Google Educator Groups NZ – what is it all about? #hangout

So have spent an hour plus this evening watching the first GEGNZ  – Google Educator Groups NZ.

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Wow! What a wealth of knowledge we have here in New Zealand! Great tips and tricks for Google +, Google Drive (drawing), Google Search and more.

So a list of the things I thought were really cool from this hangout…

  • adding favourites extension to Google+
  • in a Google Drawing making an image into an image map
  • ctrl+shift+v – paste without the formatting – lifesaver this one!
  • different ways to search in Google Search including voice search
  • hearing about all of the cool Google things and great professional discussion!!

…plus heaps more, go look at the hangout and the Events page of the Google site for information about tips and tricks.

Get onto Google+ if you have already and join the GEG NZ Group

Here is the recording of the hangout:

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and link to the GEG NZ Google+ group.

View the story “#GEGNZ” on Storify

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#edchatnz and principal challenge!

Thursday 3 July, one day till end of time and has been a fabulous #edchatnz session. So cool having so many educators so enthusiastic just before the end of term.

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If you don’t know what it is have a look, get involved and get excited!! You can connect thru the Twitter hashtag #edchatnz, following @edchatnz, following the founder @MissDtheTeacher, blog – http://www.edchatnz.blogspot.co.nz/, and Google +.

Challenge stated with this Twitter conversation:

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Really like this idea as leaders have such an influence over how the rest of the school acts, develops and flows.

And have just remembered that there were already two of four SMT (the DPs) on Twitter and actually I encouraged two that are acting to get on. But they are all pretty quiet. How can I encourage them to engage in Twitter and build their own PLN?

Now, how can I hook my principal in? Maybe find out what she is really interested in at the moment to do with education, the school?

Got any ideas to help me lead change? Please leave your idea or tweet me!

Challenging my teaching #hackyrclass

My first blog post on #hackyrclass – setting the scene received a tweet from @NZPEteacher asking me what my end goal is by hacking my classroom.

I have had a bit of a think about this and to be quite honest I started without having concrete, clear goals in mind. It came out of reading people’s posts and chatting with a couple of other teachers at school and the boredom that I felt with teaching the way I was.

We, predominately, use a paper workbook (that we have created as a department) and a range of individual, pair and group activities based around a Health issue / unit. I guess a lot of the content is teacher driven and involves a lot of the teacher on the stage. I have gotten bored with teaching like this and I think with what Claire Amos and everyone else involved in #hackyrclass is attempting made me feel “safe” to try something different. I have put safe in quotes as it isn’t exactly safe changing it up like teachers all over the country are with #hackyrclass but it has given me the push to step outside my comfort zone!

Coming back to the end goal, so I thought with me getting bored I am sure the students are, so I am hoping for more engagement. I am actually seeing this from most students already. I also probably need to say that a goal is that they learn what they need to about Drug Education, so as I fill the requirements of meeting the curriculum. I will need to look at this closer though. Others goals that I hope to see are higher order thinking and learning happening that is worthwhile and authentic. Getting completely away from students just filling in pages in a workbook.

I haven’t been doing much planning for the lessons. I have a loose idea of the outline for a lesson but not much structure. I think this allows for me to be more flexible and means that students are not constrained by my thinking. This isn’t the best for all students though, as some do need structure. During the lesson I am dealing with this by checking in with groups and those that are stuck or aren’t doing much I have a chat with and guide them to a point where they are keen to keep exploring ideas.

One thing I am thinking about doing, as I suggested to the class when we were discussing growth mindset, that I should let other staff in the school know what I was doing and invite them to come and visit! This rather petrifies me – so might be a good idea to run with it? I would be interested to know what others think about this idea?

where it happens

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Byte Me! New tech / computer club at school

All of this year I have been wanting to start a computer club at school. I teach at an all girls’ school and feel that it is important that there is a space for those girls who are computer geeks! Or at least interested in learning more about everything digital.

So, I finally got around to making a poster and advertising it. Had the first session last week where about 15 girls turned up (plus a few more who emailed as they couldn’t make it). This session was a brainstorm session of ideas of what they wanted to do in the club, names for the club (they come up with Byte Me -which I think is great! Our Moodle site at school is called WGC4me) and how they could contribute to the club. They had heaps of ideas from websites, making games, programming, to guest speakers they would like to get in.

I thought it would be a good idea to start with something interesting but reasonably basic, so the next session is going to be creating a website with HTML. Now the cool thing with this is that as we are a Google Apps school, not only can you use Google Drive to host websites, there is also an app in the Chrome Store called Neutron Drive, where you can edit your html files and save and your site which is updated straight away! You can also share these files with others!

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You can easily change the URL that Google Drive creates at the moment but there are some work arounds I found searching on Google. However, with just getting students started I think this is going to be really cool, straight away they can have a site that they can share with others!

I am also using Neutron Drive to create and host the Byte Me website. It is going to be very basic to start with as I want the development of it to be a collaborative project that students in the club take on. Exciting!

So, what do you think? Any comments?

Also, are you a woman in the IT / digital industry that would be keen to be a guest speaker? Are you someone who could run a session in something?

 

 

Quick #HackYrClass post

So have been watching all the tweets and blog posts following Claire Amos’s initial post about hacking your classroom.
Didn’t think I was really going to have enough time to get involved with it (madly busy learning python!) but sat down with two colleagues who are doing some hacking as well and came up with how I could do it.
I teach PE and Health and we have 1 lesson of health a week. We still use a workbook set up and I often get pretty bored taking those lessons (not sure you could really cool it teaching, maybe preaching!). So I have decided to hack my Year 10 Health class. Upcoming unit is drug education and I am throwing the book out the window.

It is great that others are blogging about what they are doing. Someone I just followed that teachers science had some good ideas which I am going to hack!
It has also been great having a couple of people at school who are keen to do this as well, as good to bounce ideas of each other

Learning Ruby – Rails Girls Wellington

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Today I spent my day at a Rails Girls Wellington event. The aim of the two day workshop is…

 We aim to take a range of skill levels and form smaller working groups based on experience.

The day started with coffee and mingling and then an introduction from the two fantastic organisers – Merrin Macleod (@merxplat) and Kelly Cheesman (@kellective). It was interesting hearing Kelly talk about how her interest in technology started at high school with a program called Tech Angels.

We moved onto having a chat with the person next to us and I chatted with Nat (@NatDudley) from Vend in Auckland. Great conversation about how important it is to get more women and girls into coding and about Gather Workshops – more investigation needed (@nzgather).

It was then time to hear from Charlie Ablett (@charlieabettnz) with the heading of her talk being ” Software is the closest thing we have to magic”. She discussed what she sees as that three main reasons that women don’t continue with computer science / programming:

  1. programming is done by yourself and therefore not very interesting
  2. working on programs that are boring, trivial and simple – so computer science is boring
  3. it is not creative

Having started a first year programming paper via the University of Canterbury at the beginning of this term, I would agree with this with what I have experienced so far, although I am very very new to it all.

However, Charlie made it clear that programming is not actually like that when you get out there into industry.Paraphrasing  – “It is not true that you program by yourself, it is collaborative and social, whether in the same physical space or not. It is all about solving problems and coming up with the best solution for a problem. This is a very creativity process as there can be lots of solutions for a problem but not all of them good solutions. Being able to express your creativity in programming can be limited when starting out but as you learn more you can express yourself and do amazing things.”

Charlie ended with saying that programming is about consistently growing and learning. That you can make changes in the physical world by writing software and turn thoughts into real world change.

We then moved on to trying out Ruby by using Try Ruby – http://tryruby.org/. Then a talk from Amy Palamountain (@ammeep) about GitHub – Code.GitHub & Animated Gifs. Great start talking about how code is just really text and how would you manage a wall of text adn 50 people on your team etc. Excellent introduction to GitHub with cool demo and interactive as participants were invited to add the the Animal Party (plus free stuff too!).

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We then got into doing some Ruby on Rails by following the guide railsat http://guides.railsgirls.com/app/. This was good, slightly frustrating as I seemed to keep hitting hurdles but there were plenty of great coaches to help me out. My progress was also slow as I networked with a few people, which was great and brings me onto some questions.

One conversation I had we talked about Python and Ruby and how Ruby is used more in industry and Python is more used within scientific areas. This got me wondering about whether there are teachers in NZ teaching Ruby in schools. Or are we mostly teaching Python because there are a lot of good resources available.

So, my questions:

  1. are you or do you know of anyone who is teaching Ruby in high schools?
  2. would Ruby be a better programming language to teach in high schools?
    • would it be easy? would it be more interesting for girls? (I am already finding what I have done to do more interesting as I am making something that I can see / use on a webpage straight away)
  3. anyone interested in exploring developing resources for Year 11 / 12 / 13?
  4. who is interested in coming into school (local Wellington school, all girls’) and talking about how they got into the industry and the work they do now?

Would love to hear your thoughts!

 

Creating a positive ‘Geek Girl’ environment

Great post by Merrin Macleod on The Geek Girl Survival Guide. Useful for me personally but also useful for me in helping me to get started on creating an environment at school (planning on starting a computer / coding club) that will be supportive and encouraging in prompting ‘geeky’ things for girls.

Have you started a club? Have any pointers for me?