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 ...

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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

LEAD TEACHER WORKSHOP

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

LESTER FLOCKTON DAY TWO

PRINCIPLES
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.

VALUES
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

KEY COMPETENCIES
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.

Definition
- 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
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.

LEARNING AREAS
- 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

THE CONNECTED CURRICULUM
(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

LEARNING THROUGH INQUIR
Wolk 'School as Inquiry', October 2008

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

The Connected Curriculum

Lester Flockton (lester.flockton@otago.ac.nz)
Ellerslie Convention Centre
Wednesday 3 June 2009

DAY ONE
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 (http://www.tki.org.nz/r/assessment/research/mainpage/directions/)

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

TIME - INFORMED LEADERSHIP - LEARNING

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

Professionalism
- 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).

Learning
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
Inquiry

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

Leadership
- 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.