Friday, 11 December 2015

Where did we get to in 2015?

Toward the end of 2015 we waited with baited breath to see our learners results from November testing to find out whether the things we been discussing and debating in this blog and the work we'd done as a staff, actually worked.

Like all industries we have good years and hard years, and we were really hoping this would be a 'good one'.
You can imagine our relief as the results came in, we prepared reports for parents, our community and the NZ Ministry of Education, and we could see that together, we had done well.

As we do every year, we met with our parents in the School Hall and shared the good news as well as consulting about how we would do things in 2016.
Here's a summary of that report.
I want to conclude this post at the end of 2105, having thanked our learning partners in my report above, by acknowledging a great leader, educator, mentor and friend, our Kaumatua Ihaka Samuels who passed away this year.
You will have seen and heard, if you watched my report, the landing of Mālama Honua at Pt England Beach, in March this year.
The ancient wisdom that was imparted to us, which enabled this landing, the approval of the name Manaiakalani itself, the true story of Maui Tiki Tiki ā Taranga, were taught us by this faithful friend, brother, father and elder.
Kia ora Ihaka. You've helped us succeed. You taught us to tie our waka to the highest star and not a glow worm.
To mother Mary, the children and grandchildren who are still with us, we acknowledge both the loss and the legacy.
Kia ora tatou.

Friday, 23 October 2015

So where are we up to now?

This post is a break in the discussion about Re-Tooling School and practice change and is instead a progress report of how this is playing out at Pt England over time. This report takes the form of a presentation to parents about how they can engage with the learning of their tamariki

Monday, 31 August 2015

The Quest for Effective Teacher Practice with Sanity in a Digital Learning Environment

As we continue to look for the affordances that produce accelerated learning outcomes in our learners, we become more precise in the identification of the items that make a difference.
We are assisted in this process by our Research Partners from the Woolf Fisher Research Centre of the University of Auckland.

The identification of the 'change making' items and the 'topography' of the classrooms in which they are most significantly occurring produces valuable clarity for development and practice change. At the same time this produces significant tension between the 'teaching conscience' -the desire to do as well as humanly possible for our learners and the need for teachers to retain their sanity as they innovate in an environment where the artefacts for the leading of learning all need to be custom built for multiple groups in 3 different subjects.

Just as we discovered during the years of Schooling Improvement, its abundantly obvious that appropriately differentiated small group Direct Instruction is one of the 'Game Changers'. This item of quality teaching is actually no different in the digital age from what it was in the analogue age of teaching. What is different is the affordance of provision to the learner and learning partners outside of the time of direct instruction some notion of direction and focus that is connected to an associated learning activity that can be carried out independently or collaboratively. This notion of the learner and learning partners not always having to wait for, or have the presence the teacher, is an absolutely new affordance and adds significant value to the 'Differentiated, Direct Instruction Game Changer'.

The other significant Game Changer which adds on to the 'Leading of Learning' is this artefact providing a high quality learning activity which links to and consolidates the learning from the Direct Instruction. The more effectively these artefacts are linked and are effective in embedding the learning from the Direct Instruction, the more we see High Cognitive Engagement and accelerated achievement outcomes.

As we pursue this effective, differentiated linkage there is a direct effect on teacher workload, especially at the beginning of this creative journey as almost all of the artefacts for leading or consolidating learning are custom builds. Fortunately the workload reduces as teacher proficiency and efficiency increases and teachers become more effective at creating 'leading of learning' artefacts that can be generically applied across levels within a learning discipline.

The piece in the middle, seen again here below, remains critical in the teacher planing cycle
Screen Shot 2015-06-13 at 4.10.59 pm.png as it is during this phase that all this 'hard graft' of planning and preparing for learning and teaching takes place. 

What this means practically for Pt England School is that as a staff we discuss:

  •  how much differentiation is too much and how much is the right amount
  • how to most effectively link learning activities to direct instruction
  • the balance between generic learning activities and custom builds with level specific WALT focus
I'm happy to report that whole staff is actively engaged in this learning and that we can celebrate huge success, both in implementation and in visible improvement in learning and teaching.

Monday, 3 August 2015

A More Inclusive New Zealand

Last week I had the humbling privilege to meet with passionate New Zealanders at a Treasury Hosted Event entitled 'A More Inclusive New Zealand'. This event was attended by just over 200 people and was an absolutely riveting mixture of 'practitioner narrative', 'executive summary' of NZ research findings and external critique.
It was a marvellous opportunity to link evidence to practice in a cross sector forum. I'm not aware of this being done in New Zealand previously. Well done Treasury!

Rather than rabbit on exhaustively about something that's extremely well covered elsewhere, I urge you to read Gabriel Makhlouf's opening address. Gabriel is the Secretary of the Treasury in NZ and for my offshore readers, for 'Secretary' read Boss! 
It's extremely heartening to live in a country where the 'man in charge of the money' is urging us in this direction!

I would also urge you to visit the More Inclusive NZ site so you get to connect with the thoughts and ideas of people who are contributing to this important conversation in New Zealand, and to the 'Superu' government site which in their own words is encouraging the use of evidence by people across the social sector so that they make better decisions about funding, policies or services to improve the lives of New Zealand's communities, families and whanau. 

My role at this wonderful event was to speak about equity and access for participatory citizenship by affecting change in the compulsory sector of education.
Here's what I had to show and tell:

Friday, 17 July 2015

Planning for Learning as part of ReTooling Schools

Now, back to unpacking that elusive 'Planning for Learning' element we were beginning to examine, prior to supplying a couple of bits of ReTooling history!

Having digitised learning at Pt England using 1:1 iPads in the junior school and 1:1 ChromeBooks from Y4 up, and having made that learning as visible and accessible to learners and their families as is currently possible and appropriate, we see the lens of 'Planning for Learning' as an imperative for bringing practice change in respect of the practice items that bring about accelerated learning opportunities.

To get consistent acceleration in the ‘3 R’s’ in Primary School and  NCEA at Secondary School in the Learn, Create, Share digital paradigm we need to change teacher practice in respect of some defined learning @ teaching activities. 
Simply put, unless teachers plan for practice change in their mid - short term planning the change will not occur and will certainly not be sustainably embedded.

If we're planning to apply the affordances of new technologies to gaining shift in reading, keeping in mind elements of the new paradigm we wish to see present in the delivery or learning experience, we will need to see very deliberate and 'visible' planning for the items listed in the bullet points above.
If we hope for the practices to be embedded and sustained they will need to be collaborative as this significantly reduces the risk of teachers receiving professional development and then going back to class, shutting the door and doing what they always did.

I'm indebted to Juanita Garden, one of the gifted Associate Principals I work with for her representation of what this planning for learning dilemma looks like in chart form.
It seemed that as we digitised the delivery of learning and made the long term and weekly planning & leading of learning visible and available to learners and their families, that we lost clarity around the piece in the middle that may currently need to be available only to the teaching faculty as it will be explicit around the needs of an individual learner or a group of learners. We believe the 'piece in the middle looks something like this:

The discussion that then ensued, was around how to optimise this, in a cloud based environment so that our learners received the most informed and specific direct instruction and related individual or collaborative learning experiences that we could possibly deliver. -All this, without the teacher going crazy!

We came up with level specific models which the school faculty navigate to, from the class or group learning page so that its easy for teachers to focus the learning in real time using the same environment that is being used to publicly lead the learning for the learners in that class or group. 
I would certainly invite you to visit any of the Pt England Class Pages that lead learning at this school, but if you would like to visit one logic chain of visible planning through visible learning to visible share-point via public blog, this site is a good one to visit.

One of the great challenges in NZ education is that unless teachers can effectively integrate, something that must be thoughtfully planned for if it is going to be carried out successfully, they will not actually be able to deliver the whole of the curriculum requirement. The NZ Curriculum is designed to be integrated and whole areas will be missed unless it is. The integration requirement for Term 3, 2015 at Pt England School looks something like this. Where the window is our Learn, Create, Share inquiry theme and the items in the window are everything that must be integrated.

If we return to our Practice Change bullet points from earlier in this post;
  • planning for learning and the leading of learning
  • deliberate acts of teaching or direct instruction
  • independent learning activities
  • reflective feedback loops
  • collaborative practice
You can see that successfully planning and integrating the items above and having high quality direct instruction, independent learning activities and powerful reflective feedback loops, would be terribly difficult and even impossible for young teachers unless this is all part of collaborative practice.

In this quest for practice change that applies the affordances of a digital learning environment to enhance accelerated acquisition of the '3R's' we expect to match the public or visible leading of learning with 'private to teacher' specific queue's, with the learner's actual work and finally their published product.
I'm indebted to another of my amazing staff (Matt Goodwin) for this great example of what this could  look like:

Public Leading of Learning for Children & Families

Teacher Notes to guide Direct Instruction

Observation of Direct Instruction

 Items of learner's work visible via the Teacher Dashboard

Actual item of work

Items of work visible to families via the parent portal

Progressional Information available to families

Published work on Learner's Blog

And the desired outcome of all this?
Instead of this........
We get this....

4 Pou (Posts) that support ReTooling

One of the artifacts  I've been particularly asked to supply as part of this discussion of what supports the business of ReTooling School, is this Screen Record that represents a 'summary of learnings' from the Schooling Improvement years.

I promise you this one is much briefer than the last, (only 3 mins v 30 mins) and supplies some key information about the foundations ReTooling actually rests on.

Foundations for ReTooling

First off, apologies to all who have bothered to read my work thus far, for the long hiatus in posting. -Very slack, I know!

As I consider what I've written thus far, I'm challenged by the fact that although I provided a 'Back-Grounder' as context for the work of ReTooling, I then launched right in from where we're up to right now and didn't provide much foundation or many of the antecedents that support this work.

There are obviously people who would like access to some of this prior work that supports our history of clustering for 'schooling enhancement' as I've been receiving requests to make a few of these artifacts and bits of content available. I'm hoping this Screen Record might help make some of the meaning behind the story.

The Manaiakalani Story; -my perspective

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Sensible Structures for Making Learning Visible

I've spent quite a few days/weeks now, considering the findings brought to us by the Woolf Fisher Research Centre referred to in my last post:
  • boys engagement in their learning.
  • the slump in progress visible across our cluster in Y7/8 and the accentuated drop across the summer into Y9.
  • the need to refocus on previously identified components of learning and teaching of Reading that were bringing consistent acceleration which during the last two years appears to have reduced.
I've had conversations with Pt England leaders and principals from our Manaiakalani schools as I've thought about possible ways to address these needs. As noted in my previous post, my inquiry challenge is to:
  • work with staff to clearly identify the desired practices which bring about the looked for change across the domains enumerated above
  • work with the management team to identify, describe and implement strategies for getting these practices well understood by all staff
  • developing strategy for getting these implemented in a timely fashion without staff overload.
My thinking has been shaped by the visit of Michael Fullan this month, and the need to articulate ideas clearly for video interviews along with the opportunity for conversation with a wise and knowledgeable, razor-sharp mind. My thinking was also shaped and influenced by the landing of Mālama Honua on Pt England Beach this month and the ideas around the power of integrating ancient knowledge and wisdom with new technologies to achieve a brighter and better future.
Many of the items of a high quality learning and teaching cycle have not changed in principle as we've shifted into a 1:1 digital medium for learning. These traditional successful practices constitute the "ancient knowledge and wisdom" pertaining to learning and teaching.
As we've moved into a 1:1 digital reception, transmission and collaboration for and of learning, we have, of necessity, "sandboxed" and experimented with pedagogy and practice. We have needed to do this to investigate what the Woolf Fisher Research Centre have called "the affordances of the new technologies". We've now spent a couple of years moving through this phase and have reached the moment where we need to identify clearly the elements and understandings of our current successful practice and integrate the "ancient wisdom" with the new technologies just like Maui tiki-tiki-a-tāranga did when he made landfall here in Aotearoa.
A graphic visualiser of this thinking about visible learning with 1:1 digital technologies and the associated workflows and activities in the learning and teaching cycle looks like this:
It should be noted that the 'Learning Teaching Cycle' is never linear or 'flat', but this is a useful way of trying to look at it and think about it. The grey boxes on this chart are the only elements that at present we don't intend to make visible to families, learners and partners in learning, other than the teaching staff. We do still intend to share those elements across the teaching fraternity.
Each of the elements we expect to be present in a quality learning and teaching cycle that will strengthen both behavioural and cognitive engagement, needs to be unpacked and understood by teachers. When these elements are well understood, seen to be present and effectively actioned, our belief is that some of the goals expressed earlier in this post, will begin to be met without specifically focusing on the cohort or goal itself.
An example of this would be the unpacking of the element; "Workflow Information" as understood from a learner perspective. 

We are of the opinion that clarity about the items here will make a significant difference for all learners in our 1:1 digital and collaborative environment, but that it may be a real key to helping boys in their learning as typically they require explicit information, guidance and scaffolding in this area.

We have also come to the conclusion that a close focus on longer term planning with the key development goals in mind will raise achievement in the desired areas. For this reason a term 2 focus @ Pt England, will be the functional, collaborative and workflow practices that are part of effective longer term (5 - 10 week) planning for differentiation and personalisation in learning opportunity.
The unpacking of this element will need to wait for my next post.

Lets keep ReTooling School!

Tuesday, 3 March 2015

My 2015 Inquiry

As a result of analysing our 2014 end of year data, the Pt England Management Team and Board agreed that we needed to:
  • continue building on the platform of High Behavioural Engagement across our school
  • get High Cognitive Engagement in every class or learning space. See my previous post for the thinking behind this.
On Tuesday 10 February Dr Rebecca Jesson from the Woolf Fisher Research Centre of Auckland University presented their research findings to the combined staff of the 12 Manaiakalani schools. This presentation represented WFRC's early analysis of the same data set we used for our inquiry goals, but combined this with the data from the 11 other schools in the Manaiakalani Group.

The combined data set revealed great examples of Behavioural and Cognitive Engagement which we are able to analyse and use to identify desired practices we wish to see replicated in every class or learning space.
The data also revealed trends which matched our own analysis and surfaced or confirmed the need to inquire into:

  • boys engagement in their learning.
  • the slump in progress visible across our cluster in Y7/8 and the accentuated drop across the summer into Y9.
  • the need to refocus on previously identified components of learning and teaching of Reading that were bringing consistent acceleration which during the last two years appears to have reduced.
My inquiry, therefore is to investigate how to bring about practice change that positively
affects outcomes in the 5 areas bullet pointed above.

My inquiry challenge is to:
  • work with staff to clearly identify the desired practices which bring about the looked for change across the domains enumerated above
  • work with the management team to identify, describe and implement strategies for getting these practices well understood by all staff
  • developing strategy for getting these implemented in a timely fashion without staff overload.
The very real tension in this work is on the one hand going very slow to avoid overload, but not getting change embedded within an evaluation cycle and on the other hand trying to go too quick which will result in partial understanding and failed implementation.

Monday, 23 February 2015

Pt England Direction 2015

ReTooling School has for me been a rather elongated business. You can read the back story by reading my 'BackGrounder' if you're interested.

My major foci in the business of ReTooling for 2105 are described in the video below. As we go on through the year these foci will be sharpened, and indeed already have been, as a result of the Woolf Fisher Research Centre findings for 2014, which were published to our Manaiakalani Schools on the 10th of February this year. I'm most fortunate to be working with other members of the Pt England Learning Community as we inquire into questions relating to:

  • the behavioural engagement of boys in their learning
  • the pursuit of high cognitive engagement in all classes in our school
  • enhanced achievement outcomes and greater acceleration for Y7 & Y8 Learners.
Below is a recorded version of my presentation to Pt England Staff on 30 January 2015 to present direction for the Pt England Learning Community

Sunday, 22 February 2015

ReTooling Back-Grounder

         ReTooling School
       [a Pt England/Manaiakalani Story]

I began to realise that school had something seriously wrong with it on my 5th birthday. With my new leather over the shoulder school bag, I got on the bus with my older brother and was escorted to "primer one". I was filled with excitement and expected that I would go home with my own reading book that I would know how to read. Nothing like this happened.

Miss #####, a gnarly bat who's crusty exterior may have effectively hidden a heart of gold, was "unintentionally disinviting". I've chosen to believe it was unintentional. Worse, she did not introduce me to key learning, -the reason I had arisen that morning full of joy and expectation. Perhaps it was because my mum wasn't there that I really didn't like it, and of course when you're 5, you don't stop to consider that you might be the problem. 

As time went by, the persistent uneasy feeling that either school was busted or I had something wrong with me, just wouldn't go away. During early years at school, this was a completely quiet and internalised dissonance. It became externalised noisy and silly during intermediate years and increasingly disengaged & annoying during secondary school. On the part of most of my teachers there was no question of the "Jury being out" as to whether the problem was school or me. It was institutionally obvious. School became a place I couldn't wait to leave. I could do school. I just didn't like it.

On leaving school at the end of year 12, Teachers' College was a respectable option for a young school leaver from a family like mine and I was genuinely interested in whether learning could made exciting and engaging for all learners. I would love to report that our instruction at Teachers' College was exemplary, inspiring, delivered by our finest educators and started me well on the road to inspiring and engaging New Zealand School kids. I can report that I was encouraged and inspired by a very small number of outstanding educators and that some of them saw enough in me to help remain in the programme and graduate. Sadly, as an institution, the place that was intended to motivate, inspire and guide New Zealand's leading learners, appeared to me to be infected with the same malaise that affected schools. I think God must have a sense of humour because here I am, still at school at the tender age of 56 and I’ve been here since I was 5! -Amazing eh? -I didn’t like it and I never left!

I was privileged to grow up and work with Maori and Pasifika people and have been blessed over and over by the warmth of the welcome, the forgiveness and the absolute inclusion I have experienced. I’ve also been blessed to experience how skilled, intelligent and capable are these people who I live and work amongst. This experience was enhanced by working in Papua New Guinea and traveling the Asia-Pacific rim. Understanding some of the history of Aotearoa-New Zealand and seeing that past live in a more village-like setting, gives one an appreciation of the extraordinary capacity of people the world views as under educated.

The historic voyage of Hokule’a from Hawai’i to the Bay of Islands in 1985, that led to return voyages of Te Aurere and Hine Moana re-proved the extraordinary capability of the Pacific Navigators in modern times. How come the descendants of Maui, Kupe and Tepaki are mostly failing at school? Have they all got dumber? How can they be, when all the evidence says the opposite? What’s busted? School or the people? -And if we say we believe as a nation, in operationalising the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi; -how can this be alright?

-A long pre-amble to explain an adult life given to making school different for people who need that.
So, how do we ReTool school to make it engaging, empowering and success making? At the same time how do we guarantee equity and access so that what our government calls “priority learners”, have the same opportunities for 3rd millenium citizenship as everybody else?

ReTooling School requires:

1. a Change Pedagogy Imperative:
The antecedents of this pedagogy, which in Manaiakalani we have called Learn, Create, Share, are in our recent history of Schooling Improvement, Digital Learning development and the development of Cultural Responsiveness with a prime example being Te Kotahitanga. When the essential aspects of these areas of learning are amalgamated and new media are used for the reception and delivery modes, the learner experience is completely different. It is more than possible to develop new learner agency, efficacy and leadership in learning. This journey to genuine citizenship will have three major hallmarks:
  • ubiquity
     anywhere, anytime, any pace, any people learning

  • agency
    the power to act -informed/empowered/enabled learners

  • connectedness

The pedagogical paradigm change we are experiencing is as significant as the change from slate to exercise books: With slate being used as the medium for a one to many, simultaneous delivery system in large classroom the instructional mode could only ever be synchronous. When text and exercise books began to be used, the modern education system experienced the first asynchronous, group based instructional mode. The 3rd millenium new paradigm  allows for variation in respect of place, pace, space, time and people and is the next big change-up of the delivery mode since the advent of the exercise book. Quality teaching is still quality teaching with its critical inputs , feedback and time checks, but we are now able to innovate pedagogically in ways that were not previously available. We are also able to involve whanau in this endeavour. The chart below is an attempt to depict this change opportunity and the attendant tensions.

This pedagogical change imperative must drive all the other necessary ReTooling developments otherwise we will just be introducing toys and tools.

2. Operationalising of Te Tiriti o Waitangi
The principles we need to embed in all our practice and development are Partnership, Participation and Protection. -Essentially this means families, parents and children as genuine, safe, participatory partners.
  • our whanau/aiga are all paying $3.75/week over 3 years to own their child’s netbook device.
  • our whanau/aiga have co-constructed the Kawa of Care; -protocols for the safety, care and management of our children, their devices and their well being as they carry them to and from school.
  • our whanau/aiga and stakeholders are not simply being asked for “buy in” or being consulted, they are being invited to contribute to the development & design of the IP we are all using.
  • we are determined that there will be full participation, -no-one left out and that whanau will be able to oversee and participate in their children’s learning journeys.
  • we are committed to the principle that our learners must have a genuine voice and an authentic audience.
  • If the operationalising of these principles along with the pedagogical change imperative is not determined at the outset, the retooling process will result in a solution set that does not empower and enable the agency of the learner and whanau and may in fact result in the next generation of constraint and failure.

3. A new partnership around Schooling
In the work of ReTooling we have discovered that a new partnership is necessary around the delivery of education as not only are we unable to discover all the needed resource via vote education, but there are aspects of the work that at present, state education is not empowered to deliver. 
  • This partnership requires formal involvement of Academic Educators. Our pedagogical innovation needs to be informed and critiqued by people with credibility and authority.
  • As mentioned above, our whanau need to be much more than recipients or consultees. They need to be part owners of the process, -as do our learners.
  • We need help from the commercial sector, in order to develop a solution set that empowers people outside the normal commercial parameters. The commercial groups need to be partners and volunteers and not just purely commercial.
  • We need philanthropic partners who are prepared to move away from a traditional grantor - grantee relationship and work in a catalysing partnership for change.
  • We need volunteers to challenge all of the other sector partners and to develop IP that traditional enterprise, both education and commercial, won’t think of or consider.
  • We need a Charitable Trust to anchor all this activity and ensure neutral holding and equitable distribution of resource.
  • All these partnerships must conform to the principles of Te Tiriti o Waitangi and exist to deliver the ideas enunciated in the pedagogical change imperative.

4. Technical Provision
  • At an age determined by the community, each child must have their own appropriate net connected, learning focused device.
  • Each development must have a cloud solution that ensures “visible learning” with appropriate feedback -feedforward, identity and access management, permissioning and portability.
  • School infrastructure must be robust enough, that using these media is as reliable as opening a book.
  • For any time, any place, any pace learning to be a reality, home access must be provided at an affordable cost with appropriate safety and security measures.

5. R & D
Transparent research and development must be on-going and made honestly available to all partners, especially families.

ReTooling school will only happen where people acknowledge that its necessary because school as we have known it, is no longer OK. It will happen where there is desire and a sense of moral imperative. We need to:

The Manaiakalani/Pt England story is one of people saying "yes". We have immense gratitude to the many supporters who have enabled this new partnership for education success. We are an Open Source Project and are committed to giving away the IP we develop to empower people in one of New Zealand's most fragile communities.
Pt England School and the Manaiakalani Programme are located in Tamaki, Auckland.

For further information about the Manaiakalani Programme or the process of ReTooling School, please visit the Manaiakalani website @ or contact Russell: