Friday, 29 August 2014

Project Huia - call for student participation

Project Huia - Book Study - Extension Learners

Project Huia

This reading project was run successfully last term, with our Rural & Remote Schools students, and now is being offered again as an extension opportunity for all interested schools.
This project will run entirely through Google Classroom and our WeLearn website, with a couple of 'real time' scheduled Adobe Connect sessions, as well as a connection with the author Des Hunt.
Weekly activities are designed to encourage the students to engage with the text to extract greater meaning; to seek out, identify, understand and apply new and interesting words; and enable students to visualise the thoughts and feelings they have in relation to the text and to recreate these artistically and enable them to reflect and respond in a written manner.
Students will have reading and activities to complete each week to be sent to their teacher so schools will need to ensure that this work is integrated into their classroom programmes to enable the time needed. Please put forward students who are working at NZC Level 4. 

Learning Objectives

Students will be reading, responding to, and thinking critically about the text in order to work towards meeting the reading demands of Level 4 NZC.
Students will locate, evaluate and synthesise information and ideas within the text(s) selected, and have opportunities to generate and answer questions about the selected text(s)
Students will recognise and understand a variety of grammatical constructions and some rhetorical patterns (e.g., cause and effect; comparing and contrasting);
  • using their prior knowledge, along with information in the text, to interpret abstract ideas, complex plots, and sophisticated themes
  • identifying and evaluating writers’ purposes and the ways in which writers use language and ideas to suit their purposes;
Students will discuss word meanings and grammar or talk about how language choices and modes of delivery vary according to purpose.

Enrolments & queries to
New schools please check Protocols of Participation first.
Makuri School

Contributed by:

Keryl Kelleher

Makuri School

Des Hunt & Rural class students
A conversation with author Des Hunt - Rural & Remote Students Term 2, 2014

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

May the Force be With You!

Are you a student who is interested in Science?
 - in the world around you, and why things work as they do? 

Why is it harder to stay up on a snowboard than on a ski?
Did you know that the G forces at work on a NZ falcon’s brain are over twice as many as those at work on an astronaut’s brain just before he blacks out?

Welcome to the exciting world of “Forces.” This 8 week course will help answer some of the above questions, and similar questions or wonderings you might have had to do with the topic of Forces. This area is part of Physics, and is part of the Physical World Strand of Science.

We will also be thinking about the “Nature of Science” strand of science as we progress through the 8 weeks. The Nature of Science is to do with “what is Science”; “scientists – past, present , future, and what they do”; and “how we can be like scientists – thinking and acting like scientists by predicting, investigating, gathering data, making observations by using our senses and by measuring, inferring, and looking for patterns.”

The 8 week course is very hands on. You will be expected to do investigations and trials in between sessions, and to report back the following week. (In other words there will be “hands on” based homework every week). It would be good to email me photos or short video clips of your investigations between sessions as well.

By the end of the 8 weeks you will be able to think and act like a scientist by gathering and interpreting data. You will have designed your own investigations and trials. I will give you suggestions and ideas to help with this. From designing and doing trials with balloon powered racers to using pulleys and ropes to lift objects, you are in for an exciting 8 week ride!
Fasten your seat belts and get ready for take-off…..oh, and may the Force be with you. (Please excuse the mixed metaphors – Literacy is my other area of interest besides Science!)

Enrolments & queries to
New schools please check Protocols of Participation first.
Resources students will need access to.
Ngamatea School

Contributed by:

Kathy Forster

Ngamatea School

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Connected communities: What are the implications for school leadership?

Cross-posted from the NZEALS forum:
"A report by the 21st Century Learning Reference Group entitled Future-focused learning in connected communities (May 2014) refers to evidence suggesting the beneficial impact that collaborating in regional networks and across school communities has on student outcomes.

With this in mind what might principals need to consider in schools’ strategic planning to provide opportunities for school communities to connect and collaborate in ways that are productive and meaningful to staff, students and the wider community?"

I think school leaders need to start developing a collective vision of education that goes beyond their own classroom walls & school gates. Tomorrow's Schools has done a great job of creating a silo system of schools and creating an environment where collaboration is difficult between schools. This post of Derek's is worth a read - we really need school leaders thinking at the top level of Spackman's moral scale and in a schooling system that supports and enables that.

I really like the definition of Learning Communities in the LCO (Learning Communities Online) Handbook :

"-- Learning – this must always be the primary focus of these communities. The emphasis here is on the emerging pedagogical practices that must be explored and adopted in the networked school, and on the outcomes that are sought for learners. This also recognises that teachers are also learners in this system, and that provision must be made for them to access learning opportunities in this way.

* Community – a networked school is more likely to succeed if it acts as part of a collaborative community. The term community here embraces the notions of participation, trust, agreement and purpose. Individual schools may be a part of several communities, and each will be defined differently by its purpose and the roles of those within it. For most it is likely that there will be a primary community, one defined by geography or special character, to which an individual school will belong."

The LCO handbook, although with a focus on online collaborations, is a useful guide to the myriad of considerations communities of schools need to go through from Proposal (Develop a philosopical context; Identify community of interest; Establish purpose; Set goals and principles; Agree on membership; Explore potential funding sources) through to planning, implementation & sustainability. I recommend you take a look, if you haven't already - you can download the whole LCO as a pdf)

The VLN communities of schools (that created this LCO handbook) show that long term sustainable collaboration is possible and it doesn't necessarily have to be geographically based, it can be with other schools with similar learner needs anywhere in NZ. These sorts of successful collaborations need to be seriously considered and supported when looking towards the systems level change that IES will bring the NZ schooling sector.

Monday, 11 August 2014

My Story Our Story Your Story - Call for interest collaborative project

Ahuroa School Photography Club would like to invite interested schools to join them on a photographic journey around Aotearoa/NZ (& beyond?) 

My Story. Our Story. Your Story.

Image Attribution - Ahuroa School Photography Club
Each student is working on photographing their own personal stories (who am I, what am I about).  The end goal is to present their work as a collective (who are we, what are we about). How amazing it would be if we could then compare our collective photographic story, with other collective photographic stories from a wide range of similar aged kids...within NZ and (hopefully) from other countries too.
The end goal would be a public exhibition "My Story. Our Story. Your Story."
The uniqueness of your students location would make their photographic "stories" so interesting.  Students would not need to be photography experts at all just enthusiastic!
Participation in this project is open to all children aged 5-12 years old, although space will be limited to 10-15 schools.  If your school is interested in being involved please let us know as soon as possible! Further information here.
Contact Theressa to 

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Edtech History - Integrating Technology

I love to look back on how things change (or not) over the years. I found this article in the bottom of a drawer today, from around the turn of the century ;-)

"If i'm a teacher and suddenly I have a lab or a series of PCs brought into my classroom, what do i do with them? How do i integrate the technology into the curriculum I teach on a day-in day-out basis? There's not a good open framework to allow such integration."

Click on the pic to enlarge to read
Image attribution: NZ Herald, & the bottom of my sock drawer
Over a decade later and i don't think we have still really appreciated the potential of how learning can be transformed with the support of 'computer-based learning'. Many teachers are still thinking 'integration' - how do i make this fit with what i'm doing in the classroom.

Turn it around people and stop thinking integration. Think about what your students need and what should change in your classroom and how learning with technology can enhance that.
Look out for the edtech vendor who seizes on problems to create solutions for - eg in this article a digital curriculum based around MS Encarta. This is something that hasn't changed over the years, don't perpetuate the cycle of edtech problem/solution, big bucks spending but be critical and look to the heart of the matter before you let the vendors come into your school and tell you what you need.

For NZ teachers, to help guide you and your school on this journey check out the Elearning Planning Framework, look out for the Online Tool that will help you through a school wide assessment. Hook into  professional networks, tap into their expertise and share yours - the VLN groups is a good place to start the conversations.