School’s out Friday

I’ve just spent the most enjoyable week I’ve had for a long time with my two favourite people; my children. We visited Sydney and explored its sights and sounds. If I find some time this weekend I’ll post some pictures about our time there, that’s if they allow me to use some of the pictures that include visuals of them!

While I was there, Dennis Harter sent me a tweet directing me to this very entertaining young man and his ukelele version of Jason Mraz’s song, “I’m yours”. (You might remember I featured that song as a School’s out Friday earlier in the year). It raised a chuckle for all of us; my son watched it over and over and marvelled at his skills with the ukulele, but not so much his singing. I quite like his interpretation; reminds me of some of my efforts as I try to decipher just what it is artists are singing when I tune in to the radio!

I hope your weekend treats you well; Christmas shopping and a mighty big clean up of the house are coming my way. Sounds exhausting just typing it!

Connections take time

So, it’s school holidays. You’d think I’d be posting like a mad woman wouldn’t you -making up for all of the time I couldn’t post because work was getting in the way.

Well. I haven’t been. I’ve been busy making connections.

Working together 2 make a difference has attracted a reasonable size community of educators but we would like to see some connective activity happen between the members. Mike Poluk has agreed to take on some of the administrative role in the Ning to support Angela Stockman and myself.  Right now the space has had a bit of a revamp and Angela has added some groups to see if we can get more connections happening. Laura Stockman has added a 25 days to make a difference group; setting us all the challenge to see what we can achieve in 25 days with random acts of kindness. Nice.  Take a visit and see if you can join us. It’s a very positive space and the people who are active there are very genuine about what it is they are doing.

I’ve also been connecting with the gym again! This is twofold; it’s also a means of connecting with my daughter as we have joined together. Both of us were in agony yesterday after a Pump class, but we headed out to do battle with the treadmills and bikes. I figure my headspace needs the benefits that physical activity can bring, and my body space could do with the paring down that physical activity can bring!

I’ve also been commenting on a few posts. Take a look at Dennis Harter’s post on U Tech Tips about “Is the term 21st Century out of date?” Dennis talks about ‘buy -in’ and the need for it to happen if we are to see real change occur in teacher’s adopting new techologies for learning purposes.  Interesting post and comment feed -worth reading.

By far the post that has taken up quite a bit of time is Wes Fryer’s post about the NSW deployment of Netbooks. I left a comment that made a bit of a sweeping generalisation in the first line about the lack of professional development supporting the rollout. Yes, it was a sweeping generalisation, I admit it, and Ben Jones picked me up on it.  I’ll paste our thread in here rather than reinvent the wheel trying to explain it all. Best to get you to follow Ben’s links and make your mind up about where it’s all heading.


Unfortunately, little to no thought has gone into the professional development necessary to ensure that the teachers of NSW (and other States of Australia that are seeing netbooks rolled out into classrooms)are adequately prepared to use them to their full potential in classrooms. Hardware is part of the solution, but ensuring our teachers feel confident in the effective and meaningful use of the hardware is the vital key to the success of this rollout. No keys apparent as yet!


Yes on the limited information you have read you would be correct the focus is on the technology however please read the full information:
– Curriculum Support & Professional Learning Materials:
– Professional Learning support for Leaders:
– Digital Learning objects custom for the laptops: (there is 1000’s of other digital learning objects in TaLe but you need to be a DETNSW teacher to log in)
– 6m Direct to schools for action learning projects, relief and professional learning specific to DERNSW (this is in addition to existing PL budgets) for the 09/10 year
– 2.3m to Regions to support schools for the 09/10 year
– First roll out of teacher laptops was as far away from students laptops as we could possibly make it (without federal political imperative would have been longer) with a another teacher roll out this year.

The program delivering this is lead by a School Educational Director and comprised of Principals, Head Teachers and Teachers working very closely with IT. It goes without saying we have a very strong focus on teaching and learning.

For an educational perspective watch this:



@Ben Thanks for posting the links to the work being done by the NSW Govt. I’ve taken a look and can see that a lot of time and effort has gone into this. My concern is that teachers aren’t learning how to develop Personal Learning Networks for themselves and making the connections with other educators who are on the same learning curve. To me, understanding the full potential of learning with laptops is understanding the connective environment that is enabled with this tool. It’s the people behind the screens who make learning interesting, and connecting with other educators and students can lead to very powerful learning opportunities. I may not have stumbled on it, but I didn’t see any reference or link to networks of educators like ‘The Future of Education Ning’ ‘Classroom 2.0 Ning’ The English Companion Ning’ etc or reference to Australian classroom practitioners who are writing about what they are doing in their classrooms to make experiences like this happen. (Please correct me if I’m wrong.) We need our teachers to be able to find people they can talk to. They can do this by engaging in discussion threads on nings or leaving comments on blogs. They can experience the effectiveness of learning this way first hand if they realise these networks exist. It may well be they will have to be led to them. If they begin to understand they can learn this way then we will see teachers begin to understand how they can make opportunities like this possible for the students they teach.


You both raise similar issues, the PLNs both virtually and physically are being setup by the regions (we are 540+ schools across 801600sq/km this is not easily done centrally). The 10 regions are setting up networks and online collaboration spaces (mostly using Sharepoint or similar). The regions are running a variety of programs including KLA workshops, action learning projects, light house schools, technology leaders, etc. As in other big education systems around the world teachers use the tools available to them to develop their networks as they see fit.

An internal Blog tool is under trial now and will be rolled to all teachers and students that includes a media library and is integrated with our active directories so students and teachers can be added with ease. Following this roll out (a lot quicker as all the hardwork will be done) is a Wiki tool and an online collaboration tool similar to Google Docs called eBackpack giving students cloud based storage. (more info:

For more detail on specific laptop pedagogy (the is more focused at the school leadership level) this is a really powerful resource that focuses on the needs of key learning areas at the Teacher and Head Teacher Level.


@Ben Based on my experiences with Sharepoint, I’m figuring that hosting blogs and wikis in there will mean they are of a walled garden variety; locked to members only? This approach (if that is how it is going to work, and please, correct me if I am mistaken)goes against the kind of thinking displayed by thinkers like Stephen Heppell and Mark Pesce, both who feature as links for teachers to listen to in the NSWDET links you have posted. Where’s the opportunity for a global audience?

Ben hasn’t had the opportunity to reply as yet so I may find myself better informed tomorrow. If so, I will update this post. It’s an interesting discussion, and there are other comments in the thread on Wes Fryer’s post that you should take a look at.

So, that’s what’s been occupying my time. Connecting does take time, but the learning that happens fires those brain neurons.

Wordle – Rhonda and Dennis are on the bus!

I’ve been catching up on some reading tonight. My Google Reader has been sadly neglected of late – too many things to do and not enough hours in the day. I haven’t read The Shifted Librarian for awhile and was thrilled to see Rhonda Powling’s post about Wordle featured in it’s entirity on Jenny’s blog. Good for you Rhonda. Great to see an Aussie Teacher-Librarian blogger getting attention. Wordle is a neat application that allows you to paste text in and it will create a tag cloud formation with the most used words appearing larger than others. No thinking required, but great effect. It has a lot of potential for display purposes and to generate class discusssion about word choice. It would be a fun activity to insert the text of a well known peom and see if your students were able to piece together which poem it is and how it should appear in regular text format. 

Dennis Harter discovered Wordle this week. He put out a tweet (on Twitter for those of you wondering what on earth I’m referring too!) asking if he was late in catching up with this app. I very kindly replied that yes, he was! He wrote about this exchange in his first post for U Tech tips and recounted it with good humour. The focus of his post was, you guessed it, Wordle, and he included one he had created using Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream’ speech. It looked brilliant – the kind of thing you’d want to laminate and use in your library or classroom.

I’m sure you’re wondering why it is that I haven’t got an example here of the kind of thing you can do using Wordle. Well, that is because, for some unknown reason, I can’t get Wordle to work. I paste in the text of Robert Kennedy’s speech after the assassination of Dr. King, and it keeps telling me there is ‘no plugin available to view this content’. I have the latest version of Java installed, and can’t understand why what looks to be the easiest application available on the Web will not work for me!

If you’re reading this and have an answer to my dilemma, please leave a comment and put me out of my Wordleless misery! Yes Dennis, I may have known about Wordle before you jumped on the bus, but I’m still waiting at the stop!

Ustream – catch Wired Wednesdays

In my last post I highlighted the great work being done by Justin Medved and Dennis Harter at the International School of Bangkok. One of the proactive things they are doing for their staff and the wider world is an initiative called Wired Wednesdays. In their words, Wired Wednesday is, “a discussion based session around the philosophy and direction of education, technology, and learning. Usually inspired by a video (think mwesch), we then just talk and then hopefully redirect the conversation into the blogosphere and classrooms.”  The wider world can participate as they broadcast on Ustream. Wired Wednesdays broadcast from 2.15pm Bangkok time. If you can’t tune in you can catch up with the rerun on their Ustream channel.

We are currently investigating how best we videotape lectures that occur in the school. Perhaps Ustream is worth a look.   

With Ustream you can create your own show. Here’s how you do it (from the Ustream site);

Create your own broadcast! It takes just minutes…

1. Create Your Ustream Account

Sign Up!

2. Log in, then select “My Shows”

3. Type in the name of your show, and just click Broadcast Now!

4. Plug in your cam

5. When asked, “allow” the broadcast widget to access your video camera or webcam.
    You are now LIVE!


What are the needs of the 21st Century Learner? Dennis Harter and Justin Medved are leading the way.

Dennis Harter and Justin Medved are doing some fantastic work at the International School of Bangkok and are sharing their thinking with the world.  Justin created the Curriculum 2.0 video that began this entry, and their thinking is helping me to clarify my own thinking about learning and where technology fits in the teaching happening in our schools today. It’s the learning that is important and that’s what needs to be the focus of any discussion about the use of technology to support learning.  Their school uses Jay McTighe’s Understanding by Design to develop their units so they approached their planning with the idea that they needed to formulate essential questions identifying Information Literacy for a 21st  Century Learner. Below are their questions represented as a diagram.  


They then developed a new literacy wiki that became the discussion forum for these five essential questions and what they termed Curriculum 2.0. Out of this they fine tuned their five essential questions into what they termed, ‘three focused roles of technology in 21st century learning.’ Venn

They then evolved to the following understandings and the development of three new questions. What follows is directly from their fifth blog post on this subject – I hope they don’t mind me inserting it here but it is best understood by reading their words. 

“From this starting point and as a result of much discussion and collaboration, we all agreed that our ideas and five essential questions could be refined further down to three new questions.

  • How do I responsibly use information and communication to positively contribute to my world?
  • How do I effectively communicate?
  • How do I find and use information to construct meaning and solve problems?

With these questions we then proceeded to flesh out the enduring understandings that went with them. It was our feeling that these should always be evolving to address the changing face of communication, collaboration and information. The curriculum frameworkwould be in constant beta. A testament to the ever expanding nature of the skills it was attempting to map.”

Click to enlarge

They’ve blown me away with the scope of their discussions and the framework they have provided. I can now see a way forward to implement discussion and change in my school. My best advice to anyone reading this is to visit either Dennis or Justin’s blogs or visit Dangerously Irrelevant where they were guest bloggers this week. Great work guys and thanks for sharing your thinking with the world. It’s a brilliant example of what is possible for our kids if we give them the scope to write for a global audience.