Why MMP is important to keep

Disclaimer: This is just my opinion being expressed here.

I remember voting in a number of elections and becoming more and more confused. Numbers didn’t seem to add up at times and I think for a lot of us the 1981 election results tell a graphic story. Back in

the day we didn’t have all those little parties that we have today – we had the major players – National and Labour and we started getting some smaller parties that were growing throughout New Zealand. In the 1981 election Social Credit was the minor player and the results by number were quite interesting.

Labour took 39.6% of the vote (702,630 votes)
National took 39.4% of the vote (698,508 votes)
Social Credit took 21% of the vote (372,056 votes)

That looks like this in a pie chart:

Based on those results Social Credit should have got 21% of seats in parliament (around 19 seats out of 92) – instead what they got was 2 seats – clearly a vote for a minor party was worth less than one for the major parties.

MMP gives us a fairer system – it’s not perfect but it is fairer. And it means that if you want to vote for a minor party then you can – and depending on the proportion of votes they get we will see them in Parliament.

And if you’re still not sure then think about this fact: The last time a single party got the majority of votes in a New Zealand General Election was … 1951 – that’s more than 50 years ago!

Make sure YOU get out there on November 26 and VOTE!

Mini-posters in Google Draw

I’ve just created some Google Draw templates for my students to use to create mini-templates. I got the idea from creating my mini poster (see previous blog post). One of the things I want my class to be aware of is creative commons licensing and to make sure they don’t use other people’s images without attribution. To get them started I chose 5 of my own photos (taken last year as part of my 365 photo challenge) which are all freely available on Flickr under a creative commons share alike basis (much the same as this site is licensed).

Google docs makes it easy to submit these as templates so that students are able to access them and use them. (Create new-from template-submit template.) Hopefully next week there will be some student examples to display.

I want to encourage my students to start taking their own photos and using them for drawings like this and also for presentations using the Google Presentations tool.

Google Draw

One of the things I’m enjoying about the Google Apps environment in my classroom is that kids just find ways of doing things without you teaching them. Mine have been creating illustrations and brainstorms using Google Draw so I thought I’d better experiment a bit with it.

I read a post about some software available for schools/kids to use that looked interesting until I saw the price. There was one specific example that I wanted to try out (creating a colorful poster of related words) so I decided to see if I could do the same thing in Google Draw.

Here’s my result:

I used a photo I’d taken myself as the background and didn’t do too much tweaking of font type apart from size and color. I’m happy with the result and can see how the kids can use it to create word posters of their own. (Rugby comes to mind as a topic!)

 

Google Docs in the Classroom

I’m currently using Gdocs in my classroom as a draft writing book replacement. Here’s how it works:

1. Each student has their own account in our school Google Apps for Education system

2. I created a shared folder (simply called Room 12) which I then shared with all my students and my personal gmail account (that means I don’t have to swap out of one account and into another for marking purposes)

Various folders help to sort the contents into a manageable collection

3. Students are then taught that all work needs to be put into the shared folder (there are folders within that master folder for organizational purposes only)

This is a shot from my inbox showing where the stories have been shared

4. Once a student indicates that their work is finished I then go in and mark it – using the comment feature. Commenting allows me to suggest an alternative; guide a student to the correct spelling or grammar; or even to ask a question about the text.

I like to comment on beginnings or endings that are particularly great.
The text relating to my comments is automatically highlighted
In this case with a Maori word I've given the correct spelling

5. Students are then expected to go back in to check their work and fix up anything that needs fixing. I can see at a glance if the student has gone back in by viewing the ‘last modified’ list. (Both Me and Jo are actually me – it depends on which account I was in as to what shows up – my students know who I am)

Jo/Me indicates that the student hasn't done any more editing

6. I can then go back in and check the final story. From that point on students will usually post the story to their blog or their page on SuperClubsPlus.

Our class individual blogs on Kidblog
SuperClubsPlus - a great site for kids to learn about online presence

7. One feature that is particularly helpful is the revision history (File-See revision history) as I can see all the editing the student has done prior to my first look at the work. I can also see changes they’ve made in response to my suggestions. I also found that it was helpful while writing my writing comments for their reports as I could open their latest piece of writing and comment about their editing and proof-reading skills that showed up when view the revision history.

Pink text indicates new changes from the previous save

 

  • Google apps is ever improving – it’s certainly a better product now that it was a year ago.
  • Later this year my students will be working collaboratively with students in another city in New Zealand. They can work on the same document because it’s cloud based computing.
  • My friends and I always use Gdocs for shared note taking at various educamps and conferences – this helps our shared understanding of the day
  • I’m still discovering what I can do with Google apps – I’m looking forward to attending a Google Masterchef session at the upcoming Ulearn11 conference in Rotorua, NZ
Feel free to comment with any ideas I’ve not mentioned.
And I’d like to end with this presentation by Tom Barrett
Interesting ways to use Google Docs in the classroom