Monday, December 31, 2012

HAPPY NEW YEAR to you all!

I have had an incredible year.  Back at school after a year’s study leave, I had the privilege of working with an amazing class.  I had the privilege of trialling, experimenting, extending, challenging and transforming learning thanks to the amazing ideas from everyone I have had the pleasure of working with, following and networking with.  An absolutely incredible journey through BYOB (bring your own browser), student designed learning spaces, student led conferences, student designed learning models, and a blended learning model to best suit our needs.  I have no way of thanking you all personally, but I am in awe of the people in my life who make the MAGIC! 
As the year draws to a close, I reflect on the professional and personal challenges and opportunities ahead!  I am overwhelmed with the support of my family, friends, colleagues and my PLN.  THANK YOU ALL, from the bottom of my heart!  I am uber excited about the journey that 2013 is going to be!  I am anticipating challenge, learning, travel, networking and of course a whole lot of MAGIC!
Wherever you are, may this New Year be especially peaceful, relaxing and rewarding! 
Bring on the adventures of 2013!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The future...

As for the future, your task is not to foresee it, but to enable it.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Friday, November 30, 2012


Sometimes serendipity is just intention unmasked.  
Elizabeth Berg

Thursday, November 22, 2012


Just organised to read another chapter... cryptic...

Paired writing MAGIC...

Early in the year we identified a need to accelerate our writing efforts.  We were noticing a HUGE increase in writing output with posting on the blog, using The Literacy Shed for motivation, 100WC for motivation, challenge and interaction with writers around the globe.
We ran training sessions to give skills to tutors to support writers.  Check out our blog post here. We had all of the class trained as tutors.  We had half work as tutors to support the other half of the class.  The results were amazing.
Now, as the year draws to a close we have created a whole new round of MAGIC!  Our writers who have been tutored received training to recap their own tutoring skills and they are now buddied with Year 3 and Year 4 writers and the experience can only be described as MAGICAL...
We have had two sessions this week and the learners from both classes are begging for more writing sessions.  I have learners coming up to me in the playground pleading to write with their buddies again tomorrow...  How good can it really be?
Yesterday, every learner managed to complete a piece of writing using the amazing motivation Clocktower from the Literacy Shed.  A HUGE thank you to Rob Smith for the power that his literacy sheds give to writers around the globe...
Not only did we collaborate, support, mentor and create amazing written language... we made friends, we talked and shared, inspired and grew together.  Check out the clocktower stories here...
All of my writers published their younger buddy's writing onto the blog and today our book shows there interpretation of the world... with the MAGICal colour as we know it, and a parallel of a dull, lifeless world...
This really has been an amazing learning journey for us all.  We now have a queue of learners waiting to choose the next writing motivation from the Literacy Shed and two classes of writing begging for a shared writing session tomorrow...
MAGIC really does happen...


Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.  Leonardo Da Vinci

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Thrown out of the nest...

To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest.  
Pema Chodron

I am loving this saying.  It makes me think of James Nottingham's learning pit.  We need to be challenged and extended to be fully alive, awake, and fully human.  We need not rest in our comfort zone.  We need to embrace challenge and change, and actively seek opportunity to spread our wings and fly.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


What a MAGIC day...
So much new learning with an amazing bunch of people... followed by the #deluxedunnerstour
Proper blog post real soon I promise...

Monday, November 12, 2012

Making it rewindable is my new mission...

I've started a Professional Development blog for our staff to share, collaborate and grow our learning and inquiries.  There has been great interest in our paired writing sessions so today Josh narrated a session to upload and share on the site to allow the staff to have a view into our session.  I am so proud of my class!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Sharing - the only way

To enter bliss, start sharing what you have without thinking of personal gain.  Philip Arnold

Making it rewindable...

My head is bursting with ideas today, so here I go trying to reflect and sort my plans...
During Ulearn I heard Kevin Honeycutt talking of making it 'rewindable'.  Making our teaching and our learning rewindable is a challenge and I have been perculating this idea...
On Wednesday morning at the Corebreakfast with Karen Melhuish-Spencer I had a real aha moment.  Making it rewindable for staff professional development is something I could see as immediately possible.
Many of the things I have tried in my class this year are new for our school.  At the start of the year the wonderful Jane recorded an Edtalk as I set out to co-create, with my students, a radically different learning space to the one our students are used to.
By recording and posting the Edtalk, my plan was shared and I was set on a path of discovery with my learners...  What a journey we are on... I have learnt so much about myself and so much about empowering learners to identify how, why, where, when and with who they learn best.
Recently we recorded another chapter in the journey looking at how the learning spaces have impacted on our learning...
Our classroom practice has transformed.  The learners are engaged in their learning journey, and empowered to identify successes and challenges, set goals, and work to achieve these goals. The learners are able to articulate their learning needs and identify who they need support from and who they can support.  
The recording of these stories makes the journey rewindable.

The aha moment was when Karen got me thinking about staff professional development.  What if we created a school professional development blog? What if we shared our stories and journeyed together? What if we made our teaching inquiries visible?  How good could it really be?

So back to school I went on a mission to make it rewindable.  I had just worked with my class to record a story to share with our school community - engaging with the class blogs.  I am adding that to the PD blog, making it rewindable for staff.
I have added it to the school website making it rewindable for the community to revisit. 

Then I got thinking about our recent RTLB interventions.  I have worked with my class to implement paired writing.  Our writing results were fantastic and the rest of the staff are interested in the journey.  What if I record a paired writing session and put it on the blog - making it rewindable for the staff?
What if the learners record the story of our Word Whiz sessions for the PD blog.  Four other classes are using the Elkonin boxes for word whiz sessions.  What if we all collaborated and shared on the PD blog to identify early interventions?  How good could this really be?  

So we did just that.  My word whiz gurus reflected on their journey and we got out the ipad and recorded a quick reflection.  What a great start to this sharing...

Here it is Would you believe the word Zack chose to demo on his iPad! MAGIC! (unprompted)

A HUGE thank you to Kevin and Karen for getting in my head, for making connections, for allowing me to see the potential, for empowering us to create, innovate, and share.

How good can it really be?  It can be MAGIC!

Thursday, November 8, 2012

What colour is your world?

Your thoughts, words and deeds are painting the world around you.  Jewel Diamond Taylor

What colour is your world?  Today I am heading to athletic sports so today my world is bright yellow sunshine...

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Punching above your weight with Karen Melhuish Spencer

Here we are at the last Core-ed Breakfast for the year.  These have to be one of the best PD opportunities around.  We gather together before school, share breakfast, coffee and a chat, then get served up the most amazing learning opportunities...
Today @virtuallykaren is engaging us in opportunities technology offers to tailor learning needs.  Knowledge is held by many, and breakthroughs happen when we pass the story on... 

I just love the visual Karen was able to give us.  With a small roll of crepe paper we were able to show the power of the knowledge in the network.  Then we experienced our 'first of many' quick chats about what would have happened in our school with sharing of practice.
"Shared articulation of a deprivatised professional practice", taking away the classroom walls, having belief in our story, realising that our story is worth sharing, and undertaking deliberate investigation into practice.
Karen shared the power of deliberate reflection, recording our journey, comparing and contrasting! We need to think about sharing our stories wider, working towards a nationwide, shared story of our practice!
We discussed big trends that are driving us to rethink our learning, and get started on the journey.  
Technology is a key enabler in our journey, enabling access and personalisation access for all. Technology enables and amplifies what we already do.  Technology changes, humans don't

We talked about blogs, wikis to publish, reflect on and easily share our learning.  Gathering esources for connecting with students, collecting, pulling together resources and stories, and sharing our stories. Professional development should be personalised and ubiquitous!
Technology offers us opportunities for documenting what is happening whenever, wherever we are....  We have opportunities for contextual learning, eg. putting maths into context

The big question is How are we personalising the story for PD for our teachers?  

Are we using appropriate technology for needs?  Are we personalised learning experiences?
Are we living the vision - connected, capable, lifelong learners?

Four key goals must be:
  • De-silo - break down
  • Personalised
  • Sustainable
  • Co-construct..

Education must be seen as an exchange, a making and sharing of a learning story.  There are benefits to all from shared learning, and in the words of Dean Shareski - sharing is an obligation!  We must work to blend to extend  - over time, place and space... We learn best where set our own goals, driving our own learning! One design for all doesn't work we are all different! How much can we make use of technology to step away from one model?  Are we engaging with new models for PD, are we enaging with critical reflective inquiry? Is our PD inclusive, flexible, collaborative?

Are we seeing a new model for our school?  Can we identify an opportunity and remember where you are going? Engagement in professional learning is not on the plate - it is the plate!  We need slow, deliberate, objective, reflective, critique!

Are we identifying a focusing inquiry - learning targeted at what students need right now?

Let's get started:-
Project  - de-silo
Connect - accept/reject
Collect and curate
Reflect on inquiry

Are we recording our question and discussion for others to add to, learn from and share in their own work! Are we seizing opportunities available?
  • English online... Arts online, 
  • vpld,
  • Pinterest - shared staff space.... 
Are we creating a shared reflective practise?

Where is there an opportunity for professional learning that is:
  • Self directed
  • Connected
  • Curated
  • Shared
Educational conversation we can all benefit from....

What an inspirational session Karen.  Thanks a million.  I really can't wait to share the Edtalk with our whole staff and we explore possibilities for personalised PD.  I have started a blog to share our staff PD, so we can personalise our journeys but share, connect, collaborate and celebrate our learning journeys as a staff...

I returned to school at 9.02 to work with an RTLB and a group of students we have targeted for acceleration.  As we reflected on the success of ten weeks work I realised the potential of recording their journey to share on the staff PD blog.  Friday morning we are creating the first story to share, learn and personalise our staff PD!

Yay Karen, MAGIC session!


MAGIC days...

This has been one very special day so far and there is a whole lot more to come...
I have to blog some of it now before I forget any of the specialness...

My alarm woke me at 5.45am and I leapt out of bed thinking it was a gym day, but no, it was #coreedbreakfast day with the fantastic @virtuallykaren.

Just decided I need to blog each event separately... But heading to school community meeting on online communication - so I'll be back to the blog soon.....

Until then.... Trophy photo for the day...

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Unexpected kindness...

Unexpected kindness is the most powerful, least costly, and most underrated agent of human change.  Kindness that catches us by surprise brings out the best in our natures.  Bob Kerrey

If there is one thing I want to have my learners grasp it is this message right here.  If we can focus on bringing unexpected kindness to our fellow human beings the world is a much happier, gentle place.  This is especially as we head to the end of our year together, go out, be kind, smile, share, commit a random act of kindness wherever and whenever possible...

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Matarangi to Auckland

Finally I am back to continuing the MAGIC journey on the way to Ulearn...

Barbs, Allanah and I said our fond farewells to the beach and heading off on another adventure - destination Auckland, ETA 4pm.  Leaving Matarangi at 11am makes this completely achievable... but you know us...
Anyway off we went, caching before we went far...
First cache - "Over and Out" Coromandel. A quick easy find with stunning views, then "Kiwi Zone".

Another find, "Double Trouble" and a stop to hug a gorgeous Kauri tree and on we go again.
Travelling on we arrived at the gorgeous Tairua!  What an amazing little town.  We arrived while they are celebrating a British weekend...

First stop, a cache to find across the bridge then scallops and fish at the park... YUM!
Well, with a tummy full of fish, chips, scallops and ginger beer Barbs thought it would be a good idea if I 'popped' up the steps to find cache "Lookout ! for the gazebo".  I said sure - just 130 steps... well it's actually 205 steps up and it is right at the top of the hill overlooking Tairua.  The walk up nearly killed me on a full tummy... then I had to wait for tourists to leave before I could scurry down under the gazebo to reach the cache... Poor Barbs and Allanah probably thought I was never returning...

Finally back to the car and off we went in search of a MUST FIND cache for me "The MAGIC tree".  (No, not magic mushrooms, Jane).  Well, this sure is a very well named!  I could live here...  We found three girls 'holidaying' in the MAGIC tree and they helped us find the cache, and I think three young cachers were born!

If you look closely you will see the hammock and seats set up where the girls were 'holidaying' in the tree.
On we heading towards Auckland, realising that our ETA for the tweet-up at Garrisons was going to be a little out.  
We had a wonderful catchup with friends then Barbs and Allanah 'handed me over' to Helen and the Princess for the night.
What an awesome time Princess and I had with the dress ups again and a much needed early night!

Friday, November 2, 2012

Toasting Pauline for such a kind act today!

Today is day 16 in my 'new lifestyle'... Can you imagine how it felt to go to drinks after school today to find that the school secretary got grapes and carrots for nibbles.  Some people just do the kindest things.  I would like to toast Pauline - MAGIC!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

ICOT - International Conference on Thinking

Please join me at the International Conference on Thinking in Wellington in January 2013.

This is an opportunity to hear from cutting edge thinkers, researchers and practitioners who are drawn from such fields as education, health sciences, the arts, sciences, sports, government and business.

The conference themes of 'Future Survival', 'Future Society' and 'Personal Futures' impact on everyone, from all disciplines.

Over the five days of the conference you can participate in full day master classes run by invited speakers, listen to the world leading keynote and featured presenters and participate in a stimulating programme of over 250 presentations and workshops.  Combine this with a magical 'tour' programme, artistic performances, two receptions, a conference gala dinner, and you are sure to have an unforgettable experience.  

Looking forward to starting the year on a MAGICAL thinking and learning high...

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Goals and dreams...

You are never too old to set another goal or dream a new dream.  
 C. S. Lewis

Isn't that a wonderful quote.  I am dreaming and setting new goals right now...

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Strength and comfort

I know there is strength in the differences between us.  I know there is comfort where we overlap.  Anti DiFranco

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Feeling the passion of 'What Ed Said'

I have been carrying key notes of this post around with me for a while now and finally I find time to reflect on it!  Ten ways to differentiate learning
I really do value this thinking and these ten steps and I want to reflect on what they mean for me.  I think I embrace new learning and ideas when I personalise it - so here goes...

  • Let go - allow the learners to lead and learn and teach.
  • Change your expectations - this one challenges me - my expectations are very high and I always expect the unexpected.
  • Change the sequence - I liken this to Tara's concept of problem posing rather than problem solving, mix it up and flip it around.
  • Use technology creatively - make the technology sing... use, create, innovate;
  • Care about what matters to them - getting to know my learners all over again each term - keep up with where they are at and what motivates them;
  • Assess for learning - learning is a journey, set goals, reflect and learn along the way
  • Embrace inquiry as a stance - inquisitive learners are questioning, challenging and reflecting and questioning all over again;
  • Don't be the only teacher - we have a range of experts across all levels and I learn with, alongside and from my students daily;
  • Focus on the learning not the work - Learners know the journey and the multiple paths to success, 
  • Encourage goal setting and reflection - in everything we do we attempt to set a goal, challenge ourselves and reflect on our journey...
I am so inspired by this list. Thank you for sharing Edna Sackson - you are inspiring... 
I am working my way through the ten things series...


Embrace relational uncertainty.  It’s called romance. 
Embrace spiritual uncertainty.  It’s called mystery. 
Embrace occupational uncertainty.  It’s called destiny. 
Embrace emotional uncertainty.  It’s called joy. 
Embrace intellectual uncertainty.  It’s called revelation. 
Mark Batterson

Clarity, Focus and Purpose...

Sometimes something happens in your life that really brings things into focus.  For me right now, this is #Ulearn12.  The entire experience, connecting, networking, sharing, learning, really brought a clarity to my purpose and direction.  I always say I am a mash-up of everything I experience. This past week has added an incredible richness to my tapestry of learning and teaching.  Many of the changes I have made are outside my teaching and learning journey, they are personal, physical, relational and monumental.  Having just completed my second session at the gym this week I have a new vision and clarity for where I am travelling.  

I have always focused on the journey as opposed to the destination and I am on an incredible journey.  The richness of interacting with inspirational educators is so important to us all.  I liken it to being plugged in and charged up for a week - charged mentally, emotionally, spiritually and strategically.  The challenge is to return to the world we live and work in and 'keep the passion'.  I am frantically chunking my new learning to make everything count.  My class are buzzing, they are benefiting from the MAGIC I have experienced.  

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pre Ulearn12 MAGIC at Matarangi

Before heading into the most intensely inspiring week of the year Barbs, Allanah and I are chilling in and around the Coromandel.

I will attempt to share some of the MAGIC since I arrived and the pre Ulearn holiday began…

Barbs picked Allanah and I up from the airport and we headed off to Pizza Box where we had lunch with Rachel.  We then meandered our way towards Matarangi caching as we went.  Oh the adventures, the giggles, the fun!  Gorgeous New Zealand scenery, great company and a very relaxed timetable – what more could we ask for? 

Finally arriving at Matarangi the true MAGIC of my beach adventure became apparent – Barbs house is “ON THE BEACH’.  I really don’t know if I have every stayed this close to the water…  What an amazing time…

I just had to swim in the ocean.  Although it was cold to get in, once I was in it was MAGIC.  I just loved it. 

There really is nothing better than watching a sunrise over the water or swimming in the ocean at daybreak or dusk.  

I swam in the ocean many times.  I gathered treasures on the beach.  We cached and coffeed, talked and toured.  We had a wonderful shopping time in Whitianga where I bought a dress for Katie’s graduation, a top and gorgeous purple sandals.  We travelled to bays, and took photos too numerous to mention.  We even fitted in time for a visit to Lost Springs Day Spa!

We had pizza on the beach with ginger beer!  We saw horses galloping in the sand.  We saw the Pohutakawa bursting into flower.  New Zealand - you really are a beautiful place.  

The true MAGIC in the adventure though, undoubtedly, was the wonderful company.  I think back to a time before I knew either of these two and I count my blessings for the richness you add to my life.  

Sunday, October 14, 2012


MAGIC – on the way to Ulearn again…
Here I am in Seat 13C bound for Auckland.  I can hardly believe that it is 365 days since Ulearn in Rotorua.  There sure has been a lot of water under the bridge since then….

·         I graduated with my Master of educational leadership;
·         I completed my e-learning papers out of Tasmania;
·         I got awarded a Core-ed e-fellowship;
·         I got accepted for NAPP;
·         I continued to enjoy my study leave right til the end of 2011;
·         I printed my Twitter Tour blog off as a hardback book;
·         I celebrated Christmas with my amazing family;
·         And in February I returned to school after a truly MAGICAL year.

When I returned I likened the time in class with my learners as being the sheen on my bubble.  I really do love being back with our learners.

As 2012 dawned I set about creating MAGIC out of the amazing learning journey that was 2011.  One Sunday Jane came out to school and chatted with me as I talked about my dreams for a class that fitted the needs of my learners today.  I dreamt of possibilities and together we have worked to realise many of these possibilities and more…

The most significant change has been co-constructing the learning with the learners.  We have worked to create a modern, flexible learning environment that meets our needs.  We reflect on space, light, sound, feelings and which space works best for us at set times… We have amazing conversations about the art of learning. 

BYOB was a dream I had in 2011 and it is now a reality.  My biggest fear was issues of equity.  These fears have proved unfounded as all learners have SIGNIFICANTLY greater access to online learning than I imagined possible.  Key to the start of the BYOB journey was surveying the learners and the families and engaging them in discussion and planning for our journey.  I was amazing and delighted by the challenges issued from the families and the learners.  Together we are working our way towards a blended learning environment.  Reflection on the success of BYOB from the learners clearly place it as given greater access to online time for those without their own device and ubiquity of learning and access for those with their own device.  There are so many highlights to this journey but I would like to highlight a few:
·         ANZAC visit to the local RSA with learners photographing, recording, interviewing, blogging – but really taking the learning to their extended families in a way that really hadn’t been possible until now;
·         Significantly increased engagement in reading by struggling readers engaging with their device through e-books, wiki, blogging and discovering…
·         AMAZING improvement with basic facts and maths concepts – due to access to online support and engagement;
·         Being party to learners responding with wonderment and awe as they record moments to create from, blog about or share with others;
·         Celebrating the journey of discovery as we work out new ways of doing things;
·         Independence of learning and learners – as all are challenged to contribute to learning pathways;
·         Daily discovery with our digital footprint and citizenship;
·         Working with learners to learn from and tidy up online oops;
·         Seeing learners beginning to develop their e-portfolios;
·         Greater reflection on successes;
·         Although I am not app focused and do not see apps as ‘the way’ to learning, I delight in the sharing and discovery as learners collaborate at their ‘app fests’;
·         Learning, unlearning and relearning with our devices;
·         Increased family involvement in the learner’s online world;
·         Significantly increased blogging and distance collaboration;
·         Development of responsibility for own device, learning and collaboration;
·         Google docs and forms as accepted collaborative behaviour;
·         Responding to the work of others in unprecedented ways;
·         Truly BYOB with iPads, ipods, androids, tablets, laptops,

Woohoo – what a list!  I am delighted that I took the time to record some of the MAGIC of the journey that is BYOB.  I guess it is only fair that I record some of the main challenges.

·         Technicalities – thanks to Dave this has been completely doable;
·         Trail blazing – as the only class that is BYOB it has been very important to learn from the journey ready to roll out to senior school next year;
·         Remaining steadfast to my pedagogical beliefs – it is only a tool and it is only used if it is a better, creative or innovative way to enhance our learning;
·         Making the most of this amazing journey – I look back on my timeline and realise I am only about ¼ of the way into what I planned for my first year…
·         Moving to a fully blended learning environment;
·         Continuing to challenge the learner to go beyond the horizon….

Alongside the BYOB and the learning spaces, finally running student led conferences as opposed to parent/teacher interviews has been the realisation of a long held dream.  I would now really struggle to return to the interviews.  The journey of watching the learner identify their successes and challenges and openly discuss what they need to do to meet self-set goals and the support they need from family and teacher is inspirational.

I sometimes think I learn best when I am the silent observer. 

This is only really possible when a class is in sync!  When our guidelines are in place and as a team we work to these guidelines anything is possible.  What then are our guidelines? Two very simple words thanks to Andrew Churches – RESPECT AND PROTECT!  We respect and protect ourselves, others and property (including intellectual).  With this as our mantra anything really is possible. 

So, back to the flight, here I am winging my way to Ulearn12, with a MAGICAL holiday on Matarangi beach with two very special people for a few days. 

I am eternally grateful for the privilege of being a teacher in New Zealand. 
I am eternally grateful for the privilege of networking and collaborating with the most amazing educators around New Zealand thanks to the power of Twitter.
I am uber excited to be heading to my favourite place in the whole world – the beach.
I am uber excited to be able to share a little of the MAGIC of my journey in my presentation MAGICAL mash-up at Ulearn!

Life is GOOD, very, very good. 

I am also incredibly excited to have launched a new blog this morning AK-MAGIC dedicated to the moments of MAGIC everywhere and anywhere.  

Monday, October 1, 2012


"Character may be manifested in the great moments, but it is made in the small ones." 
- Phillips Brooks

Friday, September 28, 2012


In learning you will teach, and in teaching you will learn.
- Phil Collins

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

AKO - teacher, learner, leader,

We have realised that we need to do a lot of work on our maths strategies.  We need to see problems and maths in a context and we need to discuss and share our strategies, our understandings and our approaches to problem solving.  Check out the action in Room 6 today!  I loved watching the learners collaborate, network, share, discuss and challenge... then teach others and work through a real range of problems.  

Sometimes a teacher learns best when she is a silent observer...