Friday, 23 September 2016

PLG - Ignite Talk with Keynote

Today we were able to build on our knowledge of Keynote to both create and present an ignite talk.  I had seen these presentations in life at the recent Manaiakalani Hui and had marvelled at how deftly the presenters were able to get through their presentations so confidently.

An ignite talk is where you are given five minutes to present 20 slides (each 15 seconds long).  The presentation automatically runs through so you have no control on when it may change, ensuring that you are prepared and can deal with with the sudden change of slide.

We each got to randomly draw a topic to present - there were a series of readings and our presentation was to help the cohort understand the reading without having to read it.  My reading was if we should use Pokemon Go as an educational tool in the classroom.  This was quite interesting as it was something that a) I had prior knowledge of and b) had already brought into the classroom for both literacy and numeracy.  So I was able to draw on some of my own experiences towards the end of the presentation.

While I have no problems presenting to others, I did find it challenging to find what content needed to be displayed on each slide and I think this is an art within itself.  Pictures do speak louder than words so it is key to have strong and easy to understand imagery to help support your message rather than detract from it.

Unfortunately I am having a few technical issues at the moment and I cannot load up my keynote so will work on this over the next few days and see if I can share it.

Friday, 16 September 2016

PLG - Keynote

Today's PLG focused on the use of Keynote - this is an app which has been primarily designed as a medium for presentations however today we were allowed sandpit time to explore the possibilities for other things!

As a cohort, we discussed the use of Keynote over Google Slides or Powerpoint and it soon became evident that this app had more functionality.  The fact that you could use it and not be so reliant of your sources of wifi is a saving fact within itself!

Some of the addition features that we were made aware of today were:

  • Using keynote to help design logos, banners etc.
  • Using the app to build animations which can be uploaded into both iMovie or Garageband.  My love of stop motion was renewed as a lot of the cohort were creating some pretty impressive animations!
  • Using it as a form of Photoshop to help edit images

While you can do so much within Keynote, it is always good to remember that "less is more" and while you can do all this amazing work with creating animations, you need to be aware of your audience and your message.

I was mesmerised throughout the day by what was happening up on the screen that I found myself observing more rather than playing so I look forward to experimenting with the app more this week as I prepare to use it to give an "ignite" presentation at our next week's PLG.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Film Festival Reflection

I am almost finished with my film festival entry - it has been a great chance to do some different learning with the kids as well reflect on some of my teaching practice!  Unfortunately I will not be able to show you the finished result until it airs at the Manaiakalani Film Festival in November as it is meant to be a surprise for the learners to see a film they helped create and starred in debut on the big screen!

Today we came together to spend the day editing and bounce ideas off each other in relation to our films progress so far.  It was great to see such a diverse range of films and I was really impressed with everyone's ideas and skills with filming and the editing.  We were able to share what we had completed so far and get feedback from the cohort.

I spent most of the day shearing time off my footage which was originally around 20 minutes with the goal to get it under three minutes.  This took a lot of watching and then rewinding, however, I made links with an earlier discussion we had in the morning about rewindable learning.

The concept of rewindable learning is something that we have learned about a lot this year but having to use it myself today to better apply understanding to my growing iMovie skills - I can see the benefit in using in more so in my practice.  I have already started this week to make the use of video more as a resource in my design of learning and have had some success with some workshops we are currently running in our learning space.

By having resources available in a format that learners can rewatch, pause or skip ahead, this allows great agency of how the learner is managing their learning and allows them to become less reliant on instruction.  I also found that learners used these resources to come and have more critical conversations with me when conferencing.  I was hearing a lot of "Why would they say this?" and "What does this mean?" and we were able to use the videos to plan out our next steps.

So what does that mean?  If the design of learning requires it, then I shall be using more videos.  And more authentic ones at that where either I am creating the content for my learners or they are helping me co-construct them.

That brings in a nice segue with my film festival entry - it is a follow on from a video I helped a group create for our recent Break Through Exhibition where we created an educational video for learners.  We wanted to have a bit of fun with the topic and this is how the idea was created.


  • It was quite clear to manage the balance between how much of my voice was going into the film compared to that of the kids.  I had to step back a few times as I did feel that I was telling more than instructing.
  • I had to take the kids on the journey of film-making - it was an interesting conversation to have with many of them about why we would take multiple shots when they were happy when we did one.
  • I really noticed that I need to work on my instruction giving.  At first, I was giving multiple instructions and the kids were getting lost after the second one and because they started off well, I stopped checking for understanding quickly into shooting.  Once things went off track a bit, I realised that I needed to make sure everyone was comfortable with the next scene.
  • I actually forgot to have fun at one stage as I was caught up in the filming and directing of the video.
  • Finally I lowered my expectations - I know that I am not Steven Speilburg or Peter Jackson and the kids are not actors getting paid for their skills.  The main thing was that the kids were enjoying themselves and communicating the story that they had created.
At the end of the day, I am really impressed with how the kids were able to learn skills such as storyboarding and use their dramatic skills to create a piece of learning that we all feel proud to share with the wider community come Term Four!

Thursday, 8 September 2016

Visit to Ormiston Primary School

Today Steph and I went and visited Ormiston Primary School - this visit had been a result of an invitation from Caroline Bush (DP) when she and the schools PRT's came and visited Stonefields.

As we drove up to the school, we noticed the similarities between OPS and our school - both are in relatively new communities with OPS being open for two years now.  The difference between the two schools was that Stonefields was built first and the community sprung up around it whereas the community around OPS was already there and were waiting for the school to open resulting in 100 learners starting the first day the school opened and the roll now sitting around 340 learners.

Caroline took us on a tour of the school where we walked all the learning environments.  Some of the stand out points for me were:

  • There is a clear succession plan for learners with Ormiston Senior High already built and Ormiston Junior High being built.  As we walked into the library, we stood in the beginning of the cultural walkway which will link all three schools.
  • All the learning spaces have the similar layout allowing learners to make clear decisions about both the type and style of learning they wish to do.  It was great to see learners engaged in a variety of different learning experiences.  
  • Within the learning spaces, there is a mix of fixed and flexible furnishing.  I found this mix to be responsive to the needs of both the learners and the teachers.
  • Another interesting element is that the entire school operate on the same timetable.  There is the flexibility within these blocks to integrate all parts of the curriculum into the design of learning.
  • The school also has a KDEC (Kelston Deaf Education Centre) unit attached to it and a lot of the learnings from here are evident in the other learning spaces like teachers switching the lights off to gain all learners attention and the environments being conscious of visual disturbances in them.

It was a very insightful day for me, especially with how I use the learning environment.  We have been invited to go back and connect with the school's PRTs to share learnings about operating in an ILE and I can see this would be very beneficial for my practice.

Friday, 2 September 2016

"If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

In lieu of a PLG session today, I did some reflection on a busy week.

On Tuesday, Latai and I presented at a session at the University of Auckland run by the team of 23teaching that focused on the shift to Innovative Learning Environments (ILE's).  We spoke about the power of collaboration and co-teaching in an ILE space and it was fitting that we co-presented this!  We spoke about the importance of knowing both yourself and your practice so you can be confident to communicate effectively with your colleagues and you have the self-awareness of how your behaviour may be perceived and the impact on your learners.  A great insight that we came up with was that we are the role models for our learners for the skills of collaboration so how can we ensure that we are being consistent with our behaviours.

On Thursday, we repeated our team effort and ran a toolkit on the use of Stop Motion Animation.  A toolkit is a workshop that teachers in our schools can run to help build our knowledge and capacity in the various tools we use in our learning spaces.  We chose to run this workshop as we thought it may help empower some teachers with the confidence to use these techniques for the upcoming Manaiakalani Film Festival.  Really cool to have the support of some of our hub mates who came along for the session!

Add to this week both our school cross country yesterday and me attempting to get all my raw footage for my entry in the film festival today and I may have been dead on my feet by 3pm.  However the power of the collective really got me through this week and it is great to have a critical friend at school who is willing to not only lend a hand, but also critique and offer alternative suggestions.  Both sessions to have present to colleagues and the public would have been daunting enough but knowing you have someone that has your back really helped boost the confidence and allowed me to take risks.

I will look forward to giving you an update in the later weeks on how my film festival entry is going!