Learning@School 2010

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Wednesday: Dr. Stuart Middleton "School Looks Good But Is it Engaging?"

Director, External Relations Manukau Institute of Technology

Disengagement a direct consequent of changing the education system in the mid 1900's. Disengagement is a result of having an undifferentiated academic curriculum. We have gotten rid of industrial arts, vocational programmes. All countries with 'mother england' as the education model are in the same boat with disengagement and stats figures!

Apprenticeships etc. disappeared. Got rid of the technical education.

New Zealand's leaking education pipeline:

  • 20% Disappeared from education by age 16
  • 12.5% Secondary truant each day
  • 4,000 students exluded each year (unless Ministry intervenes)
  • 4500 Leave primary but fail to enter secondary
  • 80% Youth appearing in the youth court have left or are absent from school
  • 48% Succuessfully complete a postsecondary qualification that they start.

Three types disengagement:

  • Physical – absent from school. High % Maori
  • Virtual – at school but not dot achieving. High % Pacifika
  • Unintentional  - marginal success at school  but no real success post secondary.

Slide show on conference website. Some incredible statistics and good analogies.

Predictions about the future in education:

  1. Purpose. We need to find our purpose in schooling.
  2. Readiness: we need to change the success footprint, If you're ready for school you'll succeed; if you're not, you won't. Quality, readiness, progress triangle. Schools will not be organised as clearly on age-cohort basis
  3. Language. English only one of the languages of instruction. Bilingual brains are better; being bilingual is normal. More people are bilingial in the world than not. Weaken my language and I am weka. Strengthen my language and I am strong. Language is like an iceberg. Neurological processes, grammar etc. sits below the surface. The more multilingual a stuent is, the better those below-the-surface processes are.
  4. Sectors: like the baltic states, once educational sectors are created their borders must be protected. Won't be organised by sectors. MIT secondary-tertiary studies. Students simltanteous complete NCEA and a tertiary qualification.
  5. Change. Education systems haven't changed at the pace of the world around them. Hospitals, banking etc. have all changed. Our obsesison with access has not resulted in equity. As a system we have lost contact with our community.

Tertiary school aims to engage students from 22 contributing schools who are in danger of disengagement. They complete the final three years of education while working toward a tertiary qualification.

English: emphasis on literacy skills in a CTE setting
Maths: focus on general mathematical skills then CTE maths skills
Digital: high -level skills in computing

CTE: study to complete two years post-secondary CTE (MIT) qualification
CTE support: supplemental instruction related to CTE programme

Study skills: intensive introduction to the skills required for further study
Intro to FE full introduction to carrer pathways
Pastoral care: a taught pastoral programme
Personal pathway plan: individualised plan for success, heavily monitored 

Thursday: Alan November "The Emerging Culture of teaching and Learning"

Start of session - CORE showed a short video clip of John Hattie talking about the need for change and teachers as 'change agents'. Very good. It is on their site under “ED-talks” (similar to TED talks I think but an NZ version)

A Skype presentation.

Very inspiring talk about the need for teachers to change focus of what we teach. One of the things is to make students aware of the tools on the Internet to pull it apart to get to the facts actually being looked for. e.g. can type in search code

to get to a country for information being sent out from only that place e.g 'site: nz' and all the other keywords e.g. WW2 anzac turkey will only show sites with these words hosted by NZ based web servers.

Another incredible one called the “wayback machine” I think which allows you to see who owns the site you are looking at and thus adds to knowledge about its authenticity and the emphasis on information being delivered from it. e.g. one of the first sites to come up on a Google search for Martin Luther King is owned by a powerful white supremacist group in America.

Collaborative sites where teachers help each other across the world. e.g. a NING site “Independent School Educator Network” where teachers tell there stories, ask for specific help and get responses etc.

Also to give the students 'real jobs' in the classroom. Assign titles like the researcher, the technician, the information processor etc.

Students should be working harder than the teachers!!

Use Google docs to make collaborative notes during lessons – again with each person different aspects to focus on

Friday: Dr. Thomas Hoerr "Leading from Behind"

Principal of a New City School in St.Louis, Missouri

We have quite a few of his books in our library.

A brilliant speaker! Tom spoke about leadership and what it means to be good leader essentially.

He speaks about Executive leadership vs. Legislative leadership: Executive is where authority and decision are exerted and legislative where these are discussed. Good leaders know when to play the executive cards and these should be less often that legislative.

Decision making needs to be broken into "Your decision"; "My decision"; "Our decision" and clearly signposted as such before the decision or any discussion is entered into. This goes for any level BOT, SM, teachers students parent body etc.

The Teachers and the Collegiality are the MOST IMPORTANT aspects of a good school. Use the acronym HEAL

H - hiring the teachers is critical. Fellow teachers have to be involved to enables good working relationships. Principle can invoke veto rights if necessary as well.

E - clear awareness of what the collegial expectations are for all faculty members.

A - administrators (SMT) need to know when to abdicate, assign, accept authority.

L - learning has to occur by everyone for student success. share mistakes and learn from them too.

On another aspect - however good the teachers are, they need to be better at the end of the year, and then pushed to be better again by the ed of the next year. He reckons his job is to make teachers lives easier not to make them happy. e.g. provide the stationary required, take care of the discipline etc. Not to make then happy by intervention, but to push them to learn how to do this themselves.

The three things which keep him awake at night:

"Have I offended the people I want to offend". gave some eg's and Used Peter Dunn's statement: Comfort the afflicted; afflict the comfortable.

"Did I make a new mistake mistake today?". i.e take a risk, try something new, learn from mistakes. share these even if repeat an old mistake - but learn from it!

"Am I practicing what I preach ?"- i.e am I pushing myself as hard as I push others?

He spoke a while about stress. For him the ability to manage this is to be able tell the difference between excellence and perfection. in many cases, excellence is fine and can be accepted!


Te Pataka Matihiko – Our Digital Storehouse

Helen Cooper        helen.cooper@minedu.govt.nz

DigiStore – new upgraded site intended as a repository for material to be used by educational institutions and as a portal for other institutions to share material with educational institutions.

Some new features:

  • Can rate objects and other material – this is collaborative in that comment scan be made as to how teachers (or whoever) used the resource and what it proved to be good for e.g. an interactive digital object put in as a resource to learn Japanese proved to be very useful as an exercise to help ESOL students in a maths exercise.
  • Learning Path – can create a 'site' for objects for particular topics etc which students access directly using a Pin number for that particular learning path. e.g. an art lesson where numerous images, videos and texts are collected with questions or tasks added for students to complete. This can be e-mailed to individuals, saved as a PDF simply saved on the digistore site and or shared with other users. Can edit these at any time to add or remove stuff.
  • A Wiki labeled as “Using Digital Content”. Intended as information for any new material gone in and also building new resources like unit lessons etc.

Fiona Grant is the team solutions person for Auckland to help with digistore here. f.grant@auckland.ac.nz

Right now our old user name and password won't work most likely. I will email them to get it changed and a new one for us. Apparently by the end of term 2 (maybe sooner) there will be a simple login for all of us to use as educators – as close as they can get to open access but still maintaining copyright integrity for other institution materials.

For now can try

user name: learningat

password: schools2010

Organising, Sharing and Retrieving Your Teaching Resources: Martin Neyland

Bit of misleading advertising! Access-it Software...We have another system which seems to be better and does same things but more easily!!!

National Standards

Mary Chamberlain. Team leader on the NZC and Assessment policy revamp for the ministry

Essentially a presentation to persuade the crowd to start looking at the change in a positive light. To tell stories differently about the standards to try to mitigate the bad press they have given recently. I gather she was referring more to the recent primary standards that our senior ones, but that cane into it as well.

She spoke about connectedness to the community, parent body and research showing how this was 2nd most important after good teaching in making a difference to student success.

Also to look at the possibilities of the NZC to expand the intellectual and emotional resources (hence the KC's) which students can school with

Lots of research has been accessed and children been spoken to and asked what they think. She used Tortoise and Hare as analogy for diverse children; standards as the signposts on the road during the race. I quite liked that as a good explanation. Also using what is already being done and fitting the new curriculum, NAGS and standards to that. Best fit in other words.

Where to start – wherever we are right now!

Need to decide: what's worth fighting for, what's worth shaping and what needs keeping keeping.

They are also being watched by the assessment gurus worldwide to see if NZ can make this work – there was a gathering in Christchurch apparently where the current state of affairs was looked on favorably with positive noises and keen interest being shown in what is being attempted. So by worldwide viewpoint, we have something happening here.

Also make sure not to read more into the guidelines and requirements that what is stated. ERO worries? Look at the “self review” tool on National Standards and use of assessment data for reporting.

Be very careful of paying lip service and compliance! Remain ope to new learning and ideas.

The standards are being monitored by a company doing research on a contract to the ministry.

There were a few questions around “Value added”. She spoke of using base line data on entry as to what the students know and can do as compared to what the data shows at the end. There has to be value after 40 weeks of teaching!

A very good speaker; Mary was good at fielding the hard questions and putting a different perspective on the on-going and remaining staunch negativity to the NZC and national standards.


Life Long learner: Educational Waffle or Achievable Goal?

Trevor Bond with QuEST (Quality Educational Support and Training). Helps schools come to grips with implementing the new curriculum.

tbond@clear.net.nz    http://ictnz


A really good session using question, discussion in small groups, sharing out etc. Quite often the 'class' came to arguing semantics over descriptive words e.g. determination vs. resilience as attitudes of a life long learner.

He used a worksheet divided into 4 with a question in each quadrant:

What attitudes empower a life long learner?

What understandings empower a life long learner?

What skills empower a life long learner?

What else empowers a life long learner?

Supplied us with a filled in one of things other schools had come up with. Will scan this in later and attach.

Then another worksheet divided into 4 with a question in each quadrant:

How do we currently deliberately foster the development of learning independence in our students? -->What else could we do? 

What current barriers do we have in place that inhibit the development of independence in our student learners?-->How could we deal with these barriers?

e.g. of some responses to current barriers – keeping resources like journals and books locked away in teacher resource rooms – so put them in the library for all to access

School bells!

He also gave out another sheet “Curriculum design for developing life long learners” with some good ideas to consider. Will scan this in too.

I enjoyed this session as he provoked some lively discussion in the audience and we are apparently not the only school to have done away with the infernal bell judging by the number of call-outs to his statement/question “the school bell – where in the world do we have bells telling us the time to go somewhere?”

Scientists and Schools – Case Studies

Andrew Dunningham from SCION

SCION and Andrew contract out to companies for $120/hr for work they do and then use this to fund education programs in schools – I think – will have to check this out again!

This sessions actual title was : Developing Scientific Literacy in School Students using CRI Scientists.


Gave a disturbing bit of statistics coming out of research: That if people have not been engaged by science by the time they are about 14 years old, they most likely never will be and also will not use science in decision making.

(This raises all sorts of red flags and may well explain how so many people get hooked not hype and get swayed by 'false prophets' using minute bits of science to prop up hocus pocus!)

His group is focusing on education and sourcing scientists for schools to use in implementing the new curriculum in science with particular emphasis on the Nature of Science Strand. They want to be involved from the planning stage and will help out in whatever way they can.

We will most definitely be using this opportunity SCION is giving us. It will mean being used as a case study for their own research and the science department writing up formal reports on the unit of work they have been involved in. This is part of our work flow so I am more than happy to do this.

They have developed the Forests of Life program ( www.forestsoflife.org ) used more by the middle schools; KAREN the high speed network set up (Kiwi Advanced Research and Education Network)


Some interesting bits from the discussion

•                  'Real knowledge' vs. 'school knowledge' Real being the students current 'world view' based on what their current experiences are in their life outside of school hours. Both are valid but more authentic if they can be brought closer together.

•                  Misconceptions are real to the students and form their knowledge. They keep these until they find out FOR THEMSELVES that the knowledge they have is not quite 'right' (no amount of 'telling it' will change the mind)

•                  He prefers using 'discourse' to debate for the process where thoughts and ideas are discussed. Argument is an important part of this process and if students can persuade their peers of an idea that is good.

•                  We should also create some dissonance in discussion – make them feel some emotion if possible.


The LMS Gateway to Learning and Assessment

Mark Treadwell - Title of presentation "the emerging 21st century teacher" and "we are entering the most dramatic paradigm shift in learning ever"

This started out promising by looking at what needs to change (nothing new to us there!) but then moved into product plug;

Does Content Matter Anymore?

Mary Anne Mills from CORE Education.  Responsible for helping schools with curriculum design.


Another very valuable and informative session for me.

Started out with the point that NZ has not had a content driven curriculum since the early 1990's. That one was also outcomes focused! So what is all the fuss about now?


Then asked the question - What influences our education / world view/ qualifications? The answer came back Asia. China and India have the largest growing economies and people gaining more of the higher qualifications than any other country in the world. Our students will be competing with them in the world market and in order to "Collaborate, Compete, Create and Connect" (the 4 C's) with peers around the world we need to think about the opportunities that exist in the curriculum to incorporate more Asian content.


Who feeds into curriculum development at school? BOT; SM; HOD's; Teachers; Students; Family & whanau; Community? Who has the most influence?

Have broad 'constraints' like the NEG's and NAG's; the curriculum principles; shifting balance between values, competencies, knowledge and skills which also need to be incorporated.


When designing the curriculum we need to ask the following:

What educational outcomes (knowledge, values and capabilities) do you want your students to value by the time they leave school?  ('Learning' is implied by the words - educational outcomes) i.e a graduate profile.

What opportunities does the curriculum offer for students to get to the statement in the front of the NZC to have access to material, feel part of, gain knowledge of - Global, National, Regional, Local contexts.

In the learning areas: What is so important that it cannot be left to chance? i.e must be taught; and then - What evidence is there for this?

What 'red flags' will we need to look out for to see - are we meeting the intent of the curriculum?


It is also important to remember that

any and all decisions remain contestable! 

NZC criteria do not need to be covered in one unit or even one year, opportunities to engage in these need to be given over time.



Learning cannot take place in a vacuum.

The content needs to chosen carefully with all these aspects in mind as well as the assessment requirements students will face.