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

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?

Changing Tack?

I have spent much of this term working and learning in the robotics lab with my students. This includes a Spin Module (90 minutes a week), Big Project (3 hours a week) and 2 My Times (flexitimes at 50 minutes each). Right now, I’m not thinking of being in here as much in future.

To meet the needs of our students who were interested in Robotics I got involved and have benefitted greatly from external support of those far more knowledgeable in this area than I am. But over the last week or so I have begun to question how much of my focus has been on our robotics areas. Because I do not have the skills and knowledge in this area, I am constantly needing to learn more and have found at times that I have not been able to help students as they struggle with certain aspects they are working on. Youtube, Instructables and Arduino tutorials have certainly helped but at times even then I have been flummoxed. So more time being spent (in school and out) learning and curating resources to help me and the students as we progress with their projects.

Of course, this then leads to the critical reflection points of am I adding value for these students? Continue reading

Authentic Challenges

Another full on week at HPSS where I really focused on continuing to make sure the learning was authentic. This was the next step up as I try to continually improve the learning occurring and much of what happened in the week was due to what had occurred the previous week.

The Galileo Educational Network have an awesome inquiry rubric that I regularly refer to. This image below is of the section on Authenticity that I have looked back on whilst reflecting on the weekend:

Galileo Authentic Inquiry Rubric

Galileo Authentic Inquiry Rubric

Continue reading

An Acclamation for the Maker Community

You may have noticed in recent posts that I have been spending a lot of time making and playing with robotics lately. This is a new interest and definitely not something I had any skills in (in fact my partner would gladly tell you about how useless I generally am at stereotypical manly making type skills). I have, however, been learning rapidly and this is due to the awesome help I have been receiving from others.

This post is primarily a thank you to those who have personally helped me and my students but also indirectly to share the awesomeness of the global Maker community who exemplify a culture of helping others. Instead of guarding their inventions and tinkering privately, they share instructions, the code that makes it run, have help forums and openly encourage people to take them and try to improve them. In this manner, the community is self-perpetuating and constantly improving itself.

My interest was initially sparked by seeing and hearing about the tinkering of Mark Osborne and Stephen Lethbridge. Continue reading