I Wonder What Happens If…?

Day 3 of my Questioning Quest belongs to a question from 2 of my Robotics students this afternoon.

They had been developing their code, testing the robot and making adjustments to improve its performance. Next thing I see their Tank Robot from Mind Kits no longer has its tracks on it as they did their next round of testing.

Distracted from helping another group I walked over asking what was going on. Their reply stopped me in my tracks:

We were just wondering what would happen if we took off the tracks

I laughed and told them what a perfect reply it was, threw them a few more questions: What happened? Why do you think that happened? etc and then left them to their ponderings.

I have written before about valuing and developing curiosity (prompted by this awesome book by Tom Barrett) and it was awesome to see it truly occurring in action this afternoon.

It did make me think though, when was the last time I wondered out loud in front of students to model my curiosity?

When was the last time you wondered with/in front of students?


How do you know that your school structure is working for this year’s students?

Our school structures are different than other NZ secondary schools. We have no subject departments, our courses are organised differently and our timetable looks different than most:

HPSS Timetable

HPSS Timetable

A question we get often is how do we know that this is better than traditional school structures? My answer: we don’t YET. Our principal Maurie recently turned this around on the questioner by asking how he knew that his school’s system was working for that year’s students. Not last year’s students but the group in your classes right now. The fact is none of us can answer this without putting clones of students into 2 different systems so that you have a consistent base to start from.

We are collecting lots of data and talking regularly with students about evidencing their learning. Our students can tell you exactly what their curriculum coverage is like after 2 terms and have used this data to inform their Term 3 module choices. We are doing our best to start developing a tool so teachers, parents and students can easily check progress against the NZC and hope to have it up and running soon.

The next step I want to see stems from this awesome post by Bo Adams from Mount Vernon Presbyterian School. In it he outlines how they are using Learning Walks and Instructional Rounds to gather data and study their own school.

How do you know that your school structure is working for this year’s students?


This post is Day 2 of my Questioning Quest (even if I completely blew the 60 word target…)

How Might We Best Manage the Tension Between Personalisation And Curriculum Coverage?

Day 1 of my Questioning Quest, is a question constantly in my mind this year.

I truly believe the tension between personalisation and curriculum coverage can cause amazing creativity to occur in learning. Our vision of Personalised Learning must also ensure students have the required skills and understandings to succeed as seniors. To do so we are currently developing tools and checks to evaluate student coverage and progress amongst the high level of choice students have in their modules.

Many schools are investigating personalisation as a future focused curriculum or modern learning practice. How do you negotiate this tension?

My Questioning Quest

It’s time to set myself a challenge. I have been reading A More Beautiful Question by Warren Berger (which I highly recommend) and have been struck by the fact that to develop questioning in students we need to model how we use questioning.

I then read this great post by Bo Adams which asks some fantastic What If questions about school structures and systems. Inspired by this I started to think that I could emulate Philippa Nicoll Antipas100 Days of Learning by asking a question every day. Continue reading