Archive for the “professional learning” Category
Oct 11 2013
Sep 20 2013
One of the interesting things visiting the Melbourne schools was the differences in the ways they approached organising 'ownership' of space and students. The two are related I suppose but I put the slide below together to try and capture what I was seeing as the differences in approaches:
At one end there is the INDIVIDUAL teacher who oversees a home group of students for much of their programme. They coordinate the pastoral, academic and organisational aspects of their school life within the collaborative space of the MLE that may have over 120 students in it. They are responsible for all the process things like assessment and reporting, coordination with families and being the person who is 'responsible' for knowing them well.
At the other extreme is a collective responsibility where all teachers in a space hold COLLECTIVE responsibility for 100+ students. All staff collectively work with students across the group on the needs that are identified. Groups are fluid and teachers report on the bits of the curriculum they have particular iinsight into for instance. There are careful mechanisms for collecting and collating achievement and pastoral information. We saw instance of these in Google Docs and more formal proprietary SMS systems.
Both extremes work. Both have their strengths and challenges. It is figuring out where you sit …
Once you have done that it is thinking through ALL the implications:
Sep 16 2013
Just looking back over some of my notes from Melbourne MLE tour with CORE Education last week. I am trying to pull some ideas together to mke full sense of the full-on week and all that I have seen and heard. It was a fabulous learning experience and I have a million thoughts and wonderings floating in my head I need to get lined up in a way that they form a cohesive pattern …. getting there but a way to go. I am posting below a reflection from on the plane on the way over by way of a frame for later posts:
I have been doing some reading on the plane over to Melbourne from different research about the so called 'modern learning environment'.
Open-plan learning spaces, with the pedagogy to match, are driving learning innovation in New Zealand schools.
One of the interesting things is the difference between the MLE and the 'open plan' movement of the 1960's and 70's. There is quite a lot of thinking about how the current movement is different. The MLE is the congruence between what we know about the influences of buildings and space on learning and what we can now achieve in the physical construction of acoustically, energy and light efficient buildings; brain research and what we know about learning; collaborative practice and what we know about effective pedagogy and teacher professional learning; what we know about effective learning and how essential full engagement with students and communities is; and what we know about the impact of technology on todays students and how it is simply an integral part of their lives.
The intersection of these things is the space that an MLE sits in. Where all the factors come together and the personalised mix is 'fit-for-purpose' for the students, community and staff of a particular school. A key part of this seems to me to be clarity around PURPOSE. The WHY. What is it that we are actually aiming to achieve? What does success look like in a school if you have the students for the full five, six or eight years? What do they 'look like'. What knowledge, skills, attitudes and personal values has the school supported them to build into their character? What kind of person are they? What beliefs do they have about where they fit in society and the agency they ave to cat and have a positive influence on the world around them? This graduate profile is a key component of the effective implementation of the NZC and also has been a central focus for quite a bit of the work I have been doing in the Blended eLearning programme over the past two years.
Lots of random thoughts floating but keen to see where the congruences above align with the graduate profile in the espoused philosophies and the practices. It will be interesting to see where this fits within the schools we will visit over the next week. Part of the real value for me is also in travelling with others on this journey. Having the perspectives and understandings of the group, as well as Derek and Julia to draw upon is going to magnify the depth I am exploring this to as well.
Sep 09 2013
Man, it has been a wee while since I have put anything on here!
I am currently in the Koru Club with Derek Wenmoth form CORE Education en-route to Melbourne for the CORE Education MLE (modern learning environments) Tour. One of the really fun parts of my current role in the Blended eLearning Programme has been working alongside Derek with two schools involved in the rebuild programme in ChCh. The physical spaces that schools are building are radically different, but more importantly the head space and pedagogical approach is too. It is a privilege to walk alongside schools as they work out what it is all gong to look like for them! This tour is very much part for the learning for me to be able to provide the best support for them.
Julia Atkin is also supporting the tour and there are 15 of us in total from around NZ.
Bring it on!
Jul 24 2013
Thanks Jane for sharing this.
The video is a short, provocative but readily accessable watch. Only 5min or so long with a load of content:
The report itself from here goes in to more detail and again has a content well worth reading. Some HUGE brains involved in puting this report together!
Jul 19 2013
What would our classrooms be like if we designed for the extremes? Now there is a thought!
Jun 12 2013
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.
* 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.
Jun 11 2013
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?
Jun 09 2013
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.
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.
May 27 2013
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.