Wednesday, 21 December 2011

My presentation at Abbotsleigh #teachmeet #tmsydney #tmxmas

Education as a gift.

This was my 7 minute presentation at Abbotsleigh Teachmeet #tmxmas in November 2011. The theme was a celebration of learning as a teachmeet Christmas. Therefore, I thought it would be nice to ask Santa to "skype" in- using imovie to capture his thoughts- this video format didn't work too well with Powerpoint presenting at a PC school. The presentation went well and everyone loved Santa and their gifts!  I wasn't able to upload to the #tmwikispace or slideshare as the file was so large - 250mb with pics and photos. I did convert the file to WMV to allow it to play on my PC laptop in the hope of a screencaputure, however it was still too big. Many hours and trialling different ways to bring this presentation together, I ended up with an "old fashioned" way to record using the video on my iphone just taping off the computer!  Funny I know..but at least that is a job done!  So, finally Malyn and Megan I can submit my presentation-phew!

Ps-> sound quality from Santa Skyping in a little poor so may need to listen carefully :) I am so glad it is completed!  MANY lessons learnt!

Keeping the conversation going,
Jeannette James

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Sharing ways to utilize Twitter at events (on a bigscreen!)

Displaying a Twitter Wall

A great support to any presentation, unconference or workshop is the use of a screen to share the backchannel.  A backchannel is real time (often online) conversations, that work alongside the presenters spoken word. It is a very useful tool in many ways.

Importance of a backchannel:

  • allows the audience to interact with the presenter
  • allows the audience to interact with each other! Therefore enhancing the whole experience.
  • gives the more reserved audience participant "a voice"
  • can be documented with various tools such as Tweetdoc and saved as PDF file (see my previous posts for examples of #ravoties tweetdoc Click here for Tweetdoc 1 (2 is on blogpost Food for educational geeksfirst ever Hills #tmsydney Click here to read Tweetdoc and the more recent Live International #teachmeet. Click here.
  • allows others to join the conversation if not physically present and share ideas/thoughts/resources
  • a way to keep up to date/in contact with your profession
  • a learning tool
  • Feedback is useful to presenters evaluation and reflection
  • encourages those not on twitter to view how exciting it is to be engaged with information and others in the audience ...and beyond!
My favourite backchanneling tools are the use of a Twitter hastag (as can be seen on the above tweetdocs) and  Today's meet.   More on Today's meet another time.   A backchannel presented as a  Twitter wall also gains interests, gives a bit of "wow" factor and allows those not on Twitter to read what others are Tweeting out.

Here are some wonderful tools to display a twitter backchannel on IWB/SMART screen or similiar:  (also called a Twitter Wall)

  1. Twitterfountain               First, as I find it most user friendly with many variations in settings.                      Free. Can add your images as background. Fancy. Impact.
  2. Wallofsilver                    Next in line as favourite.  Free.
  3. Visibletweets     
  4. Walloftweets                   Haven't used this one.
  5. Twitterfall    
  6. Anothertweetonthewall   Unsure if you can customize this one but quick, easy and free.
  7. Tweetfeed                       Need to create account. Simple display allows you to focus on text.

Like most tools, take a look and experiment with each,  to see what one works for you and your given situation.  Some of the animations, colours or themes of the tweet displays can either be distracting or not functional eg swirls, flashing, dropping letter by letter.  See what works for you.
Any other hints/suggestions/tips? Please share :)

Have fun!
Jeannette James

@wjputt :  Web20forschoolleaders thoughts on a Twitter client

Please join in via a comment interaction. Let everyone know what works for you. Any other ideas or thoughts?

Sunday, 18 December 2011

Live meeting: International #teachmeet webinar

18th December, 2011

Enhancing your own professional development 
via Global Collaboration.

                                       Amazing photo of  Guernsey, Channel Islands  by Kyle.wood


Last night on Twitter I stumbled across the  #itdi chat and was unsure what the acronym stood for so I asked... It stands for International teacher development institute. This caught my interest immediately.  I believe as educators, we are all responsible for our own learning and continuing to adapt our pedagogy to suit our students and to prepare them for THEIR future world, not ours. I believe schools must encourage a culture of educators supporting their own PD - more of "helping teachers help themselves".  As educators we are professionally responsible and morally bound to provide the best learning environment we can for our students.

Following the hashtag on twitter, I discovered it was the backchannel for a LIVE webinar that was currently concluding, however a new one for #teachmeet was about to start. I followed the links and tried to join the live meeting. This didn't work on my Mac, so I tried on my work HP probook and BINGO! I was able to install Microsoft Live meeting and join in!. Click here for more info.

This online LIVE meeting (webinar) was amazing!  I had the laptop open viewing the international presenters on screen and listening to their presentations (slides were also progressing in background- Click here for the teachmeet international wikispace ) and the Mac assisted my tweeting of the event on #teachmeet hashtag. Listening to the perspectives, insights and learning experiences from educators all around the world was very special. Here is a list of the presenters. They represented countries ranging from South Africa, Croatia, Greece, Indonesia, Switzerland, Wales, Belgium, Spain, England, Romania and India.
Cherry is an English teacher from India who was very helpful with the twitter backchannel.

Tweet doc of last night so you can have a squiz!   
Squiz is Australian slang for take a look/have a glance/be inquisitive.

Recently I was apart of the Connected classrooms #ccglobal Christmas-around-the-world initiative, where we sent QR codes (this is the generator I use)  to schools around the world sharing our countries Christmas traditions and experiences. Amazingly, one of the educators I had connected with last week Vicky Loras @vickyloras was also a presenter last night- truly a small world. So easy to connect these days which is the beauty of online learning. Link to our Glogster here and QR code below.


This is a terrific capture of the international teachmeet by Bart (see his contact below)

The event was hosted ever so well by Arjana Blazic from Croatia @abfromz and Bart Verswijvel @bartverswijvel from Belgium. Well done guys!

And another Slideshare overview by @sonjalr

Link to the International teachmeet wikispace with further handy links -> Click here.

Over and out. Keep smiling!
Jeannette James

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Looking towards 2012

Taken by @7mrsjames using colour splash iphone app

I am very excited about 2012.  A fresh new year, after a summer/Christmas holiday break to recoup and reflect.  Distance is a positive force at times.  The ability to remove oneself from the action and reflect of what is working well, what needs to progress as well as what needs to change. Thus is the beauty of the "holidays".  To get off the merry go round and reflect. Recharge and renew. See my earlier post on Holidays: a chance to refresh and recharge Click here.

Some thoughts I am still mulling over:

-Assessments. Tracking student learning. Effective feedback to students and parents.
Some of my classes engaged in PLP (personal learning projects) where they choose their own design situation/problem, researched and choose their own method of presentation.  This occurred over a 12 week Design and Technology course of only 3 lessons a fortnight.  One a practical cooking class. So therefore, time was limited.  More reflection on this process in a future post. School based standardised assessments were allocated for Drama and Religion.

-Facilitating student learning.
I believe there needs to be teacher guidance in skills necessary to effectively learn. Students are still conditioned to teacher directed learning. My Year 9 class in particular found it very difficult and challenging at first to become more responsible for their own learning. They felt more comfortable with teacher directed learning. 

-The vast majority of amazing resources available for student learning. 
This is where the holidays are handy. Checking out what resources to share with students, learning new tools and understanding which resources are effective for student learning in a given unit. Realizing the old adage "Do a little well, rather than much poorly".  Or do we introduce, share and explore as much as we can with each other, as what suits one may not suit another?

-Surface learning.
At times, there seems to be so much content to "cover" in programs.  Is this giving learning justice? Or is it necessary in order for students to explore certain paths in greater depth?

-Finding more time with students to think, develop character, be mindful.
Always wishing for education to provide more of a balance between academic focus and the support and development of the whole person.

The above five areas are my reflection focus over the next few weeks.  Of course, these reflections are ongoing.  I always hope and plan for improvements in my own facilitating/teaching and learning.
The future is full of hope, trials and collaboration.  I am contented and excited!

Onwards and upwards.
Keeping the conversation alive,
Jeannette James

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Taking time to play

Tuesday 22nd November, 2011

As the year draws to an end, it is nice to have a moment to play.  Term four is frantic. A shorter term, assessments, marking, reports and planning for the next academic year.  Inspired by @malynmawby's 10 minute project  and her "sandcastles" art work for @gcouros, I decided to spend 10 minutes completing a quick sketch.  Click here to see Malyn's creative piece.  I was due to pick up the kids from school, so the sketch had to be something quick. 

As I was intrigued by the title of @gcouros "playing in public" I thought of sketching something to share with him as the idea was creating/playing/learning and sharing with the world. That idea of PURPOSE once again. Pretty powerful in my opinion.  Purpose does give me a nudge!  I do enjoy, for the sake of enjoyment's value but sometimes I need that deadline. The purpose to get started. Life can get very busy and there is always something that needs doing. You can read about @gcouros original challenge here:  PLN challenge-playing in public.

Even though the challenge had ended, I wanted to give it a go. I sketched George's twitter profile pic.  
I used a free app called itimelapse pro on my iphone to create the process of the sketch.

This is me playing in public take 2:   

A funny story.  Take one went well. In fact, it is probably a better likeness to George.  However, I titled the sketch @gcourosa -with an 'a' on the end of @gcouros!  Why?  Mixing the two Couros brother twitter handles together in my haste.  As you do.  :)  Older brother Alec's twitter handle is @courosa.

Here is take 1:

When embedding these videos, I came across another You tube video titled 4 George-playing in public by Shawn Urban.  This is his blog post.


  • Fun, Fun, Fun.  
  • Learnt how to timelapse a video- am already planning ways to engage kids using this technology in the learning space.
  • My daughter viewed the final product and was intrigued so hence she had a go as well!      Butterfly sketch by Jazzy
  • Was very relaxing to "just be" to take time out from work and play.
  • Gave my mind a break, therefore was refreshed and rejuvenated. 
  • Nice affirmations via twitter and views.
  • The importance of setting time aside to play was reinforced.
  • Realising that play doesn't need to take up a lot of time.  Sketching both videos, rendering and uploading to You tube took less then half an hour in total. Twittering in between :)

Thanks guys!
Jeannette James

Friday, 18 November 2011

Food for Educational geeks

Wednesday 16th November, 2011

Food for educational geeks

Summer, Jeannette, Malyn and Liam at #ravoties day one.

If you love learning and education as much as I do, you would have heard by now of Teachmeets and unconferences.  If not,  Click here for teachmeet and here for unconferences. These informal and highly effective means of PD (professional development ) work on the premise of achieving the ultimate good for our students. This is achieved by sharing new ideas/thoughts/tools/resources, networking and many educational discussions and endless support after the event (through twitter).

It is PD that keeps on giving.

The latest PD I engaged in last week was #ravoties at Ravenswood school for Girls, Gordon, Sydney Australia.

#ravoties is the hashtag used for the twitter backchannel from the 2 day workshop
Click here for more info


This was the inaugural event initiated and hosted ever so graciously by @edusum  (and Ravenswood). The first travelling inspired educators being the humble and fun duo @gcourosa and @courosa from Canada.  The Courosa brothers had presented at the #tlv11 conference the week prior at Brisbane (Teaching and learning with vision).  

If you don’t know the two lads follow these links:

George Couros  - Connected Principal + Division Principal of Innovative Teaching and Learning for Parkland School Division.
Alec Couros - Professor of educational technology & media at the Faculty of Education, University of Regina.

      George, Summer, Alec and Jeannette                                                              

I was privileged to be apart of this workshopping experience, catch up with my PLN (personal learning network) some of whom I have meet a few times now f2f (@liamdunphy, @edusum, @malynmawby@benpaddlejones) others at previous teachmeets, conferences, or staff development days (@wrightstufmusic, @gregwhitby) and others who I had not yet had the pleasure of meeting @lizarmenio  -thanks for the lamingtons, @whatedsaid, @gazzabrown, @silvanarossett1jonesytheteacher, @bronst@carolskyring and other cool dudes not on Twitter- as yet!

Ravenswood is a lovely school and on such a hot day (35'c) the airconditioned learning centre was most welcome!

DAY ONE:  Wednesday 9th November, 2011

The first day was run by @courosa and was titled:
Learning and Leading conversations with Dr Alec Couros  

Personalised learning environments to foster social media literacy, digital citizenship, and connected learning  

Both George and Alec also presented:
 Why school should be like a family restaurant 

As Alec presented he had Auto tweeting set up to direct us towards resourceful links.

Thoughts presented:
-developing a network takes time.  Be patient. Give as much as you take. Interact. Connect.

-the idea of participatory media. Skype, blogging, dropbox.
-have fun. Be positive. Stay positive. Keep on keeping on!
-people by nature like to be involved- so let them!
-Don't be hasty by putting learning into action straight after PD- think LONG TERM and build a network to assist this.
-visual literacy- we have a responsibility as educators to show background story. This is important- don't believe everything you see (and read). See Alec's slides.
-the use of Google apps to survey staff and students.
-need to move from "know what" to "know how".
-Use community- can be local or Global- Granny cloud info very cool! I have included this link to @steve_collis blog as I first heard of the concept thru NBCS.
-Uses of dropbox.  Two examples here:  the virtual choir and the johnny cash project ART
-rapport, rapport, rapport, rapport, rapport = good leadership. "No office days". Leaders should be out and about at least some of the time. Lunch AND learning time.
-Creating an environment (learning and physical) where kids are repeat customers. Willing to come to school. Teachers too!  Valuing teachers.

Some of the cool learning spaces at Ravenswood.
Alec presenting in the Learning space.
Me deep in concentration-spy cam by Summer!
Some cool tools:
Google apps for Education

If this then that  (IFTTT)
google forms (surveys, quizes)

Check this video out: An Open letter to Educators

I loved how Alex self corrected/edited his slideshow as he went along if there were mistakes or if someone suggested an idea.  I really believe strongly in doing this.  If our students see us willing to take risks and see how we rectify and manage mistakes, they too are more likely to give things a go. Also, students can see HOW things are done when we model this right in front of them.  Eg setting up google forms.  

It was a VERY hot day. WE enjoyed time together at the Greengate hotel- where Alec tried a slice of my pumpkin, rocket and pinenut pizza. He was intrigued by this combination. Canadians eat pumpkin in pie but not really as a roasted vege - or on Pizza!  :)


DAY TWO:  Thursday 10th November, 2011

Learning and Leading conversations 
Collaborate. Create. Learn. Creating Transformative Schools

with George Couros 

Thoughts presented:
-vision needs to be built together. Collaborate more within departments, within school, within community.
-what is full potential?  Do we limit kids with rubrics, set assessments about the same topic, via the same presentation? Why do we do this?
-Everyone in your school is your student!  Don't just watch out and say g'day to YOUR class. concept of EVERY student is your student. Say hello!  Talk to kids more. Mingle and connect with all kids.  Know students names AND use them.
-Feature the kids on walls instead of landscape pics and old principles. Not just about school but people IN the school RIGHT NOW.
-Value the kids so they feel sense of belonging and want to come back. Confident to learn.
-Work on staff relationships too.
-How often do schools ask teachers "what are your goals?" let me hear your voice. What is your sentence?
-kids live up to your expectations. What is the culture at your school?

Taken by @benpaddlejones titled "THE CONNECTED BROTHERS"
Cool resources/ideas:
-The Learning project
-connected principals
-Collaborative document for George's workshop

To gain greater insight into the day check out the backchannel:  (still going)
Here is a tweetdoc I put together from the Twitter backchannel (see for ideas, links to web tools etc)
tweetdoc number 1,  (#ravoties) and one Alec put together Tweetdoc 2

Jeannette James
Thanks   and Ravenswood for the last 2 days. An amazing opportunity. Now let's translate into action 
10th November, 2011

My sentence
Not only "I can do that" but "I will do that"

Other reflections of #ravoties
@whatedsaid blog post

I will sign off with this quote:
If not us, who? If not now, when? John F Kennedy

Keeping the conversation alive,

Jeannette James