End of 2008, thought it approapriate to write a post reflecting on the year. But I don’t want to bore you with detail. Pretty much my reflection of the year is encased in the video I created for the World Teachers Every Day competition. So here it is. View if you want to, or ignore if  you want to.

I’d like to wish you all a Happy New Year. I hope 2009 brings only good news and good tidings for you. I’d like to thank everyone who has encouraged me, left a comment or simply read this blog. I don’t think I can really articulate how life changing making the decision to contribute my voice has been.   

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7 things….

I’ve been tagged by Mark Spahr to contribute to this meme. The idea is that you share 7 things about yourself that would be unknown to your readers. So here goes…. 

1. I met my husband at high school when I was 15 yrs old.

2. I wasn’t much into sport at school, but could rollerskate the pants off most of my friends. I won a gold medal in a school comp for speed skating.

3. I worked in a bookshop for 7 years from the age of 15 though to 22. Loved it. I used to borrow books off the shelves and make sure I didn’t bend the spines so that they could still be sold. I read copious amounts and have found the knowledge I accrued invaluable in life.

4. I once lived in a rented house that was occupied by an unearthly spirit. Confirmed my belief in the spirit world.

5. I love lifting weights (even though I haven’t done much of it of late!) Body Pump classes are a favourite of mine. Just wish I had time to get to the gym.

6. I was with my Grandmother in the hours before she died. I was the only person there but she could see a man beside me. She died a couple of hours later. I felt comforted by the presence of this ‘man’ and felt he was there to help her.

7. I had an emergency Caesarean when I gave birth to my daughter. As I was being put under by anaesthetic my leg spasmed and I fell off the table. I wan’t yet intubated and doctors were called into the room. My husband was waiting outside and could hear them saying 1, 2, 3. He thought they were performing resuscitation. They weren’t, they were just trying to get me back on the table!

Now, my turn to tag some people! I tag;

Tania Sheko

Frances Manning

John Connell

Dean Groom

Sheryl Nussbaum Beach

Kim Cofino

Susan Carter Morgan

I hope they give it a go. A fun thing to do.

Do yourself a favour – subscribe to a Podcast

I’ve been slow to come to Podcasts. For that matter, I’ve been slow to move to  MP3 players.  I got an iPod classic with 120gig capacity for my birthday a couple of months ago. It’s been sitting there with its pathetic 112 songs on it since then. Finally I’ve had time to explore iTunes and the variety of Podcasts about education and technology that are available. With a bit of help from my Twitter network I’ve subscribed to quite a few.

Part of my initial hesitation was the simple fact that I didn’t really know what I was doing  when it came to downloading from iTunes. To those under the age of 20 that’s probably laughable, but my teenage years were in the  era of vinyl records and cassette tapes! I’m happy to report I have mastered the fine art of downloading and syncing to my iPod and now have hours of listening pleasure at my disposal. And all for free!! 

What I’ve subscribed to:

 (it’s very easy to search the Podcasts field of iTunes for these titles)

Driving Questions in Education

Ed Tech Crew

EdPod – ABC Radio National

EdTech Posse

Moving at the Speed of Creativity

SOS Podcast

Tech Chick Tips

TWIT – This week in technology

Seedlings – Bit by Bit

Wicked Decent Learning

Women of Web 2.0

21st Century Learning – Ed Tech talk

I can hear you asking, ‘When is she going to get time to listen to all that?’

Good question. I have an underused treadmill in my back room. I mentioned in an earlier post that my brain had been active but not much else of me this year! Now I can combine activity with learning and do my body and mind a favour.  


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School’s out Friday

Tania Sheko, who writes a great blog called Brave New World, tagged me recently to come up with a top ten list. I’ve decided to share with you my ten favourite School’s out Friday videos that I’ve posted over the course of this year. I’m really happy that School’s out Friday has been popular because I enjoy the levity of it all. If we spent all of our time taking ourselves seriously this world would be a very dreary place.

1. OK Go – Here we go again  My very first School’s out Friday post!

2. Frozen Grand Central The improveverywhere crew’s fabulous effort at Grand Central Station.

3.  If Life were a Musical – Hardware Shop. The Chaser’s War on Everything’s musical number in a Bunnings store.

4. The best first dance at a wedding ever. Posted in tribute to Clay Burell who was getting married the next day.

5. What teacher’s make. Slam poet Taylor Mali’s take on teaching.

6. The world of chemistry. Very funny take on how the elements work.

7. Sneezing Panda. My mum loved this – she watched it again and again. 

8. Best game ever. Another effort from the improveverywhere crew.

9. Where the Hell is Matt?  Matt Harding’s 2008 effort that took 14 months to put together.

10. Hamish and Andy – Team Ghosting. The Australian comedy duo and their new sport of ghosting.

So there you have it. Ten of my favourites this 2008 in no particular order.

Enjoy your weekend. If it’s anything like mine you’ll be busy finding novel ways to polish off leftovers!

Don’t reinvent the wheel

I’m a firm believer in not reinventing the wheel. I’ve been in plenty of staffrooms where people covet their lesson plans and refuse to share. I’ve never done that. In the days of hard copy, I’d photocopy a worksheet and lay it on the desks of teachers who taught the same subject. I just can’t see the point of not sharing and making the load easier for others. I know I always appreciate it when other teachers share their ideas, but it’s a sad fact of life that it doesn’t always happen.

Andrew Churches has a wonderful wiki called Educational Origami where he shares many of the resources he has created. Today I was reading his blog and discovered posts he had written about starter sheets he has created about a variety of Web 2.0 apps.  They are available to download as a PDF and I’m assuming he is fine to have people use them in their schools. I couldn’t find a creative commons licence on them so I’m a bit unclear about this. (Hopefully he’ll read this post and provide some clarification in a comment).

Starter Sheets are available for Delicious, Voicethread, Google Maps, Wikispaces and Google Advanced Search. The advanced search has an extension sheet explaining Boolean Searches. They are attractively presented and link to the Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy that he created. If you haven’t seen that yet you must. It’s invaluable for curriculum planning with the integration of technology in mind.

external image voicethread-page2-212x300.jpg

So, don’t go reinventing the wheel. Access this fabulous wiki and download the PDFs. I can see them looking just great laminated and used as resources for staff and students alike. Thanks Andrew.

* Update.   Andrew Churches responded in a comment;

Teaching is about sharing and collaboration, it’s not a competition. Please feel free to use the resources and materials on the wiki. Everything published on the wiki is under the creative commons licence.

If you have any suggestions, recommendations or perhaps more importantly corrections let me know I appreciate the feedback.

I love this line. “Teaching is about sharing and collaboration, it’s not a competition.”

It sure is.





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School’s out Friday

Brace yourself. This time next week it will be Boxing Day. In between now and then I am sure you will have a million things to do. Like shop, eat, laugh, eat, stress, eat, sing, eat, socialise, eat, drink, eat, wrap presents, eat, drink some more, eat, cook, eat and on it goes. On Boxing Day I intend to cut down on the eating (and drinking) and embrace the walking and weight lifting. This year has seen my brain active but not much else. A situation that needs a remedy!

While you contemplate the next week and all it will bring, enjoy this little festive number from  madeinakqa. This little ditty accompanied the video;

Twas the night before Christmas,
when all through the house
not a creature was stirring,
not even a mouse.

Stockings were hung
by the chimney with care,
as the microwaves’ thrum
was filling the air. 

I can’t begin to imagine the time it took to put it together, but it makes for compulsive viewing to see the outcome. 

Merry Christmas to you all. Enjoy the festivities with your families. 

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I want to – 1,000 apps in a list!

I’ve mentioned Phil Bradley many a time. He writes a very helpful blog, is extremely knowledgeable and  has a sense of humour.  I sense he does, anyway, from the way he writes.  I like writers whose personality shines through, especially humour. There can’t be enough of it as far as I’m concerned!   One of the things he does is maintain a site called ‘I want to’.  Here’s what it’s about from its front page;

I want to:

“I want to…” or “I need to” or “How do I?” These are all questions we all ask all the time. This is a small collection of resources that will help to answer those questions. It is not complete, nor will it ever be. I will be adding to this on a regular basis, so feel free to bookmark it and come back and visit. Now listing over 1,000 applications.

Web 2.0 applications and resources to help collaborate, communicate, discover, email, laugh, generate images, podcast, use multimedia, store photographs, use RSS, internet search, shop, create start pages, store information, time management, train, teach and do things with webpages and websites.

This is a fabulous resource. Phil keeps it updated so the links are live and if something goes belly up he’ll let you know. It’s organised into categories and sub categories and a brief explanation accompanies each link so you have some idea of what the app is about. Like he says, this is one to bookmark and one to use in PD for staff.  Pointing our students in the direction of this  wouldn’t hurt also! 

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Libraries and our changing world

Over the weekend I was in Perth with my husband and had the opportunity to meet up with people involved in blogging and Web 2.0 thanks to the organisational efforts of the remarkable Sue WatersJane Lowe, Tomas Lasic, Kathryn Greenhill  and Jo Hart and her husband were there also. There were others but I didn’t catch everyone’s names so I apologise for not mentioning you if you happen to be reading this. Thanks Sue Waters for making the effort for me – I very much appreciated it.     

The discussion was lively and my husband was very tolerant. (He was surprised that he could keep up with the discussion; that comes from him listening and being interested in what it is I’m doing. I’m very thankful for that.) It was wonderful that Kathryn Greenhill was there. She is a Librarian working at Murdoch University and she has a great job  working as their Emerging Technologies Specialist.  Towards the end of the afternoon we shared some ideas about the future of libraries and I was very interested to hear her thoughts.  I’ve been mining her blog since my return and am very impressed with her insights. This to do list of Kathryn’s echoes some of the things I have been planning to investigate this holiday break;


On my own “to do” list?

  1. Find out more about new publishing models and licensing structures.
  2. Find out more about reading-dedicated devices – kindles and illiads and Sony readers and screen technologies that make it easy to read in bright sunlight.
  3. Find out more about the “reading” functions on converged devices (like the iPhone and mobile phones). Is it really possible to comfortably read a whole book on one?
  4. Educate myself more about Digital Rights Management and which e-books can be read with which e-book reader software on which machines.
  5. Investigate models for academic texts that involve library-provided materials that can be read off-line.
  6. Find out more about what the University of Michigan Library is doing with their Espresso Book Machine.
  7. Think even harder about “last copy storage” projects  and whether they make sense for Australian academic libraries.
  8. Think about preservation / archive vs accessibility issues with e-books.
  9. Ask some people under 30 what they think about books vs e-formats.  (If you are under 30, please let me know in the comments ).
  10. Try reading a fiction e-book from start to finish. (I have bought two that use the Mobipocket, and have been irritated that I can’t flip the screen to portrait so I can hold my eee 1000h like a “real” book. Fuddy Duddy me. )

There are things on that list I know very little about -obviously I need to know more! I can see Kathryn’s blog is going to be a must read for me, especially considering she has received funding to visit the United States and Canada  in April and investigate alternative discovery layers and open source library management systems. Open source library management systems are very interesting and I’d love to know the viability of having them replace the systems we are using today.  Looking at Kathryn’s blog she seems to share so I will be watching with interest.

Thank you Kathryn. Already I am learning from you. That’s the wonderful thing about this network. Connections are formed that impact on your ability to understand new ideas. You don’t need to learn in isolation and you can help one another navigate new territory. As far as Libraries go, the new territory has been laid open. Time to discover what lies within. 

Mahalo Answers – new feature with a twist.

Jason Calacanis has been active on Twitter promoting Mahalo Answers, the newest string to the Mahalo bow.  It’s a question and answer service with an added twist. You can earn some virtual dollars that can be converted into real dollars with Mahalo taking a 25% cut. Techcrunch have written about this:

Mahalo Answers throws in a twist. If someone really wants to encourage the best answers, they can offer a tip in “Mahalo Dollars,” which can be funded through PayPal and are convertible into real dollars once a member has earned at least 40 of them. For those of you who remember Google Answers, it paired questioners with vetted researchers who found answers for a fee. This is slightly different in that questions are not assigned to a specific researcher. As many people can answer it as they want and all compete for the tip. Furthermore, the tip can be rescinded by the questioner if he or she is not satisfied with any of the answers.   

Their thinking is if questioners rescind on too many tips no-one will answer their questions in future. They also offer points to people who ask and answer questions. If you provide the best answers,  add links or find friends who can better the service you get more points and can earn yourself a coloured belt, much like the system used in Karate. The higher you go the more of an ‘expert’ you are considered. The thinking is that people who accrue points and attain ‘expert’ status will be able to charge higher fees for their services. Techcrunch quotes Calacanis as saying;

If you can make knowledge into a game and help people make living, it is very powerful.

I’m sure appealing to people’s egos won’t hurt all that much either.

The clever thing about all this for Mahalo will be that they will be watching this closely and using the information accrued here to bolster the information they provide on their search pages. (Mahalo is a human powered search engine- people construct the pages you get when you search for a topic.) This can only help them to grow stronger in the search engine market. I know that I am always happy when a topic I’m searching has a page on Mahalo. I can guarantee the results are going to be worth my while.

It’s just gone live and some of the questions are a bit feeble, but others are interesting. Take a look. Maybe you can provide some answers and start earning yourself some Mahalo dollars. If I was a stay at home Mum instead of a full time employee, I know what I’d be doing. I’d give daytime TV the flick (not that that would be hard!) and I’d be extending my mind and income by contributing to this idea.  


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School’s out Friday

Yay!! I really am out from school this week. Holidays are here in Australia for some of us. Sorry Govt. school teachers- I know how hard that last week is – you have my sympathy although I don’t think that will count for all that much! 

And yes, I realise it is Saturday and I am late getting this up. I’m in Perth with my husband and we’re having a great time in this wonderful city. We’re meeting up with Sue Waters and Jane Lowe and possibly others this afternoon. I met Sue last week in Melbourne but I’ve never met Jane. Both of them have provided me with a lot of help this year- if not for them I wouldn’t have been posting from China. They both directed me to Posterous and Jane suggested Blogger as the platform that would be accessible in China for the blog I wrote for parents while I was there.   

Anyway, enjoy Charlie Todd and the improveverywhere crew as they entertain us once more. I’m looking forward to a Christmas extravaganza from them – hope they have something planned.

Enjoy your weekend.