Thursday, July 30, 2009

Feeling of Freedom - Trash the Paper!

What an experience today has been. I wore my old jeans to work today to set foot on cleaning out the office area. It was amazing how much paper I had kept just in case the day would arrive when I may need it again. I found bits and bobs that I had brought with me from a previous school, all would not be missed if I no longer existed.
I'm not sure I can believe it myself - I actually moved out of my office entirely! I no longer have a designated home. My goal is to be where our core business happens - in the classroom. In this phase of transition I am feeling quite excited - am looking forward to experiencing how the next few weeks unfold in experiencing a new approach to my job.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

I responded as follows to Derek Wenmoth's recent blog titled 'Measuring the Right Things' he shared about Microsoft's recent paper on interoperability; Improving Schools.

A timely blog entry when I have been giving much thought to assessment measures that empower the individual and provide motivation for possible next learning steps. We recently held a pilot with 5 classroom teachers trialling student led conferences where the teacher was available but not present. Student ran around an hour long session with their parents explaining how they were going in their learning and what their next learning steps were. Parents were involved in wide range of experiences including trying out science experiments, assessing a piece of writing using the students success criteria, viewing students online forums and leaving a comment to hearing about their child's report grades. In videoing student responses before and after the experience it was enlightening to hear how great it was for them that they really had to take responsibility and own their learning. A students words of - before the teacher did all the talking, now I have to really know my goals and what my next learning steps are. Parents were delighted and proud of the ownership their children took. Our teachers response was - please don't make us do 3 way conferences like before. Such a strategy highlights the importance of students being at the centre. In the build up to the conferences no assessment was done to the individual, rather they were an active part in building knowledge of themselves as a learner.
Secondly it brought about the very question posed in this blog entry - what should students share? What is important data to present to all stakeholders? As the journey continues I hope the weighting doesn't swing back to being solely on Literacy and Numeracy as the mental models most have around how to assess these ares are steeped in history and top down approach. Our recent developments in producing learning progressions in foundation learning areas that acknowledge the complexity of learning (not linear and about hopping through hoops) are our best crack at motivating any learner to progress learning by being able to answer, how am I going, where am I going and where to next? Kids need to experience stretch everyday! Once web based material, DLOs are linked to learning intentions in kid friendly language , forums for learners to collaborate etc are developed then the world of data starts to become the child's.
Anyway, long entries aren't much fun - bit passionate about this one! Always keen to dialogue some more.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Just Do It Approach

I returned to work on Wednesday from a 2 day course on achieving a 'break through' in balancing your career and life. I can't believe how smoothly the last 2 days have run and how much I have achieved as a result of implementing many of the principles we were presented with in the 2 days. On reflection I have found myself just getting on and 'doing it'. It is amazing how ones head can get incredibly cluttered trying to remember a how pile of things and how the piles of paper on ones desk constantly distract. There is no room for procrastination in this approach. I am finding the disciplined approach in how one should tackle the never ending tasks and relentless nature of the job totally through a new lens. As my PA said the other day (she came to day 2) it's like your glasses have been cleaned properly and you see things differently.

Am looking forward to having both a satisfying life and career. Well worth the two day investment. Visit for more info

Sunday, July 19, 2009

A Powerful Learning Process

Here is the presentation I shared at the Curriculum Connections Conference. Always refreshing to present on something you haven't presented on before!
Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Curriculum Connections Conference - Positive Energy

I had a most enjoyable day on Thursday. It was the Learning Networks two day conference on our new curriculum document. Julia Atkin asked for the audience to indicate how they felt towards the new document. The response was overwhelming positive. I have heard a number of international speakers now recognize just how good our curriculum is. I believe the real reason for this that for the first time we have a clearly articulated educative vision or purpose if you like. What is at the heart of the document is a vision for how students will be. Connected, confident Life Long Learners etc. The key competencies are a key enabler to ensuring that this vision is achieved. We can not do more of the same and assume that students will leave prepared for their future. The key competencies need not to be seen as an add on, rather integral and central to how learning and teaching should occur.
It was heartening talking to participants about the journey's different schools are on to address the essence of the NZ curriculum. Was is most refreshing about attending such days is being about to collaborate and share. I think we have a long way to go in NZ around sincerely sharing together and taking away the competitive edge that seems to hang over our organisations at times. Thanks Learning Network for a brilliant day - thoroughly enjoyed the presentations and opportunity to dialogue with colleagues.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

A Powerful Learning Process - More than Inquiry Learning

I have enjoyed taking time in the last couple of days to put together a presentation on our Powerful Learning Process to share at the Learning Network Curriculum Conference next week. I have been giving this a lot of thought for some time. It has become clear in clearly demonstrating the essence of the process just how many assumptions I may have made.
The PLP (Powerful Learning Process) is more than an inquiry process. We certaintly set out several years ago to develop an inquiry process to assist in the teaching an learning of Science, Technology and Social Studies. We quickly discovered however that such a process was a powerful learning process to assist in all learning across all curriculum.
Another important distinction from a typical inquiry process is that the PLP has an embedded hierachy of thinking within in. The Get it, Sort it and Use it types of thinking are distinct and call on certain thinking skills. It is important to note here that we have deliberately been selective about the thinking skills, tools, strategies and organises we have selected. When ones digs into the realm of thinking it is overwhelming just what is out there.
Our audience (primary ages students) is an important piece of the puzzle in making such selections as the thinking required needs to be relevant and developmentally appropriate for primary aged students.
Anyway before I rattle on and make this a huge blog entry just wanted to put down some of those learnings in developing our PLP model. Will put the presentation up when I complete it.

Reflection - Head space to think!

How refreshing to be on holiday and take time to smell the roses. Its amazing the thoughts that come to one self when you give it time. Amazing how the creative juices start to flow and big picture thinking comes back into play. I have recently returned from 4 days at the family bach, in the middle of no where! No cell phone coverage - no internet, no blogging, just the wild west coast - miles of beach and time to think. Even after a few short days I feel energised and keen to strategise about where to next for the rest of this year. I guess the learning from this one is why leave it so long inbetween trips to the bach? No excuses just got to make time. Time is what generates ones best thoughts.