dragonsinger57 aka Jo Fothergill

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learning, unlearning and relearning
Contact-new.svg Jo Fothergill
Blog:dragonsinger - learning, unlearning & relearning
Twitter address: @dragonsinger57
Employer:Raumati Beach School
Occupation:Classroom Teacher
Country:New Zealand/Aotearoa
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I came to teaching later in life having spent my 20's working in the automotive/engineering field and my 30's bringing up two children. I have a family history of teaching - my grandmother was headmistress of Woodford House for many years and my mother taught all her life in primary, secondary and tertiary education.

And it's amazing what you learn about people you work with when you start to read their profiles!. User:Angietidy and I have discovered that our mothers were at school together!! It's a small world. dragonsinger57 08:10, 31 August 2009 (UTC)

I trained at Wellington College of Education and was in one of the last classes to graduate with Diploma of Teaching only.

I started my teaching career as an ICT teacher, initially working one day a week, then two days at one school and one day at another school. I then moved into a job sharing position where I worked mornings as an ICT teacher and afternoons as a classroom teacher. I reached a point where I wanted to work full time in the classroom and moved into the Year 3&4 area of our school.

ICT in school has changed. Originally we were concerned about teaching skills - the 'How to' of computing. How to use Word or Powerpoint or Publisher. We had a computer lab where classes would go and use the lab for skills training. At the end of last year the lab was broken up and the computers redistributed into classrooms an exciting move (for me anyway).

I'm now more interested in eLearning. I believe that skills are best taught as part of the learning process and not as a separate process. With the blessing of my Principal, DP, and Senior teacher I am running an eLearning classroom. (See the eLearning link below for further information.)




Kia Ora

2011 update: I applied for and was accepted to be a CORE Education eFellow. I'm looking forward to the learning that will happen for me as part of this award. My eFellowship work centers around writing and reluctant writers and how the use of ICTs could help them find their writing voice.

I am still teaching a Year 5 class but am lucky enough to have moved classrooms and am able to use the adjoining learning street as an extension to my classroom. In looking over my comment below from 2009 and MS Word, I'd like to reiterate that my students use Google Docs (free) for their online work - this gives them the freedom to work where ever and when ever they like - truly magic!

2010 update: I teach at Raumati Beach School, on the Kapiti Coast of New Zealand. I'm currently (2010) teaching Year 5 students (9-10 year olds) and love this age group.

2009 This is what I've posted as my introduction in the email discussion group.

At the moment I'm "going where no one has gone before" at my school and running an eLearning environment in my classroom. Approximately 70-80% of the work is presented online and I'm encouraging self-management of learning. I have 31 students arranged in 6 groups, each group with a computer + an old acer running ubuntu and my old iBook as extras.

Someone asked me yesterday if I ever used MSWord in my classroom and I couldn't remember when the last time word was opened. I use google docs extensively (for their ability to publish as webpages) and while MS Office is on my macbook I prefer to use Open Office.

Classwork content is provided via google docs & the class work blog and we've been using Edmodo (social networking) also (2/3 of my class signed up & using Edmodo); most recently - and the path I will take over the next little while has been the discovery of eXe - which I discovered a reference to while reading through the eL4C29 course material - and that marries together the difference resources I've been using. While I don't have ready access to Moodle I am able to create packages and host them myself via my online dropbox.

I'm looking forward to this course. I have dabbled on and off with wikis over the last 3-4 years and would like to move past dabbling.

Thanks to the eL4C29 course I'm now doing more than dabbling! My class is basically running on a wiki (albeit wikispaces) and I'm teaching my 7-9 year old students how to add content etc in a wiki.--dragonsinger57 07:54, 5 September 2009 (UTC)


I have a 21 yo son, Jon, who was studing BInfoTech at Whitireia in Porirua but has since dropped out and is looking for work and a 23 yo daughter, Emma who is a Media Studies student at Victoria University in Wellington and in the last 5-6 weeks of her study. Life and the kids have moved on a little - Jon completed a 6 week LSV course at Trentham and got a job at McDonald's where he does lots of graveyard shifts; Emma has finished her degree and is working at Butler's Chocolate Cafe in North City Mall - we like chocolate!

My partner lives in Missoula, Montana - a very long way away. We have a 5-year plan to hopefully end up both living in the same country (New Zealand) together. (Interestingly Missoula is a sister city to Palmerston North - it's kinda nice arriving/departing from MSO and seeing a Kiwi display!)


I grew up in Hawke's Bay, NZ, living first in Hastings and attended Ebbett Park School for my first 6 months of school. We then moved to Havelock North and I attended Havelock North Primary School until the end of my Standard 4 year (Year 6) at which point I was a boarding student at Samuel Marsden Collegiate for my intermediate years. My secondary schooling was at Karamu High School in Hastings.

School wasn't the highlight of my youth! The only thing I remember about my primary schooling is warm milo in winter and warm milk in summer! Boarding school was certainly an experience - positive as far as health was concerned.

My Interests


My user name holds clues to some of my interests! The character of 'Dragonsinger' (aka Menolly) is from Anne_McCaffrey's Dragon Rider series of books. Menolly was a musician, singer and teacher.

I was grew up with a love of orchestral music (my mother played second fiddle in the Napier Evening Orchestra) and guitar music (my father was a passionate follower of Manitas de Plata and Chet Atkins) with sprinkling of brass (Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass to be precise).

After a brief fling with the cello I settled on the guitar as my instrument and have been playing for over 30 years now. These days only at school - usually for Kapa Haka and singing assemblies.

2003-2009 I was a member of the Kapiti Chorale singing choral music. I enjoyed being one of the female tenors! In 2006 I sung in the NZ premiere performance of Karl Jenkins' Armed Man and in 2009 sung in another NZ premiere - once again a Karl Jenkins.


I also love to read and love holiday times when I can just sit and read all day. I've been known to read 3-4 books a day. As a child it was a real pain when I went to the library as I was only allowed 2 books out at any one time. Luckily the library was walking distance from my home as I'd visit daily.

I love having lots of books on my iPad - it's certainly made reading a lot easier for me. My favourite authors are all from the Baen publishing stable.



My other passion is technology. I've been tinkering with computers since the '80s. My first computer was a Commodore PET 2001 followed by a VIC-20. These days I love using my MacBook (school supplied) and my iBook (personal) and am frequently found playing with my iPod Touch and Nokia 6121 - it's not unusual for me to be online with 4 devices at once. Updating to say I now have a MacbookPro, an iPad and an iPhone - as well as my old Macbook, iBook and iTouch in the classroom.

Wikis and Blogs and Web2.0 oh my!

When my children were very young I was an active BB (Bulletin Board) participant and then the internet came along. I decided I wanted to learn how to write web pages and so taught myself how to hand code html pages. While I love the blog format and the ease of which people are now able to have an online presence, I miss my hand coding days. Wikis allow me to recapture the satisfaction I feel when I've finished a well coded page.


I recently installed some old dos games on our computers and taught the kids how to type the dos commands to play them - these are now their first choice for maths or word activities. These photos are my kids in action in our classroom. Note the iBook running a dos game!


There are two places you'll see me using quotes - at the end of my email and on my twitter profile.

Email: "You know, you blow up one sun and suddenly everyone expects you to walk on water." -- Lt. Col. Samantha Carter

"...it's a sign of a deeply disturbed civilisation where tree huggers & whale huggers in their weirdness are acceptable while no one embraces the last speakers of a language..." Werner Herzog - Encounters at the End of the World

This phrase struck me as I was watching this movie. It's a movie with some amazing scenery shots and pithy comments from Herzog who has interested me ever since I saw Fitzcarraldo.

Twitter: Learning, unlearning, relearning.

I thought I had made this phrase up but then I discovered that Alvin Toffler also used the phrase. His full quote is: "The illiterate of the future are not those that cannot read or write. They are those that can not learn, unlearn, relearn."

Twitter and I have a love/hate relationship. My original account was suspended (@dragonsinger57) and despite all efforts I am unable to have that reversed. Quite ironic as I have a Twitter workshop that I run! I now have a new handle @KiwiJoe90 on Twitter. Updated to say that I'm now back in full swing under my original handle - @dragonsinger57

If you check out the 'About Me' Section in my edublog you'll also see this quote: I have a secret passion – well – maybe not so secret – teaching is not about feeding information into kids brains – it’s about creating a place where kids are inspired, enthused, excited about discovery and learning – so my goal as a teacher is to leave my kids wanting more and having the skills to find out more. Ok so they’re 6-9 year olds – but they are still capable of exploration and discovery.

This is what guides me in my day to day teaching.



Two years down the line things are different in my classroom. While I am working in an eLearning environment, I have also reflected on, and changed, my teaching practice.

Equipment-wise I still have a lot of 'stuff': 1 x softexpand/xtenda system with 4 workstations; 2 donated HP laptops; my old iBook and MacBook; an iTouch; an iPad; a couple of old scrounged computers; and four newer computers that were donated to the school but left sitting in a spare room for most of the year until I took them and installed them in my classroom. 3 of my workstations are in the learning street; 4 are in a mini-lab between my classroom and the next door classroom. 1 laptop, the iTouch and the iPad are all portable so my students will use them where ever they want to work. I have an Activboard as my IWB which is really where the day unfolds for everyone.

My students are using Google docs (via apps for education) as their online 'draft' writing books. They have become quite proficient at using them. They use the draw feature to create drawings and posters; and I use the presentation feature to create short presentations that can then be embedded in our class wiki. All the students have individual blogs and we have a class blog as well.

As stated above I am running a digital classroom. I have 31 students in my classroom and have organised them into 6 groups of 5 (5x5 and 1x6 to be exact). Each group has access to a computer - 2 groups have old, ex-win98 upgraded to winxp with extra ram computers; 4 groups have virtual computers running off an extenda box. I also have an old Acer laptop running Ubuntu and my iBook available in the classroom.

I use a combination of blogs wikis and google docs (saved as webpages) to present daily lessons. I use a mimio (IWB) throughout the day to highlight or reinforce activities.

As part of our integration of ICTs into our day to day learning I have introduced Edmodo to my class. We use it during classtimes with group logins and after school, once my students are home, they login under their personal logins and complete assignments, chat with each other and chat with me.

I'm interested in the difference between free and open source and the application of both into my Web2.0 classroom.

For instance Google (mail/calendar/docs/forms etc) is FREE but not open source; the same with Blogger and Edmodo. But eXe is OPEN SOURCE (I think <G>).
Google Blogger Edmodo eXe Wikispaces

My Projects


These are workshops I've run at our OKC ICT Cluster Conferences

Blogs, Wikis and other four letter words



I'm running both a Twitter and an eLearning workshop at Ulearn09 - updated notes for Twitter will be posted and notes for my eLearning workshop will be posted too (eLearning is a Living being & WikiEducator might just appear!)

Currently notes are being hosted at my wikispace page.


At Ulearn10 I ran a workshop called First steps in the eLearning journey - the notes are up on my wiki.

In-house workshops aka formal & informal sessions @ school

Most recent sessions:

  • Wikis and Google docs (27 August 09)
  • Wikieducator - short session on editing and entering content (28 August 09)
  • Voicethread in Junior Classes (3 September 09)

Wiki Help

  • I'm posting any screencasts I make over on my wikispace. Hope these are helpful.
Wiki Educator Help Files wiki_help_files eLearning

Course work

School work

  • I've been using Web2.0 tools in my classroom for a couple of terms now.
  • I totally rearranged my classroom and deliver content via the web to the students (with me still in the classroom).
  • I spent 5 weeks exploring blogs and using blogs for content delivery
  • I want to take a step up and explore how I can combine everything into the wiki environment.
  • I'm about to go into my 3rd week of using a wiki in the classroom - my students have become proficient at navigating around the wiki and logging in and adding content.
  • This week they will enter the big world of having their own wiki page where they can add their own content -exciting stuff indeed!

Update 190909

  • My students have now been working on their own wiki pages for several weeks now. Some have dived in enthusiastically, others are slower to embrace - however they have all published something to their own page on the writing wiki as part of our classwork
  • I'm exploring reflective practice with my students - using videos and photos of them at work
  • I can see that at the end of a full year of using a wiki like this my students would be ready for setting up their own wikis

Update Dec 2009

  • It's been a fantastic year with an enthusiastic group of Year 3&4 students. However we all must move on and in 2010 I'm teaching Year 5 students in a new classroom. I've added the links to the new class blog and wiki.
Classwork Class wiki 2009 Class Blog 2009 My Blog My wiki
Class wiki 2011 Class Blog 2011 My presentation wiki

OER Resources

Creating a personal logo using the initials of your name. This is a one-day project I did with my Year 5 students as part of our Patterns theme.

Creating a personal logo

School Photo Scavenger Hunt: My intention is to use this as a start of year activity to develop co-operative and collegial skills with my class. My target age range is 9-10 years old (NZ Year 5).

Photo Scavenger Hunt

This is a lesson plan for instructional writing. It can be adapted for a range of ages but my target group is 7-10 years old.

Writing Cheat Codes (Instructional Writing)

I'm NOT an expert but do get asked often about how I set my classroom up - here are some thoughts and ideas.

How to set up an eLearning Classroom



New_Zealand NZ Schools OER Portal eL4C29
eL4C51 Raumati Beach School Anne
Bruce Angie Kelly
Fiona Paul Ian

My Sandbox

My sandbox

Sandbox 2

My Reflection

A key component of kiwi education is reflective practice.

I believe this course has come at an opportune moment. There are things happening in the NZ education sector relating to OER resources. I want to be a part of change - as long as it's productive and meaningful and beneficial to the students we teach.

I also have been inspired to pick up my class wiki and run with it - and my students have been giving me a real run for my money (or is their money?). I am constantly amazed and challenged and overwhelmed with their understanding and in our classroom learning is a two-way street.

Thank you Wayne, Nellie, Patricia for your words of encouragement to us all - but particularly for encouraging me to step up and co-facilitate. I've enrolled in eL4C30 to continue learning about facilitating. --dragonsinger57 08:25, 5 September 2009 (UTC)

Feedback & Notes from my WikiNeighbours

(Comment.gif: Hi Jo, Your page is getting great! --R C Sharma, PhD 12:08, 28 September 2011 (UTC))

(Comment.gif: Hello Jo, your page is very nice. Thanks, --R C Sharma, PhD 12:02, 26 September 2011 (UTC))

Good point on the Alternative Methods page. Thanks.--Phil Bartle 00:58, 26 December 2009 (UTC)
Your user page is developing very nicely. Good to have you as a colleague. --Phil Bartle 23:05, 25 December 2009 (UTC)

Very nice to meet you here. WikiEducator is a very warm and comfortable community. () . If there is any way I can help you, please let me know (coloured backgrounds, margins, user pages in multiple languages). Come visit my user page. Also, just to remind you, I put up a new page on which you can practice collaborating, by using your editorial skills included in the tutorial. See: Alternative Teaching methods and add your comments, criticisms, more methods, or reflections. Just try it. Cheers, Phil. --Phil Bartle 10:44, 15 December 2009 (UTC)

(Comment.gif: Thanks for your kinds words Jo, I appreciate and value your feedabck. Also enjoying having a look at many of the wonderful things you have on the go here. Cheers! --Stewart Tagg 10:38, 14 October 2009 (UTC))

(Comment.gif: This is truly an inspiration! I'm trying to think why I know your name so well, but you've done so much, it's not surprising, especially since you're just up the line from me. --Helenm5 00:11, 30 August 2009 (UTC))

Ahh yes - I think it's the NZEI link.--Helenm5 01:05, 30 August 2009 (UTC)

(Comment.gif: Hi Jo. Thanks for that help i will try and rectify. I have got my level 1 certificate but c u already have Level 2 --Angie) (Comment.gif: Hi Jo. Thanks for the note of encouragement on my page, copying and pasting not always the answer, means I have had to do some reading too rather than follow my nose as usual ...lol ----Fiona Grant 04:10, 29 August 2009 (UTC)) (Comment.gif: Hi Jo. Cool wiki. Go the kiwis. --MaryRobinson) (Comment.gif: Love how you're going on the wiki. --Nellie Deutsch 19:49, 26 August 2009 (UTC))

Wow -- that's an impressive user page! You're a wiki natural :-). Welcome to our family! -- Wayne Mackintosh 05:59, 18 August 2009 (UTC)
Hi Jo, I love what you write about your passions. I can relate. Thank you for coming on board. You will never regret it.--Patricia 02:08, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
Wow, you've done incredible work on your user page. I sense a passion for writing in addition to your other passions. I am looking forward to learning with and from you. --Nellie Deutsch 19:43, 21 August 2009 (UTC)
Hi Jo, thx for your note - looks like you either have too much time on your hands or you've run out of chardonnay :) Keep up your great work! --Rmccrae 10:23, 26 August 2009 (UTC)
Hi jo thanks for your help i feel i'm getting out of my depth.--Angietidy 03:42, 27 August 2009 (UTC)
How do you put photos into a wiki?--Carolynstuart 10:12, 27 August 2009 (UTC)
Wonderful page, Jo. Great to see such creativity on a flat page!--Paul Seiler 23:34, 29 August 2009 (UTC)

(Comment.gif: Hi Jo. it is interesting to see how your page is evolving. You seemed to be actively engaged in 'Wikiing'. Great job!--Dorothy 07:29, 31 August 2009 (UTC)) (Comment.gif: thanks Dorothy - wiki-ing is very addictive! --dragonsinger57 07:37, 31 August 2009 (UTC)) (Comment.gif: Hi Jo. It was fun to get a message from you Jo, and to have you offer to give help since you are just 'up the way' in Kapiti. It'd be fun to meet you. Sadly I'm not one of the lucky ones from our organisation going to U-Learns, or I'd try to get to your session. I'm impressed with this page. It makes me realise how limited my page is!! I have struggled to get the work done on a daily basis, as I work long hours and then come home to cook dinner and do this. I have found it has taken me about 2 hours per night and after a day at the computer that's about all I can manage! I see you enjoy singing. I have been going to the Wellington community choir weekly this year and find it a thoroughly enjoyable and uplifting evening.--Antico 09:48, 5 September 2009 (UTC))
(Comment.gif: Dear Jo, I thought I recognised the "dragonsinger". Thank you so much for coming in to help with the eL4c51 workshop. Really appreciate this. Warm wishes--Patricia Schlicht 02:18, 22 September 2011 (UTC))