Sunday, April 29, 2007


Thanks to Gordon Brune who posted this link in an email, I have downloaded a handy and free spell checking programme that allows you to spell check those text input boxes while in Internet Explorer.

IE SPELL works with Internet Explorer and provides a spell checking tool to use on your web box entries and responses. e.g. blog comments, web mail. It is easy to use and installs easily. To download, click the hyperlink at the start of this paragraph or on this:

Thank you Gordon. It will be a handy tool.

Thursday, April 26, 2007


Hiya - Life is galavanting along and I hope you have had time to enjoy the sunshine. I have had a busy fortnight with meetings, work and a fantastic week long professional learning course. Will share more about that as I get time. However with ANZAC in mind I am wondering if you are looking for digital resources; photos, sound recordings, movies and texts? There are lots of other reasons to use it too.

Check out The National Library of New Zealand Digital Resources Website. You can access it through

This will take you to a list with a brief description of the collections with links to these on the left. Try out a keyword search of Matapihi and Timeframes.

It has many uses to stimulate learning and is a fantastic resource. Well worth bookmarking.

Friday, April 13, 2007


Hope you have all enjoyed the Easter break. Brilliant weather here, time at home, friends and family and always lots to do. I did enjoy the space to spend in the garden, read and catch up on some of those items in the ever growing To Do list.

The holidays have been short lived and the break concluded on Tuesday with a good “think tank” session in Inquiry which filled the whole day. The focus was on Assessment in Inquiry and went much wider as we explored our Philosophies, shared our research and our experiences in working in schools and looked at What is Assessment? Why do it? Types of Assessment, What do we want to Assess in Inquiry and the How of Assessment. Assessment seems to be the focus topic of late. ERO have produced a booklet "Assessment in Primary Schools: A Guide For Parents" June 2006 ISBN:0-478-11188-6. Copies of these can be ordered from

The process we used today was worked well. I could see a similar process used to look at e-Portfolios. Hmm, I feel another think tank coming on.... Thanks Gail and Bernard. I know we all got lots out of this session.

I have been reading and listening to a lot about Assessment - Assessing to learn, Assessing for learning. Yet I am still concerned that these do not fulfill my belief in “Assessment AS Learning”. Assessment it seems is viewed as a teacher task or teacher imposed activity. How does this encourage:
- personalised learning?
- intrinsic motivation in the process?
- our students to become life long learners?

Personalised learning encourages a shift from students as passive recipients to individuals who engage in an active two (or more) way process. Central to P.L . is assessment. If we aim to involve students in the process of learning then it is only natural to include them in assessment processes.

This is one reason why I like Rubrics so much. In a well designed rubric, the assessment process becomes transparent. Students see what is required and measure themselves within it. The next steps are visible. Encouraging their use in self and peer assessment allows all involved to use the process and points to where they need to go next. As students become more familiar with the role of a rubric, their involvement in the making of the rubric, and the assessment criteria becomes even more powerful.

People no matter what age, change themselves more powerfully than having others impose their ideas and expectations. As a parent I could never see the reason why a teacher and parent met to discuss the child’s learning without the child being an active participant in this conversation. Is their involvement not valued? Is it the parent and teachers role to manipulate the learner, accept the accolades on their behalf etc.?

I do not simply want to “train” children, to have them jump through hoops and measure them without their understanding the value and process involved. More powerful than this is to have students able to direct their own learning, to know what they are being assessed on and to have them involved in this process.

It is the process of assessment that is important. If we can equip our children with a clear process coupled with clear understood expectations, their independence in learning, their intrinsic motivation in learning and their development as life long learning is enhanced. Students can develop a scaffold which they can use and transfer to other situations.

In creating your own rubrics,

· Use more than three columns to prevent the gravitation to the centre. I like to use four.

· Put the best performance descriptor on the left hand side and progress across. This leads students to look across and consider the best practice first when selecting their position. Having the rubric laid out in the opposite way discourages the full impact of the best practice criteria as students stop moving across the page when finding their level.

· As you gain confidence, try involving the students in creating a rubric. You can select one and then work back wards. Look at your learning intentions and the success criteria.

· Have students use the rubric for self and peer assessment. Have them use a rubric to assess a task you undertake. Model this process.

Click here to check out the Rubistar site. I think it is one of the best I have come across. Sherry Chrisp introduced it to me. You can search for already made rubrics and use these to inform your own. You can follow the wizard to create your own online rubrics, available then on the site when needed. They can also be printed out.

Thursday, April 12, 2007


As we grapple more and more with personalized learning, learning in the 21st century and the impact of ICTs, the value of the partnership with our learner’s community becomes extremely important.

Our schools are changing. How are we sharing this in our community? Have we forgotten them? Do they still expect learning to be the same as it was when they went to school?

Are “they” an important part of our development? I believe “we” are!

“It takes a community to raise a child” is Old African proverb and one I know to be true. We need to all be engaged in caring for our students learning. What does this look like at your school?

Are parents/whanau actively involved in the learning? Is their input treasured? Or are they relegated to being passive recipients of information regarding their children's learning?

The more I consider it the more I would like to change Homework or Home lInk in terminology and concept. Home link is what we can do to support and value the partnerships in learning. It values what we all have to offer. It includes learning together and can occur at home or at school. It means working together and sharing the responsibility

As we journey forward in our schools, let's not forget our whanau. Let's initiate the home links. Let's have "student led" parent teacher conferences. If we value what we are doing, let’s make it transparent.

"A community is like a ship; everyone ought to be prepared to take the helm"
-Henrik Ibsen

What does “Personalised learning” mean to you?

It is a phrase we are hearing more about at the moment. Click here to check out
Wikipedia’s entry

Looking on the net shows it has been around for a few years now and is often linked to learning for the 21st century. Reading the wikipedia entry is exciting and makes me feel good about what we are doing in the cluster e.g. student blogging systems certainly support these developments.

Personalised learning is a must inquiry as schools consider their practice and future planning.

So what does Personalised Learning mean to me? Hmm… P. L. goes beyond individualized learning and into the depth of ownership in learning. It goes beyond the old cliché of students being actively engaged in learning. Students are involved in the processes involved in learning. Processes are transparent. Students know how they learn, why they are at school and their learning environment is just that! P.L. impacts into all areas of teaching and learning. There is strong emphasis on learning in schools, rather than teaching.

Have a look at your schools vision for learning. How strong is the learning statement within this?
(Do you know it off by heart? Is this vision the focus for all you do? Is it real, regularly considered and revised? Or is it a heading with little substance?)

P.L. includes individual and group learning, with students knowing how they learn and able to discuss the what and, more importantly, the WHY of their learning. Students know and own how their learning will make a difference to themselves and/or those around them. It’s about learners being able to transfer and apply their learning in different situations.

This is sooo exciting!


Our Cluster Journey Together Into New Horizons.