Monday, 16 October 2017

Google Exam - Success at last!

Google Exam Post Script: After a disappointing first effort, I was keen to take another shot at the Level 1 Google Exam.

I lined up a test date with others from the course on the second week of the holidays but unfortunately, a slight hiccup with the retake process from Google foiled my retake  plans! Not to be defeated, I finally resat the test on the last weekend of the holidays - no pressure.
Well, I am pleased to say the wait was worth it - I passed! This success has really made me appreciate just how much I learnt on the DFI course last term - again a huge thank you to Dorothy, Gerhard and Matt! Hmmm, is it time to think about Level 2? Watch this space...

Friday, 22 September 2017

Final Digital Fluency Intensive - Week 9 - Opportunities Galore!

Today marks the end of our 9 week Digital Fluency Intensive (DFI). Alongside a great bunch of educators, I've enjoyed meeting up once a week to learn more about the Manaiakalani pedagogy and have the time to upskill myself in different GOOGLE apps. It has made my life easier both inside and outside of the classroom. A huge thank you to Dorothy, Gerhard, Matt and all the guest speakers!

Thankfully for all of us, the learning doesn't stop here because there lots of other opportunities available to teachers in Manaiakalani to help keep our practise sharp including TOOLKITs,  the Manaiakalani GOOGLE + Community, the EdTech Summit  and being part of Class On Air.

To end up this last session, 11 of us sat the GOOGLE Certified Educator Level 1 exam. 3 hours, 20 multi-choice questions and 11 scenarios later, we needed 80% to pass. Unfortunately a few of us didn't quite make the cut (I got 78%!) but despite the disappointing result we are determined to give it another go in the holidays. We all want to ace it and have a GOOGLE badge to show for our efforts!

Friday, 15 September 2017

Digital Fluency Intensive 8: Empowerment, New GOOGLE Sites

Hard to believe that we are already at Week 8 of the DFI sessions - so much learning has taken place!  Today James Hopkins from CORE EDUCATION shared his thoughts on EMPOWERMENT in the Manaiakalani pedagogy: if learning is not VISIBLE, CONNECTED and UBIQUITOUS, students will not be able to take charge of and progress in their learning.
He also shared with us how to use moderation mode in Padlet - a great way to avoid any curly comments from students being made public to the whole class!

Next up Gerhard guided us through a session on the NEW GOOGLE Sites. It is much quicker to create a site in this new version, using a range of preset options. However you are limited in how you can customise your site so despite all the time saving shortcuts NEW sites offers, I think I would prefer have more control over how my site/pages will look and 'work' . The original GOOGLE sites has my vote! I got to try out the NEW sites by creating a landing page for all the different sites and blogs that we have been working on for the past few weeks. It also includes links to the individual class/team sites for each of the other DFI participants. Click here or the image below to view the site page in full.

Next week, our DFI group will take the  GOOGLE EDUCATOR LEVEL 1 exam - let's see how much we really know!

Friday, 8 September 2017

Digital Fluency Intensive 7: CONNECT, more on GOOGLE sites

Being CONNECTED is another key element of the Manaiakalani kaupapa and links back to last week's kaupapa word - connections are only possible if teaching and learning is visible.

As educators, we can build connections face to face but also through social media platforms such as Twitter and Google + communities 
to stay in the loop and to upskill ourselves. Within Manaiakalani, we can join colleagues for toolkit sessions and get online technical support from Tania Coutts.

Blogs are probably the most common ways to create and maintain online connections between students, teachers and whanau. Programmes such as Tuhi mai, tuhi atu and Quad blogging have been successful at linking students who are at different schools or parts of the country.

My biggest insight for this session was to think critically around how to use sites to make connections AND lead learning. We all were challenged to take an honest look at our own sites - is the content relevant? is the layout visually appealing and engaging? is it functional and accessible for students, whanau, and teaching colleagues?

A few of us were asked to share our learning sites and got feedback from other DFIers on their impressions and possible 'next steps' for improvements. I shared the landing page for the site I use every day with Year 7 & 8 students at Pt England School. I am one of five teachers who use this learning site designed by one of our team, Rob Wiseman.

Feedback for the landing page of was really positive from the others:
- the overall page has a simple, clean layout with lots of white space
- all the A+ (key) content can be seen in one go (no extra scrolling)
- includes student artwork - the lower part of the page has teacher photos (not emojis) and name details making it easy for whanau to find the right person

Possible improvements were to link the names of teacher to their class and/or professional blogs and to get rid of page labels at the top of each page

I enjoyed having part of the session to get help to tweak my literacy and maths groups pages. Updating the page settings to remove extra text from the top of each page turned out to be quite straightforward and definitely improved the 'look' of each page.

However, the real game changer was fixing the 'term' headings. Putting them in a logical sequence, only showing the current term in white font and linking each one correctly to previous term's site pages has given much needed functionality to each page - a big THANK YOU to our trainers!



Looking forward to week 8 and finding out more about NEW Google Sites.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Digital Fluency Intensive 6: Being VISIBLE, GOOGLE Sites, New Teaching Code

In today's session, we got to grips with the VISIBLE aspect of the Manaiakalani kaupapa - the need to make our teaching and learning open and available for students, whanau and other educators.  Online platforms like BLOGGER and GOOGLE SITES are powerful tools to increase the reach and profile of learning beyond the classroom.

Dorothy's presentation raised some challenging points. With the switch from pencil and paper to using devices, do parents have the same visibility - are they able to check their child's learning via blog posts as easily as they could flicking through an exercise book? What is an appropriate level of visibility? How do we balance the desire to showcase aspects of students learning journeys (e.g. test results) versus the need to maintain student confidentiality?

Putting theory into practice, we had a session on GOOGLE SITES. The aim was to create a Professional Learning site using the newly released  'Standards'  from the Education Council to capture evidence for six new standards: Te Tiriti o Waitangi partnership, Professional Learning, Professional Relationships, Learning-focused Culture, Design for Learning, and Teaching.

We each started with a sandpit site - a safe space in which to 'play' with HTML coding and figure out how to change up the layout of site pages using different table formats to merge columns or rows. We then split into three groups to create our own sites. I joined Matt's group to try out Image mapping.

We used pixlr to help define co-ordinates within sections of our chosen image. We added these sets of numbers into the HTML coding - this mapped specific sections of the image to another site page. It took a while to sort out the various co-ordinates and if one set of numbers was not quite right, it created a weird zig-zag shape!

I am happy with the end result. My new site looks professional - the landing page is simple and uncluttered, AND even better it works (!) - a single click on each heading, leads to a different teaching standard. The hard part will be keeping the pages up to date.

Image Mapping is time consuming but well worth it to achieve a site page that is clean, slick and functional.  Feel free to test out my new standards site for yourself by clicking here or on the circle image above.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Digital Fluency Intensive 5: Google Sites, Blogger Gagdets

Kia ora from Week 5 of the Digital Fluency Intensive!

We started our session this week with an overview of the SHARE part of the Manaiakalani pedagogy. Traditionally, students have shared their 'best work' in class, with the principal, in assembly, or in a school newsletter. The advent of the internet and introduction of online blogging allows students to showcase their learning to a much wider audience, one that is no longer confined to a specific classroom or school.  Encouraging students to share their work and make real connections with others about their learning leads to better engagement and improved achievement outcomes.

On a practical level, Dorothy presented us with the challenge of building a page from scratch in GOOGLE SITES. Using the children's story 'The Lion and The Mouse' was our inspiration, and we had to use a multi modal approach and use different modes e.g. videos, photos/images, news articles, blog, audio recording, podcasts, animations, or gifs to 'hook' students and help them access content.

To the left is my effort to create a page for Year 7/8s taking a Social Studies tack linked to the impact of decisions groups make in regards to Animal Rights. Click on the image to go to the full sized page.
To end the session we learned how to update our professional blogs using the BLOGGER gadget, BLOG LIST to add in links to the blogs of each of my fellow DFI participants.

I really enjoyed trying my hand at building my own page and am looking forward to getting more practise on GOOGLE SITES. I now have a much greater appreciation for how much work has gone into making our Team 5 site! I will use the BLOG LIST gadget and link my class blog to my professional blog. I also want to update my class blog with links to my home class students and help to expand their potential audience a nudge more.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Digital Fluency Intensive 4: Videos: Explain Everything, Screencastify

This week we heard about the CYBERSMART programme from Fiona Grant. Developed in 2012, the emphasis is on learners being able to make smart decisions when working online. The aim is to focus on the positive side of being online as they engage in authentic learning opportunities rather than just the need to 'be safe’. Modules on Smart Learners, Smart Footprint and Smart Relationships form the foundation of the programme. 

Khismira Lal guided the group on how to use the Explain Everything app on iPads. We got to try out a range of tasks that students would be given in literacy and maths. I completed one set of reading activities using the text, Billy can count and in the video below, recorded my thoughts on how I might use Explain Everything when teaching my own students.


We also had the chance to prepare a short video using SCREENCASTIFY on how to make quality blog comments using tips directly from the Cybersmart programme. My video advice is below:


I like how the CYBERSMART programme encourages students to work responsibly online rather than adopt on a fear mongering approach around being hypervigilant and safe. It makes better sense to provide students with the tools and sensibility they need to be savvy as they make positive contributions online. 

I am looking forward to using the SCREENCASTIFY tool with my students - it will offer a way to share their learning and understanding that caters for those that may struggle to share their thoughts in writing and those who are camera shy as they just record their voice without worrying about coming up with a written sentence or the stress of having their face on screen!