Friday, November 6, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

In case you've had your head buried and didn't know, Maurice Sendak's 1963 classic children's picture book 'Where the wild things are' is being released as a movie next month. The official movie website has heaps of entertainment such as trailers, downloads and even an iPhone app. If you insist on something more educational to link in with this high interest topic then check out Jacqui Sharpe's blogpost. She has kindly shared some numeracy and literacy activities bound to grab the attention of even your most reluctant student! Does anyone else have any related ideas to share?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The National Standards Debate

Well, strictly speaking it's not a debate anymore but nonetheless it is a hot topic for educators at the moment. It seems everything I pick up to read or every conversation I tune into is related to national standards these days!

I've recently watched John Hattie on the EdTalks site. As the title (National Standards: Can we learn from others' mistakes?) suggests, Professor Hattie discusses the key lessons to be learned from the experiences of other countries where national standards have also been implemented.

As an ICT-PD Cluster facilitator I've been taking a rather narrow view of national standards. In principle I don't have a problem with them I must confess! I've had a quick look at kit sent to schools, the reporting to parents information etc and there is no rocket science that I could spot. There is no doubt that schools need to keep parents informed including:
  • plain language
  • transparency
  • actual achievement levels compared to expected achievement, with evidence
  • learning goals
  • next learning steps
  • what can be done to help at home
  • etc
I do have two issues I'm mulling over though.
  1. Most schools are still in the midst of their curriculum design which is due to be completed for 2010. From what I'm hearing at other schools it seems much of this has to go on hold while national standards are implement and this is going to be a huge shift in practice for many with a comparatively short lead in time. It's a shame if we lose our momentum at this stage as the NZ Curriculum has the potential to make significant change in student achievement (unlike national standards perhaps).
  2. My base school has been working hard on e-Portfolios for the past two years. At this stage we appear to be including all the national standard requirements already and much more besides. Students from 5 to 11 years are setting literacy and numeracy goals, reflecting regularly on their progress and uploading evidence to support this. Teachers offer regular comments on progress throughout the year in plain language addressed to the student including any assessment data and next learning steps. Instead of reporting twice a year to parents, our e-Portfolios are online and available 24/7 to see learning as it happens with the ability to give written feedback to their child as often as they choose. e-Portfolios are the focus of two collaborative conferences (teacher, parents, student) held in Term 2 and 4. Unfortunately, it looks like we are going to have to change our format significantly and probably ask teachers to duplicate data entry to meet the national standards guidelines for reporting to parents. This extra workload is going to add no value to what we are already doing and may in fact take away due to the added stress on teachers. The alternative is to chuck out what we have done for the past two years and simply fill in the blanks on the templates provided in the school kits. Not a chance!
It's early days and there is still much reading and thinking to do!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It's good to be back

I've been a bit slow with the blogging recently. We had our cluster expo day in the last school holidays in July. It was a frantic two weeks beforehand preparing everything for the big day then straight into Term 3 for another frantic 10 weeks. It was a difficult term, not helped by the dreaded lurgy, but I'm now feeling much more refreshed and ready for Term 4!

Back to the cluster expo day for a bit. This was the first expo day I had organised entirely myself as the previous one was held at Sky City last year. It was a lot more work but cost a lot less so it was worth it. I had heaps of helpers too - KA and most of the ICT Lead Teachers gave up their own time and holidays to get all the jobs done from my ever increasing list!

We had two awesome keynote speakers, Rachel Boyd and Suzie Vesper, as well as more than 30 workshops for teachers to choose from. The feedback from the 120 or so attendees was overhwhelming positive and the increased interest and motivation of teachers was obvious throughout the term. There were several things I would do differently next time including longer workshops. We only had 3 x 45 minute workshops and they should probably have been a minimum of 60-90 minutes each. Some teachers did comment that it was a long day, especially being held in the holidays as it was 8:30 to 4:30pm. Personally I didn't think it was too long but I guess you can never please everyone!

The expo wiki has many links and presentations uploaded by presenters so check it out for yourself!

On 20 October we have the whole cluster share afternoon so stay tuned to hear how it went!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Pencils and crayons to be banned in schools

A new law coming into force later this month will require students to check in their pencils and crayons at the office and collect them after school. Any children caught with pencils or crayons in their possession will have then confiscated and parents will be informed.

“We’ve had enough,” said one teacher, “kids are writing notes to each other in class. It’s distracting for us all. Besides that, they spend too much time sharpening them when they could be working.”

There have been many reports of children using their pencils to “poke” each other and there have even been arguments about who owns which pencil.

“They’ll have someone’s eye out one day. It’s only a matter of time before something serious happens,” commented a parent who favours the all out ban. “Better to ban them all rather than risk an accident – they can be really sharp.”

In some cases pencils have been used by pupils to record their ideas and learning, but they’ve also created problems with their inappropriate use in class. The introduction of new “coloured” pencils means that children are being tempted to create ever more creative work and the notes passed around now include garish illustrations.

One parent explained his opinion. “Chalk and slate was good enough for us, black and white and easy to read, not a confusing multicoloured mess. You couldn’t pass notes around without the teacher noticing and the chalk couldn’t be sharpened into a dangerous point. The greatest danger was that you’d drop it on your foot. I’d like chalk to remain the teachers’ main tool (along with talk). Let’s keep it at the centre of learning.”

A few teachers are not convinced that the ban is the best policy. They worry about the effect it might have on student engagement and motivation.

“As soon as they get out of school kids are writing, drawing and passing notes around. I think by banning the pencil and crayon we risk alienating students and making their time at school seem irrelevant to their lives.”

“Used in the correct way they are powerful learning tools, students (and teachers) need to be trained in their proper classroom use.”

“It seems ridiculous to exclude something that is so readily available outside school and widely integrated into all aspects of our modern society. They are exposed to these modern implements from an early age and most children use them on a daily basis. To take them away is erasing educational opportunities.”

No one can argue with the fact that a sharpened pencil can cause injury and that something must be done. It’s too soon to determine the outcome of the ban. We’ll just have to wait and see.

P.S. There is a rumour that something called a “ballpoint pen” is beginning to gain popularity among teens. How will schools cope with this new permanent menace? At least pencils can be erased with the right equipment.

Source: What Now? What Next? So What?
Photo: orangeacid

Did you know?

Here is the latest version of the popular Did You Know? series on YouTube.

Food for thought ....

Friday, July 10, 2009

Video Books

SqoolTube is a site with free video books to view or download. There is not a huge range but authors/titles include Maurice Sendak, Dr Seuss, Berenstain Bears and Curious George. Other sites I've recommended in the past (ie Looky Books and Tumble Books) are now either off line or have a cost so hopefully this one will be a possible replacement.

Thanks to Jacqui Sharp for sharing this and other online literary links in her recent post.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Whole New Meaning to Customer Complaints

This YouTube clip has been created by a United Airlines customer in response to a bad experience he had on one of their flights. It's had over 148,000 hits in two days! I'm picking United Airlines aren't too happy about it right now ....

It also makes me think of the bigger picture here for other organisations. It seems this could place extra pressure on them to provide good customer service or end up on YouTube! Not necessarily a bad thing from the consumer point of view is it?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Presentation Zen Workshop

Woo hoo, I'm here! I was the first person to arrive at the venue (Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington) for the Presentation Zen workshop! In fact I was so early that was here when Garr arrived that got to meet him personally before he went into set up. In case you haven't already guessed - I have been very excited about coming along today! I'm going to write my notes in this post although Garr's presentation style is such that it's hard to do anything else other than listen to him!

The little things matter.

Powerpoint is not for documents. Have proper documents and proper visuals - don't try to kill two birds with one stone.

Express your uniqueness - what makes you/your content different?

Recommended text:
Unlimited - The new learning revolution and the seven keys to unlock it by Gordon Dryden and Jeanette Vos.

Characteristics of good presentations we've seen:
humour, stories, simplicity,sincerity, passion, unexpected props, good structure, nervous, crass, starting with a question, engaged audience, credibility, not too formal or serious, natural delivery, not perfect

Characteristics of bad presentations we've seen:
reading slides, podium hugger, monotone, clutter, complex diagrams, transitions effects, quiet, going over time, small fonts, too much information

Recommended text:
Brain Rules by John Medina
- see slideshare for a summary

Garr's other blog

100% pure nz clip on youtube - an example of showing a story to get a message across rather than saying it.

- restraint - resist the urge to add more
- multitasking myth - not biologically capable
- time off the grid to prepare - analogue
- structure your presentation about meaning, the big picture, the sport key ideas with details. Don't start with the details.
- wide or deep but not both - choose one and let go of the rest
- make your messages/stories "sticky" (Made to Stick by Chip Heath and Dan Heath) - all these memorable messages have 6 key elements - simplicity, unexpectedness, concreteness, credibility, emotion, story

Dr Jill Bolte Taylor(

Storyboarding - can print out blank in powerpoint
It all takes time being more effective and different
Refer to previous speakers in your presentation

Recommmended text:
A whole new mind by Daniel Pink

- the bento (attention to detail, fresh, bite size pieces, inspiring, simple, something for everyone, variety, complete
- decoration is surface
- design is soul deep (Design by Tom Peters)

Hear a message and you'll remember 10%. See a picture and you'll remember 65%.

Lessig method

Simplicity means the achieveent of maximum effect with minimum means - Dr Koicha Kawana

The Laws of Simplicity by John Maeda
Simplicity is about subtracting the obvious and adding the mean meaningful.

Simplicity - essence space, clarity, profound

Simplicity is not simple. Simplicity good. But simple is not.

Child's mind/beginners mind - willing to take a chance

In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities. In the expert's mind there are few. Shunrya Suzuki

Creativity - Sir Ken Robinson

- conversational
- be natural, relaxed
- use a remote control
- synchronisation
- 1 minute rule (change something every 10 minutes or so)
- use larger tv screens rather than projectors if possible
- never use a podium
- lapel mirocrophone for large audiences
- stand front and centre
- b key (black), w key (white)
- video and audio can be powerful
- no audio for transitions

Kaizen - continous improvement

What a fabulous four hours this has been. To top it off we got a free copy of Garr's book (autographed) and I was the luck recipient of the free Presentation Zen DVD (being the only poorteacher in the room). Unfortunately I couldn't stay for the lunch with Garr as I had to rush off and catch my flight back to Auckland.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

I spy

I've taken to reading the Telegraph online every so often as sometimes they have very interesting education reports. This one has tickled my fancy and has caused more than a few smiles when I've shared it with colleagues. It seems MI5 is actively recruiting experienced teachers as spies! I have to admit to being more than a little intrigued at the concept - images of Daniel Craig and Dame Judi Dench feature prominently in my thoughts! Not sure about the salary though which is claimed to be similar to an experience secondary teacher. Surely a little "danger" money wouldn't go amiss if those James Bond movies are anything to go by?

Go on read it - I bet you can't stop yourself!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Parents banned from taking pictures of their own children at sports day

Could this be happening in NZ soon? I've just been reading an article the Telegraph about a primary school in the UK that is the first to ban parents taking pictures of their own children at sports events. Why? Well read the article for yourself but it's not entirely clear. The assumption is that photos could fall into the wrong hands and be used for dodgy purposes but I think this is the first step on a very slippery slope indeed ...

Free Signature Generator

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Do I need to have my own class to have credibility as a Facilitator?

I haven't been in a classroom full time since 2003. Since then I've held a several ICT roles both part and full time. Over the past 5-6 years I've participated in (or over heard) variations on the following types of conversations about me:

* I've forgotten what it's like to be in a classroom/real world
* It's easy for me because I don't have a class
* A classroom teacher's job is more important than mine
* I don't have to work hard now that I don't have a class
* My time is less valuable than a classroom teacher's
* I dream up "extra" work for teachers to do
* Management just want change for change's sake and it's all a waste of time

I could go on but you get the picture...

I should add that this has not been all teachers I work with but enough to make it worth blogging about! My reaction to these statements has changed over the years. When I first stepped outside the classroom and took on a part time ICT teacher role I was upset by the things teachers said. As time went by I became defensive and somewhat distant to protect my feelings. In the last couple of years I've worked with a more diverse group of educators and am now much more confident in my contribution and refuse to buy into the few who continue to be negative.

And yet I'm still not sure. Why do I have to lose credibility with some teachers simply because I am no longer in a classroom full time? Does this happen to others in similar positions to me? Is it possible to regain that credibility without having my own class?

Saturday, June 13, 2009


Last Wednesday we had an all day ICT Lead Teacher workshop for our cluster. There were 14 lead teachers present which is almost everyone. In all honesty, it was a huge amount of work to organise the day as they are quite a diverse bunch of learners (as with all adult learners) and I spent around two full days planning and creating resources etc. The good news is it was worth it based on my own gut feel but also going from verbal feedback and by blog postings/reflections (used instead of an online survey). It seems the main reason for the positive responses was mainly due to the number of online resources the lead teachers had a chance to play with and hear about being used in the classroom. This happened in several ways:

* each participant brought along one ICT idea/website/resource to share in "donut news" style
* lead teachers worked in several different varieties of groupings to analyse and report back on a variety of websites/resources/web2.0 tools using both their classroom teacher and e-Learning facilitator hats

We also used one session to work on difficulties teachers complained of in our cluster survey recently. Each group came up with some possible solutions and posted on a Wallwisher page. This is a resource I first heard about from Manaiakalani so thanks!

Here's a link to the programme for the day if you are interested.

It's going to be a hard act to follow in Term 3 but I'm already making plans ...

Thursday, June 4, 2009


Dimensions of the curriculum - Values, Key Competencies, Learning areas. Principles apply to all these. None of these work in isolation. The school has a role in introducing these to students but they're only one part. The child's world also has a significant impact.

Principles are mandatory. What does this mean for practice? Are the princples to be seen in programmes? Or are they to be seen in teaching practice? What is intended by "curriculum"?

Your school should be able to demonstrate how the principles are seen in practice. It is a case of 'evidence in practice' rather than 'evidence on paper'.

Evidence in Practice - Curriculum Principles
- true curriculum appens in the day to day activities and life in classrooms and around the school.

Important to define the principles for your own school - what does it mean for us?

For example:

High expectatios - teachers have, regularly communicate and encourage students to achieve to their personal best. Expectations are suitably pitched to the individual student, understood by the student and they are motivational.

Learning to learn - teachers help students to learn how to learn through explict feedback that helps them to know where they are succeeding, where they are at, and how best to move forward. They know what it is they are learning and what successful learning looks like.

Treaty of Waitangi - all students experience learning opportunities within and across curricla areas and topics that help them understand the bicultural tikanga of Aotearoa NZ.

Diversity - Teachers and children respect each other's cultural and personal backgrounds in the ways they relate and work together.

Inclusion - all children's identities, abilities and talents are affired, teir needs are addressed and they are treated fairly and without discrimination.

Coherence learning is experienced in ways that interrelate values, key competencies and learning areas.

Future focus - learning experiences are relevant to the changing world in which we live.

Community engagement - learning experiences connect with children's wider lives, and engage the support of their familities/whanau and the community.

Important distinction between values education and teaching values. Your school should be able to explain encouraging, modelling and exploring the values. Again, 'evidence in practice' rather than evidence on paper'.

Values are priorities individuals and society attach to certain beliefs and objects in deciding how they will live and what they will treasure (Hill). THe principles and fundamental convictions which act as general guides to behaviour, the standards by which particular actions are judged as good or desirble (Halstead & Taylor, 2000).

Values education helps us make our unconscious values conscious. It encourages us to develop integrity and confidence in life by getting to know and state the values that dictate our actions. It helps us to close the gap betweenwhat we say and what we do (Lawley, 2001).

Three or four "things" easier to remember than seven or eight!

Australian School Values
- care and compassion
- doing your best
- fair go
- freedom
- honesty and trustworthiness
- integrity
- respect
- responsibility
- understanding, tolerance and inclusion

Paul Dredge, Habits of Mind scool in Palmerston North
- Habits of Heart is a programmes that fits the culture of the school!

Mt Cook School in Wellington
- excellence (striving to be the best we can be, initiative, perseverance, self-discipline)
- respect (courtesy, tolerance)
- friendship (kindess, empathy,compassion, participation, good humour)
- integrity (honesty, responsility, trusthworthiness)

New homework for Years 1-8 or could use with staff pd
- sit down with someone at home (don't specify who)
- talk about and write down what are the really important values for our family?
- put a tick beside the 3-4 most important ones
- what are the important values for our school?
- ticks besides the ones the most important ones
- join lines between the ones that are the same

The most powerful influence over values is the home - until college years when peer pressure kicks in and the values get challenged!

Values that are explored, encouraged, modelled and regularly reviewed by everyone in the Elm Park School community are: ....

Chapel Downs School values:
- happiness (humour, fun, joy)
- respect
- working together(contributing, co-oeperatin ,communication, supporting, leading)
- responsibility

OECD DeDoCo Background (2002)
- what competencies are needed for the individual to lead an overall successful and responsible life and for contemporary society to face present and future challenges? What are the normative, theoretical and conceptural foundations defining and selecting a limited set of the most relevant skills, knowledge, values and attitudes.

- defining and selecting key competencies relevant for individuals and societies is at the same time an ethical, a scientific and a political issue.

THe Competencies Model (MoE, 2005)
- competencies are integrated, holistic and complex including knowledge, skills, attitudes and values needed to meet the demands of a task
- performance based and inferred from action, behaviours and choices of an individual in a particular context
- key competencies are those cmpetencies needed by everyone across many life context to meet important challenges

Key competencies are the capabilities people need in order to live, learn and contribute as active members of their communities. They are critical to sustained learning and effective participation in society and work. (Education Gazette, 2009)

Schools are required to support students to develop the key competencies. What does this mean for practice and the design of our curriculum? How will we know we are doing it? What evidence will we need to show we are doing this? Is it demonstrable in day to day teaching?

Student self assessment of key competencies.

The school provides only some contexts to use and demonstrate key competencies.

Alan Cooper, Palmerston North - Habits of Mind is a ready made resource for integrating the competencies. Perhaps better to use ready made resources as a basis for ideas to be adapted and made our own.

Claxton, 2008, 'the key competencies must be embedded in each school's culture and most importantly in the microclimate of the classroom.'

Learning competencies - thinking and using language, symbols and textsPersonal. HIgh level of teacher led assessment.

Social/relational competencies - managing self, relating to others, participating and contributing. High level of stuent led, self and peer assessment.

When there are too many bits to a curriculum teachers will start fragmenting it.

There is no requirement for schools to assess key competencies.

The measure of how well the competencies are developed by students is in how well they are deonstrated and lived out in a wide reange of life contexts. Life contexts are highly variable. Dispositionand inclination vary according to variable personal states. School is just one context and a relatively ordered one which relates to one period of time in life. We cannot assume that what is developed for one context will generalise or transfer into life contexts outide of school.

Teachers bring their own personalities and assumptions to assessment of key competencies = highly variable.

Assessment has dual and interrelated functions: assessment for learning and for reporting.
Learning is flud and seldom incrementally linear and stable.
Most effective assessment for learning is continuous, interactive, orally communicated (not written) and characterised as feedback. It is a process.
Most valid assessment for reporting is derived from informationacquird from assessment for learning.
Written forms use achievement or progress descriptors, letteror numeric grades, or comments.
All such descriptors are relative to particular criteria, jugement making, student engagement etc. At best they are approximations. They are seldom, if ever, absolutes or fixed points. Reporting on bands could be more accurate eg high achieving band, middle achieving band and low achieving band.
Judges and judgments of key competencies performances bsed on one setting (classroom 'A') may not be the same as for another setting!
Multiple measures or points of reference necessary for accurate assessment.
(Flockton, 2009)

If assessment of the key competencies is to have validity for a student's learning and progress then the student needs to be at the centre of the process.

KC assessment practices
- rubrics
- checklists
- standardised tests, surveys, inventories
- learning stories
- learning logs or journals
- portfolios
- rich tasks
- conferencing
- personalised monitoring nd review devices

Monitoring relational/social competencies:
- student at the centre of the process
- absolutes are elusive, unrealistic and irrelevant
- criteria relevant to the students and in student language
- criteria re developed with the students
- fewer rather than more criteria
- performance scales do not assume a one-way upward linear gradient (think fire dials that move around)
- judgements are made with reference to particular contexts
- jugments are made from time to time to determine patterns of performance across contexts
- student at the centre of judgment making - proposes a judgment, justifies to peers, peers affirm or moderate together with the student
- carefully considered reflection, self-monitoring, goal identification, monitoring and learning

Thinking competency - critical-analytic, creative, reflective (metacognition)
Habits of Mind align with the thinking competency but are not strong in the other areas. They do not replace the key competencies.

Thinking is when your mouth stays shut and your head keeps talking to itself (Dennis the Meanace).

de Bono
- intelligence - horsepower
- thinking - skill with which a car is driven

Teachers needs to be willing to think critically about education theory.

- effectively taught programmes are provided, consistent with the learning area statements

Content and context are inseparable. The more meaningful and relevant the context to the interests of students, the more motivated they are likely to be to learn and achieve.

8 learning areas, 27 strands

Big shift required - looking at the big picture for each learning area, what are the big ideas we want to focus on? Rather than achievement objective checklists set up with incremental levels eg Health statement - students regularly participate in highly active and enjoyable physcial activities and know the benefits for personal well being. Visual Arts statement - students show that they know the use and effects of a variety of materials, tools and processes for expressing ideas visually.

Written English - clarity, mechanics, processes and relevance

Planning for Curriculum Coverage: Considerations and Conundrums
- surface coverage or depth? learning outcomes or learning experiences? what matters most?
- big picture objectives (learning area statementss) or little picture objectives (AOs)?
- learning coherence (learning area statements) or learning fragmentation (AOs)
Integrated (blending and mixing) or Connected (weaving and infusing)?
Partitions (literacy/english - numeracy/mathematic - arts - PE - science - social science -health - technology)?
- year level strand or cross strands
- local priorities or national priorities?
- schoolwide detailed prescription of curriculum coverage (topic/content) or school wide big picture prescription of curriculum coverage (concepts/processes)?
- learning or achievement? what counts as learning? how will learning be judged? how will judgments be justified? how will learning be recorded? how will learning be reported?
- new teacher induction?
- sustainability

(see handout)
Literacy is essential, numeracy is useful!
Base learning = literacy and numeracy.
Rich learning = learning areas, Values and Competencies (knowledge, learning competencies, values and personal/social competencies)
Strand coverage - choose themes/contexts that allow you to visit as many as possible at once.

Where possible group strands together eg Literacy = receptive strands and productive strands.

Curriculum Plan
- principles
- vision
- values
- key competencies
- learning areas
- learning progressions (literacy & numeracy)
- quality teaching
- assessment, reporting

Wolk 'School as Inquiry', October 2008

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Connected Curriculum

Lester Flockton (
Ellerslie Convention Centre
Wednesday 3 June 2009

There is no holy grail.
The thicker the plan, the less it is likely to be a reality in practice.
The time taken for this is time taken from that.

Directions for Assessment in NZ (

Curriculum - a plan for learning? Lester believes it is what happens in classrooms. Everyone has their own interpretation of a curriculum. Documentation vs what is happening in the classrooms. Is there space for teachers to add their own flavour?

Educare Educarus - to educate to be educated

Four directions:
Rationalisation of learning outcomes
Agreed criteria for quality teaching
School ownership of its curriculum consistent with NZC obligations and opportunities
Strengthened engagement among those who share responsibility for the student's learning and achievement.

Moves beyond the so-called integrated curriculum. Brings together vision, values, learning areas, key competencies. Incorporates approaches such as enquiry learning.

Phaseology of NZC
Whole - intentions, directions, obligations
Parts - clarifications, explorations
Whole - rationalisation, alignment, design, implementation with illustrated metaphors


The 5th Discipline by Senge 1990
A learning organisation is an organisation
- where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire
- where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured
- where collective aspiration is set free
- where people are continually learning how to learn together

- expertise
- altruism
- autonomy

Learners need - interest, relevance, engagement

Two intentions
- Learning for Knowledge and Skills (learning areas) - substance
- Learning for Learning and Living (Key Competencies, Values) - process

Curriculum Time average
1.5 Literacy
1.0 Numeracy
2.0 Other (art, dance, drama, music, science, health, PE, social sciences, technology, languages)
0.5 Various

In other countries national standards tend to take over the curriculum. Literacy and numeracy become the "evil twins". A well rounded curriculum needs more than the 3Rs.

Dubious of Adrienne Alton-Lee's Best Evidence Synthesis.
Dubious of John Hattie's Visible Learning.
Research deals in probabilities not absolutes. We must all foster a healthy scepticism of absolutes. Research for improving teaching and learning is limited. It has a high level of abstraction.
Often data cannot be replicated (Nuthall, 2002) in subsequent studies.
The relationship of research to practice is not linear (Snook, 2001).

Stoll, Fink, Earl (2003) have a list of 10 characteristics.
Learning is change.

3 Conditions necessary for learning to have happened (Sadler, 2007)
- must be able to do something, on demand, that couldn't be done before
- must be able to do it independently of others
- must be able to do it well

Teachers Learning to Learn
Mary James & Robert McCormick (2009)

Improved learning and achievement requires:
- rich classroom dialogue and questioning to elicit student's understandings
- feedback that helps students know how to improve
- sharing learning objective, criteria and exemplars of what counts as quality learning
- peer and self-assessment

Some teachers feel more able to promote student autonomy in their classrooms.

When there is a difference between what a teacher says and what a teacher does possibly due to:
Pressures of curriculum coverage
PRessures of national testing
Pressures of a tick-box culture

Mechanistic and ritualistic use of WALTS and next steps can happen if teachers are not encouraged to think about the principles of learning that underpin them.

John Hattie - 30% of all learning is attributed to school, 70% to home and natural assets.

Some common tendences for differences in academic differences (Conroy, 2008):

- less time using tv and computers
- more time spent on reading with and to children
- greater emphasis on the life of the imagination
- closer relationships between teacher and student

Effective teachers have goals and ideals that go beyond raising test scores.

Technical - rational, managerial
Intuitive - expressive, creative

Learning intentions - walts - next steps - scaffolds - evidence - data - improvement

What about joy and passion?

Effective Pedagogy
Setion on pedagogy not mandated
- advice and guidance
- NZC provides one theory based on Alton-Lee's research

- multi-lingual - multiple and competing discourses.

Humourless people are dangerous!

Purpose and Direction
NZC document is the most liberal national curriculum document in the western world.
- rationalisation of LOs
- quality teaching
- school ownership
- community engagement

Curriculum Design and Review
- clarifications
- decisions
- explorations

Curriculum Fluency
Teachers need to see the big picture
- can we give a statement that encapsulates each learning area?

NZC principles are mandatory.

School, Community and NZC
Three levels of interaction:
- information (tell)
- consultation (ask)
- engagement (involve)

Lifelong learners necessary conditions:
- skills and dispositions (eg literacy)
- motivation
- opportunity

Enjoy the learning you are doing now!

Vision - think in terms of:
- learning to do
- learning to be
- learning to know
- learning to get along with others

Inspirational? Aspirational? Achievable?

Find out from the kids how they think the school is achieving their vision for students.

Successful organisations are led by a strong sense of vision.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

It's done!

Back in November I wrote a post about the recent milestone report I had just completed for our ICTPD cluster. In short, the experience had been very lengthy and difficult for me. I'm pleased to report that this time it's a completely different story! I sent off the first draft to Suzie on Sunday (it was due the previous Friday) and - this is the amazing part - she said it was great. I'm not sure if I've finally clicked onto how to do this milestone thing or if it was just a fluke. All I know is that it's a relief to have it done!

Friday, May 22, 2009

I was recently reminded of while catching up on RSS feeds tonight (trying to avoid watching the Hurricanes lose AGAIN). Jacqui Sharp mentioned it on her blog post on ICT Teaching and Learning today.

Even though I am a Mac user and have heaps of cool photo editing tools at my finger tips, uploading photos to is still cool fun with even more options to play around with!

In just a few seconds it's easy to upload a photo, cartoonize it (just one click) and then save onto your desktop (one more click). Other editing options are Warholizer, Charcola, Patriotic, Inkify, Line Atropia, Stenciler, Sunburst and Scribbler.

Jacqui outlines the steps to use this tool to make a comic in MS Word. ComicLife is even better but unfortunately it doesn't come free on Macs anymore.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Job Vacancy

Check out the latest posting on Manaiakalani - an advertisement for a class teacher made by the kids! But we warned, you may be tempted to apply ....

Saturday, May 2, 2009

My latest cool tool discovery

This site is new for me and I think it's fab! I found vocaroo while surfing around on NZ class blogs and it seems many are using it already. While there are many sites able to record voice and give an embed code this one is the most simple I've found - by a country mile. Within three clicks I was able to record my voice, stop recording, listen to the recoding AND get the embed code! I didn't even need to register first - amazing. I can see this could be useful in with students, particularly younger ones, and fantastic for recording reflections, data/evidence or comments for e-Portfolios.

Tips for Newbies

Just came across this slideshow on Living the Learning and thought it may be relevant for some of our cluster teachers. An intro to some useful but simple online tools.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

How do you know who's got talent?

I've spoken and blogged about Britain's Got Talent before. In 2008 Andrew Johnston caused a sensation with his incredible singing. Here's the clip again for those who missed it.

It brings tears to my eyes everytime I watch it - both as a mother and a teacher. Listening to his story about bullying and then hearing his amazing voice is inspiring for all of us. Andrew didn't win the competition but looking at the clips from his subsequent performances you can see his confidence and self esteem increasing seemingly before our eyes.

Susan Boyle is the latest sensation on Britain's Got Talent 2009. She is 47, single and not what you would expect in anyway!

I've watched this a few times now and still get goosebumps. The look on the faces of the judges and audience is priceless. Like me, they had put her in a pigeon hole before she even started singing and wow were we wrong!

I can't help but think about what this means for those of us who are teachers. We are so busy trying to fit in the basic curriculum and all that entails - how on earth do we find the time to let our students show us what they are capable of when given the opportunity? I don't think either of these two BGT contestants were given that chance at school and I think that's possibly the norm for those students who aren't confident and don't like to stand out from the crowd.

I wonder how many potential NZGT contestants I have taught without realising?

Cluster Shares

Our cluster recently held three cluster share afternoons. One each for Year 0-2 teachers, Year 3-4 teachers and Year 5-6 teachers. The aim was all to do with sharing good teaching practice ideas and motivating each other to try new things. The format was similar for all three afternoons - a visiting speaker presentation (Botany Downs Kindergarten, Juanita Garden from Pt England School and Lenva Shearing from Bucklands Beach Intermediate) followed by 15 minutes sharing from each school. Much needed refreshments were provided and each afternoon was hosted by a different school (Botany Downs Kindergarten, Shelly Park School and Botany Downs School).

The lead up to the cluster share afternoons was fraught with stress and anxiety unfortunately. Many teachers had never shared their classroom practice in front of other (unknown) teachers before. The cluser share group sizes ranged from 30-40 which was also scary for some.

From the facilitator's point of view these afternoons were enormously valuable and successful. The visiting speakers were all, without exception, passionate and inspirational role models. The presentations from each school gave teachers the opportunity to share their successes, receive loads of positive feedback and validation as well as using it as a possible lead up to presenting at a national conference such as ULearn. I also gained more insight to what is happening at each school and how I could use my facilitation to support the teachers and their classroom programmes.

In contrast, the feedback I received from teachers was a little more variable! While still overwhelmingly positive overall, the comments received showed that some felt daunted by what was going on at other cluster schools and would have preferred more simple ideas suitable for beginners. Yet some others thought the ideas shared were mostly aimed at beginners and would have preferred more challenging ideas. Unfortunately only one of the five cluster principals attended one of the sessions so they were not able to give feedback on this.

I had thought by organising the cluster shares into year levels would keep it relevant for all participants. Now I'm wondering if next time we wouldn't be better having mixed levels but group into beginner, intermediate and advanced sessions? Given the time restraints (3:30-5:30pm) there wasn't time to break into smaller groups. We still have the Cluster Expo and one final whole cluster share coming up this year so I have a lot of thinking to do about meeting all needs ....

Sunday, March 1, 2009

The Bashful Blogger Part 2

I have moved my blog here from edublogs ( to avoid the newly introduced google advertising and annual subscriptions. I'll leave my previous blog active for a while so feel free to check out my older posts.