made a lot of standing around time while the children problem solved. 

It was fun for the children involved but it wasn't a collaborative activity-yet

In the last days of term longer tubes started appearing on the tables at the front of the class as the children brought them in. It seems Marble Roll was a hit even with the initial set backs. I love the fact the children are willing to give it another chance to make it better.

We started incorporating art tubes and one of the boy's dad is a plumber maybe, just maybe, he will bring in a plastic PVC down pipe.

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Legal and ethical contexts in my digital practice - Activity 5

After watching the video "The commitment to Parents/Guardians and Family" I could really relate to the scenario of how is it appropriate to share media with the community. At Redcliffs School we use Blogger to share children’s learning. In the early days of Blogging we had issues of teachers taking photos of children holding certificates displaying their names even though It was explained clearly several times why not to do it. Other issues arose when children shared news and it was posted on Blogger with their name. We have successfully learnt from these scenarios through educating teachers at staff meetings.

When children enrol at our school they sign a media consent form and an ICT agreement. On Year 5 camp they sign a new agreement as to whether the camp is allowed to take photos of the children to use on their website.  Henderson, Johnson, & Auld (2013) highlighted when students do give consent for their images, texts and identities to be used in the classroom, teachers should be aware that this consent might need to be renegotiated at regular intervals.

At one stage we had some children who hadn’t allowed media consent and we had to make sure they were not in images we were posting on social media. Fortunately through education of our parents and an explanation of how we were using the images we are currently able to get 100% agreement. Having 100% is not the aim as parents have the right to decide whether they wish to give consent. Also although we have this consent there are times we do not post images to respect the children’s privacy as mentioned in the Code Of Ethics for Certified Teachers.
An example of this when we had been through a successful campaign to save our school from a proposal of closure. When the announcement was being made it was really important to keep the media out of our school grounds and protect the privacy of our students. Although we knew it would make a positive news story seeing the children’s smiling faces on National Television. We always try to ask parents/caregivers for permission before any outside media agency interviews or photographs the children. The Board of trustees strategized with the staff and media how they could best manage sharing the news story so the children’s privacy could be respected.
In School Docs the guidelines for our school are very clearly laid out. We can refer to them for our own personal understanding but we are often reminded to let the Board of trustees be the spokesperson for the school when fronting the media.
Hall (2001) highlighted that as teachers are responsible for the use of social media in the classroom they need to consider the relationships with students and the community outside of school.

Developing an awareness of how to make ethical decisions is essential and having an understanding of the school’s policy on sharing images and social media interactions is critical.

Education Council. (n.d). The Education Council Code of Ethics for Certficated Teachers. Retrieved from
Hall, A. (2001). What ought I to do, all things considered? An approach to the exploration of ethical problems by teachers. Paper presented at the IIPE Conference, Brisbane. Retrieved from
Henderson, M., Auld, G., & Johnson, N. F. (2014). Ethics of Teaching with Social Media. Paper presented at the Australian Computers in Education Conference 2014, Adelaide, SA. Retrieved from
Ministry of Education. (2015). Digital technology - Safe and responsible use in schools. Retrieved from