Learning to LattéArt

Learning to LattéArt

I’ve been watching (studying) the amazing and generous barista Dritan Alsela and his equally helpful assistant Mariette (?) via their videos (originally FBLive Events) to learn how to latté art. It’s been fun (aka hilarious) posting my efforts on instagram to celebrate my failures but also track my learning progress over time. It’s turned into a bit of a game with my friends helping #guessmylattéart (that’s where the hilarious part comes in).

As I reflect on my learning so far, I wanted to share the advantages of learning in this way for me. Thanks to today’s technology access, this way of learning is becoming more and more popular and we’re finding that kids are spending a lot of their own time learning to do something they’re interested in and enjoying the sense of accomplishment when done.  As an educator, I love the idea of harnessing this in our classrooms through exploring Genius Hour, a take on Google’s 20% time or even just an afternoon (every 10 or so days) of elective learning!

These are the advantages I’ve discovered for myself:

Just in time learning

Perfect to fit into my day when I can. Life gets incredibly busy but more and more I believe it’s important to dedicate time to one’s own learning whenever or however we can.


Interest and motivation

I chose to spend time learning lattéart because I wanted to learn it. I had an interest and thanks to YouTube, I was able to find some very good tutorials that helped keep me interested and motivated to learn more.



Pause, play, repeat – the best features of video. I can do this as much as I need to. Learning needs to be customisable. What works for you might not work for me. What takes me a short amount of time, might take you longer. Video makes learning customisable in so many different ways – we need to harness this more in the classroom.


Visual and audial combination

I can see what to do. I can hear the instructions. Excellent combination plus I can also see, hear and DO at the same time.  I’m much more likely to enjoy success with all three.


Access to an expert

Rather than try to watch a barista at work down at my local coffee shop (and annoy them while they are busy) – I have access to a super-friendly and generous expert who is taking the time to share their skills with me.


Importance of sharing the learning

For accountability, motivation, and encouragement, I use my social media channels (instagram and facebook) to share my progress with friends. This makes me smile and reminds me just how creative and imaginative my friends are! It also motivates me to try harder and reminds me it’s ok, and part of the learning process, to fail. By sharing I show that I’m still learning and that I’m not afraid to try something new.


So what are you learning to do?

I’d love to hear/see what it is – please share in the comment section!

Who knows, I may encourage someone else to give it a go too! If you are keen to learn LattéArt – here’s my LattéArt YouTube Playlist

Today’s Key Learning from the Barista Tutorial I watched today

  • Clean my portafilter with a brush
  • Tamp once and turn
  • Extract the coffee before doing the milk
  • Perfect temp: 60-65° for the milk (Don’t need to swirl the milk pitcher to warm it) The milk must be right otherwise you can’t lattéart.
  • Use two jugs – tip off half the milk into another jug
  • Bang the jug to get out the bubbles
  • Hold cup on an angle
  • The angle of the pitcher is parallel to the angle of the cup
  • Pour high first in small tight circles – prepare the surface – never touch the sides of the cup, swirl in the centre – don’t break the surface
  • Then go down closer with the spout and draw on the surface

Last but not least, I have to share Dritan’s valuable advice (and take note for myself)

Don’t want too much too fast – start with and master the heart! Then progress to the rosetta, then try the tulip.

So it’s back to the heart I go …… but I’m feeling confident, armed with more knowledge and excited to try again! (Stay tuned to #guessmylattéart on instagram!)

Cloud Storage

dropboxI’ve been storing my documents, files and photos online for a while now.  My number one option is Dropbox.  Just recently I signed up for 100MB of storage (at $US9.99 a month) to help me transfer my work laptop files to my home laptop files before having to hand in my work laptop.  I figured it would take less time (yes) and be more advantageous (aka: really make me think about whether I needed those files/documents/pdfs/photos or not!).  – (Yes!!).

When I get settled, I’ll probably forgo the paid option of Dropbox and transfer files back to my home laptop as the amount of free Dropbox storage I’ve been able to accumulate thanks to a generous referral scheme will be suffice for my storage needs. If you’re not a dropbox user – click here to get your starting 2GB (& grow my space a little bit more) with the potential to earn up to 18GB more when referring your friends!

boxThere are other cloud storage options out there, I also use Box which now gives away 5GB free storage when you join.  When they started up, they were giving away a very generous 50GB – so I took advantage of that! Unfortunately there doesn’t appear to be a referral scheme to earn more storage space, by hey, 5GB for free – that’s still pretty generous!  It’s the same amount that icloud gives you free.

I use icloud storage simply to backup files on my iphone/ipad that I don’t have anywhere else.  I do that so that if something happens to either one of my personal devices, I can easily restore everything!

copyNow there’s a new kid on the block!  It’s called Copy and they are giving away a massive 15GB storage FREE – yes, that’s right – FREE!  Now, you know me, typical kiwi – I love free things and this offer is no exception!

I really like the fact I know have 3 options for storage and I don’t have to rely on just one or two sources.  You can join Copy via this referral link to get your free 15GB of cloud storage and help my storage increase a little (because Copy has a referral scheme that allows you to earn up to 5GB more!)

Site Update & URL Change


Photo Credit: Lori Greig via Compfight cc

To reflect the change in my professional life and in an effort to curb the extraordinary amount of spam I seem to be getting lately (188 in 3 days!), the URL of this blog is about to change slightly in a few days.

If you’re an RSS subscriber, or a faithful reader (and you would have to be considering my almost year long hiatus!) please update the feed (or not) to https://teachingsagittarian.com/blog

You will still be able to access this blog via https://teachingsagittarian.com but that URL will become a launching site to my various blogs.

Motivational Statistics

Eeek! Last post to this blog – September 29, 2012!

Motivated by a spam comment notification received on my iPhone and not being able to spam it (for whatever reason) like I usually do on my phone ….. prompted me to log into the backend of my blog on my laptop.

Yeegads! 16 Updates required to take care of, one spam comment that made it through the always brilliant Askimet plugin for spam (yup – it needed updating!)  Love the clean, uncluttered WordPress Platform update 3.5.1 too by the way!

Moments later, updates done – including a nifty little plugin that I installed (yes, back in September – note: head hanging down in shameful silence) called Jetpack for WordPress.

Jetpack is supposed to “supercharge” your self-hosted wordpress site with a whole lot of cool enhancements.  One that caught my eye, and of course, prompted this blog post, is the Site Stats.

I actually had some stats to look at, and that really made me think.  I’m still getting site visitors even though I haven’t updated my professional blog with a blog post since September 2013.  Granted, I’ve got some pretty good stuff on here that’s relevant still for classroom teachers or technology coaches.   I could list a raft of excuses for why I haven’t updated my blog recently (ok, in forever) – but I’m not going to (that’s negative).  Instead, I’m thinking about the positive effects this little plugin had.

I have proof know now that I’ve still got visitors almost everyday visiting my site.  I know that they are probably looking for content (using inference of which posts/pages are being viewed the most).  Jetpack breaks down so much of the traffic information for you, including where your visitors are coming from.  All this information can help you make decisions about your audience and tailor your blog accordingly.  I’m impressed but most of all I’m motivated.  Motivated to write a blog post – this blog post.  So that got me thinking about my students.

My gorgeous Grade 3 students have recently begun their own journey of blogging.  Each student has their own individual blog (we’ve had a class blog together for half the year already and you can find the links to their on the right-hand sidebar if you’re interested in seeing what they are up to!) I taught all of them how to add a RevolverMap to their blog (to count site visitors and to be able to see in real time if anyone else was looking at their blog) and I also taught them how to add a flag counter.  We recently discovered that you can change the settings on flag counter to show the number of visitors beside each flag!  Both of these widgets are free and easy to install.  I know these widgets are motivating – we tracked our visitors to our class blogs and counted flags and visitor totals which was very exciting!  But ……

I’m wondering how I can go deeper with that motivation.  Our blogs are hosted on our own server at school, it’s a multi-user platform so I know I can’t just install the JetPack plugin and get access to wider, more informative statistics.

Do you have any suggestions?  What do you do to help motivate your students blog? How do you use the revolvermap or flagcounter statistics?

Image Credit:
Featured Image: License: CC0 Public Domain / FAQ

Learning2.012 – Full

I was just checking the Learning2.012 website for the registration information for this year’s  conference at the Western Academy of Beijing (Thursday 11 October – Saturday 13 October)  – and discovered that it’s full! Fantastic news! There is, however, a waiting list – click here if you would like to go on the waiting list.

The Learning 2.0 conference is a transformative, challenging experience for all participants; it is the conference that leads the change in education. As a participant, at Learning 2.012, you will attend a variety of sessions including extended workshops from recognized leaders in the region and worldwide, workshops, unconference sessions, and meetings with your cohort group. We want to ensure that the learning continues beyond the conference by facilitating network-building opportunities through conversations which are then extended, sustained and supported online.

The breakdown of sessions looks like this for each participant:
* Two Extended Sessions led by our Learning 2 Leaders (3 – 3.5 hours)
* One Learning 2 Leaders presentation: the big idea in a nutshell
* Two additional workshops or presentations
* Two ‘unconference’ sessions
* Three ‘cohort’ sessions in curriculum/common interest groupings
* Three sets of Learning 2 Talk sessions


I’m very excited about this conference! I love the new format and I haven’t been able to attend Learning2.0 for the past two years.  This year I’m one of the Learning 2 Leaders for the strand 1:1 in the Elementary Classroom.  Being in the classroom really is my passion and after two years as the Technology & Learning Coach at ISB, I’m pleased to say I’m returning to the classroom to teach Grade 3. I’ve missed being in the classroom very much and can’t wait to get right back into it!

Of course, I’m thrilled to be leading learning alongside old friends and technology greats such as Keri-Lee Beasley, Clint Hamada, Julie Lindsay, Jess McCulloch, Jabiz Raisdana, Dana Watts and Jeff Utecht. It will be fantastic to see them all face to face again – it’s been a while – and I’m looking forward to learning, growing, sharing and laughing with them all again.  Whilst Kim Cofino, Simon May and Madeline Brooks aren’t leading any sessions this year – they have been furiously working behind the scenes with organisation – making this conference the best yet!  I can’t wait to catch up with them too!

I’m especially excited about FINALLY meeting Chris Betcher face to face – we’ve been like ships passing in the night for several years now, enjoying a PLN friendship for a few years but never actually meeting face to face. Can’t wait!! I’m looking forward to meeting and learning from Dean Shareski and Lucy Gray too – both have featured in my PLN for several years now too.

If you’re registered and going to Learning2.012 in October – see you there!  Please come up and say hi – I’d love to talk to you!  If you’re interested, get yourself on that waiting list – you just never know!


Using Cooliris Express

Today I’ve been playing around with Cooliris Express trying to create a 3-D photo wall to embed in my blog.  The cool thing about this photowall is that it will update as pictures are added to my flickr photostream. For the photowall below, I’m using the 366 2012 set to pull photos for the Cooliris Express. I think for another wall, I will use “cooliris” as a tag for the photos I want to be picked up by the feed.

It is possible to pull content, not only from flickr, but from picassa, facebook, YouTube and Media RSS.  You can customize a few things in your 3-D photo wall such as colour, how many rows of photos (1-5) and there’s a choice of 6 themes for your photo wall.

It’s relatively simple to set up (log into Cooliris Express using your facebook or google account) and you can save your wall.  Filtering is easy too as you can name a particular set or tag of photos you want displayed on your blog.   As I write this, I’m just wondering if you can embed the 3-D wall in the sidebar – I guess you can but it would be pretty small, and I kinda like the flickr app I already have in my sidebar.