11 November 2009

MacHeist Bundle - Why Wouldn't you?

If you have an Apple Mac computer head over to MacHeist and grab the free apps they have on offer. Why wouldn't you? Well for one, a couple of the apps I already have and had already paid for. But I'm up for FREE stuff anytime.


18 October 2009

More Fun with the Fun Theory

After interest generated from a video on my previous post  The Fun Theory.  I thought I had better make it clear the source of the awesome videos.  I came across them in my feed on Facebook.  Followed links back to the original source and came across the Thefuntheory.com.
Their description:

This site is dedicated to the thought that something as simple as fun is the easiest way to change people’s behaviour for the better. Be it for yourself, for the environment, or something entirely different, just so long as it’s change for the better.

I can see huge potential for children in schools to come up with ways to make a positive difference in our world.  I'm going to be setting the challenge to my own children to see what they think :)  In the meantime, take a look a the world's deepest bin,.  Which, by the way did actually encourage more people to put their litter where it's supposed to go.

16 October 2009

Organise your meeting online with ease


I've been trying to organise a night out with a group of friends for aaaaagggggeeeesss!. We have all been friends since high school and always have great fun when we get together. We regularly email, chat, text and FaceBook. The problem is we hardly get to catch up Face to Face, our lives are so busy with kids, work, community commitments, church, sports, family etc. Its taken us 3 days to come to any conclusion on when we should catch up I just about gave up.  Well not quite! But you get the idea. Then I found this awesome tool that's just made organising our event that much easier.

WhichDateWorks allows you to Create an event and choose the people you want at your event. They then receive an email with a message asking them to choose the dates that work and don't work for them. Once they've done that, I (as the organiser) find the date that suits everyone and let them all know.


The Fun Theory!

15 October 2009

Pasifika Education - NZSTA Conference Reflections

Pasifika Success - Leading Change by Lesieli Tongatiʼo

Much of the information presented I have seen at other Ministry of Education Fono, the statistics taken from the Pasifika Education Plan: Monitoring Report suggest that the education system is failing Pasifika learners. As a Cook Island/Nz Maori mum, aunty, board member, teacher, and community member the words "Pasifika children are failing" rings in my ears like nails scratching along a blackboard.

So what can we do about it? and What are we doing about?

The Pasifika Education Plan released by the Ministry of Education in 2008, has the following suggestions (these are my summarised notes and interpretation of workshop content rather than word for word of what was said):

- View Pasifika learners as central to the system.
- See the world of your school from the eyes of the child.
- Hooking churches around schooling could be a strategy to promote learning for Pasifika learners.  97% of Pasifika children belong to a church (couldn't find source for this statistic).
- Learning that works outside of the classroom.
- Pasifika delays in NCEA can be fixed by encouraging children to attend high quality early childhood centres.
- Pasifika boys are the lowest achievers.  What are we doing about it?
Some of the initiatives aimed at Achievement for Pasifika children
- Reading together
- Leadership - Lead the change (PD for teachers, evaluator from University)
- Kelston Primary School - Homework Centres
- Happy Hours - Fun with your kids

Most important initiative is working with teachers and providing quality professional learning i.e.setting high expectations.
Effective teaching + Parent/Whānau relationships = Achievement

Overarching Principles and Goals

In summary, I found the key points useful for my context.  The challenge however is to ensure these principles are inherent in everything we are doing.  Teachers CAN and DO make a difference.  I would love to hear stories of authentic learning experiences and/or strategies that others have used to ensure success for Pasifika students.

14 October 2009

Green Screening made Easy with iMovie 09

Just having returned from Ulearn09 my mind is buzzing with opportunities and things to action. One of the things I definitely wanted to explore more was the iMovie09 software. I attended a workshop facilitated by Dean Rogers from RED on this topic. Check out how easy green screening is now!

Did You Know 4.0

05 September 2009

NZSTA Conference Reflections

One of the hats I wear in my life is a Board of Trustees member for my sons school.  I took the role on because the teachers and principal at my sons school asked a whole bunch of us to stand in the 2007 election.  We had many parents and community members standing for this election and I was very fortunate to have been voted in.

I love my role as a Board member, however, there is such a wealth of information to consume, digest, reflect and act on that at times it feels somewhat overwhelming.  For the last 2 years I have attended the NZSTA Conference.  I have on both occasions thoroughly enjoyed the conference.  Pio Terei also adds spice and laughter to the 3 days.  The most exciting part for me is meeting other parents and community members from around the country who want the very best for their children and have joined the Board in the hope that they can make a difference.

In the next few blog posts Ill share some of thoughts and reflections from the workshops I attended.  Find them here

23 July 2009

Sponge Bob in Te Reo Maori

Sponge Bob is hitting the screens in Te Reo Maori as part of Maori Language week! Thats pretty cool in my books.  To be honest I dont particularly enjoy SpongeBob but Im going to make an effort to watch the updated versions screened for five days from Monday 27 - Friday 31 July 2009.  Check out original post from Spasifik here.

Be sure to tune into Nickelodeon New Zealand (SKY Digital, Channel 041) from Monday 27th July to see SpongeBob Tarau Porowhā.

01 July 2009

MJ Mix

I couldn't resist the urge to post something about MJ.  Throughout the years he has entertained and inspired my family. My 9 year old son was devastated to hear the news about MJ's death so we decided to stay home all weekend and watch MJ videos together.  Friends and family are all aware of my sons love for MJ.  He has for years carried an MP3 player with loads of MJ songs and a bound book of lyrics to his fav songs. Then DJ SirVere sent a link through Twitter with a link to this mix.  Go ahead and enjoy! xx


Here are a couple more DJ Reminise - MJ Mix 001 and MJ Mix 002

07 June 2009

Early Childhood Education (ECE) EdTalks

Congratulations to Sue from Rotorua Girls High School Childcare and Tania from Manaia Kindergarten for their korero on EdTalks.  Your passion and enthusiasm for advocating for children, whanau and teachers is inspiring.  Thank you!

03 May 2009

A quote powerful beyond measure...

I find it quite ironic that in the span of 5 minutes I find a beautiful slideshow and a blog post with this quote below.  It started at Isaacs latest blog post which lead me here, to a beautiful movie created by Amy, a photographer he is inspired by, then I read a Tweet by Jo, which lead me here... to a blog post. And to my surprise without even realising each of these presented me with the quote below by Marianne Williamson.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Marianne Williamson

14 April 2009

Warm Fuzzy for Easter

I have had the best Easter weekend! I hung out with my kids, did everything THEY wanted to do and had 3 straight days of cuddles, games, baking and conversations with them.  My life is so busy normally with kids sports, school meetings, drop offs, pick ups, workshops, emails, phone calls etc that I sometimes find myself at 7.45pm (15 minutes before bedtime) looking at my kids saying where did the last 12 hours go?

We are a breakfast family, I wake up early to make them a warm breakfast before school almost everyday (excluding those days where we skip off to a cafe for a coffee and fluffy).  I have fond memories of my grandmother doing this for us when we were younger and that sense of belonging, warmth, safety and security is something I want my kids to have each day.  I have had two 'things' bookmarked to blog about for some time now and thought that this would be an appropriate post to diary them in my blog.

The first one is a great blog my colleague Helen steered me towards a while back, but this particular post by Wake Up Tiger is something that really resonates with me, growing up in a single parent family in the heart of South Auckland definitely has its challenges - although we were not rich in monetary value we were wealthy in love, family, wairua and culture.
The father of a wealthy Mosman family took his son on a trip to country NSW, with the purpose of showing his son how poor people can be.
They spent a couple of days and nights on the farm of what would be considered a very poor family.

On their way back in the car the father turned to his son and asked him, "So, how was the trip?"

"It was great, Dad." "Did you see how poor people can be?" the father asked. "Oh yeah" said his son. "So what did you learn from the trip?" asked the father.

His son answered, "I saw that we have one dog and they have four. We have a pool that reaches to the middle of our garden and they have a creek that has no end. We have imported lanterns in our garden and they have the stars at night. Our patio reaches to the front yard and they have the whole horizon. We have a small piece of land to live on and they have fields that go beyond our sight. We buy our food, but they grow theirs. We have walls around our property to protect us, they have friends and neighbours who protect them."

Then his son added, "Thanks Dad for showing me how poor we are."

Original Post here

The next one is a movie my sister made we watch several months ago, titled "The Ultimate Gift", its a warm- fuzzy-type-movie that will leave you feeling 'oh-so-blessed'.  The movie works through a series of 'gifts' a wealthy grandfather leaves for his grandson.  He's surprised to see that it's not your normal type of inhertitance but a series of life lessons/blessings:
* The Gift of Work
* The Gift of Problems
* The Gift of Friends
* The Gift of Giving
* The Gift of Gratitude
* The Gift of Family
* The Gift of Learning
* The Gift of Money
* The Gift of Laughter
* The Gift of a Day
* The Gift of Dreams
* The Gift of Love (which leads to the Ultimate Gift)

I encourage you to watch this movie and reflect on the many blessings you have in your life today.

26 March 2009

Pasifika & PolyFest 2009

As you may have read in a previous post - March is Pasifika month.  I had the pleasure of attending both of these events.  It wasn't till I read NiuZila's blog the other day that I felt compelled to write about both experiences.

Pasifika - Saturday 14th March 2009

It rained and it rained and it rained! My little girl did so well walking around that day, we basically planted the kids with Aunty at the Cook Island Village to watch the performances while we stood in the long lines for the yummy food.  I must say this years performances were off the hook.  The Atiu group did an amazing job at combining the younger members of their group into their performances and man can they shake. I read over on Niuzila's post that the theme of Pasifika this year was the 'frigate bird' and that this may have of had an impact on the weather.  I briefly passed the NiuFM stage where the Honourable Phil Goff cheekily stated that "it never rained at Pasifika under a Labour Government" - I unfortuantely was the only one that laughed.  Well it was funny! Overall a great day (except for the rain).

ASB Polyfest 2009 - Saturday 21st March 2009

Wowzers! Talk about busy busy busy, we live around the corner from the Manukau Sports Bowl where the event was held and the traffic and amount of people walking to the Polyfest was outrageous.  We made our way down just in time for lunch and spent most of our time at the Niuean stage.  I commented over on NiuZila's post about my thoughts on the fact that MaiFM were drowning out the actual cultural performances at the Tongan and Maori stage with the HipHip & RnB music.  Now I'm a fan of RnB and consider myself to be fairly up with the play in terms of music (my 9-year-old son makes sure of that).  But when you go to a PolyFest expecting to hear and see Polynesian Cultural performances you kind of want that to be the highlight.  Some may argue that HipHop and RnB are a 'culture' - I agree - but when your at a Polynesian Cultural Festival - turn the hip hop down and listen to the smooth sounds of Te Whanau o Tupuranga or at the very least play NZ Made music.

All in all a great month for Pasifika and although I didn't see nearly as many performances as I would have liked, there's always next year.

Kia manuia and Blessings

16 March 2009

Belonging - Go the Warriors!

The NZ Warriors played their first game of the season last night against the Paramatta Eels. I won't even try and interpret the game play by play, although I will note that we WON!! My partner and I got season tickets for Christmas and we are very excited about where we are sitting, pretty good seats if I do say so myself:

Check out the view here:

The game started with a minute of silence to honour the life of Sonny Fai who was tragically taken from us while saving his brother, the Warriors wear his name above their heart on their new jerseys and he is listed as player 138 for NRL Season 2009.

What provoked me to write about this topic was not the game or the inspiring tribute to Sonny Fai but the atmosphere the Warriors game creates (excluding the drunkens at the end of the night).  While parking up around the corner we saw types of people in all walks of life making their way to the first game of the season - guys in Warriors everything (even socks), guys in stockings and dresses, young woman, mature woman, children, teenages, people of different ethnicitites...we talked about the impact such an event has for bringing people together and how exciting it was to be a part of it.  We carefully made our way to our newly bought seats checking out the people around us - 6 rows and a bay across from my dad and 3 rows in front of our friends - we watched as people hugged and hi-5'd as they reunited with their Warrior Member colleagues.

After a while, and agreeing that the seats we had were very good, our neighbours nestled into their Warriors season home - a couple with two children.  The father looked around and noted that all the people that should be there were in the right place, (oh yes they're still here, and yep them too) then he turned to us and said - Did you guys buy these seats?  Um, yes we did, apparently we got them because the people before us didn't renew, he explained that it was strange for people not to have renewed these seats  because these were really good seats and he knew because had been coming for 4 years. Pretty happy with our purchase we smiled and continued watching the pre-game entertainment (J.Williams)

As I sat there and soaked in the lights, noises, people, smells, body language and environment, I made my connection to Belonging - these regular season membership holders belonged here, and for a minute or two we didn't, One day we will feel as though we belong, we will learn the names and language of those that sit next to us and feel a sense of comradery (when the Warriors win or lose).  We'll learn that there is a guy who always dresses up, a loyal Cowboys supporter, we will accept the language (cursing and all), and adapt to the ways people talk to the players as if they were close friends.

I made a few connections last night, but the biggest one was that 'belonging' to something is important, it lifts your self-esteen, it makes you feel great and it gives you a sense of connectedness which I believe is vital to living in the 21st Century. I have tried to create this for my son (other than the fact that he has a huge family) I created, manage and coach a basketball team for my son and his friends - he belongs there, I drive to a school where the teachers take the time to know all of the children, the roll is fairly small and there are many families who know me and my son - he belongs there, he goes to karate with his siblings and enjoys the classes - he belongs there, he has a large extended family - he belongs there.  He identifies with being Maori, Cook Island and Tongan - he belongs there, he has been raised to appreciate the richness and diversity of South Auckland - he belongs there. So, in amongst the excitement of the first Warriors game I asked myself, what might it feel like if you didn't belong - to anything, to anyone, to any group. How might that impact on learning and life?

14 March 2009

This is why I became an early childhood teacher, in a nut shell - I got to play all day and got paid to do it.  Every day was different and each I had the honour of getting to know each and every child, their personalities, their interests, their families.

Inspirational Movie Q

13 March 2009

Life Balance - Family is more important than work.

This video came second in the AARP U@50 Challenge .The contest, launched in August 2007 on YouTube, and gave people between the ages of 18 and 30 the chance to submit short videos on the subject of what they expect their lives to be like at age 50. The video itself is quite innovative and clever. And a timely reminder as we lead our busy lives that 'family is more important than work'.

I'm off to shoot hoops with my kids! :)

11 March 2009

Change our ways...

Thanks to Garr for bringing this to my attention.

'...I am here to speak for all generations to come...' Severn Cullis-Suzuki's moving speech at only 9-years of age is still just as powerful 16-years later.  But how much has changed since then? and what are we in early childhood doing to create a better future for our children?

Lucknow Kindergarten are leading the way in teaching our young tamariki about sustainability in a meaningful way, some of things they are doing include -

• the children recycle old paper to make new paper in the big barrels located outside
• storage containers are made of flax – the kindergarten now grows enough flax to make their own baskets when they need replacing
• a large inside area is dedicated to collections of natural materials that children can explore
• ongoing development of the outdoor environment includes many native plants providing homes for birds and insects
• produce (eggs, fruit and vegetables) is collected and used in baking and food preparation.

For those with access to the ECE ICT PL Site you can see more here

What are you doing in your context to encourage our children to be thoughtful citizens of the future?

Shape Collage

Oooh found this neat little app over at Educational Oragami.  The Shape Collage is a very easy tool that creates mosaic shapes out of your own images, the shapes can be customized, or you can use rectangles, circles, hearts and letters. It takes less than a couple of minutes to download and get started. I'm looking forward to using this application to spice up some flyers/newsletters and reports.

Here are a few images from my Photo-A-Day Blog.

06 March 2009

Sudoku Troubles

I often get teased by a few family members for having a Masters Degree and still having no clue about so many things in this world - the most recent experiences include a visit to the Paint Shop with my Dad - did you know there are exterior type paints and interior type paints...seriously...I did not know that - Dad's well-earned outburst - "I thought you had a Masters".  And on the way out of the shop the door is clearly labelled PULL, so what do I do - push, push, PUSH...Dad responds..."I thought you had a Masters".  Now its all light hearted fun but I pride myself on being curious - a problem solver and enjoying a challenge.  And obtaining a Masters does not excuse you from continually having to be curious and learn - that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it.

So when my son bought his homework home and presented us with his 9x9 Sudoku puzzle I was keen to help him unpack the mysteries of Sudoku, for him and for me.  Of course our first step was to 'Google' sites, we found instructions here, here and here.

It was obvious that a 9x9 was not going to work for a beginning sudoku player.  And I certainly had no clue what I was doing...so to the 4x4 sudoku puzzles it was till we were confident enough to take on the 6x6.  Big ups to his teacher for encouraging parents to be involved...anyway so over the past 3 nights we have stayed at the 6x6 puzzles unabble to decipher the 9x9.  His homework is due tomorrow, and we have encouraged my son to paste his 6x6 puzzles into his homework book to show that he (and I) have made an effort.  Below is the puzzle my 9-year-old got.  If you have any great tips to help us decipher the mysteries of 9x9 Sudoku puzzles, please feel free to leave a comment. Note: A Masters Degree does not mean you will be good at Sudoku.

03 March 2009

Celebrate Pasifika

March is Pasifika Month, in Auckland we take the opportunity to celebrate this with fabulous flair, armed with an array of powerful performances across a number of genres - dance, music, art etc. Perhaps the most common events are the ASB Polyfest, Pasifika - previously blogged about here. And in recent years an uproar of awesome plays from - Laughing Samoans, Diana Fuemana, Kila Kokonut Krew.

To find out what else is on in Auckland check out the Celebrate Pasifika site for more information, or download this brochure.  Stay Fresh!

The Art of Facilitation...



Its been over 10 months since I attended the Art of Facilitation course with Joan Dalton & David Anderson. The high-quality professional learning opportunity has made a significant impact on my facilitation and teaching craft over the past several months.  I would dearly love to attend another one. So for those of you haven't I urge  you to email Mel Stopford to register for upcoming 2009 workshops.

So what changed?

  • Intentions - Joan and David talk lots about 'purpose',   Before organising anything with teachers I think about the purpose...J & D used the analogy of a parrot sitting on your shoulder asking "What's your purpose?" (I have the same little sticky they gave us at the course stuck to my whiteboard right next to my desk). Always asking myself "what's my purpose?" has really challenged me in some situations.  Yes it would be cool to run a movie making workshop - but what's the purpose?  Answer: To extend on their digital storytelling concept even further etc...I am continually having a conversation with myself when designing workshops and centre visits so that I am consciously checking the rationale and articulating my thoughts, consequently this then leads to me being able to justify why I do what I do.  So with my intentions or purpose in check designing workshops to cater for teachers has been very worthwhile and rewarding.

  • My actions match my beliefs - Confession time! When I first started this position as facilitator I was mostly absorbed by the 'seductive ICT'.  Yep. It was all about the bling baby.  J & D challenged us to Credit to: csessumthink about our role as facilitators, what I realised over the week with them was that what I was actually doing was soothing my own ego.  I liked having the answers and seducing teachers with the ICT.  In reality this is perfect for shallow lifeless learning - not suitable for vibrant, deep, life-long learning.  I was stuck in a "Guru Loop" (a term I learned from Julia Atkin), and I was the Guru not letting go of the loop".  I believe that teachers should be life-long learners - my actions did not say that.  So as a result, overnight I magically changed - NOT! I have continually worked hard over the past several months to stop being the answer machine, to work with teachers from where they are at, challenge, provoke, inspire and encourage them to take risks and learn through mistakes.

  • Listening - The first thing that pops into my head is Beyonce's song - Listen. No seriously, Listen...so simple yet so complex.  I'm not going to pretend that I was totally ignorant before this workshop but I certainly learned how to fine tune the little skill I had in listening - the activities based around paraphrasing, active listening and probing and clarifying were exactly what I needed to really get my head around the importance of truly listening to people.  This led me on to further research into Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott (suggested reading by J & D). Great little journey with lots of though provoking and oh-my-goodness-I-so-do that moments, my journey will never be over and I'm learning so much on the way.

  • 1%'ers - a huge mix of little 1%'ers that will complement purposeful workshops! My fav's are stickies, lightning round, quotes and remembering to greet people at the door (to some this may be common practice and many of these I have used previously but it its affirming to know that every little action counts - especially when you have a purpose...), personal information disclaimer - not that I ask for this much but it really does set the tone in the environment as safe. Ones that I am working on getting right are: sway the disequilibrium - change the environment or seating position after lunch to kind of kick start the afternoon, the power of pause (seriously I am trying) and 1 was easy 5 was hard -want to try that hand game but haven't yet had the opportunity.

  • Feedback - this one was instantly a hit on my return to work, I came back from this course to some work that required me to respond with my 'professional facilitator hat on', and instead of responding directly to the key points (as i might normally do) I took note of the Feedback notes that J&D had talked us through during the week.  There are 3 types of providing feedback I used the second one for the written feedback I was providing but may use the first one when I am trying to encourage someone along.- Positive feedback: to appreciate and empower
    - Constructive feedback: to help improve skills/practices
    - Feedback to evaluate performance against standards, agreements or criteria

Overall, an amazing experience - one which I would highly reccommend to absolutely anybody who wants to take the lead in ensuring they contribute to an efficient, proactive and thoughtful environment - even though it is called Art of Facilitation it is totally relevant to teachers in early childhood and I have suggested several of our ECE ICT PL teachers attend as a way of extending them further.  I hear some have enrolled or are on the waiting list.

And the best part for last - the website resource PLOT is a priceless tool that I use just about every day to support my planning of workshops, centre visits, meetings, conversations.  Loads of well thought out plans, musings, suggested books and reading, links, theories all on one site. My absolute fav strategies to date 3,2,1; Final Word Strategy and the Placemat Process.

Thanks again Joan and David (J&D).  Truly life-changing and inspiring.

If you want to find out more about  things I have mentioned here be sure to enrol ASAP.

Choosing your passion..

I have been struggling for the past few years with finding a particular passion in my teaching career. Not because I don't have 'any passion' but because I have a passion for lots of things.  This has impacted on my studies so much that when it came to writing a thesis for my Masters of Education (Early Years) I struggled to pick 'a topic'.  So I played it safe and completed 7 papers and a research report.

Now as I ponder enrolling in an Educational Doctorate I am struggling to make a decision on a particular topic to explore further.  Here are my thoughts so far:

- Something to do with engaging families in the suburb of Otara, researched over a number of contexts i.e. early childhood, primary and secondary.

- The impact blogging has on children's ability to engage in global dialogue (from Otara of course) and what difference does this have on their learning.

- Digital Storytelling that brings communities together...

- The impact of ICT on infant and toddler interactions...(needs to be unpacked further).

Off the top of my head my passions in the context of my work life are: Otara, South Auckland, early childhood education, Pasifika/Māori education, arts, drama, music; ICT, engaging families, community sustainability and raising expectations for all children and families.

Below are the points identified by Randy Komisar that resonated with me.

What are my values what do I care about?

What are my opportunities facing that direction?  How do they sync up with my passion?

My career makes no sense in the windshield, it only makes sense in the rear view.

Hmmm...lots of thinking to do...it was interesting to hear that he suggests that our perpectives of the situation impact on our decisions.  When I choose one particular passion it does not mean that I have lost the other 7 rather I have opened at least another ten.  Great now Imm off to look at my horizons.

For further Academic Earth videos visit: http://academicearth.org

23 February 2009

Samoana Online!

While working with teachers from A'oga Fa'a Samoa we came across this amazing site, an online village specifically designed to support Samoans globally, this site is jam packed withwith some very talented blogs written by those that identify with being Samoan.  Although I am Cook Island Maori & NZ Maori I so totally relate to some of the posts, and growing up in South Auckland has certainly given me an appreciation of my Samoan friends, neighbours and colleagues.

My top pic's are:

Hamo Geek Girl: This writer is incredibly talented, her writing is hilarious and very accessible, even if your not Samoan you will find this a great read. Fav post to date here

I'm a Genius: Another hilarious writer - must run in the Samoan blood! His writing is well beyond his years (raw natural talent) and I can definitely see this guy being the next Barack Obama of sorts! Fav post to date here

John @ Tala'aga Another amazing writer whose depth of writing will leave you yearning for more, seriously this guy has got game - funny, serious and inspiring. Fav post to date here

Niu Zila Life of a Samoan in New Zealand, very inspiring.  Writes with realism and offers us a political perspective to topics that arise again and again. Fav post to date here

Its very rare to find talented writers such as these and to find them all in one village: Samoana is just pure awesome! Go along to check them out, you will not be dissapointed.

Tofa soifua!

09 February 2009

Through the lens of a camera

Yesterday I blogged about how I was going to take up the "photo a day" concept.  I have now started and you can find my photos here.  Today I found this post over on Maureens blog, it leads to this site, then this site. Basically what the articles refer to is our ongoing need to document everything, and witness some of our most memorable moments through the lens of a camera.  They use the picture below to highlight their point.

Put down the camera and enjoy the moment

Recently, my partner and I attended a beautiful wedding, the bride was stunnng the groom very handsome and the thought that went into making their day original and amazing was obvious, down to the very last detail  As the gorgeous bride walked down the aisle there were at least 7 people standing and clicking taking their own photos of the brides (in some cases standing in front of the actual paid photographer), as the ceremony commenced there were more clicks and people bobbing up and down to get the best pic, after the formalities the couple with their gorgeous children stood and waited as over 15 people took photos of them.  It has never struck me more than it did on this day that we may be going a tad bit overboard with our digital recording.  Especially when you could see that the couple and their children were ready to move on and get on with the posing for the professional photographer. I wonder if it would have been better to have the professional photographer and a representative from each family take photos and then guests get a CD of the photos?

So what about those cameras in early childhood education, how many times do we as teachers leave the learning moment and participate in children's learning through the lens of a camera.  I became conscious of this a while back when working in a kindergarten, the amount of times I left the 'shared learning moment' to get a camera was frightening, only later when recording the learning through a learning story did I realise that I had missed a big chunk of the moment.  If I had my time again I would certainly pay more attention to the moments that don't necessarily need to be docmented.

07 February 2009

Photography connects us...a photo a day!

I took the time out this morning to catch up with my TedTalks and randomly chose David Griffin's talk on how Photography connects us with the world, he highlighted many points that confirm why I love photos, some of the ways photography inspires me include:

1. Photos can capture moments in time

2. Photos can provoke emotion

3. Photos can tell stories

This talk then prompted me to re-visit some of my earlier bookmarks about photography, Ive posted about photography here and here.  And I often visit the Auckland Festival of Photography site to check out new photos of my hometown, with this image by Manuel Toribio - THE FLIGHT now my new favourite.

Photo by Manuel Toribio - The Flight

I then went back to my starred blog posts from Dean Shareski about his journey of 'a photo a day' for a year.  You can find his thoughts on the topic here, here and hereWesley Fryer also appears in my starred blog posts for his discussion about the Flickr group "Telling a Story with 5 Photos for educators".  Their group was inspired by another Flickr Group "Tell a story in 5 frames" which can be found here. I actually first learned of this concept through Ewan McIntosh while in one if his sessions at Ulearn07 in Auckland.

So as you may have gathered I really like photos, Im one of those people, hoping there are more like me where photos in one way or another inspire me, especially artistic-kind-of-abstracy-ones taken by professional photographers.  Unfortunately, I'm not too good at taking them myself and dont have a fancy camera or such like to match my enthusiasm, just a cheap digital one that is always set to automatic and very rarely charged.  So in light of this mornings research/surfing/inspiration Ive decided to set a belated New Years 2009 resolution.  Ive been debating whether or not I should participate in the "A Photo a Day" concept for some time now, purely for my own personal entertainment and in my opinion a wonderful way to sharpen my photography skills (one of the benefits mentioned at PhotoJojo). Ive decided that today I will start my very own library of "One Photo A Day".  I'm thinking of uploading to Flickr rather than here on the blog so that I can streamline tag and keep them all organised.  Stay tuned or shall I say stay focussed for updates. (Pun totally intended!)

06 February 2009

Stories to tell my grandchildren...When I turned 30!

Not sure why this was sitting in the drafts folder, several months later here I am hitting the publish button.

In November 2008, I turned 30...strange I know cos I only look a day over 20! - seriously...

One of the wonderful things about having a huge extended whanau other than lots of babysitters is the 'hook-up's' you get from family.  My little cousin texted me a few days before my 30th to ask if I would like to walk around the Skytower otherwise known as SkyWalk - are you mad? crazy? Stupid? - Yep thats what every other person I told said.

Initially, I was like "uh uh, no way", then I thought hey what better way is there to celebrate my graceful entrance into the 30's - how about dinner, party, shopping spree, scrapbooking, jewellery making?..anyway I wouldnt be writing this post if I didnt go through with it right...of course not! So here goes...I did it, and I also did the SkyJump.  It was absolutely the best birthday present ever - excluding that big bar of chocolate I got from grandad on my 10th - but anyway check out my photographic evidence below. I cant speak highly enough of the crew at Skyjump/Skywalk, absolutely professional, safe, funny, safe, pleasant, safe, inspiring, safe, careful, safe...well you get the drift.

Going Wild!

Thanks to Jody I came across this cool site...have a go at going wild!


Came across the Soungle site a while ago, and have only just used it again, its a very cool site that allows you to type in words associated with sounds, the sounds can then be previewed and your preferred ones can then be downloaded FREE.  The 'baby' sounds are very cute...give it a go...:

Their description of the site
"Soungle is a free site, developed by Southern Codes, for finding all kind of sound FX and musical instruments samples on our mega online library. As different from most of similar sites, Soungle is NOT a Web search engine. It only searches in our growing monster database. Our goals are to keep it simple to use (search, preview and download) and to keep it free.

Keyword searches are performed by entering any word or phrase in a search box. The retrieved results of a keyword search are displayed ten to a page. Clicking on play icon allows you to preview a file. Download button instantly downloads the sound effect or musical instrument sample file. A short description of the sound appears on top of every sound , followed by the frame rate, duration and bit rate. Remember, all of our sound effects and samples are royalty free for downloading"


Im really digging the plain and simple interface :)

01 February 2009

Garfield Comic Strip

Another neat little online app where you can create your very own Garfield Comic Strips, have a go here.  My son has had a ball creating and printing his comic strips. The props and images are slightly limiting but a neat little activity for  Garfield fans.

23 January 2009

Yellow Tree House

Was watching a bit of TV tonight and happened to take notice of a Yellow Pages advertisement for the Yellow Tree House.  I must have seen this ad a few times before, but never really followed it through.  It looked intriguing enough for me to "Google" it, sure enough I found the website and lots of other sites with pictures and information...Check out the pictures below, and take a few minutes to look at the information at this site.



13 January 2009

Lessons learned from Presentation Zen

I love the Presentation Zen blog, and always find useful information for my facilitation there.  This evening is no exception, although I have little knowledge for Jazz, I was intrigued at Garrs list on what he has learned from Jazz and Zen over the years. Garr writes "These lessons, all seemingly commonsensical, can be applied to presentation or to any creative endeavor -

1. In structure there is freedom and spontaneity.
2. Restraints and limitations can be great liberators.
3. Don't ever force it; be ever natural.
4. Good intentions are key. Sincerity is king, and yet...
5. It's not about you.
6. Listen more than speak.
7. Speak only when you have something to say, and then in the most economic way possible.
8. Your approach can be direct and subtle at the same time.
9. Fear is natural (and human), but work through it and past it. Don't let fear hold you back.
10. Mistakes are part of it (do not worrying about them).
11. Embrace the power of now, this moment.
12. Technique matters, but it's not the most important element.
13. Make no pretenses; put up no facades.
14. Laugh, smile if you feel like it — why not?
15. Share yourself with others; make a contribution.
16. Simplicity is supremely beautiful, yet difficult to obtain.
17. Emptiness and silence are powerful elements of expression.
18. Remove the clutter, strive for absolute clarity.
19. If you think you have mastered it, you've have already begun your descent.
20. Always be learning. Always be learning. Always be learning.
21. Curiosity is your greatest gift, nurture it (in yourself and in others)" (read fill post here)

Lessons that resonated with me include:

Listen more than speak - I attended the Art of Facilitation workshop delivered by Joan Dalton and David Anderson last year and learned this "commensensical" strategy. I never knew this would have so much impact on my work and everyday life.  Needless to say, I have learned more by listening than I ever did talking.
Listening ears

Laugh, smile if you feel like it — why not? - This is one strategy that  I definitely try to implement into my everyday work life and home life.  I was reignited by this concept when reading into the FISH! Philosphy  - The principles of this Philosophy are: Play, Make their day, Choose your attitude, Be there.  In the ECE Facilitators team at CORE Education you will often find out meetings with funny YouTube video, bubble blowers, lollies and move around activities.

Remove the clutter, strive for absolute clarity
- This probably refers to something more metaphorical that I do here, but I strive to have a clean desk and computer desktop “most” of the time.  I find that when I start work in the morning or late at night (depending on my schedule) a clean (like one icon) allows me to find clarity in the tasks at hand.  I have also tried to keep my inbox at zero, if they are not relevant to me at that particular time I file it, if they need attention or response I email  a response straight away, and if they do not relate to me at all or a spam emails sent by people I DO know I delete them.  I’m striving to maximise absolute clarity.

If you think you have mastered it, you've have already begun your descent - This is so pertinent to my teaching career, I have always been an advocate of this particular principle - once I think I have it, I know that I dont.  There’s a saying (not sure of original source) - “The more you know the less you know”.  Coming from the educational background of failing School Certificate and disliking school with all my might, then working through a Teaching Degree and a Masters Degree. I know that the more I learn the more I know I dont know.  Which in a very interesting way is exciting.

Always be learning. Always be learning. Always be learning - This follows on from the previous statement, I am always driven to learn more, and after completing my previous qualifications I have been contemplating enrolling in a random paper to stimulate my thinking.  Consequently, I took on a role as a Board of Trustee for my sons school, this in itself is an interesting learning process and inevitable I am learning so much in this role. Learning, learning, learning...

Im wondering if any of Garrs lessons learned resonate with others....Feel free to comment.

05 January 2009

Innovative WiFi

Scrolling through my blog roll this morning I came across one of Ewens posts with his infamous delicious links.  I always find some gems in these posts and this morning was no different, a few clicks led me to this neat innovation. Heres the swissmiss link, and another one at Epica Awards.
"Hollands largest chain of coffee shop is called CoffeeCompany.  CoffeeCompany wanted to attract more students.  So it installed WiFi in some of its stores near universities

The problem is, lots of students just come into the store for the WiFi but hardly look at the menu.  So THEY and CoffeeCompany decided to move the CoffeeCompany menu into the WiFi menu on peoples laptops.

They periodically changed the wireless network name from the normal "CoffeeCompany" to hardselling headlines.  So when students connected to the network, they were greeted with the headlines in their WiFi menu like "HaveYouTriedTheCarrotCake?" or "Mmm...YummyMufinsOnly1,99".

The best part came when people yelled across the room to ask the barista what the name of the WiFI network  was and the barista answered one of the WiFI lines like "OrderAnotherCoffeeAlready".

Now thats cool, mines just plain ol' Naketa....

How to create Māori Macrons in Pages

I have become accustomed to using Pages for everything now - lists, newsletters, documents. Making the transition from Microsoft Word to Pages was initially a bit difficult, I had created a number of shortcut keys for my most commonly used Māori macrons and found it quite annoying that i couldnt set these up in the same way in Pages.

I recently learned how to do this in pages, see below for quick tips on how to set this up.

Step 1: Open System Preferences and find "International"

Step 2: Click on "Input Menu"

Step 3: Find Māori, and click on tick box

Step 4: Also ensure that you tick the box at the bottom that says Show Input Menu in Menu Bar. This way you can change Input Language without having to go through this process.

Now in Pages, you can push the "`~" button in the top left corner along with your vowels to create Māori macrons.

ā ē ī ō ū