The Day We Colonised Another Planet in Class

Mountain on Planet Epic: resource to utilise or sacred ground?

Mountain on Planet Epic: resource to utilise or sacred ground?

This post is being jointly written by Danielle and Steve and cross-posted on both of our blogs (you really should check out Danielle’s blog http://missdtheteacher.blogspot.co.nz/ it is awesome). We are co-teaching a Science and Social Studies module called Post-Mortem for the first half of this year. This post is to share a learning experience that we designed to kick off the second term of our course: colonising another planet.
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Co-Teaching in Action

Secondary teachers primarily spend their time teaching their class, in their room, in their own personal way. One of our biggest concerns when starting to teach at Hobsonville Point Secondary School was around how the co-teaching (team teaching, whatever you want to call it) was going to operate. The major positive working in our favour was that while holding concerns, we were all keen to try it out.

This mindset held us well over the first year. We tried things out, worked on our teaching relationships, gave feedback and planned for how to improve our co-teaching. Continue reading

Growth Mindset Activities for Students

There has been a lot of talk about Growth Mindset around the education scene in New Zealand over the past few weeks. Stemmed by the visit of Carol Dweck for a series of conferences in Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. This can obviously apply to both staff and students in schools, and some people have been asking how to introduce Growth Mindset to their students.

An obvious place to start is the TEDx talk by Carol Dweck on the Power of Yet followed by a discussion with the class.:

Here are a couple of activities that I have done with my Learning Hub during Term 1 on Growth Mindset: Continue reading

Making Learning Visible at Stonefields

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Yesterday Di, Kylee and I had the privilege of visiting Stonefields School for a couple of hours. Stonefields have a great reputation for making learning visible and as I blogged about a couple of weeks ago, our team have a focus on developing the usage of our common learning language at HPSS. This post will cover the major takeaways for me from this visit – Sharing progression, seamless use of learning process and learner qualities, vision/leadership, familiar tensions and a collaborative future. Hopefully it will also encapsulate how inspiring Sarah Martin and her team are.

Sharing Progression

Students have Learning Progression documents for Mathematics, Reading, Writing and the Stonefields Learner Qualities. These documents break the curriculum own into student-friendly language and demonstrate what all students need to understand as they progress through the school. One awesome student sharing his progressions with us described them as a learning bucket list. Continue reading

Aligning the Scenius

image via @therealbanksy

image via @therealbanksy

This last week at Hobsonville Point Secondary School has felt to me like we are shooting out the end of that image on the right. Suddenly all kinds of things are aligning and we are shooting forward in our latest iteration.

Our Specialised Learning Leader team has a focus on visible thinking and learning. For us that means seeing explicit use of the learning design language in what teachers are using and saying day to day in class. To help this along, a couple of us (Kylee and I) have it as our focus for our 30 Day Sprint. This awesome on 2 levels for me. 1) I see the use of this language as incredibly empowering for our learners. 2) Utilising 30 day sprints alongside 90 day team goals is giving our team a renewed focus this year and has helped us get into that Start-Up frame of mind that served us so well when creating the original structures for our school in 2013.

Friday morning’s PD session saw a focus on 2 things: Setting our goals for the year and planning our Teaching as Inquiry. Our 3 personal professional goals had to align with the school principles: Continue reading

Getting Strategic With Goals

“That was great. I have never thought that deeply about my goals before.”

Hearing this from a normally quite cynical Year 10 boy was a great end to a session I ran yesterday. Our Taheretikitiki community is focusing on the Hobsonville Habit of Purposeful this week and it was my turn to run the community activity. Being early in the year, many of the Hubs have been developing goals for the year so the focus of the session was to develop strategies that would help them reach their goals.

Whiteboard notes that will make sense if you keep reading!

Whiteboard notes that will make sense if you keep reading!

The image above is the whiteboard notes from our Goal session and show the steps that we went through. The steps above the green line happened as a whole community (~79 students) and the last 3 steps were back in their hubs (groups of 11-12). Continue reading

MLP not MLE

This week I have been in Christchurch as part of our efellows programme. Our time was split between working on our research; provocations from Core staff such as Keryn Davis  (on power of play and student questions) and Derek Wenmoth (returning to the why and sharing books that are at the core of his beliefs to get us thinking of our core beliefs); and getting the chance to visit some schools in the area.

The schools that we were privileged to visit were Breens Intermediate and Te Pa o Rakaihautu. There were 2 really key points that I took from these visits: 1) seeing what it looks like when a shared vision is in action and 2) what MLE can look like in traditional classrooms. What they showed together was that modern learning environments is a complete misnomer, it is about modern learning practices. Continue reading

Transformation and Discomfort

There is a lot of talk about transforming education or transforming schools these days. Many of the ideas or initiatives linked with this though leave me wondering whether we really understand the challenge we face to transform education in New Zealand. Many of the initiatives I have discussed with others lately are based around STEM and/or digital technologies, so that will be the slant of this post. All of these initiatives are truly innovative and are having great outcomes for students and teachers, but I wonder is it enough and are they focused on the right things?

In our experience here forming Hobsonville Point Secondary School, the hardest thing about change is the discomfort that occurs. This was also backed up in EdJourney where Grant Lichtman says that change is not hard, change is uncomfortable. To me, none of the innovations and initiatives trying to bring about change are really addressing this discomfort well. Continue reading

Shattering the Echo Chamber

For some time I have spoken about the value of reaching outside your echo chamber to ensure you keep growing. At Hobsonville Point Secondary School we have been living in a privileged bubble with unheard of resources of time and space as we got started. Claire Amos realised the danger of only listening to those with similar views early on and kept making a point for us to keep challenging ourselves.

I regularly try to read blogs and books that will push my thinking forward and have tried to break out of the educational echo chamber that is my online and face to face PLN. What this weekend has just proven to me, however, is that I have merely dipped out of my echo chamber every now and then.

This weekend, I completely shattered my echo chamber. Kiwi Foo is an invite only unconference of people from across many different fields and sectors. From Friday evening through to Sunday afternoon I was with over 150 of the most intelligent people I have ever met. The workshops ranged from specific topics such as Conspiracy Theories of Aotearoa (you really should follow Matthew Dentith) to wider ideas such as how to make the most of conferences or if NZ had an aim, what would it be? These workshops stretched my brain but it was the discussions in between that completely blew my brain.

CC image from Prairie Kittin that matches my brain at Kiwi Foo

CC image from Prairie Kittin that matches my brain at Kiwi Foo

Discussing:

  • Design Thinking with Start Up investors, major corporates and social change innovators;
  • education with Researchers that I have read for years, Principals and teachers that I have either connected with online or not ever met before, engineers, bankers, scientists and entrepreneurs;
  • ethics with journalists, professors and social enterprise experts
  • meaningful societal change with politicians, designers, web developers, festival organisers and entrepreneurs

meant that my brain was pushed incredibly hard and it is taking me a few days to really process what happened over the weekend. To those who I chatted with, made quasi-plans with, ate next to, swam with or played Werewolf with: Thank You!

To Nat and Jenine that make the incredible world of Kiwi Foo occur, thank you for truly shattering my echo chamber. I will not be going back to a mere dabble in outside ideas. I am now going to be actively seeking voices from within education that challenge my ideas and many, many voices from outside education to see what we can learn from each other.

p.s. written in 28 minutes for #28daysofwriting so excuse my still mind fuddled ramble