Sunday, 25 September 2011

Holidays. A time to refresh and recharge.

8th Post

Our holiday to Malaysia this time last year.
Kuala Lumpur, Cherating Beach and Kuantan.

Term 3, 2011 has been an amazing journey for me,  predominately due to Twitter and embracing all it has to offer. First and foremost, I have had the privilege of meeting dedicated and inspiring educators, especially when the opportunity arises to meet f2f (face to face). Throughout these interactions, I have learnt a tremendous amount about the generosity of educator spirit, 21st century learning tools and the need to keep your own learning rocking and rolling.  It truly is a breath of fresh air.

I enjoyed the opportunity of commenting on Australian performance pay for teachers in @danhaesler Sydney Morning Herald newspaper article. Click here to view article: Payment scheme draws doubt
and present at a teachmeet at St Ambrose primary school, Concord.

It was lovely to start the holidays on Friday night with a homemade Chicken Quiche Lorraine, garden salad and delicious glass(es) of white wine! Luckily this was consumed AFTER I had vacumed the pool. Then a nice rarity of falling asleep before 9pm, ensuing a 9 hour slumber.  Due to the change in season (and approaching day light saving here in Oz) Master 4 is rising earlier at 5:45-6:15am as the sun rises earlier. Otherwise, sleep may have lasted a little longer :)

Saturday morning, Miss 11 assisted @jenmlang and @LaurenForner with a university assignment on student motivation. How sweet of the girls to buy Jaz a gift of appreciation ...and a yummy teacake.
Jennifer is my brother in laws, sister. I had never met her friend @LaurenForner  however, it turns out, in lifes little surpirses, that she was lucky enough to work with @BiancaH80 during prac teaching this year.

In the afternoon, lovely @malynmawby invited me to a coffee, chat and craft afternoon. It was a relaxing yet productive afternoon. Malyn made light and delicious pistashio chocolate brownies. (Will ask if I can add recipe here!)  Last night we had our belated Friday fun night (every friday we have Family Friday Fun nights, where we watch a movie together and eat fun foods like pizza, pies, hot chips, ice creams etc). Today is lunch at my sister and brother in laws and a thai dinner with long time girlfriends (a monthly event).

Catching up with people has to be my most favourite aspect of the holidays.

BBQ.s, picnics, am/pm tea, movies.  Holidays are much needed, to take stock on life. 
Resorting, refiling, cathing up on marking, planning the next unit; gathering ideas and resources, programming.  Having the TIME to do this is in itself is a refreshing thought...oh, and sleeping in!

What are you doing these holidays?


Wednesday, 21 September 2011



(click on link above Tetsuya to take you to 30sec animoto film)

An amazing experience with friends and colleagues at Tetsuya's restaurant in Sydney, Australia.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Your ideal school

7th post:
A question on educator's lips at the minute is that of an #idealschool. The concept of a school, as close to the ideals of your own educational philosophies, is a magical one.  Parents and friends often ask me what my view of the "perfect" school looks like and I always answer "No school is perfect and do we want it to be?" That isn't life.

A couple of weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting @malynmawby at the SHORE Sydney city Teachmeet. Malyn and @townesy work together. Like me, Malyn is somewhat of a metacognitive thinker. Just last week (September 11th, 2011) Malyn wrote a post titled  How do we teach empathy?  Take a look.  The blog post was interactive, in that, Malyn invited others to "crowdsource". Readers were able (via comments) to add to her original list  of 4 points on teaching empathy. It was an amazing experience to be involved.

Perspective is a gift which when shared is priceless.
I hope you are able to add to the list below of what YOUR #idealschool may look like. (via comments)
The list will remain open and added to as long as we keep the conversation alive.

    1. Educators would ensure there is time at the beginning of the year/unit/rotation to really get to  know their students.  Facilitators must know names of students - and use them regularly. There  is nothing  as sweet sounding as your own name. This fosters a sense of  belonging and personalizes the  learning environment. CHARACTER EDUCATION at forefront.
    2. Cross curricular learning. Let's share our knowledge and expertise with other faculties AND allow kids to draw together PLP (personalized learning project) that canvases more than one isolated subject area. This is seen on occassion in schools when "showcase" nights are presented.The Art department may display works, the Music department supply the entertainment and the Food and Hospitality provide nourishment. Students get a real buzz from this type of collaboration.
    3. Allow students to float between grades, depending on level of unit being studied. Relatively fluent in Italian? -sit the grade 10 course, instead of Year 8 course.
    4. Educators would not assume prior knowledge. Do all of your students know how to set up a Word doc? Do they know how to organize themselves- work and time management?  Guidance/facilitating not lecturing. Ground effective learning habits early.
    5. Love of learning and genuine effort is the norm. 
    6. Do we really need to measure kids against each other? What is standard anyway?
    7. A portfolio of work is produced. Individualized. Incremental learning whereby students present in a variety of ways. Which leads to the next point...
    8. Difference is valued. 
    9. Students do. Action learning. Relevant and purposeful.
    10. Social media and personal skills are taught alongside life skills. 
    11. Mind shift from homework to SP: study prep. You are in control of your own learning!
    12. Students run a proportion of workshops.                                                                                          Kids learn best from their own.                                                                                                   Below are crowdsourced points:
    13. @johntspencer via @malynmawby confirm : Different "systems" suit different people. There is no perfect model. No perfect school. Same school-one student adores experience of rigid structure and learns much. Others, may find the structure stiffling. Gotta love sociology. This point stems from @malynmawby who confirms my opening paragraph which states that there is no perfect school. She points me towards @Johntspencer who also says we need to listen more. His discussion of Educational dystopia is worth listening to. He is correct in concluding  we do not have all the right answers. Let us remember humility. @malynmawby suggests the idea of supporting the TOTALITY of being and being with others. Appreciating others. 
    14. Increased connectivity to wider community via excursions and incursions suggests @jogrima. Collaboration with other schools, not only within their region but overseas. See Liam Dunphy's  connected classrooms project.
    What can you add? Do you agree/disagree with the above points? There maybe many reasons why any points above may not be feasible. Have a say! Let us crowd source and develop a set of ideals which can become apart of our immediate learning environment.

    Let's continue the conversation:  
    (Go on ...please comment below-let's collaborate. I am fascinated to hear your views on the subject)

    You do not need to be a member to comment. Just click on "comment as" below. If you have an account with google, wordpress etc select this OR just select USER/URL and add your name/surname (or a screen name eg MR K) leave the URL blank if you wish and then click continue. Then type in your comment, edit if needed and click on "post comment" to see your contribution. I will add to the list as suggestions/ comments come in.

    (Jeannette James)

    Thursday, 15 September 2011

    Friday, 9 September 2011

    5th Post: Overwhelmingly grand PD = Teachmeet!

    Very quickly, as time is of the essence, I wanted to share with you one way to achieve tremendous
    professional development.

    I have attended two so far and am absorbing everything I learn, by putting ideas presented into action. Some ideas, such as QR codes I have been reading about for a while, however have not had the time to implement into the learning environment. At a teachmeet various tools and ideas are presented to engage YOU and YOUR students. This often prompts you into action! (Used QR codes in 3 classes today! Click here for more info on QR codes)  It is just so easy to get swept up in the enthusiasm that invades the room!  What teacher nerds we all are..and loving it!

    My first Teachmeet was at NBCS (Northern Beaches Christian School). I had heard of this school, but was not prepared for the AWESOMENESS of their spaces and more importantly their best resource- the staff.  Meeting the likes of @Stephen_H@rethinklearn, @cwoldhuis, @misscmorrison and vibrant history educator @Poska (thanks for the personalised tour mate!) was fabulous. This guy was on fire-@Steve_Collis. The driving forces behind #tmsydney @mesterman and @henriettaMi were also present, with friendly colleague @ClareFroggatt.  We were able to watch @largerama present via a live feed from England-what a guy! I had the pleasure of finally meeting active tweeter friends @townesy77 (great source of support and fun) and @LiamDunphy-how brilliant!  Teacheat occurs after the presentations with like minded passionate educators-imagine the conversations!

    Just this week, I attended my second TeachMeet city hosted fabulously at SHORE by the wonderfully inspiring @cpaterso. Here, I was joined by two colleagues @jason_p_r and @NLMascolo. I had the pleasure of meeting a co-drama twitterer @karlao_dtn and newly joined buddy on Edmodo @whartonag. I watched a crazy "everybody's shufflin" a pecha kucha by @malynmawby (and Megan aka @townesy.) A courageous preservice teacher @sarah_bowman also presented on her experiences on teacher collaboration- insightful!  There were about 8 presentations in all. Dinner conversation at teacheat was lively, informative and engaging with @mylescarrick, @EduSum, @cpaterso and @betchaboy and others.

    Next week, I hope to make ceoteachmeet at Concord.  See QR code for more details.

    BTW, here is the FREE app for qr-reader-for-iphone (generator and reader). I used qrstuff for a QR code generator (can use various colours too!) Kids downloaded onto iphones and andriod phones using tapmedia apps. Heaps of fun had by all :)

    I truly hope you can make it to a teachmeet soon, especially if you haven't yet afforded the time to go.
    If you have attended, please share your experience of a teachmeet below.  

    Sunday, 4 September 2011

    Glorious Gliffy-Give it a go!

     4th post, Sunday 4th September, 2011.

    Today I decided I wanted to create an infographic. Visually, they are a wonderful way for to peruse a decent amount of information very quickly. They are fun to scan and as I found out, fun to create! I wasn't sure where to start so I googled. This page was the one I looked at originally- awesome-free-tools-infographics. I was keen to create more of a flow diagram style.  I had already used Wordle and recently acquired wordfoto on my iphone which I really enjoy.  Out of those presented, creately looked like the software tool that I was after- except there is pricing involved. I also signed up for which appearred fairly funky, until I "visited the create lab" and found the message "coming soon."  Mental note: return to give that site a whirl! By now I felt like I wasn't really progressing in my quest to design an infographic.  Enter TWITTER and a shout out to my PLN.@largerama was the first to reply with the same link as above (as did @dunphy a bit later), after mentioning this, Nick replied with this link 5-unbeatable-types-of-infographic-free-tools-to-create-them/ This is where gliffy was presented. Thanks Nick! I signed up and experimented with the design tools for a couple of hours this morning and then completed the infographic tonight.  It is presented below.Click here to view larger image.


    10 Things I learnt about using Gliffy:
    1.  There is a free 30 day trial where you can create 5 diagrams for free. From what I can gather, the infographic remains public after the trial period.
    2. Save time by researching the information before hand. Have any images you wish to use accessible.
    3. Upload these images on the LHS toolbar (upload images).  Also, spend some time searching for any relevant images using the search images toolbar (also on the LHS).
    4. It is easy.  Just a matter of creating a background colour, dragging basic shapes onto the page (from LHS toolbar) and adding text. Images can also be dragged across and size manipulated.
    5. The toolbar at the top allows you to Grab items and move (hand symbol), point and enter. Add text and arrows-which automatically link and attach to several points around each shape. Easy.
    6. Allow1-4 hours, depending on prior skill and information accessibility. This one took about 3-4 hours as it was my first attempt and I was searching, saving and loading images/info as I went. 
    7. Use a PC....Mac+Chrome+flash =freezing and inability to use all the functions ie grabbed only and pointer didn't work.
    8. When I was working away on the Mac for some reason I must have grouped some elements together and wasn't able to edit them.  Until I found the help section with shape shortcuts on the top RHS of the screen. Very handy indeed. Control U = ungroup.
    9. The software saves as you go -very nifty and reserves your work in a draft stage until you are ready to publish. The program then presents you with various sizes of images, from thumbnail to Public diagram, as well as an embedded code.
    10. You are graced with a sense of accomplishment :)
     Has anyone else used other free software for an infographic? Please share- I am eager to try out some more! I hope this helps with your quest to graph information...