#edchatnz Reading Room

Last year I shared a weekly reading with staff at my school to provoke thinking. As this was quite successful and lead to many great discussions, my good friend & #edchatnz founder Danielle Myburgh has asked me to share a weekly reading for #edchatnz. I hope that many of you will join us in the #edchatnz Reading Room this year, reading, sharing and commenting so we can all push our thinking forward together.

Also, if you read anything mind blowing, please share it with me so I can feature it!

2016: The Year for Balance

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2015 was a great year professionally for me. It contained many highlights in school, some great conferences, an epic year as an eFellow and ended with me getting a new job as a Deputy Principal. So, how do you follow that up?

To follow this up, I will be focusing on one word to help guide me in 2016: BALANCE.

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Why Leave My Dream Job?

Early in 2013 I attended an Information Evening about foundation teaching applications for  Hobsonville Point Secondary School. I had always liked the idea of being part of the foundation staff at a school and getting to develop the culture of the place, so was quite excited about attending this and finding out more. The meeting was everything I hoped for and more. Maurie, Lea, Claire and Di set out an exciting vision and I was amped about what this school was going to look like. So amped, I was ringing my partner before even making it back to the car, to tell her I needed to get a job teaching at this school – it sounded like my dream job!

Thankfully I did get the opportunity to be part of the foundation staff at HPSS and it has definitely been my dream job. We have hacked the New Zealand Curriculum; created meaningful learning design and curriculum principles; and I have thrived teaching and learning in such an innovative environment. But now, just 2 1/2 years after starting here, I am leaving my dream job.

Just feel the Sunset/Sunrise imagery is appropriate with this post...

Just feel the cheesy Sunset/Sunrise imagery is appropriate with this post…

I knew this day would come at some stage but after 5 or 6 years, not after 2 1/2 years. So why leave my dream job at HPSS? Continue reading

Education Act Update – It’s Time To Act!

The legislation that governs how education occurs in New Zealand is potentially undergoing a major overhaul. The Education Act, last updated in 1989, is about to be updated by the Government. As part of the way legislation works in NZ, we are now undergoing the first consultation on this update.

This means 6 weeks of public meetings and accepting submissions based upon a discussion document produced by the Ministry of Education. All the details can be found here.

Unfortunately the main discussion points I have heard teachers talking about with this though, is time: 6 weeks is too short, the time of year is ridiculous.

6 weeks seemed pretty short to me too, but my enquiries around this found that this is pretty standard for at this stage of legislation compared to the longer consultation periods during the Select Committee process. Now, I do get this time of year is ridiculous but give me a time of year when teachers aren’t busy? So I was disappointed to attend a local public meeting and find only 8 people there (and then to hear this is common across many of these meetings). Continue reading

Does Design Thinking Work For Students?

Over the last couple of years there has been an explosion of teachers talking about Design Thinking. Previously unheard of, it is now fairly commonplace to hear the term used in online conversations and at education conferences. For my eFellowship research this year, I investigated whether the student experience of Design Thinking matched up to why teachers were implementing this approach in their classes.

Over the last 2 years I have read about Design Thinking, applied it to creating structures for our new school and then used a teaching approach within my classes. It has felt like a more powerful version of inquiry through it’s focus on developing empathy, students iterating their understanding and then having to use their knowledge rather than just remembering information. Many of the teachers starting to use Design Thinking in New Zealand, Australia and the US have experienced a similar feeling or hunch of Design Thinking’s effectiveness. As a relatively new approach to teaching there has been very little research done on how effective it is as a practice.

The hunch of many is that Design Thinking is effective, but is it actually working for our students? source: Wikipedia

I set out to see whether this hunch of effectiveness was actually right. Whether the teacher aims for starting to use Design Thinking are matching how the students actually experience it in class. Continue reading

A Key to Great PD?

This year I was privileged to be one of Core Education’s eFellows. This eFellowship would have to be one of the greatest professional learning experiences that I have ever been a part of. I have had major brain hurt, had my views challenged, laughed until it hurt and made some brilliant friends along the way.

The 2015 eFellows

The 2015 eFellows

We had an initial hui in Auckland to plan our inquiries and have those plans challenged; then met in Christchurch, Wellington and Auckland again spread out over Terms 1-3. Each time we met up there were sessions on our specific inquiries to help them move along.

Aside from this though, were other great experiences.  Continue reading

Agency and Ownership

Last week I attended uLearn15, an epic conference in Auckland with 1700 teachers and 250 sponsors and exhibitors. On the first day I ran a Breakout session called Agency and Ownership: Why the How? Initially planned as a smallish interactive workshop, it proved very popular as people chose their sessions so it grew into a large presentation to around 250 people with a lot more of me talking from the front.

Core Education filmed this presentation and streamed it live from their conference website. You can watch it here (jump to 11.50 where it actually starts):

Or, if you don’t have an hour and a half spare, this post will cover the highlights.

We have all heard the terms Learner Agency and Student Ownership of Learning. We all have the same vague understandings of what these are about. This presentation was focused on working out they actually look like in the classroom. What the practices are that we as teachers can implement to enable and empower students to truly own their learning.

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Deeper Learning

This week’s provocation at Hobsonville Point Secondary School was Grant Lichtman’s Deeper Learning Cheat Sheet. To follow up on this our Learning Design Kitchen Table (20 minute staff ‘meeting’) was an activity based upon that reading.

We started off by looking again at the tips that Grant has disseminated for increasing student engagement, curiosity and student centred practice.

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Many of these strategies are commonplace and found every day throughout our school. But we recognise that we can always improve our practice. So, we focused on how we can scale up or amplify our practice on these. Continue reading

Sir Gateway?

Many people may get annoyed with this post, in fact it may even be considered sacrilegious by some. Sir Ken Robinson is extremely well known, liked by many and revered by some. His TED talk from 2006 has been watched almost 35 million times. Yet on finishing his most recent book I was left with an overwhelming sense of “meh.”

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A Spiral of Brain-Hurty Questions

Last week our Specialised Learning Leader team had a Planning Day together, gathering momentum on how learning design will occur in 2016. A big focus of this day was how things will look/act/be different for the Qualifications years (Yr 11 & 12) as compared to our Foundation curriculum (Yr 9 & 10). The part that has really stuck with me over the next few days though was a discussion on what our Theories of Knowledge are at Hobsonville Point Secondary School.

Image courtesy of agsandrew

Image courtesy of agsandrew

As the main influence on our Learning Design at HPSS is the New Zealand Curriculum, my initial response was to start thinking what the theory of knowledge behind the NZC is. Quickly finding myself out of my depth to extract this information, I turned to some more learned colleagues asking them questions by various forms of messages. Continue reading