Rotorua Photos and unconference

Here are some photos I took on the way from my motel to the main conference venue. (See post below.) It was the last morning (after the conference dinner the night before!!) and I was on my way to my first ‘unconference’. I had been asked to contribute to a session on ‘effective cluster/school management of the ICT contract’. Four of us attended (all facilitators) and although we swapped a few ideas the session didn’t turn out as I had imagined it would … there was no-one who was really there to learn. Perhaps everybody knows the answers already (or think they do!) Another possibility is that because there were so many unconference sessions there was no-one left to come to ours. The other possibility is that many delegates were sleeping in after socialising the night before. So I’ve yet to find out what a successful unconference session is like.

Learning@School Conference 2009

Today is the final day of the Learning@School Conference. Everything has been great! Rotorua has to be one of the prettiest cities in New Zealand. The town centre and the Government Gardens (where the main venue is) both have beautiful trees and gardens. I’ll post some photos later today. My motel unit is close to the city centre, the gardens and Lake Rotorua (no view though) , and it has the dubious honour of having the most ferocious shower I’ve ever encountered! … in Rotorua even showering is an extreme sport!

At L@S, it’s always exciting to catch up with the friends I’ve made in the ICT PD programme over the eight years I’ve been involved. During this conference, I’ve noticed that teachers’ ‘learner behaviour’ is changing. Teachers are taking a more active part by questioning, discussing and collaborating. Many will no longer just sit and listen. I believe this confidence and interactivity comes from the professional development they’re receiving and the learning communities (both real and virtual) that they belong to. And its a good thing!

The keynote speakers and workshops I’ve attended have all been interesting in their own way and I’m looking forward to my first ‘unconference’ experience this morning. Go to this Wikipedia page to find out about an unconference
Here is a list of the L@S unconference topics. I’ll let you know what happens!

My Software Folder

Web 2.0 tools are fantastic, however on one of my pen drives I have a folder called ‘Software’ which contains the setup files of the PC freeware I think a teacher needs on his/her laptop and might not have. The list is pretty basic, but I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve used it. In the folder are:

Audacity An easy to use sound recorder which is so useful in the classroom.
Lame 3.97 Enables the export as MP3 function in Audacity. (Without Lame you can only export as a .wav)
uLead Gif Animator Makes a series of graphic files into one .Gif file. This version dates back to when it was freeware.
Image Resizer Powertoy A useful Windows add-on.
JPG4 Email This resizes photos in bulk. Great for adding photos to your blog.
Photo Filtre The free version. You can create some neat effects using the filters.
Umajin Creative You can blue screen and save as a .jpg using the trial version.
Picasa3 Try out the collage function.
Photo Story 3 A freebie and a goodie.
Switch Converts sound files in bulk e.g. wma to MP3.
Tux Paint A neat little drawing program for junior students.

Some of these are available on my website – the others you’ll track down easily on the Internet using Google.

My Learning@School Conference Workshops

The L@S Conference is on in Rotorua from 24 – 26 February. It is attended by teachers from schools who are, or have been involved in ICT professional development clusters. This is nearly every school in New Zealand. I’ve been going to this conference every year since 2002 and I always really enjoy it. The number of delegates has increased each year and will be 1200 this year. One of the reasons I enjoy it is because I feel a real sense of belonging. It’s nice to be together with people who do a similar job. And of course the keynote speakers and the choice of workshops are excellent.

There are 7 breakouts. I’m presenting 2 workshops ‘A Key to Brain Power – Developing Habits of Mind in the Classroom’ (Breakout 2) and ‘Developing a Thinking Toolbox’ (Breakout 4)

The workshops I’m attending are:
Breakout 1:Getting Tricky with Wikis (Lenva Shearing)
Breakout 3: Digital Pedagogies (Tony Ryan)
Breakout 5: Learning to Question to Wonder to Learn (Jamie McKenzie)
Breakout 6: Inspiring creative, energetic and enterprising students (Gina Revill & Anne-Marie Kite)
Breakout 7: Umajin in the Classroom (Nat Free & Russell Brebner)

Learning@School Conference website

Learning about Photography

Elements of good photography

  • Varying the angle – taking photos from up high, down low, through something
  • Having elements of people, line, colour and light
  • The thirds rule. The viewers eyes are drawn to where lines intersect, so the main subject(s) of the photo should be on one of these spots – (not in the middle!)

  • Using the Macro Function for close-up focus

Student Activity

Take photos which show elements of:





Looking up

Looking down

Looking through (frame the shot)

Macro function (close up of something)

Make a folder in My Pictures

Download your photos

Share with the class as a slide show explaining the elements in your photos

Using your new photography skills, take photos to support learning or to record class events

Make a PowerPoint or Photo Story compilation of your students’ best photos and share it at school assembly

Young Kiwis highly connected

By JOHN HAREVELT – The Press | Monday, 26 January 2009

A “flagship” Unicef report, The State of the World’s Children, rates New Zealand’s 15 to 24-year-olds among the best-connected with cellphones and the internet.

There were 94 cellphone owners and 79 internet users per 100 Kiwis aged between 15 and 24, the report said.

DIGITAL WORLD: Sinomi Hood, 15, left, Brooke, 14, and Sam Fairs, 16, all of Christchurch, each carry their own cellphones, iPods and MP3 players. A ‘flagship’ Unicef report, The State of the World’s Children, rates New Zealand’s 15 to 24-year-olds among the best-connected with cellphones and the internet.

Read the full news article on the Stuff Website

Timez Attack

This is a very engaging way of teaching your students (or your own children) multiplication facts … and you might even enjoy playing it yourself!
To escape from the castle dungeon your avatar must explore rooms and corridors, find hidden doors and overcome monsters. And knowing multiplication facts is the key to success! To get playing, download the software programme from the Big Brainz website. The 2 – 12 times game is free, however you can purchase the full version. The website has a video tutorial telling you everything you need to know. Trust me, this game will be an instant hit with your kids!

Cool Cars and Picasa

Recently I rediscovered the photo software ‘Picasa’. I’d had version 2 on my old laptop,but hadn’t got around to downloading it onto my new laptop. Then one of the teachers I work with wanted a programme to make a collage of photos and I suggested Picasa. Once we’d downloaded it, I discovered that Picasa 3 is a real improvement on the old version. It has a lot of choices for collaging photos and also makes neat photo stories similar to Photo Story 3. These can be then be uploaded to youtube – directly from PIcasa. Then all you have to do is copy the embedding code and paste into your blog. That makes it pretty easy. The collage I made is of classic cars which were parked outside my apartment building a couple of Saturdays ago.