Thursday, 29 November 2012

development of electronics

Earlier in the year I received a tweet about students using mindkits fun in a box.

More than a little excited that three  s and a  inventor's kit arrived from . Happy little hackers around here.

Form this tweet I investigated a bit more and found them available in New Zealand -

Now this have been fun and exciting, since I have a raspberry pi I want to get ardunio and RPi working together to develop an interesting project for a student.

Since ordering the kit I have been following @mindkits on twitter and also tweeting each time I complete one of the projects in the book. Although the projects are already pre coded it is interesting just building the circuits. I will get more into the programming later on I think.



Binary Counter

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

school radio station update

When the seniors are away, I will play...
I have been working on getting the radio station more up and going as time has allowed me, since the room is locked and I don't have a key, I managed to obtain one for a brief period of time, enough to patch a network cable in, setup remote desktop and turn everything on.

This has worked extremely well. Until 3am this morning, when windows updates restarted the computer. Have now turned off install updates.

I have also got two programs running, itunes is currently on random selection and playing, also windows media player has a 20 minute look where it does what is required under the broadcasting act, in which it puts out the radio station ID.

I have been modifying a number of things, but what has me at the moment is the computer only have 512Meg of RAM, we need to put more in and that we have an issue that the devices that students bring into school don't have fm receivers on them.

Now, why operate a radio station then... Well we do have outdoor speakers that we have running during lunchtimes, we do have a 2km broadcast radius, we do have a number of students that live around the area, in one case I want the students to go out and tell me where the fringes are and map these, we are not broadcasting on the internet, this is at the moment going to be only through the school wifi that students will be able to connect.
Now this has been the biggest hiccup, how... 
How does one broadcast a stream of the radio show?
Looking around I came across a radio station in auckland, called 95bfm, they have links on there page which allow a user to connect to there stream and listen. Something useful, looking at there .m3u file in notepad, I was pointed to which allowed me to listen to there 32kbps stream. Now going back a directory I came across a bit more information... an IceCast 2 status screen.
Now going back a bit, I had come across a icecast server before, but thought that I needed to access it through a webhosting server, and then I stopped investigating. However, I can do this on an internal server setup, yay. 
So looking at there setup, I can see four streams
32k, 95k, 128k and 112k with a mixture of aac and mpeg.
It also gives me the number of people listening to each stream.
Administration looks as it is done through a web interface?
And it gives me a icecast version...
Now why am I going through this? I tested it earlier today using my itouch and it started playing through the safari, this allows me to broadcast within the school :)

Do I need another computer to encode all of the data?

I see icecast, but what is it an how do I get a copy of the XP version,or do I push a linux box? or however it talks about reading the instructions about the lame_mp3 encoder....

this afternoon, I have been given a computer to setup the encoder and streaming software on, it required  a new windows xp image and at last count 117 updates. But hey, this is a awesome achievement. Using the installs that were downloaded last night for icecast and edcast? they were easy enough to setup and get running.
Setting up the software required some passwords to be changed so the authentication between encoder and streaming could work, and I have renamed the stream from stream.ogg to stream128. However, it seems that I can only encode one stream on the computer.  Also required was changing the name of the stream and details under the YP tab.
Once setup and running, I asked myself a question, should I use port 8000 or change it to port 80, however trying this I encountered a issue that I think maybe related to port 80 but changed it all back to port 8000.
Now thinking about it, I need to run a web server to allow the students to populate information and graphics to allow students easy access to the stream. Now running windows xp, I don't have a webserver running that would be able to do php/mysql.
I am now looking at WAMP being installed. However the computer only has 1 gig of RAM available, so I am in two minds, create a a streaming server only, though I don't know how many streams I can have concurrently. But in the mean time WAMP maybe a good fit.

Now that I have it working through the testing, tomorrow we can put it into its operating environment and hook it into the tape out ports of the mixing desk. 3.5mm to 2 rca will be all that is required, just have to make sure it gets plugged into the correct port on the back of the computer.

It also needs to go through the school wifi, that is the main function of this, so a static port maybe needed, this will require the student to request a static IP from the tech.  This maybe why I may have to put the web server and the streaming server on one computer, as I am only going to get one IP.

Now that I know it can be done... it is certainly a credible project, be its one component of a bigger project next year.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Schools reports

School reports and having to marks in for attitude, work ethic and effort. Are these now old school? The New Zealand Curriculum 2007 now has key competencies, should we not be reporting to parents on how there child is meeting these competencies?

Key Competencies in New Zealand
The key competencies are described in The New Zealand Curriculum (2007) as 'the capabilities people need in order to live, learn, work and contribute as active members of their communities'.
The curriculum identifies five key competencies. These are:
-using language, symbols, and texts
-managing self
-relating to others
-participating and contributing

Now there is a message that we should be giving these a star rating or a value on we're they are. Instead they should be a part of the students report, providing examples of how the students have provided evidence.

I am now wondering what other schools are doing in this area?

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

pycode update

Issues running python 3 code have caused a lack of development within the moodle course this year, however, fear not. There has been some work going on in the background. The following sandbox has been found that meets the requirements of what we need.

I hope to have some more details over the next couple of days, as I want to explore this more next year, we need to be developing our students thinking and problem solving skills, plus I want to give them homework :)

What is a sandbox?

Monday, 19 November 2012

Junior DIgital Technologies Curriculum

I am busy working over the two teacher only days at school both on Junior Curriculum as well as senior course design. This has allowed for some real searching of the NZ Curriculum as well as Technology Achievement Objectives. I was sent a copy of a junior course back in October, however with canteen being the focus and out of school I put it on the back burner.
Today I had time to work through it, printed it off and made written notes, these have now been incorporated and I must say For Level 5/6 of the curriculum I like it. The challenge and the projects.

This morning was sitting down with the DVC department and listening to what ideas they were looking at providing students and how they can use what they do at level 3 and work backward. I must say I miss this collaboration of ideas, it is very much what was happening at my previous school. Though I am thinking about publishing my course development and ideas as there are a few single person teachers that are in the same position that I am in.

Thursday, 15 November 2012

reflections of moodle

I was asked on a group I belong to:
Subject: Are you using moodle?
 I am looking at our student learning platform and wondered if you could let me know....

1. Do you use Moodle?
2. if yes - who hosts it and is it well used?
3. if no - do you use another learning platform? If so which one?

I am really interested in what people are doing out there? I like Moodle and have many of my courses written in Moodle. However it costs and my school is looking at the cost. I can see this being an area where they will make some savings! Am looking for alternatives or a cheap way of hosting it.

Many thanks to you all.

my response

The school I am at uses moodle through the watchdog moodle in schools implementation. We are beginning our Learning Management System journey as this is the first real year we have used it. Last year was implementation and constant interruptions.
We have started a PD journey introducing staff to how and why they would want to use it, as with earthquakes, who knows when, and if there will be anymore, plus the three day snow day doesn't help, we need to continue students learning as exams don't move.

How do I use it, all students projects and assessments and other evidence of assessment are handed in on it, that way I have a final copy of the students work, the work is graded online and results are feedback with any issues mentioned in the feedback to feedforward. Students are able to login at home and access their results, as we did not have a student portal running. However it doesn't transfer the results into the Student Management System.
I had the students hand in a PDF of their final external assessment in case it goes missing in the post and am requested to provide another copy. 
I also have students do pre and post testing for my juniors through moodle using a number of quiz functions, this provides me details of students learning and am able to incorporate this into my teaching program.
Photos of my whiteboard are put up after lessons so students can refer to them at later stages, especially needed when students missed taking notes or where away, has been useful for the mysql top 6 commands needed. 
We also have a moodle install with python being able to run to test students programs against test data to make sure that there programs are robust, this enables them to have a competitive environment which has raised students understanding of programming. I teach at a boys school. As well as getting them used to other competition environments.
Being able to drag and drop resources from my folders directly into my courses now has made the process so much easier.
My year 13 class this year was driven out of the multiple levels of students, the units were made available so students could work at there own pace, in some cases this enabled the competent students to complete all work half way through term 3, while others worked at a slower pace and aimed towards University Entrance. 
I have all my resources created available to use next year in one easy place.
Students tell me what works and what doesn't and I make changes to my teaching and resources based upon these feedback.
It has become a phrase in our school, "It's on *********", with BYOD now becoming more and more part of the environment we are now allowing students to access the school file storage network, so where are they going to access the resources from in the future?  

We have a number of textbooks for other departments made available under their electronic licenses and will make particular use of these next year in mathematics and science, chemistry and physics.

Moodle is our portal for students to go off to other areas, Single Sign On is used so logging into moodle authenticates other services, see for a number of these.
We use Google Apps,, myportfolio as well to support students learning.

Why are we not hosting it ourselves, time, expertise and cost. We don't have to have our own server, we don't have the technical expertise, or time to even manage it all. If something goes wrong I can pick up a phone and ring and someone else gets to fix it. Backups are done and checked, we get acces to the moodle updates and security fixes as part of our contact, and don't have to pay extra for it. 
Downsides, we don't get to add our own plugins that we find, these need to be security checked.
I would love to get a turn it in or alternative up and running as this will help students, they are going to hit these at tertiary level and getting students to authenticate that the work they are handing in is there own helps students with the values and key competencies of the New Zealand Curriculum.

Sunday, 11 November 2012


Year 11

This is a course which students integrate data from two application, word and excel. It requires students to gain knowledge in both. This is a simple start to the year and develops the students basic skills into something that they understand. Students need to look at design of the document. A number of students struggle to realise the potential of what this unit offers them, and a number stuck to the common wordart and centre. It is something that is difficult to break. I need to focus on style sheets for this, as this prepares them for level 2.
I developed the external this year and used the exam slot for students to write up there report, however I need to focus on operating systems sooner, so they can develop all four sections. I look forward to the results coming back and will reflect on how the students do next year.

Image editing and HTML and CSS. this is a course that I need to develop a bit more. I want to get students taking more of there own photos so they can develop there work, rather than using google images. Students enjoying developing websites and getting them linking to each other. However, I need to work on developing and extending the students that know how to do this already. Small movie making could also be a factor as we develop next year, things like mashups could add different factors and small movie could provide a different element for students.

Scratch programming, this is an interesting course that is working well, it provides four units of work, looking at students input, output, if statements and loops. Though a couple of students did not like the scratch environment and would have rather developed there solution in python. This raises the question of since we do scratch at year 9 to develop gaming, should we use it in a programming content or do we move to another environment,.

Overall the course suits the students, it is interesting and develops students understanding of digital technologies, however some students this was a course that bored them, these are the students that have interacted with computers for years and developed websites and programmed computers using a variety of different environments.

Year 12
The year 12 courses were developed around the students who were in the classes at he beginning of the year, now due to timetable issues a couple of students were moved and these students felt disengaged with the class as it was not the one that they wanted to do. Now talking to one of these students at the end of the year, he was annoyed when this happened, however he now has an interest in web design as we covered it more with notepad++ and codes rather than using a WYSIWYG.
The courses this year were supposed to be around 18-22 credits, however due to the fact the courses were first time courses as well as getting my head around the teaching of what was required and intepreting the new standards  and the students learning needs these were reduced. I realise that this has an effect, and i will look at the courses around these next year for workload and what is required and will modify as needed, but the students were informed along the way that we would not be completing the full course.

Digital Media
This programme looked at aspects of digital media, included Database with Microsoft Word/Publisher integration. Digital Media looked at a variety of aspects including Flash and web design incorporating HTML5 and CSS3.
This programe needed to have jQuery aspects built into it as well.
The students, some found the work an easy build up from what they did last year, however, students that did not do the course last year struggled to build up the level of skills required as well as missing the prior knowledge. Incorporating flash into the course also caused some issues as they did not understand why they were doing it. Needed to build more SLO around this to show the students it was around building knowledge of digital media. I felt this class was too social. I think having access to a webserver off school would have assisted the students int he development of there site as it would have given a real world experience rather than the contrived nature of developing it in class. I did not have the server setup as I normally did at my last school and this hindered some of the development path that I normally do.

The programme looked at two aspects, information and programming. Missing from this course was the computer science strand again, this is something that I need to come to grips with. The information built a lot of skills around linux, putty and mysql and php, this was a huge amount of information that the students had to understand and those that did not take notes of the first day struggled to develop there understanding and knowledge of mySQL. There was also a lot of confusion on the list server about what was required for the standard which added to my confusion, also doing two different lots of databases at the same time between the two classes caused issues between the two classes, one did access, the other mysql. Integrating the data from the mysql caused issues when introducing php through html. Although the students were taught html last year there was a sense of lostness within the unit. The assessment was way way way to big, 700 survey responses and the students working to get the information in, there was no way that they could verify their data. Each student had different numbers, trying to keep track of what survey they were up to and how were tehy going to display the result.
The second part of the course was the python programming, this was interesting as the build up last year was scratch, student had to work with the IDLE interface and get used to working to develop there own knowledge. The development work that I had put into the course and how to work on assessments I did not use, due to the fact it was for python 2.7 and not for python 3 that they were using and the university of otago book, It wasn't worth getting them confused. The assessment for them this time was simple enough, however it was difficult to work out how a student could get Merit.

Year 13
This is the last year that this course will run, a number of students were enrolled in the course without prior knowledge and reflecting on this there needed to be two courses running in the class, a level 2 course and a level 3 course, however with students passing level 2 they were not interested in obtaining level 2 credits. Should a student be able to do level 3 credits if they have not done level 2 credits and cannot show competence in using the program to the ability required? I am hoping that with the reflections of change that I have done this year with the practical computing course will help fix this issue. having a combined level 2 and 3 course where the students are working there level, if the pass level 2 then they have the opportunity to step up to complete the level 3 credits. Back to the course, students were offered to do databases, spreadsheet and word processing and they select the order for this, All the lessons had been broken up and placed into moodle for the students to work through and the next lessons would open up once the student had handed in the exercises. This worked well for a number of the students, however others found this a barrier as they did not want to do all the work before being offered the assessment, they wanted to do one part, skip another. These students struggled to get into the course and instead developed behaviours that were not suited for learning. I had to find other ways the get these students through the assessment which was offering them an alternative assessment which the other members of the class were annoyed at as the alternative assessment had an interesting aspect to it. The next assessment was databases, some students in the class had issues with the same aspects as the spreadsheet unit. However pairing them up seemed to work, though the students work pace reduced as more social aspects came into play, trying to get the students to work on a friday afternoon period 5 when they had period 6 study turned out to be a nightmare, and then there was the tuesday straight after lunch food rush and wednesday morning sleep in. The timetable kept hitting me at all angles. This class I felt disengaged with.

I think one of the biggest things that I struggle with in my job is that I can't modify my classroom. It is stuck in a design that does not benefit me as a teacher. I can't do the group development and peer work that I wish to. Yes, i can assign seats, but there is not space to spread out a students work and develop the technological knowledge and practice that is required of the students.

I want students to develop an understanding of other operating systems next year.
I also want to make a focus of the externals next year.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

te reo ict vocab

Audio file
kōnae whakarongo

hoki whakamuri


CD / DVD player
pūrere kōpaepae

Compact disc (CD)
kōpaepae pūoru


Computer room
whare rorohiko

Computer screen
pouaka whakaata

whiriwhiri rorohiko



pātengi raraunga

putunga hōtuku

tohu aunoa

Digital Camera

Digital media collection

Directory folder
rārangi kōpaki

Double click


karere rorohiko




pūmanawa kimi

floppy disk (is this one outdated now?)
kōpae pīngore

flow chart
mahere ripo



hard copy/printout

hard disk drive
kōpae matua

pūrere rorohiko



internet web page
whārangi ipurangi

papa pātuhi


rorohiko matua


rārangi mahi


rorohiko iti




mp3 player
taru paoho


kōnae ipurangi

kōhao tūhono

print preview
tiro tānga


program /
raupapa tono

quit – ctrl + q






shut down

single click



pū manawa pūngakupu


start up

tool bar
pae paraha


username login
ingoa rorohiko

video file
kōnae whakaata

video game
tākaro ataata


world wide web

te reo phrases


Tau kē!
How awesome!

Ko koe a runga!
You are simply the best!

Kei reira koe!
You got it!

Kei whea mai nei!
Well done!

Kīkino kē nei!
Wicked! Fantastic!

Koia kei a Kevin!
Kevin rocks!

Taputapu kē!
Fabulous! Fantastic!

Ka wani hoki!
Spine tingling! Great!


E mea ana koe!
You bet!

Koinā te hāngai!
Right on! That’s the one!

Koia pū!
Absolutely! That’s it! Bang on!

Koia koia!
That’s right! Yeah I’ll say!


Me tū mārō!
Be staunch!

Give it heaps!

Mō te hemo tonu atu!
Go hardout, till the death!


Kua puta te ihi, te wehi, me te wana!
Awe inspiring! Magical!

Kua takoto te mānuka.
The challenge has been laid.


Kōtore whererei Absolutely shocked, surprised out of your skin
Tūmeke katoa! Stunned! So shocked!


Kua hiki te kohu
I understand now. (The fog has lifted)

Kua taka te kapa
The penny has dropped.


Kei te pērā tonu
Same old story

Kia parea ki rāhaki
Put aside, get rid of

Mea rawa ake
Nek minute, consequently


Kātahi nā te tino mate
That's the real problem

Kia tūtakarerewa!
Be alert, be on guard

Tuahina mai
C'mon, out with it, no holds barred, be straight up!

Thursday, 8 November 2012

back onto BYOD

Found out tonight that we have to jump back into action mode. Straight after the seniors have left today, I am back in an office talking and discussing the next moves. We have parents ringing asking about devices and what information are we giving them.
The first part was going back through a newsletter article that I wrote in August, once we found this we started copying and pasting ready for it to go online for students and their parents to find. Once we had gone through this and started to find the link for the agreement, I was amazed to find out that it was already up. So we have a place to inform parents.
Now for some changes to be made, like stating its for all students, changing a few words here and there.
Once that will be complete tomorrow we will inform year 9 students through email some of the plans as well as invite them to be a part of the class. It will be an opt in.
When I got home and settled down, I opened up the computer and did a search for what other schools are developing, one that stood out for me was the work work that epson girls grammar have done. They have a partnership with cyclone computers to offer a number of devices for parents, something similar to what I am looking for. The best thing was that they had a meeting for staff today in town, so jumped in the car and went and had a chat with them over the next step. Also contacted someone at eggs and asked about the programme and they were supportive about it. Will look forward to the conversation tomorrow.
But they did ask one question that I am not too sure about, should we offer microsoft office on the device, or ask for it?

How to embed elearning?

From an email:
"I am currently trying to embed ICT learning across all curriculum areas in school, but it's not an easy task. There are many unanswered questions at the moment such as how to evidence the use of ICT and how to assess it. Any ideas will be very welcome."

Best response I have seen so far:
Teaching as Inquiry. If the teachers embedding ICT practices are using a inquiry cycle to do this - beginning with a focussing inquiry that establishes what's important and what the students need to know/do (not ICT skills), a teaching and learning inquiry where they establish the best mix of ICT tools and strategies to support the learning, the teaching and learning (trialling of strategies) followed by a learning inquiry which may involve: talking to your students, observational data, surveys, pre and post-testing. I wouldn't actually focus too much on assessment and quantitative data because it is near impossible to link improved "grades" to the tools. Informal and ongoing feedback from students about if/how and why/why didn't the ICT tools and strategies increased their level of engagement and/or supported critical thinking processes is way more powerful.

Friday, 2 November 2012

nz open source awards

Its a busy time and I was amazed to see the New Zealand Open Source Awards nominations finals list appear, 

Looking at a number of the projects that have gained finals status
  • Government: Central Agencies Shared Services use of Koha Library Management System, GNS Science for GeoNet Rapid, Piwik.
  • Business: Fulcrum, Piwik and Totara LMS.
  • Education: the Catalyst Academy, Manaiakalani, Warrington School for the Ubuntu Room.
  • Arts:the Big Idea, Daniel Reurich for the Open Source Organ Refit, Whisper Down The Lane.
  • Software Project: NIWA for Cylc, Piwik, Sofa Statistics.
  • Open Source Contributor: Michael Kerrisk, Grant McLean, Simon Welsh.
  • Social Services: EQNZ for the Christchurch Earthquake Ushahidi, SoupHub, Wellington City Council for Housing Computer Hubs.
  • Open Science: Computational Evolution Group for BEAST, GNS Science for their GeoNet Data Policy, NIWA for Cylc.
However, the ones that have interest for me are the education ones,
Warrington School for the Ubuntu Room -

I hope I have the right links...

Will be interesting to hear the results,

Now, some may be wondering why the post, The school runs there radio station on Open Source, that is what I am thinking about, as well as the opportunity for creative commons music. Now to start thinking of the brief to give the student next year to be able to do this with our station.

The results, the Manaiakalani project won the education category.