Hong Kong 1.2

As a group we’ve had a full programme of visits for the past three days. We’ve met with the British Council, Hong Kong University, the Education Bureau and a range of different schools.  We have been warmly welcomed into classes, computer suites, tech lounges and maker spaces.   People are very keen to share what they do and talk about what they hope is next for education in Hong Kong, broadly as well as in their own schools and classes.  Words that we keep hearing are STEM, computational thinking and 21st century skills. It’s interesting because the discussions that we are having are similar to those we would have back in Northern Ireland.  

Questions like:
How do we make sure that the tech is fully and intentionally integrated into the lesson, not just an add on, substitution or shiny new toy?

What are the skills we want pupils to develop?

How can we equip our pupils for a future we can’t imagine yet?

It’s interesting to see so many similarities between what happens in schools in Northern Ireland and schools in Hong Kong. I’ve observed in classrooms this week where Nearpod, iMovie, BookCreator and Kahoot have been used to enhance teaching and learning. It’s the same sorts of things that I do in my own classroom or see colleagues do throughout my school.  It’s very affirming. 

It’s led me to wonder about good practice in a globalised society. 

I wonder if because the world is a much more connected place, good practice is good practice the world over.  

Teachers are increasingly interconnected.  Sharing good practice is on a global scale now with teachers creating PLNs on social media, reading international research, being informed about tech initiatives and trends on a global scale through news, tweets, retweets and blog posts. I know I look with interest at what is considered best practice from educational tech expos from around the world, and I’m sure I’m not alone in that. 
If teachers are globally interconnected does that impact on practice, are the gaps closing rapidly between country to county? 

I wonder if the educators who are striving for excellence in ICT are implementing the same things the world over, because they know what is the best that’s out there and push for it.  Thinking of my own practice I follow a number ADEs on twitter, I link in with twitter chats to find out best practice on a global scale, I read online and in the iBooks store about what’s done in other places.  My PLN spans the globe. As a teacher and digital learning leader my practice is informed from what happens in the USA, UAE, Asia, Africa and across the UK, as well as from practice from down the road. 

I suppose what I’m beginning to think is that the teachers who want to push for best practice look beyond their country anyway so rather than see huge differences in pedagogy and practice we only see variations in terms of implementation.  Obviously every school will have its own model of how to do things, own resources, budgets, time constraints and staffing levels. Each school will have a slightly different flavour coming from its ethos and vision. But if a school is engaged and pushing for innovation surely they will take an international perspective in that.   

Perhaps good practice is good practice the world over?

Hong Kong 1.1 – Journeys 

I’m rubbish at waiting for things, I have all the patience in the world for children and people but I really struggle to wait for things. The stretch between finishing exams and getting the results were always a nightmare for me. In someways it seemed like this trip came round very quickly, but in others it seemed like it was taking an age. 

The Northern Irish group met at Belfast City airport to start the long journey to Hong Kong on Saturday afternoon. Crazy to think it would be late Sunday afternoon by the time we arrived. 

I’m writing this on the plane to from Heathrow, I’ll post it when we get wifi. 

Already we’ve all been sharing our journeys in using educational technology and the journeys our schools have been on in developing practice. Sharing ideas, taking about how things work in our schools and passing on tips about how we implement edtech in our settings. There’s been lots of talk about magpieing- troubleshooting problems and getting advice. It’s fantastic to hear about the work that’s happening in other places, St Cecilia’s digital leader programme sounds fantastic! 

I know that the next six days are going to be jam packed, but I’m hoping that there will be lots of time to just chat with each other and share what we do. As well as seeing practice and how things are done, this trip is going to be as much about making connections with other teachers- and not just teachers from overseas.  

International Study Visit 2017 -Hong Kong

In December I applied to go on an international study visit to Hong Kong with the British Council and in January I found out that I had been selected as a participant. It’s such an exciting opportunity, not only to visit another country and culture but to get a real insight into life and education there from visiting schools and meeting with international colleagues. 

 I know a few teachers who have been on these visits before and they all speak very highly of the impact it’s had on their teaching. The Hong Kong trip focuses on the strategic implementation of digital technology, other trips running this year looked at cyber bullying in Canada and newcomer children in Berlin. I can’t wait to see how educational technology is used in a variety of different settings in Hong Kong. We are visiting six schools in four days, meeting with the Education Bureau and two edtech companies.  It looks like we are covering lots of Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories so it should be a great general overview of edtech there. 

 I’m heading away with five other teachers from Northern Ireland, a mix of primary and post primary, senior management and class teachers, country schools and urban schools.  I’m excited to learn from and share with local colleagues as much as the international ones! When we are there we will be linking in with a group from the British Council in Wales, looking at the same focus. It’s been great chatting to some of them already through twitter. 

I’m hoping to update this blog daily when I’m away, as well as tweeting as much as I can (and I’m sure instagramming a LOT!) Fairly certain I’ll walk around with eyes like saucers trying to drink it all in! If you’d like to stay up to date with what the team get up to you can follow the official hashtag #ISV2017 on twitter.  The unofficial hashtag seems to be #teamHK 

Photo Credits: British Council NI 


Reflections on Bett

Last year I had followed the adventures of teacher friends who went to the Bett show through posts they shared on Twitter.  As a class teacher I knew getting time out of school to go to Bett would be highly unlikely so had just thought I wouldn’t be able to go.  Then a friend, working in another school, mentioned she had got very cheap flights and that I should look into going over even after school on the Friday.

Bett is the world’s leading educational technology event, held in London every January.  Their mission is to bring together people, ideas, practices and technologies so that educators and learners can fulfil their potential. You can read more about it on their website here.

After checking out flights and thinking about logistics I booked to go to BETT for just one day – on the the Saturday.  Though I would’ve loved to make it to the Teachmeet on the Friday timings would’ve been impossible.

Bett runs for four days and both the schedule and the floorpan is jam-packed.  There is so much to see and hear about I knew I would have to be selective in what I could fit in.  My wishlist was really just made up of meeting people, people from twitter who I have, chatted to, collaborated with and who inspire me.  For me that really meant some of the Apple Distinguished Educators who were presenting throughout the day. I checked out the schedule for the Apple Solution Village and decided my best plan was to spend most of my time there with some time to walk around the stands at lunchtime.

Saturday at Bett was really quite quiet, overall the atmosphere was a bit flat but it suited me because I didn’t want to have to fight through crowds when my time was so limited.  It also meant that I got a good chat with some or the people I’d really gone over to meet.  There is nothing more surreal than having people recognise you from you your twitter profile picture! Mark Anderson (@ICTevangelist) and Laura Dickinson (@eLearning_Laura) both came over and hugged me right away, which is lovely but strange because I’ve never met them in real life.

At the Apple Village I caught presentations from Abdul Chohan, Greg Hughes, Mark Anderson and Catherine Mangan.  All of which were interesting and useful for the classroom – definitely got some tips to take back to school.

I also found out about a great app helping children deal with anxiety called The Worrinots, caught up with Fintan from the Take Ten App Team (an app which I use in school already)  and had a look at some of the stands around the expedition hall.  One of the things on my list to find was the vending machine with the Google Cardboards, linking in with Google Expeditions as a classroom tool.  I got a cardboard in exchange for a tweet, which was an added bonus.

My top tips for BETT based on my one day visit are:

  • plan ahead, work out your must sees or you may be disappointed.
  • use the app to plan things out/find things/get around
  • don’t carry unnecessary coats/bags – use the cloakroom
  • link in with anyone you want to meet up with in advance- Bett is busy and big, you could easily miss them if you leave it to chance.

For me the highlight of Bett was the networking and the chat.  One of the things that I love about technology is that it makes the world so much smaller and interconnected, my experience is that it brings people together.  It was just great sitting having a chat about how we are using technology to impact learning in school with people from Ireland, England and the Netherlands.

Will I go back to Bett? I’m not sure.  If the opportunity presented itself then yes.

One of the aims of Bett is to bring people and ideas together and that was definitely achieved on my day visit.  I guess I will just wait and see what next year brings.



Most Used Apps- Shadow Puppet

Shadow puppet is a fantastically simple app for making videos and presentations. It’s by the same people who make seesaw, so is just as easy to use and works well if you want to export to seesaw.
I use this app for retelling and sequencing activities as well as making reports on things we have done or any trips we have taken.  You select photos from the camera roll, sequence them and then record audio for each one. The app manages all the transitions in the finished product so making a little video is just that simple.
On finishing you can save it to the gallery, export it to seesaw or save it to the camera roll.
It really is the simplest way for my class to make small video presentations, but it’s also a really useful app. One thing I particularly like about it is that you can see progression in children’s communication skills after they’ve been using it for a while. It’s great evidence and a good way of tracking pupil progress!

Most Used Apps -Camera

My Most Used Apps : Camera
This is an app that is so used that most people don’t even think of it as an app anymore. It’s just taken for granted. That’s why I wanted to start with it. Not a day goes past in my classroom where the camera isn’t used. It’s so handy you can even access it from the lock screen and the control panel.

For gathering evidence in the classroom nothing beats the camera. Photos, videos, panoramas, all have their place in visually recording the practice of the classroom. Photos of children playing, photos of work, house built of Lego, the first time a child writes their name. Where would be without the camera?
I also love that the camera is inbuilt in a tool that has so much potential for learning. No more connecting leads to rescue photos off a digital camer so you can do something with them. The photos are actually in a device where the possibilities are endless.
With my iPad there really is no excuse for poor photos. I can adjust the light with the slide of a fingertip, I can focus in with a quick tap and with children prone to wiggling I can hold in the shutter button and take a burst of photos. So I know I’m always going to have at least one where their eyes are open and looking at the camera. Time lapse is also a great option. Why not leave it set up during play to see how people move around the room or how Lego gets built? Or you can use it in science to observe change like ice melting or birds visiting a feeder.

My classroom would be a much worse place without the camera app.

Most Used Apps- Quiver

Augmented reality is one of those cool things that we’ve seen a big boom in this past year. Unlike virtual reality which transports you to another place (at least in your mind) augmented reality changes the world that you are in by viewing it through your screen. It’s really exciting and motivating but if you want to use it in your classroom it must be for a purpose. A purpose that makes a difference for the learning and teaching, not just because it’s cool be exciting!
In my classroom I use an app called quiver to introduce a little bit of AR to some of my topics. Quiver is app that has a built in selection of colouring pages to print. When you print and colour/design then in real life you then you scan them with the quiver app. Looking at the page through the screen of the iPad your colouring page will come to life.

Our P2s use it when they learn about transport, designing their own cars and planes. Our P1s use  a quiver penguin page when they learn about cold places. There are also seasonal and holiday pages.
The pupils always get very excited when I produce a magic colouring page, you should give it a go!