Friday, 31 January 2014

Leaving Voice Comments to Google Docs via Kaizena

This post was prompted by Hazel Owen's post here. New technologies should make it much easier for all our students to access their learning effectively. Universal Design for Learning is one of the key terms I am trying to understand and apply: How can we design learning environments and learning aexperiences to meet the needs of all our learners? I have shared a presentation on Google Forms for UDL with colleagues before, but we can also adjust Google Docs to meet needs of some of our learners better.

If your students are writing text in Google Docs, you can leave written comments in Google Docs. Using an app like Kaizena, you can also leave voice comments. Why use it? Do you students find it hard / boring to read your comments? Would you like to give your comments some personal touches? Try this:

Installing Kaizena:
  • Go to My Drive, click on Create.
  • Select connect more apps at the bottom.
  • In the new window, type voice into the search bar. Choose Kaizena, then click on connect.
Using Kaizena:
  • Select the Google Doc you would like to leave a voice comment for.
  • Right click it (Command click on a Mac?). Select Open with, Kaizena.
  • The GDoc now opens within Kaizena (it has a dark side bar on the left and the fonts look a little different, but the GDoc remains the same in Google Drive)
  • Select who to send the comment to (within the side bar)
  • Highlight any area within the document and you get a little Menu with options:
         You can leave a voice comment, a written comment or attach some links / resources.

  • By clicking on the green button above the highlighted area, you can review your feedback or add some more. While you are recording, you can scroll through the document though it pays to tell the recipient that you are scrolling while recording because the voice comment itself is linked to the area you had highlighted.
  • When you are finished, select the button "Send Feedback to" in the left side bar. You get the choice of adding it to the GDoc as comment or emailing it.
  • The feedback will be visible under comments back in the Doc in Google Drive:

If you would like to hear my ramblings on above doc, you can find it here. Please feel free to share some ways of how you use Kaizena or another voice comment app :)

The challenges of virtual meetings

Some light humour (yet so true) for the weekend; anyone who, like me, takes part in many virtual meetings, will be able to relate to this! Thanks to Hazel Owen who found this video via Allanah King and shared it on Virtual Professional Development!

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Teaching as Inquiry / Professional Inquiry

Teaching as Inquiry is not a new approach; it is part of effective pedagogy and describes the way good educators plan effective programmes for their learners. This diagram explains it a bit more, and for yet more information follow above link:
In our work with LwDT, our schools and the teacher at these schools apply the TaI process to their practise, asking themselves questions like "How can we use devices to support our students who are not achieving in writing yet?" etc. As facilitators we are asked to set ourselves inquiries relating to our practise also. I have decided that for this year I will make my inquiry very transparent and share my thoughts and findings on my blog. There are a number of reasons for this:
  • I can collate everything in one place
  • Putting it in writing and out there for anyone to see will make me think a lot harder about it
  • The possible audience might keep me on my toes to work on it more regularly.
  • My inquiring might inspire other educators to inquire into their practise also
  • While I wouldn't say that my way is the perfect way, at least it could model one way to other 'inquirers'.

My topic is Challenging Conversations. I am not a fan of challenging conversations, in fact I would much rather we all just got on with each other. But the reality is we don't, and while there are times when it is better to 'let something go', but when it is about students and their learning we should never let things go. There are a number of occassions in my professional life when I should have had a challening conversation with someone and didn't; it's about time that I did something about this.

At this point in time I am thinking about structuring my inquiry in 3 parts:
  • What are challenging conversations? How do they come about, why? How do we decide when to have a challening conversation and when to 'let it go'?
  • The conversation itself: When, how, what? How do we prepare ourselves for them - both the person leading and the person responding?
  • The 'aftermath': What happens after, in both positive and negative outcomes of that conversation?
We have had a fantastic session with Joan Dalton and David Anderson this month on Partnership - What it takes to work with others and I am looking forward to using some of the skills I have learnt and the resources they have mentioned as part of my inquiry this year.

I am looking forward to hearing from anyone about their inquiry or about their experience with challenging conversations!


Have you ever taken a MOOC - Massive Open Online Course? I have just enrolled into Coursera's Gamification MOOC. @kwerb - Kevin Werbach (Associate Professor of Legal Studies & Business Ethics The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania) - has posted the first few video lectures. Being new to this, I am impressed by the presentation and by the quality of the videos (I'm still hoping for fast internet here one day!).
The syllabus sounds very interesting:

  1. What is Gamification? (Video Released: January 27th)
  2. Games (Video Released: February 3rd)
  3. Game Thinking (Video Released: February 10th)
  4. Game Elements (Video: February 17th)
  5. Psychology and Motivation I: Behaviorism (Video Released February 24th)
  6. Psychology and Motivation II: Beyond Behaviorism (Video Released February 24th)
  7. Gamification Design Framework (Video Released March 3rd)
  8. Design Choices (Video Released March 3rd)
  9. Enterprise Gamification (Video Released March 10th)
  10. Social Good and Behavior Change (Video Released March 10th)
  11. Critiques and Risks (Video Released March 17th)
  12. Beyond the Basics (Video Completed March 24th)

I am a little worried about the time limits for the quizzes and the final exam, fitting it all into my days, but I will try!!! If you are also interested in Gamification and want to give it a try (after all, it is a free course unless you want to sign up to Signature Track for US$49), you can still sign up, so come and join @madmacnz (Carol Kendall) and I!

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Blogging Meme #5

If you have beenr eading my Blogging Meme posts, you must know me better than I know myself by now! I didn't know I was that popular ;) thanks to @melulater, here are my answers:

1) What is your favourite movie of all time?
I always loved "Milch und Schokolade", originally "Romuald et Juliette". There is just something about the love story between a rich, lovely yet very impractical and inconsiderate man and a very smart mum of five who cleans his offices, solves crimes and 'sorts him out' :) I don't think there is an English version.
2) Who was your favourite teacher as a child and why?
I often said I became a teacher because I didn't like school - and I wasn't an easy student though academically I did well. There are some I remember very fondly, especially my former flute teacher now friend Hanna :)
3) If you could combine any two animals in the world, which ones would you combine and why?
Just this morning I thoughthow much we humans are destroying in this world - I am really missing the bees for pollinating my veggie garden! So I think rather than creating new ones, I wish I could bring some of the extinct ones back!
4) If you won Lotto Powerball, what would be the first thing you would do after the money went into your bank account?
Ring the bank manager to pay off the mortgage! (so sensible...)
5) You're Prime Minister for the day - what one thing would you do?
One day is not enough to have a long lasting impact of course, but I think it would be great to listen to our young people for what their dreams, hopes, aspirations and ideas are.
6) Which food/meal from your childhood haunts you still today?
Soup! There are very few soups I like, and definitely not vegetable soup, tomatoe soup, potatoe soup {gag}. My mum also tried to make us eat liver which inevitably ended up dry as leather and stank the house out - but maybe my mind is playing tricks on me?
7) In all your travels, in New Zealand or overseas, your favourite place and why was....?
Warm places with lots of nature and with water: Rarotonga, Far North of New Zealand, Coromandel, wet tropics of Northern Queensland...
8) Which song or artist always puts you in your happy place?
I like unusual voices but despit my music teacher past I have a really poor memory for names of artists and songs, sorry!
9) If your house was on fire, what three items would you save if that was all you could take?
My kids and husband, everything else can be replaced!
10) As an educationalist, what was one of your most satisfying moments?
When Tane gave me a hug on his last day of Intermediate School :)
When I did reviews with my BeL schools at the end of last year and they had all made such great progress!
When one of my Correspondence School students wrote me a thank you note after we got him out of his funk and into Natcoll!
Everytime I see the little light bulb above someone's head! (oops, that's a few moments lol)
11) What do you look for in a leader at your school/education facility?
Building relationships. Listening skills. Vision. Collaboration. Creativity. Walk the talk. Sound pedagogy. Life-long learner. (if I think some more, the list will become longer and longer!)

Thanks Melanie, this has been fun!

Friday, 17 January 2014

Blogging Meme #4

There is no getting away from this lol Thanks @Simone015! As with the previous two #Bloggingmeme posts, just answers:

1) What is the best thing about being a teacher?
Making a difference!!!!!

2) What is currently the most challenging aspect of being a teacher?
Work load and lack of appreciation.

3) Cats or dogs? Why?
I have always been a cat person, they have been my first babies lol Independent, resourceful, cuddly (but unfortunately also cruel predators...). We have had a few dogs, our last dog died just before Christmas; I miss her, but we are not sure that we want to get another one in a hurry

4) Name three things you have on your bucket list?
Hmm, haven't really thought of a bucket list yet... I have never been to Asia, or to the Americas, or to Africa. I will ponder this some more....

5) How would you describe your ultimate holiday?
With my family, in a warm climate, lots opportunity for swimming (beach or pool), some sightseeing, not too posh. Ultimately the boys would not argue, complain or whine... well, dreams are free

6) What's the funniest or most interesting thing a child has ever told you?
Can I write this hear? I went to The Warehouse the other day to buy school shoes for Master 11y, a little girl in the same aisle told her mother very loudly that she was not wearing underwear (the girl that is) - oh the innocence of little children!

7) If there was one subject you didn't have to teach, what would it be and why?
PE and Puberty Education. Too unfit for the first and simply not confident I could tackle the second sensibly.

8) What is your favourite quote?
Lots of favourite quotes - e.g. see my Dr. Seuss post ;)

9) What do you normally do on the first day of the school year?
I have only had one proper 'first day of school' in many years due to the various roles I have held, and that was when I was the Technology Teacher so I didn't have a class - sorry!

10) Summer or winter? Why?
Summer!!!! Had enough cold winters growing up in Germany...

11) If you were a principal for a day what would you do?
Ultimately as a principal I would want to build positive relationships between all people involved with the learning at my school, and that would take a lot longer than one day....

Thanks, Simone, has been fun :)

Inserting Hyperlinks into Google Spreadsheets

@msbeenz asked on twitter last night how to insert hyperlinks into her Google Spreadsheet. You can simply past the long website address into a cell, but this looks untidy and often does not make it clear what the link is referring to. There is no 'Insert Link' button in the menu like for Google Docs or on Blogger, so if you want a word / phrase to hyperlink, you have to resort to entering the following formula into the cell:

=HYPERLINK("website address";"word/phrase to display")

To give you an example, if you want to have Google appear in a cell of your spreadsheet, you enter into the cell:
=HYPERLINK ("";"Google")

Or if you would like to show the link to our Blogging Meme Participants Document by @HelenOfTroy01, you enter into the cell:
=HYPERLINK ("";"Blogging Meme Participants")

Here you can find an example in a Google Spreadsheet.

I would like to acknowledge this Google Help page where I found the answer to Claire's question :)

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Getting my work brain going with some GAFE

Getting my work brain going again is harder than I though - 3 1/2 weeks can be a LOOOONNNNGGGG time lol.

Just a couple of quick notes to do with GAFE to warm up my brain:

Sharing Docs and Folders in Google Drive (this particular post is for when you are NOT using Hapara Teacher Dashboard):

Documents that others have shared with you can be found under "Shared with me". However, not all documents are visible straight away, my understanding is that you only see those that have been shared with your Google Account, but not the ones available to 'anyone with the link'. To find those, you need to type the title in the search bar at the top:

If you would like to easily find a particular document again, you can add it to your Google Drive PROVIDED it was shared with your Google Account. To check if it has been shared with your account, you go to Share and look for your name - if it is not there, just add yourself to it. When you now select this document, you see the option Add to My Drive at the top, click it.

Now this document will be available in your Google Drive, and within that you can move it into a folder etc. (though if you delete it, I understand it is gone from the owner's original location also).

If you regularly share documents with someone, it is a good idea to add a whole folder to My Drive, so automatically all docs within that folder are available in your Google Drive. For that the owner shares the folder with you which you find in Shared with Me just like Docuemtnes, Spreadsheets etc. Note: With that, the folder owner can still select to NOT share a document within the folder they have created (see below).

Example: You create a folder "Literacy" and share it with each of your students. They find it under Shared with Me, select it and Add it to My Drive. This folder is now available in their Google Drives. Within that folder you might have current resources, homework, task sheets etc. which they can all see. Also, you could have a document / Google Form 'Assessment'. If you set the Sharing Permissions for 'Assessment' to Private, only you will see it until such time as you change the settings to share it with your students (e.g. at the end of the unit). One word of caution, I belief that when you create a new document within that folder, it will automatically use the Sharing Permissons of that folder, so double check these just in case.

To go with this topic, you might at times want to create a task sheet that your students need to fill in as they go. If you are not using Google Forms (which I highly recommend!), you might want to create a Google Doc that you share / have in the shared folder. To ensure that not every students is just typing over the top of each other in your Master Copy, set the Sharing Settings to "View Only". That means your students open the document, then go to File, select Make a copy (which they will be the owner of) and use this to complete your task. Remember to teach them good systems of naming, renaming, where to keep their files and how to share it back with you.

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Blogging Meme #3

And here we go again lol a third tag, this time by the lovely @AKeenReader from Wellington:) As before I will just answer the questions, tags and my questions are here

1) Who has been a colleague (past or present) that you have regarded as a mentor?

The then DP at my last teaching job, Dallas Mapp. She has always been there for me when the going got tough and helped me believe in myself.
2) What is your favourite NZ native bird, and why?
The Tui of course (after all I'm calling myself the BeLchick)
3) What was your favourite book as a child?
Einen Loeffel fuer Luise - I still can recite most of the rhymes like "einen fuer die gruene Wiese, einen fuer den Osterhas, der auf dieser Wiese sass". When mum did a big clean out, she found the tattered copy, with a few pages missing, which I treasure.
4) Worst job ever!  What was it?
Ironing in a blouse factory.... nowadays only use my iron for patchwork / quilting!!!
5) What’s the icebreaker question or activity you use to get to know someone?
This year I have been doing "Hello, my name is Monika, I'm a Techoholic" and then invited other people to share their 'additictions'. I've also done 'three items of technology I couldn't live without'.
6) Best person to follow on Twitter for one of your passions?
I only started on Twitter back in March but I am completely hooked. Lots of great people to follow on twitter! My Golden Tweeters were @mrs_hyde, @Allanahk and @kasseylee1. I have quite a few passions I follow, namely gamification, Minecraft and then anything else to do with my job as e-learning facilitator. My quilting follows are an add-on :)
7) What is your least favourite household chore?
Am I allowed to say all of them??? Window cleaning never seems to happen to be honest. Cleaning toilets only because they need to be cleaned. Don't have enough time to dust. Note to self: Need to catch up with the new cleaner this week!!!
8) What’s one lesson/activity/unit that you really look forward to teaching?
Love demonstrating vocabulary extension with digital photograph and Popplet :)
9) Fly first class to your overseas destination and have a little less spending money, or fly ‘cattle class’ and have a little more in your pocket?
Always cattle class - I have three kids, remember, they probably wouldn't let me into first class with them even if I paid for it!!!
10) What’s a web tool or app that you’ve come across recently that you’d heartily recommend to others?
Have a look at - I can see huge potential, I hope one of my teachers will pick it up and trial it thoroughly so I can observe :) Also watch out for the 'Write about this' iPad app, there will be a Kiwi version in the near future...
11) If you hosted a dress-up party, what theme would you choose, and why?
Dress-up parties at our house have been mainly for kids so far! I went to a 80s parties this year, but I think if I had a dress-up party for adults, I would possibly make it 70s for the crazy styles and the music I grew up with (my parents were quite young when they had me).

Thanks, Philippa!

Friday, 10 January 2014

Blogging Meme #2

Thanks to getting a second tag by @MsBeenz,  here is my Blogging Meme #2. I am taking the liberty to just answering Claire's questions here, please feel free to read my 11 random facts and the bloggers I have tagged here.

1) What is your favourite book?
I have lots of favourite books, I often read more than one at a time. These holidays I have been reading a few young adult dystopian novels which were really enjoyable.

2) What is your most precious device?
My iPhone goes everywhere with me. My iPad Mini lives in my handbag, except right now because I forgot it at my friends' place, so it will be a few days before I get it back :( The most expensive is my MacBook Air which I am starting to explore.

3) iPad or Android tablets?
iPads - simply because I know them better. 

4) What do you consider the most valuable thing you own?
I don't really 'own them' but it's my family :) (and my 3 boys do cost me 'an arm and a leg', too LOL)

5) What is your favourite way to waste time?
In the morning rather than getting up on time I lie in bed checking my emails, FB, tweets, blogs and my Smurf Village :) !

6) If a movie was being made about you who would you choose to play you and why?
A friend just introduced me to The Middle - the mother, played by Patricia Heaton, sounded just like my life!

7) If you could have an endless supply of food what would that be?
Fresh sourdough bread with butter and yummy toppings....

8) What's the best holiday you've been on?
10 days in a small campervan with the whole family travelling along the Queensland coast in 2012.

9) What's the worst haircut you've ever had?
Don't remind me!!! Late 80's perm...

10) What three things do you love most about your best friend?
1) Trustworthy 2) Funny 3) Always there for me

11) What is your favourite smell and what memory does it remind you of?
The smells of summer - summer flowers, cut grass / hey, the fresh smell of the soil after a rain; I LOVE SUMMER!

Thanks heaps, @MsBeenz!

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Blogging Meme

Starting off the new year with a blogging meme which was started by @vanschaijik on twitter, then passed on to @1MvdS to @PalmyTeacher who tagged me lol. Rules are:
  • Acknowledge the nominating blogger.
  • Share 11 random facts about yourself.
  • Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
  • List 11 bloggers.
  • Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer, and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated.  Don't nominate a blogger who has nominated you.
A good opportunity to try out my new MacBookAir ;) #moredevicesthanbrains in this house... (my non-techoholic friends just shake their heads, but there will be a few techoholics out there like me who will understand... I hope...)

Thanks Sonya, Marnel van der Spuy, and Stephen Baker for tagging me ;)

Here are 11 random facts about me:
  1. I grew up in a small town in Germany.
  2. I met my husband while we were both playing in an orchestra
  3. Most of my / our time before coming to New Zealand was spent playing (and teaching) music yet:
  4. None of our three sons play an instrument
  5. At school I learnt Latin for 8 years (complete waste of time in my opinion) and English for 5 years
  6. I also went to Hungarian classes as an adult.
  7. While I did quite well academically, I disliked school and chose to become a teacher because of this
  8. "Techoholic" must be a genetic condition: My late dad was known in our family as 'Mr. Excel', my mum has a qualification in multimedia design and my younger brother has lived on the computer for as long as I can remember. I am married to a former network administrator, my oldest son wants to be a programmer, and right now the youngest wants to work in gaming.
  9. I have had 10 education related jobs since coming to NZ almost 17 years ago (I think!)
  10. In my free time I quilt (and blog at
  11. My house keeping skills are very limited (or maybe just poorly practised??)
Answers to Stephen's questions:
  1. Favourite memory as a child - spending time with the kids in our semi-rural neighbourhood, roaming the streets, orchards, fields, coming home only for meals :)
  2. If I could, I would live in a place of eternal summer - nothing colder than the Far North of New Zealand will do! While the children still depend on us, it would be (unlike now) close to an urban centre with choices and opportunities for their education and out-of-school activities plus choices of jobs for us. Once they no longer depend on us, rural (like now) would be fine again.
  3. Favourite person: I am not sure I have just one! There's lots of people I like and admire, in different fields and for different reasons! Love my hubby - he is definitely No. 1: He works hard (at work and at home), does anything he can to support me e.g. when I have to go away for work, and keeps me with my feet on the ground when I come up with silly ideas :)
  4. Most inspiring teachers: There have been a few, usually women, usually older than me, often started out as superior / teacher / tutor and ended up becoming my friends. The first one was Hanna Feist, my flute tutor, who also influenced my thinking a lot. I was lucky to catch up with her when I went back to Germany in July (first time in 12 years).
  5. Change one thing about your work place: I wish I wouldn't have to spend so much time on the road!!!
  6. 3 favourite apps: Popplet, Puppet Pals HD, Write about this (watch this space...)
  7. If I won 1 Mio. Dollars... I would have to think about this lol. I absolutely love the work, but there are times when it is very hard to juggle it with family life (see qus 2 & 5!)
  8. Spare time - what is that?? I love being creative, I try to spend a lot of time in my sewing room. I need to spend more time with the kids while they are 'little' (9, 11 and 13), and I have started doing some much needed exercise.
  9. Most proud of hmmm... the obvious one to say would be my children, but I think it's more than that. I was a difficult teenager, and mum said at some stage there were times when she despaired if any of us would ever amount to anything lol. I think my husband and I can be proud of what we have achieved, moved half-way around the world, built up our life here, have a beautiful home, 3 great sons, are in jobs we enjoy :) I have no aspirations of being famous (though rich would sound quite nice lol), just to be happy and do well at what I am doing - so I think I can be proud of this.
  10. Dinner with 3 people: Barack Obama, Nelson Mandela, Kate Sheppard. I think there would be fascinating dinner conversations!
  11. 3 things I want to achieve in 2014: Better work-life balance, loose weight & get fitter, greater job certainty!
Now it's your turn! I tag @CatrionaPene, @kasseylee11, @mrs_hyde, @TeahuaPark, @EstherC, @gmacmanus, @PascalDresse, @ReidHns1, @traintheteacher, @CaroBush, @DianaWilkes. Sorry if you have already been tagged, working on my #11 (work-life balance) hence not following twitter all that closely at the moment!
Looking forward to reading your answers!

Oops, I almost forgot my questions:
1) What do you remember about your first day at school?
2) What made your favourite teacher your favourite?
3) Which skill you learnt at school do you find most useful?
4) How do you switch off from work?
5) Think of your most memorable students: What is the gender balance between those you remember for good and those you remember for less good reasons?
6) What advice do you give a young person at the verge of choosing your profession?
7) What can you do to overcome your currently greatest challenge at work?
8) Why do you tweet and blog?
9) What is the most important thing you learnt from using social media for professional purposes?
10) If you went to Mars, which 3 people would you take?
11) Please share a book title you are currently reading and give it a rating out of 10 (1=awful, 10=awesome)