Monday, May 29, 2017

Recognising progress in a modern day learning environment

Several things have happened over the past couple of weeks that have made me wonder about how I can improve the monitoring and output of student learning in a 1-1 device learning environment.

I know the learning has happened, and I know my students have responded to the new learning by using it and creating responses using skills and knowledge only recently acquired. But I also know we are not sharing our learning. Mainly because using the tools, the icon based language and digital pathways, accessing the learning in a completely different way than ever before, learning how to be safe, accurate, articulate and responsible online, remembering user names and passwords, etc., etc. has simply meant that completing a task takes so long we are well into the next one (or fourth) before realising we hadn't finished the first one.

Using the SAMR model to design the tasks means students are learning how to use their devices to do things in ways that were not able to be done before having such easy access to this technology. SAMR is a model designed to help educators infuse digital technology into teaching and learning. Developed by Dr. Ruben Puetedura, the model offers a method of seeing how digital technologies might positively impact teaching and learning.

It is my first time teaching in a truly integrated inquiry focused with 1-1 device use environment. And noticing a lack of 'output' has led to the question, Why? I know the students have made great progress. Their data says so. But how can I support the completion and sharing of what's created in response to learning on a scale that seems expected? Yet continue to ensure students are learning indepth about the platform they will take into secondary, work - their future.

This will continue to be my big question for the week and I will add to this post as I find answers to my queries.

To find out more about SAMR and why learning is what it is, I encourage you to come to our E-Learning evening:

WHAT:   E-LEARNING Parent Information Evening
WHEN:  Wednesday 31 May, 6.30-7.00pm
WHERE: Whangaparaoa School

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Learning Conversations 24/05/17

I am really looking forward to seeing everyone tomorrow night and engaging in meaningful conversation about your child's learning so far this year.

The students have been really busy over the last week putting together and rehearsing what they want to share with you. Their control over the google domain and the progress they have made in knowing themselves as learners and responding to their learning goals, I hope will be clearly evident.

They are very aware that their classroom, especially the teaching and learning is very different from when we went to school, before the 1 to 1 platform was feasible and are excited to share what they have produced with their greatest fans - you! They will show you why it is important to learn how to use the tools they have to get the best effect in their learning, how they utilise the google domain to share their learning and what, where and how they access learning. As well as explaining their curriculum achievement, learning goals and next learning steps.

Much of what we have explored this year in regard to sharing and engaging in learning sits within the Google Apps for Education platform (now referred to as the G-Suite) and first and foremost they have been learning how to use these effectively:

Students use Drive to store their work. Part of my practice is to give students choice as this promotes ownership of learning. Students will be sharing with you using a combination of slides, drawings, docs and sites. YouTube I believe is one of the best teachers on the planet and a common default for anyone wanting to know anything - we use it a lot to help us find out how to do the things we don't know. My students now have access to gmail and I find it the best platform for feedback there is right now. We are about to start blogging and will soon be using forms to gather information. I believe they have come along way in 14 short weeks :)

Last week, I introduced sites to those ready and wanting. For about 2 days I was the expert. Now, I have students more adept within the program than my limited skills of building and designing. The biggest step I made becoming a better teacher was accepting this and letting go of the 'locus of control'. I love that students have ownership and control over their learning and their learning outcomes.

Tomorrow night I hope you see this too!

I look forward to the questions you ask (even the curly ones! Especially the curly ones), the feedback you will provide your child and the sense of accomplishment I know they'll feel after making you proud. See you tomorrow...

Monday, May 22, 2017


Last week we experienced the normal inclement weather conditions Auckland so regularly dishes us. Unfortunately, that meant that on Thursday morning instead of heading out to the bikes we decided it would be too dangerous and something else needed to take it's place.

It's pretty difficult finding something to replace PE in A5 & 6. The students really value getting outside and playing competitive, skills based games or activities together.

Sam and I were in a predicament...
What could we replace the bikes with that would still add value to all our learning, yet still be described as FUN?

Sam to the rescue, "Let's play 'The Game of Awesome'!"
"Of course!" I replied.

The best way to explain 'The Game of Awesome' is from our very own national Ministry of Education Te Kete Ipurangi (TKI) website as that is where it has been produced, marketed and delivered to NZ schools in response to the growing concern over boys writing. The beautiful thing is that not only boys love the game, the girls had just as much fun!

Scroll down for photos of our students playing and the TKI sites description of the game. Best place to go if you want to know more? Ask your kids :)

Game of Awesome

Game of Awesome is a card game for 3-6 players designed to engage and inspire kids, specifically boys, to tell stories and learn to write. Playing the game helps students generate ideas quickly which they can explore, expand and write stories.
The basic game has been produced as four sets of cards containing topics, themes and ideas that students years 5-8 will find interesting, involving and often ridiculous! The cards can be used independently or mixed and matched to create new combinations and infinitely more ideas.
The game is easy to learn for both students and teachers, quick to play and easily employs a range of learning outcomes by using new rules, templates and other teacher support materials provided as free downloadable, printable files.
Watch the video to find out why Game of Awesome is worth checking out!

Source: Ministry of Education TKI teacher resource and information site:

A5 & 6 Engaged:


Game of Awesome is definitely here to stay! Looking forward to reading some of the writing that will be generated due to the 'AWESOME' conversations students engaged in during play :)

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

We are getting ready to Blog :)

I'm so excited and I know A6 students are too! We have been learning and creating around the theme of how to share our learning in today's digital landscape.

Tonight my students blogs were built and added to the class blog. You'll notice these sitting to the right.

I'd like to say a huge thank you to James Hopkins from CORE Education for his time, expertise and humour for helping me build these tonight. Without his technical assistance we would never have achieved my goal of visibility for the students in A6. James you truly add value to me as a teacher and learner, we all send our heart felt thanks! Credit must also go to the Ako Hiko Education Trust, the Manaiakalani Education Trust and CORE Education for creating visible resources to enable this programme to happen.

In giving students access to blogs we are enabling an opportunity to share far wider than the four walls of the classroom. Coupled with the CyberSmart programme, students make careful choices around what they share and keep their personal identity safe at all times. Having the chance to share far and wide helps make learning more purposeful and pushes learners to think about the authentic audience they would like to reach. Lastly, the blog is not the end point for learning. The sharing of work to the wider world means that new perspectives are added and learners revisit the learning based on the feedback of the online community.

Very soon A6 students will be ready to start their own digital footprint. These will go with them as they move through life and become a meaningful and positive digital reminder of learning, skills, life, loves, triumphs, failures and more.

I can't wait to see them embrace this new world of sharing and have you and all those they value see and contribute to their learning journey as it unfolds.

Watch this space .... :)

Sunday, May 14, 2017

When Leaders Support and Serve

The last assembly we had at WGP was hosted by students from A6.

We were really proud of our Year 6 representatives :

Nate (Nathaniel)
Mikatla (Mikayla - she loves cats :)!) &
Rosie (Shay-Rose - she likes Rosie)

They were given choice and decided to present from the perspective of "The Guy Williams Show". Although I was not a 'Guy Williams' fan, I was not even aware 'Guy Williams' had a show, who he was or that NZ kids gave him such a following but from the audience response I was clearly in the minority.

The title of this post may have you confused! The reason I am writing 'they' instead of 'we' is because Kevin leads the assemblies at school. I had nothing to do and nothing to organise. I'd like to take this opportunity to say; "Thanks, Kevin" for taking something away from an already overfull teachers "things I need to do" in order to provide the best learning environment and opportunities for A6 and A Team. It is so, so appreciated.

The down side of that is that I had no idea teachers would be used in the show as cast members. This was a complete surprise and I know my students would berate me if I didn't also include the following two clips : (Sorry Graham, Ha!)



Tuesday, May 9, 2017

A Team Inquiry - Term 2

A Team teachers have thoroughly enjoyed the return to learning this term. We sure hope the students are having as much fun as we are! The feedback from them and parents of A Team students says it certainly looks that way.


We wanted to take this opportunity to unpack a little more about teaching and learning in today’s landscape. It’s looks and feels very different from our classroom days, regardless of where in the world you attended school. Frankly, so it should be. With the well researched best approaches to teaching and learning easily accessible and with the tools we now have at our disposal our ‘digital natives’ deserve nothing less than an environment that will allow maximum engagement, growth and achievement.

Using this research and allowing the use of tools for learning Whangaparaoa School has adopted a fully integrated inquiry approach and use our amazing chromebooks to respond to our curiosity and ‘OWN’ our learning.

The Inquiry cycle at WGP School starts with provocation. Last week and this week A Team students have been ‘reclassed’ into groups from each different room. Groups from Year 1 to 6 move around A Team each afternoon and engage in new experiences related to the concept of “CHANGE”, within the context of Science. The purpose of these experiences is not to ‘teach’ science in the old way but to ignite and excite the students curiosity in this area so they can explore, question, research, investigate, test and share their hypothesise and findings with a targeted audience.

We are engaged in the first stage of “INQUIRY”
‘Sandy the Scientist’, a visiting expert ;) has joined us for both Monday’s this term with the intention of sparking student interest in chemical change before all of A Team students are cross grouped for the afternoon session. If you are wondering about where your child is in the afternoons at the moment CLICK HERE.

Following our provocation focus students will be identifying areas of high interest and pinpointing learning they’ve been exposed to that has made them extra curious. You may have noticed them coming home and wanting to reproduce the experiments they have enjoyed at school. This is a good example of how we are trying to incite continuous learning. This then motivates student questions and we know from the research that when a student’s learning is platformed from their own self-directed questions and curiosity it makes the end result powerfully learned.

Our inquiry model has come from Kath Murdoch’s work, an Australasian Educational expert who responds to research by providing a scaffolded way to ‘do it’ for teachers. Here’s a short clip of her explaining what it means to be an Inquiry Teacher:


Sharing what is learned is an integral part of Inquiry - In essence, we learn, we create, we share. Not necessarily in that order and when you look at your child’s day each aspect of this process should be evident. Creating has taken on a whole new meaning. Before the digital era (and we define this as since ipad technology exploded onto the market, only in 2009) we could access a student’s learning response in books and on classroom walls. This is no longer an accurate indication as the platform they now have to share their work has grown exponentially. Teachers are the experts in analysing and identifying progress and the tools they have to do this also reflect the digital age. This means anyone making an assumption on progress by simply looking in a book could be grossly misguided and just plain wrong. For any questions regarding progress it is best to talk to the teacher.

Our school website is about to be updated to reflect our new understanding around what best practice looks like in an inquiry class. It says this:

Inquiry-based learning is a constructivist approach. This means children are engaged in constructing knowledge rather than simply acquiring it. Knowledge is constructed based on personal experiences and hypotheses of the environment, meaning students take ownership of their learning. It is the New Zealand Curriculum’s approach to teaching and learning.

Our unique Vertical Learning Communities allow children of all ages to share experiences and knowledge around our inquiry focus, while strengthening our learning community as the children become teachers to each other.
The benefits of learning through inquiry include higher order thinking, improved problem solving abilities and critical thinking skills. These are all identified as the leading skills looked for in today’s employment market. It increases personal ownership and responsibility for learning, develops skills of research and a student’s ability to determine the importance of the information they encounter.
Inquiry Learning supports our school ORCA values of Ownership, Respect, Collaboration and Achievement.

We look forward to the questions our students will ask, the discoveries they will make and how they will share what they’ve learned to others.

Please feel free to ask any questions you may have about how your child is learning and why with the classroom teacher. We are also very happy to share with anyone interested more about the landscape of teaching and learning so any misconceptions out there can be addressed. Ka kite ano...

Thursday, May 4, 2017


I really couldn't let this day go ahead without celebration and acknowledgement. This morning, I explained to A6 why I held STAR WARS in such high regard, as I attempted to be Princess Leia.

When Sam Gilmore emailed us the link on Monday, in anticipation of the day I just had to adapt the planning to accommodate :)

A6 had an awesome time exploring today. It's times like this that you view core curriculum (I'm talking about Literacy in the main but also math, digital fluency and collaboration) in a different light. When you see how engaged students are in the learning and absolutely loving it, you see how easy it can be to be a learner. And how motivating.

Check out some of the creative responses to todays exploration:

This is Ajay's. I wonder if graphic design or advertising could be in his future? He also dressed up and brought in props which I used to add authenticity to my outfit (and because I didn't want anyone to think I had a strange dress sense, ha!)

And I love this by Dylan:

By Marco:

And finally, from Noelani and Serenayde (to share just a few):

It's been a great day :). I'll finish with why STAR WARS has always been special to me. STAR WARS was the first movie I really remember seeing at the movies. I remember going with mum, dad and my brothers and being transfixed the whole way through. I fell in love with Luke, wanted to be Princess Leia and grow up to be a Jedi :). We 'played' STAR WARS at school. Three years later that intro music once again sent shivers down my spine and again three years after that. Hard to believe we had to wait 16 years for the story to begin. The Phantom Menace came out the year Matt was born.

Then, two years later Hannah came along and Matt got really sick. He ended up in Starship for a couple of weeks and when we got him home he was pretty wiped out. He watched a lot of TV. At the time we hadn't started the children's video collection and the best we had on hand was (you guessed it) STAR WARS. He loved it and we have since watched all of them many, many times. The pictures I bought into the classroom are from his bedroom wall.

Thanks for an awesome day A6. MAY THE FOURTH (always) BE WITH YOU