NCEA - Considering the 'Big Opportunities'

These recent months have seen a number of groups start putting their stake in the ground around the NCEA Review. It has been interesting seeing people reveal their cards, and often exposing some odd assumptions about what is actually being reviewed and who is shaping the review within the Labour/Green/NZ First camp. For the sake of "joining the conversation" I thought I might share some my personal thoughts about the NCEA Review and it's proposed "Big Opportunities".

Note - the parts in italics are taken from this document: Download the Big Opportunities discussion document which can be found here

For what it's worth I actually think NCEA is pretty cool as it is. I like it's flexibility and that it already let's "you do you". If anything I think it is our mindsets that needs to be reviewed first before we get to the actual framework. Here is my pondering about that perspective: NCEA - we need to review our mindset first

But that said, I al…

The Digital Blue Yonder - what's on the digital horizon for education and how might we harness it?

Over the last six months I have been delivering variations of the above presentation, looking at what I believe to be the biggest disruptors (and enablers) on the digital horizon. 
The presentation begins with the well worn introduction to Moore's Law and covers off a myriad of examples of technology that has continued to double in speed and processing power whilst reducing in size and cost. This is then reinforced by an excerpt from Kaila Corbin's Introduction to Exponentials from the Christchurch Singularity U Summit where she deftly describes the concept of doubling curves and the inability for human brains to actually comprehend such a bonkers rate of change. What I particularly like about this presentation was the way she paints this visual of such an extreme acceleration of change it paints a vertical line, the only problem is we, as humans, standing on the horizontal part of the continuum, tend look back and only see the gentle incline that got us to this point in hist…

Prototyping an Innovation Curriculum - HELP!

For the last 20 years I have been an English teacher and have spent much time happily rolling around in the English Curriculum, unpicking the strands and unpacking the achievement objectives, all part and parcel of the the learning design process for any English course or module.

This year I am, for the first time, taking on the role of Project Guide for Impact Projects, with a specific focus on Independent Innovation Projects. Whilst we do have a brilliant Projects Curriculum and a very clear framework for teaching and learning the projects process I did find myself wondering about the specifics of an Innovation Project. How can we teach students to be innovative? Can you even teach innovation? Or should it simply about providing the conditions and space for innovation? What if Innovation became a learning area?

What might an Innovation Curriculum look like?

On Saturday I was lucky enough to be part of a meet up which bought together innovators,  entrepreneurs, academics, scientists…

NCEA - we need to review our mindset first

On Friday I attended a NZQA Principal's Nominee (PN) Seminar that happens every year. Based on past experience I had braced myself for messaging that always felt completely at odds with the messages I had heard from NZQA whilst involved with their Future State Brainstorming Group. In the past I always felt I heard (from the top) a very genuine desire for schools to get on and innovate and really test the capacity for NCEA to be genuinely personalised to meet the needs of students. I would then head along to a PN Seminar and feel like that message had been lost, with PNs being encouraged to maintain relative conservative gatekeeping habits that so often meant schools are no where near as creative and responsive as they might (and should) be. Last Friday was different. For the first time I got the sense that NZQA was challenging PNs to evolve and adapt their practice. Hoorah!

However what did still concern me was the prevailing mindset of the room. When asked to identify barriers fo…

HPSS 5.0 - The Journey So Far

This week marked my fifth anniversary as Deputy Principal at Hobsonville Point Secondary School and more importantly the first year that we will operate as a fully fledged high school, offering programmes for Year 9-13.

It has been an incredible journey, one that involved an incredible amount of work from an evolving team of committed educators who have not only reimagined secondary learning at HPSS but have influenced changing educational models around the country.

It is heartening to see when we reflect on where we started with students in 2014, that much has remained the same. This was taken from the introduction to the school  which I wrote back in our first week of operation:

HPSS is a co-educational state school located in Hobsonville Point, Auckland. We are a MLE (modern learning environment) which means we are a large open plan school, typified by open flexible learning spaces, break out rooms and specialised learning spaces. The furniture is varied, including high bar leaners…

The Joy of Teaching - 20 years of teaching and 20 reasons why this is the best career choice ever!

Next week marks my 20th anniversary as an educator. In 1998 I began my teaching career as an English and Drama teacher at Rangitoto College. Twenty years and I still freakin' love this job and really do struggle to understand why more people are fighting to join us in what I believe is one of the most rewarding, challenging and bloody entertaining jobs and careers you can have.

I also promised my critical friend Steve Mouldey that I would begin blogging again. His word/theme for the year is #optimistic, I've decided my word/theme for the year is #positivity. To this end I thought I'd celebrate my 20th teaching anniversary with a blog about the twenty reasons I believe teaching and education is the best career choice ever.

1) What we do is important
There is no question. Being a teaching is one of the most important roles in our community. We are not only fantastic caretakers and babysitters for much of the year, we are also trusted to provide young people with the knowledge…

Introducing City Senior School at The Launching Pad

In November last year I was lucky enough to attend the SingularityU Summit in Christchurch. It was an awesome three days. It reignited my love of futures thinking and served as a swift kick in the pants.

I wrote this blogpost. 

I went back to school.

I felt unsettled.

I needed someone to help me process my thinking.

So a week or so later I called up my friend and now business partner and co-founder Brett O'Riley. I knew Brett had attended the SingularityU Executive Training in the US and I also knew he shared my frustration at the seemingly glacial pace of change in education. I shared my thinking and a vision for a school that was part school and part innovation co-working space. I wanted to know why we weren't leveraging digital technology to support more self-directed study in a social learning environment. I wanted to know why schools weren't more like GridAKL? Why are young people still in uniforms "PAC-MANing" their way through disconnected and fragmented t…