A Year in Retrospect – Beginning a New Tradition.

It seems strange to me to be reflecting on my year, as it only half over, but as I am heading to an International School in China next term it kind of is the end of a school year for me. So here is a retrospective look at the highs of my past year and I hope that as this blog progresses and ages with me I will add a reflection of the year each year.  I suppose that I will follow this up soon with some direction and goals that I want for myself for the 2013/14 school year.

Classroom Blog

interface awardIn the middle of last year I put my class blog (www.mrdyerhfs.blogspot.com) forward for the Interface Awards and made the Top five for Best Class blog – Not a bad accomplishment for a little school in rural New Zealand.  At this time we also connected with other classes within New Zealand and globaly, which showed me the true power of the classroom blog.

Blogging as a Professional

I began this blog, and it has been a fantastic journal, sounding board, reflective outlet and place to connect and share. I implore each of you to try it, public or private and you will see the wealth that the professional blog offers.

Twitter

I connected, I followed, I dived in, I was inspired. Twitter has kept me going this past year with connections and inspiration. It has connected with…

  1. Projects like the Travelling Rhinos of Karen Stadler (@ICT_Intergrator).
  2. I gave creating something a go and hooked in some friends to create the #NZSchoolTimeLapse. I have not been able to cary on with it since through a school production and trying to finish this term to hand over my class, but other awesome teachers have taken it over, part two has already been created and part three is in the creation at the moment!
  3. Global PLN – too many to add here and I would hate to miss one out.
  4. NZTweeps – You all are a daily inspiration!

iDevices

A year ago I got hold of a iPhone 3, then received an iPad for the class and then at Christmas got the iPhone 4 (Still behind the game, but love it).  Apple_gray_logoThese iDevices have changed the game, I know that other devices like Andriod can as well, but it has been an Apple learning curve for me. As long as I keep SAMR in the back of my head I know that only good can come from their use. Additionally with the rise in Augmented Reality and Code Apps like Cargobot there is so many amazing possibilities from these devices that are yet to be discovered. If you want to know about Augmented Reality and Cargobot you have to check out the website of Brad Waid and Drew Minock –  Two Guys and Some iPads – as they are Grade 3 teachers who are sharing their practice with the world and it is truly inspirational!
(@TechBradWaid & @TechMinock)

PC out – MAC in

I have slowly weened myself of the PC and jumped to Mac with the purchase of a sexy MacBook Air.  I’m in love! That is all there is to say about that!

Central Otago Teachers visit to Auckland Schools

Wow… nothing is more inspirational than seeing experts in action and clever designs for both curriculum and buildings in real life.  Two days of whirlwind touring to Stonefields, Summerlands, Albany Senior College & Point England where we got to hear from inspirational educators like Andrew Churches (Read his blog Educational Origami) and quiz Mark Osborne about the awesomeness of Albany Senior College (Google it) then see Manaiakalani in action with Point England and hear from the amazing Dorothy Burt about their journey – their senior students presentation inspired me to do better and look at education in a different way.

EduCamp

I have been lucky to make it to three EduCamps in the past year and have made lasting friendships along the way and been inspired beyond measure. If have not been to one yet then you need to, they are everywhere, just google and you will have a great morning of connection and inspiration!

Tek Rush 2012

Taking a half dozen students to this kids conference was so inspirational and sadly I will not see the second as I will have already left the country.Screen Shot 2013-06-30 at 12.16.11 PM  Click the link if you want to find out more, but think about some of the coolest conferences that you have been to with interactive workshops, keynote speakers and cool prizes and goodie bags then aim it at IT passionate kids who are Year 5 or Year 7 and you have TekRush.  The kids that I took last year still wear the T-shirts as badge of honor and I was stopped in the street last week by a kid who was in my trick photography workshop, she thanked me and introduced me to her parents – i.e. it made a lasting memory!

ICOT 2013

newlogoTo name a few highlights would be -Edward DeBono, Lane Clark, Ewan McIntosh, Simon Breakspear and Guy Claxton, but then you have to add in all of the long lost and new found friends and colleagues that I got to spend time with and learn with face to face.

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A teacher moving abroad – What resources do you take? 2006 v 2013

Seven years ago, as a teacher of 3 1/2 years experience I travelled with my family to work in China for two years in Qingdao at an international school. 105453068.PfHxCi2k.XianSep08057 Next term we are partaking in the adventure again, but this time to Nanjing. I am a better teacher and practitioner this time. But, with experience and being in the same classroom for 5 years comes more physical stuff and it has been this stuff that is causing me a lot of lost sleep over the past month – what to do and what to take?

In 2006 I was allowed a suitcase, carry on bag and a laptop in its case and the same applies this time. The country of orientation is the same and the distance traveled is almost the same. The curriculum is the same for both my past International School and my future school and in both school I was and will be teaching middle to lower primary aged children.

Then comes the really big difference and will sound a bit nuts until I explain it – I am taking 100 times more resources, but I am taking almost nothing.

2006
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  • 3 Ring binders and a clear file of resources copied from books (It was 9 ring binders and 4 clear files, but was unable to fit them in).
  • A CD Wallet full of music.
  • A 1GB data stick that was worth almost $80 when I first bought it.
  • 3 books for personal reading – Empire of the Sun, Seven Years in Tibet and the Hobbit.
  • A Laptop that weighed about 3.5 Kg.
  • A Sony Cybershot camera that took still image only.
  • A Gmail account, Hotmail Account and had just signed up for this new thing called Skype.
    …and I left all my teaching colleagues at my previous school (Only one have I kept in touch with via email).

2013

  • Every digital resource that I have ever made saved on Google Drive or YouTube or Vimeo or Drop Box or Flickr or in many or all of those places.photo (30)
  • Music is all digital and can not remember the last CD that I held let alone used to play music. If there is a song that I do not have it will just take me a WiFi connection and I will have it in a minute or less.
  • On my Kindle account are many important educational resource texts (I took none last time and they sat in a box for two years).
  • 650+ books for me to read for enjoyment all saved on my iBook App.
  • An Obi Wan and Boba Fett USB drive that has essential data that needs backing up (10-15 USBs will stay behind and they were all given out free at courses).
  • A MacBook Air that weighs 1.08kg
  • The same Gmail and Skype, but also Google+, Pintrest, a Vimeo account, a Youtube account and my good friend Twitter.
  • Class, family and personal blogs.photo (31)
  • Gadgets like tripods, iPhone Mounts, iPad Dongles that fit into my pencil case.
  • An iPhone which contains or can access all of the data that I have mentioned above and has a camera that takes still images and video.
    …and along with that one teacher that I kept in touch with I have many hundreds of friends that I contact through blogs, twitter and email.

The best part of it all is that I have no need for excess baggage and can stow it all in my shoulder bag or pocket even if I did not want to carry around my MacBook. And this is the way that I am taking a 100 times more resources, but nothing at all. The physical stuff that i sin my classroom will either be stored in a lockup or destroyed or given to others who wish for it, but that physical stuff that can not fit in my satchel will not be coming with me.

photo (32)

Open Source Software: Just because it is free it doesn’t make it cheap.

With my new computer I am coping with a constant stream of new learning and that is not a bad thing as I like to refere to myself as a learner, especially around my students.  When I first experienced a Mac 8 years ago there was not YouTube or Twitter to solve my problems and I did not even have computer access most of the time; now I have all of these things and every issue that arises is solved in mear Open-Source5-460x290minutes.

Now one thing that has been a constant for my entire ICT life (almost 20 years) is Microsoft Office its related products. Outlook, Front Page, Publisher, Excel, PowerPoint and Word have all been my friends and go to programmes, but this new computer came without and I felt abandoned.  Google Docs is now the main man – it’s my place for documents, spreadsheets, presentations and surveys (My favorite feature of Google Docs), but what was I to do if not online?  My schools report format is not a Google doc.

What to do? What to do? Tweet the question!

Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 1.16.47 PM

The responses were varied, but the response that has been a game changer sent me the way of Libre Office.  It is an open source set of programmes that replaces the Microsoft package. Open source, but I can not be as good if it is free and it must be full of adds and hidden snags!  But then realized that I have been shouting the praises of Mozilla for years and Gmail and Chrome have never caused me a problem and in fact I could not live without them. Open source software in my mind is programmers creating not for the money, but for the love of it ; thumbing their noses at the Man like a Cyber Hippie (If i offend with that analogy I’m sorry as that was no the intent and yes Google has money in mind , but it still provides a pretty fantastic service for no cost to me).

Screen Shot 2013-05-10 at 3.47.11 PMSo, Libre is free to download, a donation is appreciated, but not required and then you are ready to go.  Is it as pretty or streamlined as Microsoft? Not really, but is that the purpose of the tool? I downloaded Libre Office and it is fantastic. All that I want to do is there, I have not needed to read a manual to figure it out and when saving a document there is all the expected options including save as a .docx.  I am free to create and write, cut and paste and all that I could do previously, so if you are in line for a new computer, or simply feel like stepping outside the norm, give it a download.

Now, with my most of my data cloud based in Google, Dropbox, Evernote and Libre Office on my computer I think that I am free of Microsoft for the first time in 20 years.  OK, I am still in debt to Apple, but until my iPhone dies and this Macbook Air does too I will keep on the MAC path.  Who knows, maybe in 20 more years I will jump to Linux?

Changing of the Guard – Apple is in, PC is out.

Now this week something happened that I never thought would unless I was forced to by a schools computer preference… I bought a MacBook Air.  I always knew the pros of Apple with regards to Education; Movie Maker does not quite compare to iMovie and comparing Audacity  and Garageband is like comparing Lego and Duplo – they do the same things kind of, but not really.

The biggest game changer has been the use of my iPhone in class and the class iPad (Singular, Uno, Tahi, like Han it is Solo).  I have come to love Apple and the ease of its applications and interface. Now I am not going to claim that there is only one device to rule them all, as that is just malarky and we all know it, but for now I am going the Apple path and am plaining to photoabsorb myself in all it has to offer.

Now I have chosen the MacBook Air 11 inch, which is small in size and storage and that could be problematic, but I do not feel that it will be.  The majority of all the ‘paperwork’ that I make at the moment is cloud based in Dropbox, Evernote or Google Drive, so storage of that will not come into the equation.  All of the movies or audio that I have created over the past 6 months is using either an iPad or iPhone then sent to various hosting sites such as YouTube or Vimeo, so again it should not be a problem.  My only issue that I can see being a problem with storage will be music and photos; the photos could be cloud based, but I prefer not to send family photos out to the net, so I think that with a new hard drive this problem will also be saved.

photo (1)Ok, so I am sure that those are not the only three issues, but the rest will be part of the adventure. In 15 minutes of playing i was able to hook into the Wifi at school and workout how the proxy settings worked and I think that the command key works like right click on a mouse, but not always. The journey has begun and I’m feeling good about it, so lets hope that I am feeling the same way once school is back and I have to use it in my class.

In conclusion I must also add that I am not going to miss Microsoft’s constant change in operating system… I am sure that Windows 7 is quite fantastic, but I am not going to take the time to relearn how to use my PC every time a new operating system arrives. So as of now, I am the newest Apple Fanboy and quite excited at the prospect.