Posted in Ongoing PD, Show leadership, Uncategorized

What blogging has taught me

I’ve been blogging for a number of years now. And what it has taught me is that I actually love writing. I often blame having not enough time for not writing. That’s simply not good enough. I have also learnt that it is important to reflect and act on those reflections.

In addition to my personal blog, I’ve also written a number of articles for Fractus Learning, an educational blog coming out of Ireland. I loved the reaction from the editor on my last article so I include part his email along with a link to my article:

Woweee Linda! That was such an incredible read! So much experience, heartache, success and inspiration have been poured into that post. Just magnificent! It really shows how much a rollout like that is about culture as it is technology. What an amazing professional experience! NICK GRANTHAM

And here’s the rather lengthy article based on our one-to-one device journey, five years on.

Link to my published article



Posted in Collaborative, inclusive and supportive environment, Mindlab, Ongoing PD, Reflections, Uncategorized

Mindlab Reflections

I am currently doing the MINDLAB post grad course which focuses on digital and collaborative learning in context. On reflection, I have found the theory behind what we are already implementing in our classrooms is really reassuring. It is important to know that the direction that we are actively taking in class is a movement that is being followed by many teachers and education leaders globally. You will always have those people that complain about the readings and assignments, because let’s face it, adding to an already busy schedule, is challenging. However it is the academic pursuits backed up by practical, coal face ideas, which make this course worth doing. Besides which, it is a post grad course so you’d expect quite a heavy workload.

The biggest change I have introduced into my daily teaching is giving students more choice. I have long been an advocate for allowing students to find their own learning path with the tools they feel comfortable with. But now I find I’m questioning them on HOW they learn best. Particularly with my priority learners I am helping them develop strategies that work best for them. And allowing a variety of submission methods.

In the above video I looked at identifying and analysing the 21st Century skills and key competencies, examining my specific area of practice, namely English for year 10 students.


My specific outcome for them is as follows: After reading a novel I would like my students, in groups, to create a video based on the topic: crime associated with gangs, as read about in their novel (The Outsiders by SE Hinton) Creativity and collaboration would be needed to plan, storyboard and finally script the movie. They would need to research the requirements for a news report style for an authentic teenage audience. Once the iMovie has been created it should be embedded onto their blogs. The blog post should be crafted for a global audience.

This goes deeper than simply writing an essay as it should draw on the following skills: Collaboration to create the video. Interdependence as each group member has a role and function. The video will not succeed without input from all members in the group. They will need to construct knowledge based on their findings in the novel and go beyond that to what we find in society today, New Zealand and beyond. They will need to research the news report genre. They would then use the skill of ICT use and video editing to construct the final product.

The main stakeholders:  are the students and their teacher. Students should be interdependent and rely on each member of the group to create and publish the video.

Students should download the iBook I have created  to flip the work, students come to class with prior understanding and knowledge. Google docs are used for planning and collaboration, and Google Classroom to signpost work. iMovie is used to create their video after the planning, storyboard and script have been developed.


However the next step is where the plan tends to falter. That is, publish the final product on the student’s personal blog. Why create a Google doc AND publish a movie AND post to a blog? This is why: Because students with 21st Century tools should be connecting with an authentic audience.

According to the 21st C Learning Design Activity Rubric, students should “communicate their ideas to someone outside the academic context.”

This is where teachers with a more fixed mindset fear the online world, outside of Google Classroom that is. In addition, setting up and using blogs can require more sophisticated ICT skills, particularly when setting up categories. And over decades, teachers have been conditioned to believe that they have to be experts before implementing a new tool or a new topic in class. However, the sooner we realise that there is more than one expert in the class, the better!

As Hattie’s 8 Mindframes video suggests, we should “teach through dialogue not monologue.” So even if a blog site is not thoroughly understood by the teacher, it doesn’t mean that it should be a tool that is ignored. Give the students the courage to master it.

In 2012 Hattie said that “schools should have systems in place to ensure that educators are working as members of a team; students are then provided with multiple opportunities to demonstrate their learning.” (Deeper Learning by Bellanca, James A

If we the teachers rely on each other and the so called student- experts in our classes, we’ll accomplish so much more. And if we trust our students to problem solve, they will develop a flexible mindset.

Besides which, technology and tools are evolving at such a rate that we can never be expected to know it all. Having a flexible mindset and being open to moving forward with tech tools is far more important. Understanding the capabilities of the technology, as opposed to intricate knowledge of the workings of the tool is all that is required.

In so doing students publish their work to a global community. And it includes parents into their digital work, which is something lacking if Google docs is the only digital submission required.

This type of work: namely going from a novel study, to a creative script and storyboard, to a movie. And finally to a globally published artefact develops interpersonal and intrapersonal competencies as students learn to work as a team.

According to the paper: Towards Reconceptualising Leadership: The Implications of the Revised NZ Curriculum for School Leaders (Wayne Freeth with Vanessa de Oliveira Andreotti ) students are accustomed to being ‘networked.’ “Teenagers create media content and then share it. They feel their contributions matter and feel some degree of connection.” So we should harness this and allow them to publish ideas to a digital portfolio in the form of a blog. This should also encourage “peer-to-peer learning.” Who needs to make the change? Students? Or their teachers?

A well run blog gives students a digital portfolio to be accessed and used for applications, scholarships and employment opportunities. Or if it is never used in this way, at least it would give each student a  portfolio which grows and shows their personal progress over the years. Unlike many other sites, parents can follow their child’s progress over the years. Problem solving is also developed when the blog site raises challenges.

The idea of posting to a public forum like a blog site makes proofreading and editing authentic. It’s one thing to hit the ‘send’ button as soon as the word count has been reached if the teacher is the only one reading the work. But having potentially a global audience reading your work means that spelling and grammar actually does count.

In James Bellanca’s 2014 publication entitled, Deeper Learning he says that:

“Good intentions aren’t enough…if students are to learn at deeper levels, schools must create the conditions that allow for the ongoing, deeper learning. “So while it is evident that some teachers are put off by the complexity of some blog sites and movie creating tools, we owe it to our students to allow them to strive for deeper learning. We need to develop a culture of sharing expertise and ongoing PD.

Goodlad is quoted to have said, as far back as 1983, p.557 :

“Remove teaching from the “cloak of privacy and autonomy” and develop a new culture in which what and how teachers teach becomes the ongoing focus of peer analysis, discussion and improvement.” Just as students are encouraged to collaborate and work as a team, we should strive for this with our teachers. There are enough teachers on any given staff and students in each class with so called 21st century skills to help those that feel less confident.

I do believe that students would benefit from a more consistent approach across their school experience. A transparent blog that caters for all their learning areas would start breaking down the silos of learning. Teachers and students could start seeing cross curricular links and this could make for a more holistic approach because all stakeholders see what is being taught and learnt. And we’d be fulfilling the NZ curriculum which has as its vision to have “connected, international citizens.”



Posted in Effective professional relationships, Ongoing PD, Reflections

ADE Global Institute – Berlin 2016


In July I felt very fortunate to be chosen to attend the Apple Distinguished Educators Institute in Berlin. The process involves submitting evidence to show that you are implementing technology seamlessly into your everyday teaching practice and how this improves the learning experience.

Berlin is awash with history and I soon learnt that it truly is a city of contrasts. The institute consisted of 380 educators from across the globe. This was my second institute and, like the first, it was a week of professional development that was innovative and inspiring. The institute ran from Sunday to Friday and was jam packed with ideas that could be picked up and implemented in our classes. There were educators from all backgrounds from across the globe and a lot of the best ideas came from discussions across year levels, subjects and cultures.


The structure of the institute was as follows:
1. ADE Central
This consisted of a large lounge where we met informally to collaborate on global projects, play with STEM toys like Spheros and generally share good practice ideas.


2. Apple sessions
These were run by the product developers of Keynote, Garage Band and Final Cut Pro. It was awe inspiring to see how far we could go with these tools, delivered by the app developers themselves.

3. Workshops and spotlight sessions
These were hands on sessions where we got to experiment with coding and advanced video production. Coding is an essential skill and is quickly becoming more accessible to all students. I feel very excited about sharing my new found knowledge with both my colleagues and my students. I also went to sessions on sketch-noting and advanced presentation techniques.


4. ADE showcases
This is where teachers from America through to Russia, and everywhere in between, got three minutes to present an innovative technique that was working with their students. It reinforced my belief in the potential that exists when you feel passionate about getting the best out of your students.

I thoroughly enjoyed my experience in Berlin. More than the ideas I came away with, I developed global connections with some of the most inspirational teachers. I am currently part of a global project where we are developing a website with tools for teachers who are wanting to break the invisible boundaries that exist between subjects, in order for students to reach deeper learning.

Posted in Ongoing PD, Professional development, Uncategorized

LoopEd conference in Wellington 

I felt pleased to be invited to Wellington to present a session on blogging for students and teacher registration. I divided the session into the following sub sections:

  1. Why publish work to a blog when you are using Google Classroom
  2. The three way split between students, teachers and parents when work is showcased on a blog
  3. How blogs can vary across the year levels
  4. Examples of student blogs
  5. Teachers’ blogs for TAI and Teacher Registration
  6. We looked at the conference theme: Connection. Collaboration. Courage.


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So this is what we discussed:

  1. If blogs are used wisely with categories for posts, students will create wonderful digital portfolios. This will make it easy to refer back to published work. Having an authentic audience does mean that students need to proofread very carefully. This differs vastly from the stream of tasks in Google Classroom, useful in itself. But different.
  2. Blogs provide a link between teachers, students and parents. This is one of the big  bonuses to using  a combination of Google Classroom and blogs.
  3. The way we use blogs can vary across year levels. Middle school students can be encouraged to blog about topics that interest them. Media rich posts are very convenient as students can post video and photos directly from their camera roll. Publishing to YouTube is not necessary. NCEA students can be more selective, choosing to password protect certain blog posts. TurnItIn is used to check for authenticity.
  4. We looked at the differences between the genders with regard to their blogs.
  5. We spent some time looking at teachers’ blogs. We looked at TAI and Bundles of Evidence. We also looked at the 12 criteria for teacher registration. We spoke about blog-able moments and what evidence could look like. We also spoke about professional readings and reflection to improve practise.
  6. Finally we looked at the conference theme: Connection. This would be following and reading each others’ blogs. I suggested that teachers look at Twitter to develop their PLG. Collaboration. This could develop across schools, across the country and globally. Courage. We finished with this. It does take courage to encourage students to blog as some teachers do not feel fully confident with the process. Teachers also need to be courageous to put their reflections “out there.” But taking the first step is the best way to move forward. Have faith in students as they are the ones that trouble shoot and figure things out. You then end up with a couple of experts in the room.


Wellington did not disappoint, dishing up some glorious weather for us to enjoy after a well-run conference.

Posted in Ongoing PD, Professional development, Uncategorized

Teaching a thesis statement

Written text Essay

For our morning PD Gavin went over the best way to teach a thesis statement for written text essays. The main point he made for level 3 was that students should not feel afraid to disagree with the statement provided in the exam. They can also partially agree with the statement. But whichever stance they choose, they should spend a good amount of time planning so that they are clear on where they stand. The powerpoint he provided gave clear steps to take for classes ranging from year 9 right through to level 3.

Posted in Ongoing PD, Professional development

Fun and laughter as we learn: Term 2 PD at OC

We have had a productive time in our PD sessions this term. The greatest value I have found is in the cross curricular discussions. We have shared and collaborated and had fun along the way. Our focus has been on:

1. Blogging. This is used by our students and our teachers. The gem is that you can add video directly from your camera roll, cutting out YouTube. We also looked at easy ways to embed presentations

2. We looked at Explain Everything and the multitude of ways to use this brilliant app 

3. My colleague Christine Wells helped teachers to develop a matrix to give students ownership of their learning path

4. Another colleague Korrina Kracknell helped us with Kamar and the powerful tools which help with data analysis 

5. Pearl Trees, Kahoots, Avatars, Talking Avatars and Video Star have featured strongly as possible apps or websites to enhance student work and engagement, as well as enjoyment

I include the following short video as a note to self to always allow students to learn through laughter. We all had a good laugh, and then my class started adding their own Video Star to the adverts they are creating. 

Posted in Analyse assessment information, Effective professional relationships, Ongoing PD, Teaching as Inquiry, Uncategorized

How does the use of Ako and mentoring/facilitating at senior level improve results?

This is our department TAI. It’ll be interesting to see how the students respond to project based learning And mentoring and if their results do in fact improve.

Two questions that have been posed:

What does the driving question focus on?

It looks at mentoring and the need for time for students to develop their work. The driving question should help with their understanding of the judgements they are expected to make. So our driving questions should be broad and challenging. The work should require students to use technology well. There should be showcasing of student work on blogs. But they should also be peer teaching. The best form of peer teaching is when they choose who to teach and how to teach, rather than being paired up. My class has divided themselves into about  eight groups. They have the same driving question but each group has a focus area to work on. I have encouraged them to follow, to some degree, the PEEL method in their response. How they gather and process the ideas in the focus groups is up to them. As is the way they present the information to the other groups. I will post their responses in the next few days. I have made myself available as a mentor and have advised certain parts of the text to focus in on. But at this stage they are working pretty independently which is ultimately the goal.

What does Ako mean to me?

Ako is looking at how students think and learn. It’s about having a common language of learning. It’s also about students knowing the process that they are undertaking. Gathering should not take up class time because we know we live in a connected world. We all have access to the work so why waste class time gathering if this can be done beforehand? That leaves us more time to do the processing and applying. Which will hopefully take care of the third part of the question which is: improve grades!

Ako needs to be revamped to align with technology use in the class. This is currently under review.

Posted in Ongoing PD, Professional development

Excited to share my published article with my students

Teachers Step Off Their Stage

I’m looking forward to sharing my published article with my students. Showing them that blog posts are not just school based projects. Blogs are recognized by the ‘real world’ My third published article was sent through WordPress, published by an Australian editor living in Ireland. If that doesn’t make us globally connected, what does? Blogs rock!