A Breath of Fresh PD

Last month I went to 2 conferences: I started April at the Teach Tech Play Conference and ended it at Energise 2017. These two events were such a breath of fresh air.

Admittedly, the locations were a major help. Teach Tech Play was in Melbourne so I got to have a weekend exploring there before the conference started. And Energise 2017 was in Queenstown, where I didn’t have extra days to explore but the scenery was amazing enough at the venue:

These different locations also meant that the teachers at the conferences were a different group than I regularly see at conferences in the upper half of the North Island. This means that I got to meet lots of educators that I knew through twitter and also to meet new faces that I hadn’t interacted with before. (A special shout out here to Rachel Chisnall who I met face to face for the first time the night before we presented a workshop together – led to great opening lines about welcome to our workshop, we met online). Now, I really like the crew of educators that I have got to know over the years at local events, but it was great to break out of that chamber and interact with different people for a change. Continue reading


EdChatNZ Blogging Meme

If you get included in the blogging meme: copy/paste the questions and instructions into your own blog then fill out your own answers. Share on twitter tagging 5 friends. Make sure you send your answers back to whoever tagged you too.

1. How did you attend the #Edchatnz Conference? (Face 2 Face, followed online or didn’t)

I was there for both days of the conference. On Friday I was teaching through most of the day so my involvement was mainly through inviting people in to be part of my Hub and my Apocalypse Now module. Saturday was far more of the conference experience for me.
2. How many others attended from your school or organisation?
 As we were hosting, our entire school was involved on the Friday – staff and students. On the Saturday there was still over half of our staff and a smattering of students attending (yes, students voluntarily at a conference on a Saturday!).
3. How many #Edchatnz challenges did you complete?
 After setting the challenges for everyone I embarrassingly did not complete them all! I think it was 12 that I did complete. I missed the food sculpture, highest point, new technology (although did get to see the Ultimaker 2 3D printer in action that we have on order) and the dancing challenges. Am most disappointed about the dancing challenges as I often dance randomly throughout the day.
4. Who are 3 people that you connected with and what did you learn from them?
So many awesome face to face catch ups with incredible twitter colleagues that made the weekend feel a bit like Edu-Nerd party of the year! I especially enjoyed catching up with 2 ex student teachers Emma (@emmaotearoa) and Jess (@ikanarat). But have to give special mention here to 3 connections that reminded me of important things:
Reid (@ReidHns1) is brilliant. He laughs often and loudly and as someone with the nickname of Excited Puppy I love to find other teachers who are genuinely stoked in what they do.
Jonathan Finnerty (@FtFinnerty) was a student of mine in my first few years teaching and it is really cool to see him as a confident Geo teacher soaking up the inspiration. It was cool seeing him make his first tweet after the conference (that first risky step done) and I hope we see him connecting regularly online (no pressure now…)
Aaron Huggard (@MrHuggard) spent 3 hours of Friday sitting in my module with students. In speaking with him on Saturday he felt it was time spent well extremely well – if you want to experience a school, do so from a students perspective.
5. What session are you gutted that you missed?
 Hard one, lots of awesome workshops I missed while teaching and presenting myself, didn’t get to see Pam Hook talk on SOLO but I would have loved to have been in Heather Eccles (@heccles01) session in support as she helped preservice teachers find the ways to connect with the awesome NZ education communities.
6. Who is one person that you would like to have taken to Edchatnz and what key thing would they have learned? 
Would have loved to have taken Michael Harcourt (@harcoumich). He is an incredible teacher who has inspired me over the past 7 years. We used to work across a desk from each other and bounce ideas back and forth, he always had an article or book to suggest for me to read. When I moved back up to Auckland I turned to Twitter for that regular bouncing of ideas (we still skype but once or twice a term isn’t enough!) and so it would have been full circle to bring him to #edchatnz.
7. Is there a person you didn’t get to meet/chat with (F2F/online) that you wished you had? Why
 Would loved to have chatted with Mark Buckland (@mjbuckland) face to face. Looking back through the tweets he was in a session I ran and in a couple of others I attended but somehow didn’t manage to connect. Will make sure this happens at ULearn!
8. What is the next book you are going to read and why? 
 Just started reading Creativity Inc today which I have been looking forward to for a while. If the new Ewan McIntosh book arrives it will be that next as I continue on my journey with Design Thinking. Otherwise Tait Coles’ Punk Learning that I got in the book swap at EdchatNZ conference, have read his blog for a while so interested to see what the book adds.
9. What is one thing you plan to do to continue the Education Revolution you learnt about at #Edchatnz?
 I want to help encourage more people to connect not only on twitter but by sharing their learning through blogs. Mark Osborne’s keynote pointing out the depth of discussion available when we meet face to face can also happen through blogging and commenting. Would love to see more people start with this – this blogging meme will help!
10. Will you take a risk and hand your students a blank canvas?
Have become reasonably well known now for some of the risks that occur in my classes…A blank canvas is all good but I would also add a couple of constraints to the activity – this is what causes the creativity to occur.
Who do will I tag with this meme:
All people I’m not sure are blogging yet, hopefully this meme will extend their connection with #edchatnz:
@MrHuggard (ok one that already blogs but I’m still keen to see more of his ideas online!)

How Might We make the most of a conference?

I love conferences. Incredible learning, great networking and a lot of laughs and fun. This week will be full of those at the EdChatNZ Conference but I want to ensure there is the final fun part involved as well. Inspired by what the Geography Collective challenged conference attendees to do at the GA Conference this year:


I am creating a list of missions for people to achieve during the EdChatNZ Conference on Friday and Saturday. The missions for the speakers are the same as above but there are some changes to the rest to reflect the sharing ethos of the #EdChatNZ conference.

At this stage it includes such things as new technologies, food, post-its, autographs, questions, selfies and grelfies.

See you all Friday morning!


This post is part of my Questioning Quest.

How Might We create the learning experience of a conference more regularly?

Since my post on overcoming the conference to classroom chasm I have been wondering about maintaining the intense learning atmosphere of a conference when we are no longer all together.

Now, twitter is great for continually accessing information, ideas and resources but there is something all together different about the learning and networking that occurs at a conference. The Network for Learning Pond may be aiming to provide this for New Zealand teachers but at the moment is just a search engine, I look forward to seeing what the Communities function looks like when it is released.

Last year as we designed how Hobsonville Point Secondary School would operate we often talked about how it was exhausting even though we had no students. We realised it was because we were effectively living in a conference 24/7. We were given time to rethink education and were encouraged to read as much as possible (see here for readings that influenced us in our first term).

I still am privileged to work at HPSS and get access to amazing PD and rich learning conversations daily. We have, however, stopped sharing our reading as much as we used to and I miss those amazing conversations that developed as we shared and critiqued things we had read.

Then today, a great conversation erupted on twitter with @AKeenReader @chasingalyx @beechEdesignz @mattynicoll @shiftingthinkng @MissDtheTeacher and @mrs_hyde about sharing some of our edu-nerd reading we are doing. End outcome is that we are meeting/holding a workshop at the #EdChatNZ conference to organise a book chat to happen once a term where we read the same Edu book then meet up online (twitter or GHO) to discuss how we found it.

So now, I have my daily conversations, regular school PD, twitter chats, the odd Google Hangout (with long term critical friend Michael Harcourt or with new US critical friends Grant Lichtman, Bo Adams and Thomas Steele-Maley)  a new Edu-Nerd book club plus 2 conferences in this next term. Think I’m good for maintaining that conference feel, how are you going to keep the learning going?


This post is Day 19 of My Questioning Quest.

How might we overcome the conference to classroom chasm?

Right now, all around the world, many countries have school holidays. Thousands of teachers are spending part of these holidays attending education conferences. Getting inspired, sharing ideas and planning ways to transform their teaching to benefit the learners in their classes.

Fast forward 3 months and how many of these inspiring ideas have actually been implemented? At ICOT last year in Auckland I was inspired greatly by the ideas of Design Thinking from Ewan McIntosh. Yet, back in my school, very little occurred until I changed schools and had more agency to implement these ideas. I spoke to lots of teachers who enjoyed Ewan’s keynote and workshops but know many of these have not implemented the ideas yet at all.

What happens between being inspired at conferences and getting back to the classroom? Is it a crowd-based euphoria that disappears when we leave the conferences? Are the presenters too inspiring so we feel unable to emulate them? Why are ideas disappearing into a chasm to be lost for a year or 2 until we come across them again at another conference?

Do we need to set up critical friend pairings at conferences to check up on how implentation is going? Do we need a day back together 1 month later to discuss any misgivings we now have? Do we need help with pitching our ideas from conferences to senior leaders or influential colleagues?

How might we overcome the conference to classroom chasm?

This post is Day 8 of my Question Quest

Points to Ponder from ICOT Wednesday & Thursday

Some statements and questions to reflect on from the breakouts I attended at ICOT on Wednesday and Thursday

Rose Hipkins

Embodied thinking is intuitive, ‘rational’ decisions are usually after-the-fact justifications
How do you develop students’ intuitive thinking?
Thinking in the spaces between individuals or ideas is a more apt metaphor for the changes afforded by information technologies
We need to push past our urge to stick with people like us. Learn to love difference – then you will learn
Epistemic experiences are moments when we become conscious of something about our knowing

Martin Renton – In the Learning Pit

Moving from clarity to confusion is a positive step in the learning process
No such thing as a bad question. The important part is the reason for asking the question
Get comfortable with silence, it helps us process our thinking
How often do you question to confuse your students

Hana Olds

Active thinking is where creative, critical and caring thinking overlap
Do your inquiries allow for passion, persistence and purpose?
“I don’t want a project, I want something with a purpose”

Rich Allen

Don’t just think differently, act differently
Good teachers are always learning from their students
Lesson plans are hallucinations

Karen Melhuish Spencer

Social networks privilege the individual, online communities privilege the relationship
Do you use social networks to check or challenge your thinking?
What social network has the most effective impact on your teaching? How? Can you prove this?
As educators we are morally obliged to share our practice for the good of all students

2013: the Year of Conferences, Explorations and Journals

It may sound odd but am really keen to get back in the swing of things this year with work. It is already looking like it will be action-packed and I hope that translates meaningfully for my students. It will be year of Conferences, Explorations and Journals.


Conference-wise I am starting my year off next week at the International Conference On Thinking in Wellington. It is packed with internationally renowned speakers such as Edward de Bono and David Perkins (who I am particularly looking forward to) but also local inspirations such as 12 year old Hana Olds, Rose Hipkins from NZCER and Mark Osborne.

I am also really looking forward to Soccon later in the year in Hamilton. This is the conference for Social Sciences teachers in NZ that happens every 2 years. I am looking to take workshops on Guerrilla Geography and potentially Geographic Thinking but more than anything I am looking forward to all the ideas that come up in conversations with people after and in between presentations.

Continue reading