Student Led Conferences

We had our very first Student Led Conferences at the East Campus on Friday 13th – brave choice of dates. Suffice to say it was a great experience. The photos (below) show such excitement on the faces of the kids as they share their learning with their parents.

In Grade 2, the kids showed their parents how to use the Digital Microscopes.
Grade 3 shared the Photo Stories they made for their Blue Planet unit.
Grade 4‘s showed off their animations and taught their parents a few tricks.
Everyone was welcome to use Google Earth to share their learning as well.

I think everyone finished the conferences totally exhausted, but would all agree it was worth it. I appreciate that we took time as a staff to reflect on how it went, so we can make it even better next time.

7 Things Meme

I was tagged by beckcollect on the ‘7 Things’ meme which has been floating about the Twitterverse lately.

  1. I am an amputee. Although this is technically true, it’s hardly debilitating when compared with landmine victims for example, as I am only missing the little finger on my left hand. It all happened when I was 6 years old and playing with my younger sister.

    We had created a game where we placed obstacles in the hallway and turned out all the lights. We had to catch each other in the dark without banging into something. I tripped on a pillow, and my sister ran to the bedroom at the end of the hallway and hid behind the door. Stealthily, I made my way to the door and ran my fingers along it, trying to find the handle.

    Unfortunately I was on the completely wrong side, and my sister heard my tapping and slammed the door – with my finger in the hinges. We were living in a rural part of central Otago in NZ, and the local hospital had broken their X-Ray machine. I had my finger sewn on in an equally rural hospital.

    Not too long after, I developed gangrene and needed to have it amputated at the first joint. Just to make the story really gruesome (are you still reading??), because I was so young, my bones were still growing, and following the first operation my bone grew out the end of my finger! I remember this distinctly, because my mother cried when she saw it (something that seldom happened!). Suffice to say the next operation (amputating to the second joint) did the trick and it is now as good as gold.

    In case you’re thinking I’m having a pity party, it hasn’t really stopped me doing anything. I play the piano (not too badly, considering!), and have a neat party trick where I put it in my ear and it looks like I’m scratching my brain. The same approach works extremely well for putting it in my nose, though is less savory on the whole… It also gives me an excellent excuse as to why I’m not a touch typist!

  2. Despite having dead-straight hair all my life, it went mad-curly when I was pregnant with my son. I had to adjust to a whole other hair type and style 31 years into my life!

    Before (when my daughter was 1).

    After (with 4 generations of my family, my daughter’s now 3).

  3. I love to sing. I come from quite a musical family (my Dad was a music teacher & music advisor for many years), and we all play various instruments. I played the trumpet for a number of years, but my favourite thing ever is to perform onstage singing. I loved performing in musical theatre at our local Operatic society in Hamilton when we lived back home.

    My favourites were Slice of Saturday Night and Les Miserables, however Jesus Christ Superstar back in 1998 was the most memorable, as that is where I met my husband! When people ask, I always say he was the bald apostle and I was a leper. Technically true, but I was a lot of other things as well!

  4. I am very slim, despite eating like a horse. Nothing I eat seems to make any difference to my weight. My friends always say they would love to have that problem, but I always feel I have to make sure people don’t think I’m anorexic or something. One of my favourite things to eat in SIngapore is Chilli Crab (Singapore’s national dish).

    You simply HAVE to get in amongst it with Chilli Crab!

  5. I love my job. I know this is geeky in the extreme, but I am working part-time in a fantastic school: UWCSEA East. My colleagues are fantastic. And then there are the kids! Sometimes I think I will wake up and find it has all been a dream!
  6. Even though you can’t choose your family, if I could, I’d pick them all anyway. Even my husband feels the same way about his in-laws. Here are just a couple of them on Christmas day:

  7. I adore books. I have always been particularly fond of fiction and find it very easy to slip away into a make-believe world. I used to think I was exclusively a fiction reader, however upon closer inspection of my bookshelves at home, I have more cookbooks than any other type of books. I will buy anything by Nigella Lawson or Jamie Oliver! While I enjoy cooking, I enjoy eating more!

So there you have it. 7 Things, done. I now tag thelibrarianedge, craigsteed, teachernz, audaciousgloop, BrianLockwood, jshe, WLIAO.


I guess I’m admitting to being 7 different kinds of geek now, but I am really excited about some tools out there that enable kids to share their learning with an online audience in a range of forms. What’s absolutely awesome about these tools is they are free for educators.


Glogster’s tagline is, ‘Poster yourself’, and while this is a noble enough start, the educational possibilities for such a tool are endless. I plan to use this with my Grade 4s as a means of communicating findings and ideas about their upcoming unit on Think Global, Act Local to a wider audience.

Education | Glogster

Students can upload video and audio files as well as typing/pasting in their own text to share their ideas. What I think the kids are going to LOVE about it is that Glogster allows you to bling your work in a way that makes everything look pretty amazing. A perfect way of fine-tuning their skills of presentation.


I was so pleased that Animoto decided to let educators have free full-access accounts for themselves and their students, enabling them to produce full-length videos and download them. I used Animoto in a presentation to staff on professional development in technology, and had loads of comments about the quality of the teaser trailer I produced. Most refused to believe my assertions that it was a piece of cake and hardly took any time. I love it when that happens!

– Animoto For Education –

I hope to use this with my kids to make a video about their year in review. I figure it will be a nice memento of their school year. My only concern this time is the time it takes to upload photos – albeit resized ones – en masse. I’ll be sure to post about how I get on.


Google Earth continues to be one of my favourite tools for use in the classroom. From Google Lit Trips to  Real World Maths and everything in between, Google Earth is one of the most versatile tools on offer today. It’s also fantastic for every age group. My 3 year old daughter likes visiting her Nana & Poppa’s house in NZ and seeing where we live in Singapore.

To get a free Google Earth Pro account: Check here for Kevin Jarrett’s blog post that contains all the details you’ll need. Google Earth Pro allows you to download movies of your Google Earth tours, which is great for sharing learning.

2 Steps Forward

Photo credit: niko si

Had a bit of a despondent moment last week, wondering whether I was making any difference to anyone with this staff initiative on technology PD. Although we have a good number of people turning up each week, it still seems we have such a long way to go. Perhaps I was (naively) thinking everyone would turn into IT aficionados overnight and they would think back to this PD as the tipping point that led them to a life of tech integration. Ha!

Reality check: teachers are beyond busy. I should know this. I AM one after all. Not only are they busy, but they have lives! Voluntary tech PD comes waaaay down on the list of priorities for most people.

Thankfully, a thoughtful colleague gave me a well-needed wake up call, telling me: “You have to re-adjust your success criteria… The fact that people are showing up is excellent.” He pointed out that even having a place to come to ask questions is more than they would normally have, so I should basically take a hard pill and get over it! [To be fair, he put it much more gently than that!]

So I did. Here are the things I am proud of:

  1. People have successfully signed up to Delicious. Even our entire Senior Management team (who redefine busy).
  2. People are actually USING Delicious to bookmark. I have gained a lot of great sites from my new connectingeast network.
  3. People have managed to get a network of people to follow – this has got to make life easier for them.
  4. People are turning up every Friday. That must mean they are keen to continue, surely!
  5. People now know about and have seen some TED talks. That’s great PD right there.
  6. Katie and I have managed to get something out every week (even if it’s late at night on a Tuesday, we’ve made every self-imposed deadline!)
  7. People are still starting – even though we’re 4 weeks in.
  8. People are still talking to us in the staff room!

My new success criteria is this: If, at the end of 10 weeks, people are aware of tools they didn’t know existed, have had a chance to play around with some of them, and have tried one new thing involving technology in the classroom, I think our efforts will have been well worth it. I will keep you posted…