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.


Anonymous said...

Aberdeen's model of Inquiry Learning helped to show where Fairhaven is yet to travel. I was interested to view their model and to see how they had based it around their logo, something we are doing around our own. Thought their individual models in each classroom were excellent and added an individual touch. Certainly showed that it is a journey and one in which the process and journey are as important as the end result.

Goodwood - Very interesting to see the depth and areas of emphasis put into the application. It will be interesting to see how the Te Puke cluster's second application goes.

I found our Kaitoke visit very interesting. Both Chris and Magan shared a great deal about G&T pupils and how they can be catered for, e-learning and the problems, ways of getting best value for least input. The programme Umagin was amazing!!

The principal at Rutherford deserves a medal as do the staff who are trying hard to turn the school around. Interesting that it seemed to be modeled on a secondary model. High powered pamphlets etc. from top down which may or may not filter down through the school. Prefer KISS model myself, felt that concepts were too complex for children.

Thanks Lorraine, I found the trip very informative. I appreciate being able to join in and think you did an awsome job organising the trip. As principals we can become very insular and don't always see the bigger picture. Trips like this help us to see outside our own little box. Thanks.


Lorraine said...

RE: UMAGIN - The creators are working hard towards their next release of UMAJIN, due in time for the ULearn conference at the end of September. As well as some new features there will also be an extended trial for NZ school as they want as many schools as possible to experience UMAJIN. Coming soon are some fun tutorials that help to teach the product and act as a lesson starter for teachers. You are welcome to download the software from the website although Russell and Charlotte suggest that it may be easier to wait for the new release in the next few weeks. The one request that they do have is that each school registers for their trial online, fills in the form and generates their own unique username and password. This is STEP ONE of the free trial process. Schools only need to complete step one and then check their email.

In terms of Pricing... from the website:
- Click on the BUY NOW button
- Click on the [Educational and Volume Licensing] link
- Click on the [Educational Institution within New Zealand] link
>From here you can find a pricing calculator. Simply enter the number of licenses you would like and hit the QUOTE PRICE button.

Bruce L said...

Bruce L ICT said
An amazing trip that also gave me the chance to reflect on our own journey. Thank you for adding these prompts re vision and action plans.I am inspired to continue growing my craft and hopefully encourage my staff to buy into a similar journey of growth and reflection. Thanks Lorraine

Michele North said...

At Aberdeen I was impressed with the understanding the children had about questioning. It was inspiring to see such school-wide emphasis in a big school. The Inquiry model is obviously well established here. The students were really on-task in the classrooms visited, learning intentions were displayed and the teacher was working on developing skills and involving students in an authentic learning experience. I liked the way each staff member had taken the Inquiry model and illustrated it with their own theme, i.e. the soccer field and the forest journey. The staff was friendly and I enjoyed talking in their staffroom over morning tea.

Thanks must go to the Principal and teachers who shared their journey with us.

At Goodwood Jack was very helpful as he generously shared the ins and outs of applying for EHAS. His focus is similar to the idea that we are pursuing so what he shared was particularly relevant.

I found Chris at Kaitoke honest and practical about the way he is catering for gifted and talented students at his school. There seems to be wonderful support from parents who assist with transport for the out of school experiences some of his students become involved in. I would have liked to listened more to Megan about the outcomes of the Gifted and Talented project that she was involved in. The issues she identified about sharing the same vision, the understanding of terminology to develop a learning community are similar to the process we are going through with our ICT contract. One comment really stood out for me that although the children enjoyed on line communication they still asked for face to face contact.

I really felt for the staff at Rutherford who are really focussed on producing young achievers. They were passionate about raising standards, with the focus in the sporting field and visual arts to meet the needs of their students and engage them in the school. The zero tolerance of inappropriate behaviour was definitely being practised as students were very well behaved in the school. I liked the charter focus of Identify, Nurture, Enhance, Achieve, which fits in nicely with the Seven Habits. In the parent handbook the habits are listed in brief. I would like to see the programme in action.

Gabi said...

Just some information to Umajin. To run the software the computers need to have a really good and fast video card. I couldn't get it to work @ Paengaroa, and I don't think our PC's are "old dogs", just the video chip is not supported by the software. I'm in contact with umajin support and they hope to solve the problem, perhaps in the next version? So check first if the video card in your PC's is supported by Umajin, it safe a lot of trouble and time. Here are the video system requirements from the Umajin Webpage:
Supported Video chipsets:
Nvidia : Geforce 2, Geforce 3, Geforce 4, Geforce 5XXX, Geforce 6XXX, Geforce 7XXX
ATI : Radeon 9200, 9250, 9550, 9600, 9800
Intel : Intel 865G (aka Intel Extreme 2)

Unsupported chipsets:
SiS 740
S3 Unichrome
Some Intel Xtreme graphics chipsets

Good luck


Lorraine said...

Paul, it was great to have you share the journey with us and your school would benefit from forming its own ICT Cluster. Fairhaven was in the Tahatai contract some years back I think but would be eligible to form its own cluster, and take on the lead school role.

Lorraine said...

Hi Bruce, Glad yo nejoyed the trip - I did too. Hmmm, would you consider changing the word hopefully to skilfully? Just a suggestion - seems to have more determination in it ;-> Inquiry is an exciting journey but can be a little scary for teachers initially. It is much easier for us to make up the questions that we want the kids to answer, or even simply provide them with the answers. BUT information is continually changing. e.g. How many of us learnt that Pluto was a planet, yet in this last week Pluto has been stripped of this status. A rich understanding of the process involved in inquiry and the difference between information, knowing and understanding will certainly help us all as we seek to learn more. Hopefully the coming sessions on identifying the components of a "powerful learning experience" will help.

Lorraine said...

Michele what a succinct round up of our visits to the four schools. Your comments certainly helped me to realise more from the trip. It was a trip enriched with people doing their best for kids including stepping out of their comfort zones. Reminded me of the quote "Reach for the moon, even if you miss you'll land amongst the stars" - Les Brown

Lorraine said...

Hi Gabi
Thank you for the info on the techie side of Umajin. Could be really frustrating to get carried away with the possibilities and then get stumped because of hardware limitations. Did the software run on the new teacher laptops? Kaitoke were running it on their leased desktop pcs and must have already sussed this out. The Umajin team have recommended that we wait to download the trial version and perhaps this is one of the reasons. It will be great to discuss these aspects with the Umajin team when we see them at ULearn. I have certainly been impressed with the receptive manner of the Umajin team.

Russell said...

Hi Team, I hope you don't mind an outsider posting on your blog… I am posting from the company that develops UMAJIN.

I met Lorraine for a second time at Tauranga last week. I was demonstrating the new version of UMAJIN and she encouraged me to participate on your blog.

UMAJIN software is really trying to push the boundaries of what you can do with your computer, particularly in terms of graphics, interactivity and 3D. However, in trying to do cool things we need a reasonably capable computer. Most machines that have been purchased or upgraded in the last 3 – 4 years work well. I have had good success installing it on almost all teacher laptops.

We have been working really hard over the last 3 months to extend the range of machines that UMAJIN will work on. Our new release will include Macintosh computers and some slower PC’s that we did not previously support.

We have offered an extended FREE trial of the software until the end of the year. This allows you to evaluate the software and confirm that it runs on your school hardware.

I would be delighted to answer any questions or provide any help – please contact me at We are a NZ company attempting to make a world beating educational product. I would be delighted to receive feedback and suggestions on how we can make UMAJIN better.

Come and meet us at ULearn!

Russell Brebner


Our Cluster Journey Together Into New Horizons.