Saturday, August 26, 2006

Our cluster hosted the Regional Dev Day yesterday. This is where the Facilitators and Directors of other ICT Contracts in the Central North Island area come together for a spot of PD themselves. Yesterday's focus was on "Sustainability". Paengaroa hosted the day brilliantly and I am grateful for all they did and the support received from Michele and Bruce, Mel and Vince, and everyone who attended.

If you attended the day and would like to comment and support further discussion, please click the comments link below this posting.
- You can log on as an anonymous poster if you don't want to go through the log on procedure, just adding your name to the bottom of the posting.

Yesterday, we all shared some of our Successful Strategies, and looked at
"What is a Learning Community"
"How do we develop it?"
"What are the barriers?" and
"What do we want to sustain?"
This culminated in the development of Action Plans - "Towards Sustainability"

My ponderings since have been on "Passionate Practitioners". This is something we all want to develop and want to continue beyond the contract. To do this we will need to analyse what it is that switches people on. Susan talked about 'initial reluctants' becoming desperate to learn as much as they can. What a wonderful thing to celebrate. We talked about how this occurred in one case. Wouldn't it be great if the formula could be bottled!

What ingredients make a person become a passionate practitioner through contract initiatives?

What makes a person turn from a reluctant or passive participant to a passionate seeker of understanding, developing their practice to impact on the learning needs of our digital generation?

What makes the paradigm shift from a supplier of information to a facilitator of student inquiry and understanding?

Monday, August 21, 2006

The Draft Curriculum was discussed this morning at our cluster meeting with Beth Dungey. Just sad that some were not able to attend as they really missed out. I found it a very interesting session. Beth walked the talk, listened and discussed the document, sharing her insights having been involved in the trial project with a Putaruru cluster.

This session was very timely as our next milestone requires each of our cluster schools to have had in depth discussions on identifying Powerful Learning and the needs of the 21st century learner. This morning's discussions tie in beautifully as we look at effective pedagogy.

Beth also shared some of the work by Jay McTighe in "Understanding By Design". (He is coming to NZ next year). His work has strong links to planning for Inquiry, where we usually start with the end on mind, working backward as we plan. "What is the key understanding that we want children to gain? How will we know that they have succeeded in this understanding?" You might like to take a look at his work on the net. Looked up the site which provides indicators of Teaching for Understanding and the various roles. See also the rubric on the 6 facets of understanding

At this stage I feel really excited by the new draft and can see how the three booklets: the Draft curriculum, The E-Learning Action Plan and the Schooling Strategy all seem to come together well.

Each school's vision for learning will play a major part and will come alive, as will the partnerships in learning and the development of each school community's individually owned School Curriculum.

Questions were raised re social engineering, the impact on the Negs & Nags, the place of the Treaty etc. We talked about the Yr 7 & 8 teaching of a second language. All led to very interesting discussions.

Hmm, I am still a little unclear re the difference between Values and Principles. Are Principles the outward attitudes while the values are the inwardly held beliefs that promulgate these principles???

Thanks Bruce, Craig and Michele for attending and to Beth for a stimulating morning's work. :-) It was a buzz!

PS - Do our cluster schools know that they can get a free audioconferencing code from the MoE's ICT Help Desk? They can then conference with no cost. Great eh!

- Cheers, Lorraine

Sunday, August 20, 2006

GATE, Inquiry, New Opportunities:

Last Thursday a group traveled to Hamilton visiting Aberdeen School in the morning and Goodwood School in Fencourt in the afternoon. Off then to Wanganui visiting Kaitoke School on Friday morning and Rutherford Intermediate in the afternoon, returning to the Bay late Friday evening.

Aberdeen School had been in an ICT contract during 2002 - 2005 and it was interesting to see the impact that this has had and what has been built upon since. We appreciated the generosity of Murray and his team as they candidly shared their journey. The school has been on a journey into Inquiry Learning, firstly adopting a model, then adapting it as understandings developed and then creating their own school-wide Inquiry Process model. Skills are being taught across the school and a deepening understanding of the various stages is being developed. Our visit was enriched by having the students share with us their own personal understanding of Questioning levels. The school wide model has been developed further allowing its own unique flavour within each classroom. The visuals in each classroom reflect the teacher's own interests. e.g. one class illustrated the process as a soccer field, placing students along the continuum as they all headed for the goal. Another illustrated this with a journey through the Forest of Learning. We visited the school's digital classrooms which led to some interesting discussion as we tried to define the term "digital classroom".

Goodwood School in Fencourt had also been involved in an ICT Contract - some years ago during the first round. Goodwood has recently won an EHSA contract, forming a cluster of 10 local schools, nominating a shared focus. It was their journey in this regard which was of particular interest and we were privileged to glean insights into the cluster vision and direction.
Striking the mid island mountains and their captivating views in the evening sunlight was a magical addition to our trip and after much professional dialogue and reflection on the way down, we discovered Wanganui at around 8 that night.

Thursday morning found us receiving a warm welcome from Chris Gullery, Principal of Kaitoke School, a small rural school on the outskirts of Wanganui. This visit was prompted by a report on the 'net of Chris's investigation to "identify the most effective teaching practices and organisational strategies used to accelerate learning outcomes for gifted and talented students in Wanganui District Schools". See What a highlight this visit was, to hear from both Chris on the facilitation of learning for GATE students and from Megan, the facilitator of the e-learning project trialled in partnership with Massey University. The digital natives involved in the project still hankered for the face to face aspects of learning together. The passion of both Chris and Megan was contagious and again we were privileged to experience the candour and openness offered from their reflection and experience in this journey.

It was at Kaitoke that we dabbled with Umajin. Yep, I had had a play with this software at L @ S in Rotorua in February and was impressed as much with the perceptiveness of its developers as with the trial version of the then unfinished publishing programme. This creative publishing tool is so user friendly and loads of fun. It encourages exploration and creativity. For more details and to download a free 30 day trial click on: Good pricing makes this affordable and well suited to the school environment.

Rutherford Intermediate in Wanganui was our last port of call and we were fortunate to hear and discuss the YAP programme run here. Simon and others shared the work the school is doing in their Young Achievers Programme, enhancing and refining the skills of those students to set them up for success in their chosen field. We are indeed fortunate to have meet with so many passionate practitioners over the past two days.

Our sincere thanks to the Principals and staff of Aberdeen School, Goodwood School, Kaitoke School and Rutherford Intermediate.

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Pam raised the issue of Staff Changes and how they affect a Cluster's direction within a school....

How good it is that you are there helping push the barrow at Maketu, Pam. High staff turn over is certainly a stumbling block for ongoing development and innovation. Changes in Principals during a contract like ours can also have a backward step although this hasn't been the case at all in our cluster fortunately.

For the new members, it takes time to settle in, read the situation and link into an existing vision. That's why our cluster and a school's vision for learning is so important. When the vision is an active work in progress, understood and owned by all, it is easy to merge the new in "like a zip".

The vision is the greater entity, needs to be flagged at the interview stage and again during the process. If you have seen the school's ICT Plan, this is clearly flagged under Staff Capability. Incoming staff can be asked to contribute into the journey to assist the vision being realised.

Would love to hear from people on the following:

- How active is your school’s vision?

- What is it and how was it formed?

- How do you as a learning community discuss it?

- When is it reviewed?


Thursday, August 10, 2006

If we go back to the outset of the cluster, infrastructure was a key issue to the development of the cluster vision.

Great to see your school benefiting from the MoE's infrastructure upgrade, Pam. The foundations are being laid although I guess it never can happen fast enough.

At one time second hand equipment was OK in schools. It depended on the way computers were being used. Some schools bought high end machines and only used the surface features of them. By the time the school moved into the multimedia applications the existing equipment was often outdated. Other schools bought according to use and decided to allow staff professional development to form the basis of future purchases. When the equipment was going to be fully accessed, the need to purchase appeared right. Interesting to note that the most sophisticated computer was put into the secretaries office when their use was often limited to email, and word processing. The power of multimedia in learning pushes the boundaries more and more and those users need the equipment required to support this dimension.

Faulty equipment needs to be weeded from schools. Just like a library full of dull and boring books, holding on to these dinosaurs can become a huge turn off and build a barrier to progress. Teachers understandably get frustrated, become reluctant to use the equipment, and simply switch off! This equipment then becomes a huge hurdle to teacher development and student learning.

Another issue, that of sustainability raises its head. As more interactive whiteboards, laptops and hardware are bought or leased, the question of "how will schools sustain the flow that has begun?" raises its head. Leasing seems the more practical option than purchase and is definitely one I would recommend. Most leases run for three years. Perhaps a two year lease is to be considered as the rate of technological change increases. Who wants a machine that is older than 3 years? Who wants to spend money on repairs and upgrades on machines that have been purchased outright?


Our Cluster Journey Together Into New Horizons.