Wednesday 21 November 2012

Busy week, and Manaiakalani Film Festival!

The seniors have been gone a week and a half, but as usual the intensity of events at school have shifted up a notch.
Firstly, Tuesday was Diwali, and being a Hindu I made a huge batch of chole (chickpea curry) for a shared morning tea for the staff. 4 litres, all gone in the space of an hour or less... not forgetting all of the other food that people brought in as well. Phew. People enjoy sharing cultures at TC; one of the wonderful things about working there.
Wednesday was the annual Manaiakalani film festival, at Hoyts, Sylvia Park with the biggest screen in the southern hemisphere. And the students from the cluster are the big stars. Wow.
It has been a few years since the festival started at Hoyts, and we found out this year that they actually moved the GLOBAL release of the latest Twilight movie forward to allow us to still have the date we booked earlier in the year! Thanks must go to the cinema for honouring their commitment to us and a huge thanks to the movie company for being so understanding!
Having said that, our films are probably thousands of times better than Twilight anyway...
There were 4 daytime sessions and an evening session with over 50 films being screened during the event. Check out the videos here especially "Water" by St Patricks; they use my classroom for the lab scene! The student presenters from some of the primary schools were incredibly confident stepping onto a stage in front of nearly 400 people to introduce their film. They really are incredible. This event is getting bigger and better every year.

Another turning point for me this week has been the introduction of Edmodo to my junior classes. It has gone  down very well as a collaborative tool, looks and works like Facebook and allows me the options of deleting silly messages and controlling who has access to my pages. My students have all taken to it really quickly and love it! There have been several of them not only answering my questions but creating questions for their peers. I can create badges for their profiles as well, which they find really cool.
Here is what my students thought:

More to come on this later in upcoming posts!

Saturday 10 November 2012

Taking it to the next level

It has been an interesting week. It started off with the acquisition of a Samsung Gio smartphone and retiring my old Samsung flip phone with VGA camera. Okay, so I liked the flip because it reminded me of an original Star Trek communicator and I always felt like opening it and making a request to be beamed up...

Also, this week was senior prize-giving with TVNZ's Pasifika correspondent Barbara Dreaver as our guest speaker. It was an awesome night for our students, as always. It actually makes me proud to see kids I have encountered somewhere along their journey leaving the school, having achieved academic and extra-curricular success. Even better, Barbara Tweeted throughout the ceremony with pictures of our kids (@barbaradreaver), and mentioned us on Breakfast on Wednesday morning ( - the Fiji article). I will, however, not forgive Petra Bagust for calling us a south Auckland school; the cheek of it!

Senior students were then dismissed Tuesday morning, and the panic appeared to set in. How can they log into Facebook (at home) of their netbook is in for repairs?! Sorry, I mean study hard for their exams...
We were inundated with requests for return of said netbooks, most of which were still away being fixed, or in need of the $70 excess being paid. It was also hoped that the workload would start to reduce, not so though it would seem. Perhaps the juniors are the worst at looking after their machines (I know this to be a fact).

On Thursday we had the final ever netbook teachers' meeting for the cluster, as 2013 is going to see more specifically-targeted training being delivered. It was also the launch of the MITA- Manaiakalani Innovative Teachers Award to be offered to 10 experienced teachers within the cluster. I am going to apply for this, as it sounds interesting. Also, I feel that after 2 years extensive involvement with the programme, I am reluctant to move away from it all and return to being a full-time classroom teacher again next year. I have enjoyed the Manaiakalani experience, and I have learned a lot about e-learning and also programming (with the guidance of Nevyn the master!). It was also announced that Nevyn Hira had won the Education category at the NZ Open Source Awards for his work on the image and netbooks that we are using as part of the Manaiakalani cluster. Stunning performance!

To end the week, I have started making forays into the world of social media as a teaching tool. I would like to trial Twitter and Edmodo with my classes, and I am also looking at an application called Grouptweet to make the process easier. It is early days yet, but I am interested in this method of teaching and communicating with the students. This is an area that I am going to spend some time developing over 2013 and beyond, and something I will probably report back more on as this idea develops!

Monday 5 November 2012

Seven months on...

Good grief. Is it really March since I created a post here?
Well, what has happened this year?
Deploying the netbooks at Tamaki College has given me a huge amount of work to do, with all of the resultant issues. I have learned a huge amount about networks, programming, repairs and how to manage students in getting the best out of their new learning tool. And that is before we have to do anything with the staff.
Most of our teachers are now using Google sites, docs, forms and know how to share these items with their students. Some of the staff have done some incredible things now and their sites etc can be found at and most are open for people outside of our domain to view.
So, other things we have done: a hui for all of the concerned parties about the Manaiakalani project, presentations at several subject conferences, several attendees went to the NZ Google Apps for Education (GAFE) summit at the Albany Senior High School Campuses and further improved their skills. Many of us now feel closer to Google ninja-ism (is that a word??). We also had the opportunity to present at Ulearn 2012 at Sky City, which saw us actually presenting at the ACG Senior College.
As well as this, we have hosted many other schools, principals and teachers who have been keen to see how we are implementing the programme.
This is all as well as being a 0.5 science teacher and writing a Masters dissertation. I feel ready to say goodbye to our seniors very shortly...
I aim to try and post to this blog once in a while, but more often than every 7 months so that will have to be a  new target for me! Having said that, there have been no comments at all on here, so I'm not sure if anyone even reads it. Am I wasting my time???