Showing posts from February, 2013

Getting the "right balance" - just make sure you get "back to basics" in that Modern Learn Environment.

Content vs. skills Face to face vs. online Rote learning vs. deep thinking Individual activities vs group activities Sage on the stage vs. guide on the side Teacher led learning vs. self directed learning Closed classrooms vs. flexible learning commons Discreet curriculum subjects vs. an integrated curriculum Is it just me or are all wrestling with this concept of "the right balance"? Is there even such a thing as a right balance? And right for whom exactly? One thing I do know is, is that if we want to shift from a "traditional" to a more "future focused pedagogy" this involves a shift in this balance. A shift to skills over content, a greater mix of face to face and online, deep thinking over rote learning, more collaborative group work, more guide less sage, self-directed over teacher-led with all of this taking place in a flexible learning space and with a more integrated curriculum model. But even if I can get my head around this, the mor

Modern Learning Environments and Learning Technologies - 21st century education change-makers or old school smoke screens?

Modern Learning Environments is a term that seems to be bandied around a lot lately. But interestingly it is rarely defined. The (NZ) Ministry of Education has a whole section on their website dedicated to them, lots of info and tools but no actual definition. More online research and still little in the way of a definition can be found. So what is a Modern Learning Environment or MLE? It would seem (from what I have gleaned from a number of school visits and indeed our own school plans), that this is a generic term that describes a space which may include many things: open and/or flexible learning spaces, breakout spaces, small spaces often referred to as "caves", multi-purpose spaces, technology rich spaces and spaces that house "modern learning furniture" such as bean bags, camp fire seats and a variety of high, mid-height and low groovy shaped tables...on wheels. Interestingly MLEs don't actually seem that modern at all. In fact there is something rather ret

Powerful partnerships, personalised learning and a bit of foo for thought

Personalised Learning, Powerful Partnerships! This statement outlines two of the central philosophies of Hobsonville Point Secondary School. Personalised learning for us means that our students will be in a position to negotiate and shape their own learning. We will aim to provide opportunities for their interests and passions to translate into extended projects and possibly even shape their entire course of study. How exactly this will be achieved is still to be decided, with our timetable and year structure being developed over time, especially as we continue to view other schools and environments for guidance and inspiration. So far we have visited with Albany Senior High School and tomorrow we visit Ormiston Senior College - two Auckland secondary schools that have led the way in modern learning environments. Like HPSS, both schools have open and flexible learning spaces and have challenged traditional notions of subject and curriculum defined departments and the role of the tu

Do we exist in an educational echo chamber?

One outcome of being part of something as exciting as setting up a brand new school is that you find yourself explaining (or at least attempting to) the underlying philosophy of the said school. Whilst we are still wrangling with the precise wording of the vision and principles I do have fairly strong personal philosophies about education that (I think) reflect those of the school...I mean, I assume that's why I got the job? Isn't it? I know I value student engagement, creativity, future focus, innovation, collaboration and differentiated or personalised learning. I know I care deeply about professional development, teaching as inquiry and the thoughtful integration of e-learning tools and strategies. However, I am also aware that I am very good at surrounding myself, in both a digital and physical sense, with educators who hold similar views and share similar passions to mine. This leads to me to my latest edu-conundrum. Is our ability to curate our reading/listening/viewi

Are my visible tattoos bad advertising for the school?

I have never thought so, but then again I have many visible tattoos and am possibly just a little biased. Interestingly at least one community member thinks they might be. It was in response to the pic seen in an earlier post, you can see the incriminating shot here . When I first heard this I laughed. "How ridiculous!" I thought. "What do my tattoos have to do with ability as an educational leader?" I thought. So on it went, the internal and external dialogue dismissing such close mindedness (echoed of course by the supportive, liberal, educated and fabulous people I call my colleagues and friends). So why then has the comment (long deleted) stuck with me. Easy to disregard as a single person's view but does it actually represent a view that many are just too polite to articulate. For me, tattoos have simply been a way of expressing my love of their designs. I love how they look, what they represent and for the most part I guess I do enjoy how people resp

Libraries as beacons of 21st century pedagogy

Last year, (as Director of e-learning at Epsom Girls Grammar School on behalf of the school) I responded to the Parliamentary Select Committee's ' Inquiry into the 21st Century Learning Environments and Digital Literacy' with a submission that touched on a number of areas. One area that has really stuck with me is the point raised about how important the school library is, and will remain to be, within our 21st century learning environments. See the excerpts below: From the written submission: The traditional school library building would be a good place to start in the re-visioning process - a secondary school library presents the perfect environment for a shared learning environment that could be redeveloped to provide resources (books and Digital) ICT, media and production tools and spaces. and from the oral submission: We need to see libraries as a strategic place to start this shift for all schools by ensuring that schools get the advice, guidance and funding t

Creating a school. Awesome in every sense of the word.

Looking back on the first week...okay, I admit it...the first three days at Hobsonville Point Secondary School, I can honestly say that being part of an establishment Senior Leadership Team is awesome. In every sense of the word. Day one was about de-schooling and the school vision. Nice. Day two was about thinking and discussing (and getting our head around the fact that we do actually have time to think and discuss). Nice, but actually more challenging than you might think. Day three was a day for planning our time, creating to do lists and diving head-long into unpacking and refining the vision, principles and values that will define Hobsonville Secondary School for our staff, students and community.  This is AWESOME. It was only as we wrestled with the taxonomy, pulling apart every word, word variation and statement, that it hit home how powerful and important these pithy phrases really are, especially as they will literally "define us" and everything we stand fo

We are family!

Just thought you might like to meet the Hobsonville Point Secondary Leadership Team! Pictured below (from top left going clockwise) Maurie Abraham (Principal), Lea Vellenoweth (Deputy Principal), Claire Amos...that's me (Deputy Principal) and Di Cavallo (Deputy Principal). Feel free to follow us or the school on Twitter: @maurieabraham @leavellenoweth @ClaireAmosNZ @DianeCavallo @hobpointschools