Archive | November, 2014

Professional Reading

28 Nov

I love summer. It is a time to spend with family, time to relax, rejuvenate, reflect and learn. It is time to up my ironman training. Training really gets sorted and my goodness I do feel unfit at present. I so enjoy learning in the summer. It is learning at my own pace, and in my own direction. Learning that is blissfully all for me. It truly is a “choose your own adventure” kind of time.

For the past few months I have been placing books on myself to be read when I have a moment and those moments have been few and far between. The stack of promise titles continued to grow and grow holding within them my wonderings, curiosities and interests. Now as the summer is so very close at hand I have pulled them off the shelf and placed them in my book bag ready to accompany me on my summer adventures. Don’t get me wrong these titles do not represent the whole of my reading plans for this summer. There are many personal, just for fun books that I plan to devour. However, I really do enjoy reading professionally over the summer as well. Summer reading usually takes place on a beach, on my deck overlooking the pool, or curled up in bed long after the house is quiet. Reading in these places inspires me to savor the ideas, make connects, and stop to dream. No other time for reading gives me such joy.



A Mixed Bag…

24 Nov
10 Random Thoughts on Teaching and Learning Part One:

1). The relationships among the staff in school have a significant impact on student learning & student achievement.
2). Teachers are responsible for their own professional development.

3). The simple idea that somebody encourages and believes in you can be hugely empowering.

4). A teacher not being attentive to the emotional status of the students in class is approaching educational malpractice.
5). Use your professional language with your students; in time, they will too…be a vocal & visible advocate for teaching.
6). Get with your students and move in your class!
7). Our students need all types of experiences. It’s not all about assessment and credits. .
8). Plan with purpose & act with confidence.
9). The purpose of education is so that younger generations surpass us rather than match us. We are creating leaders of tomorrow.
10). Our future depends on the individuals who break from the conventional practices

On-line Discussion Boards

I have had much success with this over the last 5 years but it has not been easy. I have relayed a great deal on literature and sharing ideas. Edelstein and Edwards (2002) reported the need for the teacher to manage the online learning environment through threaded discussion boards. “To accomplish a level of interaction that is conducive to an active and progressive learning community, a facilitator may opt to incorporate threaded discussions as a means of generating or promoting interaction” (Edelstein, S., Edwards, J. 2002, p21). Typically this would occur in a Wiki or perhaps some variant of a Blog.

The use of threaded discussion boards, allows for a level of connectivity and interaction in the process of learning that potentially occurs on the learners’ terms and time. It is also a process that calls upon the different learning styles. Steven A. Greenlaw and Stephen B. DeLoach (2003). “If critical thinking is to occur, students must be engaged by the assignment….For this engagement to occur, several things are necessary. First, the electronic discussion needs to be seen as an integral part of the course, neither optional nor extra credit. Second, the discussion should be clearly connected to the material being covered during the in-class sessions” (Greenlaw, S. A., DeLoach. S.B. 2003, p42).

“A threaded discussion is a resource that enables individuals to post messages, read, and reply to colleagues in an asynchronous discussion. This asynchronous format is one in which each member can contribute at a time that is convenient and is utilized for its capability to bring online learners together, even though they may connect with one another at different times and from different locations (Liaw & Huang, 2000; Wall Williams, et al., 2001; Youngblood, Trede, & DiCorpo, 2001)” (Waltonen-Moore. S., Stuart. D., Newton. E., Oswald. R., Varonis, E. 2006, p288).

Please be in contact if you would like to more information.

Learning Te Reo

20 Nov

This year one of my goals has been learning Te Reo at the local learning institution. It has been an insight. Learning a new language is always both fascinating and frustrating at the same time. Fascinating because a whole new world opens up, and new connections are made. Frustrating because even though I am soon starting to understand some sentences in the new language, I am still far away from speaking fluency, and I know from experience that it will take a long time before I get there.

It occurred to me that learning always seems to follow the same pattern, no matter what we are learning, language or something else. First you gain some basic ideas about the topic (or language), and try to wrap your mind around it. Then you try to produce something from you newly learned knowledge. In language learning we call these receptive and expressive language skills. And language teachers have long time known how important it is to get students started with speaking on the target language from the day one, to keep the expressive threshold low for them.

Language teachers also know how important students’ talking in the class is,  when we want to help them get fluent.  It is equally important for students to externalize their thoughts and individual understanding about other school subjects to gain the necessary depth of learning. This is easily done by providing every student an opportunity to verbalize their understanding – and because we have limited time in the classroom, it must be done in short pair or group discussions. Every day. In every subject.

Curriculum Leadership

16 Nov

Effective teaching is about providing learning facilitation and leadership for students, so that they can feel empowered to engage in learning and meaning-making and have solid ownership for their learning.

Collaborative meaning making is the best tool for engaging people in a dialogue. The shared vision of learning is the imaginary future; and real curriculum leadership, not just management is the way to get there. Unless students and teachers are buying into the district vision, it doesn’t really matter what the papers have written on them, or how beautifully crafted the mission and vision statements are.

Taking Time to Reflect

9 Nov

As an educator I make several instant and instinctive decisions during each and every workday.  Where do these judgments come from? How to be more aware about the reasoning behind these decisions?  Now, this is where the reflective practice steps in. I try and base them on my educational philosophy which you can read on this blog.

Reflecting not only increases the awareness about reasons behind certain decisions, but often also reveals other possible options. Recognizing these possible choices being available arises from the awareness of different practices. Yet, if participating or reading doesn’t transfer to the everyday work and life, one could rightfully ask whether it was time well spent.  Reflecting extends the benefits of any professional development. The best and worst of reflective practice deals with emotions. This I must remember at this time of year. What has been your experience?



Being Ako

4 Nov

Maybe it’s just me, but thinking how being a learner only depends on your attitude?  With a curious approach to life even reading your daily newspaper can become a learning experience, not to talk about diving into books, journals, databases, libraries… and wikipedia. Maybe I am addicted to learning; I consider it great fun to hit the random article button in wikipedia or google and read about something I perhaps knew nothing about.

Lifelong learning is so important in these times when there is more information available in our fingertips than ever before.

Unfortunately many students are schooled out of their minds with too tight performance measures and learning objectives that leave very little or no space for wondering and creativity.  How can we help students to become interested in learning?


To be a Leader

Vision. Purpose. Values

Reveal greatness in others

Make the Right Choices


Unique Engaged Unassuming

Leaders Get Along with others

Have Emotional intelligence


Act with Genuine Care

Must have vision then act on it

Work on themselves first.

Preparing for Exams

1 Nov

In recent weeks there have been lots of conversations in school, on Twitter and on teacher blogs about preparing for the ‘final push’ ahead of their NZQA exams.  So, as a timely reminder, I thought it would be useful to try and gather together some of the key things we can be doing to help them through to the ‘finishing line’. Our GEMS programme has addressed this well.

  1. Focused – Do they know where they are in relation to their target grades, and the key things they need to be working on in order to achieve it?
  2. Familiar – Are they familiar with the format and layout of the exam paper in your subject?
  3. Basics – Do they know the key exam skills required for success in your subject? e.g. identifying the command words in questions, how to use connectives, how to use sources, data, text extracts etc.
  4. Organised – Do they know the dates and times of their exams?  Have they put together a well thought out revision schedule that covers all subjects and prioritizes weak areas?  They can use the calendar function on their smart phones to do this and set alarm reminders, to remind them to revise.
  5. Share your plan – Help them feel secure about your preparations by sharing you plan with them e.g. ‘We have X number of lessons left until your exam, we will spend X number of lessons on topic Z……etc.  But, be flexible with your plan and respond to their needs.

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