Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Fun with Minions!

Our mascot, Dave

This term I have not one but two clubs with 'minions' in their name.  Obviously the Minions movie has been influential for our Year 6's this year!  Last year I was the one who named my book club, we were the 'Ninja Readers'.  I was reacting to the rather lame name (in my opinion) the students chose the year before - 'Very Important Readers'.  This year I felt I should give the naming back to the students, but I did help them come up with some creative ideas first.  We brainstormed a variety of adjectives, then nouns, then combined a few to see how they sounded.  This worked very well, and our book club is now called...the 'Exploding Minions'.  I love hearing our office staff use the intercom to announce our meetings on Fridays!

I let the Exploding Minions decide what sort of things they would like to do in their book club.  This has led to a system where they challenge each other, and me, to read books that they have liked.  I am also in the process of arranging a Skype visit with a book club in Christchurch (I know the librarian from Twitter).  I've never done anything like that before but plan on letting the students do most of the talking!  I'm quite excited to see how the clubs will interact with each other.

I also have an advisory group that meets on Tuesdays.  I learned my lesson from last term's club and made two groups rather than trying to cram everything into one session.  The second group is my attempt to bring more student voice into my decision-making.  The group is made up of selected students from our book club.  I wanted a smaller group so I chose the students who are not student leaders to come and have an opportunity to advise me.  We have an excellent leadership programme at the school but unfortunately not all students get in and I felt this was a way of giving those who were left out their own exclusive club.  And they love it!  They are called the 'Clever Minions' and they are helping me with a number of things.  Just the fact that the group exists has influenced my thinking more than I expected.  I find myself considering an idea and then thinking, "I'll see what the Clever Minions think about it".  So already they've:

  • Helped publicise our book fridge
  • Come up with place names for our fantasy worlds sign
  • Thought of words for our new word cloud signage
  • Had ideas for our Skype session
  • Taken a survey about "discovery kits".

Their ideas are different and useful and I have a big agenda for our next meeting!

With fresh clubs, new ideas and lots of enthusiasm I am really enjoying hanging out with the minions this term!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Introducing #LibChatNZ!

I have blogged about my love of Twitter before but now I find myself the founder of a NZ Twitter chat for librarians.  That's what happens when you ponder aloud on Twitter about whether there is such a thing!

I'd already decided to hold the chat monthly and, based on the results from a survey of interested librarians, it is going to be on the first Monday of the month at 8pm (except January, let's enjoy our holidays then!).  

For the first chat, on Monday 3 August, we are going to talk about Makerspaces.  These are the hot topic in American libraries right now.  The NMC Horizon Report for 2015 talks about important developments in educational technology.  In their "one year or less" timeframe it lists two developments - BYOD and Makerspaces.  So let's see whose interested in these, if anyone already has a Makerspace and how we can get started if we want one.

Back to the topic of Twitter, I got to thinking about one of the comments on the survey, which was that "perhaps some guidelines would be a good idea".  I searched for some basic information I could share about Twitter but couldn't find anything that said exactly what I wanted it to.  So I am now thinking that I should make a little guide for newbies to Twitter...

Newbies' Guide to Twitter

First off, if you have some reservations about Twitter Ned Potter will answer all your concerns.  But here's my two cents worth - I know we have the listserv and Google+ and Facebook but Twitter has some unique benefits.  It can connect you to a broad range of people who have interesting ideas and experiences, and by getting involved with a Twitter chat you can have a real time conversation about a particular topic.  

Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Obviously the first step is to sign up with Twitter.  If you don't want Twitter texting you with notifications (I prefer to check my app), I'd recommend you sign up with your email address and not your phone number, although you can change that later anyway.
  • You will need to choose a username that hasn't already been taken.  A lot of NZ tweeters, myself included, put NZ at the end of their Twitter handle (username) and that usually does the trick. 
  • You also need to upload a photo or cartoon or else Twitter will give you an egg as a default.  Speaking from experience the downside of having a cartoon picture is that if you do meet fellow tweeters they don't know who you are!
  • Make sure you put something in your profile too.  People will use that to  learn what your interests are and to decide whether to follow you back.
  • Send out your first tweet by typing in the "What's happening?" box on your computer or tapping the box with the quill in it in the top right-hand corner of the Twitter app.  It doesn't have to be amazing, if you get stuck you could just say "Hi @MSimmsNZ, I am sending my first tweet!".  By including @MSimmsNZ I'll be notified about your tweet and I'll reply to you.
  • Then try searching Twitter for @LibChatNZ by using the magnifying glass at the top. Scroll to the bottom of the results page and you should see the account for @LibChatNZ.  If you click/tap on that then you can follow @LibChatNZ and then click/tap on the followers button to see all of the followers of @LibChatNZ..  These are your fellow NZ librarians so you might like to follow them too.  
  • Once you follow people you will get their tweets in your timeline.  They may also follow you back.  I panicked a bit when that happened as I felt people might be expecting me to be tweeting a lot - don't worry, they don't!  You can watch what other people are tweeting without having to join in.
  • If you do see something of interest in your timeline then you can retweet it, or reply to it and start a conversation.
  • If you have followed quite a few people your timeline will fill up quickly.  I have been on Twitter for four years and after a while I found I couldn't read all of the individual tweets that were coming through.  And then I realised that I didn't have to!  It was very liberating.  Now I just swish through the timeline a bit and stop at random to read interesting tweets.  If people really want me to see their tweet then they will include my Twitter handle in the tweet and I will be notified about it.
  • If you're feeling confident try searching for #tlchat or #edchatnz to see what U.S. librarians or NZ teachers are sharing on Twitter.  And of course our new hashtag for NZ librarians - #libchatnz.
  • Once you're ready to join in the #libchatnz chat, you need to be on Twitter at 8pm on the first Monday of the month, and you need to have searched for #libchatnz. #edchatNZ has some great advice about how to participate in a chat.
  • For the more confident user, @mrkempnz has some good tips for following a fast Twitter chat.

I hope this all makes sense.  I've been trying to see it from a beginner's perspective and be as clear as possible but I didn't want to make it too long either.  Hopefully you'll manage to get set up and then if you need anything else clarified just tweet me (unless you can't work out how to tweet, then we have a problem!).

Thanks to @ariaporo22 and @ReidTeachNZ for their help and advice about this (and where else but Twitter would a librarian in Hamilton have found help from teachers in Rotorua and Auckland?!).

Update 5 August 2015

I connected with @MissDtheTeacher who was very generous with her time and sharing her experience as moderator of the very busy and successful #edchatnz.

Then I survived moderating my first chat!  And what a great chat it was too.  There were so many interesting people posting their thoughts.  We had primary and secondary librarians and teachers and public librarians too.  That meant a good range of views and experiences to draw from.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Leasing new iPad minis using DEP and Meraki

Last term we had 100 iPads come off lease and we replaced them with 150 iPad minis.  I posted about the decision to switch to minis here.  Things did not go as smoothly as they could have so here's a few tips if you're about to do something similar:

  • If devices are coming off lease, make sure you give yourself enough time to choose what you are replacing them with and to get the finances signed off.
  • Give teachers enough time to get all their photos/videos off their current devices.
  • If you are wiping your leased iPads to return them or sell them DO NOT USE MERAKI!!!!! Within Meraki's client screen there is an "erase device" button but this does not work properly if you are using "Find my iPad".  It looks like it has erased the device but it won't let you set it up as new.  Instead it demands the Apple ID password for the device.  We sold 40 of our 100 iPads to staff, and fortunately gave out about ten early because those staff came back and told us about the problem.  We then had to set up all 100 iPads again, read the tiny serial numbers at the back of the iPad so we could work out which password went with which device, log on to iCloud, turn off 'Find my iPad' and then log out again.  We were on a tight deadline to return the devices and this added hours to the process.
  • Make sure your supplier adds your new devices' serial numbers to DEP asap as they can take 24 hours to appear (in our case we had a hiccup that delayed deployment by a week.  This is the email you don't want to receive "The DEP transaction is suspended with Apple right now as there was an issue with it. It has needed to be pushed through manually at Apple’s end".  I never really found out what the "issue" was, only that the head of Apple NZ got involved and then it went up the chain in the U.S. too.  I'm hoping that this was just teething issues, as we were the first of our supplier's clients to use DEP).

Once our iPads finally appeared on DEP it was very simple to set up the devices wirelessly and a nice improvement over Configurator.  The only drawback is that we can no longer assign a name to the lock screen, instead I've advised teachers to add different wallpapers to each of their devices.  We also had to manually add the name of the device after set-up.

I've always found Meraki fiddly when installing a lot of apps on a device.  Our senior school's devices have 49 apps on them and they didn't all go through immediately.  However we seem to have got off lightly because the last 16 devices had certain apps that would not go through at all.  They were stuck 'waiting' or loading and it was very frustrating.  I ended up taking them home as our IT guru seems to think the problem lies with our connection with N4L (he's doing some techie things to sort that out).  The apps did load up fine at home but it wasn't what I had planned for my evenings!

So that was what I got up to in the latter part of Term 2.  Fortunately I had an assistant to help with the fiddly app-loading process.  We also leased 24 new Apple TVs so they needed to be swapped over as well.  While I was installing them I took the opportunity to enable restrictions so that I could hide the movies from the main menu.  This removes the cringe factor of seeing "Sex Tape" or "50 Shades of Grey" advertised!

Term 3 sees us introduce optional BYOD (iPads) to our Year 5 & 6 students.  I'm sure this will be a learning process as well but I am keen to get started.

Friday, 17 July 2015

Analysis of a Book Club: What Went Wrong

At the beginning of last term I was full of enthusiasm for my new Ninja Readers and Storytellers Club.  With Esther supervising the library at lunchtime it meant I could hold my book club over a longer period of time, and I could combine my book and comic clubs (my great reasons for that are here).  I had to recruit younger students (Year 4's) but I didn't see a problem with that, and I found a room we could use so we didn't disturb the students using the library.

It didn't take long however, before I realised that things weren't going according to plan.  Despite the fact that the students themselves enjoyed the club it didn't meet my expectations and here's why:

  • Combining the two clubs led to the book portion of the club being rushed.  I was acutely aware when we were discussing books that we had a number of other storytelling things to do after that and I found it hard to stay in the moment.
  • Holding the club outside the library changed the vibe in a way that I hadn't expected.  There's something about discussing books while being surrounded by them that is very special.
  • There is a BIG difference between Year 4 and Year 6 students.  Both groups are lovely to work with but I prefer the more challenging books that the Year 6's read and their more mature reflections about them.
  • I had planned to set interesting storytelling tasks and have the students work on them at home and then share them with each other.  This did not work as most of the Year 4 students didn't seem self-motivated enough to do independent activities at home.

No books in sight but great storytelling fun!

Where to from here?

In Term 3 I'll be moving back to holding my book club at morning tea, in the library.  It is for Year 6's and I have about twenty signed up.

In addition to a book club I also want to have a promotional group whose job it is to help me promote books and the library to other students, staff and the community.  I have learned my lesson about combining activities so this will take place on a different morning tea time!

I've been reading a lot about the importance of giving students a voice and allowing them to collaborate and make decisions together.  I want to incorporate that more into my clubs and for that reason I will be encouraging the students to set their own goals for both the book and promo clubs.  They will pick the names and decide how the clubs will run and what they will focus on.  I have a LOT of ideas about things we could do, for example I'm very keen to Skype with another book club.  Hopefully I can share these ideas but leave the final word up to the students (who will love my ideas and do them anyway!).

I don't regret trying something new with the book club.  I had thought it through and it was worth seeing what would happen.  The students involved were very enthusiastic; it was only my grand vision that didn't pan out.  At the end of the day I would rather try lots of new things and have some work and some not, than keep doing things the way they have always been done and risk missing opportunities.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Stop Motion Animation - Go on, do it!

I've been meaning to write about stop motion animation for a while now, because it turns out it is very quick and easy to learn and a lot of fun to do.  I had been thinking about trying it so was very pleased when I was contacted by Hamilton City Libraries late last year.  They asked me if I wanted them to come over for a couple of lunchtimes and teach some students how to make stop motion animation to promote their summer reading programme.  The theme was the Waikato river.

I immediately thought of my Moustache Potatoes Comic Club (10-11 year olds); they were all very keen to participate.  I downloaded the free Stop Motion Studio app onto some of our school iPads and then the team from Hamilton City Libraries came round and showed us how it works.  Here is a short video I found today that explains it well (I admit we didn't even use the timer - it looks like a good idea!).  

The students picked it up straight away and were so enthusiastic and engaged with what they were doing.  The Hamilton City Library team had brought with them felt tips, coloured paper, pipe cleaners, Lego, and Playdoh.  For the first session the students had a chance to experiment with how animating worked and then in the next two sessions they made their animations.

This is what they came up with (we added the music once we'd uploaded the animations to YouTube):

For the last couple of weeks of Term 2 this year I went solo and taught members of my Ninja Readers & Storytellers Club how to do stop motion animation.  These were Year 4 students (8 year olds) but they too only required a couple of minutes' instruction before they were off and animating.  I brought in my own children's old toys and they used them to animate with.  We also used paper and whiteboards and one enterprising fellow simply animated himself!  

I loved watching both groups of kids get heavily involved with their creations.  Some found that viewers didn't understand the story they were trying to tell.  I thought this was a valuable lesson for them to think about how to get their ideas across clearly.   Next up I aim to use students' stop motion animations to promote reading and the library.  

Now that you've finished this post why don't you go off and give stop motion animation a go yourself?  It will only take half an hour (unless you get totally addicted, it is a possibility!).  Better yet, find some kids and get them to have go with you.  I guarantee you'll all enjoy it!

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

ICT in Primary Education - Week Six Reflection

Woo! Hoo!  I've handed my last assignment in and just come back from lunch and a movie with my friend and our boys.  So a very pleasant afternoon accompanied by that happy feeling that you have when something that kept you busy is completed.  I can now get on to the other things on my list, including some more blog posts based on what I got up to last term.  But first, here's the best bits from this week:

"Many computer-supported TPD projects focus on technical concerns, to the exclusion of all others.  Underlying these projects is the assumption that learning how to use computers equals knowing how to teach with computers".  This point has been brought up in the readings before and I think it is one to keep in mind in order to properly integrate ICT in a school.  Just showing teachers how to use a new tool is not enough, there also needs to be suggestions on how to use the tool with students. 
And one more:
"Like their students, teachers learn by doing—by collaborating with peers, reflecting, planning classroom activities—not by sitting and listening to a facilitator or following along in directed technology instruction". 
  • The above article also discussed what is meant by technology integration.  It should not be a separate subject that you study by itself.  Instead students should use computers regularly and learn computer skills as part of their study of other content areas. 
    • ICTs and Teacher Competencies - I had no idea how many really interesting UNESCO publications there were.  This one discusses the fact that students today have grown up with technology and expect that their education will have "the same authentic, relevant and interactive characteristics" as they have at home.  Unfortunately in a lot of classrooms this is not the case.  Here's a good quote:
    "The literature is clear that among other factors, high-quality professional development for teachers is critical, yet often lacking in education reform efforts. This lack of effective professional development for teachers is often considered a root cause of the divide between what learners could potentially achieve and the reality they actually face in classrooms throughout the world". 
    • Here are some great last words:  "Our challenge, then, is to use effective professional development to scale up from successful “pockets” to large-scale, systemic change".

    Tuesday, 30 June 2015

    ICT in Primary Education - Week Five Reflection

    View image | gettyimages.com     Lack of time and lack of money

    This week's focus in the ICT in Primary Education course was 'Inspiring examples and implementation concerns'.  I was grateful that the workload was lighter than last week's topic as juggling work and study is not easy.  Only one week left, of both study and work!  Yay for the holidays!!

    Here are the things that caught my interest this week:
    • One of UNESCO's excellent publications was again the focus for the week.  This time it was Section 4, Limitations and Concerns.  The main problems mentioned were lack of funding, lack of technical support, outdated technology and poor infrastructure, lack of knowledge and confidence from teachers, lack of time for teachers to learn about ICT, and lack of involvement from management and also families.
    • Another concern was privacy and security, including hacking, harmful sites and cyberbullying.
    • In terms of the impact of ICT on education, the schools in the UNESCO report expressed a lot of concerns around:
      • pupils being isolated
      • reduction in handwriting skills
      • pupils being addicted to the computer and the internet
      • pupils being distracted by mobile devices
      • pupils learning faster than teachers
      • the time it takes to try out technology before it's used in the classroom.
    • There were concerns around how to fully integrate ICTs into the school culture and across the curriculum.  Getting teachers to willingly integrate ICT into their teaching was a key point.
    • Suggestions were given about how to overcome the limitations and concerns, including:
      • Give ICT a real focus and value in the school.
      • Include ICT in the school Charter.
      • Have a good ICT infrastructure in place.
      • Encourage collaboration between teachers, pedagogical specialists and ICT coordinators.
      • Engage parents by offering training and support.
      • One of the key aspects was professional development of staff, including:
        • At the beginning offering technological courses and then offering continuing professional development for the entire staff.
        • Offering training in small groups, allowing mentoring and differentiation.
        • Training teachers to let students have time to explore ICT, learn and express themselves with it.
        • Organising staff workshops led by staff for staff.
    • There were some interesting case study videos.  In particular, one Canadian teacher raised a lot of really good points:
      • It is important to make sure students are using critical thinking when looking at sites on the internet.  She talked about teaching them what the domain suffixes mean and how they can find out who wrote the site, so they are questioning the source of the information.  
      • To make sure students are not just cutting and pasting she has her students visit multiple sites, take notes and put information in their own words.  
      • Her students help each other with problem-solving when their iPads have issues.
      • You need to reassure parents that their children won't be on tech all day.
      • The role of teachers is changing and it's a learning curve.
      • Teachers need to look at a device as a pedagogical tool, then find out how many uses they can find for it, in small ways as well as larger ways (I love this point!).

    Tuesday, 23 June 2015

    ICT in Primary Education - Week Four Reflection

    By www.ocg.at

    I've had another busy week trying to balance sick relatives in hospital, technical issues with our leased iPads (further details will be in another post), and the ICT in Primary Education MOOC.  Plus I've had a sick child this week.  Oh, and for some reason I decided it was good idea to see if anyone was interested in having a NZ school library chat on Twitter!  It would have made a lot more sense to wait a few weeks until the course and iPads are dealt with but no, I'm clearly not thinking sensibly at the moment.

    However, I have just submitted my second assignment with a whole 40 mins to spare!  So here are some of the highlights from Week Four:
    • This week there was a lot of information about what kind of technology schools are choosing to use and what criteria they are using in their decision-making.
    • The trend is towards tablets and BYOD - the direction our school is taking.  It is interesting that as environments become more technology-rich schools often advocate for a one-to-one strategy.  I wonder if that is where my school is heading?
    • The principle of developmental appropriateness, for recognising the most appropriate ICT tools, was a key framework that was considered to be important at a primary school level.  It is known as DATEC (the outcome of The Developmentally Appropriate Technology in Early Childhood project), and is described in UNESCO's book 'Recognising the potential of ICT in early childhood education' (the last paragraph on page 25, and the table on pgs.26-27).
    • There were several mentions of Bee-Bots in the literature.  I haven't heard of them being used in NZ but they certainly are cute! 
    • I was really interested to see the use of email with younger students (Section 4.2 of the UNESCO book).  I'm obviously a fan of blogging but in terms of interaction, actually getting a response from parents, I think email has the advantage.  Parents are a lot more used to emailing than commenting on blogs - shouldn't we meet them where they are comfortable?  If we wanted to combine the two we could personally email parents with a link to the blog and they could choose whether to comment by replying to the email or commenting on the blog. In the example given the teacher used the class email account to interact with parents, email other classes, send thank-you emails to visitors, and email relatives of the children living/travelling abroad and use that to learn about other countries.
    • Also in the UNESCO book a teacher described how her students documented their daily life with the digital camera and used photos and videos of their work to present it to their parents using a digital photo frame.
    • The reading on One-to-One Tablets in Secondary Schools (pg. 7-12) had a lot of interesting information on three schools' experiences with introducing tablets.
    • Learning Management Systems were discussed, as a way for students to access digital content.  My main concern with this is equity - what happens to those children who don't have access to the internet?
    • Computational thinking and early programming were discussed.  Things like programmable digital toys (e.g. Bee-Bots!), educational robotics sets (e.g. Lego WeDo) and educational programming languages (e.g. Scratch), were mentioned.

    Tuesday, 16 June 2015

    ICT in Primary Education - Week Three Reflection

    Whoa!  Good thing the weather was rotten this weekend because I spent a lot of time learning about teacher-y stuff so that I could understand how to do my first assessment (creating a 'Learning Object using ICT') for my ICT in Primary Education MOOC.  It was time to learn about Bloom's Extended Digital Taxonomy, assessment rubrics and even a bit more about the New Zealand Curriculum.  It was definitely more outside my comfort zone than previous weeks but I stuck at it and I've just submitted it - Yay!

    Week Three was all about 'Pedagogical changes achievable through ICT'.  Here is a quick look at what was covered this week:
    • Learning styles and how to cater to different styles by using a variety of teaching methods from each of the categories.
    • I read pages 40-46 from another really useful UNESCO report.
    • I did a personality quiz and one on my type of intelligence - what fun!
    • I read an interesting article on how to deepen student learning.
    • I thought this UNESCO book on 'How Children Learn' was fascinating.
    • It was nice to see a link to a report by a New Zealander on Bloom's Digital Taxonomy.  I was a proud Kiwi!
    • This site has over 2,000 learning and performance tools.  There is also this Learning Technologies Pearltree.  Both are useful sites if you want a range of tools that can perform a particular function.
    • We covered 21st century skills.  I think it is worth keeping these in mind when creating any learning activities.  As well as being useful for surviving in the job market I also think they are skills that engage students in their learning.
    • I found Kathy Schrock's site which links Bloom's to iPad apps (and other tools).
    • We looked at some examples of teaching with ICT, including this Canadian government information, and this series of videos from a Hungarian school using tablets.
    • I also enjoyed this video on "How Youth Learn: Ned's GR8 8":

    There was actually lots more really useful information but I need to get on with my learning for next week!  I am sure Coursera will run this free course again and I highly recommend it.

    Sunday, 7 June 2015

    ICT in Primary Education - Week Two Reflection

    Week Two in my ICT in Primary Education MOOC was entitled "How does ICT make a difference?".  The first thing that was discussed (we read Chapter 6 of this UNESCO publicationwas the fact that the introduction of ICT is creating a number of changes within schools:
    • Changes in the teaching profession
      • Teachers are collaborating more by sharing ideas, materials, projects, research and knowledge with each other.  This is also happening at national and international levels.
      • Technology is supporting teachers by helping them do things like find appropriate resources, prepare their lessons and update students' records.
      • The ongoing developments in technology are making it essential that teachers in engage in lifelong learning.
      • Some teachers are still resistant to technology.
    • Changes in pedagogy
      • ICT has encouraged teachers to implement more interactive, project-based and cross-curricular learning activities which increase students' engagement and motivation.  It has also raised students' communication and research skills, as they learn to assess multiple sources of information, combine them, and present them in a coherent way.
      • Technology is also providing students more opportunities to creatively express their ideas and learning.
      • Teachers and students are increasingly able to use ICT to connect with others on a national and international level, bringing a wider perspective to their learning.
    • Changes in learners
      • Many students are extremely motivated by using ICT.
      • ICT gives students instant feedback so enables them to work independently for longer periods of time.
      • ICT encourages the important skills of communication, collaboration and problem-solving.
      • Students can make mistakes more privately when they use technology.
      • Students can use technology to help other students with their learning.
      • When teachers are learning new technology skills they are modelling lifelong learning to their students.
    • Change in administration
      • ICT has made administration tasks more efficient.

    A school in Brazil brought up the idea that with so much information available to students the role of the teacher changes, as they are asked questions they are not able to answer.  They said, "Teachers can act like teachers (make questions, suggest guidelines, evaluate kids performance, help kids understand concepts, explain how to perform a specific procedure) while kids are using ICT, regardless of the teacher knowing or not knowing the details inside subject or topic that kids are learning" (pg.97).  I think this is something that can make teachers feel uncomfortable, yet it is a natural consequence of moving towards project-based learning and emphasizing information literacy skills.

    One school from the Slovak Republic mentioned they had a computer club for students who have no internet access at home (pg.94) .  I think this is an interesting point - if we encourage students to explore resources and learn at home then we must have a plan in place to support those who are disadvantaged by lack of access.

    Later in the chapter the researchers described some of the aspects around integrating ICT that teachers weren't expecting when they started the process.  They were expecting that the transformation would take place more quickly than it did.  They thought it would be easier to transform their traditional pedagogy to "harness the potential of ICTs" but this was not the case.  It was also believed that new teacher graduates would bring with them digital skills and innovative ideas from their universities but that also has not happened.  Finally, they weren't expecting that using technology to develop their own learning materials would be so time consuming.

    I was interested in one of the case study videos in which a teacher from a school in the UK described having their Year 6 students create a world in Minecraft and then the Year 4 students were invited into that world and did writing about being in there.  I think showcasing older students' work and using that to inspire younger students is a fantastic idea.

    Beyond the School

    Several websites were suggested for making national and international connections:
    This is an area I would like our school to pursue more.  Gaining a global perspective on different issues, through technology like Skype, is an amazing and exciting way to expand students' learning.  The challenge I suppose is connecting with the right people at the right time.

    Children's Perspectives

    We finished up by having a look at how students perceive the use of ICT in their school (pg.101-111).  Not surprisingly they are enthusiastic and motivated and think that technology is fun.  They like creating, digital storytelling and communicating using ICT.  I was interested that some students liked the support that word processing programmes gave them when they were writing - "You can have a go at spelling a word and MS word tells you if it’s wrong and it helps you learn spelling" (pg.104).  I have a son who is equally keen to write using technology, and for much the same reason!

    I am really enjoying this course so far.  So much of what is discussed, in the forums and in the course videos and readings, is in line with my feelings and observations about ICT within my school.  It is helping to clarify my opinions and also provide direction and pathways for the future.