Friday, 18 March 2016

Field Trip to Stonefields

As part of our Digital Friday Immersion classes, the MDTA gathered with 60 other educators from around the Manaiakalani cluster as part of the Manaiakalani School Leaders Study Tour. As it happened, this took place at Stonefields School, my workplace.

For me, the tour was a slightly different experience. As I am blessed to be in that learning environment all the time, I wasn't focusing so much on the logistics of what was going on. Without my 'teacher' hat on, I noticed the focussed students, engaged in their learning yet also really eager to share it with others. I noticed the teachers equally engaged in the rich interactions, and spoke to a few teachers who were bubbling with excitement about the authentic learning being born out of 'Breakthrough'. The last thing which was a highlight for me was the opportunity to see the tamariki that I am with all day, everyday in a different context. I was in awe of their ability to 'step-up' and become leaders, of their obvious humble pride in sharing the great things about their school.

Year 7/8 Learners participating in the Q & A Panel

As well as the physical tour of Stonefields, the leadership team supplied mini tours of their conceptual understandings or their 'meaning making' in regards to certain aspects. My favourite workshop was one on Culture and Collaboration, which briefly touched on/posed questions such as "what makes a teaching team hum and buzz?" "How do we deal with elephants in the room?" and "What is my mental model of conflict and how did that come about?".

A really important point I took away from that workshop was that conflict can be better thought of as an opportunity for growth, an opportunity to do something better or be better at something. That although some conversations are hard to have, having them allows for changes to be made and relationships to grow stronger, evidently through stronger relationships comes better teachers. In essence, if we have conflict in our spaces, be it big or small, we need to have the hard to have conversations so that we are better equipped to teach our learners. Ultimately, we are all teachers because we are individuals who want to be agents of change. It is only through the releasing of the ego can we achieve much much greater outcomes. Below is a short, yet effective and provoking video about individual mindset shared at the Culture and Collaboration workshop. Well worth watching!

Saturday, 12 March 2016

Digital Learning Objects (DLOs)

Today the MDTA Cohort had their first Block course for the Accelerating Learning paper. (9am - 3.30pm on a Saturday) and it wasn't even that bad! In groups, we read a reading about a Learning theory. We then had to create a summary to share with our colleagues. From the summaries of learning theories, we chose one to translate into a unique Digital Learning Object (DLO). Below is our (Myself, Amy and Hannah) translation and application of Siegler's theory of learning in a Basketball context!

Friday, 11 March 2016

Creating to Learn - The importance of creative expression

The pedagogy of Manaiakalani "Learn, Create, Share" for me is quite often thought of as a linear process, as I often hear the words in that order and that order alone. This morning's session reminded me that this is not the case; Dorothy helped to unpack this understanding by asking what opportunities we provided for our students to learn through creation. Within these first few weeks it has been easy to default to 'what are we learning, what can we create to show this learning and how and where can we share it?', when in fact in reality it is far from this linear thought process. In thinking more deeply about what opportunities I provide for learners to engage in learning through creating, I see I have not been as slack at it as I had originally thought. Of course, through the process of creating, learners can consolidate knowledge and gain knowledge or understandings along the way. Overcoming obstacles and reflection, whether through self-reflection or questioning from others, allows individuals to learn during the creation process.

One wondering that I have often had, I think due to the high number of texts read throughout University that emphasise the importance of creative expression in Education for our Maori and Pasifika learners is, is how relevant is this to Pakeha learners in high decile Schools? How significant is this 'creative expression' to these learners? When in fact some research has said that the traditional school system works in favour of the dominant Western culture. Is creative expression part of the traditional school system? (Not my opinion, just a wondering based on what I was fed during Under-grad studies). I guess the fact is that from what I have seen so far, all learners, regardless of their ethnicity or culture, love to create things, so many different things, after having learnt something, they love to create things to show their learning and now that I think about it, they are always learning when they are creating, whether it be content knowledge or new skills.

From here, my next steps are to be mindful of the opportunities I am providing for students to learn through creation, to think outside the box when thinking of 'creative expression' and to start to rewire my brain from seeing learn, create, share as a linear process to a complex, intertwined, cycle.

Friday, 4 March 2016


Today completely changed my perspective of all things technology. Prior to joining the MDTA, using technology in innovative ways was a concept that seemed quite far-fetched. Things like creating QR codes, creating your own site, embedding things using HTML seemed like something only experts would be able to do. Now I see that these things (and a whole universe more) are easily within my grasp when I know what I am looking for, have experts to turn to, and Google at my fingertips!

During class today we experimented with Google Sites and had a go at embedding different kinds of resources on to one page e.g. videos, audio files, images and files (sheets, docs, slides, etc.) Below is a picture of my Sandpit site!

It was tricky at first, but evidently, the more I played around, the easier it got. The picture above is  while I was (and still am) 'in the process' of creating. What's exciting is that there is still so so so so so much to learn. The challenge here is to think about what I am doing with my learners at School that I could do more effectively using Google sites. Up until I now I have been using a site called Blendspace, which is great at creating a one-stop shop for my learners but in using Google Sites, I can keep all the learning in one place, making it more easily accessible for my learners. It also looks more aesthetically pleasing! (personal opinion). I really enjoyed building on my knowledge from todays learning by watching this slightly lengthy (but surprisingly not boring) introduction video to HTML.


Looking forward to next Friday!