Improving Awesomeness in Iteration 2

Week 1 of Term 2 and Week 1 of #HackYrClass. I entered this term excited about the possibilities and also by the challenge set by Claire Amos to hack our classes. 2 aims for Hacking my classes came naturally – they were already my goals for my teaching this term: becoming student centred and increasing the use of design thinking.

Goal 1: Becoming more student centred

On Monday I sat in each of the Big Modules being taught in our school and filled out empathy maps for what it is like being a student at our school.

It was only the 2nd block of the first day back after holidays but I found incredible learning occurring. The main feeling in each module was of an engaged learning buzz with students openly discussing their learning and helping each other out. I am going to pick this apart in more detail in a blog next week but I was so impressed with how quickly the teachers had got to know their students and started into some challenging but engaging learning (already an improvement from Term 1 where student feedback said we had taken too long to get into the deep learning!).

A major focus for me with becoming more student centred is my Learning Hub. We undertook an activity on Tuesday that I ‘borrowed’ from Grant Lichtman’s The Falconer. Students named their heroes and then we dissected what characteristics these people had that made them so inspiring. You can read a more detailed blog about this here. The week finished with my Hub deciding their extended Hub time would be spent completing an in depth profile of one of their heroes.

Goal 2: Increasing use of Design Thinking

My method for this goal this week was to amplify my use of How Might We (HMW) and What If questions. I used HMW in my 2 modules on Thursday: “Place and Misplace” and “Rover Missions”.

The challenge for the Place and Misplace students was “How Might We best represent Hobsonville Point Secondary School with a box?” Students worked in groups of 3 or 4 and were given a flat file box to make and use. They had just over an hour total to do this. After 35 minutes we had a critique session where they each presented their vision and progress so far. The other groups then gave 1 positive comment and 1 thing to consider. They then had 20 minutes to finish off. I was so impressed with what they made (and incredibly impressed that all groups hacked the boxes in various ways, not using the box in it’s standard shape!).

2014-05-08 10.37.29 (1)

The open, flexible spaces

The opportunity doors

The opportunity doors

The seamless integration of technology with our learning

The seamless integration of technology with our learning

In Rover Missions we are solving the question: How Might We use robots to enter places that are too dangerous for us to enter. Most of the first session was about defining dangerous places, getting into project groups and choosing a place to focus on. Initial plans include places on fire, under the sea and various iterations of spy-bots. Our intro activity though, was another HMW: How Might We create the biggest human circuit on a Makey Makey.

Last term I had 5 students create a circuit through themselves to play a game. I discussed this with Chris Clay of the Mind Lab and he mentioned their record at the time was 14 students. I told all of this to the students and gave them 2 Makey Makeys to get started. The students initially broke into 2 groups. One group started trying with all of them at once talking over each other whilst the other started with 2 students and built up person by person. Eventually they all realised the steady build up was working best so joined forces and built up 1 by 1 until I joined last. By this stage we had a circuit running through 28 people (and being completed by playing Flappy Bird on a PC). We ran out of people to add so maybe a challenge in future to beat our record! The conversations along the way were awesome: “No, you can’t grab her shirt, it has to be skin” “Touch his hand because it’s more conductive” etc.!

Building up our human circuit

Building up our human circuit

My collaborative module this term is “How Place Influences Food and Culture” and I am co-teaching with Pete McGhie. Our first 3 hours were a series of provocations to get the students thinking critically about the concepts of food, place and culture. The second block of 90 minutes was all based on “What If” questions. First scenarios set by us for forum discussions by students:


And then, the students had to work together in groups to create their own What If questions whilst thinking whether their scenarios would primarily impact people on a personal, interpersonal or societal level. They then had to share these by writing them on the window to share with other people walking by the school:

Students sharing their questions to provoke thought in the community

Students sharing their questions to provoke thought in the community

Bonus Highlights:

1) A bonus highlight of the week was starting my Geocaching module. This is an Active Recreation module which our students must all take one of so they are getting some physical activity every week. In this one we are exploring our local environment by going out hunting for the geocaches hidden in the area. We started by getting the students set up with apps on their phones – I gave them a variety to choose from including free or paid options. To start with we all went to one hidden about 1km from the school. As they arrived in different speed groups some students found this one while all of them got to see what it looked like. The faster runners in the group also got to go find a 2nd one before heading back to school.


2) Thursday night was an epic #edchatNZ based on #hackyrclass where around 1000 tweets were shared in an hour! This whole exercise seems to have really struck a chord across many schools in NZ so I really look forward to seeing what we manage to achieve this term!

3) Friday morning PD started with a circle sharing a highlight of our week in meeting our Growth Mindset goals. I shared my student centred goal progress and was completely blown away by the stories of all the other staff in our school. It seems my awesome week was matched by everyone else!

This was Week 1 of Term 2 which leaves me truly believing the best is yet to come!


2 thoughts on “Improving Awesomeness in Iteration 2

  1. Pingback: Improving Awesomeness in Iteration 2 | personal...

  2. Pingback: Authentic Challenges | Steve Mouldey

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