Archive | August, 2014

Video of the Week

26 Aug


This is the most thought provoking thing I’ve seen for sometime.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

eLearning Framework

26 Aug

Core Education, TKI and the VLN will help no end with your own individual and school plan. The popularity of social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, coupled with high-tech video games and 21st century entertainment for our students outside of school is necessitating a change in the way we as educators prepare and present information to our students.  Gone are the days where we can get away with 50 minutes of lecturing.  However, elearning is not PowerPoint. Googling is not eLearning. So here are some tips I found.

1. Get comfortable with one piece of technology at a time.

Your PLN is probably already inundating your Twitter feeds with more Web 2.0 tools than you know what to do with.  Pick the most relevant tools and get comfortable using them at home. If you don’t feel comfortable using technology, you will be even less comfortable teaching it to your students. 

2. Involve students in your planning.  

With eLearning in class, I introduce the technology to a few of my students and get their opinions on it.  I ensure they know the rules of being digital citizens. The students know what they like and what will hold their interest.  If they like it, I make that piece of technology a priority in my planning, but if they appear uninterested, I toss out that idea and revisit my Twitter feed looking for something new.  Ask your students what technology they use on a regular basis.  If all of your students use Facebook, make it a part of your class. 

3. Lean on colleagues.

Meet with colleagues in your building or call on your PLN for assistance when you start integrating technology into your lessons.  Most teachers are more than willing to share their successes and failures with interested colleagues. You will be able to learn from their mistakes and not have to deal with some of the growing pains your colleagues had to go through.

4. Don’t get discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t work out as planned.

More on this next week.

5. Technology integration may be extra work on the front end, but it’s worth it.

Trying something new as opposed to going with the tried and true lesson always produces a little extra work. However, the long-term benefits of engaging your students far outweigh the cost of spending a couple extra hours in front of the computer after school.   As I have learned, the extra effort goes a long way to engage the students in your lesson and leave them wanting more. 

E-learning: Professional Reading & Strategies

20 Aug

This week some notes from the vault on eLearning.

• How to model technology use in the classroom – Veteran teacher Heather Wolpert-Gawron offers 20 tips for using and modelling the use of technology in the classroom. Teachers should involve students in setting up new technology, use digital tools — such as document cameras, videoconferencing and interactive whiteboards — throughout the school day and use tech-inspired vocabulary, even when talking about offline activities, she writes.

• Google for Educators: The Best Features for Busy Teachers – An article which explores user-friendly Google tools which will keep you and your class inspired, inventive, and organized. I can see that giving students time to explore these tools within your subject context could keep juniors on-task and interested in learning as the term and year comes to an end.
• Fostering Student Creativity and Responsibility With Blogging – When sixth graders enter middle school, they are masters of some aspects of digital technology and lost when it comes to others. Despite their familiarity with some digital technology, they often lack specific skills needed for interacting with particular digital tools and interfaces. Many of them also lack the perseverance necessary for troubleshooting tech issues. This blog post also has links to other readings and resources about using blogs in education.

• Summer PD: Web Tools Collectives Part 3 — Collecting, Organizing and Making Sense of Information – Access to the Internet brings an almost unlimited amount of content to our fingertips. Effectively collecting, organizing, and making sense of this information is critical to learning. Ubiquitous access to information provides many opportunities and challenges for “formal” education systems. After all, what good is memorizing the atomic number for Iridium when you can just text Cha Cha?

• Edutecher newsletter for July 2011 – This “Mega-Newsletter” is an oldie but a goodie. It shares some great new tools and resources.

What Effective Feedback Is and Isn’t

11 Aug


As I prepare students for their next assignment I have stirred considerable interest in feedback and feed forward in conversations with students and staff.

Effective feedback is an enormous topic – and a crucial one for us to understand due to its powerful effect on student achievement.  Few aspects of teaching and learning have more potential to raise achievement.

To be effective, feedback must be goal-referenced, understandable, and immediately actionable.  Feedback should not be advice, evaluation, or value judgements.

Marge Scherer, editor of ASCD’s Educational Leadership, says that the best feedback “describes what the student has done and helps the student decide what to do next.” – notice she used the verb “describes” and not “evaluates”.

John Hattie and Helen Temperley, in their 2007 Article for Educational Review “Assessment: Feedback to Promote Student Learning”, gave us the three essential questions:
1. Where am I going? (What is the goal?)
2. How am I going? (What progress is being made towards the goal?)
3. Where to next? (What activities need to be undertaken to make better progress?)

Hattie and Temperley called these: feed-up, feed-back, and feed-forward.

Grant Wiggins does a great job of further describing what effective feedback is and isn’t in his article: 7 Keys to Effective Feedback.

For Effective Teacher-to-Learner Feedback:

The key to effective feedback actually comes BEFORE the students begin their work.  Effective feedback requires well designed learning goals and success criteria against which students’ progress can be compared to formulate good feedback.  The timing of the completion of the work must be planned so the feedback can be given DURING the learning process, not after it.  Feedback loses a great deal of its impact if it is accompanied by a mark or grade.

To maximise the effectiveness of the feedback, teachers must:

Set clear, concrete, specific learning goals and must demonstrate what success will look like:
Do the students know what success looks like? Are the criteria clear enough for students to measure their work against it to identify gaps?

If you have the time and want to dive into some indepth study of Learning Goals, the Ontario Ministry of Education has put together a  short-course: Learning Goals & Success Criteria (6 videos of approx 8mins and a 57 page self-study guide).

Thanks to my PLN for providing me with this information this week.


Thanks for the questions and feedback on online learning.

I hope this is useful. In my teaching environment we commonly use the discovery approach to learning. Students have little trouble with the discovery approach to learning (Constructivist), so long as it is purposeful, engaging and directed at using the processes of cognition that improve learning. The experience of this pedagogy is that it encourages teachers to deliver lessons that are accessible to the Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic learner. The research of Kolb and Fry and also of Peter Jarvis, serves to remind us that in designing Online Courses, it is necessary to cater for the wide range of learning styles that exist (Smith 2001). Online Learning, should allow students to experience the Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic aspects of learning. This suggests that the online delivery of courses should draw on rich-mixed forms of media, to ensure maximum engagement with the students. Please contact me for references noted here.

Impact of the New National Curriculum on Online Learning

5 Aug

“Pedagogy can be defined as a combination of knowledge and skills required for effective teaching. Online learning requires a different approach to pedagogy, also known as virtual pedagogy or epedagogy.” (University of Adelaide, 2009).

The New Zealand Curriculum is one of the most significant changes to the educational landscape in New Zealand since the introduction of standards based assessment, with the Qualifications Framework and the National Certificate of Education Achievement, NCEA. Today all state schools within New Zealand are expected to be offering educational programmes that are in line with the new curriculum. The overall Vision of the curriculum is to create young people who will be confident, connected, actively involved, and lifelong learners. (The New Zealand Curriculum 2007, p7)

At the student learning end of the New National Curriculum, the curriculum is comprised of Values, Key Competencies and Learning Areas. Values are deeply held beliefs that motivate behaviour such as excellence, innovation, inquiry and curiosity, diversity, equity, ecological sustainability and integrity. The Key Competencies are described as capabilities for living and lifelong learning.

Thinking, using Language, symbols and texts, managing self, relating to others, participating and contributing, will all be competencies that people can expect to draw on throughout life. They also provide the basis for the future learning in these specialised learning areas. These ideals had to be clearly immersed into my vision of online learning. As a school we are using Ultranet and Office 365.

As a staff we have been working through a process that is bringing staff up to speed with the necessary changes, especially within the specific learning areas.

We have been looking at how the nature of our special character and commitment to our independent learner profile marries with the principles, values and key competencies of the NZ Curriculum. There may be some differences in the language used, but mostly we hold very similar views. We believe that through effective pedagogy, best practice in line with our teaching charter, and embedding the independent learner profile, students will develop as young people who will be confident, connected, actively involved, and lifelong learners. What better time to launch this blended leaning environment.

Video of the Week

4 Aug


Lesson Objectives

4 Aug

This year I have been privileged to observe teaching pedagogy by teachers in classrooms in my school in departmental review and appraisal situations. One of the indicators of effective instruction is that each lesson has a clear learning intention stated up front to the students in the class. In many classrooms I visited the learning intention was also written for students. In the flipped classroom situation many students knew this before the lesson had even begun.

I was able to ask some students about why they learning this lesson and was puzzled by what I saw as a gap between students knowing the learning intentions and understanding the purpose of the lesson. This is not an uncommon problem.

After lots of reflection and some reading it appears to me that lesson intentions that focus simply on the skill/s being taught the connections or concepts students need to learn to apply these skills in new settings.

The following piece of research sums it up better than I:


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