TeachMeetNZ running a session

Currently I am learning with Julie Lindsay on Global Educator sessions. Julie is a global educator whose work I had admired from a far for a few years before I had the opportunity of joining a face to face session with her last year in Hawaii. This year I am learning more about running a global project by undertaking the Flat Connections Global  Educator sessions. This blog post is about aligning the work I already do with TeachMeetNZ and reflecting using the readings and discussion from the course to make the online sessions even better.
Recently I read Core education 10 trends and was interested to note that they have highlighted global connectedness as one of the important 10 trends in education.  


Sometimes I am asked how do I run a session for TeachmeetNZ?


Before the session
I put a call out to people who have made contact with me previously who have shown an interest in presenting. Sometimes it is through connections I have made on #edchatnz and sometimes I might have picked up a blog post via the twitter breadcrumbs. By the time I have finished a live session the next session is usually already booked. Because our TeachMeetNZ has an NZ focus I generally run sessions for New Zealand educators. When have the team I build a page for the session on the TeachMeet wiki because I have already learnt the importance of leaving breadcrumbs so that bystanders know what happened. Once I build that page I call for communication details.


Communication and building connections.  
How do we communicate on TeachMeetNZ? The fastest way is via twitter so stay up to date via the hashtag #TeachMeetNZ. I also send out emails to the group via google mail so do check that too. The bulk of communication takes place  a fortnight before the live session.  It is usually a great idea to use the communication details to find each other on twitter, on google plus, on facebook and any other social media spaces that you know.


Handshake to build connections
A handshake allows the group to bond and the session to be a success. I have already learnt that I need to spend a bit more time on the handshake in order to allow the participants an opportunity to build connections with each other. Over time I have learnt that three tutorials are ideal before we go live. My modification is to give the presenters an opportunity to share what has been happening in their week at each tutorial. I have learnt that sharing highlights from the week is an  important part of building connections.


SOLO taxonomy
Using Solo Taxonomy I can step out the tutorials and reflect on where they are placed and what I still need to do to create depth in the learning.  
Multistructural Thinking is using the the tools such as the hangout, twitter, google+, GAFE for consuming. Therefore teachers are learning how to use the tool and the emphasis is on the tools.
Relational thinking is about making connections so one way is by making social connections with the other delegates they are presenting with using the same tools. They also use relational thinking when putting their slides together. Therefore teachers are making connections both with each other and with their learning.
Extended abstract thinking is when teachers are contributing to an educational resource by creating presentation slides and through an edited video. Presenters usually complete the process by writing a blog post about their experience and add to this process of learning through reflection. Therefore teachers are creating a resource and sharing their learning via a blog reflection.


First tutorial session is a Beta test
This first tutorial is like a Beta Test and is really for newbies or educators who want a refresher. This allows equipment to be tested. Using the #Flatconnect digital citizenship concept, this first tutorial is about technological awareness. A Google Hangout does change regularly. Some problems usually identified in the first practise include needing to update systems and is there any technical feedback. Do our microphones and cameras work?  Sometimes, we need to restart the machine after computer updates.
We learn how to activate the toolbox and add our name to the session. We activate the chat box and discuss its importance for communication.  We learn about positioning ourselves with the camera by checking the distance of our face to the camera. Some people sit too close as can be seen from the recordings. Remember when speaking to look at the camera not at the hangout delegates who reside at the bottom of the screen.
Do rewind the recording as this highlights any distractions that are around. A classic example is the washing hanging behind. When we go live remind the household what is happening so that loud music, pets are outside and requests are kept to a minimum.  During this session participants will have located their page on the wiki and have added contact links.
We discuss appropriateness of our space and remember the following
  1. privacy of other people like speaking positively of our institution and our colleagues.
  2. use appropriate language just like we would in a staff meeting.
  3. remind family members that the sessions are live so they do not choose this time to walk behind on their way to have a shower 🙂
All artefacts are created for ease of sharing so a reminder about copyright including what is on the presentation slides.
Each educator controls how much they are willing to share. If they are speaking about their institution do let the school leaders know.


Second tutorial session is the slides test
By this session, participants will have downloaded the template slides to their computers, or created and online copy using Google presentation. I will know the title of their slides. They will know who is in the current session with them. They will have some idea about  the topics being covered. They will have rebroadcasted tweets and ideally sent some out too regarding the current session. Participants will have alerted colleagues in their institution and invited everyone and anyone to watch the live session. On twitter they will be watching the #TeachMeetNZ Hashtag for updates and will know the order of presentation as this will have been tweeted out. Slides can still be in draft form and this tutorial demonstrates how the slides are embedded into their TeachMeetNZ page. The participants TeachMeetNZ page is their social awareness page. This allows them to add all their contact details so that other participants can identify who they are working with. Participants will have bookmarked this page for ease of access.  This second session is also a question and answer session and an opportunity to problems solve any issues that have eventuated. Sometimes I have needed to take photos here too in case presenters cannot make the final session.


Third session is the dress rehearsal, final photos and disruptive peer feedback.
This session allows timing to be checked. During this session a photo is captured for each presenters page. This is a backup session too in case there are problems during the actual event. As each presenter shares, others in the hangout gives feedback and suggestions. These include clarity of the slides, lighting of the presenter and usually involves some questions about the presentation. A reminder that all sessions are recorded to rewind for learning. This tutorial allows cultural awareness to happen because participants learn about each other, from each other and with each other.


Live session
20 minutes before the session the room is activated and the call put out.
Presenters should arrive 15 minutes before session to test microphone, set up their name and check that their presentations is up on the tabs. The live streamed session highlights global awareness as participants realise that their presentation is viewed by a greater audience than just New Zealand.


Afterwards
After the live TeachMeetNZ session I add the presenters to the main google+ list of everyone who has taken part. Their  video is added to the Youtube archive channel. The clip is for the presenter to do with as they like. For example the video can be embed directly into a portfolio. I suggest that they share the love by adding a link back to the TeachMeetNZ site. Over time I can see the sessions as a triangulation of learning. Each tutorial begins with a recap about what has been happening during the week as this allows connections to be made.


Hints
Participants can come in blind for the final practise, however I do not recommend this as it shows in the final recording.
Educators who attend tutorial sessions always have a smoother recording. If an extra practise is needed then I have past presenters who are always willing to support because they want to have a go at leading their own hangouts and therefore look for opportunities to practise too. In addition presenters can practise with each other.
One of my goals is about building connections so if a chat with me personally regarding their presentation is required then book a separate time via twitter direct message. I will make time when other delegates have dropped out of the hangout. All tutorial sessions are recorded for rewindable learning. These can be seen on the main channel if you go and search for them. I usually tag them to just whoever is in the session for our learning.


General questions
Yes you can present using any media, But keep it to 3 mins.
Prezi can be used and even really short video clips. If a video clip is used then add a new tab with the video instead of embedded in the slides because the sound is not clear when recorded from an embedded slide. If using prezi allow time for transition. Keep the slides simple with images. Not too much text.


Recommendations
After the session put slides into slideshare as this allows the tracking of number of views received. Remember to claim a badge, embed it with a direct link back to their page. Tag me on twitter if a reflections is written. Do give feedback as this is an important for quality improvement.
To be online and learning online is not the same as being tech savvy. #TeachMeetNZ  is about contributing, collaborating and being visible. “Come out and be part of the construction.” says Julie Lindsay. Contribution skills are not intuitive they must be taught. Take advantage of a social based learning with the blogs, videos and the presentations. As an educator If we are only consuming then we will be left behind, if we are creating and contributing and conversing then we are succeeding.


Where to next
As each tutorial is run prepared slides are needed because the recording does not show what I am doing. Reading a tweet is not enough, participants are reminded to alert me that they are receiving by starring what I tweet. As I prepare for the combined Aussie and kiwi session I am alerted to the fact that I have not given a choice for meetings. Maybe I should have used timebridge to establish meetings. These are ideas for me to think about for next time when I run combined sessions with other countries.

Before collaboration teachers need to make connections

 
When Core Education put out the call for abstracts I already had some ideas because I was gathering information around the use of social media for educator learning at Newmarket School. You can read the abstract here. When Wendy heard that 4x staff members were working with me and wanted to go to Ulearn she thought she would like to travel and be with us. I reminded her about our unspoken policy that if you wanted to attend a conference then put in an abstract. So I suggested she co present with me and that is how this collaboration began. We had been debating connections versus collaboration and so that became the focus for the presentation.  ‘Before collaboration teachers need to make connections.’


I have researched the topic since the beginning of the year and wrote a blog post recently to clarify my thinking. The post was called Connected Educator and you can read that here.


Then for over a month I gathered all the images together and created the presentation. When I build a presentation I have the abstract beside me to ensure that the talk reflects the abstract.
 
Next over the past fortnight Wendy and I worked collaboratively using google docs to bring all information together. Some of the challenges I find when presenting with Wendy is she likes to fiddle with my slides. We had agreed that we would have the same number of slides and the same time to talk. However I know she does like to talk so it takes all my monitoring to ensure she stays focussed on the topic and talks to the slides. She thinks I am too controlling and not open to being flexible. Yet because I have been coordinating TeachMeetNZ and have prepared and presented at Eduignite many times I do have vast experience of presenting already. I work hard to ensure that the presentation flows and that I adhere to time. So in all it is a lot of fun. I know when the teachers come in and hear us discussing academically, sometimes in raised voices, they must wonder what is going on.


Finally on October the 9th I presented my inquiry of Connected Educator at Ulearn 2014.  Dr Wendy Kofoed my principal was my co presenter, however that did not really happen. as you can see from the Core Education video below  it appears that I was Wendy’s co-presenter.
This is the third time that we have ‘co-presented’ and each time Wendy does take over the session. I do not mind because I feel proud that she is willing to be disrupted and be disruptive. It is a lot of fun having disruptive conversations. I was delighted to hear Wendy finally put aside 21st century learning and speak about learning and finally put aside Modern Learning Environment and focus on the learning environment. George Couros stated that ‘Innovation often comes from conflict and disagreement, not in an adversarial way, but in a way that promotes divergent thinking. The idea is not to go with the idea of one person over another, but to actually create a better idea that is often in the middle of the two ideas shared.’ So as you can see and hear our ideas around connected educator has evolved and we have a much better definition of a connected educator.
 
Here is our presntation.
Some of our written feedback missed the notion of disruptive educator and thought that we spoke negatively about Modern Learning Environments. I am happy with that comment because it means we have planted a seed.
Here is the link to our padlet that we sent live a fortnight before the session to activate discussion. http://padlet.com/ulimasao/connected.
I want to finish with a short paragraph describing how amazing these few days were.
Wendy and I were chosen to be live streamed so that was a first for me. We took down two teachers from Newmarket School who were also presenting. I was very proud of them. I attended the Core Education efellows 10 year anniversary dinner and caught up with other efellows. I danced at the annual Ulearn dinner. I met heaps of amazing New Zealand Educators. Then cheered when Core announced the efellows15 because three have presented with me on TeachMeetNZ.
Where to next. Well next year Ulearn will be in Auckland city and because this is our city I think it would be the most amazing thing if Newmarket School all attended Ulearn and yes, I will encourage even more staff to put in an abstract next year.

Wendy and I are involved in Connected Educator Month #CENZ14 and are in the process of collaboratively writing a digital bookLET. You can read about that here.
And to disrupt Wendy more so that Future Focussed Learning just becomes learning.

TeachMeetNZ CENZ14 A

On Saturday 4 October 2.00- 3.00pm (UT + 13 hrs)
We had a special session for Connected Educators Month.
This year a collaborative calendar for October will connect thousands of educators who will be able to engage in free (and freely given) professional learning events, communities and resources.
For more information do visit the the Connected Educators Website www.http://connectededucator.org.nz/
TeachMeetNZ session and our team of Connected educators from around New Zealand join in as part of the http://connectededucators.org/.
This 45 minute recorded session can be accessed live from  
Participation is free for all attendees. We will have a Q & A section for the audience. Feel free to submit any questions before the hangout. You can follow the twitter stream using  #TeachMeetNZ
Session Host: Sonya Van Schaijik
Twitter Broadcaster: Mary Robinson kept the tweets going and we have over 200 tweets in that hour. You can read that here on the storify. http://sfy.co/gvH1
Live blogger: Richard Wells did a fabulous job of live blogging the event.

Time Keeper: Karen Melhuish Spencer did not need to remind people about time as we had already been rehearsing.



Presenters Name
Topic
Twitter
Google +
Sam Hocking
SOLE – Self Organised Learning Environment
Bridget Casse
SOLO Taxonomy: Making Learning Visible in the Earliest Years.
Reubina Irshad
Mutukaroa Project
Tim Kong
The Future May or May not be Finnish
Lewis Bostock
Safe and effective use of social media in the classroom
Kassey Downard
What’s the big deal about Minecraft?
Karen
Share about Connected Educator Month

About the TeachMeetNZ project.
TeachMeetNZ is about New Zealand teachers connecting online. The project reflects the research and work of New Zealand educators in action. These live events are are convened across all education sectors to address the emerging technologies, trends, and challenges poised to significantly impact teaching and learning.  TeachMeetNZ has been live streaming since May 2013.


Did you miss the TeachMeetNZ  #NZGeo session on Crossing Boundaries .


Would you like to host a session?
Contact: Sonya @vanschaijik


Join the #TeachMeetNZ discussions now!


October-spring is here

 
October is usually a crazy busy month for me.


It is my mum and dad’s birthday. In addition it is my youngest son’s birthday and also my birthday.


This October I have probably taken on far too much but because I have been in the world of education for 30 years, I know that sometimes it just gets like that and helps with the sprint to the end of the year for our New Zealand summer holidays. Plus it is the learning that ignites my education fire and I find it exciting and stimulating. I am passionate about teachers and their learning too. To help give you a bit of an overview, here is what my October looks like for me, without those important four family dates and all the practises in between.


Dates
Title
Links
30 Sept
Minecraft Hangout
Google Hangout
1st Oct
Launching CENZ
Webinaire
4th Oct
TeachMeetNZ google Hangout
Google Hangout
9 Oct
Present Ulearn with Wendy
Presentation
10 Oct
Present Ulearn with Ginnie
Presentation
TBC
Eduignite Citizenship
Presentation
20 Oct
Complete my chapter on educator
Blog Post
28 Oct
TeachMeetNZ /TMsydney
Google Hangout
31st Oct
EdbookNZ
Publish a book


I am also aiming to complete my Flat Connections Global Educator Certificate with Julie Lindsay. Already I have learnt that I do not give enough opportunities for my teams to get to know each other with a handshake. I have immediately remedied that by setting up a padlet for my #TeachMeetNZ project.

In addition set up systems to support our RTLB with the next roll out of iPads for their teaching and learning with students. Currently I am reading around minecraft as I believe we need to explore this programme further.

Sometimes I am asked why do I take on the extra outside of my school life, however those of you in my PLN who read this, you will fully understand when I say all the extra benefits me, my learning and therefore benefits my school. How else do I know how to help our teachers create videos, help them with reflective blog posts, help them with their inquiries and presentations and know who to ask for help or call in to skype with our children and share their expertise. Ultimately this helps them  This is because I am right in the middle of it all.


PS: I aim to visit Eden Gardens too these holidays and I hope to get my garden planted for the summer.

The tool for the job.

I have an interest in boys writing and have been fascinated by some of the stories our children write around Minecraft.
I was first introduced to Minecraft a few years back in 2010 via Natasha Walden @MissNWalden a teacher at our school. She told me that this game, Minecraft, was taking the gaming world by storm. However I had no idea what she was talking about except to feel quite scared when we were in Minecraft. Then nighttime arrived and I was not ready in and for this Minecraft world. I now realise we had entered Survival Mode.
So I learnt there was a difference between Survival Mode and Creative Mode. Survival Mode has the monsters come out at night and Creative Mode is when you can fly around and see the world that you have made. I think that if I had seen Creative Mode I might have been persuaded to take part. Natasha is one of those teachers that drags me along in her online gaming world. Through her I had seen the inside of WOW and Minecraft before they were even spoken about in lay education circles.
Fast forward to 2013 and I watched my nephew create cheat videos to access pathways on his server. He showed me a Minecraft map that he had created and has had a massive download. Normally a quiet and shy fellow, his eyes lit up passionately as he explained what he was doing and why. But again I was not quite ready with my understanding. I was still a lurker and observer.
Then Shaun Wood @mrwoodnz presented on TeachMeetNZ and I was intrigued again with the Minecraft World.
I started to learn about servers, and about the Minecraft Edu version. I began asking questions about the logistics of bringing Minecraft into our school. I spoke with our technical people about setting up our own server. This year however I have been consumed with Google Apps for Education as we established our domain name, learnt how to use GAFE at school, set up the architecture for teacher use and learnt how to set up and use Hapara. This is still a time consuming journey. So Minecraft sat in the back and simmered.
As is with all fabulous professional learning, I spotted this #educampminecraft event via twitter. This year when Annemarie Hyde put the call out to attend I could not resist finding out more of what other educators in New Zealand were doing with Minecraft.
So on Friday night, straight after school I drove down to Rotorua and joined several other educators for #educampminecraft at Mokoia Intermediate School.
You can find out more about the event here on the educamp wiki.
Annemarie created a collaborative presentation using Google slides and different people added their ideas before the day http://bit.ly/1r7vnXQ
During the day, Monika Kern kept the conversation broadcasting to the rest of New Zealand via twitter and challenged us to complete a blog post about our experience of the day. By doing this I can grab a digital badge for my portfolio. I am always open to a challenge and this keeps me motivated to reflect on what I learn.
I contributed by creating a twitter list of all the teachers talking about Minecraft in New Zealand and that can be accessed here.
Here is a folder that I created and added photos that I took during the day.
Straight after the event Reid Walker created a Google+ Community for teachers using Minecraft group and that can be accessed here.
During the day it was particularly powerful to have some students there sharing their expertise with Minecraft. How often do we see students at education events? So I thought this was forward thinking of the organisers.
However I do think that the students would have probably run the session in a totally different way. I loved the way they showcased their work.
I loved how Kassey Downward  had her students share their learning and then guided us in ours. I learnt about griefing, when you destroy creations. One student said to me that is what I was doing when I left clicked the mouse and had great fun pulling down buildings that others had created. She said, “In Minecraft we practise citizenship and do not destroy other people’s creations.”
She taught me how to right click and put the blocks back. However I probably had already created quite a bit of havoc. We got to hear too from Natalie Dodd and her students about how they used Minecraft. 
My learning from all this is to go down the Minecraft Edu pathway because of time. According to Shaun who came in via skype and shared how he had set up a server, a lot of time and technical know how is required to set up a server for the children. You can read more about this on the slides.
I had my questions answered and more. I saw how Steven Katene mapped using Minecraft against SOLOtaxonomy. I say how his students crafted their Minecraft planning using Inspiration. I saw how they shared their creations with family via hidden youtube URL. His school has a 1:1 ipad programme. I can’t wait to have further dialogue with this amazing educator.
I had gone to Rotorua specifically to find out how to set up a server and the logistics in running Minecraft at our school. There would be legalities involved in hosting a server separate from Minecraft Edu where children take part and learn. In addition, the space would require adult supervision because our children are under the age of 14. I still observe what happens in Skoodle and know from experience that the most active online time for our children is straight after school. Some can work quite late at night. Yes we can lock it down to certain hours but also know from experience is that the children will move to other social media sites to communicate with their friends when we lock down their sites. I had been mulling over the idea of buying our own space because I initially thought the Edu licence seemed quite expensive and I am always looking for a cheaper way of doing things. However because we are dealing with student safety Minecraft Edu would be the preferred option. 
Another idea that I found out is that Minecraft requires a hard drive therefore striking our chrome books out. I don’t know why I had not thought about that. I thought Minecraft was an online game and did not realise that we would need plugins to download.
https://minecraft.net/store A singe computer licence costs $33.16 and this can be downloaded. 
The Minecraft Edu Version costs $22.15NZ per single licence and a single server licence is $50.45 NZ. However with the Microsoft school’s agreement deal I wonder if this would change because of the recent takeover.  At Newmarket School, we would require 1x server licence and $22.15 x each senior syndicate student and a netbook per student. So that cuts out what I had planned for the senior team because our senior classes have chrome books and Minecraft cannot go on a chrome book.
I also see that there is also an iPad  licence that costs $8.99. However this does not work with the Edu version. I have not yet investigated if this can be bought on the VPP store. But think that this could be an answer for us. I need to speak more to Steve about this and I have heaps more questions for him. Michael Fawcett confirmed that the pocket versions could talk together. So the Androids can talk to the iPads.
Our middle school use ipad and netbooks so at this stage they are the best place to put in a copy of  Minecraft. My recommendation to school would be to purchase 30 iPad licences and aim Minecraft for the middle school. But I would only do that if a teacher is willing to take the time to trial it with her class as part of teaching and learning. Like with everything on the iPad, Minecraft would go have to go through Configurator. Because we do not have 1:1 devices we would have the challenges of saving games and a shared central location of creations to deal with.
So where to for us.


When I think ahead for us as a school I recall the weekend conversation I had with Annemarie regarding the tool for the job. As a school we are conscious about sinking too much money into one platform as things change so quickly.  The ideal tool for Minecraft appears to be a netbook, with a mouse. To make full use of the collaborative and community aspect we would require a server licence and individual licences for the students involved. We would need someone to set it up and have a teacher dedicated to be an online moderator.  The alternative is to have it set up on the ipads but like with everything on an iPad, there are challenges for sharing because of the ages of our children and because they do not have 1:1 ipads.
If someone can talk me through a workaround, I would love to discuss this more. I am @vanschaijik on twitter.


Teachers at Newmarket School, if you have any further ideas, do let me know. My thinking around Minecraft for learning is how absolutely fabulous. We all know that learning is a social activity and what better way can we hook in our children with learning then with connecting, collaborating, creating and sharing in a community environment using a space that they love and several already know so well.


Reid, you were looking for a further challenge after completing your Code challenges. How about if we go in together as educators into the Minecraft world and create something for our own learning. Maybe we could create our ideal school. I would put my hand up for that.


Annemarie, Monika, Kassey, Steve thanks heaps for organising an amazing day of learning for us. Unfortunately I have come away with more questions that fortunately I can ask on the new Minecraft community.
To find out more about Mincraft in New Zealand Schools, Visit the site created.To find out more about #educampminecraft, Visit the slides created.

To find out more about education licences, Visit the Minecraft Edu Wiki space.
The big news of the weekend was that  Minecraft has just been sold to Microsoft. Delving a little into the Minecraft history brings up two names.

Markus Persson @NotchAlexej Creator of Minecraft. @jeb_ Lead developer for Minecraft



Connected Educator



The Connected Educator at Newmarket School.
Very soon Dr Wendy Kofoed and myself are presenting at Ulearn14. Our presentation centres around our teachers. The title of our presentation is ‘Before collaboration teachers need to make connections.’ Do join us at Ulearn. We are Breakout Four A on 09 Oct 2014 at 13.45-14.15. This post has developed as part of my teacher inquiry around ‘Connected Educators at Newmarket School.’
In our school’s revised strategic plan, one of our guiding principles is Whangaungatanga or connectedness. As Wendy and staff have been working at crafting our strategic plan I have been revisiting my own understanding of whangaungatanga. For me as an efellow that is about my understanding of hyperconnectivity which is all about the relationships we build and how we build them. The Samoan word for connectedness is Va Fealofani and in Maori it is Whanaungatanga.
So some of my own questions include:
·                What does a Connected Educator at Newmarket School look like?
·                What tools do they use and why?
·                How do they share what they are learning?
As I have been thinking and reflecting on connectedness Wendy has been looking at the big picture. Her own inquiry centres around ‘Challenging Learning Design.’ I look forward to her sharing her own inquiry.
At Newmarket one concept we have is whakatauki which is sharing our stories. On our boundaries and dotted within our school we have Harakeke growing. In the springtime when the Harakeke flowers we have Tui come and drink the nectar. So I begin my post with the following proverb and have changed the word kōmako for Tui because we do not have bellbirds.
Hutia te rito o te harakeke
Kei whea te Tui e kō?
Kī mai ki ahau;
He aha te mea nui o te Ao?
Māku e kī atu
he tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata
If the heart of the harakeke was removed,
Where would the Tui sing?
If I was asked,
What is the most important thing in the world”?
I would say
It is people, it is people, it is people
If I frame this post around the current three school values I am already confident about our presentation focus. Our three values are whanaungatanga, manaakitanga, kaitiakitanga.
I use these concepts and their definition to frame my current thinking around Connected Educators.
What is a Connected Educator at Newmarket School?
Whanaungatanga – Connectedness
Being connected requires learners to develop a secure sense of their own identity and agency to think and work towards where their potential might lie.
Newmarket School is already a strong learning community that collaboratively constructs knowledge to form a foundation for learning. In order to achieve this we aim for all our teachers to be connected educators. A Connected educator at Newmarket School understands the concept of whanaungatanga. They are someone who focuses on building relationships with each other, our community and our children.
A connected educator at Newmarket School knows how to use the managed online tools to find people and how to connect with them. They think carefully about the dynamics of interactions. They actively use Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Google+, LinkedIn, and other media tools to make connections and to build their own personal learning network. Because we are in New Zealand a connected educator at Newmarket School’s learning kete includes some New Zealand managed tools such as Pond, Virtual Learning Network, Myportfolio and the School Google+ community to find other New Zealand educators and to actively connect with them and build learning relationships.

What tools do they use and why?
Manaakitanga  – Generosity of spirit
Developing the ability to walk in others’ shoes which includes seeing issues from others’ perspectives and thinking carefully about the dynamics of interactions.
A connected educator at Newmarket school knows how to use and take the tools from their kete to move their practice forward. They know how to get the learning needed to improve the craft of teaching. A connected educator at Newmarket School knows how to use Google Apps for Education to crowdsource and share ideas. They are participants in online learning communities that can be found on the Virtual Learning Network and via Google Apps for Education. They take part in twitter chats such as #edchatnz to connect nationally with other New Zealand educators. They know which chats connect them with educators globally. They use a wiki, blog and or google sites as a sandbox to test their learning with online tools and show what has been learnt. They attend online New Zealand webinar such as the Virtual Learning Network monthly sessions. They curate their own learning using Pond and make connections with other New Zealand educators to share what has been found and learnt online. They know how to bring back what they have found and learnt online and share it with their school community via a reflective educator blog. Personal learning is transparent, visible and accessible by all.

How do they share what they are learning?

Kaitiakitanga – Guardianship
Ensuring sensitivity and thoughtfulness of actions in environments both local and distant.
A connected educator at Newmarket school knows how to build their community of practise that has active participants like guest speakers and where everyone co constructs knowledge. A great example of this is #TeachMeetNZ that takes place each term.  They know how to reflects on what they have learnt and make this available for all via a blog, Google Doc, wiki and or a site.  

I began this post with a whakatauki and I end with a whakatauki.
·                Ka rongo, ka wareware
·                Ka kite, ka mahara
·                Engari, mā te mahi ka mōhio.
·                I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, but through doing, I know.
Overall a connected educator at Newmarket School knows how to grow as a professional and to empower each other and their students to build their own personal learning networks to learn using the technologies that are available. Much is learnt from each other, with each other, and with the children that they teach.

As an update, a few hours after writing this, I revisited some of the education terms that have been popular in recent times. I realised that I have been doing the same thing and that is highlighting a key education term. What the originators have done is take a key word and added a descriptor to it to make it sound different. However the key word it self is fine if we view it through an extended abstract lens. Those of you who are SOLO Taxonomy educators will know what I am talking about. I created a visual to better describe what I mean.
So returning to Connected Educator and the whole point of this blog post, I finish with ‘ A Connected Educator at Newmarket School is a Newmarket School Educator.’ 

(When I write I create a rubric from Pam Hook’s site using the SOLO Taxonomy Rubric Creator. 
I use SOLO Taxonomy to frame my thinking and clarify the direction of my inquiry by asking clearer questions. Here is my Connected Educator rubric.)




Juväskylä- Centre of Finnish Education

Friday 16th of August 2013
My goodness, what an absolutely amazing day I have had today visiting Finnish Schools.
What did I learn, the way the educators work collaboratively with each other and across schools. I learnt how independent the children are and I saw how they usually found their own way to school by bike, walking or bus. I heard about WILMA that is a Finnish Educational Internet Portal. Parents receive information on matters concerning their child’s education through this Internet portal. At the start of the year students’ guardians receive their own pupil-specific user ID for Wilma.
I visited Jyvaskyla, which is about 3 hours North of Finland. I spent a night there so that I could have a whole day of visiting schools.
How did this all come about. Last year I had the privilege of attending a talk by Pasi Sahlberg. I had already heard and read about the amazing Finnish education system and by then I had received a TeachNZ sabbatical for education.
I asked Pasi if it was ok to connect me with some educators which he promptly did.
With my principal’s blessings I began making connections.
Online I started watching out for Finnish Educators and because I follow Pasi I began to observe who he was speaking to and who was responding.
So via twitter I made connnections with Timo Ilomäki (@Ilotimo) who began broadcasting for me.
Then I added Finland to my places of visit.
As my time in Helsinki grew closer I made contact with Timo who suggested if I made the trip to Jyvaskyla from Helsinki he would make school contacts for me.  So I did. 
Once I researched the location of Jyvaskyla I learnt that it lay in the heart of the lake district therefore I added an extra day on to do some sight seeing and a lake cruise. I was hoping to have a lake swim.

Arriving in Jyvaskyla was an adventure in itself. Teachers you will be pleased to know I found my way without using a simm card on my ipad. I even relearnt to follow a paper map and make F2F contact by asking people for directions and sometimes using sign language to be understood. For example I had a haircut in Jyvaskula and was able to get a cut and blow wave and pay for it communicating as best as I could in single word Finnish and a lot of laughter.
My hotel was a self-service hotel know as Omena Hotel in Vapaudenkatu. No reception, no booking in, no people to greet me on arrival. All codes and cameras.
I went for a long walk to the lake and around a little bit and decide to take a lakeside cruise the next day. However other plans were for me as I woke to a day of rain and wind. So I took the opportunity of visiting the Jyvaskyla City library where I met the Director of libraries for the region.
Her name was Seija Laitnen- Kuisma and she informed me that there were 14 branches of library in the area with 3 mobile library units. The libraries in the region serviced 80% of residents. Each resident took out an average of 18 books per year and visited their local library 10 time. She also explained that their website was visited 20x per annum per head of population. From data gathered people who used library Internet services also had Internet at home. People who did not have Internet at home did not necessarily use the Internet at the library.
The libraries experience 2,000 visits per day.
Now for the library education information and generally schools do not have a school library or if they do school libraries house generally small collections. The schools are encouraged to use the local libraries and they do. The libraries offer a library certificate that the children can work for depending on their reading level and the criteria involved. Yes children from as young as 7 years old right up to young adults earn their awards. I was shown around the library and two areas jumped out at me. The library caters for the language learners in their communities offering books, and translated pamphlets into several community languages. The library also offers e-learning training and the most popular courses include Facebook and how to book travel online. The courses run almost weekly and the 16 places are generally booked out.
Having been a teacher with library responsibilities I was grateful for the time and patience shown me with all my questions.
After visiting the library I venture out into the poring rain and visited the local Town Church known as Seurakunta. The church has 100,000 members and is the largest parish in the Jyvaskyla region.
 
From there I made my way to the Craft Museum of Finland or Suomen Käsityön Museowhere I visited the area where the National Costumes of Finland are housed. I only wished that I could purchase a doll from the area as I have been collecting dolls in national costumes for ever. The museum had hands on areas where I could make and create a sampler using tools and resources readily available.
I loved seeing the felt handmade boots and see the tools made from deer antlers.
Later on I had a wonder around the Forum mall and saw similar items for purchase as we have in New Zealand and some very different items too. However room in my suitcase is an ongoing challenge.
Near the hotel I found a Finnish hairdresser who agreed to give me a haircut. Something I desperately needed. On par with New Zealand similar prices. Lampka did a great job and in addition gave me an amazing head massage and hopefully this will last me until I see my own hairdresser again.
I picked up a local salad with bread and returned to my room for dinner and a little communication catch up.
School Visits the following day
Timo picked me up early the following day. I heard how when he was at elementary school that he had the same teacher for six years but that was slowly changing. Sometimes the students have the same teacher for about three years. The school we visited had a kindergarten area attached. I was struck at how many bikes I saw. We arrived as the last of the children were arriving for the morning on their bikes.
Our first stop was to meet their school principal, Pasi. The school did not yet have WIFI but they were working on it and currently the elementary school internet system was controlled by a central ICT company. Pasi said that their school had about 10 % migrant population with mostly Russian immigrants and a few from other countries. He explained that schools were self managing but more and more there was a movement towards central governing. I found out that each class had two standalone machines and a school lab for other ICT work.
Next we visited a class of 9 year old children where I was placed in front of the 9 year old children and they asked me questions about New Zealand.
Some questions included what were our national sport, animals, and temperature and about the school I worked at. When I told them that in Auckland the temperature was as low as 14C in the winter, they repeatedly asked if that was minus or plus. When I explained that our winters were not cold enough to freeze water and that I loved to play hockey, I could see confusion but did not make the connection that hockey to them was ice hockey. I only realised after when I visited a high school with a strong Ice Hockey Team. When I got home I followed my twitter friends and some shared that in winter it was -20C. I cannot even begin to imagine the temperature being that cold.
I explained about how small Newmarket School was and how fascinated I found that many children in Finland rode to school independently from a young age. I told them about New Zealand children taking their own lunch to school, how many of our children are driven to school and the hours of schooling. They were surprised at how little break time we had. They wanted to know how many languages were taught in primary school and did the children get much homework. I also said how different I found their houses because they had no eaves. The children wanted to know if we had a kindergarten on our school site and if we had a playground. I told them that soon we would loose more playground as our school was increasing in size and how lucky they were to have such a large playing area. What struck me about the discussion was how engaged the children were in my conversation even though I was answering their questions in English and their teacher was translating for me and for them.
The next school involved a trip to Muurame to the Upper secondary school where I finally met Aki Puustinen @apuustin Headmaster of Muurame High School. Aki helps facilitate #finnedchat and is easily found on twitter sharing his knowledge of entrepreneurship, etc and you can read his leadership blog at  Leadership Think Tank blog.
 
Aki, myself and Timo my twitter buddies.

Aki showed me his school and what struck me was how different the staff room was in comparison to ours in New Zealand. The staff room were made up of two areas. One was for eating and the other was where teachers worked and had their own personal shared space.

The school had stand-alone machines but the hard drives were in the cloud. Another idea included a space for teachers to hang their coats and exchange outside shoes for inside shoes. 
This school leader shared how each staff member had an ipad and their environmental goal was to reduce the use of paper in their school. Each Grade 1 and 2students were given a school owned ipad for the duration of their time at the school. Teachers were encouraged to use double sides when photocopying. Parents were invited to information evenings about 4x time per year. Aki said that teacher use of Facebook has been an amazing resource to develop collegiality and sharing between teachers both within school and across schools. He said that when they had staff meetings student representatives joined in teachers staff meetings but left if personal information was discussed. There were few migrant students in the school but they did have some exchange students.
                                                                                  
Muurame school had won their sustainability certificate and Aki explained the process for accreditation via the OKKA foundation. He showed me how all teachers learning is transparent and how the areas of targeted learning are placed publicly and teachers add their name when they have undertaken a course, or professional learning and date it. I saw this idea again further on in my journey but using google Docs so the information was always live.
Wandering around the school I saw my first glimpse of clustering of desks and an experimental area. The learning space had different seating to what was in the classes including beanbags, a circular feel and a space for creative discussion.
I thought at how minimalistic the classes look with wall displays compared to our classes I had recently left in New Zealand but am aware that this is the first week back for the Finnish new school year. In New Zealand we are more than half way through the year and our classes take on the busy look.
Timo took me back to his school Voionmaan High school with 540 students with a focus on sports achievement where we had traditional Finnish porridge for lunch and I joined the queues with students and teachers to receive my hot lunch. The porridge was surprisingly good and was sweetened with a fruit syrup.

 

Teachers pay a daily minimal lunch fee but the children eat free.
Timo showed me his office space and it looks similar to mine with equipment and machines operating. I asked about the student Management system and he showed me WILMA on the inside. This is a central funded management system that tracks students timetables, attendance, is like a messaging system with their teachers, parents and each other, but is not a portfolio. Other online tools are used such as blogger and drop box and sky drive. Timo said as a parent he is able to see how his own son is doing at school and how WILMA is a great tool for home school communication. Here is the link if you want to read more about WILMA.
As a user, you can ask the office personal to show you your overall information and WILMA allows the user to identify gaps in their learning and to target their next learning goals.
Timo showed me the Voionmaa school facebook page and explained how wonderful it was for home school communication and to engage with the wider school community. He showed me that their school Facebook page had the biggest group of users with currently 1645 likes. Even when students left, how they still followed the pages and gave feedback and likes on the different events. One popular section was mini videos of past students sharing their career choice. Timo discussed with me how they have a closed teachers group for their school and teachers are communicating their inquiry on the closed Facebook section and giving and receiving feedback from their colleagues.
In the classes I noted that the teachers desks were always situated to the side of the front of the room. I saw rows of desks and some classes beginning to have grouping happening. However sometimes this changed as the school was cleaned for the day and often chairs and tables were returned to rows.
All students had lockers for keeping their books and sports equipment.
The next school I was taken too was a ‘normal’ school near the University of Normaaliloulu. The school took many teachers who were training and worked with them. I met Hannah a colleague of Timo’s who explained how closely all the schools in the area worked together. She also explained how her classes worked and that she had the same group of students for 6 years. The first two years involve regular face to face classes and as they become older the contact became less and less. The students were expected to plan their own next steps and when they met with her they had their WILMA profiles up-to-date which always speeded up the process of discussion.
One neat idea that I heard about was similar to what I saw in Timo’s school. This was the call back of past students to present to current students about their career choice or discussion about the best pathways to take and which courses to plan for and get credits in.
Another idea I picked up was that different schools had different strengths and sometimes students enrolled in a different school to fulfil their credits. EG; If they wanted to take French and there was no French, then during French period they attended a different school.
Timo picked me up and took me to meet Ari who was the national President of Finnish Principals Federation. I had a quick look around his school and then was taken back to catch my train for Helsinki.
In all a lot to take in and reflect on.
The good stuff, children being independent, respectful of each other and the environment.
Having the same teacher for more than two years in a row. Testing of students did not begin until the children had been at school for several years. I saw some inquiry and some creating. I noticed the second teachers working in class alongside the classroom teacher at the primary school level. I had a chance to see a little of WILMA their student management system and the best of all was meeting Finnish educators face to face and hearing their learning journeys.
I just missed meeting @Timdwalk.