Learning at School 2010

Milestone Requirement: Report on the impact of your cluster’s attendance at the 2010 Learning at School Conference and on how this has influenced your programme.


Cluster attendees:

Lead School Principal Peter Ayson (Meadowbank School), Cluster Facilitators Pam Hook and Julie Mills (HOT), Lead Teachers Edith Cross (Meadowbank), Rebecca Maclean (Meadowbank)

Impact of attendance:

Influence of attendance on Cluster Programme


On Stuart Middleton's Keynote - School Looks Good But is it Engaging?

Stuart asked us to think in Curnow style about "Who reaches a future down?"

…… Who reaches

A future down for us from the high shelf

Of spiritual daring?

Allan Curnow in Landfall in Unknown Seas

I so thoroughly enjoyed listening to Stuart Middleton's keynote - he used statistics, analogy and humour to great effect. The experience led me to search for more of Stuart's educational thinking - even more delight.

Stuart's blog EDTalkNZ is now a catalyst for my educational and political thinking - it is well reasoned and provocative. Highly recommended to any educators who are looking for analysis over description in an edu_blog.

For example read the following blog extracts - better still follow the link to read the whole post:

On having the best education system in the world:

We have the best education system in the world for some students.

The recent figure of 30,000 daily truants added to the 20,000 who disengage from school prior to age 16 means that teachers can’t do their work with a large number who will never be touched by the curriculum - however good it is – or teachers – however superb they are.

What do we know about students that requires us to have sets of teachers that have different qualifications, different preparation, are represented by different professional bodies, paid on different pay scales and have no ongoing, meaningful and functional connection with each other? It is over to students and their families to manage this complexity. http://www.stuartmiddleton.co.nz/?p=251

On National Standards:

If Tolley has “failed” by winning only 73% community support for the Government’s National Standards policy then many of her cabinet colleagues must be wondering how they too can be such a flop.

The NZ Herald reported that 73% of parents supported the introduction of the National Standards while only 14% were not in favour. Pretty conclusive I would say. But the most interesting result of the survey was that when asked whether they understood how the new system worked, 62% reported that they did not while only 12% said that they did.

This supports the view proposed in last week’s EdTalkNZ’s column that the education profession had done less well at educating and persuading the community than has the government. The argument has been well and truly won by the view that it was time that the community was better informed as to the real progress of young students than the proposition that it was a methodologically and professionally fraught exercise.

Forget the intricate arguments. Forget the worries that league tables will emerge. Remember that the only league table parents are interested in is the one that pits their son or daughter against the pile of boys and girls they go to school with. Is my boy, is my girl doing OK? And how do you know? And are they about where they should be at their age? It isn’t rocket science according to parents even though teachers with some justification believe that it is a difficult and complex business.

Or put another way, parents don’t care a fig for our chatter. Simply, they want to know if Sione or Moeawa (or Emma and Zac) can read or write at a level that is appropriate to their age. It is time for the teaching profession to acknowledge their right to this and, as we say these days, move on! http://www.stuartmiddleton.co.nz/?p=236

On teaching kids to read and write:

There was a tendency for the school system to take up a call for increased resources as the default position whenever change is proposed. Give us the tools and we will do the job! But there are many jobs that schools simply can’t do – compensating for poor housing, coping with inadequate health provision, providing the support for children that family sustaining wages bring into homes and so on.

What then can we do? The great irony is that we can teach young ones to read and write and do their sums. There might be evidence that when we succeed in this, we do it as well as any system in the world. But…..

“Every day in New Zealand, 150,000 children are not being taught to read and write.”

The English-speaking education systems (i.e. Australia, Canada, United States, Great Britain and NZ) all face the same dilemma. The students we are good at teaching are becoming a smaller proportion of the school population while those we have, in all honesty, always struggled with are becoming much more prevalent. What we used to think of as minorities will become majorities – indeed they already have in many places. The issues that we face in New Zealand are the same issues faced throughout those English-speaking education systems. What we have got in our favour is the question of scale.

Coping with 150,000 (if that is the figure) failing students is a much easier call than say coping with the issues of Hispanics in the US system. If we knew who those 150,000 young ones are, then is it beyond our wit to do something about it? If schools and their teachers do know who they are (Remember Claim 1: “We are already doing this.”) and can assess just where each student has reached (Remember Claim 2: “We already have a good testing regime.”) then why is this issue seemingly but doggedly continuing to haunt us?

“Every day in New Zealand, 150,000 children are not being taught to read and write.”

I cannot bring myself to believe that we don’t know what to do. I can only assume that we have somewhere along the way lost a sense of the points to which we should take young people in their journey through school. What constitutes good preparation for starting school? What should be the point that signifies completion of basic / elementary / primary education? What is the role of secondary schools in preparing students for whatever is to foolw?

Perhaps our understanding of student progress has been too fixed on accurate assessment of only where a student is rather than on where they should be and how to get there. We have replaced the six standards of primary education and the much more sharply defined purpose of secondary schooling with chunks of goals and purposes which are so large it’s easy for individual students to struggle and even to disappear. We have to address the fact that “Every day in New Zealand, 150,000 children are not being taught to read and write.” http://www.stuartmiddleton.co.nz/?p=231

Who reaches a future down?

We do ... and we can thank Stuart for being so gentle in his reminder of our responsibilities.

Pam Hook 4 May 2010

Meadowbank School Reflections

Edith Cross 2010:
I faced up to the challenge of presenting again at Rotorua, this time doing a taster session on "Bubbermation" along with Heidi Heyman from Logical Toys who generously provided the Bubber and support! The Bubbermations/Claymations for this were done at the very end of Term 4 2009 with a little help from my new class this year. I can see many uses for Bubber as well as the animations which will continue to be done in my literacy and environmental time slots. I will post my work shortly.
Peter Ayson and Rebecca Maclean also attended the conference from Meadowbank. We had a good discussion of the first two days over a very enjoyable dinner on Thursday. Definitely recommend the restaurant if you're in Rotorua. Thank you Peter!
Pam Hook and Julie Mills were the other members from the cluster presenting, as would be expected! :) I took every opportunity to recommend SOLO to all those I spoke to, even managed to incorporate it into my own presentation. David Kinane was there also, but he is sadly no longer with our cluster.
We all had a great time. I was very excited by two breakouts I attended using Robotics - Engaging students in Science, Maths and Technology using LEGO robotics in the classroom, and Robocup - a competition between school children. I only hope the school can afford to support me here. I can see the possibilities ahead for G and T groups as well as in my room.
Another breakout which I am keen to explore further involved Marvin - A 3D avatar-based interactive world which would fit alongside my Bubbermations. I attended a session on Use of Google Earth in a social science context, and one on LEARNZ Interactive Virtual Field Trips about which I have received numerous emails about but never explored.
The Google Earth breakout spent some time on Web 2.0 tools before getting us onto the mapping, and the laptops being used were not responding too well either, so this was probably the least helpful of the breakouts although it has given me some ideas to explore. I registered for the Learnz virtual field trips so will keep an eye out for suitable ones to use.
Keynote presenters, Dr Stuart Middleton and Alan November, gave us all food for thought especially about the use of blogs and IT skills. I was delighted to see what I have been doing over the past couple of years is right at the front of where we were told to be. It affirmed I am right there, especially with my last year's maths blog. Everyone was very impressed by Stuart Middleton's talk - he was an inspiring, and interesting presenter to listen to!!

Rebecca Maclean 2010:

external image empty.png Rotarua feedback.doc

I found Learning@School very informative. It is good to see the progress we have made as a school and cluster. We have heard many of the messages before and have moved past the level that many of the presentations were aimed at.
I went to the following presentations;

Facilitating Highly Effective Professional Learning – David Anderson
A breakout that models good practice for Prof. Dev. We discussed problems and successes. We looked at how his model imbeds and is sustainable.
Points I took from the session:
  • WE can learn something from everyone.
  • Everyone should be able to work with everyone else.
  • Reflection needs to happen before, during and after prof. dev.
  • Backward mapping from the end point can be useful to breakdown the journey.
  • The essential elements of highly effective Prof. Dev are; evidence and data, ongoing support and sustained over time, collaboration, preliminarily site based and directly connected to improving practice, focus on student learning, research based.
  • Should consider what should we continue? What should we start? What should we stop?

Google Fest –
Looking at Google apps and their use in the classroom. We looked at privacy and it’s implications. We looked at and shared the following:
  • Google timeline
  • Wonderwheel
  • Definition – define: = dictionary
  • Question – There are * days to Christmas. Include * and info will be added
  • Timezone
  • http://www.google.com/educators/p_websearch.html.
  • Google alerts for a school could be useful to keep track of media or community opinion
  • Google earth lit trips. View or create
  • Google docs – Sharing with given people – potential for portfolio

Alan November __
Practical examples of how emerging technologies provide educators with an opportunity for continuous professional improvement.
  • Easywhois.com – finds out who owns a website, great for evaluating evidence
  • www.archive.org – waybackmachine – history of a webpage
  • Novemberlearning – his website
  • Bogus websites can be used effectively to teach critical thinking
  • Jing casting - live capture, great for tutorials for children by children
  • Host:= all websites from one port/host eg host:nasa.gov
  • Children are motivated by the work of others, making global connections allows them to experience high quality learning presented by their global peers
  • ISE.net.ning.com
  • Learning communities through e-portfolios are becoming more common place – Purpose is the driving force

Core Trend 2010 __
Core gave us their big trends for the year
  • Globalised learning is a must!
  • Ubiquitous computing – technology not being the centre but being everywhere and working for us.
  • Cyber citizenship – beyond cybersafety, implications for the future
  • Digital literacy should be in the school vision, catered for and modelled by teachers
  • Open educator resources – sharing what we’re making with all, if you put something out there you get something back
  • Wikieducators – developed in NZ for the world – for teaches with user friendly class resources and professional reading
  • Cloud computing – non server storage.
  • Google achademic
  • Advanced network and school loop - What is the cost of our server, machines, upkeep, teachers..?
English Classroom IWB
This was too low level, I knew more about IWB than the presenter. The work was aimed at intermediate children and was very specific to one poetry unit the teacher had delivered.
  • Story starts on Teacher TV
  • Skool.com
  • Comiclife = $4 per licence
  • Cococabana.au like woodlands
  • Smarttech – updates and Smart news