TeachMeetNZ Interface

Titled: Where Teachers Meet
TMNZ.png
(Educators involved in TeachMeetNZ in 2013)
This post is an update of that article.


In 2013, I launched TeachMeetNZ as part of my TeachNZ Sabbatical. A TeachMeet is an organised but informal meeting (in the style of an unconference) for teachers to share good practice, practical innovations and personal insights in teaching with technology. TeachMeet originated with three Scottish educators – Ewan McIntosh, David Noble and John Johnston. Currently all over the world there are hundreds of TeachMeets that take place regularly in a variety of venues. As Ewan Macintosh commented, TeachMeet was never about technology 100%, it was about the Teach first of all, and the tech was instrumental to achieving what we wanted to achieve pedagogically and never the other way around.” Ewan Macintosh.
This article will describe how I developed TeachMeetNZ, the process of the on-line organised collaboration using Google Hangout, the relevance to teaching and conclude with future development for TeachMeetNZ.


TeachMeetNZ
I developed TeachMeetNZ after two years of research, investigation, then the trialling of a variety of online products, with Google Hangout being selected as the preferred platform.  
A small team of willing educators agreed to join with me to learn how to use Google Hangout as a way of presenting, demonstrating good practise, sharing and celebrating teaching with technology. Each term, a group of inspirational New Zealand educators develop and deliver a series of presentations. These sessions are live streamed, and are attended virtually by educators from around New Zealand and globaIly. In addition a TeachMeetNZ wiki was  developed for participants to communicate and share their presentations with a virtual audience.


Collaboration and participation
TeachMeetNZ is about New Zealand teachers connecting online. They collaborate and problem solve using online tools. These educators support and mentor each other before and during the practise Google Hangout sessions. To take part, teachers prepare 12 slides that auto cue every 15 seconds so their presentation is three minutes long. The slides are hosted on Google Presentation or Slideshare and must be live before the session. We learnt that the most viewed YouTube clips are just under three minutes long so this is the preferred length. A three minute video is created of their presentation and may become a resource for use at a later time.
After the live event, discussion usually follows via twitter using the hashtag #TeachMeetNZ. Many teachers go on to blog a reflection of their session, and they can embed the YouTube clip into their blog.  A TeachMeetNZ presenters badge is awarded to those educators who present on TeachMeetNZ..  Participants and viewers willingly give feedback and regularly give their time to support and help others.


Relevance to teaching
Online spaces are useful for portfolio development and fostering interaction and collaboration. Google Hangout is a tool that can be used to collate and present resources, to support community interaction and contributions, and as a platform for personal expression. Google Hangout is an ideal tool for teachers combined with a YouTube account.


From creating and hosting TeachMeetNZ sessions I have learnt that teachers appreciate recognition and acknowledgement for what they do. Hosting TeachmeetNZ has pushed my knowledge of making connections with ideas and with people. Hosting the sessions has encouraged me to give better feedback to teachers who take part. The sessions have allowed me to be more focussed on my feedback with teachers and not to rush this important process. After each session I play the clip back and reflect on how I can carry out the task better next time. I make notes and begin with these notes at the next session. I have also learnt to go through the presentations before the live streaming so that I can better prepare my questions. I do this by asking for presentations to be live before the session and I usually run practise sessions for people new to using Google Hangout.


Where to next?
In the future I plan to host more discussion sessions with panels of educators. Last year I had an educator host a specialist session based on PE and this year I have planned to include similar sessions.  In addition I have planned to have single themed discussions and to have educators and practitioners who can contribute to themes at a deeper level. Some of the feedback that I have had from participants is that they enjoy the opportunity to ask questions and discuss ideas in greater depth. A session, that I hosted at the Festival of Education in Auckland, featured a group of inspirational educators who shared and discussed their passions both online and with a live audience.


The TeachMeetNZ site has grown rapidly and I have now become the site’s curator. Currently the site contains nearly thirty nano presentations. This number increases each term as teachers share and celebrate their learning on TeachMeetNZ. Global visitors and viewers can watch the presentations in their own time and place.


For my own learning.
The SOLO Taxonomy practitioner in me realises that my current sessions take me back to being multistructural in my thinking.  In order to achieve depth in what I do online I need to continue to take a leadership role in other online communities. As frightening as this sounds I think that my first goal is to move from participating and running TeachMeetNZ sessions in online communities to being involved at administration level with online global projects. I would also like to continue with mentoring and developing others to host sessions. The popularity of the digital badge concept may also mean that I further develop this system for levels of participation.  


If you have been a presenter or have watched a session on TeachMeetNZ, please add your comments below.


For further information
Visit the wiki
#TeachMeetNZ on twitter


Teacher from Newmarket School
Auckland New Zealand

Festival of Education

Welcome everyone to you our F2F audience and also to our global audience who have joined us who are have joined us virtually. I take this time to say thanks to my twitter buddies who have tweeted and retweeted this session to help us celebrate. The session today is a live google hangout. We have 7x educators from around New Zealand presenting. In addition we have 3x support educators with various roles that they will explain. The session is live on our wiki and also on google+

Talofa Lava, Malo e leleli, Bula Vinaka, Kia Ora, Ni Hao Ma, Anyoung Hasayo, Konnichiwa, Namaste and Welcome everyone to TeachMeetNZ Session 5 I am Sonya Van Schaijik a teacher from Newmarket School in Auckland New Zealand. The greetings are the language of our children from Newmarket. TeachMeetNZ evolved from my Core Education efellowship inquiry into Hyperconnectivity. The TeachMeetNZ site and framework was collaboratively developed during my TeachNZ sabbatical year.

The site continues to evolve and grow and currently there are over 20 mini presentations from New Zealand educators and growing. Just how much does ICT contribute to better outcomes for our learners and also for you to hear our teachers share their learning stories.

TeachMeetNZ is part of my ongoing learning with Hyperconnectivity that I began as a Core Education efellow in 2011. SOLO allowed me to identify that at extended abstract I needed to create an event for teachers so this is it. SOLO Taxonomy has allowed me to rethink the ways that teachers can share learning and has framed my next steps.

I will briefly highlight the story around setting up TeachMeetNZ. There is a fuller version on youtube embedded on the wikispace that I shared on the Virtual Learning Network.

To begin:

“TeachMeet is not about technology 100%, it is about the Teach first of all, and the tech is instrumental to achieving what we want to achieve pedagogically and never the other way around.” Ewan Macintosh

TMNZ is aimed for New Zealand Educators and our one is the first that I am aware of presenting using Google+ as the virtual venue. The history explains the process. However I want to acknowledge our first team.

In 2013 at Ignition I placed a notice up if anyone wanted to trial google hangout and to present a nano presentation. There were 6 people who joined the discussion and I shoulder tapped others. The first group agreed on a date and my team of helpers supported me in ironing out all the glitches. We live streamed all the training and mistakes. So that they could be rewound and learnt from.

Implementing the project involves these tools and putting time aside to work with the presenters virtually. Ah Huh moments

This year as I have been reading around the topic of collaboration and making connection my aha moment is when I knew that I was on the correct pathway with TeachMeetNZ in that we focus a lot on the children but teachers also need encouragement and recogniition.

On TeachMeetNZ  teachers can come together and share their learning. For presenting they will receive a digital badge for their portfolio and a video clip of their presentation.

This is the fifth session of TeachMeetNZ and I am proud to welcome the stunning line up that we have for today.Soon I will pass it over to our team to introduce themselves and then to our presenters. So Marnel over to you first, then I will ask you to hang up as I will use your camera on the audience. I will come back at the end to run a Q&A session that will be monitored by Marnel and that will be 10 minutes. So please audience think of some questions for us. We use ChatWing for questions and answers and that is currently being monitored so from wherever you have tuned in, please join in the discussion. Tell us where you are from. Keep on tweeting and keeping the energy going using the twitter hashtag #TeachMeetNZ.


Thank you all so much for joining us. A special thanks to our amazing presenters who worked with me over the past month getting ready. A big thanks to our wonderful support team who joined in to help with todays session.

Within the next hour we should have a full recording live on the front of the wiki and on google + and over the next week I will tweet out each presenters page so you can revist and rewind and share the topics with your PLN and own staff in your schools and communities.

We can continue the discussion on Google +. So look for me and remember to use the hashtag.

We are always looking out for presenters for future sessions or even if you wish to run a topic specific session. The framework is already in place and all the templates are available to help ensure a smooth session.

Please do get in contact if you would like to join us. TeachMeetNZ is a great way to share your ideas and learning not just in New Zealand but to a global audience. We do ask that to present if you can be a New Zealand Educator, even if you are teaching overseas.

I mention Arjana Blazic who has inspired me along the way and suggest to you to look out for TeachMeetInternational as a way to present with Global educators sharing Global projects.

Please complete the evaluation form on the wiki and give us your valuable feedback. This wraps up our fifth session of TeachMeetNZ, Good bye everyone.

Around the World in 80 Days (well almost)

 

 

(Cross Posted from TESOLANZ Newsletter December 2013 Vol 22 #3)

A collaborative effort using google Docs by Sonya Van Shaijik, with Margaret Kitchen and Maree Jeurissen

Anytime, anywhere connectivity can change the face of learning. Just look at the Hole in the Wall Project below. Learning is about collaboration and co-creating, and E-Learning enables this. This article reports on Sonya Van Shaijik’s (E-learning Lead teacher and ESOL teacher from Newmarket School) Ministry of Education TeachNZ sabbatical which was to investigate the relationship between pedagogy and student learning using ICT. A long-time advocate of bilingual learning, Sonya visited Asia to enrich her understanding of the children she teaches.

India: The Hole in the Wall Project

http://www.hole-in-the-wall.com/Publications.html

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Sonya’s visit to one cell of The Hole in the Wall Project illustrates the changing face of learning.  In 1999 a team from NIIT (an Indian company specialising in educational learning  solutions, information technology and much more) carved a “hole in the wall” that separated the NIIT premises from the adjoining slum in Kalkaji, New Delhi. Through this hole, a freely accessible computer was put up for use. This computer proved to be an instant hit among the community, especially the children. With no prior experience or teacher intervention, the children learnt to use the computer on their own. Sonya was taken to meet three of the earliest users at one cell by Dr Ritu Dangwal, a researcher in the project. One of these first users is now a shop owner, another is in the second year of teacher training and one is training to be a lawyer. Sonya also watched the children step up to use the computer. One boy comes every morning to talk to his grandfather in another city, the grandfather also using a “hole in the wall” computer. The project’s instigator Dr. Sugata Mitra hypothesises that: The acquisition of basic computing skills by any set of children can be achieved through incidental learning provided the learners are given access to a suitable computing facility, with entertaining and motivating content and some minimal (human) guidance.

Suneeta

Sonya also was able to virtually meet Dr Suneeta Kalkarni the face behind the Granny cloud project (http://solesandsomes.wikispaces.com/Home) which is the next stage of Sugata’s work. This is when learners do not need supervision but that does not mean that they do not need ‘benign mentors’. Indeed, is it not the role of grandparents, uncles, aunts, [and sometimes parents and teachers too!] to be benign and friendly mentors instead of just ‘supervisors’?

Flat classroom conference

http://fclive2013.flatclassroomproject.org/

Sonya participated in a flat classroom conference in Hawai’i, a unique event that included 200 students and 40 educators from 9 countries working together in teams. Flat classrooms are about educators and students being part of learning communities using leading technology tools such as wikis, blogs, social networking and digital storytelling.

 

https://sonyavanschaijik.com/2013/08/01/flat-classroom-conference-2013/

FCGE Ryan
Hui Mei Chang, Sonya Van Schaijik

Anita Chen, Bill Brady, Ryan Fujii

  Sonya reconnected with Ryan in Japan  later on in her journey

Pedagogy and Student Learning

Sonya used her TeachNZ sabbatical to establish connections with educators around the world. Schools in Europe and then in Asia were visited and different learning environments observed. The educators who allowed access to their domain were educators who have a history of sharing professional practice and responding to children’s learning by using Technology in Transformative Ways. Whilst on her journey Sonya was able to observe how schools in Europe learn a second and even a third language. Many schools visited begin learning a second language by about 9 years old and the language is kept separate by teacher or by subject. Language and content learning are fully integrated and two or three languages are learned concurrently by all students – food for thought for the NZ context.

While away on her TeachNZ Sabbatical, Sonya used the following tools to communicate with educators both in New Zealand and globally.

https://twitter.com/vanschaijik

http://instagram.com/vanschaijik

http://www.sonyavanschaijik.com

More Information on Sabbatical Teacher Awards

http://www.teachnz.govt.nz/teacher-awards/directory/primary-teachers-sabbatical/

http://www.teachnz.govt.nz/teacher-awards/directory/secondary-teachers-sabbatical/

 

Jiao

 

Scan 3

Jiao

Mandarin Language Assistant.
In 2011 Newmarket School joined the Confucius Mandarin Language Assistant Programme, through Auckland University. This means we have a Chinese Language Teacher who teaches language and culture at our school. Our school is dominantly Asian and as such we believe in the importance of first language maintenance for our Chinese students and that our other students  can benefit from learning another language in addition to Te Reo and English.
In 2011 we had Mengmeng and then last year I agreed to host Jiao.
The first time I saw her I thought, whoa she is tall and skinny as, like about a size O,
However after the first few weeks, I mentioned to my principal that I was a fairly large eater and yet she could match me and then some. She was always hungry. My principal advised me to purchase a rice cooker and that was an excellent suggestion.
Jiao was only supposed to stay with me for a few weeks. However because we were such a good fit, she ended staying with me for the whole year and I am so glad that she did. I am a mother of grown up sons and never had a daughter, so Jiao is like my adopted daughter.
I have so many memories of her
EG: like within the first month, I asked her to clean the bathroom, which was a task that she would do each week.
After her first time, doing the task unaided without me,
She said to me. “Do you know what the day is?”
I replied that it was Saturday and that it was the day for cleaning the bath room.
She said, “I know that but it is also my birthday. This is the year of the dragon and I am a dragon baby so this year is as significant as a 21st birthday.”
I think this major event broke the ice between us because I laughed and said, “Oh my, you will never forget this birthday. You have no cake, no special event, and I made you clean the bathroom. Come on I will take you to the movies.”
And so we attended the first of many.
However, she proceeded to hold me accountable to this event by telling my parents the next day, my sisters and then at school the following week, how I had made her clean the bathroom on her special dragon birthday. So my parents and sisters teased me about what a dreadful host mother I was.
Jiao taught me heaps, like how to make dumpling, introduce myself in Mandarin and the Game of Thrones.
Me I introduced her to bacon and taught her how to cook and bake.
She took to baking like duck to water and made many muffins and cakes to fill up the lunchbox and to share with friends.
Once a week, she would hurry home from school to prepare the evening meal. She used the internet to search out recipes and experimented continuously.
Her favourite meal of the week was Sunday cooked breakfast. She got to sleep in and rose later for the event.
We had a lot in common. A love of science fiction, to a love of our communication devices. She introduced me to the Chinese Social media that she used to keep in contact such as QQ and wechat. I haven’t yet understood QQ but definitely know wechat.
I watched this quite shy quiet, young girl blossom into a confident and organising young woman.
Her first major task was introducing herself in front of Confucius and later on in the year she also gave her experience of being hosted. Both major events made my heart swell with motherly pride.
She organised her travels around New Zealand each holidays and I loved the fact that she did not rely on me to entertain her. She sometimes had friends over to stay.
She had no hesitation at letting me know how she was feeling and her dry sense of humour continuous to have me in stitches.
When she was told that as part of her teaching programme that she would be teaching Chinese dance, I think this was one of the major challenges that she had. She said to me, “I can’t dance Sonya, how on earth am I supposed to teach a Chinese dance.”
I told her, “You must think in patterns and it is easy. Anyway, you have access to youtube so do your  research and you will be fine. “
 
The fan dance she taught our children was stunning.
Jiao ended up thinking that she was quite an expert and that the dance she picked out for the next MLA was so advanced and intricate that I still laugh at the memory.
In 2013 I was selected as a TeachNZ Sabbatical and I toured the world. I told Jiao that I would come and visit her in Shanghai.
This I did. By then she had a boyfriend and was excited for us to meet.
When I arrived in Shanghai I could not believe how beautiful she had become. Her confidence had continued and she had developed into a lovely young woman.
Gone were the trousers and replaced with skirts and pretty sandals.
IMG_3521
She introduced me to her young man Chao and I observed how her treated her. She had chosen well. He was delightful and obviously adored her. He was clever like her and could match her for intelligent conversation. He was very kind to me too. They spoilt me rotten with their time.
profli
Jiao was very proud of the univeristy she attended and she took me especially to meet Professsor Li and a chance to tour the university. She organised for me to catch up with Mengmeng and I was able to meet her husband to be.
One fabulous memory I have is when they took me to visit the ancient town of Xitang in Jiashang county, Zhejiang Province.
Because of the vastness of China, I got to meet her mum and his parents via Skype. They were wanting to meet me in person but because I had a short time, I said I would come back for the wedding.

RSCON 4

2013 Reform Symposium E-Conference (RSCON)
Around the World in Nearly 80 days


This Saturday I will be presenting at #RSCON4. The date and time of my session is Saturday, October 12, 2013 12:00 PM (Pacific/Auckland). However you can access the site and locate when this is in your time zone. I will have just returned to Auckland after having presented #TeachMeetNZ at the National ICT conference #Ulearn in Hamilton.

I recently returned to New Zealand on the 2nd of October after having been away for 77 days. In that time I travelled on 15 Flights, 44 trains, countless hours on buses and in cars visiting 13 Countries on 3 Continents and meeting  28 amazing educators educators and visited  18 learning institutions and schools and attended some face 2 face professional development. I kept in contact with my colleagues via Instagram, Twitter and email. I also kept a blog and an off line journal and took over 4,500 photos.
My presentation will focus on my TeachNZ13 Sabbatical, which allowed me to establish connections with educators around the world. Schools in Europe and then in Asia were visited and different learning environments observed. The educators who allowed access to their domain were educators who have had a history of sharing professional practice and some use Technology in Transformative Ways.
The Flat Classroom conference in Hawaii
The brand new Billunds School near Legoland in Denmark
School Design from an educator in Roskilde Denmark
Jyvaskula the Educational Centre of Finland
The Goldau School Project in Switzerland
The Hole in the Wall, the Granny Skype project and now the school in the cloud in Delhi, India
The Slideshare Headquarters in Delhi.
The Confucius Mandarin Language Programme in Shanghai, China
A nursery and an elementary school that are beginning to learn English in Osaka, Japan
The annual Google Apps for Education Summit in Seoul, Korea and a visit with a school running 1:1 iPads with Grades 3 & 4 children.
Take away from this session some ideas that could be used in your own schools, details for where you can read more about the different projects and make connections with the educators involved.

I look forward to you joining me virtually as I share my Face2face journey of my round the world experience.
I created a copy of my presentation in video format.

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?