Sunday, 10 January 2016

My goals/thoughts/plans for 2016

2016 EdBlogNZ Challenge - It has begun!

Where to begin?

Pretty much a #oneword2016, really... PBL

I'm investing in Project Based Learning in a big way.
Student-driven-authentic-audience-real-world-solution-silo-burning PBL.

I'm also looking forward to the challenge of my new Year 9 option class, which I was given a free pass with - I can design a course entirely from my own passions. I thought about a Medieval History course (I used to do a lot of re-enactment - early C15 English longbow - but not so much now. I still have all the gear and can fletch my own arrows etc). But then I thought about how to connect students with their communities more closely. With some great advice from a colleague (thanks, Juanita!) I have designed a course I've titled Community Leadership.

A project-based, student-led, community-focussed course that I hope will inspire and equip our young leaders with real-world application and tangible outcomes.

I've had a meeting with the local settlers museum and hope to speak to local iwi soon. There are some awesome opportunities for the students to get involved and to see the fruits of their labours, now and in the future. They'll be able to build a legacy they can take enormous pride in for years to come. VERY excited!! :D

Thursday, 3 December 2015

Had to get this down:
“It’s not important what we cover in class, it’s important what you discover.” Victor Weisskopf, MIT.

"To be truly educated from this point of view means to be in a position to inquire and to create on the basis of the resources available to you which you've come to appreciate and comprehend. To know where to look, to know how to formulate serious questions, to question a standard doctrine if that's appropriate, to find your own way, to shape the questions that are worth pursuing, and to develop the path to pursue them. That means knowing, understanding many things but also, much more important than what you have stored in your mind, to know where to look, how to look, how to question, how to challenge, how to proceed independently, to deal with the challenges that the world presents to you and that you develop in the course of your self education and inquiry and investigations, in cooperation and solidarity with others." Noam Chomsky - On Being Truly Educated

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Progress on some projects

I have been able to get images of the art work from the Y10s who are working on the Social Consequences of the Zombie Apocalypse:

This one is finished (according to the student). I'd like it to be further developed and finished for exhibition. We'll see... :)

Hard at work :)

Planning and getting some sketches of what they want their paper mache head to look.

The whole world at their fingertips.

And here are the fingertips.

This one lost its fingertips.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Well, that escalated quickly II

Where the heck have the days/weeks gone!? I blinked and missed almost a month. The time of year has a bit to do with it - reports, senior assessment mop-up, rush of PLD opportunities (more on these later). It's all hands to the pumps, damn the torpedoes and full speed ahead!

We've been switching to real-time reporting to whanau this year. It's been great but I've been scrambling to get some meaningful (trying to avoid jargon too) assessment criteria in place so the whanau can really see what their akonga can actually do. I've also (in the last unit of the year) asked the students to set their own success criteria, with a little guidance.

Speaking of the latest unit/s, it has been a challenging experience to bring students on board with the idea of communicating their inquiry findings in art form. Many have struggled with the concept of how you can communicate a massive amount of information and a wide range of ideas (or just a single idea!) in an artistic medium that doesn't include Powerpoint. Having said that, some have taken to it like the proverbial ducks. It may also be daunting for them to realise this, hopefully, will be for a genuine audience. I'm hoping to document the process more fully now that the seniors are gone for the year. Whether it comes off or not, I guess we'll see in the next two weeks :)

PLD has been crazy as we rush to cram in a number of final rounds of Kia Eke Panuku, Mentoring, and iwi-led initiatives from Ngati Kahungunu. I am hugely excited about the last one, as I have been really challenged by the idea of 'Maori succeeding as Maori' after the outstanding session by Ann Milne from Kia Aroha College at ULearn15. When I asked my colleagues and Kia Eke Panuku folk, answers ranged: "more Maori getting Level 2 NCEA"; "reduced prison statistics"; "they're able to get NCEA credits in Kapa Haka and Te Reo." The problems I have with all of the responses I've had from others so far are:

  • They are Euro-centric. NCEA/academic achievement is an inherently Euro-centric system which I believe does little to nothing to address the concepts of Manaakitanga - Respect, Aroha - Empathy, or Mana Tangata - Integrity (three of our core values), or the core principles of Identity and Connectedness (to land and whanau) expressed by a local iwi representative during the iwi-led PLD session.
  • They are expressed in deficit terms and/or come across as tokenism. Maybe I'm being too harsh in this judgement, but this is an issue I get pretty fired up about.
At least the year should end on a positive note. I'm taking a small group of students trout fishing for four days for our Activity Week, 7-10 Dec. I might even get to catch something myself! :)

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Reading material (reflections to follow)

Reading through these documents from the OECD at the moment. 

Schooling Redesigned: Towards Innovative Learning Systems

Schooling Redesigned

The Nature of Learning: Using Research to Inspire Practice

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

Well, that escalated quickly...

I've been so distracted by so much else going on, both online and off, that I haven't posted in a while. Time for a very brief reflection.

Twitter: joined in with #BFC630NZ a few mornings this week - great bunch of connected educators and some awesome kaupapa coming from the sessions. Going to look for some caution tape for my Zombie Apocalypse unit and look at an expert wall or directory for student expert knowledge to help others.

Junior curriculum review: Has been simmering away in the process and is now ramping up to some presentations to staff in the new year. Some exciting and challenging changes already in the wind, with staff, student & community consultation to help us set the direction further for 2017.

Saturday, 17 October 2015

Guest Post: @nlouwrens #EdBlogNZ

Connecting as an educator

Back in 2005 when I started teaching I had some awesome colleagues who I could connect with, ask questions of and learn from. They were great and I learnt heaps, but my circle of influence was limited mostly to my colleagues within my school and to my parents (both trained teachers).

As a secondary science teacher, I would head to PD days around my subject area and network a little, however I felt very new and didn’t feel like I had anything to offer. Being introverted, I found these days, while useful, also quite daunting.

I had the idea back in 2006 to set up an online discussion forum for science teachers to connect through, ask questions and build networks. I actually set one up, but I didn’t have the connections to take it anywhere. I don’t think the idea was before its time, but with the possibilities that are available now—Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc—these things can be set up much more easily. I wish a little bit that I had persevered further with this idea, but now we’ve got great opportunities available anyway through the Virtual Learning Network (VLN), and various social media avenues as already mentioned.

Now, about 10 years later, it’s so easy to be connected to others, and I would argue that if you’re not connected then you’re letting down your students. Not because you’re not a great teacher, but because there could be so much more you could be doing for them. You could open up more doors for them that you might not even be aware are there and ready to be opened.

Being a connected educator allows us to grow, to question, to reflect, to learn, to inspire, to look on in awe, to get involved, to put your ideas out there, to get on your soapbox, to question your beliefs and practices, and to change. If you don’t know anything different, how can you make better decisions around your practice for your students?

These things have all happened to me. Well maybe not the soapbox one, but all the others have been a part of my journey as a connected educator. And it’s not over. I want to continue to learn from others. I want to be a source of inspiration to others. I want to grow through the connections I have from the amazing educators I connect with both in New Zealand and around the world.

If we don’t share our practice, then we don’t have the opportunity to inspire others or to influence other students outside of our school or classroom.

What if we could?
Nga mihi nui kia koe, Nathaniel.
Follow Nathaniel's Blog @ teaching at the end of the earth