Thursday, September 22, 2011

Developing Digital Citizens

We constantly hear around school and the media about students that use the internet and leave a digital footprint that is perhaps not so great, whether it be cyber bullying, inappropriate pictures, stalking, using fake identities etc....  Do we ever hear of the students that make decisions that align with the notion of being a great citizen?  From my experience NO!  I would like to take this opportunity to share with you, that it is possible and there are so many wonderful students that DO the right thing....I have three of these such students in my class.

Using free on line sites to manipulate pictures is common practice in most classrooms and they offer a creative way of representing images and this is what one of my students was doing one afternoon in the ICT suite.  
You have probably guessed by now that this recount is going to take a turn for the worse somewhere on this photo manipulation site, and you would be right.  Lets just say this student was scrolling through the site looking for an effect to turn his image into a masterpiece when all of a sudden in the recent uploads little thumbnails there were some pictures that contained a lot of beige (think about it...). 

It was in this moment that the students made their choice to be amazing digital citizens.  The students first action was to close the website from their screen.
The second action was to come and speak to myself and Linda as we were discussing ICT grades at the time.  It was not an easy subject for these boys to discuss with the teachers what they saw, however, they had the courage and the sensitivity to talk quietly and state in a clear manner that they saw pictures that were not appropriate for students to see and that they would like us to do something about it.  We thanked the boys very much and asked them to continue on with other work that did not involve "that site".

Linda and I instantly went into management mode.  We checked the site in order to quickly verify the issue, find the contact information for the site and send the site administrators an email to let them know that their site was not living up to our expectations.
While I was completing this Linda was on the phone to our technician to block the site.  Within two minutes we had the site blocked within our school.

Our next step was to talk with the three boys concerned and let them know the steps that we had taken and would be taking in the future.  Part of talking with the students was for them to speak with their parents when they got home, about what happened, what they did and what we as the school had done and would be doing in the future.  This would not be easy for them, however, we hoped that they would go home and speak with their parents so that the parents would know that their child is able to talk to them about the big things that happen in their life.

That same night I rang all of the parents concerned to let them know about the incident and to really highlight how proud we were as teachers of these students and how they should also be proud of their children.  I also wanted to let them know what we had done to ensure the students future on line safety.

While I did call just after 7, I encountered two parents who had not seen their children as yet as the students were at friends houses etc.....  The parents were very thankful to be informed and were happy with what we had done to contain the problem.

When speaking to the third parent she had heard about it on the way home in the car from two of the boys and it was nice to get some positive feedback from her about how safe the boys felt when speaking with us and how fast we had actioned their concerns and let them know what we had done about it.

After the event we had feedback from the site thanking us for our email and that they took the site off line to deal with the problem and to put in measure to ensure it would not happen again.

From this I have learnt that while we make every endeavor to ensure the online safety of students at school there maybe times when this might not be the case.  It is the continual work that we do with the students about doing the right thing, defining a digital citizen and having great relationships with our students that made the difference on this day.  To this day (which is a couple of months after the event) the majority of students do not know what went on in that ICT class that day.

So the next time you read about the students that don't leave a great footprint remember there are students that do make a difference and SMILE....I know I do.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Talented Students

I have the privilege of teaching a lot of talented students.  They amaze me with their talents, but also the way in which they can roll with ideas.  I had an idea, an idea for our assembly item on Friday.

During this term we are looking at the question "Is New Zealand really a great place for young people to grow up?", from this we are focussing on many things and one of the areas is looking at New Zealand's history with hurting our most vulnerable.

A little of what we did....

The students used a google doc to name kids within New Zealand that have passed due to injuries inflicted on them by the people that are meant to love and care for them the most.  With this they had to write if possible the age of the child and a very brief summary and of course a source for me to go and check their data.

Music in the Classrooms
The motivation and focus from the class musicians is amazing.  They were asked to find songs that they thought would match the mood we were trying to create for our scene, learn within a short amount of time, learn to perform with others and modify to meet the needs of the item.  They even want to practice during their morning tea and lunch breaks, now that is dedication.

In the pictures you will see my whole class using the ICT lab. I am working with a small group of my students who will be playing and singing during our assembly, even though we are in an ICT lab we are not using it in the traditional way, we created the space to meet our needs.  The rest of the students were working on their camp recounts, ukelele song and personal thank you letters to their parents.

Everyone involved
The other students roles are just as important, they are having to learn words, learn to present to an audience, work together, share ideas of how they can improve their performance, understand the content of what they are presenting and ensuring they move the audience from the remembering the negative and leaving them with a powerful message of the importance of rising up, standing up and helping to make change.

I am sure my students will give 100% when it comes to performance time.  The work they have done leading up to the performance has been amazing, learning that you can't get from a text book.

Apologies for the quality of video, but hopefully you get an idea of what is going on.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

"Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently."  
Henry Ford

There are sometimes in life where a quote just really hits the mark....and today the above quote from Henry Ford was on my google dashboard, as if waiting for me to look for it.

The students in R27 work really well together in class and are becoming confident and competent users of google docs, because of this I decided to set a home learning task that put the power into their collective hands.

It was called "Operation Beans" as we would like to hold a Bake Sale at school to raise money to fill two bean bags which have been donated to me for the students to use.

I split the students up into four groups - Letter to Mr Ellery, A3 Posters, Accounting and Target Market.  I assigned students to the above groups based on their talents.  Along with the titles I gave the students guidelines on what I expected them to do.

During class I spoke through the roles and what they needed to do and spoke with a number of students about what they needed to do as individuals.


  • Some students gave it a really good go.
  • A couple of students exceeded expectations.
  • Shows that some students are developing their self management skills.
  • Some students are applying what they have learnt in class to their home learning tasks. 


  • Students left their work to the last minute so had no time to complete their work to a high standard.
  • Some students did no work at all, and thought that this was ok.
  • No group finished their task to the expected level.
  • Excuses as to why they did not do it.

What would I change for next time:

  • Continue to re-inforce with the students about the importance of giving something a go and really spending time thinking about what is asked of them.
  • Reiterate the need for the students to seek advise from their parents about how to take their home learning to the next level.

I believe in developing the students ability to collaborate, and while this was not an epic fail, the next time I design a task like this I will go into it a little bit the wiser.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Term 1 - 2011 Reflection

It is the second week of the holidays and a good time to write down some of the useful information that has been floating around in my brain whilst I have been on holiday.  The aim of course is to inform my teaching and therefore the learning of the fab kids in R27.

The Vision of Space - Class Set Up
Here are a few comments about the class set up by the students.  I made a wallwisher and put on the front page of the wiki to get some feedback....

"It is convenient, it's easy, it saves me from having a tantrum from rampaging through my tote tray. Two words- AWE SOME!"  Sam.
"I have found it easy to find things and it helps knowing that I can alter my learning environment to suit my liking, I find it cool having a mixed space."  Olivia
"I like only having one book because you don't need to rush into your tote tray to get other books.  This makes learning easier."  Kyle
"I can sit where every I want!  It's unexplainable you can't describe it."  Michael
"I really like being allowed to bring an ipad to school...I like the cushion corner too."  Kiana
"I love this class because there is so much space to work in, it's easy to move around"  Shannon
"It's much easier having one book, and it's helpful having someone else to tidy the totetray sometimes!  Oh and its cool being able to bring my laptop in."  Kim

I am really pleased with the comments that I have received and I enjoy working in this space so I will continue to work with spaces.  To be more effective I need to:
  • I need to organise the cables in my class better.
  • Get enough multi boards that will be able to handle the load.
  • Ensure my laptop monitors (and all students) are setting up for the day.

I am a little concerned about the participation when using a digital media where it is left up to them to interact where I am not setting aside a definite piece of time - it is included in the total amount of time given.  Ie. Only 9 comments out of a class of 31 on the wallwisher for classroom feedback.  ANZAC day discussion about a picture only 3 students only 5 students indicated how they spent ANZAC day on the class wikipage.
  • Go over how to.. eg.... post a sticky with the student?
  • Make it a part of class time or set as a homework task?
  • Have a tick list the students need to tick to confirm that they have completed and monitor this more firmly?
  • Let the students know that I/the rest of the class are genuinely interested in their feedback as I do use it to inform my teaching.
  • Let the students know that they are entitled to their opinion whether it matches what everyone else is saying or not. 
  • Is there a better tool I can be using?  perhaps try tweducate and have as more of a chat?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

ANZAC Learning

I always like to spend a little time teaching my students about remembering the importance of ANZAC day.
Usually I build a trench in my class with the desks, but I have no desks. I have had to modify what I normally do.
This is my idea this year.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

A Vision in the Making

What a fantastic start to the year.  I have a class of amazing students who didn't really know what they were getting themselves into this year. 

This year is my second year in an classroom that has a 1:3 ratio of computers to students.  5 desktops and 5 laptops is the mix.  After last year I realised that I could not continue to teach in a classroom that still contained the 30+ desks, teachers desk as well as the five desktops.  It was time for change....the difficulty is making the change.