By guest blogger, Tim Gander
The Tu Tane programme and the Māori grant
We originally applied for a Māori grant to assist and develop the effectiveness of our Tu Tane programme. The Tu Tane programme has become an important part of our boys’ education and personal growth, it provides them with a sense of identity, pride in themselves, and pride in where they come from. It allows boys to develop an interest in their culture, tikanga, and reo. The programme aims to begin a rite of passage, in which we encourage our young men to move towards becoming good men, by reflecting on their own whakapapa to look forward to where they want to go and who they want to be. As a staff, we found that the important values, beliefs, and elements of personal growth are often given lip service but our communities and country do little to address this. The main focus of Tu Tane is developing key values in our students through practical and theory lessons that are backed up through the ‘7 stages and 7 ceremonies’, closely following our own tikanga and that of our community. The course relies heavily on community links with input from whanau in the form of 'Tane Uetika' — our mentor ceremony. During this year we have worked on several areas ranging from personal identity, relationships, societal attitudes and values, identity, sensitivity and respect, challenges, and social/cultural factors. The programme runs directly in line with the New Zealand PE/Health curriculum, beginning in year 10 and supported through to the senior years.
To support this initiative CORE Education provided funding for a set of ChromeBooks through its CORE Māori Grant. We chose to invest in ChromeBooks because we use Google Apps for Education, and the devices allow safe and easy access to all of our learning resources and opportunities, as well as the ability to connect to the wider community.
The benefits of ChromeBooks for our programme
On the day that the ChromeBooks arrived the boys opened them and booted them up — it only took about 2 minutes from the time that I put the sealed box on the desk until the first boys had logged in and were browsing the web — almost unbelievable. Previously, we had spent countless hours attempting to log on to school computers with numerous software updates, lost passwords, and wasted lessons in an attempt to be connected and online.
Part of the allure of ChromeBooks is the amount of control the teacher or administrator has over the devices. Once the machines were logged into the domain and into the console I could control the user experience from anywhere in the world — making sure students were always safe, secure, and focussed on the set task! By encouraging the students to unbox the devices it gave them a real sense of ownership. They were able to log in straight away with an existing Google Apps account, or create a new one on the school domain if they had not used one before. I had decided to create a wifi hotspot from my laptop so that the first time the boys turned them on they wouldn't have to worry about wifi passwords and network restrictions. I was skeptical at first, but I had 15 Chromebooks working at good internet speed from one connection on my Macbook Pro, and some boys were even streaming some content from a recent lesson I had posted on Google+!
Links, connections, and identity
It is critical for students to establish 'Whakawhanaungatanga' where they make links and connections with each other, and encompass the concept of inclusiveness. Students are encouraged to reach out to those around them and include the community in their kaupapa, thereby enhancing 'Te taha wairua' by acknowledging, celebrating, and showcasing cultural capabilities and distinctiveness. A specific example of how the ChromeBooks have helped facilitate this process is 'Ko wai ahau, no hea ahau?' — Who am I and where do I come from? My Identity'. The boys researched and talked to whānau about their whakapapa, and through Glogster they created a page about the journey of their lives from their past to the present. This was then presented to the Tu Tane class during the 'Tane Pepeke' ceremony. The class developed a far greater level of trust and respect for each other, and the ChromeBooks granted the students the freedom and ability to create ‘enhanced’ profiles with embedded content personal to them, increased motivation, and allowed deeper understanding of where they were from, and ultimately, where they were going.
Although the enhanced way of working with ChromeBooks was introduced relatively late in the year, there was still a positive impact. We are hoping that in 2014, because students will be able to collaborate and communicate from the start of the year, there will be a greater impact. For example, by using the devices from the start of the year, next year’s students will be able to maximise the Google+ community for Tu Tane, and share with Whanau and ex-Tu Tane graduates. We would also like to combine the work we are doing in the senior school, with web apps, Google docs, blogging, and Google+ with our Tu Tane programme. Opening up these opportunities to connect and co-construct with the younger boys is likely to enhance cultural distinctiveness, illuminate creative potential, and support successful educational pathways for them.
Liberation to learn
Learning is a collaborative process, and the students are more likely to succeed when they feel supported and have an opportunity to share their work. The introduction of the ChromeBooks has given us the ability to strengthen community links because students have been able to make contact with people, and share their work easily at school and at home. The most overwhelming thing we have noticed when working with the ChromeBooks is that it is not ultimately about the technology. There isn’t a significant ‘wow’ factor involved; it is just a tool that works to enhance the learning experience and opportunities available.
To put it simply — the boys just get on with the learning and have wider opportunities available.
Tim Gander is Assistant Head of PE and Health at Gisborne Boys High school. He enjoys the day-to-day challenge of teaching a wide range of abilities and ages in a variety of settings. He is aware that effective teaching is not only about the use of technology, but also how the technology supports teaching, learning, and building relationships. He is passionate about engaging students and whānau in a collaborative learning journey, and believes that the integration of technology and adapted pedagogies enable a greater depth of learning, understanding, and encouragement.
Tim is a Google Apps for Education certified trainer and facilitates professional learning with teachers through his blog, PLN, and face-to-face. In 2013 he fully immersed three senior NCEA classes in Google Apps and found the experience to be positive for all, originally flipping the classroom to overcome resource issues, then utilising Chromebooks to maximise learning opportunities. He is in the final selection for the Interface magazine “Innovative use of ICT Award” with his Google Drive and Social Responsibility project.
Tim has also been awarded an eFellowship award for 2014