Thursday, 26 February 2015

Was the lesson a failure?

I went into teaching my SPIN today with an idea of getting the student to modify a text document to make it an HTML document. To build on the development of the tags introduced last week and build up some new ones.
Normally this is a 50 minute lesson that took us 90 minutes.

The lesson started by everyone trying to get the files onto their computer. As it is not a school network I can't just put them in the shared network drive and have everyone access them. Google Drive is good, but for some of what I am doing it has its limitations. I must find out if students use google drive sync? That could be a solution.

I started off with the basics of an HTML page, the head, and developing code futher on using the whiteboard. The television is used by the other teacher using the same learning common. getting files onto their devices is quite a challenge in this case.

I have, school imacs, student chromebooks, student macbooks, student windows 7 and windows 8 devices all running. Doing something within a text editor, thats ok on mac and windows. I have now figured out how to get it working on a chromebook. But what about an HTML editor. I have thought about an online one, but it is nice for students to develop on their own computer.

I digress...

The whiteboard session ran ok, up until I found walking around the class that the students did not quite understand what was happening. I needed to show them, so two students went for a TV and as soon as the students saw my screen the sudden "ohhh!" is that what it looks like happened. So I need to make sure I have a better visual than a whiteboard for the students.

I finished the lesson, students working on finishing the work and I was thinking, what a failure of a lesson it has been.

I asked the students what worked well in the lesson, comments about, being able to see what was happening on the screen, getting introduced to new tags, being able to view their page and make changes.

What didn't work? The whiteboard, that was a given. There was no comment about their own technology or the issues that that they faced getting the files,  The comment that they talked about and surprised me, was they commented about their focus. It was about there own learning and developing understanding.

Wednesday, 25 February 2015

Industry links

Tonight I went to the launch of the codeworx competition. This is a great competition to get students interested in developing an idea using a rather inexpensive device called a raspberry Pi.

Orion health has been sponsoring this now for its third year, and I must say it is getting better each year. However one issue that needs to be dealt with is the support to teachers. Just giving a device to teachers without professional development gets nowhere. Think of all these smart boards in schools that are not doing anything. Just a glorified data projector screen. It is only when you get teachers using these devices that you will get action.

How do we get teachers using these in class. One thing I hear is, let's make a club so we can do this during lunch time. Ummm, though that might be a great idea, is it sustainable. Why not part of the the teaching in the class. Getting students interested and being able to develop ideas, code, software using inexpensive technology shows potential for development later on.

The presenter did a great job of introducing ideas of how this could be used to meet the current digital technologies and technology curriculum. I know I even did a quick google search to look at the 91078 achievement standard. Though it would have been good to look at some aspects of the competition, requirements and what needs to be done to complete an entry.

But back to the idea of how to get teachers on board.
One idea is to create simple videos on what is in the box, how to connect it up and get it going?
Next would be to develop some content on how to start connecting electronics up to it.
Adding a lamp stack and create a web page that runs on the Pi
Where to get other electronics from that will get students engaged with ideas on how to connect them up and programmed.
Maybe what Kano can offer and how to download it and get it working the bs how students other forms of programming.

These are ideas I will be thinking about over the next few days.
Maybe sending the sd card to us to get Kano installed if the teacher is worried about about doing that kind of thing.

I would like to get a hold of the ideas that were presented in last years old around this to see what we can do to help get this out to more. Do the videos need to be teacher based, or student based!

Monday, 23 February 2015

ICT competency as a condition of entry into universities?

In the latest IITP newsletter, there is this


A recent New Zealand Herald article contains the headline 'ICT qualification essential for all school leavers'. Concerns about students leaving secondary school with a lack of ICT qualifications have been supported by the results from a survey of 61,000 secondary school students that found that less than 6 per cent had a qualification in basic ICT.
According to Auckland Business Leaders Group chairman Michael Barnett ICT skills are (now) part of every kind of job; from office and retailing to factory work. Confident, critical and creative use of ICT skills is now [as much] an essential passport for getting a job as reading, writing and arithmetic.
Whether heading direct into employment or on to tertiary education, all school leavers should have an ICT qualification and Barnett foresees the day when universities will require ICT competency as a condition of entry.

What would ICT competency look like? How would it be assessed?
With the every increasing use of BYOD in schools, and the development of ICT skills through the New Zealand Curriculum 2007, what would these things look like. 

Would it be on how fast students can type? Use tools like GAFE or Micrsosoft Productivity tools? Considering that the Government has just started to really throw support behind the Microsoft IT Academies, where students gain certificates in Microsoft Word and Microsoft Excel. 
With terms like digital literacy, digital citizenship being thrown around, would these be helpful with what is being asked for?

Yet in the post they talk about being confident, critical and creative use of ICT.

How does your school look at the use of ICT? Considering the report, ICT use in schools is seen as a lesser skill that being able to read and write and do maths.

Thursday, 19 February 2015


For a number of years now I keep hearing about prinicpals visits into classroom. We are told about them at staff meeting and that certain faculties will be visited. I have been teaching around 12 years and I think I can count the number of times the principal has visited the class I was teaching.

This has often lead me to wonder, why are they not visiting the students, to talk to them about the learning that they are doing? Is it the subject that I am teaching, is it that they are happy with my teaching. I don't know.

Today I started the SPINS at school, these are three blocks of 90 minutes where combined year 9 and 10 students select what they want to learn about for the term.

I had been thinking about a few ideas, but it wasn't I had a chat with my SLL that I was able to define what these may look like.

I worked on three different SPIN's

First in an information strand SPIN, this is designed to work through docs, sheets and presentation, however having a chat with another teacher I might chance an aspect of this to look at the add in's of google drive to get students creating mail merges.

Second, is coding, this is develop the structures and interest in programming in scratch. There were a number of students in the class who did scratch last year. It was of interest to me at the end of the lesson why I had a chat with them that they enjoyed the lesson and learnt something from it. I want to keep this going, they even asked for homework.

Third was web dev, this is looking at how to create a web page using CSS and HTML. Today was looking at basic HTML codes and CSS to change the look of a page. Asking the students what they wanted to do next, they want to develop a website, however I am to give them the content and context. Only one student wants to develop their own at this point.

The impact on me has been having the principal walk into the learning common and see what is going on, ask students questions. I believe this has a great impact, not only for me, but for the students. 

I have seen Maurie about 6 times come into learning commons while I have been teaching SPINS, Big Project, Hub times and mytimes, and I must say it was a surprise the first couple of times, you think, is he checking up. But now I see he is actively interested in what is going on in the classroom and the school. Even tweeting what was happening.

Thank you Maurie for coming in and seeing whats happening.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015


I am about to start another phase of teaching at HPSS. So far I have worked through a Small/Specialised Learning Module where I am working with an english teacher in the development of visual images for the english curriculum as well as meeting the requirements for digital technologies/technology. Through this module we are getting students to develop their own comics based upon a poem, short story or novel.

Today I also went through my first big projects sessions. This was amazing as the students worked through a brief development making sure that they met the questions and developed an understanding of stakeholders. I look at this and wish that I had been developing these ideas with the students at lower levels sooner. I think I have been so much thinking about skills and knowledge that what students really wanted to do was develop their own project, and have the guide on the side to assist them to develop the knowledge and concepts with their own work. I think back to the lessons that worked well and they were the lessons where students developed their own content. Students also worked through some planning about how they are going to see the next 6 weeks. A number of them were talking about meeting during a lunch time to keep on track with what they needed to do by the next big project session.

But, back to what I am doing tomorrow. SPIN and mytime. I have three SPINS tomorrow, one we are doing digital information, very much based around using Google Apps, developing knowledge of the applications and how it can be used to enhance their learning. Coding using scratch to work through a number of projects, very much based to develop the knowledge and skills to meet level 1 programming. The last is web development, in which we are going to look at develop a web site. I think the part I have to remember is that we only have 7 weeks.

mytime tomorrow is based around a photo orienteering exercise. I am looking at observational skills of the students and how much they know about the outside of our school. Which will be interesting as the building is very much designed to keep you in.

Tuesday, 10 February 2015


This has nothing to do with school, it is around a subject area. Digital Technologies, under the Technology Curriculum Area

Today the Ministry of Education launched a new information page,
Digital technology guide for schools
All schools want a safe digital environment. To do that, schools sometimes need to search students for digital devices and even confiscate them. The guide to digital technology tells school staff what they can and can’t do, and it is gives some ideas about how to create a safe digital environment.
The guide to digital technology and what’s in it 
This guide:Explains teachers’ legal rights when dealing with digital devices.
Staff who suspect a student of digital misuse can ask them to surrender the device. They can also retain the device for a reasonable time. But they can only do this if they have reasonable grounds to believe misuse has happened.
School staff cannot search the content of a student’s digital device or ask for a student’s password to any device to access the content.
Gives general guidance about the best ways to manage digital devices and create a safe school environment. 
This guide is a companion to the Guidelines for the Surrender and Retention of Property and Searches, which was released in January 2014.
The guide helps schools understand how young people use digital technology. It helps schools deal with or prevent problems with the use of digital technology and explains the law on what schools can and can’t do. The guide contains scenarios and suggestions on how schools could deal with them and advises on the digital technology support available.
While I think the guide is great and is what is needed to help schools on their BYOD journey. It is causing headaches for us at the coal face of an emerging subject. Digital Technologies is fast becoming a subject that challenges students, is academic, and a subject that students can start making an income from their creations while they are studying at school. 

It is however, facing a challenge of sorts, schools are thinking that they are teaching Digital Technologies within their existing subjects, They are not, they are working around the Learning with Digital Technologies (yet another Ministry named PLD). 

Digital technologies focus on understanding, developing and using digital software, hardware and electronic systems across a range of contexts including school, the home and wider community settings. Students develop and understandings and skills related to producing quality digital outcomes or environments.

The Ministry of Education has caused a massive problem with understanding what is involved confusing the subject and Professional Learning Development for staff.

It is of interest when you click on the Ministry of Education links about the Learning with Digital Technologies that the or as it is called enabled e-Learning pages comes up. 

It is with interest that there is a review this year about the position of Digital Technologies within the NZ Curriculum, In the governments announcement of A Nation of Curious Minds
4. Review the positioning and content of digital technology within the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa
New action › Review the positioning and content of digital technology We will work alongside sector partners to review the positioning and content of digital technology within the framework of the New Zealand Curriculum and Te Marautanga o Aotearoa.

Should Digital Technologies be its own learning area? Should Digital Technologies be incorporated into Science or Mathematics curriculum's. Or should it stay where it is under the Technology Curriculum.

There are 2 distinct components to the recent calls for ICT to become a separate learning area and a core part of the school curriculum. The first component is around the importance of Digital Literacy. This is an essential for all subjects. Digital Literacy cannot be taught in isolation from other contexts. Digital Literacy is probably only fully relevant when taught within other contexts, for example like analysing and interpreting big data for a science project or a maths task, or using data rich contexts in Geography. Confident, critical and creative use of ICT skills cannot as effectively be taught in a contrived context compared to a real one. The best place for students to learn implementing ICT is in all of the subjects they take rather than syphoning it off and saying "It is important to learn this ICT stuff if you are going to be an accountant, but its not important enough to learn in your accounting class."

Digital Literacy needs to become an essential component of all Learning Areas. The second component is trickier as it has so many dependants, To make ICT a CORE subject, it means having enough qualified teachers. To create a CORE subject without qualified teachers is a nonsense. To take a subject out of an Learning Area change its name and expect qualified teachers to suddenly appear is an illusion.

The second dependant is what is ICT, is it Infrastructure, or Information, Programming or Computer Science, is it Media or is it Electronics. Would we solve any problems by creating a newly named Core area and then just continue to teaching basic spreadsheeting and word processing skills or making websites using software that does it for us?

There have been some wide debates over the past couple of years about this. But one thing is certain, we need Digital Technologies in our schools. We need to be teaching the students how to incorporate these specific skills and knowledge in their learning. Digital Information, Programming and Computer Science, Digital Media, Electronics and Digital Infrastructure are important contexts for students to learn. The same as the Arts and Science have their specific strands. 

To encourage this we need teachers, we need a change in pre-service education as well as a change in our schools Professional Development plans. Specific subject teachers should be getting the support they need from their schools to upskill, to keep up with the technology changes. I doubt any schools will still be using the x486 computers that were brought 20 years ago. The same is with teachers skills, software changes, what was once an advanced skill is not incorporated into an app which does
even more than what once was used.

What is the answer? Lifting the skill of the teachers currently teaching the subject. They are already committed, they are already signed up. Having kids learn from people who can teach and who understand the content is the most effective way of lifting engagement in schools and better preparing these kids for the futures they will be walking into.
The new strands require teachers to be prepared to develop understanding. Programming and Computer Science is a huge shift in thinking and knowledge for a lot of teachers. But we need to also be developing teachers to understand electronics and Digital Infrastructure. Without Professional Development we are going to have small pockets of subject knowledge and support that will disappear as teachers leave the profession.

We need a subject that has the support of Senior Managers in schools. We are not a subject that takes up space in schools and has the computer lab that is needed by other subjects. We are a subject that needs specific equipment to do what is required by the New Zealand Curriculum. Just like the science labs, workshops, music rooms and arts rooms in a school. Is your schools Digital Technologies programme meeting the obligations of the New Zealand Curriculum to offer a 21st Century Curriculum. If you look at the Curriculum you will see on page 39 a heading called Future Focus. Sustainability, citizenship, enterprise and globalisation. These encourage connections across the learning areas and they are relevant to students' futures. 

I think one of the biggest hurdles is that Digital Technologies is new, 40 years ago was the introduction of the apple. What used to a vocational subject in many schools, is now an academic subject in which students can go on to have a huge earning potential. There has been such a push for the high value academics of the doctor, the lawyer, the scientist for many years, that now there is starting to be the push forward in an emerging export market that we are struggling to make bigger as we don;t have the talent coming through from schools to universities through to the jobs. Students find this at University, imagine what students could be accomplishing given good guidance and support at schools. We talk about finding ways to solve issues, coming up with solutions that have not been tried before.

Innovation is at the heart of the Technology Curriculum.

Technology is intervention by design: the use of practical and intellectual resources to develop products and systems (technological outcomes) that expand human possibilities by addressing needs and realising opportunities. Adaptation and innovation are at the heart of technological practice. Quality outcomes result from thinking and practices that are informed, critical, and creative.

We need to be innovate in our solution, not just going for "This seems like the simplest solution". I think back to Bali Haque's Changing our Secondary Schools, we need to have a real review of the New Zealand Curriculum, and we need to be thinking about what the future holds for our students.

Monday, 9 February 2015


If there is one thing that has challenged me so far is that I have had to step outside my comfort zone.

Today we had e-asttle testing. This morning was reading for the year 9 and writing for the year 10. We had two different modes of testing going on, online and paper based. Good thing to as we had a look at our bandwidth usage when just having half thw school on and we feared the worse if we had all students doing the e-asttle maths test in the 2nd block. Quickly plans were changed and phone calls being made to try and sort out our bandwidth requirements.

Part of me was thinking, why is this problem happening? I have come from a school where we had a 1Gig internet connection and we would have coped with an online e-asttle test.

Year 9 students were sent to the gym, year 10 students sat the test. In the gym I learnt quickly from watching Anna work with 120 students. (I am thinking at this stage how do you control 120 students) Students were split into teams, given bands to represent their teams, and instructions given on how to play.

The activity was multi-sports
A number would be given and a sport. The number is the number of players allowed on the court from your team and the sport to be played.

When a goal or point is scored, the game stops, and the next number and sport is given.

This afternoon, I was assisting in the same activity, with year 10 students. In about 30 minutes we had all the year 9 students coming into the gym. What is going on, we needed a plan. Mitch (sports coordinator) and myself took the year 9 out to the courts, we had a netball hoop, could do football and headache as well as touch. But no basketball. Splitting teams up we came up with split into the three learning communities and then split one of them in half again. This worked well and we had a good activity running. Only problem was we were getting more students joining us, we needed to split again and have another court running, no netball hoop on this court, so limited to three sports.

Everyone from both teams playing headache

I need to ask what the rules are around one-touch, so I am better prepared if I have to do this again.

Are teachers prepared to spend time outside of their comfort zones?

Friday, 6 February 2015

Looking at data

Learning analytics was a focus of the core education 2014 trends. Though this has been a focus for me for quite a while.

This is from the Core Education Trends page 
We need to ask what data we’re gathering about our students and their progress through learning. If we’re completing tasks in a range of different online spaces, how do we bring all of that disparate data about a learner and make it whole again — make a complete picture of this child. 
Another implication for us is the challenge to use that data once it’s gathered. There’s a great saying about data: it needs to be useful and used. It must be relevant, reliable and meaningful, but it’s pointless to gather data if we’re going to use it. What are your teaching as inquiry processes like in your school? How well is data used when making decisions about what needs to be learnt next and how students might best learn it? Are you drawing on the rich data you have about your students? 
Some of the ethical implications for us centre around data sovereignty and privacy, the real power of learning analytics is unlocked when you’re able to work with large data sets — which means sharing data across schools. How are you going to ensure you deal fairly with students and other schools when sharing data? If you’re contributing to national-level data collection, have you thought through the implication around who has access to it, how student rights are managed? 
If we can start to make use of learning analytics to get the right learning activity into those student's hands, and maximise the engagement and motivation they have for that learning activity, we’ve got a really powerful model for personalising learning for every student.
ChallengesWhat data are we gathering in our schools?
How is it being stored and managed?
Who has access to it?
How is it being used to inform what is happening at school level?
How is it contributing to national-level data collection to inform strategic decisions around resourcing etc.?

To many times data is collected and never looked at again. At HPSS we are just about to go through our data collection process, from e-asttle tests to IKAN testing (I had to look that one up). 

One thing I think about is my own subject area, what data is it that I am collecting on the students? And how am I using it to inform my teaching.

Be it a single page to see if students have developed a concept? A webpage showing information and how they have put it together? Or is it a portfolio of work that shows a learning journey?

I have been through some ideas in how the school wants me to report back on a students learning. I have been used to having to do curriculum level, with a Basic, Proficient and Advanced. However the focus at HPSS is just the level, however, we are looking at SOLO taxonomy as part of our report back.

It is however somewhat different to the normal Parent Teacher Evenings that I have been used to. A five minute conversation, normally one way to the parent in how they are going. Normally I hope that the students has come along and they can explain what they are doing in class. It is a good way to see if concepts that you are teaching and making there way through. Sometimes I have had to go back and think about the learning objectives and success criteria that I have on the board. Have I made the learning explicit?

I plan on running a technology literacy test with the students to see what their understanding at Year 9 is around concepts of Nature of Technology. This will be carried out through a google form, just to get some base data. It is unsure if I can get the entire Year 9 to do this, as it would be good to see what is coming in from our contributing schools.

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

resources for print design, digital media, graphic novels

Resources are sometimes hard to find when teaching some concepts and knowledge in digital technologies or technology.

I have been planning with a fantastic teacher of english the last couple of days around "digitally creative through text". We have been planning a specialised learning module for our year 9 students. We have four hours a week for the semester. We are looking at developing a comic relating to the text that the students are studying, be it short story, poem or a novel. We are looking at developing skills around Digital Media using Print Design, under the Technology Level 4, Characteristics of Technology

Now finding resources to support this, we have a great librarian who when given a concept has helped us find resources to support the teaching. On the shelve in the library office was a teacher guide on how to develop a graphic novel, with copies of the graphic novel.

The ministry has a great website called down the back of the chair., if you don't know your schools login, like many people, give them a ring on

The people at the other end of the phone would love to hear from you. 
The codes you are after are 711004(teacher guide) and 711002 (Graphic Novel)

Teacher guide

Graphic novel, not bad a $0.50c a copy!
The teacher guide has a fantastic section in it, in how the graphic novel is created.

This is a step-by-step run through of the process I used to draw the Arohanui graphic novel. Everything you see here was drawn on the computer using a programme called Photoshop. This panel was one of the first I chose to work on, mainly because it was relatively simple and a good one to work out my overall approach on. If I could get this panel looking good, it would give me confidence for my many pages to come. 

The author explains why he uses layers in Photoshop.

Flattening entails using the lasso tool in the too bar to section off different areas of the picture and then filling them with colours you have chosen.

What the final outcome looks like in the form of the graphic novel.

I like the ideas of the students going through and highlighting the skills and techniques that the author used to develop his outcome. In this unit I am looking at the Characteristics of Technology - Level 4. 

Monday, 2 February 2015


Today was our first day of school. All the idea and vision from the last week have now come into play.

This morning started with a Kitchen Table meeting, minus the kitchen table. There is now more staff than can fit around a kitchen table. The meeting in the library space allows a comfortable spot to talk.

Time spent with the students involved ice breaker games and activities. Some thing that I need to work on this year.

The challenge of the day was the film challenge. To look at a habit, a place within the community and to incorporate other aspects were possible. To have 4 hours for students develop an idea, get footage and edit it before showing to their community by 3pm. The official viewing will be Wednesday afternoon. But it allowed me to see the students outside of a classroom, engaging with one another.
Problem solving was a big area of focus today. Using iMovie for the first time on an iPad mini was a challenge in what it can and can't do. I think I am too used to adobe premiere.

Here are some images from todays challenge.

Cutting out images 

Joining together

Outside the Primary School

Had to get the image of the dog in the film

Sunday, 1 February 2015


Tomorrow, I start my third school as a teaching staff member. Ever since the day in the classroom I have been wondering how will I work in this environment? How will we work together to create learning with students? What will the learning look like?

It was rather interesting when I received the email about the induction at school. It was over three days. Normally induction in schools for new teachers have felt like lets cram as much information in a day as possible. What is the vision of the school, the staff handbook, get given your equipment and then you are have a teacher only day.

This was not the case at HPSS.

Induction - Day One
Vision and Values

Being a Learning Coach

Restorative Practice

Induction - Day Two
Being a Module Teacher

Assessment and Reporting Processes

Intro to Big Projects

Induction - Day Three
Being a Project Facilitator

Blended Learning Tools - Moodle/Google

Throughout these days I have had the questions I went in answered, but also importantly, I have raised more questions as well. This is different, this is a good type of different. I can now see that these days have been pivotal in developing the growth mindset needed.

Which was interesting, as I sat on Thursday night in a Twitter #edchatnz session, which looked at: Let's talk about growth mindsets. 

Teacher Only Day
Having the vision set out and looking at what a Growth Mindset is and how we need to be developing this as teachers as well as with our learners. Looking at Warm, Demanding and Balance and what it means for us as a staff. It seems that our principal looks at this as part of his survey of how he is going.

The teacher only day allowed us to get to know each other on staff, a great way was the one minute intro, in which we had to develop a slide to go into the presentation. To see staff interests, highlights of life and aspects about them that would take normally half a year to know. 

Looking at the teaching, I have a Specialist Learning Module, or a SLM in school language that I am working on with an English teacher. This has been on mind as soon as we received the piece of paper during our induction. How am I going to Digital Technologies with a Technology focus with an English teacher. I have been racking my brain for days, thinking about websites, print media, sound and video First thought was movie trailers on what they were creating. However we have to look at how to include Characteristics of Technology with a theme of Culture and Diversity. It wasn't until I sat down with one of the new teachers and we started talking about static images, though it now visual images in English that I got thinking about Comic Books, what is students could create a comic book page showing the theme as part of their english work. With this, we have an idea. Now to name the unit. I look forward to these as we develop our ideas and thinking throughout the year.

I have been thinking about a number of things throughout the induction, but there in lies a problem... I am the new guy. In reidteacher's blog he talks about the same issue. Being a new person, how do you suggest new ideas, new thinking. It is human nature to sit back and see what is happening and be a little bit more comfortable before offering new ideas.

What is one of those ideas, it is seeing where a students technological literacy lies... I know schools look at e-asTTLE tests, and IKAN tests for mathematics. However, where does a students technological literacy lie. This is somethig that me and another teacher have been looking at for a while. Skills are not enough for what is required for scholarship and higher level. We need students who can look and understand Technological Practice, Technological Knowledge and Nature of Technology.

I look forward to the challenges that start tomorrow, I think the first one could be how to do a film challenge in the rain around the community. Bring a Jacket!