Are we all more tech savvy than we give ourselves credit for?

I was talking with a colleague about using Pinterest, and have since had a request that this be shared at a whole staff meeting. My first thought was that surely this was too piddly for a whole school staff meeting, but then I remembered the Obvious to you. Amazing to others. video I posted about before. I just keep forgetting that we are all so time poor that unless we are introduced to tools, or make the active effort to find tools and learn how to use them ourselves, we just don’t know about them. I think there is also a tendency to be so overwhelmed by how much technology we don’t know that we forget how much we do know. The image at the top of Jenny Luca’s blog certainly sums up that feeling of knowing how much is ‘out there’ on the internet waiting for us to discover:

Keeping up with Web 2.0 tools can seem impossible!

Keeping up with Web 2.0 tools can seem impossible!

So, Pinterest. Basically I have found I don’t like bookmarking tools. I just see a boring, hard to navigate block of text. Pinterest is a visual alternative. When you see a website of interest, you go to your bookmarks menu and click Pin It (it will be there once you’ve joined Pinterest). All of the images on that page will come up, and you click on the one you want as a visual memory of what you are pinning on your virtual pinboard. You can select which board it will go on, and write a caption to go with it. You can then look at your board any time, and you can share it with others. For example I had a Guess How Much I Love You theme for my daughter’s birthday party, and had a friend make the cake. I did some searching on the theme and pinned ideas to a Leah’s 4th Birthday Ideas board. When my friend wanted to know what I wanted the cake to look like, I was able to give her a link to the pinboard and she could see the cake ideas I’d pinned there. You can allow others to pin on the board too. There is great potential here for collaborative research in a manner that is visually dynamic for students (and for me!). Just in case you’re curious, here’s the awesome cake my friend made:

The result of sharing ideas on Pinterest.

The result of sharing ideas on Pinterest.

Another fantastic little tool that worry about being patronising describing, but have found people don’t know about, is QR Codes. Any publication you have, in any form, you can chuck a QR code on it. Eg if you’re handing out a task sheet and have a wiki with support materials on it, include a QR code on the sheet. With a QR reader on their phone (which most students have, and they’re free to download), students can scan the code and go straight to the wiki. To create a QR code you can do that with the reader on your phone or you can go to any free creator on the web such as QR Stuff. Here you’ll see the breadth of uses for QR codes, and that it doesn’t have to only be black and white. Try scanning the code below. : )

A peak at how QR codes can be used.

A peek at how QR codes can be used.

The last thing I want to share this week is a video I found on  Jenny Luca’s blog. It’s a TED video about the happy secret to better work. Everything Shawn Achor says can be directly applied to education. He is incredibly engaging, and makes excellent points about the negativity of some current foci in learning theory. He advocates for a focus on positive psychology, which you may have heard about with different titles such as resiliency.


Awesome list of web tools


I was working with some colleagues today and was about to show them how to create a blog. As soon as they got together, like most teachers do, they went into sharing mode. Someone had a fantastic video version of The Snowman (see below) and explained how senior school students love it. Another colleague was telling others about Louis Theroux documentaries, which would be great for senior Media Studies. We all have great ideas (see the Amazing To Others video on my Bits & Pieces post) that are worth sharing, and I hope that with our blogs my colleagues and we will become more interconnected with sharing our resources and ideas.


My resource for this week is a list of web tools compiled by Karen Bonanno. It’s a fantastic list of Web 2.0 tools with the title, a brief description, and a link. to make it even better they’re sorted into the phases of inquiry based learning. I’ll be referring to it a lot.


I don’t really have a story this week, but a link George Couros tweeted about that I took a look at made me think. It was called five things that really smart people do and while most of what was in there was simple and obvious once I’d read it, I found it a good ‘kick up my bum’ to become a better listener. I certainly fall victim to number 5 -judging the messenger rather than the message. I’ll leave you with an awesome music video parody a colleague showed me about being mid 30s (has some great digs at blogging in it).

E-Portfolios & Web Tools

Why use blogs as e-portfolios?

My colleague Colin McKenzie and I are running a short PD session on why blogs are great, especially as e-portfolios. I created the short video below to go through some reasons so we could focus on the technical aspects on the day. This video was a great chance to try out some programs I’ve been wanting to try: Camtasia and Mozilla Popcorn.

Camtasia is simply a program that allows you to record what you’re doing on the screen while talking about it. It has a whole lot of editing functions, and I found its functionality similar to imovie. Apart from hating the sound of my own voice (Don’t we all! It never sounds they way we think it will!), it was easy to use and great.

After exporting the recording out of Camtasia I uploaded it to YouTube. Unfortunately you have to put the video on YouTube to be able to use it in Mozilla Popcorn. While I hated the idea of unfinished videos sitting in my YouTube account, I just made the video private. In Popcorn I added all the little pop ups, so there are active links viewers can click on while watching my video. I like that it put the video on pause and the links in a new window. This was also easy to use.

Guest Speakers

Last week I had three guest speakers come and speak to my Year 10 English class about literacy in their workplace, to give the students a ‘reality check’ on how important what they learn is. The first was a PE Teacher because five students are interested in that as a career, and he did a fantastic job dispelling the myth PE Teachers just play games all day. When he mentioned a 12,000 word uni essay there was an audible gasp. The second was a principal planner from a council, and the highly specialised language he used so easily certainly highlighted that the literacy students gain in secondary school was just the beginning. The last was a retired lawyer. He told a lot of great horror stories where the finer points of literacy matter, such as a comma that cost a company $23 million! It was a fantastic series of speakers, and I recommend doing it. The most common points running through all three talks were:

  • Everything in writing can come back to haunt you, so write as though your enemy will read it to use it against you.
  • You become a better writer by writing, and the earlier you start concentrating on it the better.

Professional Learning Network

I read a short article from Educational Technology and Mobile Learning that spoke to what I’m trying to achieve at the moment, and I’ll just quote a bit here:
“As social media become more and more predominant as platforms of connection and collaboration, the need for creating and maintaining a PLN ( Personal/Professional Learning Network ) becomes more pressing. As teachers and educators we are expected to be on top of the latest trends that can inform and enhance our classroom teaching as well as our professional growth.We are also expected to know the web tools that our students use and the new ones we can use with them in the future;  but this is not always possible … It is at times  like these that you can call upon your PLN.”

That is exactly what I’m hoping to achieve by having this blog, following others, and having a Twitter account. We cannot keep up on our own, we need to be connected. I also hope that some of what I put on my blog helps others with their own teaching and learning. There’s certainly a lot of amazing educators out there, such as Judy O’Connell whose recent post about student tools is a great resource.

So that’s my resource, story, and idea for this week! I hope you’re all enjoying the world of blogging as much as I am.


Are Web 2.0 Tools Worth The Time

Between doing a Masters degree, facing the prospect of teaching full time again next year with two Year 12 English classes (I’ve been 0.8 recently), and the general crazy busyness of life, I have been wondering how I will cope in 2013 (Term 4 will be ok – LSL here I come!). Watching the video below didn’t help. A modern reimagining of Nora from A Doll’s House, it perfectly captured how I’ve felt many mornings and afternoons this year (though I should add my husband is much more involved!) and I was left feeling overwhelmed. To paraphrase Henry David Thoreau, most women lead quiet lives of desperation.

Embed code wouldn’t work. Found it on YouTube but embed code was disabled. Here is the link to the video.

So, feeling like that, I wondered how I could possibly devote time to my new tools, blogs and twitter, and my old tools, facebook and wikispaces? My answer to myself was, ‘Because they are absolutely spend time to save time tools!’ In the past week:

  • I began my preparation for the Year 12 English Communications course. Instead of spending time finding files, printing them, photocopying them, and dealing with inevitable photocopier issues, I simply went to my 12 English Wiki, did some clean up, tweaked / changed / added / deleted files as necessary because I spend the time setting up a wiki this year.
  • One of the files I added to the Wiki was a Google Form (the getting to know you link on this page), which I thought of because of the PD I went to with George Couros. So instead of printing, photocopying, getting kids to fill it out, collecting, and manually collating, I will direct them to the link, they will fill it out, and it’s will be automatically collated for me.
  • The reason I even knew about the PD was because my coordinator and I are members of the South Australian English Teachers Association facebook group.
  • I want to show my Stage 1 Media students the Stage 2 products so they have a clear idea about the expectations for next year, so I simply when to Colin McKenzie’s blog that I follow, picked the wiki and the page I needed, and have all the products at my fingertips at the bottom of his wiki page.

Now these are all tiny things and not particularly impressive, but they all add up to much more efficient management of time. When Colin and I run some PD on blogs with staff at our school I know their primary concern will be whether it’s worth their time. I hope to impress on them the fantastic collaboration that can be done via blogs that will inspire them, develop their professional learning, give them resources, and, ultimately, save them time.

Let me end this post by sharing two resources that were shared with me. The first I used with my Year 10s last week to help them examine the effect of author, context, purpose, target audience, form, and linguistic and structural techniques. The second connects with the Masters in Teacher Librarianship I’m studying. Both were shared with me by Jonathan Scobie. If you know him, you will not be surprised to find both have Buffy The Vampire Slayer connections! : )

Resource 1

Resource 2

Buffy The Vampire Slayer and Research as a Public Good