Saturday, November 29, 2008

Think EDUCATION outside the square box

A Boys Blog

Mathew Blog card

The above blog is an example of what a 10 year old boy can do with a laptop, a blog and an adventure. His six months in Italy is up, but his story sharing skills will be with him forever. What he learned, and what he has shared with you about the Italian way of life, about being adventurous and mostly about his growing and in-depth knowledge of food has become an integral part of who he is. Read about his adventures, and be part of his learning, teaching and development. Leave him a comment on

Saturday, November 22, 2008

What does Blogging offer children's education?

Once again the teachers of Manaia Kindergarten, along with other Early Childhood teachers who are part of the ICT ECE PL Program, spent a great Saturday presenting and sharing ICT initiatives and resources to 180 ECE teachers from around the North Island. And once again we found it inspiring and motivating with the added element of meeting new people and new theories and ideas.

One resource we like to promote for Early Childhood centres and schools, is blogging. This is a FREE resource and provides children/students with a new medium for self expression, story telling, celebrating achievements (be it final results or showcasing their determination and enjoyment of learning), and to teach others what they themselves have recently learned. Blogging provides a number of positive elements that traditional forms of writing, self expression and teaching are unable to offer.

The first is that blogging provides an authentic audience. It is not just the teacher who assesses children's learning. It is not just the Mums, Dads and Grandparents who smile with pride at their children's progress proudly displayed on the kitchen fridge (although both the afore-mentioned are naturally and vitally important). There is however, a world of bloggers, blog readers, children and educators who are addressed, considered, and valued by children who blog. And the idea that there are people out there and are interested, is easily accepted by the C generation. For young children, their own learning and achievements are the central parts of their world and they naturally accept that their learning and achievements are central parts of your world too!! They are all eager to share accomplishments with you.

I have not noticed children blogging for comments. Checking the blog (or checking with teachers) to see if comments have been left on their posts is not the first port of call when they arrive at Kindergarten. The swings and sandpit still rank high as the activities of choice! However they are stoked, chuffed, overjoyed when a comment is left by a loved one, by friends and actually by anyone who shows an interest in their contributions. Both known and unknown commentators are valued as comments invite children into the global conversation and recognise children's contributions on a level playing field.

Those interested in education, of students achieving goals, for those who value displays of determination - you are given a unique opportunity to encourage, to respond, and generally to contribute to individual children's learning, and to communities of children at schools, at home and at kindergartens around the world.

So my challenge for you is - Have you left a child an encouraging comment on their blog this week?

Manaia Kindergarten

Hunter Park Kindergarten
Geraldine Kindergarten
Whangarei Heads Primary
Parua Bay Primary

Monday, November 10, 2008

New Zealand Elections

OK - so the election didn't quite go my way. I don't mind admitting live online - that I am an avid Labour supporter. As has been said many times in the lead up to and post elections, National and Labour have come together in many of their ideas and policies. As the opposition party, National fought many of Labours policies. However during the events leading up to the election it amazed us all how J.Keys of National described much of those same policies as ones that made sense for New Zealand - like Kiwibank, Free ECE, not fighting in Iraq, and so on.

Keys' support for many of the popular Labour initiatives was probably concerning for many supporters to Nationals right - those that want more means testing, more user pays, lowering taxes for the wealthy. Those far enough to the right seemed to have moved over and voted for the ACT party. And those to the left who may have just wanted a change seemed to have been fooled into believing that National is a 'Centre' party close to the Left now - with leftist ideas, policies and practices. BUT this is not so! Because fundamentally Nationals philosophies still underpin its direction. And this was made very evident in John Key's acceptance speech. "What will determine our success is the unity of purpose. A willingness to work together, while recognising that our collective success rests on the success of individuals"

And so it is - National supports the individual. If John Key can rise up from state housing to Prime Minister of New Zealand and help to make things better - then so can you!! He does go on to say that "We need everyone working together because we need everybody to be pulling in the same direction - and if we do that then we will make NZ prosperous as we all know we can be." And I say - prosperous for whom? Such a veiw - that the individual can make it better for the collective - denies the innate selfishness of humankind... those that wanted lower taxes because they didn't want to help those who will never know what prosperous feels like.

To suggest that EVERYONE can reach their financial goals (and therefor some semblance of a decent standard of living) - denies those who work for the less fortunate for next to nothing, denies those who for reasons beyond their control they have to stay at home with no income to support children who don't fit into the mainstream of education, or the mainstream of anything, denies those who for reason's beyond their control will never fit into mainstream.

To say - to work together as individuals for collective success - is an anomaly. And I hope that National keeps to its word about many of the policies so supported by the collective for so long. And I would prefer to hear Key say "lets work together as a collective for the success of all and for the individual"

However there has been a vote for change.

Change is what New Zealand voted for.
But we do not yet know what that change will bring - and for whom!

(More on NZ politics and how it relates to ICT in Early Childhood later.)

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Where's the learning?

Consider the new dawn of education, consider how technology is exciting the learner, consider our different strengths, abilities and interests, before casting your vote for education and the direction of NZ tomorrow.

Then maybe try your hand at making your own statement with ToonDoo and adding it to your blog!