Sunday, December 31, 2017

Embedding YouTube Videos in Blogs?

How to disable related videos when embedding YouTube videos into your blog.

Hi friends,
Today I started work on my class blog, a place to curate learning objects that I find or make and consider useful tools or exemplars for the students' learning in my programme. This is in response to research I am currently working on for a literature review in my course with Mind Lab.

I started loading some videos from YouTube and noticed that after I played them on the front end of the blog (on visitor mode) the video would end on a selection of unrelated videos from YouTube, even if I am embedding them through the HTML mode. These videos are not always appropriate and not something you want to see on a website that you are creating for your school community, as you have no control over what is advertised next.

So after a quick search, I came across this tutorial that quickly helped me to solve that problem. It may help you too :)

Its 2 years old so the YouTube navigation has changed slightly but the steps are still the same.

 Thank you for visiting,

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Mind Lab Week 19 - CoP

Communities of Practice (CoP)
In my current role I have found collaborating regularly in a community of diverse people/thinkers drawn together by a common interest or focus, to be imperative. Wenger, McDermott & Snyder (2002, p4) define CoP's as “groups of people who share a concern, a set of problems, or a passion about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interaction on an ongoing basis”

In her presentation on blended learning, Sharon Padget shares this graphic to demonstrate the varying roles one might have in a CoP and how these change over time, depending on factors like the needs of the CoP, your level of comfort with participation, level of experience, etc. 

The Core are: the subject matter experts, show leadership, direct the vision of the CoP.
The Contributors are: the informal leaders, develop content, participate regularly, moderate with feedback.
The Collaborators are: those with self-selected involvement, support the CoP through questioning and making suggestions, increase their own understandings on the subject or focus.
The Consumers are: the general audience, they read, watch or listen regularly, try out the ideas presented, are exposed to new ideas and to how a CoP works.

When I first moved from a classroom teacher role, with  leadership responsibilities for planning teams and Mathematics, the first thing I had to do was to engage with new on-line Communities of Practice. My current role as a specialist teacher of Visual Art and Digital Media for Kindy to Y6 has a very different focus and as the novice, I had a lot of new learning to absorb.
I went from a regular contributor to CoP's for Literacy, Mathematics and Inquiry based pedagogies, and with in-school planning teams, to a lurker/consumer in new on-line groups.
I am very grateful to the leaders of these groups who got me up and running a lot quicker than I would have managed otherwise. There is limited scope for collaboration in specialist areas within a school. For that I have had to attend conferences and visit other schools with specialist art teachers (very few in NZ).
By participating in relevant CoP's, I have been exposed to alternative pedagogies in teaching the arts which has lead to further research, helping me to take my students so much further than I could have done on my own.

The two questions I am considering are based on observations of my students following adjustments made to my practice based on research about TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behaviour), Choice Based Art and Guided Inquiry models. These link in that they both borrow from the flipped learning model.

1) How can I use blended learning to improve engagement and achievement for target children
I noticed that some students find choice based learning and the ideation process challenging, even confusing. They achieve better (feel more confident) with the 'Show me' model and need gentle guiding toward 'Let me do it for myself'.
For them, I want to look at compiling past lesson resources into digital guide books to refer to, with the aim of combining these with more and more of their own ideas, as they grow in confidence. In the past I have written many lesson guides for teachers, so I could start by adapting these.
Creating a large and visible running sheet of ideation strategies that we add to each time we come up with another way to get ideas, could be beneficial for students too.

2) How can I promote student agency from Kindy -Y6?
While most conferences in a choice based learning environment are specific to a student, I do find myself repeating certain concepts or techniques multiple times. I have been thinking about creating short, sharp movie clips that answer these questions and loading them to a central cloud-based location for students to access independently, Then they can review skills and techniques from week to week, even year to year, as they need to. Despite looking for such resources on-line, I have not yet found anything suitable.
This resource will further enhance other changes I have already made to support independence in my classroom and possibly be of worth to share across my school to support classroom teachers in their practice. Who knows, maybe even shared globally through on-line CoP's.
Having already created and shared videos for teachers (like this one below), this is a new aspect I am looking forward to.
Help Me Learn Video Tutorials on You Tube


Padget, S. (2013). aealearningonlinlive.Retrieved on November 28, 2017 from

Wenger, E., McDermott, R., & Snyder, W. (2002). Cultivating Communities of Practice: A Guide to Managing Knowledge. Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business School Press.
With love, as always

Thank you for visiting,

Sunday, November 26, 2017

Mind Lab Week 18 - A Change in My Practice (Theme 4)

Shifting from a classroom to a Specialist teaching role recently, it became increasingly apparent that Visual Art was still being taught through a transactional model in many classes. Combined with research into TAB (Teaching for Artistic Behaviour) and noting the increasing value placed on Creativity as a desired Future Learning skill, I wanted to lead improvements for our school, starting with my specialist programme. To this end, I feel that my postgraduate journey has delivered so far. 
This image illustrates the radical change in the way that I now view my role:

And this one represents  the approach I chose for my implementation - shifting my practice to “incorporate deeper learning approaches and engage students in critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, and self-directed learning." (see class notes, week 18)
One catalyst for this shift was this Ted talk by art educator, Cindy Foley - Teaching art or teaching to think like an artist?

Theme 4 "Changing the script": Rethinking learners' and teachers' roles, (Bolstad & Gilbert, 2012), identifies a need for shift (in thinking and approach) due to current "social, economic and technological changes, and the exponentially increasing amount of human knowledge being generated as a result, all in a world with an unprecedented degree of complexity, fluidity and uncertainty." Also, education for the ”Knowledge Age needs to prepare learners for dealing with new situations and environments." Students today can collect information anywhere and anytime, they no longer need us for that (Role of Teachers in the 21st C -  Delafosse, S. (2011)).
Rather, I found that students need guidance around what information they should be consuming, and have opportunities to apply that knowledge, to test, fail, persevere, collaborate, deconstruction, reconstruct and so on. The shift from whole class skill teaching based on the 'just in case' model - to the individual/small group 'just in time' conferencing model has been rewarding and re-energising as together we discover, trial and develop ideation strategies for all ability levels, uncover and develop students’ personal 'styles' of expression and experiment with a variety of media. It is a challenging journey as we become more familiar with ambiguity (Foley 2014), tackling problems that we cannot anticipate beforehand.

Y0 T3 - Acrylic paint

Y0 T3 - Papier Mache

Y0 T3 - Plasticine

Y0 T3 - Stop Motion

Y0 T3 - Wire Sculpture

Y0 T3 - Quiver - Dot Day

Bolstad & Gilbert (2012) noted, while teachers know that "Good learning requires active engagement in the whole game" this is still failing to occur. So by identifying my limitation, e.g. time frames, parent and school-wide expectations, I could better target my research for solutions to support my shift.
According to the The 2Revolutions LLC (2012) video, traditional school models no longer meet the needs of the marketplace as they were designed for a different time. It calls on teachers to be 'designers and see the world as a kit of parts - to reshape and reassemble the best pieces from what is already out there, and create something new and better. By exploring related resources to TAB and Choice, I integrate aspects with a focus on sustainability. If something is too difficult for me or the students to maintain - out it goes. iPads are a Godsend for accessing personalised resources and delivering digital creation options, like photography and Stop Motion. 

I regularly survey classes about whether they prefer the 'personal learning' model, the 'step by step follow me' model or both. Most students choose the personal one with some asking for 'both' option. Recently, one class was overwhelmingly pro the step by step model. On reflection, this class had the hardest time with with ideation.
I learnt over the past 2 terms that students following their own inquiry are far more engaged and require less managing than before. Yet, even in a self-directed learning programme, with all the ideation strategies one can muster, you will still have students who learn best by following structured step by step lessons. Purposeful flipped learning tools have proven successful in supporting these students as they build confidence to strike out on their own.
Twenty-first century ideas about knowledge and learning demand shifts in the traditional roles. By recognising and working with learners' strengths, and supporting the development of each learner's potential, the small shifts that we make in our practice can have exponential benefits for the lives of our students. 

Bolstad, R. & Gilbert, J. (2012). Supporting future-oriented learning and teaching: A New Zealand perspective. New Zealand Council for Educational Research.
2Revolutions LLC (2012) The Future of Learning. Retrieved on November 26, 2017, from
AJ+ (2015). 5 Technologies That Will Change Classroom Education. Retrieved on Novenber 26, 2017, from
Delafosse, S. (2011). Teaching in the 21st Century. Retrieved on November 26, 2017, from
Ted talk for art educators by Foley, . (2014). Tedx Talks: Teaching art or teaching to think like an artist? Retrieved on November 26, 2017, from

With love, as always

Thank you for visiting,

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Mind Lab Week 17 - Reflecting on Reflecting

Activity 1: My Reflective Practice
Create a reflective entry in which you critically evaluate your reflective practice.

Photo by Timea Willemse 28 April 2016

Reflecting on Reflecting:
Reflective practise has always existed in some way, otherwise nothing would have changed, ever. The cool thing about the last 20 years though, has been that the practice of every day teachers has been shared more publicly with advancements in (and growing acceptance of) on-line sharing platforms. No longer is it the domain of the guru in your field, nor does it need to be a lonely introspection. Now, your thoughts can matter to someone too!

I have blogged for years, sometimes to reflect, sometimes to share ideas with others, sometimes to teach, well before it became fashionable. It is now timely to reflect more critically on my practice and share that aspect openly. Why? The benefits are huge. The number of people willing to jump in and support or share is exponential and collaboration can happen across borders (real or imagined).

This openness does frighten some people new to blogging. I too was apprehensive when I started many years ago. Yes there are nasties out there who miss the point of critiquing and jump straight to criticizing, just as there are nasties in your real life too. But that is few and far between. Teachers have connected from across New Zealand and the world. Some have even contacted me, spending time discussing their programmes, asking for support or visiting my room to observe my practice. My blog even helped me to get an interview with my current school. Basically it has replaced my CV.

This week, Mind Lab has provided some interesting resources to support a critical evaluation of one's reflective practice.
North Carolina Teacher Reflection Model - links closely with the Hull Uni video content. Sourced from:

Reading, Finlay's paper about Reflecting on reflective practise confirmed for me that here is an aspect of professional expectation that again gets reduced down to formulae and recipes, to ensure standardisation (sound familiar?). Reflection becomes shallow and rote, simply fulfilling a requirement for ongoing registration.

In fact, critical reflection as a concept, tool, etc. should be researched by individuals in order to gain a personal understanding and relevance, based on where they are at the time. Reflecting critically on one's practice is a purposeful and transformative exercise that improves your practice the more you do it (Hull Uni, Reflective Writing Video). And the more you do it, the better you get at reflecting critically and more deeply, relating it back to research and theory. It is a complex undertaking and varies based in situation, time, emotional connection, experience...I could go on...

So, just start doing it. Committing my experiences and thoughts to text can be cathartic and reduces ruminations which can often be destructive, when involving negative events. Seeing it in writing helps me to distance myself enough to look at it objectively and be open to solutions.
Kolb’s Experiential Learning Model sourced from
Comparing my reflection practice against Zeichner and Liston’s (cited in Finlay, 2008, p.4) five levels of reflection, I would say that 
1) Rapid Reflection is a constant in my day. I teach students from Kindy to Year 6, all with widely divergent needs. If I wasn't aware of this every minute, it would lead to chaos. That is not to say its not exhausting, it is! and some days are better than others. But you get better at it and it becomes automatic. 
2) Repair is an easy one now in my current role as a specialist because not only do I need to respond to issues and repair when possible within the lesson, as I won't see that class again for another few days, but I can modify a planned lesson that has had hiccups with 1 class, before delivering it to the next class. For example, if the way that resources were distributed with class 1 caused a mob effect, I can alter that for the class following on from them. 
3) Reviewing happens when I make notes at the end of each lesson, including thoughts for that class' upcoming lessons, discussions with colleagues are almost daily around students, processes and management issues but not around curricula content.For that, I need to make an effort to visit other schools, or research on-line. I blog regularly when 'life' permits. I say 'life' because it is something that falls outside of work hours (as so much does for our profession). It is also often inspired by something I have seen or read on line or in my teaching day. 
4)Research is cyclic for me and based around what and how I wish to teach upcoming content and regular around practice at the moment due to being on this course. 
5) Re-theorising - I would say I have done this in the past through on-line PLN as new ideas have intrigued me. I am probably approaching the most radical one at the moment due to my research for the Mind Lab assignments as I move from teacher directed model of art lessons (with some limited choice) to more student directed art lessons, embracing the teachings of Choice-based learning and Teaching for Artistic Behaviour. My current mantra is - Teaching artists, not art!
Zeichner and Liston’s (cited in Finlay, 2008, p.4)
  1. "Rapid reflection - immediate, ongoing and automatic action by the teacher.
  2. Repair – in which a thoughtful teacher makes decisions to alter their behaviour in response to students’ cues.
  3. Review – when a teacher thinks about, discusses or writes about some element of their teaching.
  4. Research – when a teacher engages in more systematic and sustained thinking over time, perhaps by collecting data or reading research.
  5. Retheorizing and reformulating – the process by which a teacher critically examines their own practice and theories in the light of academic theories.”
In conclusion I'll sum up using images from my recent artistic explorations, into action art.

Read, watch, look up from your practice and be inspired by what is around you.

 Jump in and try things, have a go!

Sometimes it will turn into a mess and you'll think - what the heck have I started here!

But then...stop, reflect (critically as you grow and evolve), and try it again with a few tweaks.

Who knows, you may create something beautiful. But you'll never know unless you first try!

Finlay, L. (2008). Reflecting on reflective practice. PBPL. Retrieved from
SkillsTeamHullUni. (2014, March 3). Reflective writing.[video file]. Retrieved from 

With love, as always

Thank you for visiting,

Monday, November 13, 2017

Update on Little Hoot

Update on Little Hoot - He Ruru Aniwaniwa

Well, my prayers have been answered. My beautiful Y5 students returned from camp, full of magic this week and bounced into the room to complete their Little Hoot.
I think you'll agree, they have done an awesome job.

I simply trusted in the process and allowed them to design, collaborate and create it 100% by themselves. Totally scary for something so public and knowing that they will be exhibited beside school submissions where adults have 'tidied up' the student work.
Today we had tours going through the school while the last group was finishing up and they spoke so eloquently about what they were doing...proud mama moment right there! Sniff!

What are your thoughts about adults correcting children's artwork?
Interesting article on Art of Ed that I read earlier this week. Click this link if you're interested

And I love this image too. Have it displayed in my classroom. 
Would love to read your thoughts below.

With love as always

Thank you for visiting,

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Post-graduate study with Mind Lab

Hello friends,

This has been a quiet year for blogging reflections because I have not only renovated my house from top to bottom but also signed up for post-graduate study with Mind Lab - nutty as a squirrel, some might say :)

The Mind Lab explains the course on their website as follows:

Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital & Collaborative Learning)
This is a Level 8, 60 credit programme that consists of the following four integrated course components, each worth 15 credits

1.Digital and Collaborative Learning in Context – 15 credits
2.Leadership in Digital and Collaborative Learning – 15 credits
3.Research and Community Informed Practice – 15 credits
4.Applied Practice in Context – 15 credits
For further details you can check out their website at
I have just completed the first 16 weeks of face-to-face workshops and about to start the next 16 weeks which is taken on-line.

The first section included 4 assignment submissions and I will be posting those up as I reflect on my learning.

Hope you find some of these ideas useful or even challenging. Would love to hear about your perspective, thoughts or questions too so feel free to comment below.

With love as always

Thank you for visiting,

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Little Hoot for Child Cancer Foundation Part 1

He Ruru Aniwaniwa (the Rainbow Owl)
Earlier this year our school sadly lost a wonderful young man to cancer so this year the Little Hoot fund-raising drive is especially pertinent for us.
The school purchased our Little Hoot ages ago. He finally arrived at the end of T3 and sat in my classroom doorway, ruffling its feathers, waiting for its coat of many colours.


This term is crazy busy and I genuinely despair at how we were going to accomplish an exhibition worthy piece in 6 weeks particularly as I am currently working with little Y1 and 2 students in Visual Art Specialist time.
Our wonderful Y5 team came to the rescue - allowing me to steal students in small batches from each class. We sneakily wove it onto their inquiry unit about How We Express Ourselves and the students have risen to the challenge.

Their first designs were on a paper stencil supplied by CCF. After a quick meeting and brief discussion, students started their designs and completed them for homework. 2 days later we reviewed their ideas and selected elements  from everyone's plans to incorporate

The main themes coming through were to create an uplifting design that made people smile.

They based their designs on the rainbow because for them the colours each represent an idea, like red for love, orange for joy, yellow for caring, green for healing, blue for hope, indigo for peace and violet for courage. The cluster of hearts and vines on the front show all the people that gather to help a child. Traditional patterns (still to be added) identify with their New Zealand heritage and stars (also still to come) symbolise the value of perseverance.

It sure is an interesting experience and one where I have had to be 100 % hands off, as I am in the middle of post graduate study where student / young artist agency is my research focus. Great timing hey?

However the collaborative conversation and problem solving that I am privy to as I pretend to be 'tidying up' my classroom or cleaning brushes for them, is incredible. They are growing so much!!

Here are a few progress pics so far...

They are away at camp next week so we only have a week left to complete. Living on a prayer here!!


Thank you for visiting,