Welcome to my blog.

I am a geography teacher in New Zealand - using ICT extensively in my classroom to enhance the teaching and learning. Looking forward to talking with you about issues and ideas to improve teaching and learning in classrooms across the globe.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Term 3 2014 - Next steps (or where to next?)

Agenda for Term 3

This term so far has been a hectic one for me so far (it is only week 3). I have to work extremely hard to balance all my jobs at school (classroom teacher; head of department; colleague; Academic Director - in charge of managing student progress; option evenings; option choice stuff etc); in my other roles (as Chairperson of the Auckland Geography Teachers Association and as a committee member in the Women in Educational Leadership organisation); my role as a Mum - to my daughter in year10/11 and a son who is learning how to be an adult - has completed his Masters degree and he is mustering up the courage to apply for his first "real job". (this has taken since February!!!); wife and friend. [My poor friends know that we only really catch up every ten weeks or so - and they always know when I am available it is because it is a "break" for me.]

Highlights so far

The highlight of the term so far as been attending the #edchatnz inaugural conference last weekend and presenting at the conference was nerve wracking as I tried to prepare for it in the busyness of life. I spoke about an experiment I have done with my Year 13s - you can find my presentation here. I thought no one would come to my talk but actually there were lots of people there which was great and they all made me feel really comfortable - for some amazing reason I managed to speak for about 40-45 minutes then we had a nice 20 minute chat at the end with questions and comments. 

 This quote was something that drove my experiment (Grace Hopper was an amazing woman). 

I like doing things differently in my classroom and have always tried experiments but after the conference I now have lots of more things to try especially SOLO.

The next two weeks will be so hectic 

             - 12 major things to keep me out of trouble

Over the next two weeks, these are some of things I have to do:

1. Run the Curriculum Evening tomorrow night.
2. Co-ordinate and run the AGTA scholarship workshop next week
3. Present at the AGTA course - how to get Excellence - I am presenting at this (not sure what to say yet!)
4. Take the year 13s out on the Muriwai field trip
5. Take a trip with my IB students to the Domain - this will mean a coffee stop :)
6. Host the WIEL seminar at St Cuthberts College in a few weeks 
7. Take a field trip to the city with year 12
8. Start and finish one unit of work for both Year 12 and 13.
9. Write an IB exam
10. Mark an IB extended essay - 4000 words
11. Mark two lots of internals (Year 11 and 12)
12. Be taxi for my daughter for the Big Sing Finale - in the city for three days

The best part of all of this is that the month finishes for me with a girls weekend with four of my oldest friends - walking along the beach, soaking in a spa pool and enjoying great music, food and drinks. What a treat that will be!

Kinda hoping it will look like this.

But most likely it will be like this:

Have a good few weeks!  

#edchatnz Conference - Blogging Meme

It has been over three years since I have used this blog and I had only a few posts on it then as well. I am not sure if this is my thing but have come to realise that posts don't have to be long and boring. They can be very short and thought provoking - so below please find my thoughts from the recent inaugural #edchatnz conference.

If you get included in the blogging meme: copy/paste the questions and instructions into your own blog then fill out your own answers. Share on twitter tagging 5 friends.

1. How did you attend the #Edchatnz Conference? (Face 2 Face, followed online or didn't)
I attended the conference face to face for most of Friday and all of Saturday.
I even was brave enough to do a presentation on Saturday morning - had to give up attending a party/dinner/drinks on Friday evening so I could tidy up my presentation.

2. How many others attended from your school or organisation?
Six of us came - me and @teachertomasnz @muddicea @FelixPhysix @deblean @klaris1904 and seven if we count @AndreaHenson_nz (ex SCC and now teacher extra-ordinarie) at HPSS.

I think @Ms_Beaker would have loved it too.

3.How many #Edchatnz challenges did you complete?
I did the new to twitter challenges (not purposely I will admit) - sorry @GeoMouldey  +Steve Mouldey ; didn't take any photos but was in a few others took.
Actually, I wanted to do these things but forgot all about it.
I even had planned to say the word "dance" in my presentation but don't know if I did - I certainly planned to.

4. Who are 3 people that you connected with and what did you learn from them?
- a very old connection - Pam Hook @arti_choke - well long story (she was my old Biology teacher); a colleague at SCC and now SOLO expert. I have always wanted to learn more about SOLO and I am so glad I did - I have lots to learn and do with my classes - so interesting.

- an old connection - Steve Bargh from NZQA - I went to his talk on digitalising external exams - interesting to hear about NZQA's proposals - my thought is - they can't come soon enough.

- and two new connections - Megan Peterson from HPSS - loved her talk! and Sonya who I met last week at the teachMeet Geo - where I was the twitter broadcaster. That was cool.

5. What session are you gutted that you missed?
I wanted to go to the un-conference and to many others but had to go back to work and gave a presentation back to some staff which meant that I didn't see many on Friday.

6. Who is one person that you would like to have taken to Edchatnz and what key thing would they have learned?
Anyone who "scoffs" about twitter and thinks it is ridiculous! The key thing that they would have learnt is that the connections are awesome - I feel like I know so many people even though I have not really met them. This is weird. And they would have learnt that it is not like FB. (although a bit like FB today with the passing of Robin Williams - my twitter and FB feeds are full of tributes to this awesome man).

And actually people on twitter don't make you feel alone.

7. Is there a person you didn’t get to meet/chat with (F2F/online) that you wished you had? Why?
Heaps - such a pity - next time though. :)
I did love how we introduced ourselves by our twitter name.

8. What is the next book you are going to read and why?
Anything on SOLO I can get my hands on - actually have read one already that I had at home in the office - SOLO Taxonomy: A Guide for Schools. Planning for Differentiation - interesting.

And, I plan to read Key Competencies for the Future - must get my hands on one of these. (just have to get the Curriculum Information evening out of the way now and then I can rethink my teaching!)

9. What is one thing you plan to do to continue the Education Revolution you learnt about at #EdchatNZ?
Staying connected with others
Sharing the power of twitter with everyone
Giving power of learning to the students even more than I have done in the past
Trying the idea of different assessments for different students (I learnt this from Megan @Mrsmeganpete
Loving learning for myself and sharing this with the students I teach.

(I can't read - this is more than one)

10. Will you take a risk and hand your students a blank canvas?
I always have and always will until I stop teaching.

Who will I tag with this meme:

Thursday, 28 April 2011

More fun... videos I love.

Ice Age - teaching us about Plate tectonics. Wil use this in my class somehow.....

And this is fun - how could I use this in my class?

Wednesday, 27 April 2011

The Marshmallow Challenge

I think I will start this term off with the Marshmallow challenge - getting the students working together.

Looks like heaps of fun.

Families and Holidays

One of the best parts of being a teacher is the time we have (about every ten weeks or so) to reflect and relax.

I find these breaks so very necessary as a teacher. For me it is a time to sleep in; catch up on marking I did not manage to do during the last few weeks of term; as a geography teacher do some reconnaisance for field trips; watch a fe clips on Youtube (for my classes, PD and enjoyment :)) and it is a time to reflect on how things went and most importantly what I do do to make it work even better next term.

These holidays there has been a bit of all of that and especially lots of reflection. One of my classes has a wide range of abilities and the challenge is always to challenge the students who "get it" quickly and at the same time help those who take a little longer to "get it".

The class I am thinking about are Year 13 Geography students and we are studying coastal processes at Muriwai beach on the west coast of NZ (40km from Auckland city). I have decided to differentiate much more and give them a bit more independence with their learning. I hope that they will enjoy the change in the learning environment and that the students will take responsibility for their own learning rather than relying on me for everything. I will give them choice as well as setting examination type tasks for them to complete - will keep you posted on how this goes. I have differentiated the learning with younger students but have never really been brave enough to do this with this age group as it is their last year of school and so much hangs on their results that they get at the end of the year.

Will keep you posted on how this goes.

Monday, 25 April 2011

This is a very interesting clip from Sugata Mitra on letting students research for themselves.

What do you think?

Thanks John Sayers. :)

ANZAC Day 2011

Another ANZAC Day -

On 25 April 1915, eight months into the First World War, Allied soldiers landed on the shores of the Gallipoli peninsula. This was Turkish territory that formed part of Germany's ally, the Ottoman Empire. The troops were there as part of a plan to open the Dardanelles Strait to the Allied fleets, allowing them to threaten the Ottoman capital Constantinople (now Istanbul) and, it was hoped, force a Turkish surrender. The Allied forces encountered unexpectedly strong resistance from the Turks, and both sides suffered enormous loss of life. The forces from New Zealand and Australia, fighting as part of the ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps), played an important part in the Gallipoli campaign. At its beginning, people at home greeted with excitement the news that our soldiers were at last fully engaged in the war. New Zealand soldiers distinguished themselves with their courage and skill, establishing an enduring bond with the Australians they fought alongside.


It is interesting now how many people go out to celebrate ANZAC day nowadays compared to when I was a child. I don't remember it being very important when I was ten whereas my daughter aged 11 has been to at least seven ANZAC services (not today though as we all have colds and felt miserable and the rain did not help).

I am thinking that this is an excellent topic for us to teach at school - not the history stuff - although this is very important but the issues affecting us now, such as:
- where are the poppies made NZ vs China - what are the issues?
- is war a solution to a problem?
- should we have a holiday for ANZAC day - why or why not?
- why particular places or surroundings such as Gallipoli or other major locations where New Zealanders have fought are significant to people.

Any of these ideas would be great to do with classes. Maybe they could have an online debate; create a blog from a particular perspective then others could comment on this; maybe they could create a podcast or make a tv documentary on their chosen topic; Perhaps they could put themselves in someone elses shoes and argue from their point of view. What other ideas are there?