Archive for the “Learning and Teaching” Category

Watch this!

What would our classrooms be like if we designed for the extremes?  Now there is a thought!

Comments No Comments »

From Scott Mcleod:

The unholy trinity of student classroom technology usage

Taking notes (look, we’re using computers!)
Looking up stuff (Google and Wikipedia reign supreme)
Making PowerPoints (and they’re not even good ones)
Honorable mention: Completing Google Docs electronic worksheets (just type in the empty spaces…)

The unholy trinity of teacher classroom technology usage

Interactive whiteboards (can you say ‘really expensive chalkboards?’)
Clickers (digital multiple choice! woo hoo!)
Pre-selected YouTube videos for students (passive viewing of filmstrips, VHS tapes, laserdiscs, or DVDs is s-o-o-o yesteryear)
Honorable mention: Blackboard or Moodle (let’s devise really complex systems for transmitting really basic information!)

Is this the vast majority of what we see in P-12 and postsecondary classrooms? Yep. Can we do better (a lot better) than just this? Yep.

Comments No Comments »

Looking at data is always an interesting thing.  The same for school-wide achievement data.  For years we had the National Education Monitoring Project, which was focussed completely on providing a robust picture of where we are as an education system in NZ.  In the last few days we have the release of the National Standards data for the country.  It makes interesting reading, as much for the odd things as for the data itself:

* if we take out the magin of error, which I would guess is in the region of 3-5%, then there is in fact no difference across the two years.  There is also little or no difference between the three areas of Literacy and Numeracy

* there is no european ethnicity registered.  Therefore the data for Total includes maori and pacifika data.  Given these groups under-perform on these measures with respect to many other ethnic groups, if we made a comparison group by group the differences would be LARGER than comparing to the total which also includes them.  In reality maori are probably over 10% below the rest of the population across the year levels.  For pacifica students then, this means it is more like a 15-20% difference.

Screen Shot 2013-06-12 at 4.15.32 PM

* Year 7 must be hard.  Across the board students are achieving lower in this year level than any other.

* Writing achievement falls to Y4 then rises again to Y6; Reading does the opposite.  What explains this?  Y7-8 patterns are identical.

* Maths is pretty random, except it gets harder as the years go on, with fewer students meeting expectations (if we made an overall trend line).


So …. an odd mix of outcomes, much of which validly says nothing (even if we ignore the other issues where I have been pretty clear about what I believe before).  The one thing that does come through though is that we are hiding the extent of the difference between maori, pacifica, and other ethnic groups in the data.  The situation is more pronounced than the graphs show.

It is interesting that there appears to be no deeper analysis of this information anywhere.  Like in a school it is only when you delve into the data, make an effort to understand it and present it in valid ways, and draw some conclusions that the really interesting stuff comes to the fore.

Comments No Comments »

Well … there has been an interesting debate over the last few days in a group I subscribe to about the value of Virtual Learning Environments.  It has been fascinating.

Was just watching this:

Which gives a lot of different arguments in the debate.  Worth watching the first 25min or so, if nothing else.  

Schools are focussing a lot of their discretionary expenditure on commercial products like KnowledgeNET or Ultranet.  Or on 'free' things like Moodle – 'free' because there is still the cost of support etc.  Is it resulting in improved outcomes for students?  I am really not sure.  For a medium sized school there may be a cost to these tools of around $3000 to $4000 a year.  This is the same cost as 150-200+ hours of TA time.  Which is more useful?  Which supports learning better?  Like with anything it is the quality of what you get that is critical, and I would rather have an average LMS than a terrible TA for my room.  But having said that ….

Another argument that often comes up is around the free tools that have the same, or better functionality.  Edmodo is the second largest LMS platform internationally I read somewhere recently.  Behind Moodle (by a big margin).  Google Apps, blogs and wikis can give much of the content management and interactivity of a content management system (and that is all many LMS platforms are used for lets face it) for free.  Why would you pay for this?

As I have harped on about for years, it comes down to PURPOSE:

* WHY do you want to have one in the first place?

* HOW will it make the learning better; and not just different, better?

* Will something else give a better 'bang for buck' for your school staff and students?

* Is the learning curve of the tool worth the effort in terms of ultimate pay-off?

If we are not able to answer these questions definitively with a yes and a well thought through rationale why are we doing it?

Comments No Comments »

Sir Ken is an education rockstar.  He now commands massive fees on the back of his astoundingly successful TED talk.  In this talk he outlines some fantistic concepts we need to bear in mind as we think about educaitonal reform.

"The role of the teacher is to facilitate learning" …. ah, YUP.  


Watch Sir Ken Robinson on PBS. See more from TED Talks Education.

I like the bit where he critiques the current delivery, testing, accountability focussed model of education. "We have a culture of standardisation".

High performing systems:

* personalise learning

* have teaching as a high status activity

* responsibility falls at the school level for 'getting the job done'

As he says education is currently viewed as a mechanical system.  I have written about this before when critiquing the way Bill Gates is funding work trying to find a set of replicable behaviours that define good teaching and simply train other teachers to do them, therefore making all teachers good.  Not that simple.  Teaching is complex, messy and a profoundly human undertaking.

Sir Ken describes some of this messyness in the video.

Comments No Comments »

As if it is some sort of revelation ….. Creativity takes TIME. This video is a neat illustration of this though.

Time is an interesting beast for professional learning, classrooms, ourselves. There is never enough of it! 

It is generally acknowledged that worthwhile school change takes 3-5 years to imbed. This is a real challenge for professional learning programmes with a shorter time frame focus than this. One of the things we need to focus on is developing strategies for sustainability. Certainly in BeL this is something that is made overt from the outset.  The key thing is changing the 'hearts and minds' of teachers and school leadership.  It is not about having a replicable set of behaviours that are franchisable across the school.  Sure, there are some commonalities, but each development and change process needs to be personalised to the individual school. 

So …. lets take the time to get it right.

Comments No Comments »

This is AWESOME!!


Comments No Comments »

I like models.  I tend to think in diagrams and pictures, trying to link ideas together and make sense of them in some sort of structured way.  I also tend to bounce ideas around and try to make links between different ones, and visuals help with this.
I just stumbled on this:

… which is a neat way to think about the difference between just digitising the same-old-same-old and actually doing things differently and in ways that would not be possible without technology.  I see a lot of schools and classrooms where technology is simply used to digitise the same stuff.  Is that really effective use of devices costing hundreds or even thousands of dollars?  Conversely what does doing it differently look like?  In practice?  How to get people to reimagine what they are doing in their classrooms and schools is the point of much of what I am doing these days …. This diagrame will help clarify it a bit for some I think.

Particularly for assessment and those disengaged or with learning issues the redefinition of what learning is and looks like can hook them in.

What models do you use to get-your-head-around concepts and ideas?  What works for you?

Comments No Comments »