Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Engaging learners up in the Far North: One teacher's update (Clarence Yates; Kaitaia College)

Te Hapua Wharf, Northland, New Zealand
Image via Wikipedia
Kia ora,
Yes I am still up here in the Far North. It has been an extremely busy time for different reasons, Term 1 was so compressed for us up here and Term 2 for a start looked no different. We have just finished writing the junior reports, senior examinations, their marking and senior reports. I am also in charge of the whole AsTTle, Atol and Literacy areas for our school as well being as part of the Kotahitanga initiative. I mention all of this because the main focus of the school is on student engagement and hence raising student achievement. This brings me to the area of ICTELT VPD and what I have been working on. This is with the satellite school I work with Te Hapua through video conferencing.

It was the video conferencing lessons that I had concerns and a lot of thought on. My concern was how better to engage the students through video conferencing. As stated in the earlier reports I have been using the tools Wordle and Audacity to better engage the students in their learning.


(For a description of what Wordle is/does, as well as some more ideas for using Wordle, click HERE).

I use this every lesson and the students are quite used to it. I use Wordle in different ways.
  • To develop vocabulary that we are using at that particular time. This supports other literacy strategies such as Pair Definition. I will or the students will contribute the words their spelling and meanings. This brings me to a little skill with Wordle in that if you split up the words such as phrases or sentences they will appear elsewhere on the page. Therefore I keep the words together with no spaces and this keeps the meaning together. The reverse can be used where you can have the words apart and even split individual words up so that the students can locate and put them back together. It is there to create discussion.
  • Student Voice, Student Talk or Math Talk. I use this when the students are working and talking about what they are doing. The lap top is running and I simply type in key words, phrases and explanations that they are using as they work. When I want to show them what talk and language is being used by them I show them by simply switching screens. They see and recognize things that they have said and done in class. I also add other things in for example an event that has involved individuals or the class as a whole. For example they are the most northern sports teams in New Zealand and their Rugby team had its first ever win for the last few years. This had a special mention. Depending on the day there is always something that can have a brief mention so long as you don’t have too much as it will clutter up and be difficult to read. So not only is there language development there is also the development of relationships that take place through this tool Wordle. They know how to create their own wordle charts. This brings me to an interesting observation in that a video conferencing room would benefit greatly with the lap tops in the same room. Then you would get a real atmosphere of sharing and instant response with this type of tool. Wordle is running through the whole period and we decide at the end to either save or print it.

Used in the same as wordle in many ways.
  • I get the students to come up with mathematical jingles, phrases, etc and record them then play back. The trouble here is that I record their voice back through the video conference unit by holding the speaker/receiver close to the microphone on the lap top. It works but the recording is low in volume and on playback the students can hear but really have to listen. Obviously I use the tools in Audacity to change the recording and then play back. The students contribute because they can see Audacity in action on their video conferencing screen. It is a good idea to let them give their suggestions as the students have a good idea on how to use Audacity. An example for Year 10 Trigonometry SOH, CAH, TOA which they will say and then a jingle to go with it such as Silly Old Harry, Caught A Hapuka, Trawling Off Ahipara. They then can use the tools to do what they want with it and then listen to the play back. It is just another way to engage these students when video conferencing. I am looking at combining the Wordle and Audacity especially with student talk, student voice or math Talk.


I am slowly getting into the use of Moodle and at the present time doing PD with a fellow colleague. I have used it with Te Hapua and need to get back onto the bike. In fact it is a necessary component of the whole teaching by video conferencing to these students. They are using it so I need to get up there with them.

All the hardware is up and running as I have invested in the equipment fro my classroom the other specialist teacher of Science and his laboratory and the Te Hapua school itself. We seem to be having some problems in this area and hope to sort them out this term. However, finding the time is always an issue.

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

How to create a space in Moodle using the book plugin

A short video, this takes you through the reason why you might want to use a 'Book' format in Moodle, how to create a book, embed multimedia, and link to interactive Moodle spaces such as wikis and discussion forums.

To view the full size video go to:

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Making the most of learning and teaching online: Fostering skills and strategies to stay safe

LONDON, ENGLAND - MARCH 25: In this photo ill...

Image by Getty Images via @daylife

I believe strongly that it is never too early to help students realise that there is a risk when using social networking, and to help them assimilate strategies and skills that will assist them to stay safe online, while also enjoying the huge benefits of being online and part of learning communities.

As such, I would argue that there should be age-appropriate, engaging, interactive, multimodal safety sessions every student in every school, college, and university. Approaches such as showing videos with hypothetical situations, and taking students through role plays and ‘authentic’ experiences can be very effective.

Policing and ‘locking down’ is an almost irresponsible action by schools because it does not help students raise their own awareness, or to stay safe in environments outside of school. It is a little bit like keeping your children inside your house because there is a busy road outside. Better to give them the skills to cross safely, and the option to use the pedestrian crossing just up the road if they wish to...

It is also important to educate parents – to give them hints and tips about how to help their children stay safe online. Although it is necessary to not panic parents, and to still stress the benefits of helping their children have access to education opportunities online.

Educators can know what knowledge and strategies learners bring to their online activity by engaging the students in active, engaged tasks around staying safe in social networking sites. They should also be able to recognise cyber-bullying and have strategies to address the problem. There are some really good, accessible multimedia resources available such as (and these can be downloaded for free):
Resources such as those on Teachers TV (a UK-centric site, so a NZ contextualised set of resources would be great in the future :-)) are superb at supporting educators, and giving them ideas and strategies about making the most of learning and teaching online while helping everyone to remain safe:

Schools, parents and teachers can also access resources from organisations such as Netsafe that seek to provide suggestions around policies, procedures and acceptable use agreements to help build a school cybersafety programme. From this foundation, the students themselves could be asked to contribute suggestions to further inform these policies, procedures and acceptable use agreements - for home as well as within school and the wider community.

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50 Open Source Tools That Replace Popular Education Apps —

A Brief History of Free and Open Source Softwa...Image by seekomega via Flickr
If you are interested in using open source, you may find the following really useful. It correlates existing commercial/enterprise software examples with alternative open source applications that have similar functionality. Well worth looking through:

50 Open Source Tools That Replace Popular Education Apps —
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Virtual Professional Development - what can that look like?

Virtual Professional Development ModelImage by hazelowendmc via Flickr
Virtual Professional Development (VPD) is a concept that can offer opportunities for teachers and other education practitioners to focus on things that are relevant to their students, their students' needs, and their own spheres of interest and beliefs about learning.

One project (in which Ethos has taken a key role) that has been trialling how a VPD community of interest might function, and how it might 'look' is the ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching Virtual Professional Development Project currently underway in NZ, with funding from the Ministry of Education.

Communities of Interest, especially those where the formation of learning communities and consequent achievement of formal and informal learning outcomes, is central, are essentially non-hierarchical. The Virtual Professional Development (VPD) model is, therefore, attempting to locate non-hierarchical communities within hierarchical ones. Although, ideally, it might be suggested that a shift in the existing education paradigm would be a positive move, this is unlikely to happen within the timeframe of the development of the VPD framework. However, this does not create an insurmountable barrier, but rather is an indication of the types and level of support that may be needed to help VPD participant teachers to transition into a more fluid model of professional development, as well as coping with some of the restrictions and frustrations they may consequently encounter.

The focus within the communities is firmly on relationship building, contextualised learning, and personalised, negotiated learning outcomes for teachers (as well as their students). One of the key benefits of the VPD model is that the PD is completely contextualised within a teacher's school culture. Learning outcomes are negotiated by the VPD participants, and the skills they identify as important are directly related to the students with whom they are working. Facilitated sessions are at a time and place which is flexible to each teacher's needs. As a result, the content, tools and meaning of the PD are subsumed within the teacher's function of being part of their own school's/institution's community, rather than being the central focus as can happen with more traditional approaches to PD via generic workshops. Teachers will be scaffolded to help them and their school identify learning requirements, and access and share PD focussed on the needs of their students and school community (e.g. the eCapability Model). In turn, this will help schools align their planning with government priorities and initiatives such as national standards, NZC, Ka Hikitia and the Pasifika Education Plan.

To see this video full size go to:

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Personalised learning for English language learners at school in New Zealand

ICT Enhanced Learning and Teaching Process ModelImage by hazelowendmc via Flickr
This is a quick overview to one of the projects that Ethos is involved in - the English Language Learning in New Zealand (ELLINZ) blended learning programme. The ELLINZ design and development team is working with the Ministry of Education in NZ to find a blended learning solution that will assist students learning English as another language before they move into mainstream classes, especially in schools where there is little or no specialist ESOL support. The staff on the design team work collaboratively, enabling a cross functional, multi-skilled team environment, sharing an online project team working space and collaborative documents. An ICTELT blended design has been developed for this pilot intervention, initially through the use of the ICTELT model and suite of tools (e.g. process model, framework, and mindmap).

The main focus is to offer personalised learning in an environment with students engaged in activities where they are able to generate and co-construct knowledge through their interactions with other learners and teachers and with the activities and opportunities provided. The underpinning design places great importance on the students' background, culture and learning preferences. Learners will be supported by an eTutor in face-to-face and/or asynchronous mode, as well as with a designated off-site eTeacher who acts as a learning coach who guides and collaborates with students, partly through facilitating weekly webinar sessions with geographically diverse students. The programme of learning is to be mainly hosted in a Learning Management System (Moodle) site that functions as the formal hub for learning activities and resources. Asynchronous communication with peers, reflective activities, social interaction and learning, and communication with the eTeacher is hosted in a social networking space (Ning). Assessment (both formative and summative) is embedded within the programme, and includes peer-feedback and self-assessment. The project is just completed the trial phase, and evaluation will be collected from the students, eTutors, eTeachers, and support staff who have been involved. This feedback will be fed into the build of the pilot programme, and a formal research study will be carried out to measure whether the ICTELT blended design approach assists second language acquisition, as well as its effects on affective factors such as motivation.

To see this video full size go to:

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

Interface: Supporting the use of ICT in learning

ICT's in Education
Image by pmorgan via Flickr
The NZ Interface Magazine: : Supporting the use of ICT in learning

You may well have seen the Interface Magazine in your staff room, and hopefully will have had time to have a read. It is full of ideas, stories of effective practice, and suggested resources. If, however, you have not been lucky to get hold of a copy they have a great online site, where, in addition to being able to read the magazine and the back copies, you can also access:
  • A review of a range of blogs related to education and ICT enhanced learning and teaching;
  • The 'pick' of recommended videos;
  • Lesson plans;
  • Teacher blogs;
  • Free tools;
  • Event diary.

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Saturday, June 5, 2010

Links to ideas, resources, and tools for learning and teaching te reo Māori

The Arms of Her Majesty in Right of New Zealand
Image via Wikipedia

Kia ora koutou katoa.

Ideas for communication around and through Web 2.0 can be in a vast array of languages. Language learners and teachers are increasingly recognising computer mediated communication and multimedia as key factors in learning the mechanics of the language, as well as for connecting learners, encouraging students to create their own artefacts, and enhancing the exploration of socio-cultural aspects of language. Te reo Māori is one such example.

The following represents a brief selection from a large range of ideas, exemplars, resources and tools for te reo Māori. Please make recommendations around other resources you may have found useful, and share any feedback you may have about those mentioned below.

Ideas for learners
Ngā whakaaro mō Te Wiki Reo Māori - Ideas for Māori Language Week: The introduction to these ideas reads "No matter what your level of fluency, there are many things you can do to celebrate te reo Māori. Of course, you can try these suggestions all year round, but Māori Language Week is a great time to start!". The page goes on to make over 20 suggestions, with links to supporting resources and sites. There is also a language club that enables students to make contact with other learners.

For learners making their own resources, these two short videos - Let's go out and eat (by Lucy, Maddy and Darren), and one by Katie, Evie and Fran about a hangi, give a nice example of students working together to create something that they have shared with the world in general, and which can be rated and commented on.

For material for discussions around language and culture, there are a couple of interesting resources that could be used with learners. For example:


This site has a rich selection of resources, some of which are interactive. Learners can, for example, click on a word and hear the pronunciation, then test their knowledge with online activities. There are also sections suitable for beginners and advanced learners, as well as for businesses. A great place to find out about protocols as well. There is also a downloadable resource with language learning strategies.

There is a reasonable selection of online resources around the meanings and pronunciation of Te Reo Māori on the Internet. Some of the best include really clear videos that show the mouth shape as well as the audio, (from who also have a You Tube channel you can subscribe to), which model the pronunciation of the vowels and consonants. The site also has an annotated list of links to online dictionaries and translators, and a range of commons phrase 'drills'.

Māori television and Māori radio are both good sources of authentic language, but would need scaffolding for early learners, and it would be a good idea to have some sort of task associated, such as a blog post about a programme enjoyed in a specific week, which is then shared with other learners.

The Treaty of Waitangi can be read in Māori (with accompanying audio read by Whetu Scott that needs Windows Media Player installed to play the files) and English.

Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI) – The Online Learning Centre have a wide range of multimedia and interactive resources, related to Māori Education including myths, dance, ancient civilisations, collaboration and cooperation, and dramatic performance - to name but a few!

Initiatives / Creative Projects


The launch of Google in Te Reo Māori is discussed in this blog post and this video. To change the language that you view the Google interface in follow these instructions.

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