Blogging Challenge – How can I use NCEA better?

So, I am being cheeky and using this post to tick ALL 3 boxes of the blogging challenge. Does this mean I get credit for all 3????

Credit farming breaks my heart. It actually makes a little piece of my happy teacher persona die. Unlike fairies, no amount of clapping will bring it back. Because to me, when a students says ‘I’m not going for these credits so I am not doing this’ or ‘is this worth credits’ or ‘why are you telling us about this if it isn’t in the exam’ or I already have 80 credits so do I REALLY need to do this’ they are telling me they don’t love learning, they don’t love Science (I am baised, but how could you not love Science) and that they are settling for less.

The affect of assessment is really starting to get me down. I blogged about this in April this year during the #edchatNZ chat on innovative assessment. I was getting soooo super frustrated with myself and my thinking about the role of assessment in schools (and life). In the conversations I have (online and F2F) we dream so big about cross curricular, real life, meaningful learning. And then I am really struggling to turn this in to meaningful programmes. I am really jealous of Matty Nicoll’s Nature of Science course that he has built. But when we were planning our next #scichatNZ topic (which will ROCK by the way) I had to admit that I had never even considered a cross curricular approach for my senior classes.

Thinking about this over the last couple of days (while being sad I wasn’t at Ulearn) I have tried to piece together into my head why I had never considered a ‘blended’ approach for Yr 12 & 13s. Sure, I could mix a course in with Biology and do an awesome health sciences type course. I could even do some earth/ocean Science papers with some physics and chem. But they are all Science. What would I need to do to incorporate other curriculum areas? I have a hard enough time understanding the Chemistry Standards and what is required, much less an English Standard. Or a Geography or Language one. This too came up in a recent #edchatNZ, and I love Danielle Myburghs post on subject teacher identity crisis


To get credit for the blog challenge, here is a pic (not a selfie, I’m so not trendy) of me, Matt and Jennie – Jennie is a #scichatNZ team member too

But in ‘real’ life, the ability to have multiple skill sets is in demand. I recently read ‘too big to know‘ (after a recommendation from the fabulous Danielle Myburgh I saw on twitter) which challenges what we define as knowledge in the digital age, and something that really struck me from this book was the use of crowd sourcing for data analysis and/or solving complex problems. It is easier than ever before to use a network of knowledge rather than single sources. Yet, we still teach in single silos….

And for a different perspective, my Dad came round to teach me how to fix our (Lovely) old, slightly cracked window frames. Another friend on mine who lives in a similarly enchanting cottage came round so she could learn to. And my Dad said

‘well, knowledge isn’t really knowledge till you have shared it’

Which hit my brain like a hammer.

Giving my students ‘exam’ like assessments isn’t getting them to share their knowledge. Yes, they can jump through a hoop, and get the marks and because they get the marks they make me look good and everyone is happy. Except that little part of me that thinks ‘surely there is more to learning at school than getting credits.’

So how can I challenge myself and my students to share their knowledge in more meaningful ways? How can I gently disrupt (Or as the amazing Philippa puts it ‘disrupt with Humility’) my parent community away from the need for credits credits credits? How can I rudely disrupt the teaching practice of some of my colleagues and get them to think outside the box? Or the Ministry of Educations stance of using success for funding (I’m not sure what I will do if they go for a more credits = more money scenario…..)

And how can I get my students to love learning for learnings sake. To be more interested in the world around them, more empathetic with the views of others, more critical of marketing techniques trying to manipulate their choices and more aware of the society and communities they live in.

How can I find a way to give them credit for that?

10 thoughts on “Blogging Challenge – How can I use NCEA better?

  1. I had a couple of responses to your thoughts. On one hand, I share your frustration, when I see students wasting opportunities. However, for years (and years) teachers and students have been complaining about over-assessment. My view is that even if students don’t do the assessment, they’re still learning. They may choose not to answer the external essay, but they’ve still contributed to discussions, worked with others to develop understanding, asked questions, and so on. They don’t sit like slugs until the topic’s over! Actually, this has inspired me so much, I’m off to write a blog post. Thank you for your considered, honest ideas!

    1. My pleasure. I am having issues with students choosing not to engage in the learning – especially in my L3 class. Or the flippant if it isn’t worth credits, it isn’t worth doing. On the flip side, I had a student who wanted to participate in an extension group (they were entered in another external standard) but not enter the exam – she just wanted to do the learning. And my HoD wouldn’t let her. I actually cried ;(

  2. Me again. Re: cross-curricular opportunities. I wonder if we need to encourage students to take more responsibility for making these connections? Yes teachers can plan specific units or courses that link subject areas, but the students are in a position to make these links every day. Their connections are likely to be more spontaneous and curiosity-driven than ours.
    Wouldn’t it be great if a student said “Hey, this poet has the same attitude to nature as this biologist. Can I compare and contrast their work?” Or “Can I make a podcast explaining this chemistry concept and use it as my speech?”

    1. I totally agree – it would be AWESOME if students could see the connections. But I wish we could do more to facilitate this – with such silo’s subjects students do struggle to see the links. In Science I spend time going over eassy structure that I KNOW students have done in English, but they struggle to apply. Likewise with graphing – I know that students cover gradients and equations in maths, but the skills don’t transfer. Is it because they think Maths skills are only for maths? Or is it because they are learning in a different context and struggle to see the links?
      So making them explicit – especially in the junior – might help this

  3. What a compelling piece… so many big questions about something that is incredibly important… keeping the joy of learning in education. It feels as though the system is set up to turn off the innate curiosity about the world we live in that we are born with (I watch preschoolers fossicking around to appreciate that wide open wonder of the world). Well written and good luck with your journey, with your passion i have no doubt you will come up with a plan 🙂

    1. Thanks 🙂
      I hear you with re pre-schoolers – my son is so into everything. I am so aware that sometimes I do just have to curb his enthusiasm with ‘not now’ and ‘we need to get going’. But also, when the lifestyle aligns, we can spend so much time exploring concepts and ideas with no thought of extrinsic reward – the process is rewarding enough. Perhaps we need to just give students of all levels more time…. we have such a rushed year charging from standard to standard…..

  4. Love the cross curricular ideas coming through here. One suggestion on the assessment front. Remove the assessments and push the NCEA standards to the background. Then use naturally occurring evidence from what the students do throughout the year to assess them in the background.

    1. I like this idea – but it challenging for some of the Chemistry standards. The practical internals need to be done in reasonably stringent conditions and there are only so many chemical combinations that are reliable and safe. Especially for L3 Redox when the most reliable reaction is used in the online exmplar, so not able to be used for the assessment task.
      With externals, I have thought about just teaching the whole lot together. Making a chemistry course instead of breaking it into sections based on the assessment standards. But those assessments are set by others, so the ability to assess in the background is removed. And you need those external standards for course endorsement and uni entry – which is what a lot of senior chem students are headed for, so the exam pressure is there. But you are right, perhaps I just need to be a bit braver and do an externals teaching sequence rather than breaking it up

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