Saturday Unconference

I attended the unconference at Pt England school today – it was an amazing experience to be with educators who are so passionate about using ICT in the 21st century classroom.
I went to Lenva Shearing’s session on e portfolios and came away with an insight to using e portfolios with intermediate aged students as well as the use of wikis, ning and blogs.

I sat beside Lenva at lunchtime and talked through my issues of uploading keynote presentations to on line environment and losing the audio on these presentations. She made some suggestions and sat with me as we tried various options –
- adding it to ning (no success)
- placing it on rocket slide (no success)
I talked through the fact that I wanted to use a process that others would find easy to use. She said she would think about it the afternoon and get back to me. She did – catching up with me at the end of the day – Her suggestion was to use imovie. Lenva was so generous of her time and so supportive. She invited me to visit her at Buckland Beach Intermediate and indicated she was happy for me to email me with any queries I might have.

This really was a wow moment – to network with such an expert who was so generous with her time and so happy to share her knowledge with me.

Next I went to a session about podcasting with Joy Paton from Panmure Bridge School. She stepped us through how to make a podcast. I found this a valuable session – by working through the process – when I made a mistake Joy was able to assist me and I came away with another tool to use this term.
I then went to a session with Dorothy Burt – on building an audience when blogging. This was a thought provoking session for me as I reflected on what she said and what I have/have not done to build and sustain an audience for my blog.
I came away armed with a range of suggestions I will use this term.

As the afternoon drew to a close I was fortunate enough to have Dorothy share some of the slides of her presentation on the literacy cycle. This was another wow moment – hearing from her first hand about the literacy cycle and the positive outcome it has had for the students in achievement is breath taking. I really valued this session and came away with a much clearer understanding of the literacy cycle as a whole.

The professional development was outstanding and it was free.

One of the things that Dorothy Burt talked about was the social etiquette of blogging. If you leave a comment on a blog it is polite for that person to leave a comment on your blog. Today I left a comment on Room 14’s blog – that’s the class next door, which is also a year 2. Within hours a reply had come from Geeta the teacher in room 14 on our blog. The social etiquette of blogging is alive and well!


I spent the day with four colleagues visiting schools who are using SOLO taxonomy. It was an opportunity to see how other schools are set up with ICT and a somewhat brief look into 2 out of 3 schools view of literacy.

School 1 had writing goals glued into the front of each child's writing book. I reflect – why don’t I do this? I think it’s got to do with the fact that when I tried it many years ago, it just didn’t work – I always forgot to refer back to it and at the time when I viewed draft books from other classroom the goals seemed so broad and seldom changed from student to student. For me if students are setting goals I want them to be specific and be at the cutting edge of what an individual child is learning in terms of the deeper features of text rather than the surface features.

Within this school setting I noticed that they also glued in the learning intention prior to writing
WAL to set the scene. Who? Where? What?
Have you used a story starter?
Have you described the setting?
Have you introduced your characters?

This I could see would become a checklist for the children to reflect on during and after they wrote. This got me thinking – in my classroom the learning intention is co constructed with the students – recorded on the whiteboard and referred back to at the end of the writing block in an informal way. Maybe if it were presented in a more formal way with places for the students to tick a box if they had meet the criteria, their reflection would be specific to their own piece of writing and would be more beneficial to them over time.

We were shown some of sentences starters developed by Kath Murdoch used to get children to reflect on their learning.
I really liked the way I…..
I wish I had ……..
I still need to work on …………..
This helped me understand ……………….
I am most proud of ………….
This reminded me ………….
The tricky part was ……………
Next time I need to …………..
I can explain ………………

In the next school the focus on literacy was evident in every classroom we went into. The walls reflected the genre each class was exploring – eg statements like – this term we will be learning to read and write factual reports. We know we have achieved this when we
- can identify special features of a factual report
- write our own report
- recall information from reports we have read.
Factual reports written by others were on display as well as the students work.

I notice that the WALT was placed at the end of a piece of written work on display in the classroom with places for the students to tick if they have achieved it. Eg for the personal recounts on display it said -
I have used a hook (or interesting way to start my story)
I have written one moment in time.
I have finished my recount with a prediction

During the day I talked to 3 of the management team about them posting regular comments on our classroom blogs. If we want to use blogs across the school as a window into our classroom programmes I think it is important that the management team are seen to be viewing and commenting on the classroom blogs. Why do I think that – its because
  • parents will see that the management team value their child’s work by their comments.
  • teachers know that there is a school wide expectation that blogs will be updated regularly and with management viewing these it is a reminder to keep the blogs current. Recognition via commenting provides the teachers with instant feedback about the positive things they are doing in their classrooms.


I was viewing the blog via the data projector as the children arrived – a parent came in and was drawn to it as she watched the children looking at themselves. I seized the opportunity to talk her through leaving a comment on the blog as she said she had no idea what to do.

Later in the day as a class we looked at some of our videos – the children really do get so much pleasure in viewing their own videos. The smiles say so much.

I talked to the children about how that now room 10’s blog (our buddy class) was up and running, we would make a comment on their blog- so we did. We talked about making comments on our own and or/ each others entries – and how we might do this. We decided that after morning tea and lunch might be a good time for people to go on to the computers to do this.
After lunch 3 children went on to the computer and 2 managed to work through the process and add a comment. Interestingly they commented on each others work.

Today during reading – I noticed a real difference in my class – students reading their stories ready for recording, others drawing images for their stories and one writing – she wanted to add to her story.
I'm beginning to think we should refer to this block of time as a literacy block rather than reading as on the timetable


I have sent up 14A the withdrawal space next to my class as a ‘recording studio’ with a simple sign on the door that leads into it saying so with a list on it indicating who needs to be videoed. ( I put this up for my benefit as a way of keeping track who needed to be videoed) The set up in the ‘recording studio’ is basis – a piece of material hung over a stand, two little stools made especially for the task by the Ash Barnes our caretaker and a tripod.
Its basis but the children love it – going into another space to record has caught their imagination.

One of the students read the list and asked if he could video his buddy at lunchtime! This is the same boy that said writing was boring at the end of last term! He was out their watching his buddy and as soon as he had finished eating his lunch, he had set up in 14A and videoed him.

The concept of commenting on our blog is growing slowly – children at home are beginning to comment – Aart’s siblings made a comment and then Aart made one as well.

Mark reflected on his own work

Another parent came in at the end of the day another chance to show her the blog and how to comment.

After school I spent time with Geeta the teacher next door showing her what I’d learnt about podcasting at the unconference.

Geeta and I run similar programmes and plan a lot together. She has focused on making regular blog entries this term and is fostering the use of commenting on the blog. We compared notes and Geeta has had a lot more success in getting the children and parents to comment. What’s her secret – it’s the incentive she is using – place a comment on the blog and I will give you a sticker!!!


Reflecting on four oral presentations this morning – provided opportunities to stop and talk about how we are constructing oral text. We reflected on how the event was being described and whether it had been in sequence. This takes time – a lot longer than sometimes the constraints of a timetable allows.

My ‘writing is boring’ boy was keen to share the video of him using the oral planner so we did. Interestingly his oral planning matched his written work. He was quickly off to finish his recount and raced off to draw pictures to go with it

The comments from room 10 have dried up. I feel I might have scared them off by talking about correcting spelling errors. I will talk to them tomorrow.


One of the class members asked to see how many comments we had on our blog – on to blogger we went and were delighted to find 2 comments – one of which was a comment from Mrs Stewart our principal – Mrs Stewart is looking at our blog was the delighted cry from many of the students.

Room 10 visited and I talked with them about how they hadn’t commented so much on our blog this week and we wondered why. One said he was looking for his buddies work and couldn’t find it – so I showed them how to use the ‘label’ tag. The teacher said that some had had problems getting on to discovery zone on the new computer and their reading block had been cut short one day. We talked about how you can comment from home as well as from school.

During our middle block – the one we now refer to as the publishing block – we made a podcast for the first time. I had set up the podcast with the ice images at home and the buddies recorded each other. Making a podcast is so much quicker than using keynote – and there’s something to be said for that!!
As the week draws to a close – I ponder and acknowledge the following
• Teaching children to reflect on their work takes time and is such an important step to improve the quality of their work.
• The use of this approach is highly motivating for some students.
• Establishing an audience who is prepared to comment on your blog takes time.
• Visiting other educational settings provides valuable insights and healthy dialogue between staff.