Making Learning Visible at Stonefields


Yesterday Di, Kylee and I had the privilege of visiting Stonefields School for a couple of hours. Stonefields have a great reputation for making learning visible and as I blogged about a couple of weeks ago, our team have a focus on developing the usage of our common learning language at HPSS. This post will cover the major takeaways for me from this visit – Sharing progression, seamless use of learning process and learner qualities, vision/leadership, familiar tensions and a collaborative future. Hopefully it will also encapsulate how inspiring Sarah Martin and her team are.

Sharing Progression

Students have Learning Progression documents for Mathematics, Reading, Writing and the Stonefields Learner Qualities. These documents break the curriculum own into student-friendly language and demonstrate what all students need to understand as they progress through the school. One awesome student sharing his progressions with us described them as a learning bucket list. Continue reading


Aligning the Scenius

image via @therealbanksy

image via @therealbanksy

This last week at Hobsonville Point Secondary School has felt to me like we are shooting out the end of that image on the right. Suddenly all kinds of things are aligning and we are shooting forward in our latest iteration.

Our Specialised Learning Leader team has a focus on visible thinking and learning. For us that means seeing explicit use of the learning design language in what teachers are using and saying day to day in class. To help this along, a couple of us (Kylee and I) have it as our focus for our 30 Day Sprint. This awesome on 2 levels for me. 1) I see the use of this language as incredibly empowering for our learners. 2) Utilising 30 day sprints alongside 90 day team goals is giving our team a renewed focus this year and has helped us get into that Start-Up frame of mind that served us so well when creating the original structures for our school in 2013.

Friday morning’s PD session saw a focus on 2 things: Setting our goals for the year and planning our Teaching as Inquiry. Our 3 personal professional goals had to align with the school principles: Continue reading

Getting Strategic With Goals

“That was great. I have never thought that deeply about my goals before.”

Hearing this from a normally quite cynical Year 10 boy was a great end to a session I ran yesterday. Our Taheretikitiki community is focusing on the Hobsonville Habit of Purposeful this week and it was my turn to run the community activity. Being early in the year, many of the Hubs have been developing goals for the year so the focus of the session was to develop strategies that would help them reach their goals.

Whiteboard notes that will make sense if you keep reading!

Whiteboard notes that will make sense if you keep reading!

The image above is the whiteboard notes from our Goal session and show the steps that we went through. The steps above the green line happened as a whole community (~79 students) and the last 3 steps were back in their hubs (groups of 11-12). Continue reading


Empowering Learners Through Common Language

It’s hard but that’s okay because you keep trying and then it becomes easier and then it becomes fun. That’s how you learn.

This cool little quote is from my 5 year old daughter after ballet practice yesterday. Apart from the glaringly obvious growth mindset that she has at the moment, it made me start thinking about how my students would describe how they learn.

At HPSS we have our Learning Design Model that was developed out of our deep exploration of the New Zealand Curriculum. This is the language that we use to describe how learning occurs.

HPSS Learning Design Model

HPSS Learning Design Model

We envision learning as cyclical (not circular otherwise you go nowhere – in Di Cavallo‘s words!) rather than linear. Continue reading


Refining to a Focus

It’s that time of term where students have been really using their knowledge to develop deeper understandings. For the modules I teach, the last 2 weeks have been full on action time generating possible actions/solutions/products, refining them down and taking action.

Under the d.School Design Thinking process this would be the Ideate and Prototype stages; those using DEEP Design Thinking would know it as Experiment and Produce. For us at Hobsonville Point we use the language from our Learning Design Model below:

HPSS Learning Design Model

HPSS Learning Design Model

So, the last 2 weeks have seen us talking about Generate, Refine, Focus and Test. Continue reading


Iterating Forward

This post is to share a few iterations happening at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. I wrote last week about the process we were undertaking to evaluate and adjust our timetable for Term 4. We have now created the next iteration of our timetable. This sits alongside the new iteration of our Learning Design Model that occurred earlier this term and the next iteration of how my Learning Hub will operate. Continue reading


An Awesome Day of Design Thinking

Tuesday proved to me just how much Design Thinking is the way I approach all aspects of school (and increasingly life) these days. In reflecting on what had happened this week I realised that Tuesday was an entire day of Design Thinking.

I started the day with my Hub completing the redesign of our space. Last week I had realised that things needed to improve with my Hub teaching so we had completed a SWOT analysis of our Hub and everyone had drawn how they would design our space to make it work for us. It was pretty clear from all the pictures that a common theme had emerged. So, away went our old space:


And in came our new design:


We have still kept the seating we like for Hub time – mainly ottomans and a few beanbags. But now we have got rid of any other form of seating, created a break out area and swapped the unused table that was a dumping ground for a low table that we can work on from our low seats. Early days but it has definitely created a better feel for us as a group.

After this was finished we Continue reading


How Might We encourage young people to stay hopeful, without sweeping hard questions under the carpet?


I am currently reading Key Competencies for the Future by Rosemary Hipkins, Rachel Bolstad, Sally Boyd and Sue McDowall and have found it incredibly inspiring. At the end of a chapter about making meaning across the different disciplines, they pose 6 questions for educators to discuss. One of these questions is the (very slightly reworded) question for today:

How Might We encourage young people to stay hopeful, without sweeping hard questions under the carpet?

To me, this is a key challenge as we strive to make learning more authentic. So many of the issues facing the world at the moment and into the future can be such powerful learning prompts but so overwhelming.

As a social scientist I completely believe we have to embrace controversy and complexity in the classroom and have always striven to do so. This term I am co-teaching a module with Danielle Myburgh called Apocalypse Now which is Continue reading


Searching for Elegant Solutions

I recently read The Falconer by Grant Lichtman and thoroughly encourage each of you to do the same!

2014-04-03 17.10.58


It really pulled some thought threads together for me and I found myself nodding away and tweeting quotes the whole way through the book. I had read the book to try and find ways to take Design Thinking from a process to a mindset and it has absolutely helped me to do this.

Continue reading


HPSS Modules Iteration 2

We are currently completing the second iteration of our module development and selection process. Personally, I believe that our great Term 1 Modules have been given far more relevance and rigour this time round through the introduction of small refinements to our process.

The concept for Term 2 is Place and Space and each Learning Area, when planning over the 2 year framework, had already designated their threshold concepts and skills for this:

Term 2 Threshold Concepts and Core Skills

Term 2 Threshold Concepts and Core Skills

The module design process this time started with student voice. Representatives from each Hub met to say what they had learned previously about Space and Place and to provide ideas of what students would like to learn about. Their ideas poured out and a 4 page document was then shared with staff to provide a 2nd launching pad to the designated concepts and skills.

Each Learning Area then met together to discuss the possibilities this term when focusing on their specific aims and how the student voice ideas matched. This would allow the focus skills and concepts to be presented in a way that was relevant to our students. Continue reading