Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Quiet - but not idle

I have had a busy month or so since my return home.  Working with both my own school and my daughter's school I have been exploring where to next.

I have worked with a teacher at my daughter's school as we explore the possibilities of and learn how to use MyPortfolio.  I shared the way I had seen it used at Ormiston Senior College and we have both begun to work on our own portfolio pages - she discovering some things, while I have found others.

Google Apps in Education has been applied for through my own school with the aim that my class and the digital class I work with, plus any interested staff may be able to explore the possibilities lying there next Term.

I have worked to build a change for Inquiry practice in my class next Term.  Involving a set outcome students are going to need to access the people resources available to them, Skype and question local families in order to produce a picture book or pamphlet comparing cultures to help International students visiting two of the secondary schools we contribute to.

I have been reading more around planning and assessment techniques in a digital world, finding out about ways to manage our data once we head into the Cloud and whether we are limited to just Google or are we able to develop some way for users to have more control over whether they work and create in the way they are most comfortable with.  How our BYOD will look could well come from these investigations.

My next task is to investigate how best to encourage our students to be wise with the digital footprint they create.  This will involve creating the procedures and teaching points we wish to reinforce through the BeL committee we have had operating.

Alongside this I have also completed the final two sections of our draft school IT strategic plan covering the next three years with the aim of having us strive for the Empowering level within the e-Learning Planning Framework

The best news has been that we are finally seeing movement on the long awaited School Network Upgrade (SNUP).  With this completed we will be able to 'do an Oracle' and surge over the start line into the next stage of developing the way we use digital technology as, not only will our switches be upgraded, but this will allow us connection to Ultra Fast Broadband. 

One definite next step will be to have our teachers see the huge impact this, along with the BYOD likely to be implemented around the same time, is going to have upon the facilitation of learning.  We have need of an online learning circle for the teachers to be developed more fully through our VLN group which, at present, is sitting somewhat idle.

The background for our next steps forward are complete.  It now remains to develop the network that will allow the tools discovered to be used as that through developing confidence in their use.

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Changes with Thought

In the previous post here I mentioned building a Wiki to share 'stuff'.  I started to create this then realised it made more sense to keep my blog going as a living entity. 

Being a bit of a blog novice I learned some new things along the way like a blog can have pages and these can be populated with ease.  Check the tabs above for the work created - with help from some pretty awesome experts.  So I will add to my pages and work out how to make it easier for those of you following this to trawl through the 'stuff' I add.

It has taken a bit of effort to refocus myself and get on with this last part of my journey - not that the end of it is ever in sight as technology and ways to apply it in classes changes so rapidly.

What have I focussed on today?  SAMR - and who, more knowledgeable than I was going to explain this with clarity; Blogs, Wikis and Videos; the VLN as an amazing resource and ultra-large staffroom.  There is more to add and I am now re-motivated to create rather than chasing my tail trying to work out the 5W's and the H.

Thursday, 15 August 2013


My task now falls to reading - information regarding what I have seen, blogs and Facebook pages related to current practice and reflecting on what this means for the next steps in our own journey.

Checking in at my school this week has revealed frustrations with email and the server that we still rely on heavily.  My Principal posed the question of where are we at in relation to the visits made. My response is that we are midway between best and not so good practice at this stage, with some clear directions we need to consider. 

The obvious one in light of the server issues is to move our computing into the cloud rather than the students having server based accounts.  We need to discuss in what form this will occur but may find ourselves pushed along to Google Apps so the students feeding in to us from our contributing schools, who are using these already, have consistency and can build their portfolios of work there.

Another is to introduce iPads into the digital classrooms to start with next year and move them into other classes as our digi-classes go through the process of incorporating them into the work we complete as innovatively as we can.  This does not mean the ditching of our laptops, but rather the offering of another tool to work with as required in the way we do as adults.

We have some work that needs to be done on how we are using the technology. Are we merely substituting one method of final copy production for another or are we allowing students to create - often in ways we can barely conceive of?  Are we planning and teaching for our comfort zone or theirs?  Concepts such as flipped classrooms to allow students access to learn and relearn basic concepts surely have a place in how we facilitate in our classrooms, don't they?  Does our version of the New Zealand Curriculum allow us to get creative as teachers or restrict us through trying to ensure coverage and resource access?  These are questions needing answers not just from our staff but our current community, bearing in mind this changes by half every year as students move in and out of the school.

Where do I fit?  Well this sabbatical time will allow me a chance to create a clearer vision without the daily stresses that come with teaching fulltime and also trying to be innovative.  Conversations with those in positions to support the changes can be approached at times when they have the time to listen, discuss and then think on the implementation of the shifts that will reveal themselves further.

The original project plan for my sabbatical was the creation of a wiki.  I still intend to follow through with either a wiki or another form of web page so that readings, lesson ideas, apps, new concepts and how these can be achieved (amongst other yet-to-be-discovered areas0 will be in a format allowing a more user friendly environment.  It is also something that can grow and morph as the technology and its uses does as well.  Watch for the link to this as the page is created.

Feedback from the digital teachers amongst you out there in cyber-world reading this blog is also welcomed.  It goes back to the adage of you don't know what you don't know.  If you think there is an idea you can offer I will welcome it and give you credit also.

Much to do over the next two weeks...

Thursday, 8 August 2013

Meanwhile Out In The Country...

From Tauranga we made a quick trip through to a little school just outside Putaruru which is doing big things as well.  The clever, but humble, Principal of Te Waotu School, Bruce Darroch, is a long-time friend from our training days.  It was awesome to catch up with him and, for the first time in forever, see what he has spent much of our teaching careers developing. I am heartily impressed!

From the moment I walked through the gates with my now much more aware husband in my tracks we were made to feel welcome. All of our questions were answered with the teachers prepared to share their expertise and experiences.

We found a school that has had the joys of being on a very slow internet connection literally in their first week of enjoying what we have taken for granted in the city schools for many years - decent internet speed.  The changes even within the week were astounding and the up-to-the-minute pedagogy which sits firmly within the school anyway can now fly at the speed of the new connection.

The platform being used is making a change also.  Bruce was sold on iPads following his sabbatical last year when he discovered, after purchasing his own, what this mighty little tablet is capable of.  Initially when Bruce returned in Term 3 last year, the classes had the PC desktops, some netbooks and the PC platform that had always been there.  A purchase of iPads, making 2 available to each class, increased the technology.   It was not long before the population of the school was crying out for more. 

Bruce encouraged sharing through a book created by his staff where they recorded their iPad successes.   A very clever instant resource.  This also allowed the opportunity to reflect at a later date as to the Apps that were well utilised and those that weren't.

At the time of my visit the population of iPads had increased to 50, giving 10 per class.  The PCs are still present but those that are dead have their future marked with a cross and will be disposed of in the near future.  The server platform is still a PC platform but there is a Sync Doc for the iPads available - a clever way around the PC platform enabling the management of Apps and iPads with minimal costs. 

The families have been invited into school for meetings and a chance to explore the iPads as well.  A BYOD policy has been set up.  To accomplish a minimum platform Bruce has engaged the services of Cyclone Computers so families can purchase their own iPads either with or without the Apps the school requests as a minimum requirement.  The Apps can be purchased through the company covering the volume licensing legalities.  There is a strategic plan for their IT which is very future driven and should be able to be moulded by any new technology we have not, as yet, foreseen.  It was great to discuss the plans Bruce has for his school and students, at the same time collaborating by bringing in the knowledge my journey over the past four years has allowed me to gain.  Just like the old days!

What I had gone to look at specifically was their school radio station (Kidz 'n Control 88.3FM) and how the students operate it as well as how the staff incorporate the work into the curriculum.

The students in the Year 7 and 8 classes present one week per year in a partnered arrangement.  The station only operates during Term 2 and 3, which helps build and maintain enthusiasm for the station amongst the students.  Before their week on air begins they are expected to plan how their show will be unique or different from the week and others before.  Sometimes it can be planned around school events, with other shows having a theme such as trivia, current events or Kiwiana.  The students plan their music to create the loop that will also incorporate the interviews they should complete during their preparation.  Bruce works on equalising the music, while the students plan, conduct and edit their interviews using the iPads or netbooks.  Both are then loaded onto the radio computer ready for air.

The students present the radio station live for three hours per day  - 8am-9am, 12.30pm-1.30pm and 3pm-4pm with the rest of the day covered by the pre-arranged loop.  Thursday mornings has the whole school stopping for a 5-10 minute feature by the presenters around a topic or theme of their own choice. 

Set up in 2007 for around $1000, the station and equipment are still going strong.  The only on-going costs are $200/year to renew their license to use the airwaves and a further $200/year to APRA for music use.  There are some local businesses who assist with sponsorship and the next digital learning progression will be for students to explore Garageband on their iPads to write the ads and jingles for these businesses.

According to Bruce the major on-going issue is the expletives used in modern music which can create complaints from the public.  If a song is complained about it is simply wiped from the playlist for that week and a note made so the mistake is not repeated.

I would like to thank all at Te Waotu School - both staff and students - for making our visit such a pleasant and informative one.  We thoroughly enjoyed every minute with you and wish you every success in the future.

Nga mihi nui koe

Touching Down in Tauranga

Tuesday consisted of two amazing visits to schools - and as it turned out, my final stops in the two weeks of travel I wanted to do.

Tauranga Intermediate School was my first visit for the day and will be the focus of this post.  I want to thank Karen Mills for the warm welcome, while at the same time giving up her release time to show me around, chat with me and share what they are doing.

What are they doing? 

There is a media-based cluster of classes that students can apply into, of which Karen is the Senior Teacher.  Parents are expected to supply their child with an Apple Mac book if their child is offered a place in this team on which most of their work will be done.  Those that can meet this requirement and still wish to continue into these classes (this year two Year 7 and two Year 8 classes) go into a ballot following a meeting where it is laid out to both parents and students how these classes work.  The students should be able to manage their learning remaining on task while researching, completing tasks required and not being drawn into the distractions that the Web and computers in general can provide.

Like the other classes in the school these students also have the purchase of a hardcover 1B5 Learning Journal and a hardcover 1E5 Math book to make.  The Math book is used regularly while the exercise book version of their Learning Journal is used most often when the classes have relief teachers for whatever reason. The digital Learning Journals are shared with the teacher and the student's parents through the usual methods in Googledocs.  The Year 8 students focus on their editing skills through their blogged Learning Journal, while the Year 7 students have an authoring focus.

All work completed fits within the Inquiry model the staff have worked to create.  It is expected that all tasks, including Math if possible, will fit into the focus of each Inquiry.  In the Media classes this means that all tasks are completed online, while the remaining teams in the school work within their book version of the learning journal. The teams of teachers choose their Inquiry focus based on the needs of their students.  They have a rubric to ensure aspects of the Key Competencies are achieved each year with the expectation students will meet each of these in some form.  The key areas derived from the New Zealand Curriculum fit under the following headings:
  • Read/Write/Explain
  • Statistical Investigation
  • Be Published
  • Create/Exhibit/Perform Artistically
  • Science and Technology Investigations
  • Create, Manipulate, Design Digitally
  • Our Cultural Identity
  • Community Social Action
  • Focussing on Beyond Tomorrow
Within Karen's Year 8 class the students also demonstrate management of their time through organising their coming week on Thursday afternoon into a timetable which is also shared as part of their Learning Journal.  The idea is for the students to manage themselves much as they will need to as they move onto Secondary School. 

As a teacher in an Intermediate school, I can see the benefit of this for myself.  Rarely do I have my full class in the afternoons due to the number to Extension, sport and extra curricular activities they are involved in.  The students organising their timetable while being aware of what they will miss should, in a self-managing model, prompt them to ensure they work to complete what is missed at a time that suits them.

Tauranga Intermediate is another Google Apps school.  However, interestingly after our Auckland visits, they have chosen not to use the Hapara dashboard creating instead their own individual ways of managing the students work.  Karen shared with me how she creates folders within her Google Drive that she can then pull the work through into.  The example demonstrated was the students Novel Study responses.  She had set up the tasks required and emailed them to each student for the novel they were reading.  As the student completes the tasks they publish this onto their blog as well as sharing it with Karen. She then files it into the appropriate folder, following up with the student giving her feedback and tracking those who have yet to share their work with her.

Where to from here for a prescribed, safe and traditional curriculum?  Well, we discussed that too.

If we want to move into a true inquiry model we need to investigate what this will look like in our school.  Everyone with an interest should be given the opportunity to be involved in the groundwork.  PD with the experts or sharing by those who have attended courses with them will be needed - questioning, inquiry models, 21st Century learning, assessment and so on.  As we develop a new model we need to ensure we find ways to incorporate our traditions of  Science Fair, Mathex, Production or Arts Festival, Sporting excellence, as well as the ribbons and badges that can be earned by students. 

We need to be well aware of the pedagogy that should be sitting firmly behind any model we develop, while at the same time ensuring we are looking at it through the eyes, digital abilities and interests of our students.  It is in our own best interests as teachers to create a model that will grab students rather than one that conforms to our comfort zones.  This is an injustice to the students we teach every day who know nothing other than a digital world and from whom we could learn a great deal. Once we think we have a model developed we need to test it to ensure it is robust, constantly questioning what the learning is (learning intention) and what we are doing to achieve it (activity) while in our own minds keeping these two entities separate.

The model developed should not be dependent on the number of computers in the school or the classrooms.  It is instead a model of learning we need if we are to encourage the development of lifelong learners ready for the world into which they will move - no matter what tools they have at hand.

Sunday, 4 August 2013

Out Near the Beach

Friday was a day spent at the beach - Bucklands Beach Intermediate School to be specific.  I did see the sea - when we went to Halfmoon Bay for lunch, but technically I spent a very informative day at BBI with thanks to Diane Parkinson, the Principal, for giving up so much of her time for me.

BBI is a school that is also going places.  They have undertaken to teach their programme using the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme as this completely fits the vision and the values desired for the students.  The curriculum is arranged into a series of inquiries which encompass all learning except for Math. 

While I was visiting we were able to see the conclusion of an inquiry into 'How the World Works' in one class.  This consisted of the students working their way around the class interacting with the displays of learning created by their peers.  As they went they had a rubric of sorts to initial for how informative the particular display was and how much effort they felt had gone into making it interesting for their audience.  These displays of learning ranged from a static, hand-made display (similar to a science fair display) with a competition attached, a movie created in iMovie all self-animated shown through the digital projector and narrated through a recorded and played CD, a slideshow incorporating information and a quiz as well as the model used to create a digital animation displaying some of the learning acquired, a couple of blogs that demonstrated the students learning, a comparison of the Russian and American space races that ran side by side on computers demonstrating the timeline - to name but a few.  It was an awesome experience to see the knowledge collected, created and disseminated amongst the class in a tuakana teina manner so creatively.  The teacher truly was the guide on the side.

My focus while there was to see what had changed from the time I had attended a Ulearn09 workshop on ePortfolios with their Deputy Principal, Lenva Shearing.  While Lenva was away on leave for the year, Diane easily accomplished the task with the help of some student and teacher ambassadors.

In 2009 the school was using Wikispaces in a couple of classes to experiment with what could and should go into an eportfolio.  It was quite regimented, but a good and logical start.  As the concept grew and the school experimented more with the new tools coming on line there has been movement into Google Apps for Education with the complimentary and essential assistance of the Teacher Dashboard created by Hapara. 

Currently the students receive an email address and Blogger template through the Apps allowing them to create their eportfolio and share this with selected others. The students create the portfolio along the template guidelines adding as much or as little as they wish or as their teachers guide them to. It is regarded as their digital diary so layout is also unique to each student. The students we spoke to (thank you Alice and Cullen) share theirs with their parents and most staff.  Some students choose to share with peers for peer to peer feedback.  This has been aided by solid wireless and accessing Ultrafast Broadband.

They have an exercise book per Inquiry area and a Math book - with one teacher we spoke to with Diane saying this needs review as some inquiry areas do not need a whole book.  Some of this comes about from the increasing digital nature the learning is demonstrated in.

With regard to digital learning - BBI has a collection of Chromebooks and iPads that can be accessed by booking online for classroom-based lessons.  Students pick up and return to a central small room attached to the Library, with a Teacher Aide available to count in and out, ensure they are plugged in to charge and record any issues noticed.  These are then reported to the teacher who monitors and repairs these.  Students are able to bring in devices of their own - due to the heavy use of Google Apps this does not place strain on the server as all learning is completed in the Cloud.  Currently there is discussion regarding the appropriate minimum platform for use as a BYOD with pros and cons associated with the two options they have narrowed down to - Chromebooks and iPads.

The school philosophy is one where if you consume you should also produce.  If you watch a video to help you learn on YouTube, once you have completed learning of a different nature produce something for someone else to consume on YouTube.  The same is said for music, games and so on.
The students work eagerly to this philosophy not only producing the expected consumables, but also running a radio station during the breaks from a small purpose-built room.   There is also the beginnings of a television station which broadcasts three times per week at the moment.  All work related to both stations are tied into the inquiries being undertaken in the classrooms.

Digital safety is high on the agenda with lessons being the focus in every class for the first week of each Term.  The priority is for the students to create a positive digital footprint, which has also involved working with parents to teach them what this involves. 

I had a thoroughly informative and enjoyable day at BBI.  The staff, students and general atmosphere were welcoming.  Nothing was too much trouble and I thank my lovely friend Diane for the thought, time and effort put into making my visit so worthwhile. There are bound to be more questions I have over the coming weeks so expect emails...

Saturday, 3 August 2013

WOW! What Happens When A School Is Brand New...

With huge thanks to my VPLD colleague, Heather Eccles, I was fortunate enough to visit Ormiston Senior College.  This is one of New Zealand's newest schools, built to a green plan and in form like no school I have ever seen before.

Driving up to the school from the outside it looks like a giant wooden block.  Such a non-descript exterior hides many surprises.  There are two levels/storeys with the wooden block revealing, once inside, a central courtyard with a 'frame' of building.  The feel is almost industrial with trays of wiring suspended from the ceilings and pipework that would normally be hidden in a ceiling space on full display.  The main entrance leads not only to the reception desk but also to the cafeteria and common space behind.  It has been designed as an area for students to meet each day and collaborate in.  In style it reminded me of the cafeteria areas seen in American movies.

That said the learning spaces are unique and well thought out. 

Heather explained to us that the Library on the 2nd Level has become the heart of the school - it is open ended, taking the length of the eastern face, and must be travelled through as students move from space to space.  The librarian has yet to fully decide on her role - resource manager, librarian, student learning facilitator, teacher's life saver, future thinker for resource management...  While we were visiting it was being used by students for their I-time - some without a teacher, while one student was gaining 1-1 time with one of their teachers.  I-time is a period of learning that they can dedicate to whichever subject they choose, with or without a teacher's input, that the students have on a daily basis.  Learning periods are 90 minutes long, with the day beginning at 8.30am and finishing at 3.30pm.

The learning spaces are set out in pods around the remaining 'frame' on both levels.  Rather than 1 teacher having a cell space as in traditional 19th and 20th Century modelled schools, the teachers in a particular subject area share a large space, some of which is open, some arranged in small cell type learning spaces that can be shut off for assessment or quiet work.  These are a mix of rooms with a glass walls facing onto the 'corridor' encircling each level or cells that can be closed off from the open learning space by concertina type 'walls'.  The Science space has a well equipped lab which is only used for actual experimentation.  Any learning related to the experiments is undertaken in the non-lab learning spaces.  The teachers sharing the pod space have a central office area, again shared, which also has windows into the open space.  Tables are a mix of benches attached to the walls, low rectangular tables - some with a whiteboard surface for brainstorming etc - and higher lab type tables.

Teachers book the learning space they require for the lesson based on the type of space they require.  This may involve starting in one space and moving into another as the lesson progresses.  This is then published for the students on a whiteboard in the corridor area that flows through (and past) each subject pod.  Students do not work to a bell - they are expected to be in their classes at the time they are scheduled.  The philosophy is to treat the students like the adults you wish them to behave as and they will respond.

Students have access to school computers in each pod, iPads which can be issued from the Library as required or they can bring their own devices. 

Teachers have a range of methods for managing their students learning.  Heather prefers to use MyPortfolio to set inquiry-based, rich learning tasks, monitor her students and provide feedback.  Other teachers use a variety of portfolio style tools in the same way, with their choice being determined by personal preference.  Assessments within MyPortfolio can be locked by the students once submitted and cannot be released by anyone other than the teacher.  At the same time as the tasks are completed in an online, richly digital way, the students are building portfolios of their learning they can use in the future.  These are the type of folio-style assessment tasks that students are going to be expected to create in the future for NCEA accreditation. 

There is a strong focus on students being well rounded with all being encouraged to take sport or cultural activities as part of their weekly learning schedule.  All practices are undertaken during school time, creating less stress for the students who are working so hard at this level to achieve excellence and merit accreditation in NCEA.  The Duke of Edinburgh awards are also encouraged for all students.

The teachers have a group of approximately 15 students they are learning mentors for - including the senior management team.  This involves touching base with the students daily to set and review goals, work through the number of credits they require and any issues that are preventing them from being achieved.  Problem solving is undertaken as a partnership.

It was with interest that I noted all students engaged in their learning and taking full part in the classes I could see (glass walls) as I wandered the 'corridor' around the frame of the levels.  It was a pleasure and a privilege to be permitted inside a genuine 21st Century secondary environment.  With a primary school and a junior college scheduled to join the Senior College it will be worth watching this space.  We could learn a lot from their experiences.

Thursday, 1 August 2013

Doing so much for and with those who have so little...

I have had my eyes well and truly opened in the last two days to the determination of the staff that have done an amazing amount in low decile schools.

Manaia View School shared their journey to reach a point where their students are happy to come to school, creating a collective responsibility for their learning and the care of the tools that help make their learning a joy. 

They are fortunate to have a collaborative agreement with Channel North whereby their students learn Media Studies alongside the staff at Channel North - creating storyboards, scripts, presenting, editing and finally showing a television show.  They were in the process of celebrating their fifth anniversary of producing 'Pukeko Echo' and the excitement was obvious. 

Students in the classes we visited were completely engaged with real learning and creating for a real audience.  They were happy to talk about the wonderful work they were doing as well.  Their teachers had a sound understanding of what 'rocked their boats' and had grabbed them into learning effortlessly. 

Whanau show a strong support of their tamariki through online feedback on their work and wanting to watch the shows they have produced.

A huge thank you to Leanne Otene, the school's principal, for all that was shared and the great welcome I received. 

This morning was spent at another low decile school doing amazing things with their students - Point England Primary School.  As we waited to go in after beating the Auckland traffic and arriving early we noted every child that arrived was smiling, happy or just plain racing in the gate to start their day - no matter their age.  Well done on this accomplishment alone to the amazing team we met today.  And why were they racing in?  Their world is a digital one, set up so all learning has an authentic audience as they publish to the web daily (and receive feedback from any/everywhere), they learn about what is relevant to them, and they also have huge whanau support behind them. 

I joined a group of teachers from many different schools with a variety of purposes.  We were privileged enough to have the Year 6 student ambassadors present the background to their learning in a very professional manner, then to visit a variety of classes. The students spoken to in every class without fail were able to give the purpose for their tasks, talk animatedly of why their digital world was so awesome (not an exercise book to be found from Years 5 to 8 - my dream!) and were again completely engaged in their learning. 

The feel of the school was one of having real passion for the students and their achievements.  We heard stories of how students have continued to practice literacy and numeracy skills they knew would drop off over summer recording the evidence and their reflections on their blogs, how teachers in the senior school mark and feedback daily online - no more piles of books to mark, and research that demonstrates what they are doing is working! http://manaiakalani.blogspot.co.nz/

A huge thank you to Dorothy and Russell Burt, the Year 6 Ambassadors and Tyler Marie, hostess extraordinaire, and of course the staff and students in the classes we visited.

What have I learned? 
  • There is no such thing as a barrier aside from the attitudes of the teachers in front of the students. 
  • We need to let go of our adult fears and embrace the world these students live in. 
  • We also need to thoroughly explore what both schools have done to improve the achievement of their students through engagement in their learning.  This does not necessarily mean the students are always attending class.  It can mean they are picking up the tasks online at a time that they can from wherever they are, as not every student has control over their school attendance.  They do, however, have control over the mana they place on their learning and the need for it to continue.
  • We have a duty to find the best hooks for our students so they all learn and all make gains in their achievement.
  • The schools with the least  seem to find ways to do the most.  Seems we should all be finding ways to do the most for our students instead of stopping at the first hurdle.
  • A truly digital world is the goal - not integrated digital learning nor blended elearning.  We need to go the whole way, with sound pedagogy and the students at the heart of what we are doing.  There are those blazing trails we could learn a lot from.
  • I have a long way to go - but the path I am on is definitely the right one!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

BYOD - Points to Consider

Today was a chance for me to chat with the lovely Principal at Kamo Intermediate School, in Whangarei.  My thanks go to Mr Paul Shepherd for giving up an hour and a half of his precious time.

Following that discussion I have come away with several points that need considering before embarking on a BYOD programme for students.

  • WHY?  There needs to be an overarching philosophy behind a move to students bringing their devices.
  • HOW? How will the devices be used?  How will this be monitored? How will you ensure equity?  How much do the teachers need to know before the students are introduced to the apps/programs/equipment?  How will the staff share what they know?
  • WHAT? What will the students actually do with them?  What training does your staff require?  What platform will you use or are you going to use a multi-platform approach like Google Apps or Office 365? What changes in pedagogy are required to make best use out of the equipment now available in the classroom?  What else regarding infrastructure needs to be put in place before it can support BYOD?
  • WHEN?  When will your students be able to access the network on their devices for Internet eg only during school hours?
  • WHO?  Who is responsible for theft/damage?  Who will monitor for responsible digital citizenship?  Who will have the passion on your staff to keep anything put in place active?  Who can maintain this if there is only one person with that passion? Who should have ownership of the policies and procedures that go with BYOD? 
Discussions need to be held on a regular basis with contributing schools to know what is happening before the students arrive in the Intermediate and with the secondary schools to know what they are doing and any preparation that needs to happen ahead of the student's time in that environment.

I wish Paul and his team all the best as they work their way through this maze of questions - and probably more to come as they move further along in their journey. 

Nga mihi nui koe

Saturday, 20 July 2013

And it Begins...

I have been lucky enough to attain a TeachNZ sabbatical which I am undertaking during Term3, 2013.  The project being undertaken during this time revolves around building a resource of some of the practices I see while I visit a variety of schools through the North Island.

There are a range of areas I am exploring - ePortfolios, Inquiry and how that fits in around all the other 'stuff' an Intermediate school needs to incorporate, BYOD, and pedagogical change that has (or has not) come with the arrival of Ultra Fast Broadband (UFB).  Alongside those foci I am also lucky enough to be having a look through Point England School who are part of the Manaiakalani Cluster and have the reputation for amazing eLearning happening, as well as a visit to another school which has a radio station operated by the students.

My journey to these schools begins in just over a week, but keep watching this space as I intend to begin listing ideas, resources and websites that may be of use to those of you in Intermediate and Middle Schools.

My intention is not for this Blog to become static over time but to continue to build and grow as I discover new things in eLearning that work in schools teaching adolescents and teens.

I look forward to sharing this journey with you.