On Thursday the 10th of October, I presented at Ulearn13 conference my TeachMeetNZ project that has evolved extensively since the beginning of the year. TeachMeetNZ is the culmination of my investigation into Hyperconnectivity when I realised that in order to shift my learning I needed to create a site for educators to come together and share. This year I launched TeachMeetNZ as part of my TeachNZ Sabbatical. 
This TeachMeetNZ presentation time was especially interesting because I had with me 5x virtual presenters who shared their own inquiries. The event was live streamed from the front of the TeachMeetNZ wikispace in front of a live audience.

I must thank Becky @BeckyHare26 and the Ulearn13 Tech Team who ensured that I had all the support I asked for and needed to run a successful live Hangout.
Each TeachMeetNZ presenter shared something unique to them that was important to their learning and highlighted for me how important it is to have a vehicle for sharing of teachers’ inquiry.
If you want to see their inquiries and reflections then you can hear and see their video and their slides on TeachMeetNZ_Ulearn13.

Because TeachMeetNZ is all about sharing of learning I have added my slides for viewing from my Slideshare site.
TeachMeet 3 Ulearn13 from Ulimasao Van Schaijik

One highlight for Ulearn13 was meeting Mark Pesce @mpesce who has influenced my efellowship learning around Hyperconnectivity.
As I reflect on my efellow’s project of Hyperconnectivity I realise that I have created a site for teachers to share their inquiry and have already curated 15 teacher inquiries. So do visit TeachMeetNZ.
Mark guided my thinking in that what happens between the nodes of connectivity is what influences the connections and to pay attention to what cannot be seen. 
From this third TeachMeetNZ I must acknowledge Chris Dillon who has clarified my thinking about having digital badges and ensuring that the badge clicks back to evidence of learning. I had begun the process of awarding a badge but had not thought about ensuring they link back to evidence.
From Chris Swanwich, I have realised that if I focus on teacher inquiry, as part of TeachMeetNZ New Zealand Educators will have a rich source of resources to refer to when they undertake their own inquiry. 
From Hanna Fale I take away that the Learning Environment is conducive to children’s learning and it is the educator who frames that environment with their own understanding of learning. So I continue to frame TeachMeetNZ environment to cater for the evolving demand.
From Tim Gander, I have already framed the next step of TeachMeetNZ when we undertake a PE Google+ discussion using TeachMeetNZ as the site to pull it together.
From Melanie Matthews, I am reminded to continue framing my learning using SOLO taxonomy as SOLO pushes my own thinking to deeper levels. If I stretch my thinking then everyone I work with is also challenged in their own thinking.
So where to next?
I am running another TeachMeetNZ in November and hope that you can join us virtually as again we share teachers learning and reflecting on practice.
If you would like to be part of a future TeachMeetNZ hangout to share your learning, please contact me, alternatively you can put your name down on the wiki.
What you get out of sharing on TeachMeetNZ is a 
  • The opportunity to meet and make connections with other stunning educators.
  • Digital Badge for your portfolio with a link to evidence of presenting on TeachMeetNZ. 
  • A wiki page that you will have embedded your slides into
  • A 3 minute video clip of your presentation
  • A photo of you in the hangout 
  • The chance to present to a global audience.
I also have ideas of discussion for targeted areas of interests that have been seeded by Tim and Marnel. Both these stunning educators have presented on TeachMeetNZ and have recently been awarded an efellowship for 2014.
In addition I have some invited Global Educators who have agreed to hangout with me with invited New Zealand Educators. That is coming up soon.
To make the wiki even stronger in Teacher inquiry, you can add a comment to the teachers pages or follow the discussion on twitter using #TeachMeetNZ.
So do you have an inquiry that you would like to share with a greater audience? It can be an investigation that you are undertaking in your classroom.

Our school app

One of the strengths of SOLO taxonomy is being able to identify where I am with my learning and what my next steps are. @arti_choke. often reminds me to think about the process and not the finished product. When using ICT I often get caught up with the tools I use and focus on the finished product.  However reflecting on the process of my journey is important for abstract thinking.

So this time I choose to reflect on my process of building a school app for smart phones.
My learning journey with app building began last year when I followed up a Telstracleartweet about giving away free passes to Armageddon.
Through that tweet I managed to acquire two passes to a days event.
Before arriving at the venue, I searched for Armageddon on the app store and found their app for the event. Armageddon was magic and the app was really easy to use. The app enabled me to locate 
Ant Sang and also Zaboo and Vork from  the web series, The Guild.
That small act of kindness from Telstraclear launched me into an amazing journey that I am still on with app creating.
When I downloaded the app, I noticed that it was hosted by guidebookBeing of a curious nature, I downloaded guidebook and started playing. I was excited to play in a new area of technology. As I played I noticed the limitations.

The first limitation was that the app was free to a certain level and then if you wanted more features like having a tweet feed, you would have to pay considerable extra, and even more for unlimited downloads. At the same time the positives was being able to see what the app should look like. I liked the tidy structure that guidebook provided.
About the same time on twitter @Allanahkdrew my attention to ibuildapp Again I played and developed our school app. Yet again was hindered and this time by the registration fee. But I will come back to that later.
So where to next. By absolute accident I revisited my personal wikipage links page for different online environments that I register for. I noticed that widgetboxhad updated its tools and had a place for mobile app creation.
The positive addition with widget box was the free trial for two weeks that I was allowed. I could download and test the app over a variety of devices. Because of my previous experience with apps, I built the app in a day using the knowledge that I had already garnered.
My principalsaw the relevance of what I was doing and her excitement spurred me on when she asked some of our teachers to trial the app. I had great feedback for the app in particular from @oprubyslippers, @ginnynz01 and  @tashjaz .
So again I shuffled and fine-tuned the app and passed on the trial to other teachers in our school.
With our principal’s excitement and encouragement, I also created some useful tools for our teachers to use with their smart phones but more about that in a future post.
I then tried to have the app hosted free but the provider was not as advanced thinking in this area. Therefore I will not mention them again.
So where are we up to.
Unfortunately I can get the phone widget working on my wikispace but am unable to have it working correctly from our website. The html language is not quite correct and I am unable to rectify the problem. However using another pathway, the app link is up. It is clumsy but it is up.  So the app is live from our front page. You can download it here.
Our school app has been trialed on an android and an iPOD. The trials have been successful. The only negative with using the current builder is that this app cannot be read by an iPAD. However the developers are working on this limitation. Another limitation is that our logo cannot be seen on the androids. A further limitation is that the outline when downloaded is black only and that the social media tools are not in colour. The final limitation is the ongoing monthly cost to host the app. But the research I carried out over the three providers that I trialed all involved a monthly fee.
I will target a group of parents to give me community feedback and have started targeting our business partners to help us send the app out free to our community.
Retuning to ibuildapp. I love the idea of selling a school app and making money for the PTA but we do not charge for our school website so for this app I am reluctant to charge for information that is already out there. It also brings home to me that I am using my school laptop and iPHONE to build and trial the app and therefore what I build and trial belongs to my school.
At the same time extended abstract thinking using SOLO taxonomy enables me to understand that my next steps will be in creating code for building a learning app. The app that I have developed is an aggregation of sites. It is web based and requires the internet to drive the information. So the app is really our website in mobile form. 
Initially the app was built to give our community access to what we are doing and up to date information on happenings. But already I can see how our school app can be used to engage our community in what we are doing. One clear idea coming through is having access to real time survey.

Overall I think that building a school app was interesting and exciting because I learnt about the limitations of using a smart phone developers template. I also learnt what the school app should include but most of all I learnt about making connections and receiving feedback from my colleagues and using this feedback to develop a better product. I also found out that I already have some skills to begin developing my own app code and that I want to learn more about the process of being an app developer   so that I may support our learners as we move into this area of creating.
If you want to know more, have some suggestions for me or would like to support us in this area, please feel free to comment, twitter me @vanschaijik or our principal @newmarketschool or email me.

My Twitter History

http://twopcharts.com I have been investigating my twitter history and came up with some interesting memories.
My first tweet was sent on 25 Oct 2008. Therefore I have been using twitter for 1,136 days.
The first account I followed was @nzcurriculum. I do not remember why I chose them first. The first account to follow me back was @CherylDoig and it was through her that I began to build up my followers. So far I have not quite broken sending 1000 tweets but I know I have read more than that as I regularly pop on to follow the breadcrumbs of other educators.
When I first began using twitter just over 3 years ago, I was number 16,581893 user. My stats say that I have been on Twitter for 55.07% of its existence. I began by following television stars like @Oprah and also a few preachers as I was interested in how they used this medium to communicate with their followers. I used to follow a few singers. I won’t name them here but you know who I mean. I soon became irritated by the hogging of communication. So now I dump twitters who hog the timeline. Every so often I have a clean out and find out who is not using twitter regularly and they get filed. Sometimes I check out who is following me and usually look for ‘julia’ type profiles that do not fit my educator profile.
I do not know who introduced me to twitter, but I think it was at the time of @BarackObama and his presidential campaign. So it might have been the hype around his use. I witnessed his campaign using twitter and from then on I was hooked. Barack introduced me to the concept of real time technology as I watched the twitter timeline and the live video streaming of his win.

For the first year using twitter was a lonely existence on the ground and yet really exciting up in the twitter cloud. I did not find discussing my use easy, as other educators around me were not ready for this social medium. But what I now find is that I have made some great connection. One of these was hooking up with the efellows. The list of 2011 efellows twitters can be viewed here on https://twitter.com/#!/dragonsinger57/core-efellows-2011.

Great excitement happened when our principal took her initial twitter steps @newmarketschool. The URL had been booked for over a year and then last year she began to follow and then start post and respond to posts. However the greatest enjoyment I have had this year was when three of our teachers began to use twitter. @oprubyslippers, @MissNWalden and @Kyliegeddes.

At this stage I use twitter to amplify some of the exciting learning that happens at Newmarket School. I do this by retweeting and adding users who I know will retweet the message. Every so often I might use it for advertising or to share a link.
But it is the following of breadcrumbs that I enjoy the most. I have learnt so much using twitter and my wikispace http://www.ulimasao.wikispaces.com is the evidence of what I learn.

Where to next, I really need to sort out my list and I will use @justadandak idea of sorting his followers into lists. I already have one list of Pacific Islanders on twitter and I set that up in the early days. What I find is that some of my favourite tweetchers are being buried in the online noise. I hardly see @arti_choke anymore unless I really go searching for her. I am getting better at using @ and # to amplify my tweets. I use my tweets for microblogging and when I am ready, I write a blog entry.

So share with me your twitter history so that I may make links with my own learning about my twitter history.

Keeping track.

One of the changes in my thinking that has taken place over the past few weeks is about online work. I have so many learning sites that it is a challenge to keep track of them all.

One way I do this is to create a list using my wikispace. I do have a delicious account for keeping track of websites however my online spaces have a different purpose. I have two different personas. One persona is as a teacher and online school administrator and the other persona is for personal learning. Sometimes my spaces merge between the two personalities and sometimes I feel that they need to be kept separate. I also want a third online personality for keeping my digital photos and videos tidy and out of my computer. I am struggling not to create another space.

So here is one way I have chosen to show my learning self and that is using http://flavors.me/ulimasao.

I place this link onto twitter. Initially, I added my personal youtube video space and picassa photo folders. However when I was checking out information, I realized that the sites chosen did not match my twitter persona. So I adapted and merged my teacher sites with my personal blog. Even that does not feel correct as I have been channeling our teachers learning onto our school youtube account. A few of the videos are not ones I have created.

The second change in thinking is regarding online writing. Initially I wrote for an audience and was hesitant about publishing. But realize that writing for myself is a more powerful tool This came about with myportfolio work with teachers who do not want anyone reading their work or seeing what they have been doing. I teased them and said good luck getting anyone coming to read your work. Because I know that unless teachers live on social broadcasting sites like twitter or blogger how are they ever going to channel traffic to read their work.

I use blogger and myportfolio for my reflections. Personally I enjoy myportfolio as this is my teacher self shining through. At the same time I like using blogger because the site looks better.

When I reflect using SOLO Taxonomy I know that making connections is relational thinking. Therefore I think my blog writing often sits at relational thinking because I use my writing to make connections with my own learning. In order to shift my writing to extended abstract I need to shift to the next level and give feedback on other peoples writing. So in relation to what I have been doing this term with teachers my next steps include encouraging them to blog about their learning and give them written feedback on what they are doing. I also can write about my new learning.

Thinking maps

I was remembering the work of David Hyerle when I was a Diploma of TESOL student with Sue Gray. I had read his previous work on Thinking Maps: Tools for Learning so was researching further ideas he might have that would help me further my understanding of HOT maps. David is the developer of the Thinking Maps model. I really like the way that the Hot team have taken the Thinking maps and levelled them against SOLO taxonomy. Now when I look at a thinking map, I can see how to make modifications in order to raise the level of cognition and even how to have children help me when we co-construct our success criteria rubrics. Further on in researching I found this little gem of a website that takes some of David’s ideas and has a variety of maps that can be used some of the thinking process. For example: for compare and contrast. http://www.educationoasis.com/curriculum/graphic_organizers.htm
Then taking what I am learning with SOLO from the HOT team, I have applied all this to help me construct my learning intentions for each of my own maps. I know that these will evolve as I put into practise some of these ideas. I am creating a mapping resource that can be taken and easily modified for teaching and learning. I discovered this little tool in Power Point that has enabled me to quickly create some thinking maps.
My next step is to modify the assessment rubrics from the HOT team to fit my current unit of work.

Reflecting on practice

A while back I had downloaded a reflective survey on how we are using SOLO Taxonomy from the Hooked on Thinking website and when I punched in the title into google so that I could reference it for my wiki, I ended up on Wesley Fryer’s website.
I was blown away by his creativity and dedication to teaching and learning. One important gem I picked up was placing a disclosure policy on my blog. I read with interest his extensive work over the years using web 2 tools. I liked the way he regularly records his thinking and reflection. He had heard Pam Hook speak at a recent conference about reflective practice. Again reflective practice keeps surfacing.

I was mentoring a young teacher recently and we were discussing the importance of ongoing reflection and having the opportunity and time to do this is so important.

(Wendy, have I said thanks again for giving me this opportunity this year.) I have currently cut back my hours so that I can reflect more on my own teaching and learning. I feel energised and remotivated with children’s learning. The upside is my own learning has exploded.

So back to completing that reflective survey. The current way of completing this survey would be to create a wiki for my school in preparation for our next milestone report and link our 5th wall evidence to it. I will think more on the process of this.

I keep reading about Technorati so must find out more about what this is. I also keep reading about moodle, I want to also understand tagging and labelling my pages better and finally this week I must follow up with wall wisher as was blogged by Dorothy, Bring on Wallwisher . Hey Luke, you really did bring tears to my eyes with your blog on Teachers can be the worlds best coaches. I always enjoy reading these two educators’ blogs.