Neuroscience & Adolescence

This afternoon we were privileged to have Nathan Mikaere Wallis at school to talk with us (our staff plus some staff from other schools in our CoL) about neuroscience. This post is sharing my notes from the session (so please ignore grammatical errors etc. as Nathan is highly entertaining and moves at great pace!).

 

He is a highly entertaining speaker and the 2 hour session sped by. If you get the chance to see Nathan seak, then make sure you take it!

Nathan said we were trying to cover 6 hours of material in 2 hours. So, here are my notes to summarise it even further. Some of my thoughts on the implications of all of this follow at the end. Continue reading

What does Student Centred look like?

Student Centred is one of those vague buzzwords that is used regularly but never really defined in practical terms. This post (based on an Ignite talk I gave last week) attempts to paint a picture of what student centred practices actually look like, both in the classroom and from a leadership perspective.

For me, the key to student centred practices is empathy. Truly seeking to understand how students are experiencing their learning, where each student is at and what their individual needs are, so you can help improve their learning. Student centred practice is focused on doing what is needed to help each student understand and excel in their learning.

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As I have written about previously, data is a great place to start in getting to know your learners, but there is a whole lot more to do if you want to understand them. Achievement data, personal data, surveys, observations and good old fashioned conversations should all work together to help you empathise with your students.

Student centred teaching is not just about what they like but about thinking how what they like/are interested in links with what they need to understand in class. How can their interests be used to help them understand the key concepts and skills from the curriculum. Continue reading

From Knowing to Empathising

The start of a new school year brings with it a whole bunch of new students to get to know. Principals around the country will be urging their staff to get to know their learners and reminding them of the importance of relationships to enable learning to occur. So what does this actually mean? How do we get to really know our learners?

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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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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 Catch Up

I have just had my largest break from blogging since I started 2 and a half years ago. Blogging is a big part of how I reflect and progress but priorities have shifted a bit lately with family circumstances. I have still reflected, tweeted, discussed with coteachers, critical friends and colleagues; but the blog has sat here much quieter than normal. That said, here is what has been happening in my classes lately:

Learning Hub

The early part of this term was focused on students’ IEMs. This is a 3-way conversation between students, their parents and me as their advisory coach. The highlight of this day is being part of genuine learning conversations. Celebrations and challenges are shared, discussed and implications considered.
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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

Student Echo Chambers

Yesterday I wrote about breaking out of my echo chamber, so of course my thoughts then turned to my students. Are our students operating in echo chambers and should this be something we worry about?

Well yes, I believe this is something to be concerned about and here’s why. Deeper understanding is developed through:

  • encountering multiple perspectives
  • confronting cognitive dissonance
  • empathising with situations different to our own

If students are constantly interacting with people with similar opinions to themselves, how are they going to do any of the above? Continue reading

Shattering the Echo Chamber

For some time I have spoken about the value of reaching outside your echo chamber to ensure you keep growing. At Hobsonville Point Secondary School we have been living in a privileged bubble with unheard of resources of time and space as we got started. Claire Amos realised the danger of only listening to those with similar views early on and kept making a point for us to keep challenging ourselves.

I regularly try to read blogs and books that will push my thinking forward and have tried to break out of the educational echo chamber that is my online and face to face PLN. What this weekend has just proven to me, however, is that I have merely dipped out of my echo chamber every now and then.

This weekend, I completely shattered my echo chamber. Kiwi Foo is an invite only unconference of people from across many different fields and sectors. From Friday evening through to Sunday afternoon I was with over 150 of the most intelligent people I have ever met. The workshops ranged from specific topics such as Conspiracy Theories of Aotearoa (you really should follow Matthew Dentith) to wider ideas such as how to make the most of conferences or if NZ had an aim, what would it be? These workshops stretched my brain but it was the discussions in between that completely blew my brain.

CC image from Prairie Kittin that matches my brain at Kiwi Foo

CC image from Prairie Kittin that matches my brain at Kiwi Foo

Discussing:

  • Design Thinking with Start Up investors, major corporates and social change innovators;
  • education with Researchers that I have read for years, Principals and teachers that I have either connected with online or not ever met before, engineers, bankers, scientists and entrepreneurs;
  • ethics with journalists, professors and social enterprise experts
  • meaningful societal change with politicians, designers, web developers, festival organisers and entrepreneurs

meant that my brain was pushed incredibly hard and it is taking me a few days to really process what happened over the weekend. To those who I chatted with, made quasi-plans with, ate next to, swam with or played Werewolf with: Thank You!

To Nat and Jenine that make the incredible world of Kiwi Foo occur, thank you for truly shattering my echo chamber. I will not be going back to a mere dabble in outside ideas. I am now going to be actively seeking voices from within education that challenge my ideas and many, many voices from outside education to see what we can learn from each other.

p.s. written in 28 minutes for #28daysofwriting so excuse my still mind fuddled ramble

All is well, or is it?

I was worried how last week would go. How could I possibly keep up the excited puppy heights of hosting the Geography Awareness Week TeachMeetNZ and being at the inaugural EdChatNZ conference?

The Monday following EdchatNZ conference saw me spend the day in the Take Action big module I am co-teaching with Bryce and Martin. I spent 2 of our blocks helping Martin in the workshop as students constructed marble runs while their groups were affected by changes in government policies.

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Students also had similar experiences with Bryce as they played Volleyball with Government policies affecting the rules for each team. The final block focused in on actions we can take as citizens other than voting and brainstorming issues of interest to the students. Continue reading