Curiosity and Inspiration

Last night I bought, downloaded and read Can Computers Keep Secrets? How a Six-Year-Old’s Curiosity Could Change the World by Tom Barrett. Stemmed by all the questions his 6 year old son asks, Tom then delves into how we could maintain this natural curiosity that is with all youngsters but seems to disappear as we grow up.

I have long wondered at which point do we stop questioning the world like a 6 year old? When do we start to have more anxiety than curiosity?

Loc 176 of 489 on kindle Edition

These questions struck me as both an educator and a parent. Continue reading


Hacking Places Presentation for #TeachMeetNZ

Today I finally took part in a #TeachMeetNZ but at the same time I presented, I was also at my daughter’s swimming lesson! Sonya had asked me to take part previously but I have always found 2pm on a Saturday difficult as it is full on family time for us. This time I thought – could I video my slides ahead of time so it could be shared in that way and Sonya loved the idea!

Here’s the presentation I gave on Hacking Places:

but if you have the time I really recommend that you try to check out the full #TeachMeetNZ so you can see all the talks on Helping students with hearing impairment (@kathyscott25), learning dialogues on Google Docs (@hunch_box), Minecraft (@mrwoodnz), Learning Focused Relationships (@MsBeenz) &  Social Media in MLE (@robclarke) :


HPSS Discovery Day

Yesterday our staff had a day out provoking minds before we plan our modules for next year. We started off at the National Library building in Auckland where we undertook some cross-curricular Guerrilla Geography (or Place Hacking) before moving inside to do some Design Thinking workshops. Lunch was at the Mind Lab in Newmarket before an afternoon Robotics challenge.

It was an awesome day out and will hopefully help everyone hit the planning next week with an adventurous mindset!

For more details on our day – here’s a Storify of tweets sent during our day:

Curiosity and my brain

Today we were lucky enough to have Julia Atkin spend the day with us at Hobsonville Point Secondary School. First of all working on articulating our core learning values and then discussing our results in the Hermann Brain model.

This diagram shows the model that we used with Julia to develop a clearer articulation of our educational values:


Working through this model gave me a clearer picture of why I have seen value in Guerrilla Geography over the last 12 months. Initially I thought this looks really interesting and a fun way to engage students with their learning but I intuitively knew there was more to it. Today I finally drilled down to what is underneath this idea that gives it such value for me.
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A Mindset for Learning

“If you haven’t failed in the classroom lately, you probably aren’t pushing the envelope enough. You are being too safe.” Dave Burgess

This blogpost is all about the word “mindset”. I know this has been around for a while but I first consciously came across the word Mindset at ICOT this year. It seems to have really grown on the world and in my consciousness this year and I see it everywhere now. There are many people out there selling tool kits or strategies that will make you a more effective teacher but I fundamentally believe there is no 1 correct answer for education. By having an open mindset we can make more of a difference.

My teaching mindset at the moment is heavily influenced by the following mindsets that I believe really complement each other to help me approach teaching with the enthusiasm (and hopefully effectiveness) that I do:

– Carol Dweck’s Growth Mindset
– Design Thinking
– Teach Like a PIRATE
– Exploration mindset (heavily influenced here by Dan Raven-Ellison)

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Guerrilla Poetry

April is National Poetry Writing Month in the United States where people are challenged to write a new poem every day of the month (see more about it here). You can also follow peoples efforts on twitter through the hashtag #NaPoWriMo.

I thought I might propose a different challenge for the month. Choose a landscape near you and write a short poem about that landscape. Then publish it in that landscape: paint it, write it on the concrete with chalk, write your poem on paper and stick it up somehow, record it and place an audio player in that area. Just get the poem into the place it is about so it may prompt others to think about the place/landscape in a different way.

So there you have it, a Guerrilla Poetry Challenge for National Poetry Writing Month

Guerrilla Geography as Hacking a Place

Last night I was privileged to have been invited to tell a story at a Live Storytelling event at National Library. There were 5 stories told around the theme of “Over the Edge.” I was invited to speak based upon an Ignite talk I gave last year on Guerrilla Geography. This session was all about oral storytelling and was a great event with bean bags and chairs sat around a fake campfire which created a lovely atmosphere for sharing stories.

What follows is what I wrote to prepare for the evening. The actual story told diverted in places as I got wound up with the story but the general gist was this:

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Intro week activities

The following are some start of year exploration activities that I am integrating into my Introduction to Geography and Social Studies lessons over the first 2 weeks of school this year. Many of these activities were inspired by the Hangout for Geography Awareness Week which focused on exploration.

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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.

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