Showing posts from April, 2013

Edutouring 2.0 - Getting ready for the TTS US Education Tour

I have to admit to feeling rather spoilt, only 10 days after returning from an amazing edutour through Boston and Canada my Principal (Maurie Abraham) and I will be heading off again on the TTS US Education Tour. Where our first trip focused on self-directed learning, this trip is more focused on e-learning and schools leading the way with one-to-one devices. The trip is based in the greater San Francisco area and includes a number of schools, a day at Apple (woot!) and a tour of Stanford University. So what do I hope to get out of it? To be honest I am hoping to gain a little e-learning inspiration and insight. I am however very aware of how well placed we are here in NZ when it comes to e-learning integration. Whilst there might not be universal adoption and integration here yet, we are certainly moving in the right direction. I am hoping to see e-learning being used mindfully and in such a way that it supports greater student self-direction and genuine differentiation in and b

Edutouring - Reflecting on lessons learned from Canada's Self-Directed Schools

It is interesting to reflect on what has stuck with you a week or so after traveling. There was definitely a huge amount to learn from the Canadian Coalition of Self-Directed Learning, with each school visited providing a slightly different iteration of the same vision for learning. So what did I learn? 1) Teacher Advisors are the key In each of the schools Teacher Advisors or TA, to a greater or lesser extent, played a central role in the lives of students, providing a single person that the student connected with throughout their high school career. In the schools where the TA worked best they had regular contact time with students - in Mary Ward students checked in with their TA three times a day and sat down for a formal learning progress interview once every two weeks. This meeting was recorded on a school SMS and sent home to parents as a pre-formatted email. At Bishop Carrol the relationship was similarly formal, but with students determining how regularly they met one to o

Edutouring - evolving self-direction at Thomas Haney

Thomas Haney was the last school visit on our US/Canada whistle stop tour. It was also the last of the four Canadian schools we have visited that are part of the Canadian Coalition of Self-Directed Learning. Whilst the previous three schools represented a kind of progression along the continuum from self-paced to increasing self-paced and self-directed, Thomas Haney represented a bit of a detour, as a school who had revised the self-paced model to suit the needs of their learners. Thomas Haney is a co-educational public school in Vancouver, Canada. It is 21 years old, having been founded in 1992 and designed and built to meet the demands of a self-directed school. This means it has a number of large open learning commons, referred to as the "great halls", each housing a different learning area. Around these are a number of more traditional classrooms. For many years I believe the school followed a similar model to that of Westmount, Mary Ward and Bishop Carroll, where by st

Edutouring - learning and sharing at Bishop Carroll

We arrived in Calgary to -1 weather, spending our first evening taking a jaunt though the -5 degree snow laden streets. Bishop Carroll is the third of four "self-directed" schools and the second Catholic school we are visiting on our US-Canada edutour. Calgary is cold, the people are not. Like the two self-directed schools before them, Bishop Carroll welcomed us with open arms and after a brief unfortunate incident (we were introduced as Australians over the loud-speaker.... ;) we spent a fabulous day learning and sharing with the Principal Daniel Danis and his students. The school has been self-directed for 40 years in a building created for purpose in 1971. They are now in the third year of a one to one laptop programme, running a lease to own programme and like the other Canadian schools we have visited they used D2L (Desire to Learn) as the LMS (Learning Management System). Bishop Carroll is considered a "magnet" school, taking students from all over Calga

Edutouring - Moving on from self-paced to self-directed at Mary Ward

Mary Ward is the second of four self-directed schools we are visiting on our journey, and in a sense also represents a shift along the continuum from self-paced to a more genuinely self-directed style of learning. Like Westmount, the staff and students of Mary Ward greeted us with warmth and openness, keen to share and to also learn from us. The weather, whilst still icy, was a little more kind and we managed to arrive in time to experience a full school day. On arrival we were greeted by Derek Chen (one of the Vice-Principals) who welcomed us to the school and took us through to the library to be introduced to Mary Ward life by a lovely group of students, giving us all a snapshot of what a day at Mary Ward entailed. Unlike Westmount which is a traditional school that has adopted self-directed learning, Mary Ward is a school built for the purpose. This means the design and layout can in a sense more effectively support the model, with each Learning Area having a large Learning Common

Edutouring - the journey from traditional to self-paced and beyond atWestmount

Canada greeted us with most unfriendly weather, zero degrees and snow on the ground. This however could not have been further from the warmth and generosity we were greeted with on arrival at Wesmount. Westmount is the first of four Canadian schools that we are visiting, all of whom are part of the Canadian Coalition of Self-directed Schools. These schools range from Catholic to secular, old to new, high decile to low decile, large to relatively small, all however are defined by their desire to deliver self-paced and increasingly self-directed learning programmes for students. This means students, by and large, are free to design each school day, choosing where and when they complete their school work through a system of daily or weekly planning under the watchful eye of a learning advisor and then work through units of work at their own pace in the space that best suits them. Having seen two of the four we are visiting, I suspect each school sits in a slightly different place on the

Edutouring - Lights, Camera, Action at The Met School

It somehow seems appropriate that a group of teachers should begin their adventures in the big apple, even if we did only get a nibble at it. In our first five days of travelling we have been lucky enough to begin with a day and a half in NY before heading off to Providence, Rhode Island to visit our first school stop - The Met School. The Met School was the first of a whole educational movement that comes under the title of Big Picture Learning. Established by Elliot Washor and Dennis Littky in 1995 and beginning with The Met Schools in Providence, Big Picture Learning is now an educational movement that has expanded around the globe. On the day we visited, we were lucky enough to meet (albeit briefly) Dennis Littky who was on site for the annual business plan competition. The Met School campus we visited is situated in a low decile area of Rhode Island and is made up of for schools within in a school, each with approximately a 150 students and their own Principal, the campus being