Posted in 02. Professional learning, Uncategorized

Teacher agency and the digital curriculum

At our school we are really consciously giving students more agency. I have found that this flexible, student centric approach optimises productivity for many students. Giving choice often promotes ownership. Surely you’ve got to own the work if you chose to do it?

But what about the teachers? Where is our agency? Are we freed up to make choices about how we work, and what we focus on?

With that in mind I led the Wednesday PD session in our English department. Instead of telling them what to work on, or sharing what I was feeling passionate about, we looked at a range of activities they could get busy with.

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The activities ranged from getting to grips with Google+ and joining the various groups, to blog categories and reducing the 12 practicing teacher categories down to six. There was time for some cross year level collaboration, and some good old NCEA pre-standard discussions .

What I personally was most keen to get started on was the Mindlab Digital Passport

This Digital Passport is designed to help both teachers and parents understand the NZ Digital Curriculum more fully It is an online course and offers videos, a very brief quiz at the end of each workshop, and additional resources or learning modules. What they do is define much of the terminology and jargon associated with the digital curriculum. They define simple algorithms and computational thinking for Years 1-3, right through to how to create apps for years 8-10. There is not enough time to learn the skills behind the concepts. Rather it is to give teachers and parents an overview of what students from years 1 through to 10 would be expected to cover. And If you like getting certificates, you can get one at the end of each of the four workshops.

In the words of the @NZDigiPassport on Twitter this is “your ticket to navigate the new digital technologies curriculum.”

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Posted in Bicultural context, Personal TAI, Uncategorized

Teaching as Inquiry 2017

As I suspect with most teachers, I have inquiries swimming around in my mind all the time. Looking for solutions to help students improve outcomes, that’s what we do right? And looking for ways for students to develop these skills independently. So for my inquiry I have to narrow it down to two aspects:

  1. How increased student agency can improve outcomes. And
  2. How blended learning helps facilitate this.

Spirals of inquiry

I am focusing on two classes, namely my year 10s and my year 11s.

My year 10s are a largely mixed ability class. They are self motivated and respond well to a relaxed environment with largely facilitation and small group discussions. They have responded well to both flipped aspects of the course, as well as in-class flipping. This helps with differentiation. I have provided them with all the course work in a book which I created in iBooks Author. Unlocking English includes tasks, videos and marking rubrics. It makes flipping aspects of the curriculum easy.

My year 11s are also self motivated and are largely driven to achieve good grades. That being said, they are a motley crew with a keen sense of humour. So although they are an academic class, they seem to be far more relaxed than classes of this nature in some previous years. They don’t seem to take themselves as seriously as I have experienced in previous years, for the most part anyway. And the biggest factor that I have noticed and that I will investigate more fully, is that they are far more independent and resourceful. I have also  provided them with all the course work in a book called Engaging English. This also includes tasks, videos and marking rubrics.

So the scene is set for a student centred environment, where learning can take place in a differentiated way. Having the work in a variety of ways should facilitate learning anywhere, anytime, at any pace.

 

Posted in 01. Te Tiriti o Waitangi partnership, Applied Practice in Context, Mindlab, Uncategorized

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

Indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness

I have long been a firm believer that teaching, at its core, rests on building positive relationships with our students. Bishop said that culturally responsive pedagogy can be equated to “Caring and Learning Relationships.” He also defined the culturally responsive teacher as being agentic. One who builds relationships with his or her students based on respect. Respect for a culture which potentially is different from your own. What really resonated with me was the idea of “relationship centred education.” It’s really quite simple. Build positive relationships, where you encourage Māori students to perform at high levels, as Māori.

An agentic teacher would typically have a growth mind set and reject, and challenge, deficit definitions. This system would allow all students, and in particular Māori students, to strive for success. But it must be remembered that it is authentic caring that is required.

It was also Bishop who said that education was key to bringing improvements in Māori engagement. This means that these students need to feel successful in their education. One crucial way is to make them a dominant player in their learning context. Draw on what they know, the filters through which they view the world, in order for them to make sense of the world offered to them in the classroom. With increased engagement comes increased attendance and improved achievement.

So, what does this mean for us? It means showing respect for students’ abilities while valuing their identity. It means contextualising instruction in familiar ways by using Māori language and opportunities in class. One study showed that relationships improved by the simple act of teachers attending community events and sporting activities. What is needed is targeted professional development to enable teachers to respond to the complex diversity of their students.

Our vision, mission, and core values

At our school, our vision is to graduate students who are responsible, independent, confident, proud, well-balanced and motivated. What links these adjectives is aroha, in the form of Manaaki Orewa. This underpins our goals, planning and decision making. Our mission is to provide a supportive and challenging centre of learning, the heart of Ako Orewa. And our on-going goals remain the success for Māori and Pasifika students, and those with special education needs. The vehicle for this is the links we are forging with both our cluster schools as well as our Māori community. To open communication and to facilitate face-to-face contact, we hold a hui and fono early in term 1. Contact with whanau is a vital key that is sometimes lacking for students in a secondary school. Parents are telephonically invited as email invitations were largely unsuccessful in previous years. I would say we are in the Mauri Oho state of being proactive and are making progress in both our contact and communication with whanau.

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School-wide activities

Where we could do with some consistency is school-wide activities. At the middle school, there is the expectation that the day will start, as it does for our staff briefing, with a karakiha. This is also said at assembly. Middle school students all know their mihimihi and its meaning. Teachers and students have a chance to formally introduce themselves at assembly and in class. Te Reo Māori is integrated into lessons, both visually and verbally. This is optional on the college side. Some teachers feel more confident than others at including Te Reo Māori into their everyday lessons. As with anything, the more we use language, symbols and traditions, the more comfortable we become with them. I think we have emerged from the inactive Mauri Moe stage, but not quite reached the proactive potential of  Mauri Oho.

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REFERENCES:

Edtalks.(2012, September 23). A culturally responsive pedagogy of relations. .Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/49992994

Potahu, T. W. (2011). Mauri – Rethinking Human Wellbeing. MAI Review, 3, 1-12. Retrieved from http://www.review.mai.ac.nz/index.php/MR/article/v

Savage,C, Hindleb, R., Meyerc,L., Hyndsa,A., Penetitob, W. & Sleeterd, C.(2011) Culturally responsive pedagogies in the classroom: indigenous student experiences across the curriculum .Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 39(3), 183–198

Teaching Tolerance.( 2010, Jun 17).Introduction to Culturally Relevant Pedagogy.. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nGTVjJuRaZ8

 

 

Posted in 01. Te Tiriti o Waitangi partnership, Applied Practice in Context, Mindlab, Uncategorized

Migration Impacting Culture

Globalisation:

10,700. That’s the number of people that permanently settled in New Zealand in December 2016. Migration is a global trend which has a personal note for me. I, like so many others, am a migrant. My whakapapa will forever be linked to New Zealand. But what does this mean for my teaching practice? After all, my main distinguishing factor is my accent. But beyond that, I have learnt and assimilated the Kiwi way and I consider myself bi-cultural. The transition to becoming an All Blacks supporter was easy for me.

But this is not always the case. What about the students in my class? How many of them are part of this global trend? And what is their cultural identity? Do we cater for students’ cultural identity which comes with migration? According to Sir Ken Robinson, children should be encouraged to pass on their cultural genes, while still being part of globalisation. Globalisation is the process of international integration between the world’s cultures.

One definition of culture is: a community’s way of life, held together by shared values, beliefs and attitudes. Culture gives you a sense of identity. A defining factor is shared language, dialect, accent and vocabulary. But that’s the first thing to change for many students. Those I spoke to said that they adjust their accents so that they can fit in. So, it’s only when you scratch the surface that you discover that they come from a different background, or that for some of them, English is actually their second language. In reality, our classes are made up of a complex mix of ethnicities, religions, ideologies and cultures which must overlap and affect each other. Students straddle cultural commitments and end up with multiple identities. I feel that we overlook this aspect in our quest for credits and course completion. Add to that the idea that we are living in the most stimulating period in history, bombarded by information vying for attention. And then we wonder why students are losing interest in worksheets.

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Impact on education

Diversity is central to our population and with it comes benefits. And problems. We need to actively teach respect of cultural perspectives. In this way, we can ready them for the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural world in which they live. Robinson cited four central roles that cultural education should fulfil:

  1. Teachers should enable students to recognise, explore and understand their cultural assumptions and values. We can’t expect schools to bring an end to prejudice and discrimination. But we must combat ignorance and oppose discrimination.
  2. Enable students to understand cultural diversity by bringing them into contact with other cultures. Talking about different values and practices can lead to understanding.
  3. Encourage students to look at the history behind contemporary values and practices which helped shape them. I was amazed to discover that some of my students didn’t know who Anne Frank was. One girl triumphantly said: “Of course I know who Anne Frank is. I’m Jewish.”
  4. Help students to understand that culture is evolutionary and has the potential to change. If they feel as if they have two or even three cultural identities, they are not alone.

Sir Alan Bullock said:

“Any society that turns its back on the past and falls into a cultural and historical amnesia, weakens its sense of identity.”

It is up to us: teachers, parents, grandparents, whanau, to pass on knowledge of the past so that the next generation can have a greater understanding of the present.  “It’s a small world after all.”

REFERENCES:

Education Review Office. (2012). Evaluation at a glance: Priority Learners in New Zealand School.

KPMG Australia. (2014, May 22). Future State 2030 – Global Megatrends.. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=im5SwtapHl8

OECD. (2016). Trends Shaping Education. Retrieved from http://www.keepeek.com/Digital-Asset-Management/oecd/education/trends-shaping-education-2016_trends_edu-2016-en#.WKPLSBhh2CR#page1

http://www.stats.govt.nz/browse_for_stats/population/Migration/international-travel-and-migration-info-releases.aspx

The RSA. (2010, Oct 14). RSA Animate – Changing Education Paradigms.. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zDZFcDGpL4U

Robinson, K. (2014). Cultural Education. Retrieved from https://sirkenrobinson.com/pdf/allowfutures

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in 04. Learning-focused culture, Applied Practice in Context, Mindlab, Uncategorized

Climate, culture and context

SOCIOECONOMIC STATUS OF COMMUNITY

According to Elizabeth Warner  the culture of a school is different to the climate. The climate indicates how a school feels, while culture indicates how the school does things, its values and traditions. Orewa College is set in the relaxed beachside town of Orewa, 30 minutes north of Auckland. We are a stone’s throw from the most beautiful scenery: beaches, bays, islands, countryside and forests. This is reflected in our school climate which is largely warm, friendly and laid-back, although we have had to guard against the overly laidback attitude.

We are made up of approximately 2000 students, including international students. We provide additional opportunities through HarbourNet Virtual Learning.   ERO 2016 Report felt that we “provide a broad and balanced selection of learning opportunities that cater very well to students’ varied interests and strengths.” To that end, our vision is to be the pride of the district, promoting high student achievement and high participation.

ORGANISATIONAL CULTURE

School culture runs deeper and should be created with intent. As Ed Dunkelblau said, schools are a “centre for instruction.” But it is also where you interact with people not like you and your family, where you learn what’s important to you. And, what others value. To help students to figure all this out, we have three programmes which form the foundation upon which the culture of the school rests:

  1. Ako Orewa entails learning strategies. We have recently modified this 10 years old programme to focus more carefully on  learner agency as well as effective pedagogy. This has involved shifting the focus of attention from the teacher to the student, giving students more freedom and responsibility to drive their own learning pathways.

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  1. Manaaki Orewa underpins all that we do. It translates to respect: Respect for oneself – be the best you can be. Respect for others – manners matter. Respect for the environment – keep it clean. I feel that Manaaki Orewa has resonated with our students to a far greater degree than Ako Orewa, because it is so simple yet such a powerful ethos to live by. The word manaaki has made its way firmly into the lingo used by our students, be it as an admonishing verb: “Be more manaaki!” Or a praising adjective: “Very manaaki of you.” Or even as a commanding imperative: “Manaaki people!”
  1. The House System was created to provide a sense of belonging for all students to participate, compete and celebrate in diverse house activities within the college environment. The aims of the house system are to increasingly develop and promote:
  • Growth of school and student spirit and identity
  • Positive, supportive, social and emotional environments for all students
  • Interaction and positive role models between year levels
  • Leadership opportunities for senior students and aspiring middle school students

Students identify with the house system and its very healthy competition. Tabloid sports is perhaps the highlight because, rather than testing sporting prowess, full participation is the objective. Activities are designed for fun, like the gumboot biff. International students always marvel at these activities because many of them have only ever experienced academic programmes at their schools.

PROFESSIONAL ENVIRONMENT

The most invasive change we have embraced is the bring your own device (BYOD) policy. This has forced us to have ongoing and regular professional development (PD). We are challenged to look at emerging research and adaptive practice. PD is carried out in departments on a fortnightly basis, as well as in cross curricular groups. It is no coincidence that there is such a great number of staff doing the Mindlab course.

I think that our biggest challenge is to break down the silo-mentality of both the teachers and the students. Links across subjects is one we have overlooked for far too long. Ako Orewa, in conjunction with Carol Dweck’s growth mindset, is just one approach that will start to challenge this tunnel-vision approach. In addition, we are in the process of getting our Community of Learning (CoL) established. I think that these conversations across not only subjects but also year levels and schools in the district, will start to remove the cloak of secrecy which seems to hang over individual subject areas.

REFERENCES:

CORE Education: Learner Agency. Retrieved from: http://www.core-ed.org/legacy/thought-leadership/ten-trends/ten-trends-2014/learning-agency?url=/thought-leadership/ten-trends/ten-trends-2014/learning-agency

Dweck, C. Teaching a growth mindset. Retrieved from: http://mindsetonline.com/abouttheauthor/

What is school culture and climate? Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-_NvhlcusQ

ERO Report (2016). Retrieved from: http://www.orewa.school.nz/about/education-review-office-report/

Thank you to Richard Wells  @EduWells for designing the Ako Orewa poster.

Posted in 02. Professional learning, Mindlab, 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.

Transcript:

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 05. Design for learning, Professional development, Uncategorized

English Department Professional Development session

At our school we have professional development sessions every second Wednesday morning. Our head of department, Meryl Howell, requested that we each take a session and in this way draw on each others’ strengths and skills. It is a wonderful idea to collaborate in this way, but also quite scary to present to those closest to you in your professional capacity. I’m pleased to say that once I got over the initial nerves, they were a very welcoming audience.

I had recently returned from the Apple Distinguished Educators’ Institute in Berlin so I was brimming with ideas. I kicked the session off some sketchnoting using the app Procreate. Karen Bosch (@karlyb) did a spotlight session on sketch noting and this is a great tool for mind mapping. I like to draw and write as I plan or listen to ideas, as do many students. So this is an app I’d recommend.

Next we looked at Don Goble’s spotlight session where he took Hemingway’s six word story and extended it to a six unique shots film. His students’ work is fantastic and it is wonderful to use as exemplars. I have included some of the resources I got and adapted from Don Goble at the end of this post. (@dgoble2001)

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Image from @dgoble2001

This lesson could be taken a number of ways.

  1. You could first look at Hemingway’s story on a creative writing level. How many interpretations have been suggested for the story: “For sale: baby shoes, never worn.”
  2. Next you could look at newspaper headlines where they very often are made up of six words. Since this session I find myself counting the number of words in headlines and invariably come away with the answer six. Those media stories could be a lesson in and of themselves.
  3. Then we spoke about getting students to write six word stories and story board these. The aim is to create a film with only six shots. So each shot has to be powerful to tell the full story.

As a group we decided that this would work with our year 10 students. I will post examples of my students’ projects next term.

Here is a link to the powerpoint I used: 6-word-story