Elegant Themes

Elegant Themes

This is what I use

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Preparing For Learning – Part I

Preparing For Learning – Part I

As I focus on documenting for learning I’m thinking about how I prepare for learning.  In particular, preparation for professional development sessions with educators. I’m looking forward to working with MS and HS teachers in Malaysia for two days next week on blogging in the classroom. Preparation and planning began over 3 months ago and the hours involved have steadily increased as the session dates draw near. The 3 questions – Why? How? and What? have been a three-pronged approach to planning these two days so I thought I’d share my learning process with you.

The Why

Blogging is something that I’ve always been passionate about. Using technology to enhance learning took a hold of me and “lit my fire” so I began to blog.  It was always important to me to share my passion of the authentic use of technology in the classroom with others. Fast-forward to today. As I head down the Independent Consultant road it’s important for me to not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. Hence the reason for this particular post. It’s my documenting and reflecting on the learning process.
Idea plan action prepare for learning

The How

In order to understand the purpose behind the professional development being requested, a meeting with the stakeholder is important. First emails establish a connection. Skype allows us to connect and talk about expectations and needs surrounding the two days of PD. This is a fact-finding mission to gather as much information as possible. I need to discover where a school and it’s staff is and where they want to go. Together we decided how they want to move forward.  It is always inspiring to be a part of a school that wants to move forward. Not quite sure how to move forward doesn’t deter them and they are willing to bring a stranger in help them achieve their goals. To help with the planning stage I like to use Google Docs. It’s a brilliant way to keep track of conversations, planning, resources, ideas, schedules, observations in order to bring everything together. A document was shared with the school stakeholders and became the eventual planning document for how the two professional development days would pan out. All stakeholders had editing rights.
Consulting Experts
I’m very fortunate to have made some life-long friendships with very clever and knowledgable people.  There are people in my personal learning network that I would have never connected with if it weren’t for being a blogger.  I didn’t get to meet these people in person until a long time after connecting with them online. Now, I have been fortunate to have met (and worked with some) my “expert” friends. For this particular PD planning, I turned to them for advice, thoughts, ideas and opinions. I think I was really seeking confirmation that my thinking and planning was on the right track. More specifically that the planning made sense and that it flowed.
Silvia and I at the floating market
Silvia & I at the Floating Market during her 2009 visit to Bangkok.

Through skype I had a lovely conversation (and much needed catch up) with my dear friend Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano. Silvia is a walking plethora of blogging expertise (you must check out her resources that she shares via creative commons with educators all over the world). It was reassuring to share my ideas and thoughts with Silvia and hear her reassurance that my thinking was on-track. A bonus was that I was able to garner some more ideas for working with teachers on a topic that is so vast!

Again, thanks to skype and a spare “hour” in his very busy schedule, was a chat with Andrew Churches. I sought out Andrew’s expertise on working with large groups of people, his experience with IB and his amazing work with Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Andrew suggested some brilliant ways to help facilitate the learning beyond “keynote / lecture”.

The use of a google document meant that I was able to share my planning ideas with other consultant experts. In particular, two very good colleagues (and brilliant friends) Kim Cofino & Dana Watts.  These two amazing ladies have a wealth of experience working with educators in a consultancy context so their feedback on the planning of sessions was invaluable.

In documenting the process that I’m going through to prepare for this PD, I realise that I know some incredibly talented and generous educators. I am extremely grateful that I have these kinds of people in my own personal learning network. In reflection I am struck by the notion that when you’re globally connected with others you have the ability to pass on authentic learning to fellow educators and it multiplies exponentially. Stay tuned for Part II where I’ll share The What.
iPads and the SAMR Model

iPads and the SAMR Model

I recently had the privilege of working with teachers and assistants at a local school here in Two Rocks. It was part of an ongoing professional development plan for 2014. The staff were about to begin their learning journey with the SAMR model and their new 60+ iPads. Unfortunately the new iPads had arrived but weren’t ready for deployment.  With my own training iPads and a few BYO devices we were able to have enough devices for one between two teachers. Thankfully there was time for the BYO devices to install the apps we’d be exploring for the first session.

Introducing SAMR

Dr Reuben Puentedura’s SAMR model was introduced using this very short but explicit video SAMR in 120 seconds.


After discussing examples of technology integration tasks and where they fit into the SAMR model, 6 versatile iPad apps were introduced. Included in our timeframe was “sandpit” time for playing/experimenting with the apps. I’m always blown away by the ideas that people come up with for ways to use various apps in the classroom. The twist to this activity was to name where on the SAMR model, that task would go. When beginning a learning journey using SAMR, I find that this is the most difficult thing to do, but keeping the end learning outcome of the task in mind, helps.

Supporting Slides

Below is the presentation framework I used for the pd session. You can see the apps that were introduced. These apps were specifically chosen for their flexibility within the SAMR model. I wanted to showcase specific apps that generate excitement for first time users of the iPads in the classroom. I also wanted apps that had enough edu-rigor to encourage tasks or use that fit along the SAMR continuum.

Another SAMR Resource

A few days after the PD session, I took part in a Google Hangout shared by Silvia Tolisano and some of her colleagues regarding SAMR. It was most timely! I highly recommend that you set aside some time to watch the recording of this hangout. It will be useful if you or your school have an interest in SAMR and how it fits with authentic, purposeful and meaningful technology integration in any subject area.

Working Together in Art

Last week our Elementary School had it’s annual International Day celebration.  It’s a fabulous day where we come together and celebrate our differences and similarities.  This year’s theme was One Day One World.  Our clever Art Specialists, Paz Molina & Trish Neubrand came up with a mural idea that would ensure that ALL the ES students could contribute too.


What Did We Decide To Do

All of the ES students contributed to a large mural during their art times. As the physical items for the mural were made and added to the mural, we decided to create a special time-lapse of everyone’s effort.

How Did We Do It?

It took just over a week for the mural to slowly come together.  Using the iPad app iMotionHD we set the iPad2 up each day to capture the putting together of the mural.  iMotionHD has a free version and it is good but the paid version allows you to export – so we purchased the paid version – this has been a worthwhile investment as it makes exporting finished projects a breeze!

Key Learning

Since we created this stop-motion movie over a number of days, it was very important to:

  • mark out (using masking tape) the placement of the iPad (on the table)
  • mark out the placement of the table the iPad sat on, and
  • mark out the placement of the Mural

This ensured that each time we captured an art session, the differences in capture were minimal.

Finishing Touches & The End Result

Using iMovie, all the exported iMotionHD captures were imported in, some still images were added, along with some catchy Creative Commons music called Spring the Swing by Papa_Zulu (found on dig.ccmixter.org). Below is our International Day Mural creation – Enjoy!

Classroom Blogging Making it Sustainable

One of the reasons I was fortunate enough to be invited to the JIS Technology Learning Institute at the beginning of August, was because I blog with students – not just my own anymore, but with students right through our Elementary School now in my role as ES Technology & Learning Coach.

Below is the Keynote from the first Blogging Session – How To Get Started that I did with JIS Faculty – unfortunately their blogging platform was not ready – so I did a lot of the talking. Good questions were asked and I hope I answered most of them – especially about why Blogging in the Classroom can be so rewarding for students (and for the teacher – after the initial hard work!).

Blogging in the Classroom: Getting Started

Key Points Covered

  1. Class or individual blogs;
  2. Rules and Guidelines;
  3. Motivation;
  4. Blogroll;
  5. Sidebar Widgets;
  6. Posts vs Pages;
  7. Effective and engaging posts;
  8. Connect with others;
  9. RSS Feeds;
  10. Creative Commons;
  11. Media file storage;
  12. Useful links.

I also hoped to do another session with the JIS faculty – Blogging – Making it Sustainable! But as with these things, we ran out of time. I’ve embedded it below for your convenience.

Classroom Blogging – Making it Sustainable

Key Points

  1. Let the students own it;
  2. Use a variety of media;
  3. Be open and forge connections;
  4. Join a blogging challenge;
  5. Comment regularly;
  6. Get parents/families involved.

Helpful Resources




Special thanks

Special thanks needs to go out to my twitter PLN mates for their super ideas on sustaining blogging in the classroom – @dakinane @heymilly @lenva @pam_thompson @allanahk @glassbeed – you guys are awesome and of course you had to be included in the credits!

Cross-posted here on the Technology & Learning Blog;  Originally written in 2011; Updated in 2017

The Flavours Of One Day

The Flavours Of One Day


Today was pretty awesome! Like a jar of jellybeans, the variety of the day was what made it so awesome. There are no days working as a technology coach that are ever exactly the same!  How cool is that? Here’s how the day went …

Getting 5th Graders Started with Blogs

Today started with working with two classes (one after the other) of 5th Graders on getting their individual blogs going. It’s so rewarding to help students set up their own learning space, watch them take ownership and begin to share their learning with their peers and others around the world. I can’t wait to see/read what they do with their blogs!

Kindergarten and Pixie

Next, it was off to work with the Kinders exploring a brand new program called Pixie (to take the place of the much loved but seriously out of date KidPix) – Working with Kinders is so different to working with 5th Graders! Those Kinders sure do keep me on my toes and remind me to chunk my instructions, take it slow and be flexible!  (Plus you really need your sense of humour here – Kinders keep me humble as a teacher too!)

Introducing First Graders to Laptops

Working with first graders rocks! To finish the day off, we’re introducing a Grade 1 class to the laptops. First graders are like little sponges! And so excited to be using the laptops. We focused on how to look after the laptops, from getting them out of the cart, to using them at our tables and putting them away again.  My favourite strategy for helping them to collaborate with a partner while using the laptop is to have a “driver” and a “navigator”.  The “navigator” doesn’t touch the “steering wheel – aka the laptop” – they are the chief navigator and have to use their words to help the “driver”.  The “driver” drives the laptop, so it’s their hands on the keyboard. Then we swap over.  I like to use a timer on my phone to help ensure that everyone gets a shared turn “driving” the laptop or being the “navigator”.

But Wait … There’s More …

Today also involved walking in and out of 3 different teacher’s classrooms in the space of ten minutes to teach them how to do something that was frustrating them.

And then hearing from a teacher, who’d asked you earlier in the day how to do something, to which you had to say “I don’t know, but I will find out for you!” Then they email you and say they’d figured it out, and they teach you how to do it!!

The “ideal day” just can’t get any better than that!  So how was your day?

Image Attribution:  Jellybean Photo by Patrick Fore on Unsplash