Tag Archives: Veronica Woo

When tragedy bonds global classrooms!

Snapshot of "My favourite things" padlet

Snapshot of “My favourite things” padlet

A txt msg, via whatsapp messenger, on my phone from Veronica Woo, of Ipoh, Malaysia, a friend and teaching colleague of mine, alerted me to the fact that the first 20 bodies from the MH17 disaster were to end their long journey home to Malaysia on August 22nd. (Australia’s first victims arrived home the week before!) A minute’s silence  for those who mourn, will be followed throughout Malaysia on Aug 22nd. A tribute or multi-faith ceremony will be broadcast live on the national TV and radio stations of Malaysia.

As I had my year 7 ICT class in the morning, Veronica asked whether we could  open a google hangout so that she could share with other teachers what an open classroom looks like when two countries are connected and team teach. However, this is how the lesson ended up looking like:-

  1. Veronica issued an invitation to the ghangout, called, “Knowing Me, Knowing You”
  2. set up a photo essay wall at padlet called My favourite things for us to share photos. However as the settings were not public, girls had to register for padlet. Even then, they could not login to Veronica’s wall.
  3. We could not locate the link to the ghangout and therefore share our classroom with video, so we had to fill in our lesson “on the fly”.  I set up another wall where we could get started and they learn how to upload images and add text. See the wall I created and the girls’ favourite things. They were encouraged to use photos that they had taken.
  4. Next a sympathy wall was created for the girls to share their sympathies for all relatives and community members who had been lost in the MH17 disaster.
  5. Gchat was maintained with Veronica during this time, and we noticed her txt inform us that the minute’s silence was starting NOW!
  6. The girls immediately wanted to join in this silence and so we shared that silence simultaneously with our Malaysian colleagues. Words cannot describe how meaningful that was, the empathy and feelings that were experienced during that time. Our two countries have sufferered, shared common experiences, bonded in those losses and now at the classroom level across the oceans have entered into a minute’s silence.

As a follow up, Veronica has sent through links to media articles and presentations.

Skyping on a whim with Ipoh, Malaysia

@kidworldcitizen tweeted a question as to what was “your favourite tool to teach students about the world” and below is my response which was retweeted by @durff

My classes and I have enjoyed many teachable moments that have been completely unplanned, but just happened at times when I had a class or was free to be able to speak to other global classes. One such event was a recent linkup with my friend Veronica Woo from Ipoh, Malaysia. Veronica had visitors who she was showing around her school and she hoped that I and my classes might skype in to show them the power of videoconferencing. Unfortunately, I was too late noticing the request, but as we both had classes at the same time, we were able to link up the students. I have a small group of girls who enjoy communicating with others. Small groups work well as they have support from each other, can share the interpretation of communication and are in an intimate environment where they have ownership over their learning and questioning.

See Rachel’s reflective post for the student point of view. Note that our school teaches mandarin Chinese as a second language but these girls in year 10 no longer study it. The Malaysian students tried to teach some word isn mandarin, as they attend a Chinese school. The conversation was more relaxed when our girls started to show and share objects over the camera. Curiousity then overtook any shyness.

Learning on a whim is one reason why videoconferencing with tools like skype can be so engaging.

The image below was sent to us from Veronica. This is how we look from the other end of the web camera.

So proud and honoured to be a part of SMJK Poi Lam, Ipoh!

The Big Classroom - SMJK Poi Lam What a proud, uplifting and memorable morning I spent (together with my husband) at SMJK Poi Lam school in Ipoh, Malaysia on Monday, October 3rd.   A full cultural welcome was given to us at a  special assembly held at 7:30am as part of a presentation for certificates for the DEECD Innovations Showcase 2011, where my two Chinese friends had videoconferenced in two special cultural performances as part of my presentation there. See Malaysian Students in Real Time Performance for Innovations Showcase As we arrived at the school we were ushered into the Principal’s office. The principal, Mr Lau Swee Mun,  is one of excellence ranking in Malaysia. There we had a very informative chat discussing many educational issues some relating to technology. Next we were ushered to the assembly area to the beat of the kompang (Malay drums),  through a  student  guard of honour, including the Chinese dragons, joker and flag bearers. The students were  dressed in National Costume representing the three cultures of Malaysia – the Chinese, the Malay and the Indian. To our delight one student was dressed as an Australian! This was a very emotional moment for me, especially as I am sure that events like this are normally set aside for people or events of high importance. Once seated on the stage and facing the student assembly, the national anthem of Malaysia and the Perak anthem were sung. The treats continued with a traditional   Chinese dragon dance welcome, complete with a joker.

the Chinese dragon with Joker

This was followed by:-

  • a Wushu demonstration  by 4 expert  students
  • a very creative, innovative choral speaking performance “Jom! Let’s Visit Perak!”
  • Choral reading and Acapella “One moment in time with the Lion King”

Choral speaking "Jom! Let's Visit Perak1"

Choral Reading

We were amazed by the confidence and professionalism of the two  MC/s who happened to also be the two students who created book trailers as part of our Globalstorytelling project for the Melbourne Writers Festival. But mostly, I loved seeing the creativity of my friend Veronica Woo and also of Yew Yan Koon and their fantastic work using  performing arts with the students.

The assembly was entitled ” Little Big Classrooms 2011 Innovations Showcase” and it was held to honour the students who took part in the Videoconference linkup as part of  the Victorian Education Innovations and Next Practise Showcase in May 2011. These students would be  issued with their certificates which had been signed by our Victorian Minister for Education.
After a speech by Veronica, myself and the Principal, I was able to give each student their signed certificate. (Veronica had withheld the issuance of the certificates until I came to Malaysia). Veronica had told me that:-
These students will  in Malaysia, students will be awarded maximum bonus points of 20 marks for their involvement in any form of extra curricular activities at the international level.
In return, Innovation and Next Practise and a number of staff, including me received a certificate signed by the Perak Director of Education. This wonderful assembly concluded with the crossing of the two country’s flags – Malaysian and Australian.
A traditional meal of Malaysian Nasi Lemak – Malaysia’s national dish was offered to invited  guests, parents and a number of staff. It was great to be able to continue conversations with the Principal, to meet face to face members of the Malaysian Writers Festival committee, the reporter from the local newspaper, parents and a principal from another school.  Special times were also spent with some of the performing students, getting to know them and learning of their ambitions. Shyness was overcome and we were able to work through our different accents and way of speaking.

Many cultures represented

What a wonderful, honourable, exciting, emotional treat and event to be actually part of. Thank you to my two special friends and colleagues – Veronica and Yew Yan Koon. Thank you for connecting, communicating and collaborating with us, taking on risks,  sharing, pioneering and innovating what technology to experience what it can do for learning on a global level.
As Veronica said:
“The classroom is my world and the world is my classroom!”
Thank you for being part of our little big classroom!
Terima Kasih
Xie Xie
I need to find the Indian word for thank you

Veronica, Evon and me

Global Student – the Melbourne Writers Festival

Question to Ms Murnane: “Where is Federation Square?”

Answer from Ms Murnane: “You are standing in it!”

It was then we realised that not all of our 34 students on our bus excursion had been to Melbourne’s famous square.

Taking it Back a Few Steps or kilometres!

A busload of students  had taken the seven hour, one way journey to Melbourne, some having to get up at 4am in order to catch our bus.They were accompanied by the school Principal and two teachers. Some of these students had risen at 4am to be attend the Melbourne Writers Festival.  The majority of these students had created book trailers and placed them on a wiki page  as part of a collaborative global project.

What a proud day it was for Hawkesdale P12 College, Australia, SMJK Poi Lam and SJK(C) Ave Maria Convent Schools, Ipoh, Malaysia. Staff and students from these schools had worked long and hard  to collaborate on a shared wikii, sharing a little about themselves and to embed their book trailers, with the view of encouraging others to read these books and consider similar projects.

Our students attended the first workshop with writers in Federation Square theatres. Ten nervous students were led to the Board Room with their teacher Marg Murnane, who worked with them on their book trailers. There they met the MC, Ed Hoyt, who would lead the proceedings, introduce the special guests and the multimedia segments, and question students from both countries. The remaining students attended a second workshop. Once this finished, it was time to go to the green turf which had been laid down for seating  for interested parties to view the videoconference linkup with Malaysia. It was with great relief that I could hear Veronica’s voice over the PA and skype. The internet at their school had gone down due to a perceived lightning strike, so she was skyping in with mobile internet access.

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How it looked:-

  • Ten bean bags on the stage for our students to sit on, in an attempt to settle their nerves early in the piece.
  • Images, videos and projections of participants appeared on the big screen. Another large monitor or screen had been setup on the stage for the students to view the digital book trailers.
  • A large crowd comprising students from other schools, Melbourne city councillors, representatives from Innovations and Next Practice, Victorian Education Department and other interested community members either sat or stood and watched the session
  • Ed led the crowd through a number of activities to get them energetically involved.
  • On the Malaysian side, many special guests and VIPs, teachers, parents and students were seated watching  the proceedings from their country.
  • Having Melbourne City Councillor Ong welcome everyone after an introduction by one of the Festival managers.
  • Malaysian Perak State Tourism head, YB Dato’ Hamida Othman,  welcomed guests and spoke briefly.
  • The Hawkesdale student book trailers were shown and students who created them, spoke briefly about them and answered Ed’s questions.
  • The Malaysian student book trailers were shown and they were to be questioned, but technical difficulties had set in by this stage.
  • Hawkesdale students proceeded to pose the questions that they would like to ask the Malaysian students.


  • Councillor Ong who initially welcomed all was originally from Malaysia and spoke on the fact that he hoped the two countries would maintain  and further develop connections.
  • The students made paper rockets to throw to the crowd when that segment featured in one of the book trailers. (Loved the innovative, interactive ideas that were introduced during the session.)
  • Watching the students gradually get over their nerves and speak eloquently to the questions asked of them.
  • Having our students on centre stage at Federation Square and knowing that they come from farms and go to school in a small, unknown country town.
  • Sharing the fabulous work that students can create and share with the world.
  • Seeing the products of weeks and months of hard work on behalf of both schools and Jenny Niven and other staff from the Writers Festival and Federation Square
  • ‘Knitting’ students with communities that go beyond the classroom and across the seas. On the local side, our school, the Melbourne Writers Festival,  Education at Federation Square, the Melbourne City Council, Innovations and Next Practice of the Vic Education Department.

Thank you to the Melbourne Writers festival for allowing us to be part of it all, to Jenny Niven who worked tirelessly with us keeping us on task, on  track and  on time, to Veronica Woo (and Yew Yan Koon) from Ipoh who spent countless, countless  hours preparing for this linkup, to Marg Murnane who took on the crucial element of  book trailer creation with students and to Innovations and Next Practice who provided the connection to Jenny Niven  via Listen to Learners, and to Cindy Thomas, Program Manager -Education, Federation Square. And finally to the students themselves who demonstrated creativity and flair in their trailers.  These students pushed themselves way beyond personal comfort zones. This is testimony to the amazing world that we live, teach and learn in.

Finally, here is the Melbourne Writers Festival program excerpt that promoted our event. It says it all:-

Students from Ipoh,  Malaysia and Hawkesdale, Victoria have been sharing their very own wiki pages and other online tools. Come and see the amazing outcomes of their hard work including movie trailers and photostories of their favourite books, which they have collaborated on from across the seas! Featuring a live video linkup with overseas schools, this event presents some of the possibilities for empowering learning and student development offered by the new technologies.

This session is a must for teachers and students interested in learning more about innovative classrooms and the ways which classrooms can connect, communicate and collaborate acrorsss the globe. By working on authentic projects that utilize project based learning and using cutting edge technology, it showcases the exciting outcomes that students from a variety of cultures can achieve in this flattening world of ours.

Adding movies to a wiki

Tisha is a young student from Malaysia who is participating in the globalstorytelling project . In this project students from Malaysia and Australia are creating book trailers. Tisha is having problems adding the movie to the wiki as it says it is too large,  but has successfully added it to her blog meiyangyang. This post is a bid to help her solve the problem, but if you have time please look at her new blog and support her with comments.

Playing with the html code. Tisha, if you follow these instructions, can you add a comment below and let me know if it was successful.

  1. Login to your blogger blog.
  2. Edit your post that shows the book trailer.
  3. Click on the html edit tab.

Click on the html tab

  • Highlight the code for the movie and copy this code.
  • Open your wiki page>edit

Look for widget

  • Find the link for html and click on it. A white window appears

find html link

  • Paste the html code from your blog post in here and see if that will allow your book trailer display.
If anyone reading this blog post has further ideas, please let us know via a comment. How have you added movies to wikispaces?

What if?

What if? This question was posed frequently at the recent Innovations Showcase. What if……..?

  • Innovations Showcase participants could be shown what a connected classroom  looks, feels and sounds like, using videoconferencing to raise cultural awareness.
  • cultural understanding and awareness can be increased in real time with students who come from other cultures/countries/schools.
  • students could text chat one on one and share conversations, in real time, with each other from other countries.
  • students could share their learning with others across cultures/countries
  • students are able to study the subjects of their choice independent of class sizes, teacher availability etc
  • the use of videoconferencing and web conferencing could be spread across many more classrooms in Victoria and Australia?
  • students who are home for some reason, can attend classes virtually.

What if? This question was posed at the recent, highly successful Innovations Showcase enabled more than 1200 participants to come together to share in innovation in education. One of the themes was of high interest to me – “Inter Cultural Understanding”. As our school is a small rural, remote prep to year 12 school – isolated both geographically and culturally, it has been important to use technology to expose, integrate and associate with other cultures.  As such, “Little Big Classrooms” was the theme of my presentation.

To demonstrate what a connected classroom looks, feels and sounds like, my dear online colleague from Malaysia, Veronica Woo at teacher at SMJK Poi Lam School in Ipoh, Malaysia, agreed to linkup her class with the presentation. Her years 9 and 10 students performed an entertaining and professional capella based on the Lion King and a choral reading. (58 students in total). Here is some feedback from Veronica after the event:-

Well, it is definitely the power of Skype connection, you and the audience that have immensely helped in motivating our students, who are learning English in a very challenging situation where they rarely speak English among themselves, but it’s only with us that they have got no choice but to speak English!  All this, plus the realisation on their part, that they have actually performed in front of a native English speaking audience of educators that have also helped in a way!  Thanks to the event organiser and of course, you, Anne, for making this possible! Hopefully, the other students will also be motivated to see their peers’ achievement and change their attitudes and perception towards learning English.

Read more in this post Malaysian Students in a Real time Performance for the Innovations Showcase Please take time to read the comments where the conversations re cultural understanding continue.

Teaching my Year 11 IT class!

Other What if’s that  became reality at Innovations Showcase

  • In the morning, I taught my accounting class from Melbourne. This consisted of 10 of my own school students, two from a city school and another student from a small country school. They can study accounting despite their school not being able to offer the subject. Here is the link to the recording of this class.
  • A second demonstration involved teaching my year 11 IT class from the huge foyer of the Melbourne Entertainment and Convention Centre back at school, to find a student logged in from home (as they were not able to get to school) and my replacement teacher also listening to the instructions. As the students faced a deadline for uploading their video in the Flat Classroom Projects, students mentored and helped each other in the chat. Elluminate, virtual conference software was used for the virtual classroom. Here is the link to the recording of this class.
  • SRC students who were at the Showcase entered the virtual classroom and chatted to my students back at school.

It is not what if?

…….Technology allows all this but ………

What next?

An SRC student rep chats to my year 11 class

eT@lking – final celebratory session for 2010 – Malaysian style

Obviously this was a busy time of year for all, as we had only a couple of participants turn up and then, Adrian had to leave 20 mins into the session. Unfortunatley, the damp, wet weather at home, meant that I bounced in and out for the start, but as my dear colleague, Veronica Woo had prepared 10 slides for presentation on highlights of the school year in Ipoh, Malaysia and how Malaysia acknowledges/celebrates Christmas, Veronica was able to share her experiences for the whole session. Thanks Veronica and would love to get you back next year, when more participants should come online.

Here is the link to the recording

Introducing Malay Customs and Cultures – An e-Intercultural Learning Adventure!

Veronica Woo, a great teaching colleague to have, organized an extravaganza for us last Friday. The library was booked so that we could videoconference with skype using the Interactive White Board to project the web  conference. A number of classes from year 6 to 11 were present – a total of more than 45 students and 6 staff members.

Year 11 students from  SMJK Poi Lam School in Ipoh, Malaysia, demonstrated to and treated us with the following:-

  1. Malay dance performance
  2. Demonstration on how to play ‘congkak’
  3. Demonstration on how to beat the Malay drum ‘kompang’
  4. Brief introduction of a Malay wedding
  5. Demonstration on paper money-folding ( folded items are given as Bridal gifts to families concerned )
  6. Ended the web conference with a song!

Three of our year 6/7 students learnt how to dance the Malay Dance by following the Malay girl’s movements on screen. Most students had an Australian paper note to practise folding the paper money.

In turn, our students and staff demonstrated the following:-

  1. a bearded dragon lizard
  2. a pet colourful baby bird
  3. how to play Australian Rules Football (footy)
  4. vegemite and how to spread it on a dry biscuit

It always intrigues me that the sharing of objects over the web cam, makes students overcome their shyness, as their curiousity drives them to naturally ask questions about the object without  really thinking.

Getting to know you… online with skype!

Three years ago I met Veronica Woo, a TESL teacher at SMJK Poi Lan online. We started corresponding but then contact ceased, until several weeks ago, when Veronica contacted me on LinkedIn and asked if I was interested in videoconferencing with her. Veronica was about to link up with a school in NZ. Her students were to sing a concert number and the school in NZ was to demonstrate the haka. My classes did not get involved, but I, personally, was fortunate to practise  skype as a videoconferencing linkup and witness the concert rehearsal.


As I was going to Malaysia to meet the class from Taman Gukit Maluri school that had connected with us in elluminate, Veronica asked if I could also visit her school and conduct some professional development for her teachers and some of the students. Rather excited, I agreed.  I feel I already know Veronica and her teaching colleague Yvonne. Skype has allowed us to know each other. Yvonne will be our host and accommodate my husband and myself. Skype has been used to:-

  • show us the house that we will stay in
  • introduced us to her family members including her daughter
  • her daughter has played the Chinese keyboard in preparation for her music exam
  • discussed our dietary needs and likes/dislikes
  • introduced some of the teachers who I will work with
  • meet some of the students who I will work with

Further technologies used to prepare for my visit to Malaysia, including Ipoh and Kuala Lumpur

  • planning itineraries and places to visit with tripadvisor and its forums
  • wotif for cheap accommodation in Kuala Lumpur
  • airasia for cheap flights