Wednesday, 29 April 2015


One thing that I have seem to have embraced at HPSS is the mytime option.

When I was introduced to this last year, I thought about all the things that could do with a one hour slot a week that could constantly change. This year, the slot is set for a term. This allows for new ideas, and also to develop new learning. It is interesting that some of the feedback I had from students was that they wanted the same mytime to happen again this term. It seems that they are excited about the new opportunities to work towards their goals (set in conjunction with their learning hub coach) and to work on their hobsonville habits.

For me its also about developing an expose to things that you may not have had to opportunity to do before, pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to try new things.  I think I have taken this on as my challenge.

Term One saw me developing a weekly challenge around the point developing students observation skills, through orienteering. Called finding your way. Map reading, puzzle finding and having to make your way around 4km of construction, roads, fields, people and ever changing routes was a challenge for students. This was enjoyable as I got to know more areas of the point, and learn a bit more about what is going on as a whole It is a pity that I was never able to develop this to a next level as part of the point that I wanted to use is out of action while they remove asbestos from some of the old buildings. The other mytime was around guided learning.
Finding your way
This term, I had done some investigation, I explored the FabLab in Christchurch. At one of the open days they had students working on Hama Beads developing art. To me, it looked like the 8bit pixel art of the old days, and the students were engaged, developing an idea, purposeful, creative, reflective and resilient.

Developing a design

Over the holidays some tweeting was required to get some more details, where was the best place to get hama beads, how many would be needed over ten weeks, with 28 students. So 100,000 beads have been purchased, baking paper, an iron and some containers to keep special colours separate. Watching the students faces yesterday as I opened the box, started putting together my first creation, working our what I needed to do, what other equipment I needed, going to have to get some more trays to put beads in for students to be resourceful. The other part is, once students have developed one design, normally off the internet, they need to develop their own.
Getting your pixel on

The other part of "get your pixel on" mytime is that they have to share their work, something that I need to make more explicit next week. Also, I need to make sure that I have everything packed up and tidied up before the class ends. This is something I have to work on.

The second mytime come out of the "Finding your way" mytime. Currently it is a 5km run, an active recreation module, though I am not too sure if we are still calling them that? It is one that is electronically timed using some gear that I put together, and is in the previous blog post. One thing that was pointed out to me today that this is great for our students who need to work on some fitness as part of their sports team. The coaches would love to work on skills and technique as part of their weekly training, not really wanting to use it for fitness training, though when you drop the ball, you are still going to have to do ten push ups. This is something that I am getting into as well, though I am working up to it. I have the bike at school and I ride it, just to make sure the students are ok, and normally mens that I have to do it twice just to catch up with the tail end.
The top of the bridge, 2.5km turnaround point
I like the last part of the video, "over time, as you can make good decisions around your learning, you will earn a passport that will allow you more and more freedom around your choices."

How does your school develop freedom around students choices in their learning?

Friday, 24 April 2015

Challenging myself

It is interesting how much a goal for myself has now influenced some of my development as well as a module.

I love mountain biking, I enjoy cycling. But one this is, I need to work on my fitness levels. We look at goals with our students in out learning hubs, be it around my learning, my being or my community. Students have been busy this week looking at their goal from term 1, and working on a term 2 goal. Modelling what I would like to see from the students I included a goal, to be able to run 5 km.

This is a challenge for me, on tuesday I went out onto the field after school and went for a run... I did not get 5 km. But I have goals to help me get to the 5km.

Working towards a goal does sometime require smaller goals, this was something that I took away from the presentation on Wednesday from Live more Awesome, to be able to get to the goal, how are you going to get there. Also "ask for help".

Last year, I decided to try and develop a system to help people work towards a goal, it was to be associated with a Physical Education option as well as helping students develop fitness through running.

I purchased from  a USB RFID reader and associated aerial, some RFID tags, which I have now found are 125MHz, so my idea of using something that had on them (metrocard or AT Hop Card) didn't quite work, as I have now found that there are other frequencies.

Development had been on hold, however I have been playing around with how to get it working, doing readings.

Last week I planned my mytime through the HPSS planing sheet.

I decided that I wanted to try and do something different, to be able to record the data through an electronic system. To develop a way to celebrate personal bests. This whole mytime is around developing personal bests. I am talking to the specialists at school about how to do this, as well have looked at other websites that work towards getting communities of people running and how they manage it.

This is a proof of concept and waiting for an area of the community to be reopened. The idea is develop a way for our community to be a part of this. It needs to be simple enough, accessible and informative.

At the moment the timing system is started by a RFID tag that is setup to reset the timer. Then any tags after it will record a finish time as well as show the student their time. This will be saved to a csv file as a backup. the idea will be for it to be sent live to a mysql server in which it will run a webpage showing a graph, number of km run and also to support the student by showing personal bests.

The hardware was brought through

The extra RFID tags were bought through

Programming has been done in python at present using in particular the sample program

To make the data go through to a website running php and mysql, I needed to install mysql.connector for mysql
as well as pyserial to be able to link to the rfid usb reader

Now I want to make it as small as possible for the environment that it could end up in, so I have it running on a Raspberry Pi at present, though doing some reading I came across that I needed to disable UART on the RPi.
You need to disable uart on rpi to allow serial usb to communicate

Now to change the code to get usb port working on the rpi
serial = serial.Serial("/dev/ttyUSB0", baudrate=9600)

Testing on the bench this afternoon
Installed in its location, with some more graphics and details to come

It is now setup to start timing based upon a RFID tag that has been programmed through its unique number to start a mass start of students. Interesting that I also have one to quit the program as well. They are labelled so I don't get them mixed up.

Next steps, program individual start's through the users RFID tag.
Push all results through to a mysql database (requires a wireless adapter or network connection enabled in its location)
Enable a better user management system rather than using dictionary in python.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Reflection from term one

I sit here on the last day of the school holidays thinking. There has been a lot going on around me this term. 

The challenge of a new school that is challenging me to think different. The challenge of a curriculum area that I am being questioned about at a local level, but also a national level. The challenge of developing innovate courses, which engage and challenge students thinking in a way that is challenging me to come up with new ways to report their progressions but also to get them to understand where they are at and what steps forward they can look at. Developing learners.

It has been a difficult term in the way of mindsets. Almost the whole staff went on a growth mindset professional development day, and I went to a ncea workload reference group meeting. In some ways this is summing up things at present. With the vision of our school, we are looking at the wellbeing of students through the framework of ncea. In which case is challenging me as president of a subject association. With ncea not being taken out of the picture, but having the focus on learning, rather than high states assessment. There have been a number of requests to drop some of the computer science areas to level one. this would mean that the data representation area would be replaced by possibly the programming components. I have always wondered sometime where things are, but I am starting to develop a better understand of what future focussed possibly means. Was it the intention that was thought about in 2010 when these standards were written that there could be the possibility of ncea level one not being taught in secondary schools in New Zealand. When I look at these standards now and what we are teaching them is it possible that this could be the intention of a junior curriculum, to develop this knowledge and skills?

Though I did gain some new understanding from the ncea workload reference group. We were asked to look at the fact sheets that were put out in 2011.

From 2014 there will be no unit standards based on the New Zealand Curriculum.

The NCEA workload reference group was an interesting meeting, though as all good things, it will take time to be able to make some difference.

The introduction of SOLO has been a bit hit and miss with me at present. But as I go through this year it is something that I am finding important. Something that possibly didn't hit me until Thursday when I went through the objective, description of each of my SPINS and then explained to the students what the SOLO levels were for each of them. The students probably understand this more than me at present as it is language that they are getting in every single block, and not just from one teacher.

I am lucky enough to be sitting on a reference group for the positioning of digital technologies. The first part of the meeting was looking at a vision. The vision of the New Zealand Curriculum and what this could mean for a learning area. It is interesting what education could look like in 2025. We were given a A3 paper in which it had what this could look like. It is interesting when I look at it I can see our school, not in the images that are used in it, but in what we are trying to achieve. Where students, teachers, and the community fit in. One area that I have been thinking about for a while is the one of peer to peer learners. Students learn a lot from each other and I saw that when I was going through school. I struggle to see how separating desks in a classroom helps with the learning, something I have never been able to do. 

Being aware of other teachers teaching, this is something that I am enjoying, no longer being in a room, locked away from others, instead I have teachers teaching around me. Seeing how they work with students, have the mini chat, working with students one on one or in some cases one to many different groups. It sparks ideas.

The challenge of the open plan office. This is something I am working on. It is interesting that both my brother and my father work in open plan offices and in talking to them I am now becoming aware of the positives and negatives. 

What have I managed to cover this term,
Technological systems
Outcome development

The need for a onesie. An essential for International Onesie day, which we celebrate at school.

It was great catching up today with a number of staff from my old school, one comment was "How happy you look".

Now I am working through my planning for next term, working through python exercises, 3d modelling in sketchup and trying to work out ideas for mytime. Thank goodness for POND and the ability to add resources in that I can look at later. Some of the resources that I am finding and putting together will make interesting lessons.