Thinking Hats for big kids

This week I got a great idea for deepening the critical / reflective skills of my class – something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. @MsBeenz sent me a reflective template that uses De Bono’s Hats (this site has some great resources to download and use, too) to structure the students through an amazing reflection.

Her class used them to write reviews on their ipad apps and I slightly adapted it to help the Year 6s reflect on their camp from the week before. I was REALLY surprised with the way it scaffolded some great reflections by asking them to think across the sprectrum of thinkers hats – logic and facts / feelings, positive / negative and creative / facilitative. (My own take on the hat names but I do like the ‘cautions’ word instead of negative, perhaps)
When some students saw the posters I put together, below, I heard, ‘Oh those – we did them in the juniors!’ and, ‘Those are for babies aren’t they?’ Well, you can imagine my face – very black hat reaction! Amazingly, the reaction was pretty accepting when we got into it and I showed them how we’d use them. I even explained that a lot of businesses use them to help make big decisions.
When we’ve finished I might post a couple of their reflections. I think they’re pretty good. Much better than hatless, anyway!
The template for the camp reflection is in the folder above, also – thanks @MsBeenz!

Geocaching – Treasure Hunting for Short.

Abbi and I went treasure hunting last weekend. That’s what our family calls geocaching because that’s what it is. I have a feeling it might be a new hobby of ours since it combines a short hike with hide and seek. What a great combination!

We use this app and the website that goes with it to search and log our finds. The site has all the info you’ll need to get started.

I put this together on comiclife – a hugely underestimated programme in my opinion – partly to show my class a model of how you can tell a story through the pictures and captions. Also… it’s just so much fun and so easy.
Abbi – you’re a rock star cacher!

App of the week!

Here’s the first ‘App of the Week’ – it could also be the last, who knows. I have @sharpjacqui to thank for sharing the news that this app (she called it one of her favs) was free on itunes for 2 days… so naturally I was curious.

Yes, it was the free part. Can you blame me.
Here are some screen shots from itunes on Halftone.
It’s a great app for uploading photos, adding text and a few icons. Very easy to use and, as most apps will allow these days, whatever you create can be shared on facebook, twitter and emailed.
Some fun ahead, I think! My first go is on the side of my blog.

The more the merrier?

This week I had a go in a multi roomed video conferencing tool called Bigmarker with three
other teachers from Dunedin, Raumati and Hamilton. I’ve used skype a few times, with family, other teachers, one to one with students and this year we skyped our four senior classes with another class in Australia. This was the first time I had been involved in video conferencing with multiple windows – multiple people. It was quite a shift!

It has a nice list of features…
– multiple participants
– upload documents / slideshows / presentations
– ability to draw and highlight on uploaded files during conference
– mute, raise hands when you want to speak, create a moderator etc
– chat function – even private chat function.
..and here are a list of pros and cons I sent to their support team about our experience.

– uploading docs / presentations.
– being able to switch presenters
– seeing all attendees
– the whiteboard function
– the ability to maintain a pretty good connection even with our third world connection capability (I did a speed test after our call and my upload speed is 1 mb a sec (yes, that’s what broadband speed I out up with at the mo)
– the hands up function (even though we were all moderators in our set up)

– a bit echoey, especially at the start – you probably have some tips to fix that? We tried some headphones and turning our speakers down.
– all being moderators (which we gather meant that we could all speak at one time, and if we set up with 1 moderator he/she would determine who’s speaking?)
– the fifty words you have to write in the set up. Could people arrange a conference without writing a big paragraph about what it’s about. I understand the intention, just commenting that I found that a bit of a drag – especially if you’re wanting to set up a conversation between colleagues – quite a hassle.
– shared screen was all pixelated and you couldn’t make it out – due to the slow broadband?

– we’re pretty keen to try it with some other teachers – around a discussion topic.
– next year we might be keen to have several classes discuss a controversial topic and even have groups of students collaborate on a project through bigmarker.

Overall – very impressed with its possibilities and their response was really promising. They replied that some new features are in process and about to be rolled out – this may fix some of the issues with the screen share feature. (They also suggested headsets as an echo fix for now)
Very exciting tool with loads of applications for use in the classroom! Watch their space!

Thank you, Mr McCaw!

This week we’ve been working on developing our speaking skills. The class decided that they’d love to say thanks to Richie McCaw and the ABs for the fantastic win last week in the Rugby World Cup. Below is a voice thread we’ve been making. It’s a great way for the class to hear their own speaking skills and a recorded vehicle for them to self and peer assess each other.

I’ve also forwarded the link to our voice thread to the NZRU in the hope that it gets passed onto Mr McCaw. Wouldn’t it be great if they listened to our thank yous!


I’m a teacher at Myross Bush School, way down in Invercargill. Our class wanted to do something to say thankyou to Richie and the team for last week’s amazing win.

We decided that we’d make this voice thread so we could personally record our thanks. The students wrote their own thankyous and recorded their voice on the photo of their choice.

We’d love it if you could forward this to the Media Liaison or even Richie himself. I think it’s a nice touch to hear some personal insights into where they were in those final moments and we hope the team realises how much their efforts have been appreciated by the little people in the country!

Thanks again, ABs – especially our hero – Mr McCaw!

Mark Herring

Assistant Principal

Myross Bush