Saturday, 15 November 2014

First and Second Order Change

We seem to be undergoing a lot of change at St Joseph's.

Actually, we are not changing at all.

Underlying everything at St Joseph's is relationships.  Prior to the time I was in the school, Jenny Jackson and the team, helped by our RTLB teacher Linda Schofield, underwent focused development on positive relationships for learning.  This was before PB4L but essentially, it was the same thing.  Since my time, we've consistently focused on our vision for learning - lifelong learners in the Catholic Faith and also on our Charter Goal which reads:
in 2012: Every child engaged in learning
in 2013: Every child engaged in learning for success
in 2014: Every child engaged in deep learning for success.

As each year went on we focused more and more deeply on what we actually wanted for our learners.

There's no way anyone decided - "Hey let's do digital learning or team teaching or buy some bean bags (only 4 per class) or whatever, just because everyone's doing it and its so, so modern!"

What we DID look for was examples either through research and theory, or through experience in other schools - good examples of ways teachers were engaging students in deep learning.  Plus we used our teaching as inquiry process - our own processes of teacher action research to investigate what actually did make a difference to student achievement in our school.  For myself I have found that systematic teaching of the key competencies of the New Zealand curriculum, combined with learning to learn strategies, makes a huge difference to student achievement and that has been going on for quite some time now, since at least 2008 - so nothing new there.  Combining these with digital technologies and flexible working and teaching spaces - has not, in my investigations, improved achievement which is already high but it has improved depth of achievement.  Children are more able to take the next step into making the learning their own and applying it in new situations.  To my mind, this is the most elusive aspect of teaching and learning.

In about mid 2013 we had sufficient information to make some decisions.  I've learnt a lot from Jenny about sustainable change because I would have wanted to rush it way too fast.  We decided we wanted our senior years, at that time we thought year 5+, now we think year 6+, to have the benefit of one to one devices - or as close to it as we can make it, from the beginning of 2015.

To the degree that individuals and/or stakeholder groups in the school or school system hold conflicting values, seek different norms, have different knowledge, or operate with varying mental models of schooling, a proposed change might represent a first-order change for some and a second-order change for others.
Waters, Marzano, and McNulty, 2003, page 7 from:

“First-order” change is change that is consistent with prevailing values and norms, meets with general agreement, and can be implemented using people’s existing knowledge and skills. A change becomes “second-order” when it is not obvious how it will make things better, it requires people to learn new approaches, or it conflicts with prevailing values and norms. Second-order changes require leaders to work far more deeply with staff and the community. 

The change we are presently experiencing - from the teacher's and the student's perspectives, is first order change - it does not challenge our beliefs about learning (look at the previous post below  - A Machine for Learning to see what the children think about learning).  An analogy for what is happening is it is like a snake shedding its skin.  The creature is the same in essence but it has grown and it needs to shed its skin in order to take on its new dimensions.

We have worked very hard to bring our parents along with us in this change process.  We have had parent learning huis where we have talked about SOLO and deep learning and why we need to make the practical and organisational changes we are presently going through.  We have also had a lot of discussions along the way and we have listened to our parents.  For example we first thought year 5+ for digital learning but listening to our parent feedback and concerns we have decided in 2015 we will be looking at year 6+.    But I acknowledge for many, outside of the staffroom, this is second order change.  It appears to be a change in values and beliefs.  A change in essence.  It is not.  Our essence is - every student engaged in deep learning for success.  How they get there is a moot point - it will be different from 1957, 1997, 2007, and it will be different again in 2017 and 2027.  Yet I imagine the essence of what we are trying to achieve will not vary so very much.

Minecraft St Joseph's Oamaru

The second part of the children investigating learning environments was for them to accurately map what we already had.  They had a go at doing that in term 3 but it didn't look right.  This time, as part of our maths, they children have accurately measured the school and used a scale for their maps.  Some have done it on paper, some investigated 3D modelling software but most chose to do it with Minecraft and the results are surprisingly accurate.

The next step will be to talk about improvements for learning.

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Visit to Myross Bush School

Our senior learning team visited Myross Bush School in Invercargill in week 2.  We were interested in their school because they have a "traditional" school building but they have not let single-cell classrooms hold them back.  We were very grateful to them for the visit and we saw lots of interesting things.  Overall we have some very similar things happening, such as using SOLO, BYOD, and Google Docs.  We were really interested to observe how they use spaces for team teaching with one space used primarily for workshops and the other as an independent working space with a supporting teacher.  The key to making all of this work is having transparent learning progressions for students to use and a variety of robust (and dependable) means of students to evidence their learning.

One thing I'm going to change is I thought we would need to use a Google site for planning and lesson guidance as I've been doing with my class.  However, I can now see that all of that could happen as Google docs - good because can personalise them and share them with students very easily through Teacher Dashboard.  Then Google docs can be inserted into a site which will be publically available.  It means that most of the planning work can be in docs rather than a site which everyone says they prefer.  The blogs will link in to an overall Google site so they can still be a prominent point of sharing.
Myross Bush School - similar learning environment to our school (very nice sandpits and adventure playgrounds) and using their spaces creatively to engage students in active learning, through team teaching.

A Machine for Learning

(thanks to Mark Osbourne for sharing the term: Machine for Learning, and the link he made to le Coubousier, which we’ve used in our inquiry)         
St Joseph’s Year 7 students consider what their learning is actually like and what ideal spaces for this could be like - this is a brainstorm from the whole class in a shared Google doc (it is not crafted writing)      

concentrate and communicate with others
listen and discuss your ideas with the people
being on task and giving 100% and not giving up
sitting down somewhere and listening to each others ideas
we learn from our mistakes
we debate and share our ideas we take notes and learn from what others have learnt as well
put your heads together and discuss ideas with each other.
we think that its import to participate  and contribute ideas even if its wrong
we share our ideas, discuss our options and our needs and also relate to others, listen, focus, look, think, come up with new ideas,   
we like to talk and  listen to each other….and be good friends
think, discuss, sing, we argue, we work with others, we get things wrong, we get to try new things.
get confused but work it out
understand others.
we talk to others and ask for advice for good ideas to make our work even better
we help with problems and answer things
we talk together and help each other to get the job done
we get to choose our working space.
we discuss our ideas.
share our ideas.
we get  to  debate
we work quietly
we learn from our mistakes
we concentrate

We use MINECRAFT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
to try to answer a problem.

talking sometimes helps if it is on task!
say what we want to

we help people that need help at the moment when they are  stuck

enjoy and get new knowledge
do acting, have debates, songs, learn new things and new instruments or activities

make sure that everyone is joining in the convo and that people are included in it.
Also to encourage others to give 100% and to not give up.
Learn to accept a mistake, Good attitude

listen, discuss, read, write, search, explore, trial and error, make new options, design new things, brainstorm, invent, create, concentrate, play games, field trips, writing
we can read, write, do pe ,E.O.T.C, camps, maths,search, new things, discuss between  us, brainstorm, make mistakes and try again and again,
listen, stay on task, do field trips

watching other people  
learning new ideas and facts.
writing songs
silence and concentration, watching and learning from mistakes learning from elders...
singing-writing songs debates

performances , plays , silent working or dramas
different types of formal writing
arts and stuff,

crafting your imagination stories and making it better.

try over again, learn from others, songs and  performances, being silent              
we think create, communicate, share, learn

We can make everyone happy to learn
sitting facing each other at the same level (communicating)

peaceful and secure, fancy, computers,

taking turns talking

have our own little bubble to work in

we work together as a team and sensibly share our ideas

man’s cave and a girl hangout room for year 7s and 8s

change resource room into music room for intermediate department

gym for senior school

whole school computer room to work in quietly

having your own office or bubble to stay in but still communicate with each other
or talking . having a quiet space for yourself or others’ private spaces

have a musical room where people can sing and learn instruments.
a game room-a man cave for boys and a girl’s room.
dancing room where their dancing can express their feelings.
sports room where people can have fun and play with other people

we could have a couple of cubicles
we could use so that we could have our own space and we could work quietly.

we could split a room into a couple of spaces that are soundproof and will not bother anyone else!

we work as a  team       

you get more action and ideas
and information.You have more fun talking to your your friends.

in a place where you can concentrate.

Its interesting - you write a lot about collaborative learning how we can learn from each other and through discussion.  At the same time you say that its important to have your own space where you can be quiet.  You show this because when we have a lot of space upstairs, you spread out and fill it all and you still stay on task and do all the things you wrote in column 1.

When you make your recommendations for what we can do with our spaces, please think about how we can use what we have to make all these things happen.  LFR

What different learning styles are there?

watching other people  
learning new ideas and facts.
writing songs
silence and concentration, watching and learning from mistakes learning from elders...
singing-writing songs debates

performances , plays , silent working or dramas
different types of formal writing
arts and stuff,

crafting your imagination stories and making it better.

try over again, learn from others, songs and  performances, being silent              
we think create,communicate,share,learn

We can make everyone happy to learn

We stay on task and brainstorm as many ideas we can think of. We also participate and contribute many ideas. We do the learning properly we listen so we know what to do. When we don't understand we ask the teacher for help

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Second day of mainly digital learning


First morning running learning from a digital platform.
From our slower set up day on Monday I decided not to do any new content learning today.  I cut my expectations in half.  And still achieved less than I would have hoped for.  The children are very capable in the areas they are used to - navigating media and looking up information but there's still a lot to learn.

The main learning is online self management - the answer to "What do we do now?" is online.  So its like teaching a new way of reading a maths or reading taskboard and its going to take a little time to make this the automatic way of looking for what next.  Some of the children began to get this and started reminding each other where they could look.

There were huge issues with getting Google docs going in different environments on different devices.  I could not have aimed at doing any substantial content teaching whilst introducing this.  It would have been counterproductive -  for this week, this IS the teaching.

In maths I only aimed at achieving: everyone doing some Mathletics time; everyone doing basic facts practice; entering their score on a shared Google doc plus a couple of workshop sessions to discuss how to go about doing the geometry project and that was it.  We got through this but it took nearly two hours.  I told them I'd expect all of that to happen within a 30 minute time slot once we're up and running.  The good thing is its easy to keep track of the basic facts information, as it comes up on the Teacher dashboard.  The Mathletics was great too, the reports were easy to read and I could easily see and set the next steps for the children.

I'm impressed that everyone is being very patient.

For our quickwrite, many of the children continued writing in the doc they used on Monday.  It was only the second time they did it and it was way more efficient and competent.  .  Teacher dashboard has helped so I can comment on all the docs either in real time or later.  That's encouraging, to affirm it will get easier.

For the novels - we just sat down and read.  I was going to show them a Quizlet example but decided it was too much new information for one day.

We did good old-fashioned role plays in RE.

In the afternoon we did the "Environments for Learning" work Environments for Learning and they had their first experience of writing in a shared Google doc.  It was hilarious.  I had it up on the projector and they worked in groups of two or three.  They discussed the ways they learn and what sort of environments would suit these ways of learning.  Then when they were writing they tripped over each other's cursors and accidentally deleted work.  Some children took this naturally as accidental, others got cross.  So we discussed protocols and ways of working with Google docs - such as putting in lots of returns at the beginning and putting your cursor away from others which were already writing.  Our first effort at a shared Google doc: - (this is just shared within St Joseph's as its a work in progress).

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Second Post

The beauty of the journey towards more technology at St Joseph's has been that it is for the sake of child-centred learning.  Learning where the students are in control of their learning.

We started our first two classrooms, year 7 & 8 with BYOD in 2013.  Previously the children had been leaving their technology in the teacher's box all day whilst we struggled to find enough outlets so children could go online.  It made complete sense to allow them to use their devices for learning.  Of course we had to put systems and agreements in place but really it all worked very smoothly.

In mid 2014 Jenny Jackson, Siobhan Patterson and myself visited the Manaiakalani cluster of schools in Auckland.  It was inspiring to see what this group of decile 1 schools could do together.  All children had their own devices, purchased by their parents.  Engagement was obvious and Auckland University researchers have proven that achievement has increased.  The learning in these schools was truly visible, it was all online and accessible by anyone.

Our ICT strategic plan included one-to-one devices for our senior students from the beginning of 2015.  I knew that the most important thing, as always, is what will this do for learning and how can we prove it?  So I started the St Joseph's Future Focused Learning website sharing the idea of many-to-many pedagogy with our staff.  I also conducted some small action research projects with my year 7 students to investigate the benefits of digital learning (also available on the site).

Siobhan set us all up with Google accounts and Jenny initiated all meetings and developments to be done using Google docs.  Staff were encouraged to experiment with a Google Site.  Mine is: 

In our teacher only day of 2014 the staff reviewed all the systems we use for thinking and guiding learning in St Joseph's and put them together on a SOLO map.

In term 1 of 2014 Jenny went on her principal's sabbatical and, even while she was still away, she shared some of her learning about project-based learning through the Matthew Moss High School that she visited in England,  This stimulated more inquiry into project-based learning which has been very motivating for our students and reminded me to explicitly return to key competency teaching.  The exciting part of this is we now have a student-driven curriculum in many areas.  The senior syndicate team are tracking our students' learning and making sure they cover all learning ideas and we are making sure we provide them with stimulating experiences which will encourage their learning.  But its really exciting that they are taking control of the direction, and its working.   They report that they feel more engaged and are learning more because its what they want to learn.

We have had two parent huis where we have shared our approach to learning and how we want this to develop in 2015.  The parents were brilliant and some have been really helpful with coming forward and sharing their perspective.

The big challenge this term, term 4, 2014 is for the senior syndicate to work towards having the main focus of our learning online and how to use one-to-one device technology to metamorphosise teaching and learning.  We will need to develop consistency with our planning and systems with the junior syndicate.  We are also hoping to involve the parents with using SOLO for learning in a learning process themselves while they develop some guidelines for digital citizenship at home and school.

First Post

This is my first post about my own and my school's learning journey.  The weeks go by very quickly in schools and a lot of amazing things can happen, quickly to be forgotten as we move on to the next mountain to climb.  I want to track our journey and maybe even help others with their journeys.

There was a time when I was anti-technology.  When I was growing up, beyond the Amstrad and the thing with the joystick that boys (all the players I knew were boys although I'm sure many girls enjoyed it too) played on the TV, there wasn't really much option.  By accident really when I entered the workforce I worked for the Cellnet division of British Telecom.  At the time this was cutting edge mobile technology and after that about 70% of my working experience until I became a teacher was in large technologically-advanced companies.  So I became very tech-savvy by default.  It was also a way of avoiding getting a "proper job" and left me free to do the things I was really interested in (that's another story).

If one becomes tech-savvy then eventually one ends up teaching adults - its inevitable and a good 40% of my work prior to teaching children involved teaching adults.  And finally, through this I found a vocation that actually felt in tune with those things I was "really interested in."  That was how/why I became a teacher.

My first child came along in my first year of teaching, followed fairly closely by my second.  This was fairly fortuitous (obviously from my parent perspective as my children are my greatest blessing) as it also allowed me the time, when I was not committed to paid employment where I could pursue further studies.  So I began masters studies through Victoria University and the first two papers I did were about e-learning.  So very early on in my teaching career I became aware of the possibilities of e-learning.  What it meant for me was that traditional teaching never became my default practice.  There's never been enough technology to do what really could be done with it but in small ways I've had a lot of fun and many frustrations making the best of what I have had.

Finally, I think we at St Joseph's are finally on the cusp of really changing how we do things.

The Children's Machine

"Imagine a party of time travelers from an earlier century, among them one group of surgeons and another of school-teachers, each group eager to see how much things have changed in their profession a hundred or more years into the future. Imagine the bewilderment of the surgeons finding themselves in the operating room of a modern hospital. Although they would know that an operation of some sort was being performed, and might even be able to guess at the target organ, they would in almost all cases be unable to figure out what the surgeon was trying to accomplish or what was the purpose of the many strange devices he and the surgical staff were employing. The rituals of antisepsis and anesthesia, the beeping electronics, and even the bright lights, all so familiar to television audiences, would be utterly unfamiliar to them.
"The time-traveling teachers would respond very differently to a modern elementary classroom. They might be puzzled by a few strange objects. They might notice that some standard techniques had changed -- and would likely disagree among themselves about whether the changes they saw were for the better or the worse -- but they would fully see the point of most of what was being attempted and could quite easily take over the class."
- Samuel Papert, The Children's Machine

Avoid the trap of using modern technologies for learning in the same old way.  We have tools which can reinvent learning.