Wednesday, 9 December 2015

BEHIND THE SCENES: The making of "They're Coming"

Following the plethora of questions on my Film Club's film They're Coming, I decided to make a short screencast of just how we ran the film club and did the special effects. 
This is a great resource if you are creating a film with a whole class, of any age range. Even the younger children in the club were able to be involved in the decision making every step of the way, while the older tamariki did more of the driving of finding sound effects, special effects and actually using the iMovie programme. 

This screencast includes: 

  • Applying special effects
  • Applying layers of sound effects 
  • Using green/blue screen
  • and making people 'disappear' 
If you have any other questions - please be sure to leave a comment. 
Also, if you want to see the film on the big screen again, it is being played during the 2016 Movies in Parks summer season. The film will be shown along with two others from the Manaiakalani Film Festival on Friday March 18th at Point England Reserve - a fantastic whānau evening. 

If you want more info on Storyboarding check my other blogposts

Monday, 7 December 2015

Coding to Learn...

... or should I say learning to code? 
Today my class and I had the opportunity to learn some coding skills, while practicing coding, as part of Computer Science Education Week. 

from OMG Tech arrived to set-up and assist us in our coding journey. has some simple coding modules which anyone can learn. They get progressively harder, beginning with simple instructions, before requiring learners to understand the loop process and "if.." statements in coding.
The modules are based on three themes targeted to engage children (or other enthusiasts). Module themes include Minecraft; StarWars and the popular Disney theme Frozen

What's brilliant is that no experience is needed, and the teacher modules are just as accessible. I know what my summer PD is going to be, when I'm not at the beach that is! 

Learn more about Computer Science Education Week here. Awareness of computer coding is a brilliant skill in terms of problem solving, logic, mathematics and analytics. More so, just to appreciate the 'behind the scenes' required to make some of our favourite things work. 

Monday, 3 August 2015


Storyboarding your film festival film.

Last week I ran this toolkit on storyboarding to help other teachers in my cluster get started on their film making journey.  

So, you have an idea of what you want your film to be, but want help to plan what scenes to shoot, scripting, learn about camera angles and making your film look good on the big screen. 
Here are tips you can share with learners to empower them in the movie making process.
I really do hope you find the following links, tips and examples helpful in planning your class film.

Here is a basic storyboarding template I created to guide the planning process. In each box sketch the scene, where, who, angle, props etc.

Feel free to share it with your tamariki if you like. 

You'll also need these camera angles​ to get them thinking about the planning process. What and how to actually film what they want to film.

A great warm up activity is to watch some of ​2014 film festival's films and in groups get tamariki to discuss what camera angles were used, what was effective, and what was not so effective.

The following links are an index to my previous blogposts with tips for different types of filming and animation.


For stop-motion set up a tripod and get snapping. Import to iMovie, remove the 'ken burns' on images, change the time to .5 of a second (or less), add music, voiceovers and hey presto.

​Thanks, and comment below if you have any questions.


Saturday, 27 June 2015

Science week

This week we set aside our usual learning plans, literacy and numeracy to engage the children in a week of hands-on science intensives. Our objectives were to learn about chemical change. So I undertook the teaching of bread making, something which I've personally been doing for years, but never really bothered to understand the chemical principals of. What resulted was in depth learning on my part, which I thoroughly enjoyed passing onto the children in years 4 - 8. 
We began the day by probing some of our prior knowledge about liquids, solids and gases and how things are formed by using this image from Cartoon Concepts: in science education about liquids. 

In particular I wanted the children to gather the understanding that whipped cream changes it's volume and shape by the whipping process where gas is added to the liquid. 
Using this diagram also enabled me to cover any misconceptions that they children had, and uncover their prior knowledge all while building their vocabulary and confidence in scientific discovery. 

Following this intro we went about making bread using Building science concepts book 56: Bread: The chemistry of bread making as a guide for my lesson planning. Refer to my gbsparker class blog post on our bread making discovery.  

I wanted the children to explore raising agents in several ways and understand that the raising occurs by a chemical reaction between the ingredients in which carbon dioxide is developed. We used baking soda, and yeast to prove this theory in several different ways throughout each morning. More so, I needed them to understand the nature of yeast being a living organism. I found a great narrative in Yet more everyday science mysteries. Stories for inquiry-based science teaching*, which supported children in exploring this concept and determine that yeast reacts differently from baking soda; requiring time and warmth to create the chemical reaction required to develop the carbon dioxide.

As a teacher the process of planning and teaching this unit reinforced the 'teacher as learner' immensely for me. Even though I thought I knew a lot about bread making, I too learned so much during this process. I enjoyed teaching it and my learners enjoyed being a part of the discovery process. 

This blogpost relates to RTC: 
4.iii) initiate learning opportunities to advance personal professional knowledge and skills. 
6.ii) Through planning and teaching, demonstrate knowledge and understanding of relevant content, disciplines and curriculum documents. 
8.i) enable ākonga to make connections between their prior experiences and  learning and their current learning activities. 
9.ii) Select teaching approaches, resources, technologies and learning and assessment activities that are inclusive and effective for diverse ākonga. 

*Konicek-Moran, R. (2011) Yet more everyday science mysteries. Stories for inquiry-based science teaching. NSTApress p. 93-97

Knowledge and transfer

Yesterday I was delighted to see that my students had grasped, retained and applied something they had learned a few weeks ago. Particularly because at the time I wasn't sure that they had really understood. 

The concept was figurative language, similes and metaphors. We had been reading a narrative and were discussing the similes and narratives within. The students had been asked to create their own metaphors afterwards with limited success. 

Yesterday I was reading a picture book after lunch and I came across a wonderful metaphor where the soldier lived in a grimy prison. When posing the question to the class, one of my boys who had struggled with concept earlier, confidently identified it as a metaphor. What followed was an awesome class discussion about figurative language, led by the learners. 

What a great way to end the week. 

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Engaging in maths with digital resources

Being in a digital classroom I often find it difficult to incorporate digital tools into maths learning. When I watched this video, I initially thought the children would find it 'boring' and not be engaged. But their intrinsic motivation to learn had them ALL engaged and motivated to listen actively and learn the new strategy. 

Today in maths we learned a new subtraction strategy using an analogy about a policeman and a robber. This strategy helps us to subtract numbers by making the number we are taking away into a tidy number. Then we also need to change the other number the same way... watch this great video to see what to do. Once you are finished try the problem below. 

There are 54 apples in the fruit box. 
We eat 27 at morning tea. 
How many are leftover? 

Even my stage 6, early 7 learners enjoyed using this strategy as a smarter one than the partitioning they had previously. I ran this lesson because I noticed it was a gap in their learning, and was overwhelmed with joy at how engaging it was for them all. 

The replay-ability of this tool was great. Some of the learners chose to come and work with me in a workshop going over the strategy again, while others just chose to re-watch the video to get the hang of it. 

Other digital tools I use in my class include which runs basic facts drills and IXLmath which has practice drills (free for 5 minutes per day). Let me know if you have other great digital math resources. 

Sunday, 24 May 2015

9 reasons to use Connected+ digital resouces

As a teacher in a digital learning environment, I also need digital resources. 
By having resources available online it means that my learners can access the material anywhere anytime not just in the traditional 9 - 3pm class time. 

Listen to +Fiona Grant+Juanita Garden and I talk about the Connected + digital series which are available free through the TKI: Literacy Online site. 

The main things I love about Connected+ are as follows 
  1. Accessibility - Embed presentation in blogs or sites, learners can re-read any where any time
  2. Audio versions included - great for our ESL and below standard readers to access content for their curriculum level
  3. Includes video's to give further information on related topics 
  4. Includes interactive diagrams 
  5. Includes links to further learning - children's or teacher's independent research 
  6. All text images and digital content downloadable - free educational re-use with attribution (Creative Commons licence)  
  7. Available in PDF 
  8. Teacher Support Material [TSM] available in word format - edit direct into your planning. 
  9. Curriculum approved - relevant and multi-modal learning opportunities 

This blogpost relates to RTC 1.i; 4.ii; 5.i; 6.ii

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Teaching As Inquiry

"Teaching as inquiry is a cycle of reflecting and adapting practices, based on evidence, to accelerate learning."

Today as part of our school PD we investigated Teaching as Inquiry [TAI], what it means, what it looks like and how we can go about it as a school and as individuals. 

After discussing what TAI means to us we were asked to come up with an overarching statement to define it. Above is my statement. As a school we decided to run with this statement to guide our ongoing discussions. 

"Teaching as inquiry is a cycle of reflecting and adapting practices, based on evidence, to accelerate learning."

First we explored what some of the terms within this mean. 

Evidence Evidence comes from a range of places and to engage in TAI we need to utilise a variety of pieces of evidence to adapt our practice. 

  • Research
  • Observations 
  • Children's voice
  • Teacher's voice
  • Modelling 
  • Assessments 
  • Whānau 
Adapting To adapt we have to change something, enhance it, develop, build on, and evolve. To adapt we cannot stay stagnant and we must be open to new ideas and suggestions. 

Cycle This point is the most important. Change does not just happen, and all of a sudden the learning is better. It's an ongoing cyclic process of teaching, learning, adaption, reflection and monitoring. 

Reflecting Right from the beginning, throughout and at the end of a cycle of inquiry we need to reflect. What is the area of weakness, gap or problem in the learning environment? What strategies am I currently using, and what strategies might I use in the future? What might be the implications of different strategies and continually and frequently monitoring them. 

There was also a discussion around the final part of the above statement "to accelerate learning". Whose learning? Some wanted it to say "to accelerate student learning". However student learning implies that a) children study, and b) children are the only one's learning in this situation. However to accelerate children's learning, we too as teachers must learn. This term we will be implementing 2 - 3 week cycles of inquiry in our teaching. My first inquiry is in developing children's voice in discussion during mathematics rich tasks. 

What Teaching as Inquiry have you participated in regularly?

This blogpost relates to Registered Teaching Criteria 8. demonstrate in practice their knowledge and understanding of how ākonga learn & 12. use critical inquiry and problem-solving effectively in their professional practice

Thursday, 16 April 2015

BYOD: Making it Mobile 2015 Developing Digital

Big thanks to @learningnz who hosted the #BYOD2015 : Making it Mobile! conference today. 
Below is my presentation on Developing Digital Citizenship, with links to learning examples and tools which we use regularly. 

This presentation was designed around setting up learning in a digital learning environment where children are new to digital learning and tools. 

It was a stark contrast at the beginning of 2015 where majority of my class were completely new to digital learning, netbooks and in many cases the internet. 

Throughout 2014, I taught years 7 & 8, where most of my learners were in their 4th year of digital learning environment and in many ways knew more than I did, or at least thought they did. 

This year has allowed me to set up the classroom in a way that will teach the children to eventually interact the way that I want them to by the time they are in year 8. 

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Never underestimate....

Currently renovating our house it's important not to underestimate the cost as there are so so many little things that creep their way into the budget. Never underestimate the time this will take and the mess it will make. Those things are obvious things not to underestimate and anyone who's ever undergone any kind of DIY or home improvement can vouch for that.
When I first began my teaching career in 2013 a good friend reminded me not to underestimate children either telling me, "remember, don't think about all the things they don't know, think about all the things that they DO know." This is a true, and important thing to focus on. 

This year as I am in my second year of teaching, with new learners, teaching a new age range, and to learners who are new to being a digital learning environment, so NOT underestimating is more true than ever. 

Firstly, never underestimate myself. Yes, I am new(ish) at this game, but I am capable, competent and doing it. Doing it well, most of the time. I think sometimes as a PRT (provisionally registered teacher) we place a lot of pressure on ourselves to do everything, perfectly, right now. It's true. I want to be up to date on everything, totally organised and know exactly where my learners are at, where they need to be and how to get them there. 

As I completing my student profiles and learning needs today I realised that, no I may not know everything immediately, but I do know how to find out and how to use their assessments and information available. I need to stop underestimating myself as a teacher. And as a learner. 

This year, also undertaking my post graduate in education, I need to stop underestimating my ability to study, teach and learn simultaneously. Yes, it is challenging, but not impossible.

Secondly, never underestimate the tamariki. Sure they may be below national standard, or unsure how to do something in particular. They may be shy and quiet. They may be messy and chaotic. But never underestimate a child. This year has shown me this time and time again. Children who impress me with a particular behaviour, an answer, a skill, a performance, a generosity, a deadline, vocabulary, remembering something, a transfer of knowledge. 

This is why I became a teacher. To see children flourish and be awesome. As we come to the end of term one, I need to remember that, never underestimate, any of them, for they will live up to my expectations. Today for example, a student who is often known for misbehaving was front row at an inter-school event and was a model citizen, helpful, polite, and caring to others. Another who can play the 'class clown' who impressed in a team building game with skills and sportsmanship. A child who struggles with mathematics, but was able to draw a diagram of the correct solution to a problem. These are the tamariki who this week have reminded me not to underestimate them, or others. 

As kaiako I need to remind my students of my high expectations, and foster their trust, respect and cooperation so that they feel willing and able to let their strengths shine. 
I believe I am doing this well in a lot of ways - as this weeks impressions have shown - and need to keep not underestimating myself and my ability to teach these amazing and talented ākonga. 

This blogpost relates to RTC 7. promote a collaborative, inclusive and supportive learning environment

Thursday, 26 February 2015

6 things to Kahoot about

Today I finally used Kahoot with my learners. I'd heard about it last year, but never given it a go until now and already I can see so much potential with this digital learning tool. 

This time used it to recap on what we had learned in the Life Education van last week. Learners were able to show their recall of information and those who didn't remember something had a way to engage with the information in a fun and exciting way.

There were several features of Kahoot which I really liked. 

  1. No student logins. Just give them a Game Pin, a digital device (smartphone, tablet, laptop or computer) and they are ready to go!
  2. It tells you if you the correct answer immediately 
  3. It stops after each question, so you can do a quick bit of teaching for those who weren't correct (or to explain what the other options actually mean)
  4. It keeps a leaderboard telling each individual participant how close they are to the person ahead of them, great motivational feature. 
  5. You get a spreadsheet of who answered for analysis, which can be saved straight to your Google Drive. 
  6. The children love it!
Kahoot also offers a survey and discussion features which I yet to try out, but am looking forward to using. 
The only downside I have found so far is that it's only multi-choice, that aside, it's a great tool to motivate engage and learn through. 

If you're still not convinced try our Kahoot about body systems and the brain

Updated April 8th 2015

This term I also used Kahoot to give students time to practice using google to search for information on the internet. Previous experience shows me that learners don't know how to use keywords, merely typing their whole question or using keywords which are not related to what they want to find out. 
So I set up a current events Kahoot, that learners would need to search answers for. I prompted them to open Google search in another tab and gave 120 seconds per question to be answered. For the first few we paused and discussed who used what keywords to search, what was the most effective? 
As the quiz continued they got faster and faster at searching.  I will definitely repeat this lesson and maybe use it as a formative assessment for our next topic study. 

This blogpost relates to RTC 9.iii. Modify teaching approaches to address the needs of individuals and groups of ākonga. 

Sunday, 22 February 2015

eduCanon for learning

This afternoon I spent some time exploring digital tools to aid learning.

I found a youtube clip and added questions using EduCanon.

Adding questions was really easy, though it did prompt me to subscribe to an annual fee to unlock extra question functions.

I can see this tool being really helpful to enhance videos that are shared in the class so that learners have to listen more actively and immediately apply information.  Though because of the questions it may stop them from replaying the video.

Have a look at my eduCanon Lesson created today, you'll need to enter an email address and responses will be sent to me. 
Let me know if you've used it before or other similar products which may be more user friendly.

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Exploring digital footprints with 9 and 10 year olds.

This week my year 5 & 6 learners were learning about digital footprints as part of our cybersmart programme. Most of these learners are new to having their own personal device, so it's really important that they make a good start to their digital citizenship journey.
After watching a short film and brainstorming what we already knew, it was clear that we didn't know too much just yet, about the power and capabilities of the world wide web. We knew that we shouldn't share our address and full name because we were told not to, but didn't understand why. A learner voiced that his classmates knew were he lived anyway, so what did it matter. I showed them the hits on his blog from Christchurch, he didn't know anyone in Christchurch. This got us thinking. The internet is a public place. 

So we decided that we wanted to see just how quickly and how far things can spread on the internet. We wrote a message and shared it on my google plus account asking people to share it and tell us where in the world they were.

We were absolutely amazed by the response, and how quickly it spread so far. We learned about geography and all the places in the world that we were able to make an impact, check out the map of the progress.
The red dots were the hits within the first 9 hours. Green the next 24hrs and blue the third day. By then it seemed to have dropped off everyone's radar. 
You can view the map in more detail here. 

As you can see, within 9 hours it had spread across the world, and within 24 hours even further, with over 60 shares and over 100 different locations. Some people didn't share their location, which allowed us to investigate, looking at their profiles. This opened up the discussion about how much information some people shared, and others chose not to share. We were able to think about why this was and the choices we had. 

Besides the thrill of having responses to our post, we learned a really valuable lesson. One which had a lot more impact than any video or stories from me could have made. The children realised the potential of the internet, that it has great power to spread messages, and share our learning. But it also showed us exactly why we should keep some information private, and why we need to have a positive digital footprint. 

If you have other cybersmart lessons you would like to share with me, please do. 

Thanks for reading

Friday, 23 January 2015

Building Blogger Culture

I created my first blogpost in October 2013 and have since developed a passion for blogging and sharing my learning, nuances and reflections on teaching and learning in a digital environment. 
Blogging within education is a great way to connect with others around the world sharing pedagogy, experience and lessons. Blogging itself relates to ConstructivismConnectivism, Social Learning Theory, and can become part of a Community of Practice. In my Manaiakalani Community we openly share within topics of interest and it has become a wealthy resource for me in my ongoing professional development. 

So how do you create a blogging culture amongst staff?

Firstly, blogging shouldn't become a chore, another mandatory task that adds to educators already busy workload. Blogging is more of a way of sharing and celebrating struggles and triumphs. For example my blogpost on "The Art of an Apology"
This post was sharing of a lesson that I had run with my learners to overcome a challenge which we had within our classroom culture. This lesson was one which we as a collective referred to throughout the year and I thought could be valuable to others who were experiencing similar difficulties. 

Sharing skills and tips can also be a worthwhile task, late last year I shared my knowledge of how to "Bling your Site". To share a practical skill with others. 

But you don't have to share a skill or lesson to be an effective blogger. It can be as simple as creating a discussion about a topic of interest, like when I pondered about the purpose of spelling which included a link to a fun, but challenging quiz for people to try for themselves - go on, try it. 

The point is, blogging should not be a chore, it should be a way to communicate and express yourself, and it can be about ANYTHING! Well, anything relevant to the topic of your blog. Hence, I keep my recipe sharing to a completely separate blog from my professional practice one. 

What do components are required of a class blog? 

Last year I was the main contributor on the Room 10 class blog where we shared the learning, successes, activities and announcements for not only the students to view, but their families and other schools worldwide. Living locally, Learning Globally. 

On this class blog, we shared a lot of photo's from our activities, this was a great reflective tool for the students to appreciate all the things they had participated and contributed in. Or sometimes I would post a screenshot of the whiteboard for learners to refer to later. Either way we were modelling the way in which we wanted the learners to use their blogs. 

Learners would use their blogs to develop their personal voice, share their learning goals and discoveries and as a platform for presenting their digital learning objects [DLO's]. 

We also ran a blogger of the month competition with my class. Where the selection criteria would change monthly: the most blog posts, the most page views, a really interesting post, posting outside of school hours, the best grammar, replying to comments, or sometimes based on a skill I wanted to encourage. 
In regards to managing a class full of learners, the blogger platform made this really simple. By setting up the children as an author of their blog, rather than the owner, I the teacher am able to screen the content and manage the commenting on the blog. 

In order to create a blogging culture between learners we need to encourage learners to share, not just their own work, but share in each others, by reading other blogs, and learning how to create a quality blog comment. A quality comment is positive, thoughtful and helpful. 

Today I decided to craft this blogpost on blogging because we were discussing the value of sharing blogs in our digital enhancement paper. 

As part of our literature review for this paper we also need to consider the value of blogs and review a variety of educational blogs.
If you have, or read a blog on digital education, please feel free to share it with me, to help me further build my community of practice. 

Thursday, 22 January 2015

What is a Community of Practice?

What is a Community of practice?
Well the matter of fact is,
Not every community is one that is of a practice

Your neighbourhood community may be full of mystics
but that won’t fit this terms 3 characteristics,
Domain is the first, and no not the auckland park
but your subject field, your interest, your spark.

The people with which you collaborate
engage with, and help each other elaborate
this is your community, real-time, face to face,
or perhaps a little later up in cyberspace

Problem solve, share, are the ideas of the domain
to implement, enhance, and help you to stay sane
allow you in your practice, to gather a real stance
you must be practitioners trying to advance

Now you know the characteristics of this term
I hope this rap may have helped you to learn

- Matt & Stef

Today our challenge was to create a rap to explain a learning theory. 
+Matt Goodwin and I wrote this rap within our own Community of Practice.

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

The Pros and Cons of Summer School

This week I have been head down and back to study mode after a rather relaxing four week summer break. In saying that the first couple of days back at university in front of a computer screen were a rather difficult transition. 
The purpose of this university paper titled Digital Enhancement is to critically reflect and engage with pedagogy and practice to enhance the use of digital technology in education. 
Two days in and it has been a pleasure to share our practice and experience with each other. It's in immersing ourselves in these situations that we realise that we have in fact accomplished a lot over the past year and as a collective we have a wealth of knowledge to share with one another. 

One of the theories of learning which I can really relate to is that of Communities of Practice. As the MDTA cohort of 2014/15 we are a reliable supportive and helpful resource to one another. Through professional and informal discussions I am continually learning from these people that I am lucky enough to get to share my beginning teacher journey with them all. 

As part of our final assessment in this paper we are to critically reflect on our 2014 class site, compare and contrast to other effective sites and justify our 2015 class site for our learners. We then will present this analysis to one another to further learn and develop our practice. 

In regards to my experience with tertiary education, through my Bachelors in Social Sciences, my Graduate Diploma in Teaching and this Honours Degree, I have never been so engaged or included in the teaching and learning process. Sure this is a higher level course, so our competence and intrinsic motivation is assumed to be greater, but the course co-ordinators and lecturers have actually taken our needs into account and really tailored this programme to be relevant and immediately applicable to our practice. So even though I am mildly disgruntled that I am not out enjoying this week in the amazing weather New Zealand has been receiving, I am enjoying the insight and critical discussions which I am involved in within this community of practice. 

Thanks Team. 

Friday, 9 January 2015

Developing Citizenship with New Learners, a New Class, and a New Level

Barely a week into January and I'm already contemplating what 2015 will bring. This year I will be teaching a new level of Year 5 & 6 learners (last year was Yr 7 & 8). I will have a whole class full of new learners in a whole new classroom. These learners will be pooled from three different 2014 classrooms, and for the majority it will be their first year in a digital one-to-one learning environment. 

Before this year begins however I will be undertaking a summer school paper at Auckland University, along with 10 other Manaiakalani teachers, on Digital Enhancement. In preparation for this I have been reading a variety of papers on knowledge building, 21st Century skills, opportunities and implications of ICT, and other digital education research and findings. Though it seems a waste of this amazing weather to be stuck reading when I would much rather be out enjoying my new paddleboard, I am finding the texts are getting me thinking about this year, and about how I can best foster the skills and aptitude's I desire with my learners within the existing curriculum. 

Determining how I can go about explicitly teaching 21st century skills, then embed them in our daily routines is a challenge I look forward to. As I mentioned, 2/3 of my class this year will be new to having their own digital device, so it is up to me to ensure that our learners use them to enhance their learning, not just as a substitution for their textbooks. Later this year I will be speaking about this at the 2015 BYOD Making it Mobile! workshops at Hobsonville Point School; reflecting on how to develop the learning behaviours and skills needed to learn in a digital environment, how to get the foundations set early on so the learning can happen later. If you can't make it to the workshops, findings and a summary of the event will be posted here also.