Monthly Archives: July 2009

Te Wiki o te Reo Māori 27 Hōngongoi – 2 Here-turi-kōkā 2009

Māori Language Week 27 July – 2 August 2009

In my class this week we’re going to be celebrating Te Wiki o te Reo Māori.

We’ve been learning Rona and The Moon as part of our fortnightly Team Kapa Haka. We’re going to base our reading around the story and our poetry this week around the song.

I’m going to share these two videos too:
Pa Mai

E te Ariki
E te Ariki
Whakarongo mai ra ki a matou
E te Ariki
Titiro mai ra ki a matou
Tenei matou
O tamariki
E whakapono ana matou
Ki a koe Aue! Aue!
Te Matua te Tamaiti
Wairua tapu e

I’ve linked the titles to the Youtube videos as I note that the embedded doesn’t translate into Facebook – where my posts are cross-posted.

Adding another one – a fantastic version of Purea Nei.

Classtools.net

I’ve seen the name Classtools.net around but had never been to the site until I read a review in the NZ Interface magazine.

I discovered that you can create all sorts of interactive flash activities for free to use in the classroom. I watched a video or two about how to use the site and decided to try out a couple of the activities. The most successful (and popular) was the arcade game generator. It was so easy to use. All you need is some questions and answers to put into the generator. You can then just click on play and up comes the screen with options for 5 games. My kids went wild playing the games – and they were all fraction questions.

Watch them in action – they’re quite noisy but listen to the excitement and fun they are having. One of them said today that the best thing about this week was that she now knew her fractions.

(Note that I had both my laptops in use by the students to compensate for 3 computers out of action.)

Computer meltdown? No problems!

This week we started back at school. I had rearranged the groups slightly and made sure that all computers were working and online during the holidays. My planning was complete and I had a full-on week of activities planned.

Then Monday occurred and along with it 4 computers out of service! One was my original classroom computer that was looping (registry problem) and the other three were the xtenda box computers (three virtual computers running off one box).

It took till Wednesday for the xtenda technician to arrive at school – he spent about 20 mins doing something (I was teaching at the time) then just said, “not my problem, not xtenda, computer is the problem” and left. After reporting this to the DP I then contacted our usual tech who picked the computer box up on Thursday morning and then Thursday afternoon sent me a text telling me my PC had come back to life again (dust on ram or something). He was back today to get it all up and running.

The really interesting thing was that the kids took all this in their stride. I explained that we couldn’t do all that was planned – we’d do some of it – and that we’d do some other stuff instead.

No moans or groans. They just accepted that sometimes the computers break and that we just get on with it. Pretty mature attitude for 7 and 8 year olds.

Over protecting our children

I just finished reading a blog post from @teachernz. It has an embedded video from the TED series:

It’s well worth watching. @teachernz challenged his readers to list how many of the things mentioned we’d done as children. My response:

Let’s see. As a child I:
1. played with fire – my parents taught me how to make the BEST campfires
2. owned my own ‘bowie’ knife – wasn’t called that but you know what it looks like
3. threw everything – we made spears and bows and arrows (and actually i was also taught how to fire a gun!)
4. i don’t remember pulling things to pieces … but have encouraged others to do so (especially computers)
5a. break the dmca – i have no idea if that was law back when i was younger but as a teenager i copied records onto tapes …
5b. drove a car – my dad had some kind of small car – it had part of the roof that slid back and i got to stand up and hang outside while he drove the car around the field then i got to drive it – don’t remember how old but pre-10

perhaps i should share my shooting story?

So here’s my shooting story.

Dad had guns in the house. He was a member of the Kings 100 (top 100 marksmen in the armed forces) and had some fancy guns. (Rifle/pistol/revolver.) So he taught us 3 older children how to handle guns safely and how to shoot. Of course an adults version of safety and a child’s version can be quite different.

We three set up a shooting alley down the hallway. My bedroom door was at the top end facing the entrance to the bathroom. At the end of the hallway was the door to my brother’s bedroom and to the left the hallway continued for about a metre to my sisters bedroom door. We set the target up against my brothers door – a box with newpapers in it to absorb the pellets we would be firing (we didn’t call it a BB gun but I guess that’s what it was). One person was the shooter – the other two had to get from either my bedroom or the bathroom down the hall, round the corner and into my sisters bedroom with out getting hit by any of the bullets. No one came away unscathed.

Many years later (40 or so) going back to visit the old house the current occupants asked if we had any idea what all the little holes were in a particular door!

We also never attempted to fire like that with the ‘real guns’, we never fired at anyone’s face, and none of us shoot today.

NZCTU Biennial Women’s Conference

I spent Friday and Saturday at the NZCTU (New Zealand Council of Trade Unions) Biennial Women’s Conference.

This is the third conference I’ve attended. I find I come away uplifted by the new contacts, renewed contacts and conversations that happen over two days. It’s a chance to walk outside of my own little bubble that is NZEI (New Zealand Educational Institution) and talk with women from other unions – both in the education sector and outside of the sector.

I like to mingle – so the first day I found myself sitting with an old friend from MUNZ (Maritime Union of New Zealand) and some PPTA (Post Primary Teachers’ Association) women and on the second day I sat with some women from MERAS (Midwifery Representation and Advisory Services) and TEU (Tertiary Education Union). At meal times I mixed even further and ate and talked with women from the CTU, PSA (Public Service Association) & NZDWU (NZ Dairy Workers’ Union).

At the end of the conference I was one of the people asked to reflect on our two days together so I’ll repeat here what I said there and then add some more.

  • Rose Ryan, Director of Athena Research, said “The more things change the more they stay the same.”
  • Laila Harré , National Secretary NDU (National Distribution Union), talked about translating passion into action.
  • Laila Harre speaking at nzctu womens conference

  • The Friday Panel discussion talked about cultural issues that Maori and Pasifika women face that are totally unknown to Pakeha/European women.
  • Louise Tarrant, General Secretary LHMU (Liquor Hospitality and Misc Union), gave us this quote from Helen Keller “One can never consent to creep when one feels an impulse to soar.” – How many people are aware that Helen Keller was a political activist?
  • Louise tarrant from LHMU Australia speaking to nzctu womens conference

  • Helen Kelly, President of the NZCTU talked about succession planning and a union for the 21st Century.
  • Helen kelly addressing the nzctu womens conference

  • Cross union discussions – both formal and informal – it doesn’t matter where we come from, we have a common purpose and together we are stronger!

A real demonstration of the common purpose came when a PPTA woman asked me where she could buy one of the NZEI Support Staff T-shirts (produced for our current campaign) because she wanted to wear it at school and show her support for the Support Staff campaign. It doesn’t matter that sometimes our two unions are at cross purposes – this is a campaign that matters to us both.

Important message

NZEI & PPTA supporting Support Staff

This week Primary School Teachers across NZ will get a pay increase as negotiated by NZEI before the 2008 election. We are some of the lucky ones as there is now a wage freeze set in place by the National Government. (With the cost of living rising that means we’re getting a negative increase!) I strongly suspect that there will be some cross-union support being called for (and given) over the next few months. What affects one of us, affects all of us.

And to finish here’s an extra verse to the Woody Guthrie classic: Union Maid.

A woman’s life is hard, even with a union card
She’s got to stand on her own two feet, not to be a servant of the male elite
It’s time to make a stand, keep working hand in hand
For there’s a job that’s got to be done, and a fight that’s got to be won.

Re-jigging the classroom.

I’ve been in at school today doing some tweaking in my classroom. I’ve changed my two side groups around and sorted out the cables a bit better. I start next term with 30 students. Four of these go to another class from 9:30-12:30 each day but that still leaves me with 26 students and traffic concerns. I think this is the best way to work. (I hope this is the best way to work!)

Here are some shots of the finished look.

Firstly a widescreen version:

widescreen classroom

The main pod of computers and radial groups – not much has changed here:

07072009(004)

The revamped side groups:

07072009(003)

Side groups from a different angle:

07072009(005)

Close up of the ethernet cables for the side groups:

cables

And another close up angle:

cables

Here’s the inevitable tangle of cables under the central pod:

central cable tangle

I purchased a rubberised cable protector yesterday – here it is in action.

cable organiser

And finally a short video tour of the classroom.

Why we have changed our classroom – the students reflect.


Last week we sat down as a class and reflected on the changes that have happened in our classroom. I put a question up on the mimio:

Why have we changed our classroom?

  • It’s easier for groups to work on the computers;
  • We have more computer geeks;
  • Groups don’t have to walk back and forth to the computers;
  • It’s easier to do our group work;
  • Everyone can work at once (instead of having to share a chair);
  • There’s more room to walk around;
  • We use the computers more often.

Then I asked:

What do we do differently with our new groups?

  • We do things in small groups instead of individually or as a whole class;
  • We do maths games;
  • For our SODA (Start Of Day Activity) it’s both easier – we get more ideas – and harder – we have to co-operate;
  • We can see what we’re going to do with our daily schedule on the computer;
  • We take turns (learning to co-operate);
  • We have a Room 10 classwork blog site.

The next question:

How has your learning changed?

  • We are more sensible and focussed;
  • We do more work on the computer;
  • We do more group work which is helpful;
  • Our work is more complicated but it (using the computers/blogs) helps us to learn;
  • We are learning to CO-OPERATE and FOCUS.

Finally I asked them if they would recommend this way of teaching/learning to other teachers/students. I got both yes and no.

Yes

  • There’s more work available;
  • It’s fun & easier;
  • Everyone can use the computer;
  • You learn to work better together;
  • The maths activities are more exciting.

No

  • Sometimes we fight over who is going to use the keyboard and mouse;
  • Some people fiddle with the keyboard & mouse and they could break;
  • It’s hard to co-operate sometimes;
  • Don’t want people pinching our ideas.

That last comment about pinching ideas was very interesting. The students are all very proud that we’re the only class in the school (large 600+ student school) who are working like this. I think they like being unique. However I talked about how all the ideas I’ve had for the class came from other people, and that part of working how we do is global sharing. So then they thought that maybe we could teach some others about how we do our “stuff”.

One of the things that’s become so evident to me is that these students think differently to other students I’ve taught. These students are independent thinkers; capable thinkers; ‘outside-the-square’ thinkers – not that it’s all due to me of course but I do think that given the incentive to try things differently has benefited their learning.

(Strangely enough ‘think different‘ is an apple slogan from 1997: “Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” What a buzz to think that I might be teaching some of this generation’s world changers!)

Audio accessibility


I’ve had several conversations this week with a parent about making content available in audio format. Not just website content but also things like word documents.

In doing some investigation I came across Odiogo and have decided to try using it to provide an audio version of my blog posts.

If you scroll down my blog you’ll see that the last few posts have an audio link at the top. For the rest you can click on the Odiogo button to the side to go to the podcast feed and either subscribe via RSS or listen to the individual posts. You can even download them as MP3 files.

One thing I’ve noticed already is that if my punctuation is incorrect it shows up in the podcast version!

Hope this is helpful for others.