Cyberbullying and student diversity: An inclusive lens for schools

As 1:1 technologies and BYOD become more prevalent in schools, evaluating school-wide approaches to supporting students’ well being becomes imperative and a wonderful opportunity to enhance inclusive practice.

In this podcast, my CORE colleague Chrissie Butler and I discuss changes in understandings of bullying and cyberbullying, and explore how schools can take a more inclusive approach to support the wellbeing of all students.

Discussion areas include:

  • student identity and the internet
  • cyberbullying is bullying – there’s no distinction
  • student diversity, unfamiliar perspectives and bullying
  • resources and approaches to support all students to develop their digital citizenship skills

John Fenaughty and Chrissie Butler podcastHear on Sound Education page

Useful resources:

Here are the resources mentioned in the podcast. Consider adding them to your school’s digital citizenship kete or use them as a springboard for conversations with your students and the wider community.

Competition: Book prizes for your school

The Impossible Quest Book

We have 5 copies of The Impossible Quest — Escape from Wolfhaven Castle by Kate Forsyth (Published and supplied by Scholastic) to give away to 5 schools.
To enter, just make a comment below on this blog post, and let us know the school you would like the book sent to.

What we want to know is:

What further resources and support would be valuable to you and your school?


Ten Trends 2014: New approaches to assessment

CORE's Ten Trends for 2014 have been published. This post considers the tenth of these trends: New approaches to assessment. We publish posts on one of the trends approximately each month. You are encouraged to comment or provide supporting links.


Assessment plays a significant part of our education system. None of us would go to the doctor or visit the hospital with an ailment without an expectation that we’ll receive some sort of treatment to make us well. So too with education — assessment is the way we have of making the learning visible, and of applying some measure to the success of the learner in demonstrating what he or she has learned.

Historically the focus on assessment has been summative — applying measures of how successfully the learner can demonstrate what he or she has acquired through the learning process. There is a saying in education that “the pedagogy of assessment drives the pedagogy of instruction”, meaning that the focus on what is being assessed will often drive what and how we teach. We see evidence of this in the way many teachers and schools approach the challenge of assessing against national standards or NCEA: instead of assessment being the means of measuring student success, it becomes what shapes the curriculum and the way it is taught.

For decades our approach to assessment has also been shaped by notions of the physical place and time of assessment activities, leading to practices that require students to complete assessment activities in certain places at certain times. In recent years there has been an increasing focus on the importance of formative assessment, focusing on progressions in learning, and identification of next steps. Such an approach is gaining support internationally, with a number of initiatives looking at embedding assessment through the learning process


The NZQA website lists a number of examples of assessment approaches in which they distinguish between ‘task assessment’ and ‘evidence assessment’. NZQA have also recognised that the increasing access to and use of digital technologies by students creates significant opportunities for assessing in different ways — using these technologies as the means of completing assessments that are no longer bound by the same constraints of time and place.

Digital technologies are opening up new assessment processes that cater for a learning-centred approach, including eportfolios, rubrics and badges for learning, providing a flexible mechanism for recognising achievements that can be orchestrated and managed by the learner. Today’s students leave lots of data trails – from demographic information, to how they read and highlight ebooks and interact online. The greater use of analytics tools to capture and process this data may provide even greater opportunities to tailor next-steps suggestions for learners, and to understand where the difficulties are occurring so that we can address them in our planning and teaching.


Thinking about these new approaches to assessment creates opportunities for schools to work with their learners in quite different ways, and to see assessment as a part of the learning process. Over the next few years there will be opportunities for schools to allow students to complete summative assessments using the NZQA digital assessment approaches as they come on stream. There will be opportunities for students to complete assessments at different times and in different spaces to the traditional exam room. But, this will rely on schools planning ahead to ensure there is the proper infrastructure in place and access provided to the appropriate devices for all students.

The growing amount of digital data being generated from learner activity will require schools to consider how they store, manage and report on this data, and how it might be used effectively to enable next-steps learning approaches.  Schools must also come to understand and plan for the ways in which digital technologies will make learning more transparent – for teachers, pupils and their parents/whanau. This will have important consequences not only for learners who will receive greater levels of interest and support from home as a consequence, but also for teachers who will be required to ensure systems are in place to keep the data in school management systems current and relevant. It will also place increased demands on individual learners to take responsibility for managing and keeping current the artefacts in their personal learning portfolios as evidence of their learning.



For more about the Ten Trends:


Moving to different worlds

Ruta’s journey: Moving to different worlds from CORE Education on Vimeo.

My story, which I have shared with my Early Years colleagues and my clients in the early childhood sector, tells of my own transitioning from a tiny village in Samoa to a large city. This story has prompted a lot of discussion, and provoked many thoughts. A number of early childhood teachers who have heard my story at professional development meetings have approached me in different learning contexts, and made comments such as, “I listened to you sharing your journey, and I had tears in my eyes”. Others said, “Your story was very interesting, as I never thought about the contrast of having no fences around houses in a village verses fences here in New Zealand. It must be hard for you when you experienced your first winter.”

After thirty-four years residing in New Zealand, the number of Pasifika people living in the Canterbury region has increased immensely. Looking back on my journey, I have experienced success as well as many obstacles. One incident that remains with me was when I phoned a landlord and told him that my husband and I were interested in his rental flat that was advertised in the paper. His immediate reaction was: Sorry the flat has been taken. My husband, who is an educated palagi, phoned the same number later in the evening and the same guy responded, saying that the place hadn’t been taken and he would make an appointment for my husband to come and see the flat. I wish I could turn the clock back, and that I’d had the courage to challenge the landlord. Unfortunately, it was in my early days of settling, and it was hard to comprehend and express my thoughts in a succinct way.

This made me think. I wonder if he was unwilling to give me a chance because of my accent. I wonder if he was thinking that I might not be able to afford to pay my rental. It was not so much my inner circle, but I felt my outside world was pushing me backwards and forwards as I was trying to piece everything together.

Moving to a different country with different smells, sights, and sounds prompted my thinking around the new families who have just moved from tiny villages in Samoa during the last year. And, of course, there are more families expected to arrive before the end of the year. Some families having from two to eight children who are participating in early childhood, primary, and secondary schools in Canterbury. My memories of moving to a different environment, and the struggles that I had experienced all flashes back as I hear these new families and fanau moving into unfamiliar environments.

I wonder what is going on in children’s minds as they first enter an unfamiliar environment?

The questions for teachers and schools are:

  1. What systems do you have in place to support children and parents who have just moved from a tiny village to your school environment?
  2. How do you support families with no English or English as a second language?
  3. What would you do if a child shows signs of ongoing disengagement and challenging behaviours?
  4. What can schools do to ensure that new families from the Pacific are well supported and nurtured in the learning environments?
  5. What opportunities do early childhood services and schools offer to support children’s identity, language and culture?

In my experience it took me a long time to settle and how this experience makes sense and meaning when working with diverse families who are going through challenging times of transitioning to new countries and unfamiliar environments.


7 characteristics of a true connected educator

We are in the thick of Connected Educator Month and, despite all the juggling of tasks and ideas and events and a hundred other things, my mind has been delving into the ‘why’ and ‘so what’ of it all.

I have seen a few folk ask 'what’s the point – aren’t we all connected all the time?'. The fact is, no, we’re not. I have spoken to many educators for whom this month has been a catalyst for dipping a tentative toe into blogging or social networks, digital storytelling and webinars.

And, of course, connecting digitally is just a first, tech-focused step. Being connected is dispositionalthe modern educator must adapt expertise to serve the evolving needs of their learner – and a network can serve to support individual educators more than just immediate support in one’s local school.

connected educator

The following ideas were the basis of my session at ULearn14; an abridged version (and livestreamed version) is below.

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UDL at ULearn: no accident

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) was the subject of the third keynote delivered by Dr Katie Novak (USA) at Ulearn14. Giving UDL such prominence at Ulearn14 was no accident.

Dr Katie Novak

Kia ora Katie

Thank you for making the journey to us from Boston. Thank you too for sharing your passion for learning, and your knowledge and experience of implementing Universal Design for Learning (UDL) to support inclusive practices in the US.

It was really exciting to see awareness of UDL among participants at ULearn increase tenfold. The large show of hands indicating no knowledge of UDL at the beginning of your keynote seemed to indicate that those of us implementing UDL are still running below the radar. The response also highlighted that, although the “Effective Governance Building Inclusive Schools information for school boards of trustees 2013 guidelines identify UDL as a tool to support best practice (p.11), there will need to be a concerted effort across the sector to support a deepening understanding of UDL and how it can be used to support inclusive practices in all learning contexts.

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The art of switching off: Surviving in a digitally demanding world

Switch it off!

I have realised I am spending too much time DOING and too little time REFLECTING; not enough sitting still and looking back on what has happened, and using this to look forward to where I am going and the possibilities ahead.


I love the challenges of my job, the opportunities for learning and working collaboratively, and appreciate the flexibility of working online. Much of my online work is done from home, and the days when it is wet and cold and miserable and I can curl up on the couch and work from there are precious. BUT, working online and from home has its own challenges.

The ability to work from anywhere, anytime brings with it the temptation to work everywhere, all the time.

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He ako ā-nuku, he ako ā-rangi, he hua ki te tangata e! (October, November!  Teachings of the earth and sky, beneficial to mankind!)

He ako ā-nuku, he ako ā-rangi, he hua ki te tangata e!

nā Hohepa Isaac-Sharland

English version

Tihei Mauri Ora!

Ka rere ake rā ngā kupu tangi ki a koutou e ngā mate tuatini kua whetūrangihia, tiaho mai rā i te poho o Ranginui hei kanohi arataki, hei mata tauira i te ara takahi mā te hunga e mahue mai nei ki muri. Koutou rā ki a koutou, kāti, e tātou mā, e ngā kaipupuri i te mauri o te ora, tēnā tātou katoa!

Hei kupu tuatahi māku, ehara ahau i te tohunga ki te reo, ki ngā kōrero o rātou mā, nā reira he wānanga ēnei kōrero āku e takahuri haere nei i te hinengaro, ka whakatakoto ki te pepa.  Ka rua, ko tōku reo Māori hei reo tuarua mōku.  Kāore ahau i tipu i tētahi kāinga kōrero Māori, nā reira, kei a koutou te tikanga he aha rā hei kapo atu māu, hei porowhiu rānei, ko te tumanako ia, he hua kei roto.

Whiringa-ā-nuku, Whiringa-ā-rangi e!
He ako ā-nuku, he ako ā-rangi, he hua ki te tangata e!
ngahere - forest
He aha ētahi o āna kōrero, he aha ētahi o ōna tohu hei arahi i te ako?

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Ten Trends 2014: Gamification

Trend 9: Gamification

CORE's Ten Trends for 2014 have been published. This post considers the ninth of these trends: Gamification. We publish posts on one of the trends approximately each month. You are encouraged to comment or provide supporting links.


Gamification is the name given to the process of developing motivation and engagement by rewarding people with things that they want, and it often takes the form of points, acknowledgement of achievement, badges, prizes, and so on. You complete certain milestones and you are rewarded with something you want, something that is meaningful and engaging to you. The rise of computer gaming culture has meant that more and more research has gone into finding out what features make games so addictive for some people. The trend of gamification is really about how to reward, motivate, and engage people in learning.

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Modern Learning Pedagogy + Modern Pasifika Learners = 21st Century Pasifika learners raising a village

fale society values

An old Samoan proverb still relates to current education changes from the past to the modern and the future of our Pasifika learners:

“ E tumau le fa’avae, ae fesuia’i le faiga”
(the foundations remain the same, but the ways of doing it change).

A Samoan fale is a home, a community, church, and a safe environment that provides a sense of belonging, leadership, and spirituality. From this structure, then, the Samoan fale serves, for example, respect, reciprocity, and inclusive values. Without a strong foundation, the community will not function morally and inclusively.

If a modern learning environment/modern learning pedagogy  (MLE/MLP) acknowledges some of these values as part of the school culture and pedagogy, then the foundation for engagement and learning for our Pasifika learners, parents, families, and community will lead to a successful environment.

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11 ways to grow great readers: a parent’s perspective

How do we get our children reading?

Why 11 you may ask? A nod to a favourite movie — Spinal Tap — if 10 is good, then 11 is even better; that’s the theory. I think the easiest way for a child to enjoy education and develop a thirst for learning is creating a love of reading. Children who read a lot, expand their vocabulary, pick up a range of knowledge, and generally do better at school. But best of all, it’s fun — the thrill of having a good book to escape into is magical. But how do you encourage a love of reading? Like most things to do with children — sleeping, eating etc., — there is no magic one-size-fits-all solution to encourage reading. This is my perspective as a parent with what has worked for our family — I have two sons aged 7 and 9 — and I would love to hear ideas of what has worked for your family or students.

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