Thursday, March 17, 2016

New Zealand Curriculum Implementation - Are we there yet?

On Tuesday and Wednesday this week I had the utter privilege to be invited to participate in a Ministry of Education New Zealand Curriculum Think Tank. Two days, 25 positive, proactive agentic and action orientated curriculum leaders from across the country came together to consider how NZC implementation might be reinvigorated. Interestingly, I couldn't help but chuckle about how an article I wrote (as guest editor of English in Aotearoa) six years ago sort of captured the challenges we discussed.

English in Aotearoa Editorial – What new curriculum?

By Claire Amos

In August 2009 The Education Gazette spoke to New Zealand Curriculum project manager Chris Arcus, to find out what schools needed to know about the NZC at this stage. When asked where schools need to be by February 2010 his answer was this, “All schools need to do a couple of things – they need to design and implement a school curriculum and they need to teach using an evidence based inquiry cycle that informs what they do and monitors the impact of those decisions.” 

It is nearly a year on since that statement was made and many of us have been “implementing” the NZC for some time now. Whilst we might feel we have been very busy implementing, how well and how authentically we are doing so is hard to measure. 

In the junior school, implementation may have involved a review and maybe even a redesign of Junior English programmes. It may have included consideration and even integration of values and/or key competencies, for others it might simply have taken the form of adopting unit planner templates that incorporate the language of the NZC. Then along came the aligned Achievement Standards -
galloping on horse back over the educational horizon to rescue our senior school. Out with the old standards, in with new, and hey presto, the NZC will be magically implemented...or will it? Are our students even aware of any change, or are they asking – what new curriculum?

Okay, so this is an unfair and rash summary of our many and varied approaches to implementing the NZC. It does, however, raise some very genuine issues around approaches to implementation and in particular the differing approaches we tend to adopt when looking to integrate the NZC into the junior school versus the senior school. With national qualifications generally out of the picture in Year 9 and Year 10 it would seem we are more likely to take a “principled” approach to NZC implementation. It is almost as if the lack of formal national assessment frees us to focus on the “front end” of the NZC. Without NCEA in the picture we can allow principles, values and key competencies to come into focus and in some cases even form a structure or framework for our programme design. The implementation of the NZC in the junior school, it would seem, is more likely to be explicit, with the values and key competencies being highlighted in the classroom, being referred to by the students and in some cases even being assessed and reported on.

However when we hit Year 11 and NCEA comes trotting into view, an interesting thing happens. The “front end” of the NZC seems to diminish or in some cases even disappear from the picture altogether. Instead NCEA now provides the framework and structure for our programme design. Achievement Standards (or a combination there of) replace values and key competencies. Whilst this is a rather harsh generalisation, when it comes to senior programme design it is hard to argue the fact that assessment comes to the forefront and the principles of the NZC (values and competencies) seem to be thrust to the background or erased altogether. You may argue that the “front end” of the NZC is still implicit in your planning. But is it? Really?

Attitudes and approaches to NZC implementation could be seen as falling into four areas, or what I refer to as the quartiles of curriculum implementation. Consider any one course that you teach. Would you describe your approach to implementation as explicit or implicit? Have you focused on the “front end” or the “back end” of the NZC document? Have you considered all aspects of the NZC in both your junior and senior programmes? 

So what is the right approach? Is there even a “right” approach? I guess only time will tell.

But of course, things have changed. Or have they?

So seven years on from implementation, where are we?

Firstly, the document itself has stood the test of time. The NZC document remains a world leader in future-focused, creative, innovative and delightfully permissive curriculum design. It balances the what Jane Gilbert labelled as the Traditionalist (Knowledge) with the Progressivist (student centred), i.e. the stuff at the back (learning areas and achievement objectives) is offset by the brilliant stuff at the front (key competencies, principles, pedagogy etc). In many ways we have made excellent progress.

However my key concern after listening to a number of awesome educators who have coherently implemented the curriculum is, I believe, we have a situation. A major situation.

More precisely, IMO, we are have a gaping freakin' chasm.

On one hand we have many educators and schools who have indeed implemented the curriculum coherently. These leaders are what I would describe as truely ethical school leaders. School leaders driven by a moral purpose who have determined that they would address the whole curriculum, even when they may feel that the government really only demands them to deliver National Standards and/or NCEA Level Two results. Leaders such as my own, Maurie Abraham, leading a reimagining of the secondary experience at HPSS, Barbara Cavanagh exemplifying the power of Impact Projects at ASHS, Sheryll Ofner who helped Selwyn College become 'SELWISE', Sarah Martin of Stonefields School and Russell Burt leading into the future at Pt England School. This list goes on, each and every leader I have worked with other the last two days had "it" in spades. A desire to genuinely put the needs of the learner ahead of the seemingly overwhelming demand for data, data, data and results.

On the other hand, we have the rest. The schools and leaders who have stayed with 'traditionalist' approaches and have either addressed the 'progressivist' stuff through lip service...or not at all. These are the schools who are either so weighed down by the demands of meeting achievement targets, they can't see past them (these people need our support), or more infuriating we have the oft described "top schools" who meet the achievement targets with ease and seem to coast along resting on the laurels of a high decile rating, bulging school roll and top of leaderboard/Metro magazine placing. And the worst thing is, there seems be little challenging their *hands clasped behind head, feet up on the desk* position. Goddam people. That is bloody disappointing.

So what can we do?

Many ideas were discussed and shared over the last two days. Note - not everyone may view the situation quite as I do. People agreed on one thing though - our curriculum is kickass. Let's just ensure we make the most of it.

Many suggested the need to amplify and share the success stories.

School leaders were continuously seen as the solution...and the problem. Ethical, proactive leaders are doing it. Others are not. How do we address this?

There was discussion about the need to address Principal appointment processes - self-managing schools make their own appointments. This means Boards of Trustees (who we must remember are simply a group of interested parents) are entrusted to appoint their leaders. Do they understand what a future focused leader looks like? Or do they look to the past, to the leader that they looked up to in a different time, thereby perpetuating an industrial model of leadership? Do we need to ensure there is a mechanism that ensures an educational expert is involved?

Another issue raised was the lack of Principal support and development. Do we need an apprenticeship model or something ongoing that looks beyond the First-time Principals Programme? What happens after that?

What about Principal appraisal? Does there need to be something that is nationally managed to ensure a consistent standard and make it possible for intervention and support to be more effectively introduced? Forget the National Aspiring Principals Programme, maybe we need the National Appraisal of Principals Project instead?

Do we need more specific standards for Principals? Standards that clearly demonstrate the 'principles in practice' required to implement a coherent future-focused, localised curriculum in every school.

And what about a Curriculum Leaders Institute that recognise Master Educators, think the educational equivalent of a Master Builders guild. Giving a recognised status to those leading the way. 

One thing that everyone agreed on, was the need to (re)start a national conversation. The NZC, not National Standards, NCEA or decile ratings, the purpose of the curriculum needs to be at the heart of a robust national conversation. Are we there yet? If not, why not? And what are going to do to rectify the situation? Here's hoping, if nothing else, this excellent NZC think tank is the beginning of that...and much much more.

Thank you to the MoE for an excellent couple of days.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Dr Jane Hunter - Turning High Possibility Classrooms into High Possibility Schools #futureschools

Dr Jane Hunter speaking at Future Schools
What's happening in some Australian Schools right now?

There are key issues that we need to be thinking about. The place of STEM? Place of professional learning. Disengaged students, particularly in high school. Radicalisation in schools. The SAFE schools policy. This is the context in which we are working.

The research project was qualitative

  • 4 teachers in four schools
  • Had to meet exemplary criteria
  • No previous studies like this
  • Data gathered over two years

What did research tell us about teacher's knowledge of technology enhanced learning in classrooms?

All were all early adopters of technology and considered exemplary in their use of technology.

The four teachers

  • Gabby - had interactive whiteboard, some desktops, iPads and her iPhone. Not one to one. 
  • Gina - worked for IBM prior to coming into teaching. Used a laptop, digital cameras, a maker. She believed it was important to teach coding because it taught you how to think. 
  • Nina - she had worked with Seymour Papert, she was in a one-to-one class. she wasn't a fan of interactive whiteboard. Used desktop sharing to show what each other worked on. Used QUEST - QUestion, Explain, Share Together. She was using an inquiry model. 
  • Kitty - Was all about experiential learning. 
Hunter then talked about how each example of exemplary practice fitted within the TPACK framework where Technological, Pedagogical and Content and Knowledge came together.

TPACK Framework

The use of technology creates a dilemma for teachers
  • Who is in charge? 
  • Getting into the flow...letting go and allowing students to get into flow.
These practitioners all saw technology integration enabling:
  • Theory
  • Creativity
  • Public Learning
  • Life preparation
  • Contextual accomodations
Students we "in task" rather than "on task".

What are the research findings important for teaching and learning in schools in 2016?

These case studies are highly motivational.

It is a study from teacher's perspectives.

This work strikes me as an excellent study of the power of technology to support learner agency - a topic very close to my heart!

Check out Jane's Edutopia blogpost on the topic here.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Claire Amos - Learner Agency - More than just a buzzword #futureschools

This is the closest I can get to blogging my own presentation, a repost from Semtember 2015 - the original post that inspired today's presentation.

Admittedly, even I'm impressed at the litany of edu buzzwords I manage to ram into one video here. When I first watched this, I couldn't help but imagine Tom Barrett poised with his Buzzword Bingo card and a kind but cruel twinkle in his eye. ;) And indeed I got royally roasted by Steve Mouldey, particularly when I managed to define one buzzword with another - did you know learner agency is really about student efficacy? Well now you do.

But joking aside, Learner Agency is bloody important.

So what does Learner Agency actually mean. The way I define it is the idea that the learner has a sense of ownership and control over their own learning. The word 'agency' is defined as "action or intervention producing a particular effect", so I guess if we apply this to the learner, it means they engage in a particular action or trial an intervention which then produces a particular effect. In the context of a school this might involve students taking action, whether it be through reading, researching, discussing, debating, experimenting, making or tinkering and as a result, gain (through their own efforts) new understanding and new learnings. This being a shift from the notion of teachers, teaching at the student and fundamentally providing all of the knowledge and content which they then transfer to the the empty vessel.

Of course this notion is not new, in fact, it's positively ancient. I sometimes think Socrates must be turning in his grave.

So if this notion has been bandied about since the the time of Socrates, why the hell are we considering it as cutting edge now? I'm guessing the honest answer is that education started off pretty sweet, then got a bit crap in the last 100 years or so.

Public schooling as we know it appears to be have been formed or at least heavily influenced by the reforms introduced by The Committee of Ten, a group of US educators who called for the standardisation of the secondary curriculum. They recommended 12 years of education and a range of subjects or learning areas that have remained, for the most part freakishly unchanged (remember, this was a 120 years ago!!!). They also recommended that "...every subject which is taught at all in a secondary school should be taught in the same way and to the same extent to every pupil so long as he pursues it, no matter what the probable destination of the pupil may be, or at what point his education is to cease." [4]  I do wonder if it recommendations such as this that resulted in learners falling victim to the generations of well meaning educators developing well honed teacher agency, attempting to produce similar outcomes for all learners by delivering same size, one size fits all learning regardless of learner strengths, weaknesses, interests or career path.

Even in modern times, the notion of standardised testing has the unintended effect of producing standardised teaching. To ensure that teaching remains standardised, learners must not interfere! I actually have no issue with standardised testing or even standards. It's actually our notion that to meet common goals, we need to get there through common means that is the issue.

If the world around us wasn't changing so rapidly, we might have got away with sticking our heads in the sand and believing (like certain schools still do) that effective education means little, if any, learner agency and whole lot of control and teacher centred pedagogy.  Don't get me wrong, there is still a place for direct instruction and even rote learning, but if you are limiting yourself to such practice, no matter how awesomely charismatic you might be, you are doing your students a massive disservice.

Firstly there is the issue that students no longer need you or I to access knowledge and expertise. Once upon a time you may have got away with little learner agency because they (the students) had few if any other ways to learn. I once worked with a teacher that claimed that school was like the dentist, that students simply had to suck it up and do what was good for them. I'm sorry lady, but you need to wake up and smell the laughing gas. Students no longer necessarily need us to learn, if learning is something they have to suffer through they will look elsewhere. However, they do need us to know how to learn more effectively and to curate what skills may be good to learn and what content might be useful to know in the future.

Secondly there is the reality that we are preparing learners for a different world than we were in 1892. We are no longer producing compliant workers for an industrial workplace where basic writing, reading and arithmetic and learned compliance was the key to success. In fact we don't actually know what we are preparing them for. We are almost certainly preparing them for multiple careers, more casual, informal work and/or self-employment. This calls for a broader set of skills. Yes, the three Rs are still incredibly important, but now the ability for young people to self-manage, learn to learn and then re-learn and adapt is going to be a basic need for survival. Complex problem solving, creative thinking and risk-taking are undoubtedly going to be the key ingredients for success. I mean look at the list Forbes produced as The 10 Skills Employers Most Want in 2015 Graduates
  1. Ability to work in a team structure
  2. Ability to make decisions and solve problems (tie)
  3. Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization
  4. Ability to plan, organize and prioritize work
  5. Ability to obtain and process information
  6. Ability to analyze quantitative data
  7. Technical knowledge related to the job
  8. Proficiency with computer software programs
  9. Ability to create and/or edit written reports
  10. Ability to sell and influence others
These are not skills developed in a teacher centred learning environment. And who know what the graduates of 2025 and beyond may need. Whilst I do don't have a crystal ball, I am guessing agency and efficacy will be even more important than ever.

So what are 10 ways you might provide Learner Agency in your classroom or school?
  1. Introduce one to one devices or BYOD and actually give students the freedom to use technology in a variety of ways - not just a glorified exercise or text book. There is no question - all students having access to a browser is incredibly liberating if you just shut up and get of the way and let them go explore and actually use more than just the latest app or platform you've stumbled upon. Technology is not actually about improving grades, it's actually about improving agency (and hopefully greater agency should then result in better outcomes).
  2. Give students choice about context or topic where possible.
  3. Give students choice about how the record or process their learning - paper & pen, written notes, images or voice recording.
  4. Give students choice about how they evidence their learning - let them choose whether evidence is verbal, visual or oral (or a combination of all three)
  5. Give students choice about how and where they learn - provide an online platform with 24/7 access to clear learning outcomes, prompts, support and challenges.
  6. Provide students with a platform or space for online discussion about their learning that doesn't rely on you.
  7. Give students time and space to work independently - yes sometimes they will waste time, get distracted and frustrated - but so do we! And how are you going to bloody well learn to to learn for yourself without being given the opportunity to do so. as an aside - it always cracks me up when schools wonder why Year 13 students don't cope with "free periods" when we have barely given them a "free moment" in the 12 years prior. 
  8. Allow time for independent inquiry, where students have time and space to seek out and create new understanding.
  9. Where possible let them personalise inquiry to give them even greater ownership - do those students really need to explore the same topic, book, period or place? And do they need to all present it the same way (see #4)
  10. Give students a choice of classes or modules or if this isn't possible in your present environment, at least give them the opportunity to co-construct the course they are in - even in a school where you have to present some sort of year plan, you can still hack that plan....if there is one benefit of a non-MLE environment you can usually get away with being as creative as you blooming well like in the privacy of your own classroom. 
This list is not exhaustive. Would love to hear how you develop/enable/encourage learner agency in classroom or school. 

Oops. Once again what I intended to be a pithy reflection has turned into a ramble. See learner agency isn't just a buzzword, it's a bloody great ramble!

Ayesha Khanna - Externships: Why Partnerships between corporations and schools is the nest way to teach STEM #futureschools

Ayesha Khanna speaking at Future Schools
Khanna began by talking about the future of work. 47% of jobs will be automated.

Khanna is the Co-Founder and CEO of The Keys Academy and innovative enrichment hub who champions the concept of "externships" which allow secondary students to apply their learning to 21st century industries.

Our new colleagues and competitors are robots.

Our new tools are becoming increasing sophisticated and are reducing in cost.

I am not interested technology, I am interested in giving young people creative confidence. I LOVE this quote. Consider it stolen and appropriated.

Our new jobs are going to involve wearable technology and virtual reality.

We are going to live differently. Khanna gave the example of designer babies.

How we work will be different we are going to see "the rise of the connected freelancer" (another goody - thanks Ayesha!).

Telepresence is going to become increasingly normal.

Smart nano-workers. For example 'HourlyNerd' where you can pitch projects to freelance projects around the world.

We also face a future where cyborgs will become a reality and death is regarded as an illness or problem that can be solved.

Consider the driverless car or driverless trucks, how many people are impacted as a result of this, how many people lose jobs?

Khanna then spoke of John Seely Brown's concepts of homo sapien, homo faber and homo ludens. I need to get my head around this, but in the mean time here's an explanation I found - thanks Google.
Khanna then talked of her concept of "externships" rather than students going in to a company and businesses not knowing what they are doing, students instead tackle a real problem that the company is tackling and students work on this outside of the company. Students still have to understand, deeply, the constraints of the company and the work on coming up with solutions. Another freakin' awesome idea. Mental note - appropriate this idea. Now.

This makes so much sense. They may not solve the problem, but they are exposed to the market, they develop an understanding of business and engage in authentic learning and genuine problem solving. What a bloody good example of win win!

Watch our Larry Rosenstock, I think I have a new educrush.

The are so many parallels between The Keys Academy and The Mind Lab, I love that Khanna even makes the same claim as Frances Valintine - these spaces only need to exist for a period of time. When schools catch up, they won't be needed.

I suspect it may take a little while to catch up with awesome women.

June Wall & Jonathon Mascorella - Designing Learning Spaces - putting the cart before the horse #futureschools

June Wall presenting at Future School
Learning environments can be defined as a set of physical and digital locations, context and cultures in which students learn.

Wall argues that environment IS important as it can shape how we behave and learn within it. She talks about the five cases - the zero case, the digital case, the side by side case, the embedded case and the classical case. Couldn't quite capture the meaning of each, but she concluded that the embedded case.

Found this explanation

Learning environments can be defined as the set of physical and digital locations, contexts and cultures in which students learn. Five typical cases of learning environments can be distinguished with respect to their relation to digital devices:

1. The zero case: there are no relevant physical or digital relevant stimuli in the environment of a person. The cognitive representations of the person can be formed rather independent of the outside world: thinking, dreaming, visualising something based on memory and creativity processes. In this case there is an internally stimulated representation of the learning environment.

2. The digital case: when the physical environment includes digital learning devices, but does not provide relevant non-digital stimuli to the user. For instance in a quiet study room when using a simulation program. The representation of the learning environment can dominantly be influenced by the digital device(s), e.g. by presenting a virtual reality world, a serious game, a virtual classroom or a (digital) book. The cognitive representations that are stimulated by the digital device can result in learning processes. In this case there is a digital stimulated representation of the learning environment.

3. The embedded case: the physical environment provides relevant stimuli to the user and the digital devices are adding, augmenting information to enrich the cognitive representation. In this case there is a combined, partly digital, partly physical stimulated representation of the learning environment.

4. The side-by-side case: the digital devices are added to a physical environment to support additional learning functions such as information, support, tests and feedback, but the digital devices are ignorant of the actual physical environment. All information about the physical environment should be added to the device by the user. For example when students are presented with tasks to execute in their physical environment, but they need to input the results to the digital device themselves. In this case the user’s representation of the learning environment is fragmented: the physical parts and the digital parts.

5. The classical case: the physical environment provides relevant stimuli, and there are no additional digital relevant signals. This is ‘old school’ situation where humans are interacting and learning without the help of any digital device. In this case there is a representation of the learning environment by the user that is stimulated by the physical environment.


Therefore the ideal according Wall is: 

The embedded case: the physical environment provides relevant stimuli to the user and the digital devices are adding, augmenting information to enrich the cognitive representation. In this case there is a combined, partly digital, partly physical stimulated representation of the learning environment.

This makes sense to me, I'd call this a well integrated blended learning space. 

At this point Mascorella took over. 

What do we want the students to achieve in this space?
What do the students want to achieve in this space?
What do the teachers want to achieve in this space?

Educators and experts often design these spaces in isolation. 

This reminded me of Chris Bradbeer's blogpost about the process where student voice contributed to the Stonefield Schools second build. 

Mascorella talked of the need for the designers to start with the needs of the learners, to start with end in mind. 

He also talks about the need to teach the teachers how to use the space. 

Have stopped processing. Brain is now near to overflowing. Which doesn't bode well for my near. graveyard shift at 4pm!

Some good learning here at #futureschools. 

Thanks for a great Day One. 

Stephen Lethbridge - The Race to Makerspace #futureschools

Stephen Lethbridge presenting at Future Schools
After warming up the crowd with a few Dad jokes like only Lethbridge can. He then began the session with a moments silence and this quote:

“So the urgent drives out the important; the future goes largely unexplored; and the capacity to act, rather than the capacity to think and imagine becomes the sole measure for leadership.”

- Gary Hamel and C. K. Prahalad: "Competing for the Future"

What is the proliferation of Makerspaces doing? is it a case of a good idea being scaled up and watered down? Is it keeping up with Joneses? He then talked about the renaming of Woodwork to Hard Technology, the change from Cooking to Food Technology. But has anything really changed??

He also challenged the notion of even having a dedicated space. Or that making can only happen in a certain space or in a certain class. He talked about us needing to consider the one important space - the mind and the idea that being a maker  is about having a "maker mindset".

He also talked about the importance of open source software as we need to be able to share.

Lethbridge talked about how then maker movement is born out of the Constructivism movement.

As Lethbridge stated, we are kidding ourselves if we think the tools at the expo are going to change anything, it's going to take a change in mindset. Biggest impact is going to be changing mental models.

But let's face it, Kimberly says it best. ;-)

Maker Culture from EDtalks on Vimeo.

As Lethbridge quite rightly states, you don't need a space to this.

Provocation based learning - I like this idea Lethbridge. As he states, teachers shouldn't have all the answers. There's a lot of unlearning for our adults to do.

We need to be talking about the systemic structures that help us to grow the mindset.

At Taupaki they have the following enabling systemic structure.

Systemic Structure #1 - Make Club
@MakeClub_NZ where kids can come as long as the adults come along, thereby educating the parents. As he states, a space is great, but it doesn't need to be a special space. It's run as an iterative model. There's only one question - what are you making? The essence of Make Club is an apprenticeship. If you don't know what to do in Make Club, you find someone who can teach you.

Systemic Structure #2 - Coaching and Co-teaching
Sharing expertise and tapping into teacher passions. How can you tap into the teachers passion and introduce tech that way. E.g A teacher who is passionate about Art might be introduced to tech and making through binary art.

Lethbridge talked about his role as role model, if he wants to teachers to have courage, he needs to lead mistake maker. Show that it is safe to try and fail.

Leaders need to stay connected. Keep current, keep learning. Follow hashtags. If you don't do it, give resourcing and license for others to do this. Are you still growing your own capacity.

He ended with encouraging people to use the hashtag #makeanywhere

Darren Cox - Developing a School Culture of Professional Learning #futureschools

Darren Cox presenting at Future Schools
Well this is a topic close to my heart.

This guy is loud and fast - a good thing to note as I can be exactly the same and I'm speaking in two hours time. Must not get too shouty. Must not get too shouty. Must not get too shouty.

He began by asking us why we became a teacher. He shared his story, what made him become a teacher and thanked the people who supported him along the way. Cox started teaching at 18 and became an Assistant Principal at 25, working with a lady with a drinking problem. He paused. This was a leadership opportunity for him.

As a leader, do we have an aspiring vision, are we empowering the students and tapping into what motivates them? Everything rises and falls on Leadership. You cannot lead people you are righting off - good statement. You need to like and believe the people you are leading. We need to view our staff as talent with capabilities that we need to tap into.

Without vision people perish. You need a long range vision - it helps in times of short term failures. It keeps people inspired and motivated. People are called to the vision and have a shared sense of ownership. Vision is caught not taught. It needs to alive and infectious. Calling to that preferred future. Students, staff and parents need to know that this what we are all about. Vision helps motivate highly effective people.

Culture. We need to name and identify our culture. Cox spoke of their four cultural values. You need to name the cultural values and identify the behavioural indicators that go with it. Staff need to hold each other accountable. You don't need to be the boss to deal with this, the teacher next door can call them on it -it can be a conversation, not a confrontation (this guy gives good one liners!). His four cultural values: unity through respectful relationships, integrity and honesty of character, supportive collaborative relationships and continuous improvement of practice. Every staff interaction either builds or busts culture.

Once you shirk from one of your leadership challenges you are on a slippery slope. You cannot give up on challenging staff members. He then talked about their processes - regular observations, personal professional learning plans, coaching conversations - all good stuff.

He also spoke of the roles they have created in the school - short term project roles or year long roles, to provide greater leadership opportunities. The application process alone is a useful mechanism for gathering info about leadership aspirations across the staff.

Be familiar with your own strengths and weaknesses. Know your staff. Hold them accountable and give them freedom to fail.

As I said - great with the one liners.

Erin Weightman - Reimagining Education, Revisioning the Future #futureschools

Erin Weightman speaking at Future Schools
Erin spoke of the the process of re-imagining secondary education at Surf Coast Secondary School. So interesting to hear a school going through such a similar journey to Hobsonville Point Secondary School. She spoke of integrated learning, of teachers working with teams of three teachers within a collapsed timetable. She then spoke of how they used SOLO taxonomy to scaffold the complexity of learning and talked of how they worked on projects under an umbrella concept - sustainable futures. This is all so HPSS! You can see what we are doing at HPSS here.

The only tinge of disappointment was the use of closed proprietary software - iTunes U - I have no issue with Apple, heck I am an Apple fan girl, my issue is using a platform that can only be consumed (properly) through an iPad. I did however the way they used the iTunesU courses to give students choice, agency and access to 24/7 learning. Also worried about the flurry of photos being taken of the iTuneU slide - the platform isn't the answer people. It is also potentially a digital worksheet. Don't drink the kool aid people.

It was heartening to hear that they also used Google Apps - so at least they are not an "Apple" school. There was however a sense that there was a very prescribed approach to how students were taught. I get the desire for a consistent pedagogical approach, but is there professional autonomy, can teachers be creative and responsive?? It was great to see technology was being leveraged, but was the pedagogical freedom that can be achieved through technology integration being leveraged as well. Not sure, would love to learn more!

Don't get me wrong, it was awesome to hear what was happening, great to see the work student's were producing and I really want them to be our sister school! My criticisms about the software is bugbear of mine and not personal at all.

Erin rounded off her talk with areas they were focusing on growing. Great to see such important ideas at the heart of their thinking.

Deep Learning
Personalisation in the Senior Years
General Capabilities

Larry Rosenstock - The World is Changing...Schools are Not #FutureSchools

Larry Rosenstock speaking at Future Schools
I have enjoyed stalking Larry Rosenstock for some time now. I first came across him when I heard about High Tech High a couple of years back and then last year I was lucky enough to sit on a panel with him at EduTech. He was also one of the central players in the recent documentary 'Most Likely to Succeed'. So many reasons to be a ardent fan girl.

Larry began his talk by giving a background and insight into the path that led to High Tech High - a K12 charter school, now a chain of charter schools.

He then talked about the first teachers and schools, such as the basket weaver who taught others to weave baskets. He also talked of the great teachers he had and talked about the importance of thanking the teachers we loved and acknowledged the importance of the passion that they shared.

He talked about the importance of the Socratic Method - a technique that we see used at the beginning of Most Likely to Succeed.

Rosenstock worked as a carpenter and attended law school - which provides a lovely parallel of High Tech High which celebrates its integration of technology and academic learning - which also reflects much of what we do at Hobsonville Point Secondary School.

Campbell's Law
He noted that the above image is above his office and also cited the influence of John Dewey and the work of Paulo Freire. I also like that he noted that nothing they are doing at High Tech High is new, it might be unusual, it isn't new. Again, this reminds me of the work we do at HPSS. It is simply about actually using best practice and not simply doing what schools have done for the last 100 years.

Rosentock also noted that he visited 38 schools when researching schools, and talked of the mosaic of schools and started talking about the "American High School is still missing" suggesting a hole in the educational landscape that needed filling.

He then showed several projects coming out of High Tech High, each demonstrating the intersection of technology and academic thinking, many integrating Art and Math. One thing I noted was the way that learning was elevated by the beautiful spaces they worked in. Educational author Gail Loane talks about the power of learners publishing writing raises their status to author, I get the sense that at High Tech High the way student work gets exhibited elevates them to artist and inventors - something any school could learn from. Environment matters. Interestingly he then followed this up with a project where the learners actually published a book. High Tech High turns students into artists, inventors and authors.

Knowledge is socially constructed. This is a statement that appears to be at the heart of what Rosenstock and High Tech High does. Learning doesn't happen in a vacuum. As he kept flicking through projects, there was a real sense of authentic learning. Students solving real problems, tacking very real issues and producing very real products and actions.

"Thanks for putting up with me."

Dude, I love putting up with you.

Rosenstock then ended by answering my question about one piece of advice he might give traditional schools.

His answer:

End the autonomous isolation of teachers.

Break the siloes of subjects.

I agree, in fact here is a post from earlier in the year when I tackled this question:

Blue Sky High - Five things every secondary schools should