Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Moved to Edublogs

I've moved my blog to and won't be posting here anymore - unless I get really fed up with the ads on edublogs!

Sunday, November 09, 2008

What Do I Use to Blog?

There are many free and paid tools available to publish and share children's work on the internet. They can be used to engage and motivate children and can provide an authentic audience for their work.

Blogging (from web log) is simply publishing writing on a personal website, like an online diary. I started off in 2004 using blogger but later changed to wordpress.

Blogger, now owned by google, is an easy way to set up a first blog. It is highly customizable and allows you to easily upload photos, movies and other multimedia elements. it has a selection of themes to choose from to alter the page design. It does have an annoying navigation bar at the top of the page and a "next blog" link that can take the reader to some places that are less suitable for children. With a bit of tweaking and coding this can be removed.

Wordpress became my blog engine of choice because there was no "next blog" link. It has many page templates to choose from, but is a bit more choosy in what it allows its users to upload. Images are fine and if you have somewhere to host your files you can also add a free audio player. Videos can only be uploaded after upgrading your account with an annual payment of US$20.

Both sites are very easy to join, needing only a valid email address (though I think Blogger may ask you to set up a google account). Click on the email you receive as confirmation and that's it - you're ready to go.

Sometimes the login pages of Wordpress and Blogger can present children with accidental access to unsuitable material. To eliminate this I use Windows Live Writer, a free Mocrosoft download. There are other options - you can blog from Word with this blogger plugin or you can use Word 2007 which has a built in publish to blog option.

Our class Wordpress blog
Our new, experimental voicethread Blogger blog.


Sunday, October 26, 2008


A Hoverfly*

So, enough hovering.  Here's where I'll set up a portal for other teachers at school.

I'll post links to software, sites and other items of interest and reflect on some of the things that have worked well for me in class and others that haven't been so successful.

There are heaps of teacher/class blogs and wiki out there that I'll add as links, but I'd like to think that colleagues at school will be more likely to try new things ICT if they know that this is my space and that they can discuss things with me if they want to. 

I could introduce them to Twitter instead. I've been making class web sites and blogs since 2001, but always in isolation, an island entire.  Now, via Twitter, I'm learning from others again!  For years I've been the guru that people have come to for ICT help, but today I'm getting help myself from ethereal colleagues.  It feels good.

*Hoverfly "painted" in Artrage 2.5 - some post work (copy and flip the wing) in

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Next Year

I need to think about how I'm going to set things up for next year...
  • Adding Live Writer to all the class computers for children to post to glenview9
  • Rearranging the physical layout of the classroom
  • Introducing PBWiki in term one or even during meet the teacher at the end of term four
  • Publicizing the blog and wiki to parents (and the school community) and encouraging comments and participation
  • Integrating it all into the classroom and replacing some of the bookwork children do
  • and...???
Where to start? I've hovered around the fringes of Web 2.0 for the past few years dipping my toes in the water here and there - time to jump in.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

What now?

So.. back at school for nearly two weeks now and what have I done? Not a lot. I just can't see a way to fit it all in and meet the requirements of "if it's not on paper it's not real".

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Blood Pressure Update

All clear!  Turns out the doctor had been using the wrong size blood pressure cuff.

Sunday, October 12, 2008


I've been back from Christchurch for two days now and the ideas are still buzzing so much that I can hardly get my head around the next few weeks.

We have to give a presentation to the Principal and Board of Trustees sometime in the next few weeks to show what we learned and to make suggestions for the future direction of ICT and learning at school. I have had the idea of trying to make sure that some of the Room 9 students are on the wiki during the presentation or perhaps inviting some of the twitter crowd to hang out that evening.

I'll spend the next few days collating my notes and gathering my thoughts and themes. I think I'll try and use pptPlex.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Blood Pressure


Forty-nine tomorrow and here's my early birthday present from the doctor - a 24hr ambulatory blood pressure monitor.

The past few times I've been to the doctor my blood pressure has been raised.  After several readings they've decided to let me wear a 24hr monitor (for $150) to make sure I'm not suffering from "medical practitioner induced hypertension".

I'll let you know the results.

(image courtesy of used without permission)

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Long Time - No Post

I have been visiting the dentist over the last six months. Even after three or four visits, I still find myself white knuckled, clutching the armrests of the chair. It's not that I'm scared of dentists, but someone sticking a needle into the back of my jaw is not my favourite pastime. I know it's necessary. I know it would hurt like hell without it. Logically I should accept it and try and relax.
"Let me know if it hurts."
"OK." You'll know, I think as I imagine smacking him round the head. Obviously I never have. Instead I find myself squeezing the chair into submission and then, realising what I'm doing, force myself to relax, cross my wrists and control my breathing. Soon it's all over. Too soon. I've been watching an episode of "Lost" on the flat screen TV bolted to the ceiling.

It makes me think how things have changed since my first dentist in the mid nineteen-sixties. He was a pleasant, good natured chap. He wore glasse like goggles, stank of cigarettes and had stained, brown teeth. The only entertainment in his surgery was the airline that he would let children play with, alternately whistling and farting depending on the thumb pressure applied.

I think now I'd prefer to watch "Lost", but as a kid I really enjoyed the screeching noises the airline made.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006


Just a test post.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

My Newish Van

Looks just like this one

Thursday, July 07, 2005


actual size - about 7cm

They say accidents come in threes. Well, I have one more to go then. Last week I tore my biceps tendon climbing through a window (doing a good deed, not a burglary). A sudden pull upwards led to a loud crack in the crook of my arm and a strange feeling in my forearm. I drove home, but ended up in Accident & Emergency a couple of hours later. The strange thing was that I never really felt any pain.

As a follow up I had to make an appointment for some physiotherapy to help the healing process.

First came a gentle massage with a white cream that smelled vaguely of dentists. Next I was hooked up to an electrical muscle stimulator that contracted and relaxed my arm, making my hand into a fist. Weird. So far so good.

The next day he suggested I try something different. "Have you ever had acupuncture?"
"How would you feel about trying it?"
I'd just seen a documentary showing Michael Stipes having needles pushed into his face. If he can do it - so can I. "If you think it will help." I think I fooled him with my nonchalant reply, but I was very nervous. I hate needles and vaccinations and have done since the traumatic "six needles" that preceded your TB shot at primary school.
"I usually charge extra for this, but I'll do the first session for free. If you think it helps we can do some more later." Gee thanks.

He put four needles like the one above into my arm. Four!
"Can you feel that?" he asked with each penetration.
"Yes! Yes! No."
He gave it a little twist.
"YES! You bugger."
"This next one might be a bit more painful. It's going between your index finger and thumb."
"...OK." Thankfully it was no worse than the others. Once they were all in my arm settled down to a dull ache.
"They have to stay in for about twenty minutes. Don't move your arm."
He left the room, leaving me a bell to ring if I needed releasing from my purgatory. I fumbled open a copy of National Geographic with my left hand an started reading about Egyptian mummies.

He came back into the cubicle (to remove the needles I thought foolishly).
"I've just come to give them a little twist." Bastard!

Since then I've had two more sessions and, apart from the initial sting of the needles, there is very little pain. It's a gentle throb, almost like a low level electric shock. Whether it's helped my recovery is difficult to say, but it doesn't appear to have hindered it.

I think I'd recommend it as something to try, just for the experience!

Saturday, June 11, 2005


The lunchbell "rang", (it's electronic and usually has the same effect on me as 300 joules of cardiac resusitation) the kids eagerly scrambled for their lunchboxes and spilled out onto the deck to fill up on food. I snatched up my laptop and raced to the library, anxious to sort out that morning's f*ck ups on the server before I grabbed a coffee. I grasped the door* handle and pulled it sharply towards me. Nothing. It had jammed. I slid my fingers down the handle a little and pulled again, this time freeing the door from its frame and allowing it to swing sharply outwards...

Ouch! The razor- sharp aluminium corner of the door raked over my right foot, lifting a toenail and gouging out a strip of flesh. Resisting the urge to swear, I bit my lip, bent over and folded the flapping nail back into place. Leaving a bloody trail behind me I hobbled to the First Aid Room and asked a colleague for asssitance. By now the blood had pooled under my foot and was settling in gobs on the vinyl floor. All this was of very little concern to me. I had something else on my mind. "I wonder if she'll be offended by my stinkfoot?"

I know I have smelly feet, I won't try and deny it. Going barefoot seems to be the only way to alleviate the problem, but when my feet make contact with footwear the rot sets in. Even open toed "slides" can't protect me from it. The smell starts as soon as my feet leave their safe haven. They don't smell - they STINK!

(footnote: 3 weeks later- My toenail fell off today, unfortunately I don't know where or when. Presumably it will turn up at an opportune moment.)

*I use the term "door" loosely - it could just as accurately be described as a pedestrian guillotine, just waiting to slice and dice the first unsuspecting idiot/victim to saunter along in open toed shoes.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

One For All

Like many people, after a few years of acquiring a collection of electronic devices, I found myself with a fistful of remote controls. None of them are compatible with each other and most of them have been repaired is some unsightly way (with brown parcel tape or worse).

Thankfully the days of searching for the correct remote are over. A couple of days ago I bought one of the universal remotes above. The thing that struck me about it was its motion activated glowing blue surface. It couldn't have been easier to set up, just look for your brand of TV, DVD, Satellite/Cable or Video and enter one of the four digit numbers in the manual. After a few more minutes tweaking the remote is ready to use.

Now - has anyone seen the remote?

Sunday, April 24, 2005


So seven years ago I moved to New Zealand with my family. Since then I've become a teacher, learned to drive and managed to keep my long pants in the bottom of the wardrobe for 99.99% of the year.

A few weeks ago I'm driving back from school camp. With me in the van are two other teachers. We're all pretty tired, but looking forward to the weekend and a decent night's sleep. My van is new, an automatic (which I've never driven before) and much quieter than the diesel van I'd been driving the week before. The road (the main highway of the whole country) is almost deserted. In the past ten minutes five or six cars have passed us in the opposite lane, going south, and there is no traffic visible, ahead or behind, in my lane. As I accelerate up a long steep hill I notice that my speed has crept up to 110kph, that's 10kph over the national speed limit. I don't usually speed and I apologise to my colleagues and ease off. Then I spy a Police car parked on the opposite side of the road, probably using a radar to catch speedsters.
"Good job I slowed down," I chuckle to my friends.
"No rush, take it steady," comes the reply.

Continuing up the hill we carry on talking, laughing about some of the more entertaining escapades at camp, already discussing the possibilities for next year. The highway veers to the left and immediately drops, turning into a long downhill stretch. I glance at my speed once more, it's crept up again and is climbing, so I gently put my foot on the brake and begin to slow down.

Then I see him. Parked on the shoulder is another Police car and this time there's a traffic cop holding up his hand. He indicates that I should stop and I pull up behind him, winding down the window as I come to a stop.
"Were you speeding ?" queries my colleague in the passenger seat.
"I'm not sure," I reply, but I know that he wouldn't be stopping me unless I had been over the limit.
The officer walks up to my open window.
"Could you move the vehicle in front of my car please, sir ?"
Now I'm pretty sure I've earned myself a $200 ticket and as he approaches I resign myself to the fact.
"You came round that corner a bit too quick, didn't you?"
He asks for my licence and I fumble it out of its plastic holder.
"It just crept up as I came round the corner," I explain, "I was slowing down when I saw you."
"Well, as you came round you were doing 112*. I clocked you at 114 and then you went up to 117 before you began to slow down. Most people try and get out of it by saying they've just finished overtaking or something."
I reply honestly, "No, I'd just come up over the brow of the hill and then it started to run away with me."
He finishes writing my details in his notebook and hands me back my licence. "Would you like to come and look at the radar, sir?"
I interpret this as a rhetorical question and follow him to his car. He leans over the passenger seat pointing to a red LED display angled on the dashboard and indicates the three speeds he has recorded.
A rather sheepish "Yeah," is all I can manage. I can hear the chitter-chat of a printer printing out a ticket in the background.
He stands up with notebook and licence in his hand and by now I'm wondering how I will explain this all to my wife when I get home.
He's obviously noticed my northern accent. "Where are you from?"
Normally at this point I reply that I'm from 'near Leeds' or somewhere between 'Last of the Summer Wine' and 'Heartbeat' country, but I realise that he too has a bit of a northern twang.
"Wakefield," I state.
He looks up from his notes. "F*ck off!"
"Why? Where are you from?"
"Wakefield!" he lowers his notebook with an incredulous look.
"F*ck off!" I bounce back at him, swiftly adding “Oops, sorry?”, as I realise what I've just said.
“What's your name?”
“It's on my licence.”
We exchange some Tyke pleasantries, our accents getting broader as we speak. Where we lived, where we drank, where we went to school etc.
“There was a girl at school with the same surname,” he smiles.
“My sister went there,” I reply. I hestate before asking the next question. “So, you're going to let me off then?”
“I can't really give you a ticket now, can I?”
I can still hear the chatter of the printer in his Holden.

A few minutes later we shake hands like old friends, having exchanged phone numbers and brief family histories.
“I'll get my ticket in the post then, will I?”
“No, no,” he waves his hand, “Forget about it.”
I walk back to my van with his business card in my hand, still smirking with disbelief, marvelling at the vagaries of fate.

I moved about 18 000 kms to the other side of the world and in the past seven years I've met plenty of people from Yorkshire, some from Sheffield, Leeds and even Dewsbury, but just when I needed it most I met someone from Wakefield.

*kilometres per hour, not miles per hour.

Monday, March 28, 2005


Now that's an Easter Egg

Thursday, January 20, 2005


I got a souvenir Viking coin from the Jorvik centre

Thursday, September 02, 2004

At Last

Finally got around to setting up a blog. It might take a while before I post anything though.