Saturday, 21 December 2013

What does education look like for your child?

I haven't blogged since October - lots of ideas swirling around and all linked to one big idea - what should education look like in New Zealand?

The most significant reading I have done this year is Supporting Future Oriented Teaching and Learning - A New Zealand Perspective by Rachel Bolstad and Jane Gilbert, with Sue McDowall, Ally Bull, Sally Boyd and Rosemary Hipkins. In October 2012, Curriculum Update 26 summarised the six main themes of future oriented teaching and learning, so all teachers should be familiar with how education will look based on the research done by these researchers.

I say, should be familiar, because sometimes educational concepts are slow to filter through to teachers at the coalface. As I read this blog tonight called "Same Old, Same Old" by Tom Whitby, I reflected on why changes are so slow. Whitby says that "There is no longer a choice as to whether or not educators should incorporate technology tools for learning into education. That boat has sailed, that train left the station, that genie is out of the bottle, and that horse got out of the barn. Time to close that barn door and get on with it. "

He surmises that some teachers are reluctant to learn something new.  Which is pretty ironic, since one of the themes of future oriented teaching and learning is that teachers have a culture of continuous learning.

So is it now time that communities start demanding more of their school leaders?  School leaders need to be putting time and effort into leading changes so that children have the type of education that will allow them to adapt to the future.  As my daughter searches for the "right" school for my granddaughter, I can offer this advice.

The six themes of future oriented teaching and learning are
  • personalised learning
  • new views of equity and diversity
  • a culture of lifelong learning for teachers and educational leaders
  • new partnerships and relationships (with communities)
  • new roles for teachers and learners
  • using knowledge to develop learning power.
These themes are all afforded through the use of technology in learning.  Questions that I would be asking, if I were a parent of a school-aged child, would be around the themes.  For instance,  - How do you ensure that my child is getting personalised learning?  I won't be wanting answers along the lines of - "there just isn't enough time in the school day to give your child personalised learning" - but I suspect I will be getting those responses reasonably regularly.  Technology enables teachers to be able to plan for and construct personalised learning for your child.  The teachers need the time and support to put this possibility into place.  This means learning around using the learning management systems (LMS)  that they have available to them.  And I am sad to say that I haven't seen a lot of use of LMS in my job this year.  Thank goodness Google Apps For Education (GAFE) is starting to take off, at least in primary schools.

If I had a child who was disadvantaged because of a learning disability or a cultural position for instance, I would then be asking what the school is doing to cross the barriers.  Students who have been unable to make progress in the past now have new opportunities to engage and learn. You only have to see an i-pad in the hands of these students to know that assistive technologies will play a huge part in unlocking the potential to become contributing members of our society

The new partnerships that can be forged with the aid of technology are coming from leaders and teachers.  I have seen some teachers make use of Skype to reach people who would not otherwise be able to come to the classroom.  Relationships can be forged across the world, across the ages, across cultures.  In my child's school, I would ask what experiences there are for the child that will be outside the "norms"  of everyday life. 

And finally, I would also be asking about the way that they students learn.  Do they have to do endless worksheets for completion and assessment purposes?  What deliberate acts of teaching are there and are they balanced by inquiry into the unknown where there are no right answers or finite descriptors of learning outcomes but a wealth of knowledge to be gained around my child's interest.  Does this new knowledge spark a thirst to know more?

I urge all parents to start asking questions of the school leaders about these themes.

So, at Christmas, I finish with this lovely little video. Even an old agnostic like me can find it very charming.  I wonder how many schools put together little gems like this?

Have a great break over Christmas and New Year and keep safe!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Did I Learn at ULearn?

My mentor, Hazel Owen, asked me before I went to Ulearn, if I was going to blog during the 3 day event.  Well, I hadn't thought about it but, sure, I said, I will try.
So, on the first day,  at the keynote by Ken Shelton, I busily started to take notes in blogger.  His was an interactive session so, not being a multi-tasker, I soon began to get bogged down.  How can I keep up?  I know, a quick flick to Twitter on my phone, enter the hashtag, #ulearn13, and voila!
 All the notes and links I would want. Right here! Awesome!  A rich, rich resource of many highlights of the 3 days!
Now just the time to sort through. But how powerful to have the notes taken during the actual session, reminding me of the important points.
I also went to breakouts that weren't being tweeted about, though.  We need more tweeters in the teaching profession.  Yes, I know I should have done more but it is so much more exciting when you can join in the tumble of tweets filling the pages on your phone .....9 more tweets since you last looked, 13 more tweets, 39 more tweets and so on.
So now you have to rely upon my recall of some breakouts without the tweeting twittering away.
I was fighting off a dreaded lurgy at the time and so apart from missing a few snippets of information, I also missed several breakouts.  So here we go.
Firstly I gave a taster session on Flipping Learning which I did enjoy even though the technology was fighting me at the time. Then,  I went to "Building on the Skype Project" by Bronwen Glass from Botany Downs Kindergarten which was about using Skype, as a very cool way of transitioning ECE students into their schools.  Could be applied from Primary to Secondary and Secondary to Tertiary, if only these institutions talked to each other more often.
After that I went to Matt Griffiths presentation about using Google "Sites, Apps and Dashboard in College Classrooms" at Tamaki College - an amazing application of Google in the School, supported by their Head of Maths (Nolene Dunn) and their Head of Social Sciences (Dorothy Apelu).  Awesome again!! And their resources were freely shared. Here.  This really showed how a teacher could manage all of the personalised learning that was going on, supporting their learners as they pursued online activities and assessments.
On the second day, I went to an excellent workshop called Developing Future Oriented Learners and Teachers by Ian Suckling and Esther Casey, two facilitators working on the same project as me.  This was based on the 6 themes of 21st century learning:

  • Personalised learning, 
  • changing roles for teachers and learners, 
  • new relationships and partnerships, 
  • new views of equity and diversity, 
  • a culture of continuous learning for teachers and leaders, 
  • and a curriculum that uses knowledge to build capacity for learning
Again, an excellent workshop that had attendees thinking and talking hard and fast. Their activities are here.
That night, the Ulearn dinner, always a breakout happening there.  Lots of good music, wine, men and song.  Enough said!
On the third day, after my second presentation on e-portfolios, I had to admit defeat and drive home.  My head was pounding and throat croaking and so home at the end to a weekend of laryngitis and sore throat.  Think my husband was grateful.  And it meant I couldn't talk to the gathering of reporters outside my house for which I am even more grateful.  (Yes, Mark Lundy has moved in 2 doors down).  Strange way to end a very good week.  Hope I don't get distracted.  I learnt heaps at Ulearn2013!

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Are you making the shift?

Image by Frederick D Bruner
The New Zealand Curriculum Update in Issue 26 October 2012 identified six themes of future oriented learning and teaching.  Guess what?  It is a year later - so, have you made the shifts in your class so that there is 

  • personalised learning
  • new views of equity and diversity
  • rethought roles of teaching and learning
  • a culture of continuous learning for teachers and educational leaders
  • a curriculum that uses knowledge to develop capacity for learning
  • new kinds of relationships and partnerships?
This morning I read a blog by Dean Shareski in Canada which resonated deeply with me, called "Why Teachers Aren't Making the Shift".  The gist of this article is that teachers are not capable of making the shift by themselves - they are busy, they are struggling to keep up with the demands of assessment, and they are not being informed about up to date research findings.

That is where professional development should come in.  I was interested to read the recent PPTA report on what kind of professional development that teachers like the most.  It seems that they do not enjoy the systemic, principal-led professional development that happens within their schools.  They prefer "more PLD opportunities, preferably with colleagues from other schools, led by an expert facilitator with valuable and trusted external expertise". 

Actually, when I remember back to being in their situation a year ago, it was my preferred pld as well but I think the real reason why is that you were out of the school for a day, with time to digest, and think about ways that you could use your new learning in your classes. You could discuss with other teachers without the pressures of daily routine interfering.

The first step that is needed by teachers however remains an acknowledgment that shifts need to be made for future oriented learning. There needs to be changes.  What do you think that this shift will look like in your school?  How can you provide the best possible outcomes for your students, because after all, that is what we are here for?

Don't keep on preparing your students for today's world.  Prepare for tomorrow.

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Too old to know better?

The Human Rights Act makes it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of age. That does not stop some humans - if you can call them that - publicly having their negative say about old or middle aged (in particular) women.
As I approach a significant birthday, I am becoming acutely aware of what many other women have reported before me. In the middle of a productive, rewarding and also contributing phase of my career, I have encountered prejudices from people who should know better.
For instance, while training up younger teachers in the use of digital technology for learning in the classroom, I have been reduced to biting my tongue about comments made by said teachers about the old ones on the staff who don't use technology, when they, themselves, are barely capable of attaching files to their emails. They seem to ignore the fact that I am approaching sixty when they say these things.

Over the weekend I was exposed ( and I use that word deliberately) to a comment from a tutor about principals who are too old to focus on the technology demands placed on them. Believe me, it is not about their age! If a principal has chosen to ignore technological advancements in favour of other principal- type tasks, it is about their attitude and priorities, NOT their age.
I also get ignored in electronics shops, in favour of young customers. I waited for a sales person to approach me this week, so I could buy an Apple TV. At least 5 walked by me to serve other younger people in the shop..... buying itunes cards, and plug in Multiboards. Hello, all you electronics shop managers out there....I am in the position of influencing large electronic purchases. Train your staff! Train them to approach all people in your shops with the same amount of respect for all. You never know, you might get a sale out of it.
And on a slightly different but eerily familiar theme, what is it about criticising the fashion sense of overweight middle aged women? When do these fashion police get out and criticise overweight middle aged men for their baggy bummed pants and ill-fitting teeshirts or bursting-at-the-waist business shirts? NEVER! I feel so aggrieved I am going to start a club to put the focus onto an equal footing. Except it really is not for me to carp on about fashion sense and other qualities that seem to be important to a large portion of the population and maybe that is why they get away with it. Because people let them.
And finally today, we need to appoint a male principal. Why? Is he better than the female applicant? No, but it is what the community want. Really? OMG get that poor female out of there before she gets trapped in that community.
So as I enjoy the last couple of months of the fifties, I would like to know this ageism-sexism thing is not going to get worse than it is already. No wonder women lie about their age. No one want to be treated like a second class citizen.
Have you encountered ageism and sexism in your career? And how did you deal with it?
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad
Image from

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Why can't I get into Twitter?

I do not tweet very much. I think individuals develop their own style of communication and for me, it is blogging. Blogging allows me time to think, evaluate and organise my thoughts. However, I took a closer look at Twitter to try to encourage myself to step outside my comfort zone.

I was really interested in a Wiki on how to improve teaching and learning using Twitter as it is really a tool that I have not used regularly at all, except to post my blogs to the Twerps (which I understand is people who tweet).  Note that this link refers to those people as Tweeps

The first thing I read was how to use Twitter as an instant feedback from students.  What a good idea! Instead of the expensive clickers, make a list of your students and gather their thoughts that way.

Then I thought about people I could follow.   I read an interesting article by Dr Elizabeth Rata in the NZ Herald today and thought I could follow her. Unfortunately I cannot find her on Twitter.  Which did get me thinking.  I wonder how many academics are on twitter? I asked educators on Twitter what they thought of the article.


Liz B Davis blogged that there is a Twitter life cycle and I wonder if my Tweeting has done its life cycle, but I have not been able to get going into the "I can't stop" stage.

I looked at this infographic on Twitter and realise how much paper it saves and how many tweets there are and how hard it would be to read them all

This slide share on Twitter was pretty useful.  I learnt about BigbigTweet which I will show you here - you can write longer tweets if you want and they follow on in the right order.


So, I have added that to my Chrome toolbar.  I have used the Twitterific app and Tweetdeck on my PC, too.

This slide was perhaps the best for me. It suggests that your contribution leads to reciprocity and as you accumulate Tweets that is where the real value will be apparent.  There is hope for me yet.PositiveSpiral

In my opinion, Twitter has a huge place in society.  In terms of instant news and keeping informed, it is second to none.  Just look at the #TeamNZ news as it happened!  I am making a promise to myself to look at more ways to use it in the classroom.

This video helped me think of some of those ways

  • You can use it as a backchannel in class.

  • You can use it to promote discussion on why it is useful.

  • You can use it to be heard - to have a voice in the class.

  • You can use it on a variety of devices

  • 140 character limit helps students be precise

  • It cuts down noise in the classroom

  • It helps you stay in contact even when you are away

  • It uses less paper than writing stuff up

  • You can find curriculum resources on it.

In summary, I do not use Twitter enough and have a renewed admiration for its potential. I will try harder!

My favourite curation tool - Diigo

There are a number of different curation tools - you know the tools you use to collect your favourite websites so they are at hand when you want to go back to them?   From the very visual Pinterest to the fully functional Diigo, each has its own particular strengths and uses. Here is a list of ten of the best, from the Educational Technology website.
 I use a number of them regularly, including Pinterest, Livebinders, Evernote and Scoopit but Diigo is my favourite for my professional work.  I believe strongly that every educator and learner should use a social bookmarking tool like Diigo. Such a valuable tool to use every day.
I have made a youtube which introduces you to some of the functions of Diigo and share it with you here.

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Is your school an opaque institution?

People ask me a lot about how I like my job and I am lucky enough to be able to say I love it. I visit a variety of schools to help them build their capability for blended learning which is a combination of face to face and online learning.
Every day brings a new challenge and one of the aspects I like the most is the diversity in the schools.  Just as the students are different from school to school, the teachers and principals also impart their own particular flavour on the culture of the school.  I had not realised just how different until I started this work because I had worked as a teacher and senior manager in one school for 33 years.
Often you hear members of the public talk about a school and say - it is a great school or alternatively - they have a lot of problems there.  People are quick to judge and I often wonder what they base their judgments on.
The schools that are judged great are those in which the walls are down.  They are welcoming and allow parents and other education professionals to look closer.  Dialogue is free and welcomed.  Discussion is rich and varied, and there is an easy humour about the places.
On the other hand when doors are closed and departments are siloed and there is little flexibility in discussion between parents and teachers and education professionals, it makes one a bit wary. I heard the phrase today "opaque institution" on a Ted talk video by Don Tapscott.

It is difficult to see if the horse or the cart comes first in these schools.  If you are judged positively, does that encourage you to open your doors and welcome discussion?  If you are judged negatively, does that make you close the doors and control the conversations?
From what I see around the country, there are some awesome teachers and learners out there.  There are teams working hard to make a difference to the lives of the students, despite the abysmal backgrounds some of them come from.  There are students working hard to escape the dismal backgrounds they come from.
This is a time for change in schools.  There is a new paradigm of learning with the Internet at our fingertips.  It would be great for all schools if they were all able to open up the discussions, break down the walls and have those conversations about the future of their children and young people.  
In the words of Jim Collins, in this article about leading change,  there need to be the right people on the bus, they need to be in the right seats and finally the wrong people need to get off the bus.
A bit scary for some, I know.

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

How do I love thee, Google? Let me count the ways.
I love Search to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when needing some light
For the answers to hand - you know the place.
I love Blogger for the record of everyday times,
opinions and insights, shared in the lines.
I love Maps as we strive for alternate ways
To reach destinations, the times and delays
I love Youtube, as it shows me ways how to do
I love Drive with a passion, Docs and Forms too.
Now Word and Powerpoint are well in the past
I love Google Sites with a love That will last
Oh Google- I love thee with all the breath,
Smiles, tears, of all my life! --- and, if Google choose,
I shall but love Google better well after death.
Apologies to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, but my love affair with Google started years ago and I have to tell the world that the love grows stronger every year.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Saturday, 24 August 2013

Modern Learning Environments

Tamara's blog on modern learning environments reminded me of the struggle one teacher is having in a school where she has revamped her room to be a relaxed enjoyable space for the students - sofas, coffee tables, bean bags and the occasional desk for those who prefer it that way.  The students love it, she loves it.  The students are focused on their work, they are relaxed and enjoying it, and achieving like never before.
She has been told she has to share her room soon and she must return it to the straight rows of desks and chairs because "no other teacher will want it that way."  The students haven't been asked.  I assume their has been some consultation among the teachers.
There is a lot of talk about modern learning environments and I refer the teaching profession to Mark Osborne's report as a good place to start as there are reflective questions which will enable you to make the right decisions for your learners.
I also like Claire Amos' words in her blog about MLE's " I worry that the introduction of these physically, palpable and measurable objects will be seen as making a change for the better, when the one thing that that really needs to be "introduced" is still lacking - the teacher's belief that the student is capable of leading their own learning."
So back to the original teacher, her pedagogical change over the last 5 years has been huge.  She is a facilitator of learning.  She uses many different pedagogical approaches to suit the learning needs of her students.  Who should change?  The teacher concerned or the other teachers?  Do the other teachers believe that their students are capable of leading their own learning?

A moment of learning captured in a perfect MLE in 2012 (not in the school concerned).
Just saying........and wondering.........

Saturday, 17 August 2013

A modern slant on a traditional introduction: - My mountain, my river, my mihi.

MIHI:  In my work, I formally introduce myself to the staff at the schools by way of a short mihi or traditional greeting about who I am and where I am from.  For me it is quite easy as I have lived in the same area for a long time and feel an affinity for the mountain(s) of the area and the river(s).
This link to a Maori language website explains how a mihi could be said.  I usually say "Ko Leigh Hynes taku ingoa, ko Ruapehu te maunga, ko Mangawhero te awa" although I also feel that certain affinity for a number of other rivers like Whakapapanui, Waikato and Whanganui Rivers and I delve no further into who my tribe or ancestors are/were.  
MODERN NEW ZEALANDERS: For many urban and transient New Zealanders, it must be difficult to identify with a certain mountain or river or sea.  I thought I would experiment with Google Maps to see if I could make it easier for students to identify where they feel they belong. This is not the traditional approach but it may be helpful for some to have a modern approach in the technological environment and so I have decided to share how I did it for myself. 
GOOGLE MAPS:  I have made my own map using Google's "My Places", following these instructions. Here is my map:- 
View My mountain, my river in a larger map

 I think every learner could make their own map and use it at different times, say to embed in their blogs, or on their website if they do make them.  Luckily Google saves these maps for you in the cloud and you can build on them as you wish.
And here are the instructions on how to make your own map:-

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Does size matter?

According to Andreas Schleicher, class sizes can be big with no detrimental affects on achievement, if they have the best teachers.

The overarching theme of this interesting talk by the director of PISA, which compares achievement data from different countries,  is that using such achievement data leads to improved outcomes for students in all countries.
But he has many other interesting points in the video, including some contentious issues for New Zealanders.  For example, his data shows that successful outcomes for students does not depend on small class size.
In fact, what does matter is the valuing of teachers and teaching as a profession in general.  In countries which have made the greatest gains in achievement, teachers are paid very well, but have high class sizes.  They also have "intelligent pathways" for their careers.
Luxembourg as a country spends a lot of money on education, but the penchant for smaller class sizes means that their teachers are not paid so well and subsequently, or so it seems, their student achievement has not been at a high level.
In other countries where achievement is high, the societies value education highly.  Their citizens are told "school is important" and parents, teachers and everyone strives to make sure they get the best from their education.
So how do you think this would go down in New Zealand?  Have we become a nation of undervalued, underpaid teachers and a society which believes school is not important in the scheme of things?  To a large extent I think this is true.
Now I am not necessarily for larger class sizes, but I would like to know, how can we make school more important?  I think that we need to make it more relevant for every learner with differentiated learning opportunities.
Parents and society in general would be much happier with schools they saw potential flourishing, and every individual given the chance to develop their own expertise and skills.
Or would they?  Are we stuck in an industrial model of education where society believes that the old education system worked for them, so nothing should change? Where the drafting of our students into "successes or failures" based on someone's idea of useful criteria is helpful to creating a vibrant, viable society?
Food for thought.  The video is packed full of discussion about other issues as well.  The positive message from the talk is that objective comparative data does make a difference.  No-one wants to be seen as the last in the race.  It is interesting to see the position and size of New Zealand's dot on the graph.
What do you think??

Friday, 2 August 2013

VideoNotes : - an awesome way to gather your thoughts

I watched this interesting TED talk video from Andreas Schleicher who runs PISA, the international assessor of student achievement.  There are many, many interesting concepts in this video that compelled me to watch it more than once. To help me get a grasp on what was being said,  I used the fabulous VideoNotes in Google Drive to collect my thoughts.
For those of you who have not used this function before, let me tell you, it must be one of the most useful for any learner to have in front of them.  It allows you to take notes while you watch a video, and your notes are automatically saved in Google Drive
I first found out about VideoNotes from  the FreeTechnologyforTeachers blog by Richard Byrne.  All you have to do is add it to your drive and when you go to the Create button in your drive you see the VideoNotes option.  Press on that and you just put the URL of the video into the bar and away you go.  As you write your notes, it automatically synchronizes it to the correct place in the video.

Here is the video itself.    Well worth a watch.

And here  is a screen shot of my notes and here are the actual VideoNotes  for what they are worth.  I will use them to write a blog about the video a little later.  I can imagine every teacher and student/learner in New Zealand being able to use VideoNotes in some way or another!

Sunday, 7 July 2013

Eduspeak Part 3

Androgogy - this sounds like something that google phone freaks would like, with their androids in tow.  In fact, it is a term that I prefer to pedagogy because pedagogy somehow implies that the teacher is the expert in learning and looks down benignly on "those who must be educated."
Androgogy is the science or art of teaching adults or your peers.  It has been used extensively in adult education.  Today, there is a paradigm shift happening and teachers are being urged to think of themselves as the guide on the side rather than the sage on the stage.  So you are no longer the font of all knowledge.  You are fellow travelers in the learning journey.
Androgogy implies that you are teaching and learning alongside your peers.  This is why I like this word in preference to pedagogy when applied in the classroom.  Of course, the teacher is often the well seasoned traveller but as all travelling buddies know, you don't exclude going to one destination because you havent been there before.  Try it, you may like it!

Eduspeak Part 2

In response to prompts from my colleagues, a little bit more on the topic of Eduspeak.  You know, those awful words that teachers use.
Nathaniel Louwrens, whose blogs can be found here  and here, has asked me about pedagogy.  Actually this is one of my favourite words.  I use it all the time and so I forget how it is not an everyday word except in the realm of education.
Pedagogy - you would expect it to be something do do with feet or children (pod or ped) and the connection is of course with children.  Pedagogy is the way you teach.  Some people think it is an art and some people think it is a science.   If you think it is an art then you are more inclined to think that it is some magical charismatic miracle of osmosis that some people have the gift of performing and some people don't.
I tend to think it is more of a science because I believe there are certain methodologies and like a good science experiment you need to know the aim, the method, record what the result is and make a conclusion based on that result and then, like any good scientist, you have to go back and do another experiment, which is designed better.  If this sounds slightly familiar, then look into the New Zealand Curriculum on page 35  at "Teaching As Inquiry."
The difference between those who have the "gift" and those who don't is often just a lack of experience, but sometimes those who seem to be able to teach effortlessly from the beginning, are those who carry out a good experiment from the first time.  And then build on their skills.
So if you are one of those who hasn't been able to make a go of teaching, go ahead, try another experiment, but don't expect improvements unless you change the recipe.
Watch out for my next Eduspeak blog, coming soon, courtesy of late night musings.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013


   Deep understanding, rich understanding, unpack a concept, what that looks like in your school, resonates, dispositions, teaching as inquiry, digging deeper, scaffolding, synthesis, best practice

It all becomes clear to me now.

These are some of the words I hear a lot, and probably use a lot more than I want to. They are the eduspeak of the day. What educators say when they talk about teaching and learning. The trouble is that our audiences are not always educators. So I had this thought that maybe I should try to find some other terminology to explain these eduspeak words what someone might think they are and then perhaps what I think they are. Open the doors a little and let others comment on what they might be.
So here goes

Deep understanding      - you know more than the average Joe? - really means having extensive knowledge about the detail
Rich understanding - costs a lot? - really means you have deep understanding and you know how it fits into the big picture of the world
Unpack a concept - take it out of the suitcase? - really means take a look at the detail of how ideas are put together into a whole package
What that looks like in your school - where is the visual evidence? - really means if you say it happens in your school, what will I see happening in the school to reflect that it is happening?
Resonates - echos a lot? - really means it makes a lot of sense to me
Dispositions - natures? really means attitudes to certain things
Teaching as Inquiry - no-one knows what they heck they are doing? - really means you should always ask yourself why you are doing things a certain way and check the data to see if it really works and if it doesn't then change it
Digging deeper - being nosy? - really means you are looking for that deep understanding (see above)
Scaffolding - supporting something that is weak?  - really means making a safe environment for students to build their knowledge
Synthesis - making something up? - really means a bringing together of elements of a whole thing that is useful
Best practice - the rehearsal that was awesome? - really means a strategy that is proven to have the best outcomes for students
So that is the list I have come up with this morning.  There are more!  Please, feel free to send me more words, add your own. 
 I really would like to have a deeper, richer understanding of this unpacked concept, so I can see what it looks like in your school, how it resonates with me and changes my disposition to teaching as inquiry, because when we dig deeper and scaffold learning we are able to present a synthesis of best practice available for all educators.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Awesome students

How awesome to be shown and escorted around this school by one of its leaders, this lovely young lady,

having conversations about the learning going on in every class at Pukehamoamoa School. The school has started its iPad journey this year, rolling out 80 ipads to all students from year 3 up, and the learning has been transformed!

Another awesome young man is the tech help, assisting the principal with all sorts of on the spot remedies.

Today he was cleaning up jumbles of wires and sorting out who was going to be his successor next year. I didn't need the principal standing next to me to point out the awesome learning going on in every class-

I was treated to feedback from many students throughout the morning on the learning they had done, from Van Gogh interviews on Puppet Pals to Skype interviews with an author, to buddy classes in Australia, using maths apps like Wings and Bingo and Coop fractions to the perennial favourites like Book Creator and GarageBand, iMovie and the like.

These students are so creative and so enjoying their education with the new tools. Alongside books sit very comfortably, and evidence of learning is posted up on the school blogs.
Thank you, Pukehamoamoa and Brendon. I guess the old adage is very true here. Behind every awesome student there is an awesome teacher.

Watch out secondary schools, these talented students are coming your way next year. I hope you are ready for them.
Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Wembley Place,Richmond Heights,New Zealand

Friday, 24 May 2013

Driving to work

I must have one of the best jobs in the world. On my way to Taumarunui this morning, Ruapehu stands out on the volcanic plateau

Of course his mate, Ngauruhoe- stands nearby, too.

As I left Taupo ths morning i could see a pink tinge to the snowy caps across the lake

Last week I had other views to die for. This one of TARANAKI in the distance.

And the flat table top mountain whose name escapes me.

My other journeys around New Zealand give me access to some of the most stunning places. Napier across the sea.

Lake Tutira on the way to Gisborne.....

Stunning Gisborne

Tauhara and Taupo in the distance across Lake Taupo.

Gisborne countryside.

And all this just travelling from place to place. Maybe next blog will be in the schools in towns. Lucky woman!

Sunday, 19 May 2013

Google apps in Education

Saturday morning and I am listening to the keynote at Bucklands Beach.

Google rocks. This is my second Gafe conference and each time I have been exhilarated about the potential in schools. I feel like an old hat as I know how fab Gafe is.

but honestly why would schools not go with Google Apps?
A May Zing!

Location:Bucklands Beach Road,Bucklands Beach,New Zealand

Monday, 22 April 2013

A little Dr Seuss

“I have heard there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind. But I've bought a big bat. I'm all ready you see. Now my troubles are going to have troubles with me!” 
― Dr. Seuss
Sometimes I am a stroppy cow.  I don't like it when people are mean, and I don't mean mean with money, I mean just straight mean-spirited.  But I guess everyone has their own motives.  Some don't even know when they are being mean.  They are so caught up in their own persona that they do not see how their remarks are perceived by others. Dismissive, patronising, judgmental, bullying, self-righteous....I have had them all.  But your turn will come.  I do not turn the other check.  I wait for my moment to make my point.  I don't mean with a big bat, but just enough so that you will know, and stop and think about your actions and maybe not do them again.
“A person's a person, no matter how small.” 
― Dr. SeussHorton Hears a Who!

Saturday, 6 April 2013

What else must teachers give?

There are costs associated with every job. Sometimes it is the cost of getting to and from the place of work. Sometimes it is the cost of time. Time away from the family, hours of travel time, long hours of work, work in your home office, when you cannot interact with your loved ones as you focus on the task in hand.

There is nothing more disheartening to realise that your employer does not recognise or even appreciate this extra sacrifice. In many cases, it is taken for granted that you will give give give without a word, and that is perhaps just the way it is.
After 33 years of working in the same job, I certainly feel this awful feeling of having been taken for granted. And it is possibly because teachers do not ask for enough. They are expected to be sacrificing so much for their "calling."
The latest added cost for teachers is the cost of the Internet at home that they are all meeting, in order to prepare lessons for their students. Faced with inadequate school time and Internet bandwidth at school, they move like sacrificial lemmings to their homes, where they pay for the Internet services of uploads and downloads and sometimes even software out of their own pockets. They use their own phones, and their cameras and their video recorders and often their own ink and paper for printing, on top of all of the other costs that they meet daily. I am sure I am only just scratching the surface here.
So the 21st century learning going on in our schools is being subsidised heavily by teachers. Wouldn't it be nice if that were recognised let alone paid for?

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Location:Wembley Place,Richmond Heights,New Zealand

Saturday, 9 March 2013

What every teacher in NZ should have. Digitally speaking!

This is my list of ICT tools that every teacher must have, in every class, in every school.
1. A RSS reader like Google reader to collect new articles from webites that they like
2. A digital curation tool like Diigo, or Evernote so that every website or online article that they ever find, and go WOW!, can be stored for future reference.

3. A Youtube channel so they can save all videos that they use (or create) to playlists which are readily available.
4. An online educational community where they can ask questions, answer questions and receive great advice and pd like SimpleK12.
5. A Twitter account which they can tweet away their discoveries and find all the PD they would want 24/7
6. An e-portfolio where they can record their pd and their career highlights and create a CV with digital evidence.
7. An online collaborative site where they can work on shared documents like Google Drive
8. Access to resources for their teaching and learning, and pd records, 24/7 is this N4L?
9. A video camera and still camera, and phone all in one
 10 A reliable tablet (i-pad preferred)and VGA cable to connect to a digital projector and screen.
 And, did I say, they should know how to use them all as well. Is there anything you would add?

Friday, 8 March 2013

Shifting the thinking

Lucky me in a job that I love. I have been in many schools in the last six months and in the last few days have been lucky enough to visit a secondary school grappling with implementing BYOD (preferably iPads) in two year 9 classes.

And grappling is the right word. It is a big beast to get a handle on. There are technical issues and there are pedagogical issues. Actually, I am even surer now than before the implementation, the pedagogy should be the first issue to sort out. The paradigm shift. A passion for change must drive the teachers concerned because a huge investment in skill and knowledge development must occur to move the focus from pen and paper to the technology. Time is a very precious commodity for teachers so it should not be wasted on tweaking a tired curriculum to suit the new ICTs. Opportunities for rich differentiated learning experiences should be explored. I hate to say it but I observed a lesson this week that I delivered 33 years ago as a beginning teacher. And this is a teacher who has poured his heart into upskilling his technical capability in the classroom. He has worked extremely hard on finding the right apps to do the job but his time could have been better spent. I suppose it comes down to how much time do the teachers get to make changes. So this two headed beast might need a bit more in the way of resourcing yet.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Location:Wembley Place,Richmond Heights,New Zealand

Thursday, 28 February 2013

Professional presenters

Once again I am astounded by the lack of care some professional presenters make to engage their audiences Yes, the content is valuable, yes the audience is adult, and yes, the audience is professional, but, honestly , as professionals involved in education, have we learned nothing about how people learn best?
People include the professionals. Attending a hui recently made me wish I was somewhere else assimilating the knowledge. Some presenters, following on from each other had lulling voices, the type that mother would use to send you off to sleep after a tiring day.
The content of their messages was important but I bet I missed 50% of it! Mental zzzzzzz, even if the body was awake!

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Karakia, prayers, blessings....

As a New Zealander, I have become immersed in the culture where there are karakia, blessings and prayers said at hui, during funerals, weddings, and many other occasions, not least of which is when people offer prayers to friends in need, or even me. I respectfully wait for the moment to be over and always feel a bit remorseful for not having any faith to put trust into. I like the sentiments that are expressed but just don't get who they are saying them to.
I watched Graham Nortons's programme on TV recently when he was interviewing the star of The Office - Ricky Gervais and he had finished his hosting of the Oscars or some such other event by saying "....and I want to thank God for making me an atheist." which was pretty offensive to many Americans apparently because, as Johnny Depp said at the time, "God has a home in the American Mid-West." Apparently, about 90% of USA citizens are believers whereas it is more like 50% in Britain.
So I wondered what the percentage was like in New Zealand. I guess I could go to the government census statistics - the 2006 census showed about 66% believers ( on the decrease from the previous census). It will be interesting to see what happens in the next census (remembering we bypassed a census due to the Christchurch earthquake). Will there be a resurgence of religion due to human response to the disasters?
Its not that I wouldn't like to have faith, I just don't. It must be quite nice to have some hope for life after death, reassurance for people who want to see their loved ones again and all the other benefits that religion must bring to the psyche.
What do other (34%) of non-believing people do when all the karakia, prayers and blessings are on? I have never asked for fear of offending someone but I would quite like to know. Our politicians all seem to be able to offer prayers for in troubled times so it cant be them.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Huripoki -Flipping New Zealand style

“Culture is central to learning. It plays a role not only in communicating and receiving information, but also in shaping the thinking process of groups and individuals. A pedagogy that acknowledges, responds to, and celebrates fundamental cultures offers full, equitable access to education for students from all cultures.”[1]
While writing up a paper about flipped learning recently, I started to think about whether flipped learning fitted into the cultural context of New Zealand and decided to have a close look at the Tataiako – the cultural competencies, which every teacher in New Zealand should be aspiring to apply to their teaching practice.
The cultural competencies should promote Maori learners to achieve educational success as Maori. There are five competencies and they are Ako, Wananga, Manaakitanga, Tangatawhenuatanga, and Whanaungatanga. They have links to the Registered Teacher Criteria and the Professional Teaching Standards, so should be well understood by New Zealand teachers. I really don’t know if they are well known or not, but every school which has subscribed to Te Kotahitanga or He Kakano would be aware of them at least.
Image from google stock: [2]

So, as I wrote about flipped learning, (which is the concept of students watching videos at home on the content of their curriculum and coming to school to discuss, question and practice using the concepts in practical or applied ways) it was really interesting to find out that the concept of “the guide on the side, instead of the sage on the stage” was used in one of the first papers about flipping by J Wesley Baker in 2000[3] This, to me, encapsulates what Ako is all about – taking responsibility for your own learning and that of Maori learners. In the classroom this looks like – a teacher sitting alongside a student and discussing, rather than lecturing from the front. The teacher is the guide on the side, learning from the student as well. (Reciprocal learning.)

[4]Image - reproduced from Colin Smith under Creative Commons licensing
In fact, it seems to me that each of the competencies, as I worked through them all, are really about good teaching no matter who and where you are. Wananga is the professional development and problem solving that you do to find the best outcome for the students - in fact “Teaching as Inquiry”. What suits the individual student best? Tangatawhenuatanga is about accepting who the learner is, knowing their cultural identity and allowing them to achieve within their own cultural context. Whanaungatanga is about knowing your learner’s family and their cultural context, making good respectful links with them and their culture. And Manaakitanga is about caring about the student, a mutual respect and understanding about who the student is and what their beliefs are..
I came to the conclusion that “Flipping” could be an excellent pedagogical method for teachers of Maori students as all of the competencies could be applied to create appropriate videos for Maori students or by Maori students. Guide on the side, problem solving, knowing your learners, knowing their families and connections and what works for them, and above all caring about the student and believing that they can learn and achieve.
[3] Baker, JW. "The “classroom flip”. Using web course management tools to become the guide on the side." 11th international conference on college teaching and learning, Jacksonville, FL 2000.
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- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Location:Taupo, New Zealand