Friday, 27 April 2018

Week 19: Contribution of Teacher Inquiry Topics to my Communities of Practice

My two inquiry topics.
The two inquiry topics that I have chosen are ‘Implementing digital technology in the classroom, and ‘Developing a growth Mindset’  (Carol Dweck).
During my reflection on ‘The role of current emerging technologies’ I found myself referencing the SAMR model a lot.   I think that this is an area that I want to inquire into and unpack with the teachers in the Year 7 & 8 team.
Developing a growth Mindset is also of huge interest to me.  The children that I work with really struggle in this area. They are afraid of failure and often disengage from learning when they find it to hard.
My Communities of practice

  • School Staff
  • Senior Leadership Team
  • Year 7 & 8 Team
  • Professional Learning Group (aligned to my TAI)
  • Uru Manuka
  • The Mindlab

Implementing digital technology in the classroom
My Community view
To ensure that teachers and students are getting the biggest impact from the affordances of digital technologies they need to understand the SAMR model and ensure that they are creating learning opportunities that are ‘modification and redefinition’ on the SAMR scale.  We don’t want chromebooks being used as a really expensive textbook.
“At this level (Redefinition) we see dramatic improvements in student outcomes.  This is the level at which students who were failing are now successful and the students who were already successful are going places you’ve never seen students go before.” Ruben Puentedura
Growth Mindset
My Community view
That all children in the right environment and support networks has the ability learn.   They need to understand what the learning process is and strategies to use when they are in the learning pit and finding learning difficult.
Empirical studies have revealed that growth mindset has positive effects on student motivation and academic performance (Dweck, C. 2009)(Blackwell, L.S. 2007)
“Recent research has also shown that mindset is related to student outcomes and behaviors including academic achievement, engagement, and willingness to attempt new challenges.”(Vedder-Weiss, 2013) (Yeager, D.S.; Dweck, C.S. 2012)
Critical Reflection
I am pleased that I have chosen two inquiry topics that I can see will have a positive impact on what I am already doing.  This will complement and strengthen my Professional Learning Group and Teacher as Inquiry.
Because I can see real purpose to both of these topics and see how they can connect, this will give me motivation to research and gain a better understanding of both of these areas.  

Week 18: My reflections on the role of current and emerging technologies

Describe - What Happened?
Using the affordances of digital technologies has been a major focus for my teaching practice over the past 4 years and continues to be a focuss. In my new role as assistant principal I have to essentially start from scratch in terms of growing knowledge of effective pedagogy that is supported by the affordances of digital technologies.  The classrooms are all 1:1, all teachers are using sites to deliver the curriculum and to promote visible teaching and learning.
However there is room for improvement and an opportunity to look at the SAMR model in depth would be helpful for the team.

Feelings - What were you thinking about?
We have an outstanding platform to work off.  The children expect a digital curriculum. The teachers are all enthusiastic about working in a digital classroom, and we are resourced to improve and grow teachers understanding of delivering Learn, Create, Share.  So I am happy with where we are and have a clear idea where we need to head.

Evaluation - What was good and bad about the experience?
In most cases the children are engaged and the teachers are enthusiastic. It’s about keeping the momentum going in the right direction.  By looking at the SAMR model and unpacking what that looks like in each teachers context will help them grow professional. It will enable them to reflect on their own practice and question whether or not they are using the affordances of digital technologies effectively

Analysis - What sense can you make of the situation?
Our school hasn’t just gone down the road of; ‘that simply introducing new ICT tools and infrastructure into schools will trigger beneficial and meaningful educational change’.  We have implemented these four strategies to support educational ICT developments: providing enabling tools and infrastructure; providing inspiring ideas and opportunities to connect ideas; enhancing capability; and supporting innovation.
A chromebook isn’t the silver bullet to solve all problems, its the pedagogy that is supported by the technology that has the greatest impact on student achievement.

Conclusion - What else could have you done?
Although I think I have a good idea about how technology is being used in the classroom, I need to dig a little deeper.  By knowing and understanding what each individual teacher is doing in terms of using the affordances of digital technologies to support Learn, Create, Share, I will have a better ability to provide support in key areas and grow leadership within the team to support others.

Action Plan - If it arose again what would you do?

Is there effective use of digital technologies in the Year 7 & 8 team?  Yes absolutely, but it could be better. I am really keen to unpack the SAMR model with the team and get them to reflect on their teaching practice when teaching in a digital curriculum.

Week 17: Activity 1: My Reflective Practice


What is happening?
Over the past few years I have become a reflective practitioner.  The two main reason why I have developed this skill, is because I was involved in two important initiatives at my previous school which would lead to school wide change.  The first initiative was running a collaborative classroom (team teaching) and the other initiative was creating a digital classroom with 1:1 devices. Because I was leading these initiatives it was important to reflect on what was working, what wasn’t working and what we need to do to make it successful.  I found that putting some of these reflections on a blog was very useful.

The majority of my reflection was introspective thinking, but due to the nature of the initiatives there was also Intersubjective reflection, especially when team teaching.  I find that real time reflection when team teaching was very effective, whether that be teacher to teacher or teacher to student. I find collecting student voice as powerful tool and use this in my reflection.

I feel that currently I mainly use reflection-on-action rather reflection–in-action, but I am much more comfortable not at reflection in action.   

Is this working and for whom?

In my previous role this was working well for me, but also for the others involved in the initiatives.  I have found that in my new role I am less reflective and my blog has been dormant for a while now.

If I am wanting to implement change in my current position then it is important that I get back to being a reflective practitioner.

How am I feeling?
I was happy about my reflective practise, but after this task it has made me realise that I may have lost my way in this area.  I need to get back to being more proactive in this area. By recording my ideas it makes me think about what it is I am trying to achieve, what worked, what didn’t and what are my next steps.   

What do I not understand?
When do I have the time?  How can I manage this to make it sustainable?  What comes off the pile for this to go on the pile and stay there?


How do other people involved or indirectly involved describe what is happening?

Zeichner and Liston’s Five Levels of Reflection survey tells me that I use the following levels of reflection;
  • Rapid reflection
  • Repair
  • Review
  • Retheorizing and reformulating
Brookfield (1995) tells me that I use both the ‘Dance and Stance’ characteristics in critical reflection.

Quinn (1988, 2000) tells me that I use
  • retrospection
  • self-evaluation

How does research contribute to an understanding of this matter?

I have never done any research about reflective practices before, so what it does do is paints a picture of how I reflect.   I also think that there are so many different theories that one could get consumed by all of the different theories and become confused or overwhelmed.  At the end of the day if you are reflecting it is better that not.

How can I improve what is not working?

I need to find one model that I am comfortable at using and that makes sense to my context.  I need to get back to blogging more and make sure that the right people are seeing my reflections so they are able to contribute to them.

Critical Reflection

What are the implications of the matter when viewed from these alternative perspectives?

The implications from this reflection is that now I am no longer team teaching and in a non contact management role, I have lost the person who I spent a lot of time reflecting with on a day to day bases.  It is important that I connect or reconnect with a professional partner to get back to being a reflective practitioner.

How does this reflective process inform and renew my perspective?

This has been a good wake up call for me and renewed the importance of being a reflective practitioner.  For me in my new role this is really important if I want to be an effective leader of change. By sharing my reflections it gives others the opportunity to give their perspective about any of the issues or problems that I have come across, which could help solve these.  By sharing my reflections it may also help others who are faced with similar challenges.

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

What is Success and Why?

2016 was a really big year for the Senior School at Hornby Primary School. Lots of new learning for teachers and students and more importantly, students and teachers getting out of their comfort zones.

So what is the 1:1 digital classrooms and the learning model of  Learn, Create share doing for our learners?   The answer, 'Bucket loads' and the best thing is that we have the data to show this!

The data from our E-asttle results shows us that we have accelerated learning and our Year 5 and 6 students are now achieving above the national norms.   Our Year 4's have also made significant gains.

But what was more pleasing and satisfying for me, was our 'Me and my School survey results that all of our year 4, 5 and 6 students completed.   The results were outstanding especially in our year 6 group.

Year 6 (n=38)
Scored higher on 27 of the 28 questions than NZ norms

The one question was 1% point lower than NZ norm

Significant responses - agree/strongly agree

  • I have a lot of respect for my teachers: 100%
  • My teachers help me learn: 100%
  • Doing well at school is very important to me: 98%
  • At school I always try to do my best: 98%
  • I feel like I am making progress at school: 95%
  • When I’m learning something that’s hard I keep on trying until I get it: 94%
  • I feel my culture is valued and respected at my school: 92%

So what's happening at our school that is causing children to accelerate their learning and also be extremely happy to attend school.    I took my time to reflect on this and have come to a couple of conclusions.  Our children are hooked.   The digital platform that we have created  caters for all students.  They are engaged but more importantly teachers are activating learning.

As teachers we are spending more time teacher and less time managing the class.  The learning is authentic and has a purpose.  The students see themselves as teachers and learners and the have a voice with a world wide audience.  This directly relates to Learn, Create, Share and the affordances of digital technologies.

So what does learning look like?  why are we making significant shift?

I created this presentation after discussions with the other teachers in the senior school team, which is essentially a reflection of our writing practice.

We had a really good reflection session at our last staff meeting run by Kate Mclachlan our literacy leader.  What got me really excited was that although we have had significant success, everyone of our staff was reflecting on what they could do to improve their practice.  We all had a clear idea of what our next steps were.

That in my books is a recipe for success.  Not being happy with status quo,  but striving to better ones practice collectively.  A great example of teacher as inquiry.

Creating Learners

It has been a hectic start to 2017 in our learning environment.  We have about 30 new students joining us, most of whom were in a 1:1 digital classroom last year and some who have arrived from a different school who have no experience of what it like to be in a digital classroom.

I was excited about this challenge and understood that there would be a lot of challenges along the way.  After the first two weeks, we (Kate, team teacher/ work wife) had one particular challenge in front of us in the from of a student.  I will refer to this student as Student X, and I am sure that you will all be able to relate to this student and the impact that they can have on your classroom.

Student X came to us completely disengaged with education, they didn't see themselves as a learner and had extremely low self esteem.  They would often make comments such as "I'm stupid", "I can't do this", "I don't understand".   When given a task, they would do anything possible to not do the task.  Strategies included trying to get the teachers to do it, or the teacher aides, getting other children to do it and if none of those worked then distract others and cause chaos.  After causing chaos and having a melt down we would then hear, "I'm stupid",  "I can't do this", "I don't understand". 

It is fair to say that we spent a lot of time scratching our heads trying to come up with a solution.  We came to the conclusion that we needed to change what we were doing.  It is our job to activate learning for all children, and for this particular child we need to look outside the box.

 One afternoon I observed them sitting down by on task working on a piece of art work, I approached him and commented on his work.  A conversation began and a connection was made.  At last I was able to develop this student teacher relationship.  They told me that they loved gaming, Minecraft and spent a lot of there spare time doing this.

The following day we had Goal Setting interviews with the children and their parents.   I had an interesting conversation with the mother, she wasn't happy about the situation and  I was getting a lot of negative comments from her about what we were doing.  I  talked to her about his engagement and that it was our job to make sure that they were engaged.  I then moved my focus onto the child and talked to them about what they want to do when they grow up, and what is it they are passionate about.  They talked about gaming and wanting to be a game designer.  The mother was also contributing to this and the meeting finished on a positive note.

As I was walking them to to the door a light bulb went off in my head.  This student needs to create.

I went and discussed this with Kate.  This students biggest barrier is engagement, lets get them hooked by getting them to create.  Being in a MOP (Manaiakalani Outreach Programme) School under Learn, Create, Share we have the licence do this.  

The next day I had an idea that I shared with this student about creating their own game/animations using slides and drawings.  I created a template for the child and scaffolded this process.   For example, first they were to create the characters, which needed to include a hero and a villain.  They would then create the characters homes/castles including a floor plan.   Finally they would create the background settings.   Once all that was complete they would begin to create their animation.

We saw a positive result from the get go.   We had hooked the student!   For the first time in a long time they were engaged in the classroom environment and had the sense that they were successful.

Two days later, I bumped into his mother after school.  This time her body language was a lot different.  She was smiling.  She went onto tell me how her  child came home and was really keen to share what they had been doing.  The child even asked if they could do some at home.  This was a first for this child according to the mother.

Now this hasn't solved all of this child's issues.  They are still working well below in all areas and is still very reluctant to get out of their comfort zone.  There is a lot of work a head of us.   But the lightbulb moment for me was that we now have the learning platform that can truly cater for all of our learners, square pegs, round pegs and even hexagon shaped pegs.

Learn, Create, Share allows us as teachers, to connect to all of our learners.  This has given me more time to teach and less time dealing with behaviour issues.

Thursday, 7 July 2016

Visible Teaching and Learning

This is my third year Team Teaching (Collaborative Teaching) with my colleague Kate.  We have made many changes over this time to make this work for us, but more importantly for it to work for the children. One of the philosophies that we have held dearly to during this time, is that all teaching and learning is visible.

Why is this important to us?  Firstly we wanted children to have a clear understanding of what they are learning, why they are learning it and their next learning step will be.  Secondly we wanted learning and teaching to not only be visible to the students, but also the parents and whānau.   Essential visible teaching and learning strengthen the home and school connections.

Understandably our understanding and implementation of visible teaching and learning has changed significantly during this process.  The most significant changes that have occurred are due to the integration of devices into learning programme, which gave us better opportunities and a platform to create an environment that promotes visible teaching and learning.

Initially we had limited resources, 6 Ipads (2014).  We then introduced 10 chrome books into our classroom as a pilot to gain a better understanding of working in a digital environment.  In 2015 we we fortunate enough to have enough Chrome books for 1:2.  This gave us more opportunities but we were still limited, as we had one foot in the digital classroom and the other foot in the analogue classroom, which creates twice the work.  Thankfully this year we are 1:1 (chrome books) over half of them student owned.

The most important  part of this process hasn't been the technology, it has been the pedagogy  that now drives our teaching and learning, which is Learn, Create, Share.  We are on our second year of the Manaiakalani Outreach Programme.  Learn, Create, Share is visible teaching and learning. With our assistance and guidance from our Manaiakalani outreach facilitator Mark Maddren, we have been able to develop a better understanding of what this looks like and how we can implement it into our programme.

This year we have built a learning site where the children access their learning.  This alone has made teaching and learning more visible.  Children are able to continue their learning at home and have access to the resources that we have used to enhance the learning. We have also used a class blog over the past two years to share with the parents and whānau what the children are learning.  But the problem with the class blog was it wasn't personalised for the individuals in the class.  Parents could see what the class was doing, but not necessary what the individual child was doing or how they were progressing. This term the children all have their own personal blog.  This has opened up a lot of doors for us as their teachers, there whānau and more importantly them.

We have learnt pretty quickly that you can have a class site, and blogs but that doesn't necessarily make your teaching and learning visible. Especially if the parents and whānau don't know about them, or know how to access them.  Initially we were encouraging the children to go home and share both the site and their blogs with the parents with limited success.  Luckily for us we had learning conferences at the end of term 2.  This was the perfect opportunity to not only expose the parents to the learning site and their individual blogs,  but also to showcase how they are used in our programme but more importantly how they can access them.

We are required to report to parents for National Standards twice a year, but we didn't want the children's leaning conference to be just about that.  We wanted it to be a showcase of what they can do and to celebrate their achievements.   We wanted the parents to have a better understanding of Learn, Create, Share, and what visible teaching and learning is.   We wanted to show them how they can access and connect with what their child is doing in the classroom.  We wanted them to leave those learning conferences with the confidence to connect with their child's learning.

Traditionally we get around  70%-80% of parents turn out to learning conferences if we are lucky, which isn't ideal.  Traditionally Kate and I do the heavy lifting for the children in preparation for these, and a significant amount of the heavy lifting during the conferences.  Traditionally after Learning conferences we feel completely washed out as most teachers can relate to.

Things were significantly different this year.

All of the children created a slideshow, which consisted of 5 slides.  The first 3 slides covered there learning goals for reading, writing and maths.  Children had to find evidence to show whether or not they had achieved their goals or still need to work on them.  The children were able to link blog posts and blog comments they had written as evidence, they were able to link their digital modelling book, and anything else in their drive that could be used as evidence.

The forth slide was a mid year reflection where they had to describe what has helped their learning and also what they are most proud of.

The final slide was an opportunity for the children to teach the parents how to write  blog comments using the formate the children use (positive, thoughtful and helpful).  We gave the children plenty of time to create their presentation and practice presenting it, ensuring that they highlighted their evidence they collected and explain their next learning steps. We felt comfortable allocating as it was easily justified as it essentially covered our schools key characteristics.

Learning goal template

The end result was great.  We had children excited about learning conferences, nagging parents to make sure that they turned up.   We had the best turn out we have ever had 52/54 of the children's family and whānau turned up and we are confident of catching up with the final 2 families. Both of those children have shared their presentation with their families.

As for heavy lifting and feeling feeling wiped out after two days of learning conferences.  Not at all! For the first time our student led conferences were in fact student led. Students were able to justify why they have achieved goals or why they were still working on them.  More importantly the parents and whānau left the conferences knowing how to access the site and their child's blog.  They also had a better understanding of what visible teaching and learning is.



Is it perfect?  Far from it and we have a clear understanding of what our next steps are, such as creating a parent portal on our site.  There are a few families who do not have internet access, so we need to adapt to cater to them.

We can definitely be more visible with teaching and learning, but we have come a long way since our journey began in 2014.  Having had individual blogs for children since the beginning of term 2 has made a huge difference.

Has this created more work for us?
I personally don't think so, we aren't working harder, we are working smarter.  The initial set up  of the blogs was a lot of work but now the children are doing all the heavy lifting.

Resources that we are using to promote visible teaching and learning:

  • Google apps (Docs, slides sheets etc)
  • Classroom site
  • Class blog
  • Individual blogs
  • Screencastify
Other things that we use to also promote visible teaching and learning:
  • Sight, sound and motion
  • Rewindable learning
  • Children creating digital learning object
Presentations for parents about what learning looks like in Ako Ngātahi.

Examples of children's presentations.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Blogging! Has it made a difference?

I have been on this journey for a while now and it's time to reflect on the changes that have occurred, or difference that it has made in my delivery of the curriculum and more importantly  student success.

This term my class all started blogging on their individual blogs.   The children were very familiar with the blogs as we had a class blog that we used successfully last year and the beginning of this year to promote visible teaching and learning.

The impact on engagement was instant.  Children are highly motivated to 'share' or post on their blogs. They have an authentic global audience.   There is more purpose to what they are working on and are connecting with friends and family across New Zealand and in some cases overseas.

The most important part of this process has been teaching the children how to comment on other children posts.  They follow the 3 steps of write something positive, thoughtful and helpful.

By following this template it has stopped children from giving shallow feedback like 'Good work',  'Awesome, well done!'.  Their comments now are full of advice or questions that promote further learning or initiate a learning conversation.  But the biggest impact to the students learning has been the improvement of punctuation in their writing.  This has been transformational!  Through the combination of the  3 steps to writing a comment and having an authentic audience the children's punctuation has improved out of sight. 

Here are some examples.

This had made me make changes to my delivery of writing.  I have stopped giving children constrained practice activities (worksheets), related to surfaces features like punctuation.  These have been replaced with blog commenting.  Not only is this a more authentic writing activity and engaging, it has lightened my workload in terms of finding or creating the activity and then making them all.

Finally, my ultimate aim as an educator is to cause learning.  My biggest change that I am currently working through is ensuring that all teaching and learning is visible.  Why?  Because not only do I want to engage the students, but I also want to engage the Parents, Caregiver and Whānau, so they can play an important part of the learners journey.  

So is this happening?

This is gold!  How does a comment like this make a student feel?  That's easy to answer.  It motivates and drives them, it gives them a huge sense of pride, they see themselves as a learner, an author and a teacher.  They have a voice and a world wide audience that is listening!

I would like to acknowledge Mark Maddren for his ongoing support as the Manaiakalani Outreach facilitator.