Sunday, 6 August 2006

Bard Wired Big Day Out

A group of principals & lead teachers had a day out to visit other Taranaki Schools. We went to Manaia Primary School to observe the use of Smart Boards in the classroom and then to Opunake Primary School to look at Curriculum Integration.

At Manaia, Principal Allan Forsyth had used a terms sabbatical study grant to write an EDI proposal to develop a school wide Information Literacy programme. His proposal can be found on Leadspace. The EDI proposal was successful and very generous allowing for (amongst other things) the purchase of 8 SmartBoard in the school - one in each classroom & one in the library.

Prior to introducing IWB to classrooms, Manaia had been very well resourced with a new server, networking & computer lab funded by WITT for a Community Education computer course. A number of other schools have hosted WITT community ed. Computer courses but none were as well resourced to do this – maybe because those schools already had good existing services… What a bonus for a school to have all of this provided. The school itself is looking really mint with alterations to buildings – corridors, computer lab, admin, staff room & hall looking great – though classrooms themselves seemed to have no major changes and were your traditional school work spaces. Staff at Manaia have all participated in InfoLink this year and follow the action learning model school-wide, they have had training in the use of the Smart Boards & provide their own just-in-time PD and sharing . SmartBoards are handy tools, to organize your lessons, pull in a range of resources, record & store your learning notes as you go (through lesson annotations), display visual images and I sure would like one when I get back into a classroom but in themselves they don’t really change what happens in a classroom – they just deliver the same stuff but differently. To be honest, I found what I expected to in all of the classrooms – nothing out of the ordinary, no innovations apart from some very nice gear around the place :-) Manaia, like all our schools are on a learning journey, with a lot of the same ingredients: whole school focus on a learning model (in this case Action Learning), Literacy contract, NUMPA, ATOL – what is their vision for learning and how will the great resources in the school support this? They are first steps on this journey and there is a lot of potential to be realized here. It will be interesting to visit again in another year and see how they are progressing. Thank you Alan for sharing your school’s experience with us :-)

me great artwork @ Manaia Primary (more pics on Flickr)

Opunake Primary School was everything I expected it to be - some great things happening here with Integrated Curriculum. Numeracy & Literacy is taught separately but all other curriculum areas are fully integrated. Lorraine began implementing an integrated curriculum at Opunake a few years ago in response to the needs of the kids many of them who were not engaged in their learning & as she said 'sick of doing worksheets'. They were involved in a CI research project along with Eltham Primary School last year and this year are the lead school in an EHSAS contract. Wow, does Lorraine walk the talk, driving learning in her school with passion and commitment. Before we had an opportunity to visit classrooms, Lorraine walked us through the nuts & bolts of how Curriculum Integration works at Opunake Primary School - an overview: CI @ Opunake is - based on student questions/interest; related to real life as often as possible; hands on learning; co-operative learning; Thinking Skills; Habits of Mind; Whole school/ including the community & Evolving. Towards the end of every term the school has an open day to share their learning with the wider community - i visited one a few years ago - awesome - well worth going out of your way to see. Thanks Lorraine for hosting us :-)
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