Thursday, January 28, 2010

The iPad

The highly anticipated launch of the Apple Tablet happened this morning (NZ time)Steve Jobs has announced the iPad (my fav name for the device) and as suspected by many in appearance is like a flattened iPhone.
Specs include a 9.7 screen surrounded by a wide bezel. It will have between 16GB and 64GB solid state flash memory and weighs 680grams.
It has 10 hour battery life so will be perfect for watching video on long plane trips.
Apps will include Apple Works for iPad, an Art app, iBooks which includes a virtual bookshelf where books are displayed. The iBook reader looks similar to the app I currently have on my iPhone.
So what to use the iPad for? Movies, games, reading books, email, web browsing etc etc.
Check out this link for more information and photos

An aside Mark Webster's website http://www.mac-nz.com/ he mentions that Air New Zealand is in the process of adding iPod & USB jacks to economy seats, very handy I think.

Cheers
Jo

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Apple Tablet?

With less than 48 hours to go before Apple's much hyped media event my anticipation is increasing and I am reading with interest the tweets coming through about speculation that an 'Apple Tablet' is about to be released.
I can not wait!
There are many names floating around, including, 'iPad'. 'iSlate' and the Apple Tablet. What ever it is named one thing is certain, it will have the sleek lines and innovation of the Apple products gone before.
Look no further than You Tube and you will find many fake images of the yet to be announced Tablet, they do look very cool! Rumour's include the design of the Tablet likened to a flattened iPhone with a 10' screen, a front facing camera, a virtual keyboard and e-book to name a few.
Have a look at this link for one of the fake Tablet's http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysW2T0kf4As
Cheers
Jo

Monday, January 25, 2010

From Berlin: Dealing with difficulties and uncertainties!

Another fabulous colleague from Germany joins our blog! Hartmut has been deeply involved in learning stories for several years and brings to the blog some very interesting insights into current early childhood practices in Germany. I would have to say that we would also find these practices in NZ as well. Hartmut came to NZ and spent many days participating in three early childhood settings in NZ, engaging with the teachers, the children and sharing his insights with us. He, like us, is working as a Facilitator of professional learning in settings in Berlin. 


Greetings from Hartmut … I’ve been trying to work with the fascinating learning story framework for almost five years, and I am still convinced that narrative assessments, as you do them in NZ, can and surely will make our communication about learning richer and deeper. What fascinates me most is the idea of socially “distributed” learning, leading to communities of learners as most important agents in early childhood education… You see this on every level, not only in children’s learning, but also in this blog that shows the benefits of a strong group of learners – the ELP team – sharing experiences and “making meaning” together… 


However, everyday life is sometimes a little embarrassing… For instance, in our learning culture the idea of communities of learners that involve adults (teachers, parents) who join into children’s learning journeys is not so very popular. Adults often prefer to stay outside the learning processes, and don’t want their world to be changed by the changing world of children…  Looking at the way “Learning stories” are put into practice in German Kindergartens, it can be noticed that they often turn into an observation-based assessment procedure that goes back to knowledge and skills and fails to meet learning dispositions in action. 


The last two years I’ve spent much time in thinking about these processes. Drawing on Bruner’s distinction of “narrative” and “paradigmatic” cultures (he put Germany on the “paradigmatic” side) the difficulty might lie in implementing a culture of narrative practice into an environment that is quite far from valuing this kind of practice. I experienced, that a mother hearing a learning story about her son struggling to join a peers’ play group and finally succeeding did not at all enjoy the story but rather searched for a “hidden message” – why does the teacher tell me this? What’s the point of it? Maybe her feeling was a little like “if my son would do well then the teachers would not tell me such stories…” On the other hand, there are already teachers successfully implementing stories (not accounts) about learning into our children’s portfolios… 


So I learned that storytelling and narrative assessment are not just pedagogical techniques one can implement in any environment. “Good” learning stories have – as I believe – always a touch of “internal evaluation”, their authority comes from a feeling that the person telling the story was there and was involved in a deep transactional process, not only looking at an event from the outside. Looking at some examples from Germany I feel that the narration is turning into “external evaluation” (Some kind of “Dear Clara, as I watched you carefully last Friday I saw that you enjoyed doing …, and I was very impressed by …), and with that change in position the stories lose much of their power. This is not to say that external evaluation has no value - outsiders can see a lot and make valuable contributions, but stories must be told by insiders. 


So these were some thoughts about my “half-full” glass - from some processes of “dealing with difficulties and uncertainties” I’m involved in at the moment. I’m looking forward to further 2010 discussions about examples of narrative assessment, with colleagues here in Berlin and with you, ELP colleagues (welcome in Berlin in July!!!), as well. 
Hartmut






Saturday, January 16, 2010

Fun in the sun

Greetings from Lorraine Sands...... I am stunned by the sight of children, snowmen and bicycles in the snow! I saw the satellite picture of Britain gripped in blizzard conditions and the wow factor was right up there because I was just heading off to the surf beach at Mount Maunganui, for a walk around Mauao and a swim in the ocean. Seeing Margy’s granddaughter rugged up so snugly, it struck me how differently children experience their very first encounters with the people, places and things in their world. Just from this one perspective, weather, let alone anything else, they begin to engage with papatuanuku (Maori, for earth mother), building those working theories that will take them further into an understanding of their world. I am so looking forward to exploring this further with two of Margy’s team from Pen Green, Felicity and Tracy when they come to New Zealand in February for a series of work shops in Auckland and Tauranga. We will be interested to find out more about Pen Green’s philosophy around partnerships with parents and the research that led to their pedagogic strategies Parents Involved in their Children's Learning (PICL) and explore the theories wrapped around their Baby Nest. The teachers at Greerton Early Childhood Centre will be collaborating in these workshops so it will be interesting to engage with our view via Te Whāriki (the New Zealand National Curriculum) and consider the things we have in common and the diversity! Some thought provoking conversations will ensue I’m sure. In the mean time these pictures of life for children in the Tauranga sunshine and the walk around Mauao, might just entice a few more visitors out of the bitter northern winter into the southern warmth. In NZ we are stripping off, slip, slop, slapping the suncream and wading into water!
video

Friday, January 15, 2010

Winter in Berlin, the big snow!

Over the last few years ELP has built up some very lovely relationships with early childhood colleagues working in Germany. There has, for sometime now been a tremendous interest in the work of learning stories in Germany. Margaret Carr and I went to Germany in the early part of the decade and we along with several of the ELP project facilitator team have been back several times over that period. A number of fabulous Germans have been to visit us in NZ, spurred by their interest in both our curriculum Te Whāriki and learning stories.


Sibylle Haas, is one of our wonderful colleagues from Berlin and she has sent us these photos for our blog, they give us a lovely window into life in Berlin this winter.


Sibylle’s photos

This is me rugged up and warm for the very big snowfalls that we have been experiencing in Berlin.


Children love the wonderful snow in Berlin at the moment. They are busy sledging in the snow and building snow men and women often out of three balls. The longer you roll a small ball in the snow the bigger the body of the snowman will be!! So you can imagine how many snowmen and women are currently standing around Berlin! This is a photo of my husband Roland, he feels as happy as the snowman standing in the snow. Berlin has very few hills for skiing and sledging, most of them are artificial, built from the remains of bombed houses after world war two. The snow has meant that these areas have been recreated into fabulous sledging and snowman building spaces for peaceful fun in the parks.



The parks and lakes change their appearance in winter; they look so beautiful in the snow.


As you can see, to go by bicycle is not a good idea in these times.



Thursday, January 14, 2010

Post from Margy Whalley

Many of you will have seen images of Britain and Europe as they have faced unprecedented snow falls across the lands. The satellite images of Britain entirely blanketed in snow were extraordinary. Thousands of schools and early childhood settings have been closed for days as people struggled to make their way each day. Margy Whalley from Pen Green in Corby, England has sent us this delightful image of her grand daughter playing in the snow and a blog to attach!

Margy writes

We are all so jealous that you are basking in the sunshine while we are suffering in the cold!

My Gorgeous 22 month Grand daughter



Molly was only induced to leave her snowman by the promise that we’d be sure to throw snowballs at her window and dance in the snow before he left. In fact days later he’s still there so no problem!

Love

Margy

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Resolutions....


I loved reading Kaths last post-Kath-if you tick enable comments at the end of your message under post options your fans can leave you a note! ;-)
I think Kath's description about her interaction with her grandbaby is just delicious, and her reflections-soooo cool!
There is another R word that's quite popular at this time of the year-RESOLUTIONS!!!!! I walked into the Piha store and there was a message from the owners on the blackboard "Good luck with your New Years resolutions of giving up smoking and losing weight!" OMG how did he know that I want to shed those kilos that crept on my middle last year and have left me feeling like the Dunlop Tyre woman??? I have never been a smoker so at least I don't have to worry about that one!
Ah well, more carrots and less chocolate and hot chips.......I HAVE to, my riding jacket has become so tight the buttons are threatening strike action and if I don't watch it they might just ping off and smack someone in the eye-imagine that ACC claim!

What R’s are Important?

There are many R words that are currently to the fore in our thinking. Reading, writing and ‘rithmetic', always a popular catch cry is up there now with National Standards testing looming. Not to mention us teachers being ready willing and able to;
  • Reflect 
  • Respond
  • Revisit
  • Reciprocate
  • Revise
  • Refresh
  • Renew
  • Rekindle and  
  • Relearn

    Two more R’s have been to the fore this Christmas Holiday season. I have been reminded of the importance of rest and recreation. The dictionary reminds us that rest and recreation are periods of refreshing freedom from exertion and emotional anxiety, and engagement in enjoyable activities for pleasure.

    Rest and recreation takes many guises. For some of us it is planning a festive table, building family traditions, lying on the beach with book or wine in hand, riding our beloved horse, visiting friends, harvesting the garden and orchard, swimming an ocean “race”, completing an unfinished quilting project or being with family to name a few.

    For me rest and recreation this holiday has been many, many things. It started with decorating the Christmas tree and getting to greet my old friends the decorations and think about the people, places things and time they connect me to, stirring a Christmas cake and feeling close to my mother and sisters, and this summer very happily lying in bed some mornings with my yummy grandchildren, aged 10 weeks and 2 yrs, as they giggle and wriggle at being thrown up and down on our knees into the duvet in the same way their mother was. Now the rest and recreation of the season is drawing to a close with a very quiet house to ourselves again and looking forward to the challenges and planning for this year.

    This has led me to reflect on what does rest and recreation look like for our infants and young children?

    Maybe, it was lying under the Christmas tree ‘play gym’ Nana made.
    I had shown Pipiana, my 10 week old granddaughter, the Christmas tree and decorations on several occasions and she stared and smiled with delight. Sparkles, lights and shiny things always grab my attention too. Later, I was holding her in my arms and as she gazed into my face I noticed her absolute concentration on my face and we had a conversation. Yes one of those beautiful privileges where we goo and gaa our total unconditional love for each other to each other. Aha! Then… her hand’s enquiry, she was just starting to bat around and reach out of her accustomed space, I wondered, is this the start of something we have been wishing for, those random “reachings” that will become more purposeful with practice? I gazed around the room maybe something here will really interest her and provoke those hands, Ahh!! the Christmas tree. I said “Would you like a different view of the Christmas tree?” I lay her gently there. She lay happily there concentrating, drinking in all that was around her. There was an up close and personal experience with many decorations, so close, it caused to her cross her eyes!! Sometimes her two year old brother, Hawaiki, helped by moving the decorations and putting some closer to her. Then, slowly over time and several occasions, her bats became more often and more random, sometimes a fluke and contact was made, the reward came, the decoration moved - then not long after there it was a purposeful bat. Her eye was firmly on the goal and there - no doubt about it contact had been made and the Christmas decoration was swinging. More practice to come, more provocations.


    Or, maybe! It was getting up close and personal by dragging your own chair, with Nana’s coffee machine to make a “fuffy” in a “spzzcial cup”. “ That maka big noise, scarey!!! Zzzzh shshsh!" Which careful listening led me to hear “let me close to that thing and stand close by me”. That is another blog, another day!!


    So rest and recreation for me this Christmas afforded time for a ‘grandmother’s gaze’. Time to look and listen closely to those I care about and for. Not unlike a “teachers gaze” I think!!
    Rest and recreation for infants and young children can take many different guises and requires adults who truly listen so …How do I notice, recognize and respond to their cues for rest and recreation? What “space” is there in the ‘busy-ness’ of children’s lives in our early childhood education and care settings for rest and recreation?
    Are there periods of refreshing freedom from exertion and emotional anxiety, and space for sustained engagement in enjoyable activities for pleasure for the infants and toddlers here?

    We would love to hear about what you have noticed about rest and recreation this holidays.


    We are all looking forward to our Inspiration Days;
    Focus on Babies at the Brentwood in Wellington February 13 2010 and
    Listening to Babies Voices on February 20 2010 in Auckland.
    See the website for details.


    Tuesday, January 12, 2010

    Just the Way You Are....



    When I was a child I had long blonde hair, and in the sixties and seventies it seemed that the whole world was looking for a child with long blonde hair to be their flower girl! I had five brothers (all a lot older than me) who all had lots of friends, and getting married was still in fashion-so I got to be a flower girl more times than I care to remember!
    The thing these poor couples didn’t realize was that while I enjoyed the dress up part of weddings, and the dancing afterwards, standing around for HOURS smiling and trying to look cute was definitely NOT on my list of fun things to do! To put it plainly, I scowled! Why the photo sessions at weddings have to take hours and hours I still can’t imagine, but they did, they were pure torture, and I scowled my way through it all! I hate to think how many peoples wedding photos I ruined with my scrunched up face!
    Fast forward a few years. I took up singing and was involved in a church, at the time, full of vibrant young people. Getting married was definitely the thing to do, and having someone sing at your wedding...you can see what’s coming can’t you! But I had a much better attitude to singing at weddings rather than being photographed! It was over quickly and it gave people a good excuse to shed a quiet tear of joy-at least I hope it was joy and not pain that made their eyes look watery as I hit the high notes!
    I haven’t sung at, or even attended a wedding for soooo long, but this Saturday my dear friend Ali is going to tie the knot with her partner of four years. Its wedding number two for both of them. They have been there and done that, and got the kids to prove it. Their love and commitment for each-other may not have the lusty naive pop and pow of young/first love, but it is seasoned, rich and wise. They both know a lot about life, and love, and how to live with another person through the lumps and bumps.
    I am singing at their wedding-happily, and at Ali’s request, “I love you just the way you are” by Billy Joel. The words to that song are so wise. What I am discovering as I “mature” is that the only person I can really change is myself, and thats what that song is all about, loving people for who they are without having an agenda to manipulate them into your own image....which is a good thing-or the world would be full of scowling flower-girls! UGH! Scary thought!

    Thursday, January 7, 2010

    You scratch my back...

    video Spurred on by the positive feedback I got from my posts yesterday I thought I would have a go at putting a wee video clip from my horses birthday party in September! Rommie turned six-and by the way, I think he thinks I am a horse! (and maybe I am! ha ha !)

    Wednesday, January 6, 2010

    on a roll


    Ok now I am on a roll-look out world!!!! I have just had a message to say that my post was successful! YES!!! AND I managed to put a photo up and it was all very easy.....!
    So now I want to show you a photo of me with my horse at our last show for 2009! It was a dressage day and there was a class-just for fun for the most christmassy horse-no problem-I though-I had it sewn up!!!! But_what I hadn't bargained on was the likihood that the other people in the class would be CHILDREN!!!! Never perform with children or animals-THEY ARE SURE TO OUTSHINE YOU!!!! This was no exception! I was the only adult in the class-which says a lot! I came second and won some anti wrinkle cream! ANTI WRINKLE CREAM!!!??? They must have meant it for my horse-...surely!!!!! The winner was one very cute child on a pony and she threw candy canes out to the crowd!!! OH FOR GOODNESS SAKE-what hope did I have competing with that! Blatant bribery!

    Ping!


    Just like Ping, I am the last duck to board the ELP blog boat! Quack quack!!!! This is my first blog ever, and I have a few questions...like how do I put a photo on this thing???Being a visual learner this is very important to me!
    I love summer, and being on holiday!!! We have had glorious weather and I am enjoying riding my horses for many hours every day! It is glorious to be alive and well!
    My dear friend Josh is eleven years old and currently on round three of his chemotherapy treatment for leukemia, its an amazing journey, sometimes sad, funny and profound. I spent Christmas morning in Starship with Josh and his family, we had lots of fun dressing up in mad hats and wigs, everyone who came through the door was thrown into a new persona with the help of one of the dress-ups.
    ok...so how do I put a photo here......watch this space-I aspire to being a blogging pro......

    Bring on 2010!!

    This year has started with a bang for ELP. Annika has been busy working on the website and it is really starting to expand. I feel very excited about the future of it and our ability to make visible some of the very wonderful activities of ELP.

    We are now offering ELP membership to both centres and individuals alike and are passionate about strengthening professional learning communities. We hope this membership structure will be another pathway to building a strong early childhood community. Membership will entitle you and your centre to large discounts on a number of our activities.

    I hope you will take time to visit our website and learn of our many planned activities including:
    • ‘Inspiration Days’ (throughout the country)
    • A ‘Big Day Out’ for Tauranga and another planned for Whakatane
    • A ‘Lecture Series’ planned for both Auckland and Hamilton
    • Opportunities to work with ELP facilitators with personalised professional learning programmes
    • Opportunities to join a range of cluster programmes

    This is just the beginning. Keep an eye on our website and you will see new and interesting opportunities being advertised. ELP is here to stay, and we are committed to providing a rich source of provocative and challenging professional learning experiences throughout the country. We hope you will join us in some of these activities.

    To visit our website just click here

    Warm regards,
    Wendy