Thursday, 25 September 2014

What do we know about learning?

I can't say enough how much I value the work of researchers, Bolstad and Gilbert et al who wrote the report for the Ministry of Education on "Supporting future oriented learning and teaching".
The report focuses on a vision for New Zealand learning and what transformation of education could look like for New Zealand.  In some schools, the transformation has begun.  We need to focus on the six themes of future oriented learning and teaching to undergo the transformation.
They are personalised learning, new views of equity and diversity, new connections to the community (local, national and international) using knowledge to build learning power, lifelong learning for leaders and educators, and new roles for teachers and learners.  Another earlier blogpost refers to these themes.

My mind keeps wandering back to page 15, table 3 in the report.  "What we know about learning." The table heading is a statement, not a question.   In other words, this is what we know about learning from the research.
I think the table provides a great basis for a  reflective tool to check out how we as teachers are supporting learning.  I have made up a form (see below) based on the table so you can do a self review.

  • It would be great if you could answer all ten questions.  That would allow you, and other teachers to view your responses.  
  • This form is completely anonymous and I see it as a way to think about the learning that is going on in your class, and learn from others as well.  
  • You are able to edit your responses.

If you are the first person here, go on, fill it out and allow others to learn from you, as well as reviewing your own performance as a teacher.
You are also welcome to make a copy of the form to use in your schools.  Make a copy of the form here by going the the menu "File" and choosing "Make a copy"  (You will need your own Google (free) account to do this).
The responses can be viewed at this link (which is also available at the end of the form)
For those of you who do not want to complete the form: here are the ten questions:
Are students in my class thinking?  How do I know this?
Am I providing experiences to draw on? Examples of this are?
Am I supporting my students to build deeper knowledge by searching for different approaches to answers?  An example of when I have not “given the right answer” is...
Are my students actively engaged in processing new knowledge (is there a task which required them to engage and interpret the new knowledge?)  The new knowledge is ….  The task is ….
Do my students want to learn this material?  How do I know this?  Is it relevant to them is there another way of learning the material which makes it more relevant?
Do my students have control over the pace and goals of the learning?  I have given choice to them when …..  The students can go back to the learning at …...time.
Is there structure to the learning? When students are ready for the learning, have I resources and learning management systems that allow them to do this?
Does the learning involve interaction with others? Do my students work with each other to create new learning?  What evidence do I have of learning that happens with people other than myself?  Do I enable connections for interactions to happen?
Does learning happen outside the classroom and do I acknowledge it, and plan for it?  In what ways have I enabled learning outside the classroom?
How do I expand the intelligence of each of my students?  Can I demonstrate ways in which learning has happened for students who thought they were “no good” at something?

Tuesday, 23 September 2014


Todays thoughts are for Christchurch.  Such a beautiful city still lays wasted by earthquakes.  A stark reminder, as we walked the streets after our conference snapping photos, on how lucky we are not to have suffered the losses in lives, buildings, livelihoods and broken dreams.  How lucky we are not to have to live amongst the rubble, dust and memories every day for three years.

But they are getting on with it - the rebuild.  Although the graunching machinery sounds more destructive to the ear, there are busy sounds, not so unpleasant.  These photos are some of those I took today.    So no real sense of connectedness in this post, fellow educators, just a reminder to celebrate the lives we have.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Monday, 22 September 2014

Upping the ante

With "Connected Educator Month" coming up, it is timely for me to increase my blog output.  The month-long event is a prompt to remind me how much I learn from blogging and to get onto it.  It  is such a useful learning strategy to reflect on what I have learned, and where I am going and sometimes just cogitate.

I sometimes feel that blogging is my outlet for venting frustrations as well but then I remember I should be politically circumspect.  In my work, it pays not to get too "out there" with your political stance - it could get you into trouble as Mr Whale Oil (Cameron Slater) has found out.  I suppose he has made his money in the meantime though.

Blogging is also a way for me to connect with other educators.  Isolation has been one of the barriers I have suffered from (and also enjoyed) in the past. Not just geographically.   My social self is underdeveloped.  I am always the person who stands on the outside of the crowd, the last to be chosen for sports sides, the most likely to not have a date for the ball.  (Despite all that I have a happy marriage (the second of two, in fact),  lifelong friends and a great career.)

Blogging gives me an added dimension.  I have a voice.  It is not restricted by social mores.  So, over the next month, I am going to put myself out there more often, more regularly and more directly.  My goal is to blog once a day over connected educator month, at the end of the day.  With something to say, or not.  Getting on this bus and going for a ride.

Let'e see what comes out of it.

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