Sign up: New things ahead!

You may or may not have noticed that Educating the Dragon has gone quiet for a while. Summer holidays are and so is Christmas and New Year.

We will starting back on the 2nd January. And we have a brand new line up heading your way.

  • guest bloggers from the education and parenting world
  • Research and 'pop quiz' questions
  • Usual round of 'what's in the news'
  • And our new charity section.

... there is much coming up in the New Year so sign up for email alert and be the first to be in the know.

Sealord Water Safety New Zealand Education Award

I recall last year’s summer blog was peppered with posts about swimming and waterways death toll. Such depressing figures last year but maybe this year will be different.
Children from Central Southland cool off at a pool party in Winton as they celebrated after success at Swim Safe Southland's learn-to-swim programme, that targets rural children. They won the Sealord Water Safety New Zealand Education Award last month.

A real positive start to the summer. Here’s hoping we all take a little more care around water this year.

Further information:

Swim for Life website


Kiwi kids struggle to swim
‘Once in a lifetime’ learn-to-swim project approved
Swim group floats bold plans

Opening your classroom to the world

by Pinelopi Zaka (, @paz11uc)

Many teachers are using blogs in the classroom, exploring their unique potential to engage learners through sharing their work with a real audience. A recent article in the online journal Computers in New Zealand Schools: Learning, Teaching, Technology gives an example of using blogs in a primary classroom from the teacher’s point of view. Gillian May started blogging with her students at the beginning of this school year and through her article she unveils some of the unique advantages that this had for her as a teacher and her students. Some of them include:

· Strengthening home – school connections, by enabling families to have access to student learning.

“Our class blog has changed the way our classroom operates and it has improved the link between home and school beyond our wildest dreams”.

· Enhancing student engagement, by motivating them to share their learning with a real audience.

“It gives the students ownership but more importantly it gives their learning real-life purpose that means something to them.”

Sara Kajder talks about the potential of emerging technologies such as blogs to provide students the opportunity to write for a real audience, share their learning and become active members of online communities (Kajder, 2007). Not many years ago, the web was a place where people could find and retrieve information. Now, the read/write web gives everyone a voice and instead of passively consuming information we can actively create it through online collaboration (Richardson, 2006).

As teachers, we have the responsibility, but also the power to teach students how to effectively and responsibly take advantage of these opportunities that the read/write web offers. Teachers don’t need sophisticated computer knowledge to do that. As Gillian May said

"Prior to June 2010 I had no experience with blogging. I was introduced to the idea at a professional development session, and decided that I might have a play with setting up my own class blog”.

Trial and error is probably the best way to do it! As we experiment with new tools and as we observe the advantages, especially with student engagement and motivation, but also with parents' involvement in student learning, we get further motivated to continue. Of course, the more we commit to it, the more sensitive we need to become on consequent implication, such as privacy, security and ownership; the web provides many opportunities for professional development about these issues. Lifelong learning - isn't it?



Some solutions to the challenge of summer parenting

Contributed by Simon Evans

As the school year draws to a close teachers are all probably breathing a sigh of relief whereas many parents are somewhat daunted by the prospect of offspring at home and having to juggle work commitments. It can be a stressful time.
Here are a few suggestions that help me so they maybe helpful to you.

‘Play-days’ – Come to an arrangement with friends to share the load of child monitoring by offering to have their kid over for the day and another time they can have your… you never know they may just spend the day playing together and leave you alone to get some work done.

Summer holiday programmes – There may be a holiday programme running in your area. They don’t normally cover the full six weeks but you may fill a week or two, your kid may even pick up a new friend or two.

Kiwi Families activities – offer a raft of craft ideas fro all ages. It seems you’ll need to supervise but at least it beats crawling around on the floor with the army figures for the 900th time.

Routines – if you’re away in Fiji fro 6 weeks of the summer all well and good for you but for the rest of us its probably a week here or there. The rest of the time needs managing and routines are the answer. Help establish an ebb and flow to the days by scheduling busier and quieter activites. Alone activities and times when friends can come to play.

‘Homework’ – To avoid your kid’s brain going to mush over the holidays it may be a good idea to establish a work pattern. Some reading, writing, a little maths. I’ve just identified my kid is somewhat shaky with telling the time- that’s gonna be our little focus over the hols.

Reading programme – Libraries around the country have been given funding to support child literacy by providing so incetives over the holidays – this year has a ‘legend’ theme about, certainly where we live.

Whatever you do make some time is quality time.

Good Luck!

Qwiki's round up of news 9-12-11

View Top News: 12-9-11 and over 3,000,000 other topics on Qwiki.

Future thinking, future learning

Global Transformation in Education

The Global Transformation in Education addresses the forces of change that are causing educators globally to rethink what education for today’s students should involve. Mark Treadwell author of The Perfect Storm discusses the collision of three “storms” that are now rocking the world.
Read more…

Plane Project

The PLANE project seeks to develop a suite of on-line learning experiences to meet the needs of today’s teachers. A key feature of the project will be its utilisation of two environments for the delivery of the online experiences:
  • a 21st century immersive learning environment – a “digital virtual world” for experiential learning, problem based simulation learning, collaboration and communication.
  • an online rich multi-media environment.

Things to do

Subcribe to Planejourney's channel on Youtube
RSS the Planeproject blog

Recovery of greater Christchurch photography competition

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (CERA) is inviting all schools - primary, intermediate and secondary - in greater Christchurch to take part in a photography competition. Schools are asked to submit photographs that reflect their students' visions of recovery - what greater Christchurch will be like in the future.
There are five categories that are based on the areas of recovery identified in the draft Recover Strategy:
  • Leadership and integration
  • Economic
  • Social
  • Built
  • Natural
Prizes of a choice of vouchers for books or photography equipment will be awarded to winning students/classes. Schools of the winning students/classes will also receive prizes.

Closing date: 5pm on 12 December 2011.
Further details of the competition.

Education debate heating up

Private schools or independent schools are not administered by government therefore they retain the right to select their students and are funded in whole or in part by charging their students' tuition. They are free to choose their own curricula and select, for their students, the examination system they desire.

Charter schools are schools that receive government money but are not subject to some of the rules, regulations, and statutes that apply to other schools. While charter schools provide an alternative to other public schools, they are part of the public education system and are not allowed to charge tuition.

Public schools or state schools, generally refer to primary or secondary schools that offers all children an education funded by the government, and paid for, in whole or in part, by state taxes.

There is much in the news about the introduction of charter schools in New Zealand. And it seemed to be kicked off by the announcement:
National has agreed to a radical development in the education system - charter schooling - in a surprising part of its support deal with the Act Party.

There will be much debate over the issue and even in these early days there is a mix of opinion from stakeholders. Trying to pull the fact from the opinion is going to become something of a headache, as with all these things there are pros and cons to both sides of the argument.



Felix Littera - Bookfighters

Bookfighters 2.0 is here.
A couple of years ago some friends got together and shared their thoughts on a variety of reading material. Each week they read a book and uploaded their review and thoughts on the material.
Starting in January the relaunch the project but this time they are aiming for less books and more participation. January’s book is ‘Moby Dick’ by Herman Melville. If you are wanting to follow the project or even participate the first thing you need to do is subscribe to the Bookfighters channel on Youtube.

We at Educating the Dragon will also be participating and hopefully we’ll share with you our thoughts on the ‘Book of the Month’.

This project begins over the school holidays so if you are wanting share with your students this interesting project now the time.

Please help us get the word out by tweeting, facebooking and otherwise sharing this post.

To all of you stepping up and participating we say “Felix Littera”

Talking about pencils...

by Pinelopi Zaka (, @paz11uc)

A combination of Friday night excitement, passionate change agents, twitter and of course lots of humour: this is #pencilchat. Once again, education tweeps from all over the world united their voices in a twitter chat, but this time they added big doses of irony and sarcasm. The topic is simple and its message is deep: imagine that you living several years ago when pencils were beginning to be introduced at schools. What are the benefits? Most importantly, what are the implications for teaching, learning and schooling in general?

As much simple as this may look like for today’s world, it couldn’t be that simple back in the day... Now, replacing the word pencil with the tools of today’s world, computers, mobile devices and other innovations that still don’t have a natural place in most educational systems, this is how peculiar and funny the whole debate about using ICT in the classroom might look like in the near future.

But this is our aim as change agents after all. We want future generations to enjoy teaching and learning in an environment that is meaningful and relevant to the real world. We want them to find difficulty in understanding why there was so much debate regarding the blend of ICT in teaching and learning, just because the seamless implementation of all these tools will be a natural and undisputable thing to do for them. There will be a time that discussing about educational use of ICT will be as funny and weird as #pencilchat.

You can follow and contribute to #pencilchat anytime. The community is growing with thousands of tweets sent over the last three days! Here are some of my favourites: