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Making magic with Google Draw

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While it is easy to get carried away with a range of apps, extensions and sites when you are a digital teacher, it is important not to focus more on a cool tool than your lesson content. In the spirit of this, Clarelle and I decided to run a session about Google Draw, to show how one simple tool can be used to do a range of things.

This was a really fun session to run - it started off with us talking about the things that we use all the time, like sketchnoting, annotating, hyperdocs (or hyperdraws). We then looked at some of the more artistic things that you can do with Google Draw, I had a lot of fun with this part, but it wasn't for everyone!

We also went through some of the tips about how to use Google Draw. Some of them were really basic, such as changing the size of the Google Draw, but they are still really useful to know!

Sticky Learning with Hyperdocs

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When I used to think about Hyperdocs, I immediately imagined a page filled with hyperlinks. After a session with hyperdoc guru Lisa Highfill, I realise that I may have been wrong about them, in fact, they are not so different from the type of slides that I have been creating for my own learners.

The docs and slides that Lisa creates have a definite structure, they clearly take the students on a journey, which for me would look like 'learn, create, share', while for Lisa this might look more like 'explore and explain'. The slides have short instructions and they use images and a layout that is visually appealing.

The other misconception that I had about hyperdocs was the number of links that they would feature. Yes, student choice is wonderful, but nobody likes to be bombarded with links as this can become overwhelming. I was pleasantly surprised with the number of links that Lisa's slides provided; the links were purposefully chosen and took students to engaging bu…

Teaching Algebra with Coding

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Now this sounds like something my maths class would enjoy - many of us are pretty passionate about algebra and we already really enjoy coding. However, I also have students who fear this dreaded subject and some have already asked when we will be learning it this year (perhaps hoping that it might align with a terrible pre-planned illness of family holiday).

We started by having a look at algebra on spreadsheets - using functions to write the equations. These were like a more interactive version of a worksheet, but I actually enjoyed completing them alone. It is easy to see how this would translate to coding, taking the engagement and interaction up another level.


When it came to generating our pattern we did things a little differently; we jammed on chrome music lab and created a simple song using its song maker function. This was such a fun way to see maths in the world - there are patterns everywhere!
We then went onto scratch to code some music - each note is here represented by a…

Tool Takeaways from Edtech Auckland

One of the best things about Edtech is picking up new sites, tools or tech tips that can be applied in the classroom. This is a list of some of the useful tools that I have learnt about throughout this summit:

The Most Dangerous Writing App
This is a cool idea for quick quickwrites. The site gives you a time limit to write and it does not allow you to stop - the second you stop typing, your text will disappear! A bit gimmicky and a red will come up and tell you that you've failed, but it could be fun once in a while.

iFake Text Messages
This is one of the best fake text messaging sites I've come across. They could be used to show a text conversation between characters or even for a Cybersmart lesson.

My Simple Show
This is a really cool website which allows you to make a slideshow with voiceover very quickly. It auto selects images for you based on the text, but you can choose your own from their library as well. It's not as creative as making one independently, with your own…

EdTech Auckland; Time to Wonder

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There are no new ideas. This was the idea that keynote speaker Lisa Highfill opened with at Aorere college this morning. She experienced this first hand as she watched her inventor father come up with new products, prepare to launch them only to find another company had already produced them.
This might sound a little defeatist, but she went on to explain that the value in an idea is putting it out there and sharing it. Instead of focussing on new ideas, Highfill suggested that we focus on sparking curiosity in our learners, so that they create, build on and share good ideas with one another.

We considered different ways to elicit student thinking, dreaming and wondering. This could be through engaging multimodal sites, stories, videos, google earth... But they must ask questions and discuss their thinking with one another. This aligns very closely with the Learn, Create, Share pedagogy of Manaiakalani, as we spark our students thinking through immersion assemblies, multimodal sites …

Quantities of Quality Text

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This afternoon we were visited by Dr Jannie Van Hees who came to talk to us about language acquisition. She first asked us to consider the literary understandings that our students come to use with and why we need quantities of quality text (both spoken and written). The more books that students engage with, the more concepts they learn about, the more knowledge and vocabulary they acquire. If the texts are too simple, the students will not not learn as much; they need to be challenged with challenging new words and ideas.

Children's language acquisition potential is astounding; they have amazing potential to learn. Thus, we must have high expectations of our learners - we need to keep pushing them, giving them learning in their ZPD or 'goldilocks' zone. However, learners need to do their part to; they can't simply listen or view the words, but they need to focus and notice. They must be metacognitive and be aware of their learning of the vocabulary.
Jannie's tips …

Inquiry Update

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This year I have been focussing on generating more discussion to support my students in literacy. I have been using reciprocal reading, argumentation boards, text analysis and language experiences to ensure that I am scaffolding my students with talk.

My class recently took part in Get New Zealand Writing, where they had to create poems formed out of first 40, then 18 rich words that are related to an item. Because vocabulary is something that they need to work on, this was an incredibly challenging experience for them and I had to scaffold some students far more than the programme suggested.


I also just finished marking my students first asTTle writing tests and once again found that they scored relatively low in vocabulary, using most 'everyday' or social vocabulary, despite writing explanations that are more suited to academic vocabulary and tone.

In response to this, I have decided to focus on vocabulary for another week in writing and look at short poems such as Haiku…