Sunday, 26 July 2015

Weekend takeaways

This weekend I spent time at #educampAKL.  Getting to see many teachers that I have twitter conversations with regularly,  however having the Face to Face is important as well.
Tamaki College provided an excellent backdrop to these conversations with their classrooms providing a modern learning environment to learn in.

On Friday I spent some time down at the Primary School talking with one of the teachers about possibilities, these were able to be developed at #educampAKL with some of the topics that came up. One of them around Google Cardboard.

The teacher and his class are currently filling in a questionaire from another school about how their classroom looks so they can built it in minecraft. How walks does you classroom have? Bit difficult when you have a room that isn;t quite a normal shape, or a classroom door, or typical spaces. One of the question is around how many spaces are in your classroom. Answer 14.

How can we use technology to support the ideas and questions that these are bringing up.

Having some time with some google cardboard offered us some ideas in how we can use technology between the secondary and primary to show these ideas, but not just within our school, within our community. Showing the history of the point before it is changed forever.

Second (and third), the Hobsonville Point area and even our school are rather new. We could take photos, upload them and then allow others to experience the growth of our area and school through Google Cardboard. This has direct ties to an ongoing project at HPPS and HPSS, opportunities for some authentic collaborative projects here are massive.
The last opportunity, all credit here to @Gmacmanus (pictured). I've been taking part in an interesting little project to assist @NZWaikato and his class as they try collect information on classes so they can recreate them in Minecraft. His learners and mine are operating in quite different classroom environments, Google Classroom would provide a more realistic way to experience each others classrooms. 
Copied from 

My moonshot is to get students creating interactive artefacts.

Today, I followed a conversation on twitter around nodebots. These are some simple electronics to develop programming skills. I have been looking at this within our school and what we can develop using some of the equipment we have, however, I do like the idea of this, considering the laser cutter we have.  

Using this open source robot might provide an interesting challenge for some of my students,

Monday, 20 July 2015

getting my database fairy on

One of the books I read over the holidays was The Manga Guide to Databases. I have been trying to find something more to do with teaching databases to students than using MS Access.

The reason behind that is I don't have MS Access on the students BYOD devices, and I haven't used in for a number of years. I have been using mySQL. Which runs on a Linux Box within the school.

I put a help request out to the Digital Tehcnologies Google Group, and that came back with little more than developing a PokeDex, which I think I suggested a number of years ago. As well as developing a database to find stolen cars, which you can download a list of here doing queries is one thing, but developing a database to meet the needs of students and a stakeholder is another thing.

Through some serious searching online, I came across The Mange Guide to Databases.

I learnt more through this book, not about the database stuff itself, but more around creating views, the properties of transactions, when disaster strikes, indexes and optimizing queries. This has been a great book and I feel that I have got my database fairy on.

With a useful cheat sheet

Saturday, 11 July 2015


Many years ago I started going to a conference called barcamp, an awesome idea that was developed by Ludwig, a 15 year old student that wanted to get the creative community together. 7 years later it is now called gather.

Saturday at Ormiston Senior College brought on a conference that gets people talking, networking and having a good time.
Catching up with people that I saw at the first barcamp as well as people that I have had interaction with since then. It is quite strange how much older they seem...

But this post is about two sessions that I attended.

Interested in games instead of powerpoint for learning. Play "Paying for predictions's" a game developed by the Red Cross so players could experience the effects of climate change.

And Lego Serious Play, A chance to be hand on with some of the activities used in the opening of a strategy workshop. A useful tool for creating shared metaphors and exploring a 3D perspective on challenges.

These two have given me ideas on how to develop more with my Hub students at Extended Hub at school.

Getting students to use the Hobsonville Habits and explore what they mean as well as building relationships.

Paying for predictions,
This participatory activity aims to support experiential learning and dialogue on the concept of climate-based disaster risk reduction, which is becoming more salient in the face of climate change. In this table game, players become Red Cross Red Crescent workers, who face changing risks. They must make individual and collective decisions, with consequences. Rich discussions emerge, and there will be winners and losers.

Getting students to think about the gameplay and the establishment of a trade-off between collaboration and competition which enriches the discussion and adds to the emotional depth of the gameplay experience. 

The other, I was looking at at school in a catalogue a couple of weeks ago, and thought that it may not suit what I was thinking. However, going through it today opened my eyes to the opportunities that this will bring.

Lego Serious Play brings in the ideas of building with your hands, it is amazing when you start start building.

A Tool for Building Results, LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® is a radical, innovative, experiential process designed to enhance business performance. It is based on the belief that everyone can contribute to the discussion, the decisions and the outcome.

The use of LEGO bricks simply enables you to take a speedy shortcut to the core. The bricks work as a catalyst – and when used for building metaphors, they trigger processes that you were previously unaware of.

Participants come away with skills to communicate more effectively, to engage their imaginations more readily, and to approach their work with increased confidence, commitment and insight.

These are two things that I hope I can build into the Hub toolkit for other teachers to use with their students and in the development of the HPSS My Learning, My Being, My Communities.

Thank you #nzgather for introducing me to these and the people in the creative industry.

Thank you Ludwig for creating and developing an awesome event. 

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

Google NZ CS Partnership Summit

This week I have been lucky to be part of the first CS Partnership summit in New Zealand, representing NZACDITT. An initiative that was brought to us by the Hutt City Libraries. This brought Google as well as all the main people in New Zealand having an impact of CS education at primary, secondary and some of the tertiary providers that offer CS4HS together to talk about next steps.

It has been a pretty full on day, hearing about the past CS partnership summits, some of the stats from Google about the issues that Australia is facing and the opportunities that this is bringing as well. Hearing about the action that have taken place in New Zealand with the Digital Technologies curriculum at senior levels that other countries would like to have.

A favourite from the “godfather” Tim Bell, is him talking about the computation of finding a route, then adding in 4 more places that you have to go to, then adding in 16 more. How long will that take to find the best route. Considering the amount of calculations that have to be done, there are just some problems that take years to find out. Why is this important, and how does learning Computer Science help with these problems.

The use of parity checks is also shown, and a quick looking back soon finds a bar code that can be tested. The other is a look at human machine interaction and how having a cancel button that is green and a conform button that is orange plays with people into causing them to have not a good experience with a webpage. I wish that he would use some of the examples that have been developed in the to help illustrate some of these to help people see the development of the resource.

Moving onto the stats, how has the development of the Digital Technologies curriculum impacted on the amount of students, number of schools offering these standards. How can we get more school interested in teaching these standards.

The issues of PLD and resources are always quick to be brought up. But these need to be drilled down and given actions and responsibility to someone to help make a difference. That’s what the rest of the day worked towards.

Having lightening talks given by some of the groups at the meeting helped develop an understanding of what are highlights of their offerings, as well as what is making it hard for them. Listening to their ideas and having some feedback from Google really helped to develop an understanding that what they are facing others have done before, and extra conversations would be needed to support them with their longer term strategies. 

Having the moonshot thinking of what are opportunities and barriers really helped, being able to write down what could be carried out if money, time and other barriers were removed. 5 minutes is too short a time to get all ideas written. These were then paired up with someone else and you were able to combine ideas, then working with the table and putting them into categories and ranking them from most important down. This helped everyone start to see opportunities that all groups were facing. Having to vote on what was important to us through dots helped people develop the understanding of what is important to the group.

How to deal with the PLD.
How to communicate better.
The curriculum.
Getting the message out.

The next 50 minutes seemed like it was 5 minutes, ideas on how to deal with these, what were some of the barriers, actions to be dealt with, how could they be validated, developing metrics. 

Then reporting back and having to work on key tasks, developing the actions a bit more, when were they to be actioned, by who, or what group was needed to make it happen.

This has lead to some pretty interesting ideas that are being followed up next week. 

I will make one comment, I thank the teachers and management team at HPSS around the work that they have been doing around developing growth mindsets, working with the students around moonshot thinking. I think that without developing that culture and ideas through the school.

One of the other participants of the summit has blogged about what makes for effective PLD -

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

The Wall

There is this wall at school. Not much happening with it. Wait till you see what we have planned for it.