Posted in 04. Learning-focused culture, education, Personal TAI

Differentiating a college classroom

I started my lesson reminding my students that they should take responsibility for their learning. They know what works best for them, they need to communicate that to me so that we can get the best out of them.

1.One student said he learns best when I tell him what to do. I said it didn’t work that way but the point he made is a common one. He feels comfortable with the old style of teacher-led lessons…particularly with NCEA exams looming. So I started him off with a skeleton plan. But look what happened. These guys took over and I took a step back. And smiled.


2. Then as I wandered around the classroom I listened to what was being said. Some were collaborating and listening to the Explain Everything video I had posted for them.

Relaxed yet productive.

3. Next was this group who were not sharing ideas. They felt they had so much information, they were streamlining and consolidating ideas. Working largely independently of each other.


4. As I went around asking for evidence of what they were doing, I saw students on task. Just not the same task. Deeply engrossed in their higher level thinking. Sharing ideas and themes to prompt work. Even some jokers in the back row, posing for a photo.


Gratefully, as I wandered around looking, listening, recording, most did ask me questions. They engaged in real discussions as opposed to ones held solely on Google Docs. So I’m not totally redundant, but I do have a sense that I have some independent learners.

Parting question: “So why you taking photos miss?”
“For my blog…of course!”

Posted in education

Orewa College commemorates the Great War

100 years since the start of WW1 and our socials department decided to recreate a bit of trench warfare. When they spoke about it I pictured a hole in the ground. But what they created was an authentic learning experience which was fun even just standing on the sideline looking on. The students have really lived and breathed some history today. The planning into every last detail was amazing. This is a part of history which has come alive for all of us. Well done to the social studies teachers!

Posted in 05. Design for learning, education

Redefined static images

I’m so impressed with my year 11s and their work on static images. Gone are the days of google images and photocopying. They have created digital images using apps like Paper. They have also googled images and enhanced these in a myriad of ways. Now they are sitting with the digital images in front of them and are creating images using paint and any number of artistic materials. The art HoD Graeme Irving was invited to give some refinements and artistic expertise which we were grateful for. The end product is uncertain, but not one static image from this class will be a regurgitation of previously existing internet images.




Updated post: So impressed with the final product. And after the marking meeting, these guys came away with no less than twenty excellences. Flipping the introduction and having devices led to more time to refine their end product.



This last one was a collage of many faces.

Posted in 02. Professional learning, education, Professional development

Using Explain Everything in teaching

I shared my ideas about using Explain Everything with the English department today. The beauty of creating content like this is:

1. It frees you up to help students who need extra assistance.

2. It is a great tool for differentiation.

3. Pause, rewind, fast forward and mute your teacher!

Posted in 05. Design for learning, education, Professional development

Thoughts on teaching and learning in BYOD classrooms.

I was very pleased when my article was published on line and now I look forward to a monthly submission of articles.

Forget 21st Century Teaching and eLearning. It’s Teaching and Learning. Now.

Posted in 04. Learning-focused culture, education

Essay writing made easy

Students write their essays. Some chose to hand write and type afterwards. All chose to listen and watch the YouTube link I had given them. A classic comment was: “Miss it’s like you are helping me all the way through the essay!” Yes! That’s the point.

Others chose to type straight into their blog, swopping between the essay ‘how to’ and their work.
The most classic comment, after watching the YouTube link for a couple of minutes: “Miss! This is you! Hey guys, this is not some random lady on the internet!” Priceless.

Posted in education

10 reasons why students should blog

1. Centralises work. No longer need to go through a number of avenues to submit media rich work. Best is that links are live so work is constantly updated.
2. Digital portfolio is available as students progress through NCEA years. Many subjects build on assessments done in previous years.
3. Allows for cross curricular work.
4. Work is available globally. So if a student leaves the school, or even the country, work is still available in its published state.
5. If a device is lost, stolen, broken, work is not lost. Blogs can be accessed from any device. Anywhere.
5. Transparency : work is available for both teachers and parents to view and comment on.
6. Time and date stamped. This is vital for some assessments where the criteria states that work must be done under supervision. Students may do gathering tasks out of class time, but not applying tasks. The time and date stamp helps teachers and students keep track of this.
7. Setting up separate categories can be tricky for some. Continual use as a blog site is however easy.
8. Treat blogs similarly to Facebook. Do you post every thought, photo, experience in your life on FB? No. You showcase important ideas and experiences. Do you only and exclusively use FB? No. You use many sites in addition to FB. Blogging should be no different. Work in your chosen way. But publish to your blog.
9. When applying for part time work, students say they are “hard working and diligent” or “passionate about…” What better way to give evidence than through a link to a blog? It is the way journalists worldwide are working.
10. Allows for an authentic online presence.

Posted in 03. Professional relationships, education, Professional development

Differentiation extends to teachers’ PD sessions

Our staff and students are on the blogging journey with WordPress being the preferred blog site. We have been dividing the PD sessions into two groups to work on and develop our own blogs. But on reflection, we feel that the PD groups were too large to be effective. So what is plan B? Differentiate! We should have three groups:

1. The group that already have WordPress blogs and need help with embedding YouTube, adding photos and want to discuss any issues relating to setting up and managing student blogs.

2. The group that would like to set up blogs on their own. I have done an Explain Everything step-by-step guide to assist with this. All they would need is a set of head phones. Remember to hit the pause button if the video is getting ahead of you.

3. The group that would prefer someone to work closely with them. There will be a few of us to help with this.

Setting up a blog is easy. Setting up a blog with categories (subjects) is more complex. But that is what we expect our students to do, and they are successfully setting their sites up in this way. So it is a worthwhile exercise for us to go through. Students have a ‘go to‘ place to showcase media rich content.

Posted in education

Students take over the lesson

We’re learning about Shakespeare’s world though the text Othello. Students got into groups to do a teach back based on Act 1. This is what the boys got up to. They captured the violence, Othello’s nobility and Desdemona’s innocence.

Can’t wait to see what they get up to with Act 2!