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Monika Kern's discussion posts

  • Monika Kern 07 Dec 2016 1:31pm () in The potential for engaging in VLN/EEL community groups: Q&A with Carol Dickinson

    Thanks, Carol,

    for sharing your experiences about engaging with online communities. A few years ago I was in a similar position, my biggest problem was thinking I had no time to go into online groups and I didn't know where to go either. I might have been rather naive, but at that time I didn't worry too much about negative feedback.

    While it can feel like a chore when community participation is a required part of a course, I have found that engaging with online communities actually has made my life much richer and my work easier. Especially when you live and teach rural, it is nice to know there are places online where others understand you and are willing to support you. It's a bit like when we work with our students, some are reluctant to try something new but eventually they wouldn't want to miss it.

    All the best with the rest of this term!


  • Monika Kern 20 Nov 2016 9:26am () in Why are innovator’s mind-sets and in-depth collaboration and cooperation crucial in resourcing ILEs? | NAPP Kōrero 6 2016

    Hi there,

    I wish I would have taken the time to find this discussion earlier! With just a few more weeks until my contract finishes, it's a good opportunity to reflect on my first hand experience setting up an ILE.

    When I returned to the classroom after being an e-learning facilitator, I knew I wanted to transform student learning with digital technology, and I wanted to apply UDL principles with my students. I was offered the opportunity to work in a y3-5 MLE which had been running for a year. What became clear very early on is that in a successful MLE/ILE, everyone is a learner, and no-one is 'the' expert. A shared vision is an absolute must. Building on each others' strengths, and trust are vital ingredients, as is having a good laugh. The environment has an impact to a certain point; when we started out, we had one large MLE space and one separate pre-fab, and working in the pre-fab for extended periods of time can be isolating for both students and teachers though it benefitted those younger students that could have gotten lost (accidentally or on purpose) in the hustle and bustle of the bigger space.

    After term 1, the leadership team had decided to change the set-up to keeping y4&5 in the large MLE space while in a different space the y3s were joined by y2s to form a junior ILE. [Note: The school had started out calling the initial environment MLE, and from the get go with called this new environment an ILE! So apologies as I mix these terms]. We are lucky that we have one f/t and one p/t kaimahi in our environment, both of whom are very skilled, esp. in literacy.

    For term 2 we basically ran two programmes with cross-over. The 'lower' y3 readers joined the y2s, and some of the y2s joined y3s in reading and maths. The difficulty was that we were forever trying to match times, trying to be ready when the other one was ready etc. Also Kiwi Can and Kiwi Sport were in year levels so over time we found that it was really hard to keep on going like this.

    During T3 my colleague was out of the classroom and we had relievers in, and we decided to change tack; we have now become one class whānau, we have one roll call, we have one programme (trying to apply UDL principles) and we keep our groupings flexible. While we generally group by ability, we want to accelerate our 'struggling' learners, so our groups change regularly to meet needs. We are second year ALL, and we also run ALiM type interventions. We split our class for Kiwi Can and Kiwi Sport by whatever else we are running in the that slot at the time, e.g. maths groups (so Stage 5 go to sport first, while Stage 3&4 have maths first etc.)

    We currently have 38 children in our environment, and our principal is very generous with funding for devices, so we have 6 Win8.1 touchscreen laptops (the bane of my life, sorry!), 28 Chromebooks which are assigned to students working at the beginning of CL2 and a student with SEN, as well as 13 iPads. We have a class site as our 'HQ', and we use various programmes in a must-do / can-do approach to support class learning, namely XtraMath for basic facts, Mathletics, Reading Eggs, Study Ladder, Story Bird, Code.org, Typing Club etc. All students have a school GAFE account, and our Chromebook children use their Google Drive regularly. All Y3s and some y2s have individual blogs, though we are not using them as regularly as the older classes. In addition I have set up a Minecraft Lab in a previously empty classroom (now reception class), and we have used this to support digital collaboration and especially literacy.

    What we have found is that our 'fast' learners are absolutely flying. We have a large group of y2 regularly working 'on my side of the room', meaning with the y3s, and looking at results overall we are very pleased. I was worried if we would be able to extend the y3s enough with having them grouped with y2s. Overall most of their results are fine, but in retrospect I wish I would have pushed them more e.g. in maths (rather than comfortably at Stage 5 some might be early Stage 6).

    Our 'struggling' learners had the benefit of working at their level. They have made progress, but not all of them have made the accelerated progress I was hoping for. Lots of soul searching going on..

    All children - and adults - had the benefit of working with different people at different times (rather than getting tired of the same people all the time :D). We have been able to implement a lot of tuakana-teina learning, we even have siblings in the same environment, and children have really grown socially.

    This was the first for me teaching at this year level, and I had the benefit of not having to spread myself too thinly across the full range of levels and curriculum. I could concentrate on what I love (maths, reading comprehension, using devices in a variety of contexts) and learn from my colleagues in the areas where I am not as confident yet.

    What I have learnt from this experience is that knowing all learners, incl. adults, is really important. Trust is vital, and as I said earlier, you'll get nowhere without a shared vision. Build on strengths and challenge yourself and each other. Laugh together! Be brave and try something new, and if it doesn't work, try something else again. It's not the space that makes an ILE, it's the people and how they go about achieving their shared vision!

    Leaders have to be brave to allow this to happen, have to provide the right environment for teachers to innovate. They have to trust that their teachers will do the right thing. They need to be aware of what is happening within these spaces (our principal covers some relief days so he is in these spaces), to further support to move it along or to redirect should things run off the tracks. They need to be prepared for the unexpected, too, because as learners (of all ages) innovate, unexpected things are bound to happen.


  • Monika Kern 04 Nov 2016 5:10pm () in Enabling e-Learning forum: How can we foster digital fluency?

    You make an interesting point of how differently people use digital tools differently, Allanah. In some sense Digital Literacy and Digital Fluency remind me of the SAMR model; I would imagine that the kind of online interactions you are describing are at a substitution or maybe augmentation level, not transformative. And to a certain degree that's how I have been viewing the term 'Digital Fluency' since I first came across it, transformative, and a step up from literacy.

    I (still) love the Golden Circle approach of why-how-what which I try to follow in a lot of what I do, and I find it quite interesting how in this case Digital Literacy uses the How and What, but Digital Fluency the Why and in addition the When (something I hadn't paid particular attention to previously). Are we at the stage now (finally) where we are seriously considering the why? As Oliver Quinlan said so well:

    It took me a long time to work out that when you start out with Why, the What and How largely take care of themselves. They become obvious and straightforward when you have the confidence you get by knowing and consciously defining Why you are doing things.

    I like the fact that we can use two terms to describe different levels of digital though the terms probably need to be accompanied by their definitions to help with clarity. However, what does it look like?

    In my mind, a digitally literate educator will know how to use technology to access resources, to create resources, (hopefully) to share them (legally). They will know how to get students to complete a task using technology, to show their learning, connect them with others.

    A digitally fluent educator would be able to tell you why they do this (e.g. learning with and from each other, give and take, tuakana - teina), they would know when to use or share (creative commons?) and when and through what platform to create best learning opportunities for themselves and others.

    Yes, we can all get into the last minute panic of needing a resource then and there (especially when we are new to a topic / year level etc.), but, probably like you, I get annoyed when I read posts that ask again and again for often last minute help when there might be better places to get resources from.

    On a side note, after some online abstinence I have to say I find the online education world in NZ quite changed, I am missing some of the rich discussions and resource sharing sessions we have had. Some of the platforms frequented by teachers are less, some are more helpful in providing us with transformative digital learning experiences, and that's where fluency and the ability to pick right place and right time definitely come in to play.

    Maybe I'm completely on the wrong track? Let me know :) Looking forward to reading more posts in this discussion.


  • Monika Kern 11 Sep 2016 5:51pm () in Google Drive App

    Hi Monique,

    the Drive app works well on your personal device when you want to treat your Google Drive just like all the other folders in your Explorer. In an environment where you share devices it is less ideal as ultimately anything that is saved on the device by each of your users will use up the available storage space.

    As others have suggested above, use Google Drive in your browser, preferably Chrome for all things Google, and above mentioned plugin is great when you want to work in MS Office docs within Google Drive. If you are using the GAFE suite, rather than MS Office, with your students, they gain little if anything by going through the Drive app. On my personal device, a MacBook Air, I have also removed the app because I have run out of space (time for a clean out I know!).

    As Rosey, I absolutely love using Hapara to access and monitor student work, where they are going online etc. Worth every cent :)

    Hope this is useful! Monika


  • Monika Kern 07 Dec 2015 3:04pm () in Minecraft on Chromebooks

    Hi Rachel,

    the majority of Minecraft teachers I have been in contact with are using regular Minecraft; I'm all for using real-world tools with children at school. However, when I worked over in Australia, a number of schools had their Minecraft access restricted through via their network administration, and they ended up using Minecraft Edu instead.

    Hope this helps!


  • Monika Kern 06 Nov 2015 4:12pm () in Enabling e-Learning FORUM: Mobile digital devices: What's working, what's not?

    Hi Nathaniel,

    one of my favourite topics! As you know, I'm not currently in a school, but I have been working with many schools exactly around this. My first point is always the vision - what are we trying to achieve? To quote the NZC, our overall vision across NZ education is for young people to be confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learners - this might look slightly different in individual schools, but the majority of schools will have a vision that incorporates most if not all these points.

    How we are going about this might differ, some schools have traditional classrooms, some have rearranged there learning and teaching within traditional classrooms, and some schools have MLEs. How we teach within the spaces also differs - might be a traditional 'look to the front and listen to the teacher' or independent study with the teacher as guide on the side type scenario - or anything in between. As Warren rightly points out in his post, not all devices are suitable in all physical environments, and the same applies to how we teach. If I am in an environment where my students rely on me as the teacher to have the answers to all questions, I might be more likely to prescribe a particular device so I can trouble shoot whereas in an inquiry dominant environment, students and I might trouble shoot problems together regardless of the device choice. However, there are other reasons why a school might want to stick to a particular device: Tech confidence of staff (when you are asked to revamp your pedagogy completely, dealing with multitudes of different devices in your classroom might simply be too much), bulk purchase attracts discounts etc. On the other hand many schools choose BYOanyD to allow for greater equity as families can choose which device is affordable for them.

    What  you are actually going to do with the devices follows out of the above, and while I admit essay writing is still important in a considerable number of schools and classes, it is encouraging to see teachers and students choose alternatives to demonstrate learning when appropriate. 

    Research I have studied this year has indicated that 'not all devices are equal', and that in fact allowing students to bring every and any device might be disadvantaging them - I presented about The Power of the Pen at Ulearn last month. However, I keep on coming back to a blog post Allanah King wrote last year "The Right Tool for the Job" where she compared the devices to your knifes in the kitchen - you need different knifes for different jobs.

    So my recommendation to any school is: What is your vision? How does Learning and Teaching take place at your school? What tools will be best to support this? How do you need to support your teachers and students to adopt the mindset and skills necessary to make this work? In my ideal classroom, I see a range of different tools, tablets, laptops etc. allowing my learners to choose the right tool for their job.

    Looking forward to reading what others think!

    Thanks, Monika

  • Monika Kern 16 Sep 2015 12:21pm () in Presenting student work on big screen

    Re the VGA/HDMI adapter - I remember when I bought mine, it wouldn't work on my Samsung Chromebook as the adapter did not have an external power source (but it worked fine on the Apple TV so it wasn't a great waste of money). Do you know if the Chromebooks in current use need an adapter with external power?

    Thanks, Monika

  • Monika Kern 25 Aug 2015 11:06am () in WordQ equivalent for use on Chromebooks

    I completely agree with rochellei and Iain Cook-Bonney, Read & Write for Google, especially in its premium version, is my No.1 Chrome Extension, useful in so many ways. Here is a little presentation I did for GEG Gold Coast earlier this year.

    Cheers, Monika

  • Monika Kern 22 Jul 2015 4:15pm () in Multiple RSS Feeds

    Hi Sarah,

    I had just been playing around with RSS feeds this morning. Here is a tutorial for embedding RSS feeds into your site from Free Technology for Teachers. If you go to ChimpFeedr as per Nathaniel's suggestion and add all the blogs into one feed and then paste the resulting URL into the Embed Gadget on your site, it will display the feeds from several blogs. Note: The maximum items to display for the gadget seems to be nine, and I don't seem to get images through ChimpFeedr (which I am new to). There might be more options other people have tried before?

    Alternatively, I could image you could use the process from Free Technology for Teachers repeatedly to feed each blog individually into your site.

    Cheers, Monika

  • Monika Kern 08 Jul 2015 7:03pm () in Bulk send photos from computer to iPad

    Flick is a cool little app I have used to transfer between iPads and MacBooks, but I have just checked it is also available for Windows, Android and Linux:)