Saturday, August 6, 2016

In control of PL & D with EduCampNZ

My thoughts after attending another EduCampNZ, this time one in the Bay Of Plenty:

Learner Agency is a topic that has been talked about a lot [since] a couple of years ago. My perception is that an EduCampNZ is the perfect place for teachers to take ownership of their own learning. This is Teacher Agency in Professional Learning & Development at its best!

What I enjoy about attending EduCampNZ is the networking and informal chats one can have with teachers from all over New Zealand as well as building face to face relationships. I like the fact that teachers have choice and voice. Anyone can be a presenter and anyone can attend. It is great to hear about best practice and to get 'tips' from others and also being able to share your ideas and experiences. 

If you haven't attend an EduCampNZ yet, there are events happening all over NZ. Events can be found on the EduCampNZ wiki.

You have the power to take control of your Professional Learning & development, you can develop ownership of your learning. Why wait any longer?...

My 'Storify' about what happened during the day:

The 'Smackdown' slides:

Monday, July 11, 2016

'It's all about maths'

The 'It's all about maths' symposium focused on connecting mathematics across the curriculum...

Using Digital Tech to learn maths: Transforming the learning?
Keynote: Dr Nigel Calder

"Digital technologies are everywhere in our lives. We use them to communicate, research, process, record and for for entertainment. They influence the way we interact in the world, the way we live. We use them in work and play. How might they change the learning process?" (Nigel Calder)
  • Overview
  • Affordances
  • Influences on the learning process
  • Research projects
  • Some effective apps
How do you use digital technologies in your maths programme?
Technology might take the student 'somewhere', but it might not always optimise the learning. It is about the pedagogy and the learning, thus pedagogy is critical and it is not a matter of having apps or having technology, the reason becomes the critical thing. Apps should be about purpose/pedagogy for learning.

Affordances - What are they?
"Affordance implies the complementarity of the animal and the environment. They are not just abstract physical properties" (Gibson, 1979)
Visual affordance: Tinkerplots, Multiplier
Interactive apps: Sketchpad (look at: ‘geometry for young learners’ site), Touchcounts 1.0, Maths shake.
Tech gives non-judgemental feedback which might facilitate: risk-taking, an investigative approach, collaborative approaches, engagement, alternative learning trajectories, reshaping of the learning.

Moyer-Packenham and Westenskow (2013) identified app affordances as focus constraint, creative variation, simultaneous linking, efficient precision, motivation. These affordances interact and appear to be mutually influential of each other.

A five-stage developmental process when learning to integrate a particular technology:
- Recognizing (knowledge)
- Accepting (persuasion)
- Adapting (decision)
- Exploring (implementation)
- Advancing (confirmation)

Teacher knowledge for learning with technology: (when considering apps)
- Focus on the mathematics and learning outcomes
- Facilitating teaching and learning
- Re-organising learning - seeing connections
- Mathematical thinking and problem solving
- Self-correction and reasoning
- Making mathematics attractive and motivating
- Recording thinking and opportunities for collaboration

Aspects that underpin all themes:
- Student-centred
- Encouraging ownership of learning, eventual self-assessment and direction
- Get students to explain their thinking, it is powerful
- Teacher open to new technologies, ongoing learning
- School support with access to devices, reliable wifi, technology
- Herding cats... this is kind of what we do... it is not an easy job

- Task and apps should focus on the learning
- Foster creativity and self-directed learning
- Use them to optimise the learning situation
- Facilitate learning
- Give insights into students strategies and mathematical thinking
- The apps are built for purpose

Workshop 1: Making the most out of e-ako
Having a class in e-ako maths enables you to monitor your whole class' progress. Pathways are unlocked so you can look ahead and see what your students will see, but students will still need to follow the pathway. You can unlock steps by emailing Andrew.

Tip: Collate all students' names on a spreadsheet with a class email account. You can do this from eTap. Save as CSV file. Student names can then be important as bulk.

Workshop 2: Problem solving with juniors
Explore problem solving in a junior context
Task design
Integrating digital technology

How to problem solve with juniors?
1. Launch the problem (try and get them to read out problem themselves - literacy link here)
2. Independent think time
3. Small group sharing
4. Reporting back
5. Student self-assessment

Hints for Launching the Problem:
- Staging the problem - acting it out
- What do we know about the context of this problem
- Retell this problem to your partner
- What information do you know? How are you going to use it?
- Where is the question? What is the problem asking you to do?
Reporting back - Why is it important?
- To expose students to a range of thinking
- To foster mathematical communication skills
- To increase students’ confidence
- To clarify common misunderstandings
- To provide a foundation for the extension of a problem
- To highlight the mathematics inherent in the problem

Sharing back
Get students to role model and show what they did

Self-Reflection Questions to consider
- What did you notice
- What are the students' next steps
- What went well
- Goals for next time

Sites that provide pictures and video clips useful for maths problems:
Enriching mathematics
Put your students in a pickle
- The Mathematics Shed
- 101questions
- Have you got maths eyes

Workshop 3: Developing student agency through a growth mindset 

Agency and Growth Mindsets are both big in their own right. The aim here is to put the learner in the driving seat. However, when you are in the passenger seat for the first time, it is a very weird feeling, as you have to let go of the controls. Giving students control is a risk, but they are also taking the risk as a learner...

Give students ways to talk and think in a 'Growth Mindset' way, rather than them saying "I can't do it, I will never get to do it". The word 'yet' is powerful to use.

How can we encourage students to develop student agency and a growth mindset?
Move away from making all the decisions, what books they are going to read, what maths equipment / tools they are going to use.
Teachers also have to develop a growth mindset:
- Use technology to make both their own and students' learning richer
- Risk trying new learning
- Bring their own student passion into learning activities
- Let go of the need to control all variables
- Find ways to change even under adversity
- Value relationships with students
- Make a difference in student lives
- Network and connect with others for resources, assistance and support

Learning Mindsets/beliefs:
- Growth Mindset: Value mistakes and use them. Talk more about struggles and strategies to overcome them
- Sense of Belonging: Student Voice (What can I do as a teacher to help you more? What can you do to help yourself?). Ethic of Care
- Relevance: students will be more engaged if learning is relevant and they are given a choice
- Self-efficacy: when students understand their goals, they can monitor their learning and it is going to be more meaningful for them

Student Self Assessment 'tools' to support self managing:

When teachers and students focus on improvement rather than on whether they're smart, kids learn a lot more when they had a deeper understanding of themselves as learners, so they could build their own autonomy to change and gain confidence in their academic abilities

My aim with attending this symposium was to learn further how I can take sensible steps to provide and maintain a teaching and learning environment through my planning. I wanted to make sure that I select the right approaches to address the needs of all my students. This day was worthwhile and I walked away with lots of new ideas to implement with my students.

Next Steps:
To put my learners in the driver seat by developing learner agency in our learning environment. To step back a bit and let the students taking a little bit more ownership. 

~ "Pure mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas" - Albert Einstein ~

Friday, July 8, 2016

Reflection on Term 2, 2016

After a very busy ten weeks, the term has come to an end.

Although we worked hard on reading, writing and maths, other learning areas played a just as important part in helping students on their path to become risk takers and confident, life-long learners.

Areas that I [also] focused on was 'Digital Citizenship' to make students aware of the ‘dangers’ and to increase knowledge of how to keep themselves safe online and 'Digital Literacy' to enable students to create digital content and adding media independently. There were times that we had to revisit some topics more than once to ensure that students grasped the concept.

Students had a go at using the 'Quiver' app (for our inquiry topic) to colour a volcano picture and to then write a story about it. It was great to observe that some students were starting to think about how to share their learning, asking if they should write the story using the iPad (easy blogger jr) or in their books. I gave them the opportunity to choose.
The use of 'Explain Everything' to engage students with their reading books was really going well. My next step here would be to get them to use this ‘without instruction from the teacher’.
Students also enjoyed using the 'Write About This' app and we received some lovely feedback.

KidsedchatNZ had again proved to be a valuable tool to support our students' reading and writing abilities. One week I had one of the senior students running our tuakana/teina session, which was a great success.

I also included a lot more 'problem solving' maths activities and it was interesting to see how students approached the problem after it was launched. They were interested to hear what their peers had done. Some students were able to explain the process to others that struggled through the problem. This was powerful as students showed the solution in smaller steps to their peers.

To make our tuakana/teina buddy reading session with Room 3 effective, we looked again at the purpose of buddy reading and what needs to be focused on. Ideas were brainstormed on what effective buddy reading looks like, sounds like and feels like.

Students have been involved in many 'hands-on' and 'thinking' learning activities and their progress was evident when assessments were carried out. I feel incredibly proud of what my students and I achieved.

What is something new to try and where to next? 
To set up Skoolbo accounts for my learners to provide each one of them with a personalized learning experience to further improve their maths and language skills. 

~ "The expert in anything was once a beginner" - Anonymous ~

Monday, June 27, 2016

Changes in Practice (Week 32)

Applied Practice in Context (APC) - Changes in Practice

Activity 8: 'Changes in my practice'

It is fair to say that I am someone who gets bored easily, but this MindLab journey stimulated my senses and I feel invigorated for new challenges ahead. It has also made me think about engaging in future study as to further grow and challenge myself personally as well as professionally.

Osterman & Kottkamp (1993) has contrasted traditional approach of professional development by outside experts delivering workshops for schools versus reflective practice model. They suggest that traditional approach results in knowledge acquisition while reflective practice can lead to change in behaviors via self-awareness.

As reflective practice can assist with understanding and evaluating of practice, I have been doing so with reflections on my practice, PL & D and presentations on this blog (and by tagging posts since 2013, with the relevant Teacher Criteria). This has not only helped me to inform and improve my practice, but also enable me to adapt to change. 

Digital and Collaborative Learning in Context was very hands-on and gave me the opportunity to apply technology into lessons straight away. I have always enjoyed giving my students (5 year old's) opportunities to make connections to prior learning and provided opportunities to apply new learning in different contexts. This feedback (below) from Shannon (after this blog post) meant a lot to me and confirmed the opportunities I am providing my students with. The Key Competencies, NZC Principles and PTC's 1 - 12 have all played a crucial part.

Leadership in Digital and Collaborative Learning
PTC 2 (Demonstrate commitment to promoting the well-being of ākonga)
PTC 4 (Demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of professional personal practice)
PTC 5 (Show leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning)
This area was the first to play a part in key changes in my practice. 
I had an opportunity to touch on some research into 'Building partnerships by sharing learning on student individual blogs and why this is important to us, to our community and to our students. This left me wondering how I could develop this within our school. I also had the opportunity to reflect on all the forms of leadership I have had experienced throughout my teaching career. It became clear [through studying the leadership styles] which leader I aspire to be, whilst others had shown me what I need to avoid to enable me to be part of a collaborative, motivated and engaged team that focuses on change and growth mindset. Upon further reflection, I realised that I need to remember that while I maintain high expectations for change and growth in our team’s professional practice, my excitement is definitely not the case for all teachers.

During Research and Community Informed Practice the opportunity arose to do [some] extended research around a topic that is close to heart and to plan my Teaching as Inquiry Project plan around it.
PTC 1 (Establish and maintain effective professional relationships focused on the learning and well-being of all ākonga)
PTC 5 (Show leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning)
This is the second area that is playing a part in key changes in my practice. Through readings it became evident that there is a difference between parent involvement and parent engagement. I am in the process of making our community aware that digital technologies allow students to share their learning in a variety of visible, interactive and engaging ways. This will help our community to be more involved with what is going on, build effective partnerships and engage them in their children's learning.

Reflective blog posts in Applied Practice in Context not only allowed me to identify, critically examine and evaluate my teaching practice, but also gave me an insight into the thinking and perceptions of other professionals. I enjoyed reading and commenting on posts. This extended my thinking on a variety of 'issues' in our profession. 

Future Professional Development:
Master's Degree: I have always been interested in Educational Leadership and (now being part of the Senior Management team), believe that by studying for my masters it will allow me to pursue this topic further and develop my knowledge and skills.
GAFE Summit: I would like to attend one of these events to focus further on deploying, integrating, and using Google Apps for Education and other Google tools to promote student learning.

Osterman, K. & Kottkamp, R.(1993). Reflective Practice for Educators.California. Cornwin Press, Inc. Retrieved on 7th May, 2015 from

Ministry of Education (nd). Practising teacher Criteria and e-learning . Retrieved from

~ "Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." - George Bernard Shaw ~

Monday, June 20, 2016

Crossing boundaries and creating connections (Week 31)

Applied Practice in Context (APC) - Crossing boundaries and creating connections

Activity 7: 'My interdisciplinary connection map'

The world of professional practice is changing rapidly. The boundaries between disciplines are moving, new disciplines are being invented at an unprecedented rate and the boundaries between disciplines and becoming more porous.

Today and in the future, the environments that practitioners are working in, or will be asked to create, will require people who are skilled in the ability to work across disciplinary boundaries.

One of the most important skills one will need to learn is to become “self-aware” as a teaching professional and to understand the context of your own discipline: it’s strengths and its limitations. When you can clearly define our actions as a teaching practitioner and the context of your practice you will able to move across disciplines to other areas of practice where you can make informed contributions on the practice of your own current and future practice along with emerging practice disciplines.

Interdisciplinary practice allows individuals who are based in their practice discipline(s) to focus on collaboration and participate in finding solutions to the increasingly complex problems occurring in the world today. When working in an interdisciplinary manner we need to draw on multiple perspectives, practices, epistemologies and methodologies to identify how these can be utilized to solve real world problems.

A map which demonstrates my current and potential interdisciplinary connections

Two of the potential connections from my map as my near future goal(s) are:
Master's Degree: I have always been interested in Educational Leadership and (now being part of the Senior Management team), believe that by studying for my masters it will allow me to pursue this topic further and develop my knowledge and skills.
GAFE Summit: I would like to attend one of these events to focus further on deploying, integrating, and using Google Apps for Education and other Google tools to promote student learning.

The benefits and challenges of working in a more interdisciplinary environment
Jones (2009) stated that “the interdisciplinary approach is a key concept to the advancement of school curriculum at all levels”.  Although this approach has many benefits, it is also [now] debatable if this approach is the best path for an educational programme. Whereas this approach can positively enhance communication skills, it also has the disadvantage of being time-consuming in lesson planning. Jones goes further and argues that “having more than one instructor can create problems in the sharing of responsibilities.

However, in a Boyer and Bishop (2004) study the interdisciplinary approach was used as a technique where students learnt to be the teacher and they had to connect with peers from other grades. The outcome was positive, as older students had the opportunity to take up a leadership role and younger students were able to get help from the older ones.

Another benefit is that when students master higher order thinking skills by being taught with the interdisciplinary technique they became the interest of wealthy businesses and top colleges.                                                                               
According to Jones (2009) “Interdisciplinary techniques are not only important for a student to learn any one single discipline or solve problem in a synthesized manner, but it also enriches a student’s lifelong learning habits, academic skills, and personal growth.

Duerr, of “Interdisciplinary Instruction”, justifies the importance that broadness has to student’s futures in the way that “Their cognitive development allows them to see relationships among content areas and understand principles that cross curricular lines. Their psychosocial development gives them the ability to understand people and to look at situations from various viewpoints” (Duerr, 2008, p.177).

When expertise is shared across connections it means that expertise outside of the scope of immediate connections is more accessible and the consistency of integrating disciplines can be attained over many platforms. As Mathison voice that by integrating this interdisciplinary approach we will have “Better collegiality and support between teachers and the wider community of disciplines” (Mathison, 1997, p.20).

Nevertheless, the benefits of an interdisciplinary environment is not without its challenges. Our education system is [still] very much structured, which makes the integration of an interdisciplinary environment a bit unrealistic in some instances. Interdisciplinary connections can also be time consuming as building and sustaining professional relationships outside day to day connections can seem hard and exhausting.

However, in my opinion, the benefits of working in a more interdisciplinary environment outweigh the challenges far more...

Boyer, Bishop, 2004. “Young Adolescent Voices: Students' Perceptions of Interdisciplinary Teaming,” RMLE, v.1. Retrieved from:

Duerr, Laura L., 2008. “Interdisciplinary Instruction, Educational Horizons.” Retrieved from:

Jones, C.(2009). Interdisciplinary approach - Advantages, disadvantages, and the future benefits of interdisciplinary studies. ESSAI, 7(26), 76-81. Retrieved from

Mathison,S.. & Freeman, M.(1997). The logic of interdisciplinary studies. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, 1997. Retrieved from This review of literature of interdisciplinary studies can help you explore more about the interdisciplinary approach used by teachers in their class.

~ "Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success." - Henry Ford ~

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Professional Online Networks (Week 30)

Applied Practice in Context (APC) - Professional Online Networks

Activity 6: 'Using social online networks in teaching and/or professional development'

The debate on whether or not to use technology in education seems as outdated as old technology itself. Educators are now engaged in improving digital tools to effectively cater for student learning.
A study investigating social media use in teaching (Silius et al., 2010) showed that student motivation for social media can enhance study.

Social media platforms have been able to provide personalised learning which is need-based and flexible in time and location. Teachers can use online social network to seek information, share ideas and even contribute to the development of deep knowledge.

In the New Zealand context, the Ministry of Education has introduced an initiative to enhance professional development via online social networking. The Virtual Learning Network is a platform where educators can engage in professional conversations. Melhuish (2013)’s study has suggested that VLN Groups can enable an informal type of professional learning for teachers.

What are some key features of social media that are beneficial for teaching and learning?

We know that the world is changing at an incredible pace for our students and if we want to prepare them for their future, it is important that we, as connected educators also become the connected learners.
As social media have the power to connect educators, I utilize Twitter and some of the # chats, the VLN groups, Google+ communities, Pinterest, TeachMeetNZ (where teachers come together to present virtually and broadcast live through a Google Hangout for the rest of New Zealand and Globally), N4L Pond, Class Blog (as a means of maintaining an effective communication between home and school), Professional Blog, LinkedIn, NZ Teachers (Primary) Facebook page, to make connections with even more incredible educators. I can’t imagine a more creative way to discuss the needs for future focus learning with fellow professionals and cherish the opportunity of having teachers and school leaders working together locally as well as through global networks.  We are able to connect, collaborate and use each other’s knowledge to apply in our schools and classrooms. Being a connected educator allows me to do something with the information I find.  I allow myself time for experimentation, innovation, questioning, mistakes and constant reflection as I am driven to make learning even more rewarding and purposeful for my students, thinking about what is important to them and their learning

As a connected educator/learner, I also want my students to experience this.  Therefore they connect with other classes through KidsedchatNZ and Quadblogging Aotearoa. I have also previously participated with my class in the global classroom project called 'the Travelling Rhinos'. They enjoyed their involvement in such a way that we extended our learning with a class production the next term. My 5 year old students also participated in a 10 sentence story based on a topic with 9 other schools using Google Docs.

As co-organiser of KidsedchatNZ (a twitter chat for NZ schools) and having my five year old students participating through our class account, I have seen first hand the benefits of their involvement, not only as we are able to discuss online behaviour in a safe and positive environment, but I can also see an improvement in their reading and writing skills. It is great to see how students gain confidence and feel good about themselves, which in the end leads to them being actively engaged in their learning. That is what KidsedchatNZ offer to students.

I believe that learner agency can be developed when using social media in the classroom. My students have an ILP on our class wiki and each one have their own ePortfolio. With having these opportunities, students can slowly be introduced (through lots of scaffolding) to be in control of their own learning.

Social media provides us with a range of learning opportunities that would not have been available through any other context.

What social media platform do I feel best supports engagement with my professional development?
My professional development is supported in different ways through all the various social media platforms I belong to. Each one of them have a specific purpose in my learning journey, however the following would be my main 'go to' places:
Twitter: For learning from and sharing with my own Personal Learning Network. I can learn anytime, anywhere. It's like brewing your own personalized PD.
VLN groups: Are the online community I use to connect, share experiences, and learn together with teachers, school leaders, and facilitators.
Google+ communities: This is the platform where best practices can be shared, questions can be answered and valuable information are being shared.
TeachMeetNZ: There is always something new to learn at each and everyone one of these sessions. By just listening to presenters, I realize that there is so much more for me to accomplish... and there are many more ways to assist my students to reflect on and think critically about their learning! I can and have to select [other] technologies and resources that will be effective and address the needs of individual students. My journey is ongoing...


Melhuish, K.(2013). Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’ professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrieved on 05 May, 2015 from :The author presents an in-depth investigation into the use of online social media networking in teachers’ professional development

Silius, K., Miilumäki, T.,Huhtamäki, J.,Tebest, T., Meriläinen, J., & Pohjolainen, S.(2010). Students’ motivations for social media enhanced studying and learning. Knowledge Management & E-Learning: An International Journal, 2(1), 54-67. Retrieved on 7th May,2015 from

~ "We don't have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it." - Erik Qualman ~

Friday, June 10, 2016

Sandpit with Google Classroom at Connected Rotorua

What a fantastic turn out for our session on using Google Classroom as a structure to support Future Focused Learning, with staff from nine out of the [current] twenty Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru schools attending.

Hancine and I came prepared with our presentation slides, but with the number of attendees, decided to change 'the plan' and Hancine quickly sussed out that the knowledge were in the room.

There were many new faces and we got underway with the usual introductions, whereafter people that felt comfortable, took up the role of leading a small group in setting up and using Google Classroom. The collaboration among our educators were great.

If you are interested in learning more about Google tools for the classroom have a look at Monica's Google Site 101. Thank you for sharing this, Anne.

A warm thank you to all who attended the session on a wet Friday afternoon/evening.

~ "Everyone you will ever meet knows something your don't." - Bill Nye ~