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



Eduignite

This post is a reflection of all the times I have taken part in Eduigite sessions.

I guess it is thanks to Veni Jamieson whose feedback to me after one of my led staff meetings was ‘Find out how not to blush so much when you present.’

I do, I get really red because I am not a public speaker and the nerves are just there.

So the first thing I did was research and some steps I read include, drink cold water before going into a session, locate the room and survey before you begin, make connections with your audience, and just get in front and do it. The more you present the better you will be.

The steps are simple enough except for ‘practice speaking out loud as often as you can to a room full of people’. Hence Eduignite. Where else could I find a better group of people to practice on than my own peers?

My first eduignite, I attended was Term 3 2012.
The second time I was unwell, but went along anyway and presented. I was really nervous as you can see and hear.

To present in 5 minutes, a lot of time is involved in preparation just for 5 minutes.
The format is 20 slides in 5 minutes. Each slide auto runs at 15 sec intervals.
You have to know your topic really well.

I rely on cue cards as I speak, because I just do. I have also used an ipad as cue cards and learnt to create PDFs that could be downloaded in advance using iBooks. That was before schools had easier access to wifi. Now I usually use them because it is just one less technology I am organising.

As each session progressed, I am not as nervous at the thought. I have now given 5x mini presentations and yes my confidence has certainly grown in this area. I do not feel as nervous as the earlier days and I am getting better. Every so often I get feedback that makes me pause and think. Like last presentation night when Emma Winder said Sonya you always share some great ideas. Because for me the real purpose is practicing with  a room full of peers to overcome nerves. The bonus is I also get to listen to other stunning presentations and hear teachers sharing their stories.

I also like to see the videos of my own performance and the earlier ones I cringe at but learning can’t happen without a few lessons.

Last night, I did not blush. Where to next for me. The next eduignite is held at the National library in week 1-2 of Term 4. Andrew Cowie is orgainisng that one as part of Connected Educators Month #CENZ14 and I will present again because this year I set myself a goal of sharing a three part journey.
Part one: My personal tattoo, Part two: My digital tattoo, Part three: Citizenship. You can check out the slides on my slideshare account.

I have had Reubina Irshad come along to one session and Wendy Kofoed my principal attend another. Eduignite stipulates that the first time you attend, the second you either present or bring a mate. Having peers attending from school only added to the stress of presenting because again, presenting to people you know has both positives and negatives.

This time too I have set further goals, invite the rest of Newmarket Staff to join me in the third presentation of  the three part series, get some more feedback from Veni to see if he thinks I have improved and EKK not use cue cards. There I have written it down.

This would be extra fabulous for me because I have been working with our Newmarket Staff on making connections with each other using social media. Eduignite would be a great way of connecting with other educators F2F outside of Newmarket School, use twitter during the session and maybe this might higlight too the importance of making their own learning visible.

The great thing about Eduignite is that the entertainment learning is free and there is always wine and food. The evenings are fun and you get to meet some great people.

So I do hope you all join me in Term 4 at the National Library.

Finally, just a shout out for Torbay school who hosted the last session. They are selling cook books as a fund raiser. I loved the way Johanna Chambers kept reminding us and she did all she could to support her school in their fundraiser. Oh and I caught the tail end of their children’s Trash to Fash sharing. It was absolutely brilliant.

Torbay School Cookbook. Developed by students. Awesome Christmas gifts @vanschaijik pic.twitter.com/oYxLoTmWLC
— Johanna Chambers (@ChambersJohannaSeptember 11, 2014

TeachMeetNZ Anniversary

First week back at school this term and I was still finishing off TeachMeetNZ Anniversary session.
On the 3rd of May we hosted our anniversary session.
However the real date that TeachMeetNZ began was on the 4th of May 2013.

We had a full house.
@MissDtheTeacher @stephen_tpk@gingamusings @kaiako_nz @gmacmanus @chasingalyx
Our invited guest was Arjana abfromzwho got up at 4.00am in her timezone to join us. She was invited as a mentor and guest and in true Arjana style she had a turn at presenting. 

Time Keeper was Kathy @kathyscott25   and she was also back up host. Kathy was one educator who had been with me from the start learning how to use the tools. She tinkles the bell to keep us on time.
For this session we trialled Question and answer in hangout and worked at bringing in more participants.
Marnel 1MvdS was my monitor for this new tool. The challenge she had was being able to see it from within a hangout. My fault, I was training the presenters but did not realise how difficult it was to see the questions from within a hangout. At the end of the session, Marnel created a storifi of the twitter feed.
We trended again on twitter.

Monika @BeLchick1 watched the twitter feed and broadcasted on twitter as presenters spoke 
We broke the 100 live time views mark on the day and 15 people watched the session right through.
Our first session took 25 minutes to broadcast and this one took just over an hour.

I have learnt a lot about my self from hearing the way I speak and direct teachers. Some of my learning include not to be so direct, giving positive, clear feedback and acknowledging the other educators who gather around me to ensure that the sessions run smoothly. These include broadcasting and helping with training. There have been 38 teacher presenters on the sessions and you can go and rewind their sessions here. The highlight for me is the reflective blogging that happens after the sessions. This is when the real learning happens for teachers as I think about how we can continue to get sidetracked with the product. I also learnt that with the Festival of Education GHO session I myself am unable to screen share. I love the way that the recording was live almost immediately after the session.

Where to next? I would love to run a session with staff to share their inquiry. I am keen to have  a try at running a virtual mini conference. Maybe call in past presenters to run their own sessions but all within a single hour period. Begin with one session where everyone can tune in and then push people out to various groups and pages on the wiki. It would be great to have questions and answers too from a virtual audience.

Finally I am ready to run a discussion as is being planned because I can now operate the Q & A section on a hangout.

TeachMeetNZ Reflection

Recently the above message came to me via twitter from Annemarie Hyde.

Of course I responded with a yes and here is my Eduigniterotovegas presentation. I shared about TeachMeetNZ and about the amazing connections I have made with New Zealand educators. I shared about the site being a collaborative product and how proud I am to have nearly 30 mini presentations available for anyone to come, view and share. It was great to have Marnel Van der Spuy as master of ceremony at the Eduignite and to see her in this leadership role all the way in Rotorua via Google Hangout. Because I was presenting I needed to have practise sessions and was grateful to and to  who spent time with me in a Hangout so that I could practise my part of activating shared screen and showing my own presentation. I did miss having with her rattle snake to remind me of time.

To be honest I am always hosting a Google Hangout Session but I have never really presented. I have been hosting TeachMeetNZ sessions for nearly  a year now and the sessions allow New Zealand educators to talk to each other. The sessions are like being in a conference yet more like when you meet over coffee with your educator friends. That kind of sharing of practice is a fabulous way for New Zealand educators to use technology to talk together.
TeachMeetNZ shifts the focus of conferences because now we do not have the restrictions of time, space or paying to attend a conference. The exciting part of TeachMeetNZ is the ability of a teacher presenting to other teachers. Yet the experience is not just for the teachers who attend or who tune into a session but also for the teachers who presenting. I did not realise the value of this until I myself presented at Eduigniterotovegas via Google Hangout.

Sharing via Google Hangout provides opportunities for educators all over New Zealand to share their expertise with other educators and this is not restricted by time, venue or location. 
As  would say ‘It’s Magic.’ The ‘Magic’ is for educators to share with each other as she did so well recently when she highlighted TeachMeetNZ at #Educampdunners. 
There is no selection process for a TeachMeetNZ session and I am proud of the fact that anyone can share. Generally, I tag people on twitter who have shown an interest and often I am asked if they can join a session. Every session new ideas come in. As a host I have learnt so much listening to each educator share their passion, practice, expertise and ideas from around New Zealand. I feel elated every time especially when I see people from all over New Zealand connecting and then from outside of New Zealand sharing the sessions. 
So for you audience come and join a TeachMeetNZ sessions and watch. Come and see how much fun it is to meet other educators and have deep meaningful conversations. Start by being a lurker and rewind the learning. Follow the conversation on twitter using the #TeachMeetNZ hashtag. 
I believe TeachMeetNZ is something of significant value to the New Zealand educators scene and I am excited to be presenting a special anniversary session on the 3rd of May. I already have a glimmer of running a full virtual national conference because I can see how to use the Google Hangout tool with the questions and answer features activated.

To finish with, when I was waiting for the session to begin, I felt excited at seeing and  out there in the Rotorua audience because they are part of both my online learning world as well as my face to face learning. I enjoyed presenting via Google Hangout and welcomed the opportunity to be part of the process instead of directing the event.

Steve Hargadon’s video provided me with lots of inspiration for this post.


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.

Denmark

My learning for Denmark included loosing my luggage at the airport after arriving from London. The other learning is lining up in queues. The kronnen was about a quarter in New Zealand money. EG: arriving starving, I grabbed a Macdonald Salad at 66 KK or about $15.00NZ.
I managed to purchase a telia data simm for 3 KB at 99KK. I bought this at a communications shop near the central train station. This was cheaper than the same price for 1 KB at the airport.
 Again I used my ipad to navigate a new city easily. The first day out looking for a simm, I discovered that my hotel was in walking distance from the train station but on arrival the previous day in the centre, I felt disorientated and took a taxi. DOH
I stayed at the Best Western Hotel for the first two nights and waited for my luggage. Luckily it arrived the following day. My room was really hot and fortunately I had a top level room with a balcony so opened the windows as soon as I arrived.
My two education goals was meeting a Danish teacher via twitter contact and finding my way up to Billunds to visit the brand new international school. In addition I wanted to reach my family in Kerteminde near the sea and to visit the place of my grandfathers birth, Tved near Kolding. In all I achieved three goals and missed Tved.
In Copenhagen, I took the Panoramic City Tour so that I could visit Langelinie, the little mermaid and in addition I took a canal tour. Both I did on the first day as part of the Copenhagen City Pass. In addition I also visited Tivoli and climbed to the top of the Round Tower.
Via the Internet I located Nyborg the closest city to Kristmende and took the train there. The trip was just under two hours. My cousin met me at the station and we drove up to her place in Kristmende near the sea. I spent three glorious nights with her and her husband and it was good to take a break and not think about my schedule and organising the next sections.
My cousin took me swimming in the sea and I was astounded at how warm the ocean was. We spent ages swimming and I loved it so much I really did not want to leave the water.
The second night it was her birthday and we woke on the day to see the neighbours with Danish flags flying and I found out it was a tradition when celebrating birthdays. I thought that this was a great tradition.
I met her husband’s brother and wife who are both deaf and was fascinated to learn how an iphone changed their lives. They showed me all that they did and loved facetime for communicating with their children and grandchildren.
My cousin’s husband introduced me to two Danish traditions. Schnapps and salted fish. For my first lunch I had a small glass of schnapps and slept the whole afternoon. My cousin took me to visit the Viking Burial site in Ladbury. The second day I declined drinking schapps because I had too much to see and could not afford to be sleeping.
The following day my cousin took me to the Danish doctor because I had picked up a cough which I suspected as asthma flaring up with staying in hotel’s air-conditioning then we visited Funen Village in Odense where I was able to experience a village during the time of Hans Christian Anderson. Wee watched the play of the swineherd and the princess and the pea performed by local children. Odense is also the village where this famous Danish author comes from. My cousin took me to visit his house. All were amazing experiences. On my final day, I was driven back to Nyborg where I caught the train to Billens.
Once in Billens, I caught the bus to Vejle and got off at Legoland. From Legoland I caught a taxi to my hotel. Once registered I returned to Legoland via the free shuttle and spent the afternoon and evening exploring this amazing little city of Lego. I ate dinner there before retuning to my hotel for the night.
The next day, I visited Billunds international school and will write more about that experience in its own post.
Because the school was near the bus station, I walked back to the station and reversed my trip back to Copenhagen.  This time I stayed in the hotel Phoenix Copenhagen which was most luxurious but again really hot. But all this no air-conditioning helped my asthma tremendously because the coughing stopped. I went out for dinner in Nyhavn, ate mussels and broke the bank. They were the small tender black mussels.
The following day, I awoke to a message the Lene would meet me therefore the one day I should have been up early I slept in. Because I had travelled north via train, taking the train to Roskilde was a breeze and I discovered if I stood between carriages for the 30 minute trip, I could save money. I took the train to Roskilde and visited Domkirke the church where all the Danish Kings are buried. It is a UNESCO heritage site.
I met Lene and we had a two-hour discussion about education. It was so exciting to meet a like-minded educator and to learn some new ideas. She showed me photos of the schools that she has worked in and I got some great ideas for our school. Afterwards her family dropped me off to the Viking Museum and I spent a couple of hours wondering and exploring past skills and tradition. The feeling of connection with peoples of past is amazing. I could really see why my grandfather had such a connection to Samoa. Thatching rooves, sailing ships, physical labour to produce products. What a wonderful experience. How do I share those feelings? On the way back to my hotel I found a supermarket and bought some fresh food for dinner and lunch the next day.
Denmark, not knowing the language was not a problem. I had an interesting final evening on the bank of Nyhavn where I spoke to a Slovakian lady using translate. It was wonderful not to have a barrier for conversation. We had a great conversation.
The following day, I caught the train from Osterport to the airport and had no problems.
My learning in Denmark:
-Use the trains as they can be booked in English at the station.
-Line up for everything and don’t forget to get a queue ticket. Learnt that lesson after lining up for 30 minutes only to not have a ticket and having to start again.
-Check that nothing is left behind after leaving my jacket and plane pillow on the bus to Billens.
-Find out if there is a bus shuttle to the airport. Again identify the area of accommodation and locate the train stations.
Some of the neat snippets I took away from Denmark are bikes everywhere, recycling of cans and plastic and the public are encouraged to recycle, fierce pride in their viking history, commitment to sustaining their language.

So do you have any interesting travel memories?

TravelWise

Kia Ora, Talofa lava, Greetings .
My name is Sonya and I am a teacher at Newmarket School.
This is our first year for TravelWise. We are a Green/ Gold Enviro School and one of our focus this year is traveling to and from school.
A little bit about me, I am a Samoan bilingual, I am ESOL trained and last year I was awarded an efellowship with Core Education.
I have been teaching for over 25 years and have taught in all levels of primary school and have also spent time in tertiary teaching.
Those of you with smart phones and with access to social media please do not turn them off but use them to broadcast today and use the hash tag #TravelWise
You can find me on Instagram, Linked, Facebook and Twitter. You can also find me on Myportfolio and the Virtual Learning Network.  My online name is Ulimasao or you can find me by searching Van Schaijik
Thank you to Jamie and Samuel for giving me this opportunity to share our learning story with you. Thank you to TravelWise for this day of professional learning and the opportunity to make connections.
Today I am here to share with you our planning for real day that took place in May.
To be more specific I will share with you how we used Social Media to make national and global connections during the day.
It was a combination of events that all came together about the same time.
First- we had been invited by Superclubsplus to put our name forward for the BBC Global Assembly as there were no New Zealand Schools involved. We had previously been involved in a global activity as part of our Enviro project and with our work with trialing Superclubsplus as part of the Netsafe project.
So this is how the first connection was made. Then when Jamie and Samuel came for a meeting with regards to our Planning for Real Day.  I mentioned that if we could pull off the day and tie it with the BBC invitation, why not aim for within a fortnight.
So we did. Jamie and Samuel coordinated the large school map and resources. I made contact with Superclubsplus who gave us the BBC contact. BBC agreed to interview us later in the BBC assembly and called for all our phone details. We also had to create an article in regards to our school and we did.
We selected a group of children who began preparation for the interview.
Then we received a call that Breakfast TV wanted to share our story so it was all go.
We alerted staff of the short notice for the event and they were supportive by preparing the children for the Planning for Real Day.
The planning for real day went to schedule and we took the map into the studio. Last minute phone calls were made to get parental permission for the televised session. We already had permission for the BBC project. Our children reminded the interviewer not to use their last names. Here is the interview.
We waited for the phone call from England but unfortunately this did not eventuate. However with huge apologies from their part, BBC have highlighted us on social media and this is quite extensive.
We did not waste the children’s prepared speeches and have used this on a school video which we hosted on our youtube channel.
After the planning for Real Day we displayed the map in our foyer and already we can see a pattern and what we need to plan for next.
We uploaded the photos to our picasa page, uploaded the videos to our youtube channel, and have been broadcasting #BBCassembly on twitter and facebook.
How many of you use social media? One key idea we foster is ‘learn from doing’.
We know our children will have access to most places online when they go home.
So what we teach is keep yourself safe online and be respectful when using the Internet. This is the same as when they interact face to face.
We also work through the same challenges with our teachers. We encourage them to experiment and become familiar with the tools. We remind them about their responsibilities when working with minors and their legal obligations.
Here are some of the tools that the Ministry of Education encourage us to use in our professional learning. I will use this to plug a webinair that is happening today after school in regards to global citizenship.
Our connections with our Planning for Real Day.
You can find our social media sites on the front of our school website.
As much fun as it is in making connections using the nodes of Social Media, I draw your attention to the ‘space between the nodes.’
The space that cannot be seen but without it the nodes are meaningless. I liken the space to the air we breathe, or the sea that is such an important part of our survival.
Relationships and making connections are not easy to assess but they are important in maintaining the social media nodes.
So for TravelWise I am keen to make connections and develop relationships with those of you with experience in this area and with those of you just starting out like me. One idea is to have  a group of children working together collaboratively on a common goal that is TravelWise based.
I shared with you our planning for real day that took place in May.
I shared with you how we used Social Media to make national and global connections during the day. I suggested that I would like to make connections and to build relationships between schools on a collaborative project.
So if anyone is keen to become involved, then please do not hesitate to make contact.