Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Maurie's Sabbatical in UK

This is not a self-portrait! Click here to see photos of sabbatical in London and Liverpool up until 29 July


A Second Day In The City

Despite the disappointment of not being able to visit Hatfield House there were still plenty of old buildings to look at. We decided to train into the city and do a walking tour. Fortunately we had enough time to walk up Oxford St again for Leigh to buy some clothes suitable for Barcelona and Penang. I don't enjoy shopping in a crowd.

We then met our tour guide outside Westminster Underground and began our tour in the shadow of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament.

We then trundled past the House of Lords.

We then visited Westminster Abby.

We then strolled around St James Park where we could view Windsor Castle at the far end and then finished our tour as the Queen's Horses were doing their daily dismount for offending Victoria a few years ago.

We then walked over the Hungerford Bridge for a quick snack before heading home for, most probably, an early night as we have a big day on the briney tomorrow.

A Day in The City

Tuesday 29 July
We're having another slow start today after another hot day doing lots and a late night.

Meg went off to work while we surfaced and pottered around here, finally leaving at about 10.30 to catch some breakfast in Surbiton before training into Waterloo. We wandered along the Thames Path to the Tate Modern, but before we got there we checked out a gallery of Pink Floyd Album Prints.

We went into the Tate and paid 10GBP! to view a photographic display entitled Street and Studio which “explored the urban photographic portrait through the parallel development of its two important sites: the street and the studio.” It was great. And i had the nicest espresso since leaving home.

We then successfully navigated the subway system to arrive near Hyde Park. We walked along Piccadilly to view the very impressive New Zealand and Australian memorials there. Both good, but ours better.

We then wandered through Hyde Park and scoffed a hot dog while lying in the shade. It was another scorcher!

We then wrestled our way down Oxford St, caught the tube and went to Vinopolis.

At Vinopolis we got a 20 minute tutorial on how to taste wine and then a self guided tour around the venue which describes the history of wine and the different regions around the world. While you are doing this you can taste up to 5 wines, but I got 6 because Leigh was a bit slow. I tried Italian and Spanish to prepare for the next stage of the trip, but the best was a Waipara Dog Paddock Bordeaux style wine. The tour finished with a Bombay Sapphire Cocktail. Thankfully we couldn't afford the full tour which also included tastings of beer, rum, whiskey, champagne and absinthe.

We found our way to a train where we met Meg and her work mate, Julie. After a couple of train trips (very packed) and a bus trip we arrived at Kevin's for a BBQ. It was great to see him again. He had just returned that day from a work trip to Nashville.

He cooked up some hamburgers and sausages while receiving lots of advice and we knocked back quite a few beers. I had bought some Czech beers to continue my education after having drunk an Indian red wine earlier at Vinapolis (not a Red Indian wine!).

We then had a spectacular thunder and lightning show and the heavens opened so we headed inside and had a couple of very nice whiskeys. I especially liked the Jura. At about 2.00am we decided to stumble home in the rain.

This morning we were planning to visit Hatfield House because Meg has always wanted to visit there. This is the house where Liz 1 was when she found out she was to be Queen. We've just found out it is closed on Tuesday's! We're now planning.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Hot Walk to Richmond

It has been a scorcher of a day and we have returned to the flat quite knackered. Just before 11.00 we set off walking towrds the Thames which we followed for several kilometres to Richmond. This was quite a walk in very strong heat with us getting hungrier and hungrier. The walk went through Kingston and Teddington where we watched the locks in action as boats passed through and then ended up in Richmond. There were 100s of people out walking, biking, picnicing and boating.

We ended up in a pub in Richmond town for lunch and a beer before walking bck to a pub on the river bank for another beer and race to the ferry which took us to Kingston and our final walk to Surbiton.

I promptly fell asleep reading the Sunday papers. I'll be inter4sted in finding out today's temperature

Just found out it was 30!

Posting photos is a it more awkward as I have to move them to Meg's computer. Will post some later.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


We've had a very full day today. We started by leaping on the Hop On Hop Off Bus for a one hour city tour. We got off the bus at the Beatles Centre and managed to get the last 4 seats on a bus tour of Beatles sights. We had a great guide who appeared to know Paul McCartney well and claimed to play John Lennon's best mate in the NBC film on the Beatles.

We stopped outside George Harrison's house, Strawberry Fields. Paul McCartney's house and in Penny Lane. It was a very informative tour. We ended up in the Cavern Club, had a beer and bought a few souvenirs.

The Beatles have certainly put this place on the map!

We then raced down to the Mersey River and jumped on for a one hour Ferry ride on the Mersey. After that we ambled along the docks and had an audio guided tour of the Beatles Museum. This was outstanding.

After a nice feed on the water front we ambled home just before 9.00pm.

Friday, July 25, 2008

In The UK

It's Thursday night in Liverpool and seems an age ago when we left the USA. Our train trip was uneventful and we made Boston airport with plenty of time to spare and our flight was delayed an hour!

Lufthansa is a very uncomfortable airline. We were crushed into two seats at the back for our 8 hour flight to Frankfurt. The only saving grace was the very friendly and humorous steward who kept us entertained.

After a 3 hour wait we were stuffed on another Lufthansa flight of 1 ½ hours to Heathrow. Terry decided to check in to an airport hotel rather than lug his bags into Megs on two buses then repeat it in reverse the next morning to meet his wife Dallas and then pick up the rental and drive to Liverpool.

It was very sad parting company with Terry at the airport after three weeks sharing our lives together. I successfully managed two buses to meet Leigh at the bus stop near her sister Meg's place.

After two hours sleep Leigh dragged me into Surbiton for a coffee which waqs the nicest coffee I had had in three weeks. We then jumped on the train to Waterloo and walked along the riverbank past Tate Modern (see photos on previous blog), past the Globe and acrossa bridge and back down the other side to the Tate where we waited for Meg to finish work. It was great to see her again and to give her a big hug from Lucy.

We wandered through Liverpool to a Greek restaurant then trained back to Surbiton. We then rearranged our bags to take the minimum to Liverpool and crashed quite early as the effects of jet lag took over.

After an early rise we leapt on our two buses and returned to Heathrow where Dallas had just arrived. We then completed the complicated procedures involved in finding our car rental firm and then finding our car and then getting out of the carpark.

We had clear instructions to follow and two maps to get to Liverpool. We missed our first motorway exchange, but found ourselves on a lesser road which seemed OK. Dallas then decided we would cut across country to a wee village called Chipping Norton for lunch. This involved us taking several wrong turns and finding ourselves haeding back to London. It was difficult as I was the only authorised driver and I was the best navigator. Once I looked at the map I plotted our route and we were able to enjoy a British pub lunch.

We then hit the motorway to Liverpool and, following Terry's directions, took the long way around Birmingham! I was getting a bit sleepy so we stopped for a coffee. We rang our appartments and they gave us clear instructions to get to them. We began by leaving the motorway at the wrong place and after a bit of bold and decisive driving ended up back on the M62 and finally took the correct exit.

It should have been simple from here! We got lost and took several U Turns before stumbling across our apartments. We have a very nice place with great views over parts of this very old city. It was a relief to be here.

Dallas was pretty shattered from her flight so we wandered into town for a feed (pretty average pub meal) and meandered back and stumbled across the area known as The Cavern, which is where the Beatles began playing. This area was just starting to liven up for the night but we resisted and went back to crash.

The lovely view outside my window became a curse as the beautiful church tower with clock chimed every 15 minutes and seagulls squawked all night.

After a bit of a sleep in we moseyed on down the street for a “full English Breakfast” and then headed to the Information Centre to collect tour type information where we stumbled across the Beatles Shop. Bloody expensive!

We left Leigh there to continue exploring while Terry, Dallas and I returned to the apartments, got changed and tackled the journey to Knowsley to meet up with David Roscoe at the City Learning Centre. We arrived an hour early so set off on a coffee hunt. This was a difficult hunt. We came across a golf club where we ordered a ham toasted sandwhich and coffee to be presented with 2 pieces of toast with cold ham in between and an instant coffee!

We turned up at the City Learning Centre to be met by David who was a lovely man who gave us over 3 hours of his time. He is overseeing the programme of reducing the 10 secondary schools in Knowsley to 7, the construction of 7 new schools on the sites, the appointment of the seven principals, their deputies and the teaching staff and, most importantly, the introduction of the new pedagogy that will need to be adopted by all to be able to teach in the new facilities. What an amazing project to lead!

He has overseen a lot of research to decide on what principles should drive the curriculum, the type of pedagogy that is necessary when guided by these principles, and the type of teaching spaces and furniture that is necessary. They are motivated by the kids' desire to be treated like VIPs and to have nice furniture. The principles and pedagogy they have decided on are remarkably similar to those identified in the NZ Curriculum. All we need now are the new buildings!

I'm even more determined to try to make the case for our school to be rebuilt. The limitations of our learning spaces will prove to be a barrier to delivering personalised learning.

We left there on a high totally confident we could make our way back to Liverpool and our digs. At the first intersection we found ourselves on the M62 heading further away from Liverpool. After quite a distance we were able to leave the M62 and rejoin it on the correct side and head back towards Liverpool.

However, once again we missed a key intersection in peak hour traffic and travelled around the block to find our apartment.

After a bit of a rest we headed in to town where we had a great Italian meal and planned the next day, our last full day in Liverpool. We plan to take the City Bus Tour, spend time at places of interest, take a 'Ferry On The Mersey' and then take a Beatles Tour ending at the Cavern. It is my desire to end the evening dancing to the Beatles in The Cavern. I hope to find some companions to do so.

UK Photos

The Tate Gallery and poster of street art with Leigh at the bottom.

Self portrait of Terry? Tate Gallery.

Leigh and Meg on the train.

Dallas, Leigh and Terry with Eleanor Rigby in Liverpool

Quick Update

Have done a lot of travelling last few days and have had little opportunity to keep the diary up to date and to blog. I'll try to catch up over the next few hours.

Since the last post we arrived in London after a very long dat getting there from New York, via Boston and Frankfurt. I caught up with Leigh at Megs and after a couple of hours sleep she dragged me out by train to London where we walked from Waterloo down the river and back again until Meg finished work. We then had a feed at a Greek Restaurant and arrived exhausted back at her place.

The next morning Leigh and I were up to catch the bus to Heathrow where we met Terry and Dallas, picked up a rental car and headed to Liverpool. We got lost once on the way as we searched for an out of the way village for lunch. We finally reached Liverpool and got absolutely confused in peak hour traffic before we stumbled across our apartments.

We had a quick walk around town for a slack pub meal before heading back through the Cavern area (Beatles) and an early crash. This morning we walked around the Dock area and picked up information leaflets, left Leigh there and Terry, Dallas and I drove to Knowsley to have an awesome visit with David Roscoe about Building Schools for the Future. He is a passionate man who is at the cutting edge of leading a whole region in rebuilding schools and requiring a new pedagogy.

Once again we got a bit lost on return and headed off in the wrong direction on the M62. We made it back!

Monday, July 21, 2008

Brooklyn Bridge

This morning we took the subway and walked over the Brooklyn Bridge.

The Blue Note Jazz Club

We had a great night out in New York at the famous Blue ote Jazz Club where we were entertained by Chuck Mangione. Outstanding! Unfortunately we didn't arrive in the limo above. This is the best photo I could get of the bar. The bottom photo is Terry in the NY subway which is a very interesting place.

Rockefeller Tower

The bottom picture shows the Rockefeller Centre. We went to the top where we got these great views of Central Park (where we ran to and in for an hour this morning) and the great view of the skyline with Empire State Building featuring.
Leigh should be somewhere in the air on the way to London. I got a text from Lucy when Leigh left Whakatane so I texted to ask how she was feeling with Leigh leaving. Her reply was, “hungry”. That's my girl!

Terry and I dodged the last couple of sessions at conference as we were a bit overflowing with new stuff. I'm even more determined to assist staff at Opotiki College to develop a blog site in Term IV with the intention of having them create them in 2009 for all of their classes. Then those who really get into it will develop the use of RSS and Bookmarks with their classes.

I also want to talk with Adrian abour wireless possibilities because what I have seen here is very fast and all conference centres and schools are on wireless. The conference had 1000 people accessing very fast speed wireless internet. I see that this will increase access capability, especially if the ASUS EEEPC at about $500 is a goer for class sets of laptops.

In the late afternoon yesterday we went for another hot weather jog and did most of our packing while cooling down. We then grabbed a hotel shuttle to Riverside Train Station (about 3k). We knew the shuttle stopped at 8.00pm, but were assured there would be taxis on our return. I took a cursory notice of the roads to the station and did have a map in my bag. We had a 45 minute train ride into Boston City Centre and we decided to head towards the Italian section for dinner.

We stumbled across a stone walled pub so were forced to enter in for a nicve cold beer before head into the Italian area. While I was carefully studying the menus for the best Italian fare to decide which we would enter, Terry firmly stated that we were going to that one over there on the corner. It turned out that this was because the two very attractive waitresses sitting on the door step luring customers made an impression on him. I actually never noticed them until Terry mentioned it at the table.

We were served by a very tolerant waitress who quite happily answered all my country boy questions about the menu, like “what is pasta?” . (I didn't actually know that I was asking that question!). While enjoying a couple of glasses of chianti we dined on calamari, chicken, pasta and italian sausage. Blew the budget a bit, but it was very nice.

Wandering back to the station we stumbled across the stone-walled pub and couldn't resist another visit before heading to the station. I was able to use a concession ticket someone gave me at the Riverside Station beause he didn't need it any more and Terry, after bumbling around with the ticiket machine, was able to use an old one I still had.

We arrived at the station to find no taxis so we started walking in the general direction. We stopped for a couple of times for Terry to pee on some very exclusive sections and for me to establish that even under a street light I could not read the street names on the map and, anyway, we couldn't determine where we were on the map. So we just walked on figuratively playing paper, rock, scissors at each intersection.

I will claim that my excellent navigation skills got us by the most direct route to our hotel while Terry was mumbling something about blind luck. Anyway, we decided to have one more Samuel Adams Summer Ale in the hotel bar before retiring.

An early rise saw us grabbing a nice limo to the South Station in Boston, and bagel, juice and coffee at thhe station. We are now on the train to New York.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Still More Photos of Cruise

The oldest US Battleship, The Constitution, just after it fired a canon shot!

More Photos From River Cruise

City Scape sites of Boston from the cruise as the sun sets.

Last Day of Conference BLC08

Terry and I went for a run in the heat of the afternoon to clear our heads yesterday afternoon. We then boarded the bus to travel into town to board our boat to cruise on the Charles River and towards the sea. (See the photos above and in next post)The beer was good but expensive, the food was decidedly average, the music was good but the views of the city skyline as the sun set and full moon rose was great. We also cruised under the flight path to Logan airport with planes landing, almost on top of us every 15-20 seconds. We returned just after 11.00pm and after diarying and blogging we crashed just after midnight.

We went to an extra session this morning on RSS which is a tool that allows you to track posts on blogs you subsribe to and also to newspapers and or newspaper columns. This was a very useful session.

The next session was by Lainie McGann (again) on Social Networking which is a useful concept for teachers and students, and she provided us with a few tools to get involved. The tool that seems most useful to me and for Opotiki College is where you can share bookmarks.

I am beginning to see that being Web 2.0 proficient requires you to use a range of tools in a co-ordinated way. I plan to try to co-ordinate blog, RSS, social networking and using tools like chacha and gcast along with wikis, which I need a bit more help on (though I am sure will have a great 2 minute video on it) to enhance learning and sharing (in fact, creating new knowledge).

Pablo Noguera was today's key note speaker. He is an inspirational and provocative speaker who is angry about the education system and results in USA, especially for blacks. One of the things he highlighted is that less money is spent on poor community schools and more on rich community schools.

He certainly put out there the challenges for USA which include: changing demographics due to immigration and the poor treatment of immigrants, persistent gaps in achievement, growing inequality, families in distress, and public impatience with the pace of change.

He identified factors for high performimg schools as: culture of high expectations, focus on the whole child, strategic partnerships, high standards, countering race and gender stereotypes. In these schools cultural difference is not a deficit, it is an asset.

An important point he made about homework was that homework is an equity issue. Homework only works if there is someone to help and assist students at home.

Effective schools have systems to monitor academic performance and to guide reform, assessment which is formative, shared and distributed leadership and a culture of high expecctations for all and systems of internal accountability. They also understand the external pressures on students, they help students think concretely about their future, they have commitment to excellence and equity and they explicitly teach code switching – speech, dress and demeanour that is appropriate for certain situations. He also argued strongly against streaming of students.

His desription of excellent teaching is that the best teachers don't expect the students to learn the way they teach, they teach the way the students learn. These teachers have moral authority, not because of their position, but because of the strength and quality of their relationship skills.

Schools need to do more of: extended learning time, popular to be smart, mentoring, intervening early, site based PD on pedagogy and values and relationship building.

He was outstanding and given me a lot to think about.

Building Learning Communities Conference Update

The Duck Tour was great with a very humorous guide (see photos of Duck Tour with guide in second photo driving boat!). The best part was catching up with Chris, the Groomsman, and Linda for a couple of beers and a burger at a great bar in Boston. They have been a great couple to meet. He is a graphic designer and she is a journalist and they are about to uproot and move to London! I hope they keep in touch.

This morning at conference has been a bit mixed. The first session on celebrating learning in a Liverpool school context. They do a bit of trans disciplinary work with presentations. This was followed by a key note from John Davitt. It was extremely entertaining and he used some neat presentation tools, but it didn't really go anywhere. I'll need to visit his sites to explore his work further ( for tools) and to contact him.

From there I went to a session from a librarian, Joyce Valenza
Designing Projects for the 21st Century Learners, on designing 21st Century learning assignments. This obviously requires the use of Web 2.0 tools and involves publishing to authentic audiences. This had built on the other sessions and brought a few things together.

The next session was by Jim Wenzloff on Web 2.0 For Dummies. This brought some morwe clarity about where to start on the journey of using these tools everyday for teaching and learning. I'm looking forward to taking some time to explore the tools we have been presented with. I was particularly impresed with which is a phone up pod cast which can then be loaded onto a blog. Another excellent reason to have cellphones in class!

The final session for me today was with Bob Pearlman again which looked at the way in which secondary schools could assess the 21st century skills when using a totally project based learning approach. I have really liked what I have seen from Bob's two presentations and could be something we ccould definitely move towards in our Years 9 and 10 with the more adventurous also moving that way in senior years.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Photos from Boston Conference

The top photo shows one of the four schools at MET School, Providence, Rhode Is.
The next two are shots taken out our hotel window of the Charles River.