A Week in the Life Global Project

SOLO Taxonomy

Those of you who work with me know that I frame everything I do using SOLO. Even as I worked with my student groups in the Week in the Life project, SOLO was there guiding my thinking all the way. This time for this blog post about the Week in the Life Global Project, I thought I would share with you how I use SOLO to guide my thinking and writing. Like the children I have been using Google Draw to create HOT Maps to guide my thinking. In addition I have used HookEd Rubrics to push me even further and in addition I used the HookEd Questioning Generator App to help frame ideas I might not have thought of. Here is my SOLO Describe Map that links to the original with links. ( I needed to adapt the map using slides because when publishing in draw, the links do not work.)




https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1FRmIboflAmOgYutV_Ov8zyMCp3HwJIz4gv-tI6bG688/pub?start=true&loop=false&delayms=3000”>Describe Map


In October 2015 at Ulearn I presented Newmarket School’s involvement in online learning and collaboration leading up to the Flat Connections Global Projects and why I believe that teachers and schools should seriously become involved in global education. I shared a little about our involvement in the ‘Week in the Life’ student collaborative project that we were part of from July until December.

Flat Connection

Flat Connection

The purpose of Flat Connections is global learning for teachers and children. As I began to define what Flat Connections is I found this image that defines what the community of learners is all about. I have borrowed this straight off http://www.flatconnections.com

After becoming Flat Connection Global Educator Certified in 2014, this year from February until June, I trialled the ‘Week in the Life’ with a small group of student leaders. The outcome of that trial was as a school we embraced Edmodo to compliment our Google Apps for Education Tools.

Our year 5 and 6 classes and teachers used the Edmodo platform to communicate and share learning across three classes. I encouraged the rest of our staff to become involved as observers and most set up their own teacher Edmodo accounts. Magic can happen when teachers set up their own online accounts. Teachers must be actively involved online with their classes and using Edmodo across three classes enabled this.  As a further wall with our children three other administrators must also be inside that class account. With Flat Connections Edmodo was used for collaborative learning across 6 global schools. When you sign up for Flat Connections you must show evidence of police verification. That is why it is important to be part of a community that already has systems in place for our children’s safety.

A week in the Life

Meanwhile our trial group pushed through with learning and the outcome of the trial was so successful that in the second 2015 cohort of A week in the Life saw Newmarket school take part with 86 students and three class teachers. Because I had been involved I was able to support our teachers by attending most of the online teacher meetings and they attended whenever they were able to attend. The difference between cohort 2 and cohort 1 was that I was no longer attending teacher meetings at midnight on a Thursday. The benefit of having our classes take part was that a Week in the Life learning happened as part of their in class programme. My trial group had been doing their part during a 40 minute lunchtime once a week. Basically children are placed into groups with children from other schools across the globe. The goal is to produce an artefact that shows the outcome of the children working together.


I have learnt the importance of curating when I am learning online and I do this digitally using my wiki. So I curated the information that Julie @julielindsay fired at us such as who the teachers were who were involved, and I added links and curated meeting clips and slides because sometimes we needed to revisit them to keep up to date with schedules and deadlines.

We also had the google group emails coming at us. The challenge was that if teachers registered using their school email address then a lot of information would clog up their inboxes. I had learnt to deal with this by using an external email for Edmodo mail and Flat Connections. This allowed me to see at a glance where all the information was.

Teachers working together

When us four teachers from Newmarket school worked together on the online project I was really excited because I knew that a shift in learning had happened. More so than when I was by myself with the trial group of students. As much as I could, I supported our teachers during report writing by dealing with most of the communication.  In addition we had our cultural festival and end of year business looming.

This time I was determined to have our students take part in the student summit. A student summit is when the children share their learning within a short time frame. I gave Julie a date for when we would be ready. I worked with the teachers and the teachers worked with the children and it all came together. I was really proud of Anna @MissSpeir, Belinda @BelindaHitchman and Veni @JamiesonVeni from Newmarket School. I know that taking part in the project stretched their thinking as learners themselves. We problem solved some of the technical issues and we connected with other educators and their classes via skype and Edmodo. They also helped monitor the online activities happening between student groups. I believe they were excited to see their children collaboratively learning with children from 6 other countries. When we met other educators via our Fuze meetings and via skype I think they were excited at the learning connections they made. They learnt about time zones and about everyone being responsible for our children, for each other and for other  for when we work collaboratively online.

Tools used

We used the following digital tools

  • Edmodo
  • Google Draw
  • Voice Thread
  • Fuze
  • Skype

As we navigated through a variety of tools we found that Google Draw was not that easy to use when on iPads yet is perfect for Chromes. So the schools using ipads used padlet. As a school I set up class accounts for Voice Thread, but my recommendation would be to have a school paid account and the children would have their own individual accounts. The class accounts worked to a point. but we found that only one user could use the account at a time. We had great excitement when we skyped Chipeta Elementary School in the United States of America and Wilderness School in Australia. The classes took part in the session like a skype in the classroom where they try and guess where the class in from using yes and no type questions. We also skyped in an air scientist to answer some of our questions. Fuze is like a google hangout but is more private. We used Fuze for teacher meetings and for the student summit. Edmodo continues to be a winner for us and all our children were really excited to talking to children from other parts of the world. I could see them trying to set up times for when they would all be online together. I love Edmodo too because I watched how our second language learners used translating tools to personalise and adapt learning to help them get their message across. They were so fast with flipping between two languages on their Chromes. The tools enabled their voices to be heard and often before they were ready to share orally in class.  During the Week in the Life Project I really liked observing our teachers giving feedback to student’s reflecting on their learning as part of the learning task. 

Student Summit.

The student summit happened in the final week of school as we raced towards the end of our school year. Out of our 86 children 30 children were selected to share their learning in the project. I basically gave them a single slide to build to accentuate their learning. Then narrowed down the selection group. We had one morning to prepare for the final sharing and so the presentation group had two shots at preparation before we went live. I invited our principal to watch and had some of our other classes watching too. Because of our time zone we did not get the global viewing from the other schools. So that would be something I would consider again for next time. At the same time with technology I know that the other schools could come back and rewind our session. I was really proud of our children. The final student summit is really the process of the learning.

Would I do http://aweekinthelife15-2.wikispaces.com/ again? Definitely. Learning is amazing when our teachers and children work with other schools. However something extraordinary happens when we cross oceans and time zones.

Difference to other learning.

The difference that The week in the life project has to other learning is the online collaboration that the children and teachers have with children from other countries. There is an ocean to cross and time zones to conquer. Together teachers and children create a shared artefact about their learning and this is usually to do with global issues. I think that this time children created their own artefact rather than contribute to a shared google doc and next time I would remind them about the importance of having everything in one space.

Visible Learning

As I observed the children working collaboratively, I could see teamwork happening as various members stepped up to ask and answer questions about their global topic. I saw examples of citizenship as members of our Travelwise Team took responsibility to run a school wide campaign to encourage our children to walk to school. The activity helped students to understand the impact of their actions and their role as citizens. Online and offline there were opportunities and examples of children speaking respectfully to each other as they learnt together. In Edmodo there was some discussion but probably the greatest evidence of teamwork was in co constructing information using Google Paint and in the dialogue happening on Voice Thread. I watched as my colleges helped students make connections across learning areas and to the wider world overcoming barriers of distance and time.

Julie helped us too by curating learning artefacts on a dedicated wiki. http://aweekinthelife15-2.wikispaces.com/.

 Overall impact of the WITL

The greatest impact is a glimmer of how far we can push learning through enabling students to join the Flat Connections community of learners. Learning does not have to just be within a physical space, or confined to a certain way of doing things, or even constrained by a language, distance or time. Learning extended well beyond the classroom using digital tools. Myself I learnt a lot too. I watched how the other teachers tackled problem solving and communication across time zones. I myself learnt about air quality from a student in Singapore and an air scientist somewhere in Auckland. Do visit the Flat Connections site to find out more about becoming involved.

Where to next?

As a school Newmarket has joined the ALLiS Cluster (Asian Language Learning in Schools).

I am the lead teacher for our school and I have proposed that we be involved in Connect with China project. This semester I have been an observer teacher in the project and have watched how teachers from America and Australia have made connections with Chinese education. The main tool we have used has been WeChat. I think that as a school we need to seriously consider using WeChat as a communication tool with our families as most of our families use WeChat in preference to Facebook. WeChat is a smartphone app that allows you communicate using text, photos, videos and funny stickers! You can even leave voice messages. WeChat is available across all mobile phones and it’s easy to use!

I have sent out the invite to our teachers at Newmarket School to join me in learning to use WeChat. I have been using WeChat for about three years now and I am slowly building an incredibly different PLN to what I have on twitter and facebook.

Download: http://www.wechat.com/en/

Add Me: ulimasao

Further information

If you are interested in Global Education and want to know more about flattening your walls, then join a Flat Connections group in 2016. Julie offers a range of projects that cover a range of age levels.

If you want to know more about SOLO Taxonomy then join Bridget Casse. Pam Hook and myself next year for a TeachMeetNZ Google Hangout where we will be sharing some stunning New Zealand Educators using SOLO in their teaching. Details are being finalised.

  • Date: Saturday 18th of April 2016
  • Time: 2.00pm

You can also visit Pam’s Site of incredible resources or get her into your school for professional learning. Personally I recommend her as an amazing educator who can help shift thinking within schools.





Flat Connections Global Project

IMG_1311 ‘A week in the life.’

The intent of the NZ Curriculum vision (NZC 2007 p.8) is to enable connected learners who can support the well-being of New Zealand, can relate to others, participate and contribute to the world around them. This year Newmarket School students joined the Flat Connections Global project, ‘A week in the Life’. Learners are actively engaged in digital collaborative activities with 143 students and 13 teachers from 6 different countries.

This project helps Newmarket School students enact the NZ Curriculum  vision by enabling global connections in ways that prepare young learners for their future. Students learn to question, investigate and act as global citizens using digital technologies and online learning environments – learning with and from students all over the world.

The students use SOLO Taxonomy as a model to to design the process of their own learning and to inquire into the impact of their actions as citizens on their communities and beyond. The digital literacies required to usefully and purposefully navigate the environment are a strong learning focus in the project.  The information sharing, the creation process and the learning  discussion is made visible to all with students using digital tools like Edmodo, Hapara, Google Apps, Popplet and Voice Thread and others.

Goundhog Day at Newmarket School

In 1877, Newmarket School in Auckland New Zealand was established on the site where 277 is today.
On the weekend I was excited to have our current principal Dr Wendy Kofoed take part in an online discussion about learning with educators from around New Zealand.
This discussion will continue throughout October as part of #CENZ14.
After the discussion I put a call out to Pam Hook to read what we have so far accomplished as I wanted to ensure that the project is framed by SOLO Taxonomy. 
Pam flicked me a link to a sceptics log she and a team of creators had made in 2006 and the discussion was the same. In addition she linked me up to Chris Bigum who had been part of that original discussion and he started feeding me readings and video links via twitter.
The outcome of all that weekend learning is this reflection.
One particular idea that I had read about and awoke with was groundhog day. 
We are such an old school. I thought of our first school leader, Captain Charles Ross Cholmondely Smith.
in his single classroom with his room full of children.
The stories I have read about how the children learnt is hilarious. 
But if we revisit those early days of education, we know that the teacher was basically a coach.
They used the older children to teach the younger children who in turn taught the younger ones than themselves. In addition he would have had a team of children leaders who took care of various activities to help with the running of the school, kind of like our student leadership programme.
If a child needed extra help they would know who to ask for support.
They would only go to the teacher when absolutely necessary because he ruled his classroom in true military style of the time. 
Newmarket School on current 277 site of today
As the years passed and the school grew and new teachers came in, the process continued with teachers using each other as support. There was no professional development in those days only personal learning.
They relied totally on the community for everything because there was no local $2.00 shops to stock up or colour photocopying for the walls. They used local resources in their programme kind of like the glocalisation concept. (No, not a spelling mistake.)
The children would have continued to support each other and most had a job to do to help keep the school clean and tidy because there would have been no school cleaners in those days. This is like how we structure our enviro programme.
I was thinking about our current situation with the discussion centred around learning and thought we are moving back to those times not because of circumstances but because it just worked.
Teachers are reminded about the pool of learning amongst their peers. Our current head teacher continues to lead by example in her own learning. She in turn guides and coaches her team in their learning, who guide and coach the teachers in their teams with their learning who guide and coach the children in their classes and between classes as we move back to ”it takes a whole school to teach a child,’ and we move back to the notion of a single building on the site where there are no walls and we learn with and from each other. 
We have a variety of interesting developments happening in our school and this is raising teachers to the surface with their learning. Even more exciting is that they are sharing their learning with each other and several have begun the journey of reflecting in a visible way for our global school community via  a blog that you can read on the right hand side. If I have missed anyone, please do send me your link.
So in our old grounds, in our old buildings that are being demolished and rebuilt I can hear our head teacher, teachers and children ancestors giggling and watching from the ruins saying, here we go again. And you know what, so what. This teacher with 30 years experience finds it exciting to watch the cycle of education life go around again. Just like I love watching our 100 year old tree go through its cycle of life on a yearly basis, change and grow bigger and better, Just like I love talking with teachers and hearing their learning stories and sharing their learning stories. Even more exciting is the change happening. 
Children ancestors of Newmarket School


Our journey with iPads

2011, we allowed a small trial number of children to bring their mobile devices to school.Our prerequisite was that they must have their cybersafety badge on Superclubsplus and they must have earned their gold star for technical skills.We also had parental permission. We began with 3x children. One had an iPad, one had a laptop, one had a PSP console. I collected the ISP number from their devices. What we found out……The ipad user had a personal iTunes account set up by their parent, however our user was under 13 and stated in the terms of agreement with iTunes, this should not be allowed. In addition they had a personal email address that they used.Therefore they could download apps as they wanted them and did until we intervened.Because the iPad logged on easily to the network, the device was used during break times. They sometimes allowed their friends to use them. The skills developed for the Superclubsplus cybersafety certificate were not adhered to and the student was reminded about the implications of sharing a personal device. 

Lesson: Who has the right to put on a set of apps for an iPad? Is it ours or the parents? If children bring their own, do we demand that they have a school set of apps and not others? Do we have the right to ask this of a personal device? Who is using the device at home? What happens if a parent or older sibling uses the device and communicates to our children as the device owner? What happens if inappropriate apps are loaded onto the device? Should we have times on the wifi where children cannot have access? The laptop, was not as easy to access the wireless. It kept falling off. The PSP console, could see the wireless, but was not easy to hold onto. 

2012, we were snupped and we developed a system of passwords for visitors. But that was not easy, until I had a technical lesson later in the year. After that, I was able to set up visitors with their temporary passcodes. We locked down student access to certain hours. Superclubsplus was going through changes and the children were not as enthusiastic with it. We did not encourage devices to be brought to school, but did not discourage it either. We had one student request access for learning reasons. Her parents had set up her account on a dedicated programme, but often she could not get on because someone else had set up her online account and I could not help her. What about devices that are internet capable that are brought to school. Eg: smart phones with internet accounts and the children take photos of their peers and teachers and upload them to a social media account. We gave each teacher an iPad and found that they added their own iTunes account and then let the children have access to the device. 

Lesson,1)Learning need students accounts need to be set up by the school, not the parent. 2)Ruling about bringing a smart phone to school and used inappropriately during school hours. 3) Any visitors to be added to a temporary account and not to our teacher WIFI. 4) Teachers allowing chn use of a teacher tablet because they wanted to see how children used them. Because I had been through some training as a global online mediator with Superclubsplus, I began reading around the subject of legalities and children accessing the internet. I read widely around this area and attended Nethui where I was exposed to further discussion around legalities. I continued to find my own learning exploding. Twitter was my main source of connection, reading and learning. The more I read the more cautious I became. I also became interested in not just the learning with mobile technology but the implications. One starting to come through is that todays youth are not getting the required amount of sleep. Therefore sleep patterns are being affected. My investigation as an efellow highlighted the importance of collaboration and making connections. I was forced to face the fact that I often hide behind electronic communication and needed to balance that with face to face sharing. So moving out of my comfort zone I presented at a variety events. This included TeachMeet, Ignite Leadership and at our area ESOL cluster.  I also attended educamp and padcamp. I collaborated on a global project with one of our teachers.

2013Back at school, we called back all the teacher iPads and found out how much they had been used. From our findings, not as much as we had hoped. Really most of the apps we identified were from the principal and myself, with a few others from individual teachers. We invested in configurator because children safety was our top priority. We brought in Allanah King to share with us how she used iPads with her students. We identified a set of aps that would be standard on all student ipads. There is still discussion about the relevance of this but we will sort it out as we learn from this experience. From this, teachers were enthusiastic and asked for their iPads back, so we bought a new set for them. Again we will use this year as a learning year. The one rule we gave teachers was that students were not to use their teaching iPad. Just like they must not use their TELA laptop. They were to use this tool as a learning opportunity. Already one error on my part was adding youtube to the student iPad. I was thinking from teacher access. Again terms of agreement state that under 13 must not access youtube. So that will be removed the next time I work with configurator.  

Lesson1) Some websites do strange things with iPads. Eg: we had challenges with reading eggs and skoodle. Wikispaces looks very different. Therefore we are identifying tools that we can use with the children, that are safe but also can be used on the iPad. The terms of agreement in configurator identified ages for the apps to use. This helped immensely. I identified that any app with social media connections was not an appropriate app to add. Our top findings was if an account does not require student email, it was reasonably safe. If an account asked for school verification for a teacher account, then it was reasonably safe. Eg: Myportfolio, kidblog, reading eggs are safe. Accounts not safe, include wikispaces, club penguin, youtube, prezi. They all require permission for 14- 18. There is nothing stated for under. Or it said that educators take ownership and responsibility for the use of these. We have already learnt of the volume of access with our work with Superclubsplus so unless the teacher is on the environment 24/7 -caution is needed. We purchased and distributed apple TV’s to the 6 targeted classes. This was to any remaining classes without a smart board. Smart board classes had a VGA connection purchased for the teacher’s iPad. The initial observation included teachers sharing photos of learning. We hope to see this grow into children sharing their learning.


  1. Ensuring that teachers used appropriate sites with our children legally.
  2. Teachers using appropriate apps with our children and have a purposeful learning intention.
  3. Continue to observe and investigate what other primary schools do in regards to mobile learning. eg: Just because you can does not mean that you should.
  4. Create our policy around the use of devices with children.
  5. Continue with professional development in the use of mobile technology for our teachers.
  6. Continue to learn about online learning spaces.

            Do you use iPads at your school? What learning have you uncovered?

            Hyperconnect using elluminate

            Using elluminate http://www.elluminate.com

            Be aware of time difference <a href="http://www.timeanddate.com/

            I had the most interesting experience on the weekend. @CliveSir on twitter called for people who could help answer some elluminate questions. I put my hand up and before I knew it I was asked to be a moderator for http://reformsymposium.com/

            I was co-moderator for @krivett1 as she presented ‘Literacy in the Digital Age’. @mrsdkrebs was the main moderator and I learnt from watching her.

            I had been a participant several times during elluminate sessions but when the message came via twitter for helpers for rncons3, I agreed to help to see what it would be like and to find out more about the global free conference. Now the conference itself would be another whole blog. This time I just want to focus on the tool because it was one of my personal goals this year to find out more about elluminate.

            Some of the things I learnt about elluminate was:

            How do I set up a poll? I still have to work on that.

            2x Elluminate windows should not be open- so look at the bottom of the screen. This causes echoing. As a moderator- sign on early and set up your profile so that participants can learn more about you. Add a picture. Communicating on line requires a personal touch.

            Always have a map for participants available as it is interesting to see where everyone comes from. It took me a while to figure out how to add a map. One neat idea was having little smiley faces that people could plot onto the map. Get the participants to test that you can be heard. Use the smile to indicate whether you can hear the presenter. Then have participants use chat to inform what the time is, and what the weather is like.

            Have a video start to introduce yourself and then switch it off to save bandwidth.

            As a mediator, I noticed that more tools show up. I have set up my own room and here is the link. Unfortunately you can have a look and if I am not there nothing will be happening.


            When you sign on as a participant to an Elluminate session use your twitter name like @vanschaijik. That little gem took me a while to figure out.

            When presenting- get the audience to add a smiley, or a hand clap to give a sign of participation. The chat can be quite distracting so if you are presenting focus on sharing. The mediator will be interacting with the participants for you.

            Use images and simple phrases- do not use lines of text. Because the audience is hearing only a voice, reading the screen- becomes death by powerpoint. Think of how Lessig presents. Single words and images. I am going to have to redo some presentations. The computer screen can be shared if you want to have a look at some websites, but again band width can be an issue. So upload your presentation to the system and try and have links available on a word document to copy and paste into chat. You can copy and paste URLs onto a working sheet. Hyperlinks and animations do not work.

            Remember to thank the moderators after the event.

            Get on early and test everything before participants arrive and do not leave. When you exit the room you loose all your slides and have to start again. Room settings cannot be saved.

            I have been involved in a few elluminate sessions but tonights by @shellterrell was one of the best. She obviously had presented via Elluminate several times and I learnt heaps from just listening. She spoke about setting 30 goals.

            If you want to read about other moderators experiences with elluminate then have a look at Jo Harts blog. http://johart1.edublogs.org/2011/07/17/reform-symposium-presenter-training-overview/

            She writes about some of the challenges that can be encountered when being a moderator.

            #RSCON3 set up a google doc and had presenters ask questions and Chiew @aClilToClimb proved to be a mine of information. Here is the list of questions and answers that were helpful. https://docs.google.com/document/d/11ysUifJoANnf1ELq9UeFPeEZ6QYJM3XHoNpcTEpoKeo/edit?hl=en_GB&pli=1

            Chiew took the questions and answers and created this self help document. https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hREOuQBdusNamC0_pR2vq_TpUNL7_KSbDGWeUKM4bos/edit?hl=en_US&pli=1

            Finally if you want to have a play and create your own space. Then here is the link to create your room with 3 participants and no recording facilities. You can pay for the upgraded version and more participants. http://www.learncentral.org/