Monthly Archives: March 2009


Maybe it is just my school that seems to be this way. Especially as our students on the whole don't experience life to this degree. But a significant number (enough to be bugging me and both my co-planning buddy and tandem partner) seem to have a severe case of the "yeah-buts" which kicks into gear every time they are asked to be accountable for their own behavioural choices.

It goes a bit like this.

Me: Could you go back to your seat and get on with the task?
Student: Yeah, but [insert student name here] is out of his seat too.
Me: Don't worry about what they are up to. You need to worry about what you are doing. Come on, you're distracting others.
Student: Yeah but you didn't tell me what to do.
Me: You don't need that - I gave out the criteria sheet for that task yesterday.
Student: Yeah but that must have been when I was out getting a drink.
Me: [frustrated tone starting to creep in] That's not an acceptable reason. There was one put on every desk by [insert student monitor's name here] just before lunch.
Student: Yeah but someone must have stolen it...

"Yeah but" is a code for "I'm going to start with a rhetorical acknowledgement that there is a small possibility that you as the classroom teacher may be correct, but in my twelve years of life on this earth I have yet to encounter a situation where I cannot successfully shift the blame / responsibility onto someone else or in a best case scenario, reflect back onto you."

I'd consider that maybe the problem is my classroom management style or the fact that my classroom learning tasks are not engaging enough but that might just be playing into this small group of students' mindsets.


My class are really keen to have iPods in the classroom. Their iPods, that is.

So, when it came up as an issue across our four Upper Primary classrooms, I decided that the best way forward was for the kids to write a Position Statement to inform and persuade their peers and their teachers. As you can read for yourself, many of these Statements had well thought out ideas and make the case for the strategic use of personal iPods in the classroom.

Then Julie, the other coordinator came back yesterday after a Boys Forward conference run by Dr. Ian Lillico, where she posed the question that my teaching team have been asking, "What do you think about iPods in the classroom?"

She said that while he believed that iPods were ideal learning tools for recording and listening to specific educational content, he had concerns about kids using them as a "wall of sound" to block out distractions and improve their on task capabilities. So, I'm wondering what my readership thinks and whether you have kids utilising iPods in your classroom. If you read their Statements, they are mainly arguing for their use in non-instructional time where they have a specific task or assignment to work on, and it is at the teacher's discretion. They consider issues of equity, hygiene, health and appropriate content in the classroom. When I went Googling, I struggled to find many documented examples to inform my own perspective.

Maybe I'm not looking in the right places - what do you think?


Live blogged notes - my thoughts in italics.

Changes that technology are bringing to the world is going to affect education as well. Need a personal interaction with new tools before one can implement their use in the classroom - look inwards and become a networked learner. Publishing is the easy put - it's what happens afterwards that makes the difference.

Story of Laura Stockman  - blog called 25 Days To Make A Difference. 60,000 hits  on her blog - people connected to her passion, community service. Now made a connection to Jenny Luca in Melbourne to raise money for children affected by the Victorian bushfires. Referenced Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody as a great book for illustrating the shifts that are occurring.

Kids  are connecting via phones etc. via their close personal networks firstly  and then connecting via interests.  How do we shift massive numbers of teachers into a new way of thinking with the new technology?

Networks are all around us  - do you have global connections? Yes

Need to learn how to connected to networks. Knowledge is in networks. The network is smarter than the node. No self-directed learning going on in his kids' lives. Concept of editing as we know it is gone - we need to learn how to edit what we read online.  Literacy is "malleable". Teach our kids to learn online in safe, effective and ethical ways. Teachers should model their own network literary skills throughout schooling.

Looking at the tools - RSS, blogs, Google reader, search feds, social bookmarking.

Afternoon session - looking at the concept of Connective Writing. How many of us are teaching kids to read and write in a hypertext environment? Put up a blog post from Doug Noon showing ten or more links to other blogs, articles, pdf's, videos etc. Also looked through the use of diigo to annotate sites - called it "connective reading".

Talked about - fans write new chapters for the book - No. 1 is Harry Potter with over 390,000 chapters. Writing does not only occur in text - showed (listened to) Radio WillowWeb. Real writing for real audiences for real puposes. We can write for a global audience.

I've come to the conclusion that I'm a pretty low grade live blogger. I run out of steam very quickly and I am a lousy, lousy twitter backchanneler - I don't think I added anything coherent to the stream of @willrich45 tweets as the day progressed. Maybe I was conscious of my own small presentation coming up after afternoon tea.

Anyway, I think it was interesting that tool wise I didn't really learn anything new from Will face to face - but that is more an tribute to the actual powerful potential of the same tools he was showcasing (and that I have spent time over the last four years learning to leverage). I think that the day was more geared to educators who are still relatively "green" to Web 2.0 - but don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the day and there was plenty to think about from the challenges Will kept putting out there.

I'm still disappointed about the very small (but loyal) crowd that attended the seminar - sometimes Adelaide does live up to its "hicksville" image. Where were our school leaders and department decision makers who need to hear about this stuff? I suppose I should be glad that when Will went outside for his morning coffee to overlook the Torrens Lake that it actually had water in it.

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I must be such a disappointment to my Facebook Friends.

I very rarely update my status, I have no photos to speak of and I regularly reject requests for (Lil) Blue Cove and Likeness Quizzes. I have a friends list that is a curious mix of educators I have never met and teachers I used to know.

Just recently, I've experienced a new phenomenon in the Facebook Friend stakes - the ex-student who is amazed to find their old teacher online. I've found it interesting to accept these requests as the ex-students in question are all now adults and having them on my list is an interesting peek into their lives answering that age old question that many teachers have about their previous charges, "I wonder how [insert ex-student's name here] turned out?" 

I could (and have) got lost for hours looking at my new Friends' Friends lists, seeing names I recognise and wandering through the mainly open profiles, checking their Friends lists, seeing more familiar names and so the process goes on. It seems that if my ex-students have made it onto Facebook, then their life seems to be on track and that spending a year or so in my care hasn't unduly affected their opportunities in life. One of them even wants to become a teacher (shock, horror)!! 

Sadly, my new Friends' lives look far more exciting than my own. But then again, everyone else looks like their life is exciting framed up in the Facebook interface. And you can't Superpoke ™ fun at that.

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First the edublogger ... then last year heralded the new term edupunk ... now thanks to Paul Luke, it's time to meet the edugroupie.

Seriously, this is a deep thinking South Australian educator who is as well read as anyone online. Do him a favour and put his blog in your RSS reader of choice - I'm pretty sure an edugroupie would appreciate a bit of subscriber and comment love.

Image: Fan de...


I had a sick day yesterday. So, after  visiting the doctor and the pharmacy to get some industrial strength antibiotics, I decided to put some time towards preparing for my thirty minute slot during the upcoming Will Richardson day. It's pretty cool that he's coming to little old Adelaide and that not only do I get to attend the event and see one of my original Web 2.0 teachers and major early influences (along with Downes and Blackall) present but I get to show one of my own contributions as an "influential South Australian educator" in my use of a wiki as a platform for learning. I hope there's a big crowd coming because if I'm being chosen as an innovative user of read/write technologies, then we have a long way to go here in South Australia in realising the potential of these tools for our students' learning, and Will's insights and influence will be invaluable. I'm hoping I get to meet and talk to him as well - after all, he was the second person to ever comment on my blog and that was a major encouragement when I felt at the time that my attempts at establishing connections were somewhat futile.

So, that will be cool.

It is interesting that I'm going to be giving an overview of the Spin The Globe project because that was another opportunity to work with someone I highly respect for his writing in the edublogosphere in Doug Noon. It's also about 15 months since any work was done on that wiki so it really feels a bit dated in terms of being innovative. Anyway, I decided to re-listen to the Teachers Teaching Teachers podcast that Doug and I were invited to be a part of so I could isolate some audio quotes from Doug to add to my presentation. I was getting towards the end of it when the host, Paul Allison asked us if we thought that we'd continue to work on the wiki in 2008. Interestingly, we both said yes at the time and that has turned out to be an incorrect prediction. Both of us ended up following other priorities last year and so the wiki stands as a digital artifact of our little experiment in collaboration. Some of Doug's quotes are extremely insightful and offer the reasons (more apparent now in hindsight) why we both have not returned our students to the project.

"One of the huge ironies of the internet is that I think people are paying attention to stuff far away and ignoring their local area."

"I saw them starting to team up in the classroom at the same computer and I began thinking about collaboration and how you can't draw a line around it. If people are collaborating, it might happen at any level of the process."

"Graham and I were talking about how Alaska and Australia was an awfully big chunk of real estate to bite off for sixth graders and we should've have probably, and I told my kids feel free to change references to Alaska to Fairbanks. You know we can narrow it down from there."

Especially at the age group involved in the primary (elementary) school sector, getting students to look at concepts through local issues, before taking on the global has been my priority since the fading of the Spin The Globe wiki project. I'm not discounting the important of global awareness but one of the outstanding insights both Doug and I observed was how little our classes really knew about their own place in the world.

So, listening to and looking back at something that I've been asked to push forward as a "good example" of wiki use has been an interesting exercise, and has made me appreciate Doug's perspective and wisdom even more. I hope that the educators coming along to see Will (and in a very minor way, myself and the other two South Australian educators also doing 30 minute showcases) walk away with the feeling that read/write tools are a great fit for the progressive pedagogies of Australian educators, rather than feeling that they have to get their kids blogging or get on the lookout for a global wiki partner. The question "What do you want the kids to learn?" has to be front and centre and I sure hope the goal is not just how to use a wiki.

On a slight side track, Wes Fryer's recent trip to New Zealand and his willingness to share his thinking as he participated in the Learning@School conference confirms what I sort of suspect in terms of a US view of what education is compared to an Antipodean perspective. It was very interesting to read his reactions from Pam Hook's keynote (does he read Artichoke?) especially this one [Wes' notes were in caps, so he wasn't shouting!]:


From my understanding, Wes would be thought of as a progressive US educator and here he was having a lightbulb moment (correct if I'm wrong and you're reading, Wes) and Jane Nicholls weighed in with some telling words in the comments of this post:

In New Zealand effective learning and teaching has everything to do with technology integration. Trevor Bond states that an ineffective teacher plus technology equals an expensive ineffective teacher. For technology to be successfully integrated there must first be a solid pedagogical platform. Teachers must be reflective and have a good knowledge of their own teaching philosophy. They need to assess why and how the technology will enhance their classroom practice and they need to know about their students and how different technologies will extend their reach.

She writes more that extends that piece of thinking and then Greg Carroll put in his point of view from which I've isolated this poignant quote:

Technology can very easily GET IN THE WAY of effective learning and teaching - and it is the order of those two things that makes all the difference. Learning is about what the learner NEEDS and NOT what the teacher does.

I think this is what is missing from some of the "viral" videos about future learning around the place in that it seems the message is that creativity and collaboration can only be fuelled by technology. That these need to be promoted for classrooms still amazes me - and they are seen by many as new learning for this century amazes me even more so. I can really sense Tom Hoffmann's long standing and reasonably regular frustration.

So, tying this all back to my wiki reflecting is that Doug and my experiences with Spin The Globe show that collaboration is not a worthwhile goal by itself and that it is pretty easy to be seduced by the techno-possibilities. By all means, if technology provides the best learning experience or is unavoidably entwined, then go for it. But if it isn't really what the students need, then forget about it and try a different approach.