Posted in Professional learning, random ramblings, Teaching and Learning

Feedback is like echolocation, and I’m a little bit lost without it

My ‘inquiry’ focus for this year ‘is’ around making sure I’m giving the best feedback to students I can. I had made a start in this post  around how I could use the data collected from Microsoft forms better, and make sure it was usable to the students. I have some draft posts about insights in teams (It is awesome!!) and the feedback features in Education perfect (which is pretty good) and how I have used these during lock down and will hopefully push through into more of my ‘day to day’ teaching routine.

Yesterday I had an online class, and a few kids where there. They all dutifully muted their microphones when I was presenting. They asked a few questions, and there was some chit chat, but I really missed that classroom ‘vibe’. It made me think about the feedback I get from my classes everyday that I often don’t quantify or think about, but is so vital to what I do.


I think we all do this in various ways, and why a face to face conversation is so much more powerful than a phone call. I am missing that feel you get when you are explaining something, and something snaps or some-one sighs, and you know you need to find another way to explain it. Or the little gasp of recognition that shows it is clicking for some-one – usually followed by a stare of disbelief from some-one not there yet. Or the kid interupting with a slight side track question that strengthens understanding. The moving around a room, making yourself available to check in, look over shoulders, watch facial expressions and body language. Watching students doing practicals ‘spark’ off each other. Or just watching kids being kids….

So it a good reminder that I don’t only have to think about the feedback I am giving the students, but how can I use the feedback the students give me. And not just the asked for feedback, but those subtle (or not so subtle) actions that I have been really missing.

Take care out there


Posted in Professional learning, random ramblings

I can’t find it…… how can we support students AND teachers to navigate online environments??

Like many, I’ve been thrown in the deep end of distance learning as NZ has been in various stages of lockdown. Because of interest, and a good skill set, and a bank of digital resources, I was ok about the shift. (Really missing practicals though). Most of my classes have used the platform (we are using office 365 Teams, which has been pretty awesome) before, and know their way around. Even despite this, I’ve had a few questions asking where stuff is, or we have had a few syncing issues where stuff hasn’t got where it should so students lose confidence about where things are.

And I have seen plenty of memes on the interwebs about students struggling to navigate online planning platforms

It has made me think back to what feels like ancient times when I was starting out as a teacher, and we were learning some literacy strategies. Who ever was running the session was going through parts of a text book – the content page etc, and then on the page – what did the pictures show? The captions? Were there summaries in boxes….?? And then, how did we know to check this? Who had taught us?

I think it is easy to forget that students don’t always know how to navigate online environments. Just like the text book example, unless someone has shown them how to use it, they don’t know. Or, the might have been shown it, but didn’t need it so forgot. (I am often like this with KAMAR….) Often times, ‘we’ ‘assume’ that someone else will teach them, and they should just know! Like teaching some-one to use a text book – surely they learned in primary school? Or isn’t that the English teachers job? If it is online learning, it must be the digitech teachers job, not mine.

The other thing to consider is that students can navigate some environments, and many of the memes say why can you manage tiktok or games, but not school. I think this is simply a cost benefit – students want the outcomes of the game, or the social connection. The motivation is different…. so how do we motivate students to check?? Or how can we gamify the experience, so students WANT to get to the next steps, but also learn from experience. Almost all games come with a tutorial level and then get harder.

I also wonder the same question for teachers – how to do grow confidence and skill sets within our profession. I am AMAZED at the uptake I have had with some PLD sessions I helped organise, and the incredible things teachers have done. But I worry about the teachers I have not heard from – how are they doing? Are they stuck and struggling silently? Are the racing along just fine? Are they doing their best, but don’t know what they don’t know, and so are working harder than they need too….. And I still get the odd question, that I have answered multiple times before, that gets emailed, messaged, text (or called on my cell phone while I was out and about) from teachers who need help JUST THEN.

And I constantly come back to how do I build capacity for people to have a go, and try and figure it out. No matter how many times I demo that really, I spend a lot of my time playing round with stuff till I figure it out, people just don’t believe me. Staff still ask for a frame by frame pdf print out of what to do (the videos go too fast…). I also keep coming back to a point about TELA devices, there is no point giving someone a shiny new devices if you don’t talk them through it, and so often this doesn’t happen.

I don’t have any answers here, I wish I did. Perhaps if I did, I’d be out of a job.

Perhaps we all need to take a breath and think how we can all navigate the online spaces for teaching and learning better – for both staff and students. Because there will only be more of it to come, and while the challenges with the Corona virus are significant, the opportunities to reimage what education could be are endless

Posted in Professional learning, random ramblings, Teaching and Learning

Giving feedback/feedforward: Upping my game with Microsoft forms

A focus for me this year (and really every year!!) is around getting useful information on where my students are at, and making sure the feedback is useable, useful AND not lost. I have tried various methods for this in the past, and one of the best methods I have found is taking an image of a hand written exam question, popping it in to powerpoint and recording myself marking it. This works well in terms of right then, and for students as individuals, but is a little difficult to track a class as a whole. So this term I am trying to use Microsoft forms and quizes for checkpoints, and then using the feedback feature. Students can see this at the time. I can see if a whole class has missed a key idea, or just a few individuals and so plan revision accordingly. If students pick the wrong answer, they get instant feedback as to why. But then I can download the student responses from the microsoft form into an excel spreadsheet, and mail merge them so each student can also get an individual sheet of their results and the feedback they were given. I can then pop these docs into their class notebook sections (still love me some onenote!!) via teams (I’m still working on a faster way to do this! any ideas welcomed)

So far it has worked well

I can still see how the class as a whole has answered certain questions


Students who got an answer wrong can get (hopefully helpful) feedback on why that answer wasn’t the best choice

instant feedback

I can click on review responses to give individual feedback to students, which they can access by re clicking on the form. I can grade (I usually don’t bother, but the option is there) and comment on individual answers.


And then I can take the data from the excel spreadsheet and using mail merge make a page with the students answers and my feedback (I’ve generally just picked the longer answers for this – the short answer questions get the instant feedback). It did take a couple of goes to get my ‘template’ working, as the questions from the quiz did not show up in the merge, only the answers.

Once you have the documents, you can either email them to the students (their emails are saved with their responses in the form) or print the pages to onenote (I’m still looking for a faster way to do this than one by one)

I have done this a couple of times now, and have been getting faster each time. I’m certainly appreciating that I have access to feedback given to students, and being able to track progressions more closely. There is also a slight element of accountability, I can show that students have or haven’t completed set tasks, and I have (or haven’t) given them feedback on next steps.

Students have found the system easy enough to use, and have been reasonably receptive to the idea. So, so far, it has been a success. Fingers crossed it stays that way

Have fun


Posted in Professional learning, random ramblings

Flow charts using smart art in Microsoft Word – or you don’t know what you don’t know.

I recently asked for some help (boy do I need it) on how to scaffold planning for practice and outcome design and development for the digitech course I am teaching this year. It is a massive learning curve. I was hoping to get a ‘generic’ plan, which was not forth coming. (although I did get some useful ideas, but I still need to build my own) One teacher said he got the students to make their own using smart art in Microsoft word, which is part of our office 365 package. He gave me a quick demo, and I was blown away by how quick and easy the smart art tool was to use. I had previously been using to get students to draw flowcharts, but the smart draw in word in much simpler to use. You do need to be on the desktop version of word rather than the online/office 365 version to get the smart art option though. Things like dichotomous keys, practical pathways, next steps for A, M and E level answers, well the answer was already there in Microsoft word. They are perhaps a little generic , but in terms of ease, it is an absolute win! I was able to whip up a little flow chart to show file hierarchy in about 2 minutes….


So then I started having a little play, and it is super easy to change colours, fonts, add bits in and take bits out

chart 2

And you can save as a picture so they are easy to insert into other docs.

And this is a really good example of a little thing I didn’t know. And knowing that the smart art option had these would have saved me loads of time last year. I asked a few times on twitter and various PLNs about flow charting options, and no-one ever suggested this (possibly because lots of other NZ schools are google schools….).

And I guess too it is a reminder to place value on different skill sets. Not everyone has to teach things in the same way, or have the same way of getting to get things done. But this little tidbit that took 2 minutes to receive, was a real game changer for me. I wish there were more ways to share those little gems of knowledge we all have, that people simply don’t know they don’t know.

Have fun



Posted in Professional learning, random ramblings

Reflections from ICT PPTA meeting November 2019.

Last week I was up in Wellington for the PPTA ICT committee meeting. It was quite a busy meeting, with a LOT of discussion around equity, in terms of access to devices, access to support, some issue with PLD, and digital assessment. There was then a run down of the progress being made by the Te Rito project, which I first blogged about after the meeting this time last year which was a good insight into progress made, and the impact for the Learning Support roles which are starting in January 2020.

As usual, this is my interpretation and memory from what was said, and I am happy to be corrected or put you in touch with the right people for more information. 🙂

I’m putting the Te Rito at the top, as I’m guessing most people will be most interested in that, even though the reps came at the end of the day 🙂

Te Rito

Rachel and Donna came from the ministry Te Rito project to update us on who things are going. They started with this video as an overview of the aims and scope of the project

If you click above, it will take you to the vimeo site (I hope…..)

In my words (and happy to be corrected) the premise and drive is to protect and uphold the mana of the child – which links to the name as Te Rito is the inner of the Harakeke/flax plant, with the surrounding leaves offering protection. Along with this as the idea of ensuring ‘the right’ stories of the children are being told, and the ‘taxonomy’ for different situations is similar enough to be useful.


The aims of the project are

  • reduce admin burden
  • make sure those who need to know KNOW

Screen Shot 2019-11-28 at 10.18.44 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-11-28 at 10.18.12 PM.png

Which has involved a LOT of background work to make the systems ‘interoperable’ – that is, the Te Rito system will work with multiple SMS (Kamar, Edge etc), as well as browsers, health care software, NZQA, google and office 365, lots of things 🙂 There is a lot of work, but Rachel was (quite rightly) quick to stress these are desired outcomes, but getting everything to talk to everything was a VERY big job.

The ‘system’ will be sector owned, but the budget will ultimately be meet by the ministry. They were clear that they do not own the data (the child owns the data – but then could a child really understand what that means?), and there are some very clear guidelines around who can access the data and for what purpose. Which also requires a lot of different law (for example, health and safety trumps privacy, and there is interesting case law in Australia for this were a teacher aide was severely injured by a student).

Screen Shot 2019-11-28 at 10.17.00 PM.png

There was also a lot of talk about how the system has been modified for the new Learning support roles. (ESR = Early Stage Roll out)

Screen Shot 2019-11-28 at 10.16.31 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-11-28 at 10.16.46 PM.png

And some info on the governance and privacy

Screen Shot 2019-11-28 at 10.18.31 PM.png

Screen Shot 2019-11-28 at 10.17.48 PM.png

There was also discussion around what training would be needed for BoTs, Principals, learning support co-ordinators and teachers. Chatting to a friend going into a LSC role next year, some of the PLD has already begun, as the team are hard at work trying to get the LSC interface ready for Feb 2020. So if you are in one of these rolls, it might pay to check out the information out there and have a think about how the implementation of this might look in your school/Kura.

Screen Shot 2019-11-28 at 10.16.15 PM.png

So there was a lot of information on offer. There are some really awesome aspects, and then some that concern me a little. Mostly around making sure the right information is sorted, and that students are not given a label they don’t deserve. Kids deserve a fresh start I guess, but also, sometimes the information would be useful. It might stop some students ‘falling through cracks’. Or get more continuity with their learning and support.  Many around the table who were in more ‘senior’ positions than me in a school were really excited by the prospect. And I guess if it helps students, it is worth it.

There was also a request for a PPTA rep for a the Data for Wellbeing sector advisory group – so there is a PPTA representation in the development team.

And if you are still reading, prior to this presentation and questions, we discussed.

Round Robin

The meeting started (after the perfunctory accepting last meeting minutes etc) with a quick whip around the regions/representatives to see if they were any concerns. Main points of interest were

  • multifaceted log ins and cell phones – how are people dealing with two part log ins. One school had seen 1500 attacks over the period of 90 minutes, and it is a growing issue. Office 365 two stage log in requires a cell phone… what if kids don’t have on? Many schools round the table had a ‘phone’ box – a clear plastic click clack for phones to go into, either at the start of the lesson, or if they were used innappropraitely. I was firmly on the side of educate, not punish, but also, if I’m not insured if the phone gets broken, I’m not touching it. There was discussions around search and seizure guidelines – can schools legally hold a phone??? So the conversation went slightly sideways, but cyber security is still a big issue, as is the misuse of devices by students.
  • School donations/Government fees scheme and BYOD. Very mixed spread across the group of schools who had or had not opted in to the fees scheme. Some felt ‘pressured into it’ by communities struggling. Others realised they would have less money, but hoped communities would be better for having the extra money available. Others had chosen not too – did not feel they could offer adequate curric with those costs. When you look at the details, if a students needs a calculator to complete a Chemistry pH calculation, or a maths problem, the school SHOULD provide one if they have opted into the fees scheme. Same with BYOD. Some grey areas around should and MUST. Quality of devices is an ongoing concern, as is access in the community (for homework etc, but also social inclusion). Great discussion around the richness of extra curricular activities – I am not a camp person (I hate not having a nice bed with clean sheets and a good shower) but I make an effort to go on school camps because of the relationships you form, and how refreshing it can be to see a frustrating or shy or outgoing student in a different light on camp. Students remember these trips…. and they do build richness into a curriculum, but how can they be done on such a shoe string budget?
  • DDTA had some specific info – the next version of the curric is out, and the wording has had a subtle but significant shift. The curric no longer says ALL students. Screen Shot 2019-11-27 at 10.03.38 PM There are still LOTS of places to look for support. The regional digital champions are an admin based role but they will help you find the help you need, or you can look at, or, or Exemplars for digitech standards are still coming (two years after the standards were started)….. There are also some changes coming in with the tomorrow schools. The next meeting is December 2nd, so I’m guessing we will here more early next year.

Then there was some more specific discussion around

  • Online exams – seems to be working well – a few seemingly isolated issues – in schools using it. Questions linked to equity of access were asked (discussed more below) and members asked for some specific info relating to decile of schools and access to online assessment (ie is it mostly higher decile completing them) as well as any information around comparative pass rates (eg high school decile online compared to paper – do schools in decile one have comparable results etc). There was also a request for ‘best practice’ for running online exams – there are lots of info sheets from NZQA on this, but perhaps that information is not finding the right people – often the network manager  or perhaps the Principals nominee are not always getting the message…. and which information needs to go where???
  • EQUITY. Of seemingly everything!! Access to devices, tech support in schools, infrastructure in schools, access to PLD – both for digital fluency for staff, as well specific support for elearning pedagogy. (The upcoming PPTA PLD grants might help with this – there are LOTS of $700 grants, but no news (that I have heard) of how to access them yet.) Mixed in with the general ‘wait and see’ with the new NCEA changes. A comment was made that ‘BYOD is just a policy’ and so should not get the noise it does! Schools who have thought about their policy and procedures are often more successful – so how do you support more schools to have better policies????? What do schools do when students don’t have devices? Loaner devices (but again equity issues, they are often slow, and by the time students go and get them, then take them back, they have missed significant learning time. Questions around is there any BES work that could be shared on this – it seems a little adhoc, and many boards may or may not have the skills to implement this in schools well. There was a similar discussion around BES for digitech integration – I’m guessing it is still too new so the data hasn’t been gathered yet?
  • Is the committee still relevant?? And WHY? This was an interesting question, and generated good discussion – I feel I get well informed, but often that we lack the ‘clout’ to make real change. Getting information out to time poor members and leads was discussed – how can we improve the information reach. (I bought up my stats from my blog reflections – I generally get between 70-100 people reading these posts….). There was also value in meeting with government departments, partly to share back to the community, and partly to give feedback to them from a wide base of people (ICT has reps from schools, low decile, Te Kura, PPTA itself). So it looks like we will be going for a while yet, and it was a good motivation to push on and get the conference paper on equitable access to ‘ICT support’ in schools for conference for next year.

Topics up for discussion for next year will be checking in on the online NCEA assessment, as well as the changes with tomorrows schools, and of course keeping advocating for more equitable access to device, PLD and learning opportunities

Feel free to flick any questions my way, and I’ll do my best to answer them or put you in touch with some-one who can. If you would like anything raised with the committee sing out. And as always, if I have made an error, please let me know.

Take care



Posted in Digital Technologies, Professional learning, Teaching and Learning

Making a Chemistry App with Thunkable

Half way last term, I got to accompany some students to a digigirlz event that was hosted by the fabulous Phillipa Dick At Balmacewen Intermediate. The girls where given a ‘challenge’ and then quickly showcased a variety of digital tools they could use to make a solution. One that grabbed my eye was Thunkable, a drag and drop ‘app’ builder. So while the students I was ‘looking’ after went to work, I sat and had a play with Thunkable and found it easy enough to use and quickly built a small prototype app for identifying ions in Chemistry (which is an internally assessed achievement standard for L2/yr 12 Chem that I have previously had a go with adding some computational thinking in around algorthims and scratch. ). The I got ridiculously busy, and didn’t think to much about Thunkable again until I got to this standard with my Chem class, and I gave them the challenge of building an app. Using thunkable was much more accessible for students who did not already have the coding experience of confidence to use scratch, and it also took less time.

I am SO impressed with the app that the students built. Below are some screen shots

The welcome screen – which type of ion are you trying to identify?
Based on that result, this is the possible ions – do this next (and fix the NaOH) formula


Screenshot_20190808-103004 (1).jpg
All of the final you got this ion have some cheesey pictures the students photo shopped themselves





And, if you didn’t follow instructions……. for example pushing ‘no’ here
you got ‘Rickrolled’

This work was completed in addition to the class work – about 5 girls worked on this app, almost completely independently of me. They said they really enjoyed doing something a bit different, and the other students in the class soon realised that while it was a bit more work, it was also some really good skills to learn, and rather fun being able to work together on a project like this.

This standard is changing for next year, and after toying with the computational aspect for a couple of iterations now I am feeling confident that I could incorporate the digital technologies aspect more completely into the unit of work, rather than having it as an optional add on. The new achievement standard specifications have a component where students need to describe why (or why not) an ion in a solution might be harmful (or useful) – so perhaps students could each research a different ion as part of the learning, and then combine this knowledge into the app….. still pondering how it might look, but excited for possibilities.

And so proud of the mahi my students did

Posted in coding, Digital Technologies, Professional learning, Teaching and Learning

Introducing forces and making mazes

This term I have picked up a Year 7 Science class (mostly due to timetabling changes) and we have started the term with a ‘Bikes and Trikes’ topic, which is essentially aiming to cover levers, simple machines and forces. I had this class once, which was mostly a let’s get to know each other a bit better (we did flipgrid introductions with mixed success, but it was a good way for me to figure out the more digital literate and confident students, and the students who can follow instructions more easily than others). After this, I walked through a colleagues class, and saw their students blowing ping pong balls around using straws, and thought to myself ‘I’m poaching that’ for lesson 2. It was an easy way to introduce the ideas of the lessons, which were

  1. A force is a push or a pull
  2. Forces can change an objects speed and direction (or velocity…. it is yr 7) or forces can change an objects shape

We wrote some notes (still a good settling activity, especially this brand new class I had meet once) and did a think, pair, share activity on any ‘forces’ they could think of. There were lots of star wars themed answers, and a few space themed ones to. We then watched some videos of rollercoasters etc…

And then I let them lose with ping pong balls and straws, and they had a ball. I set them a challenge of getting equal and opposing forces acting on the ball, so it stayed still. This proved a bit too challenging as many students just couldn’t resist blowing a big puff to knock the balls off the center.

I then thought about getting students to design mazes that they had to get their ball to travel along. This was much more successful at getting the idea that the direction of the force, as well as the size of the force is important. And I was amazed by the effort that went into some of the groups mazes, they tried and failed, and tried again, decided things were too easy or too hard and really got into it.

The groups of students who worked more collaboratively were able to get their ping pong balls to the ends faster than others, because they positioned themselves around the maze so each person had a different direction to direct the ball.

And if I had thought about it a little more, I ought to have put some computational thinking ideas in there – how many breathes/blows to get the ball to the end, what direction does the next breath need to be etc. How could you get the ball to the end of a maze with the least breaths possible? It would have been a useful little exercise similar to how I have seen sphero’s or bee bots used to get students designing instructions/algorithms to get a sphero out of a maze.

And for when I do this next time, I will think about how I can get the idea of direction change a little more explicit in the preparation for the maze, and how I can follow up (I left it too late and it was basically an oh crap, the bell is about to go, packing up now please…… so working on timing is obviously important too)



Posted in Digital Technologies, Professional learning, random ramblings, Teaching and Learning

Integrating digital technologies – computational thinking, designing digital outcomes, and Dichotomous keys

As my inquiry this year, I have been trying to explore ways to incorporate aspects on the digital technologies curriculum strand into ‘my’ classes in a meaningful way. I have had a play with my Level 2 chemistry class by focussing on pattern recognition and algorithms we were exploring solubility rules, and then also with some mystery skypes to work on students questioning ability. I have also had a play with some stop motion videos for polymers with my chem classes (trying to be brave and branch out into the designing digital outcomes strand rather than just the computational thinking strand of the digital technologies curriculum!! I am definitely less confident with this strand… and I am still working to find ways to incorporate programming specifically into my Science classes, my own knowledge of programming is still holding me back a little). My yr 8’s have had patchy lessons here and there as I tested out little activities trying to get my head round things. As I have grown more comfortable with the ideas, and the levels to pitch to different students, I am planning to incorporate a more learner centered approach with my yr 8 Science class for our plants topic. Specifically around incorporating computational thinking to pattern recognition, algorithms and plant identification, and then designing a digital outcome for the students final plant identification tool.

Almost every person who has ever done any science at school will remember seeing a dichotomous key – a flow chart with this or that answers that you works your way through to identify a species of plant or animal

Screen Shot 2018-09-27 at 9.17.37 AM.png
A dichotomous key for identifying sharks – thanks wikipedia 🙂

The key is dichotomous because it there are two choices, does the shark have this or that. So it is like a binary system, with only 2 options. Which is essentially how all computers work, because the only have the two possible options. To be able to draw a key like this, you need to have identified the patterns and traits that are unique to each species, and then order them in such a way so that each species can be identified.

In the past, I have focussed on ‘teaching’ my students how to interpret these keys rather than getting them to build their own. There is often a key in an end of topic test, and (being a bit brutal on myself) it was an easy way to get some students over the line.

This year, I’m allotting a bit more time and the plan is.

  1. spend some time learning how to identify plants.

Using the plants around us, the plants that we see at the Sinclair wetlands (we go on a great field trip there, spending the day ripping out gorse and planting trees and shrubs and watching all the bird life in the occasional moments the students are quiet enough to not scare them all away) and some online resources, I’m ‘hoping’ that students will learn more about the different features of the plants, and why these adaptations are important. An easy example would be deciduous compared to ever green trees – NZ natives do not lose their leaves in the winter compared to many introduced trees. Why might this be? Or why do our local sand dunes have different plants to the river bed a few metres up.

There will be a bit more direct instruction in this section. I watched with interest the debate over learner centric and teacher driven teaching and learning, and I think, like all things, you need to find a happy medium between the two. So we will go over what some adaptations are, ideas to look for, how environment impacts growth etc.

2. Look specifically for different patterns occurring with the various traits of the plants.

So, as we look at the adaptations, what do all the plants that have ‘spiky’ leaves have in common? Are they related or not? How can we tell the difference between the two different types of leaves and the plants they represent? How can we begin to group plants together based on similar patterns, traits etc.

If we get time, we might get into some abstraction. What adaptations would a plant living in this environment have? If the climate continues to change, what adaptations do you think the plants in different places might need to make. Could the plants do this fast enough?

3. How could we help some-one else identify the different plants? Making a dichotomous key.

So, designing a flow chart seems simple enough right. I’m hoping not. I’m thinking there will need to be some good leading questions, and some iteration involved to get the best possible outcomes. What yes no questions could we ask to identify 10 different plants that are common about the school? How could this be done in the least number of steps? How can we cut down on repeating questions? What is the best way to ask the questions clearly.

4. How do we present our keys?

I’m sure some of the students will want to do this in minecraft (they are minecraft crazy!!).  I might be brave and try doing a java based program with those that are keen. And those that are less confident I am thinking we might do some options with a powerpoint – using the hyperlink function to jump between slides to mimic bringing up the next question in the key. Or I am sure the students will have some other ideas about how they can present their work.

Screen Shot 2018-09-27 at 9.56.40 AM.png
The over view for digital outcomes for the NZ digital technology curriculum


So this ‘unit’ of work will hopefully tie in some of the learning I have done around the digitech curriculum, and allow me to more specifically focus on the designing digital outcomes strand. My holiday project is to modify the classes onenote so all the plant adaptation content is there, as well as spending some time on the digital design outcome strand to sure up my knowledge of this area.

And I will report back on how it goes in Term 4.

Have fun




Posted in Professional learning, random ramblings, Teaching and Learning

Reflections from the #NZMIEEHui18 Part 2

So, aside from just catching up with some of my favouritists teachery people, and meeting some new ones, I actually did learn a few new things to take forward. This is a summary of those I guess, for me to come back to and check in to see where to next

  1. Zoom in powerpoint.

You know how sometimes you don’t know what you don’t know. This was a definite case when I was chatting to Steve and he was showing me some of the online resources he and his colleagues have set up for their biology students. Steve is ‘big’ on visible learning and we were talking around how to make this possible I guess. I saw a ppt and was like, hang on, how did you do that, I want that. And so I learned about zoom. It is a feature in powerpoint where you can have a summary page, or a ‘list’ of pages and/or sections of ideas from a ppt presentation. I could instantly see this would work really well for our upcoming Chemical reactivity topic, so I have been having a play


Step 1 is to go to insert and then hit zoom


then select the sections (or slides) you want

Screenshot (37).png

Which then gives you a summary slide, which you can then click on to go into more depth into that section

Screenshot (39).png

I’m still putting this together, but I really like the visual ‘these are the things you need to know’ and then click into them to get more detail. So this resource will just be online for the kids to use – kind of a flipped learning resource I guess – rather than for me to use in class. So it was a really good little techie tip when I was talking to Steve about making learning more visible.

2. 3D paint and mixed reality

Sometimes there are things you know you don’t know, but don’t have time to go and learn more about them. I’d seen little demos of Paint 3D and mixed reality, and gone, I must look into that, but never made the time. Then at the hui, I didn’t get the time, but thankfully there were some shared slides and I got onto having a go once I was back home. Why, oh why, have I not had a go with this sooner.

Paint 3D is a windows 10 app, and it is really rather grunty so a non art specialist. It lets you mock up little pictures, and with the digital inking of a surface if was super easy to sketch up a little kiwi

But then you can sketch in 3d, and get a 3D kiwi using shapes and sketching, and with a slick of a button, your sketch is quietly standing on your trousers as you are sitting on the couch having a play.

There is also a pretty cool library of shapes and other animals via the mixed reality viewer…. Mr 5 Loved the shark swimming through his book

And I quite liked the solar system just sitting there

So my immediate goal is to get some of my chemistry students to use this to make shapes for revision for 2.4 and 3.4…. as well as to share the solar system with the yr 9 teachers at my school who are doing space this year. I’m glad I took the time to check this out properly, there is a wealth of resources and ideas just sitting there, and I think it could really help to visualise some of the more abstract ideas around chemistry. If nothing else, it will make reading the shark book for the millionth time much more enjoyable.

3. Putting some more puzzle pieces together re the digital technologies curriculum and classroom integration.

I’ve been pondering for a while about how I can both best integrate the DTC into my own teaching and learning programs, AND help other teachers, both in my school and everywhere, do the same. There is still a real ‘unknown’ quantity out there, were teachers either don’t know about the new curriculum, or are afraid of it, or simply think – oh, someone else will do that. It wasn’t till earlier this year that I had a wee ‘light bulb’ moment that you don’t need to do everything at once, and different areas of computational thinking and designing digital outcomes can be slotted into lots of different places in out fabulous New Zealand Curriculum – and in actual fact many people already are without realising it.

So by half listening in to the keynote sessions (not because I was slack, but I was busy doing loads of other things) from the fabulous Becky Keene on computational thinking, and then the equally awesome Iain Cook-Bonney and Chris Dillion on the digital curriculum, by popping in and out of sessions in the afternoon and then the keynote on global thinking and the UN sustainability Goals in education from the inspiring Koen Timmers, a few more little pieces started to fall into place for me. They are nicely summed up in some of the tweets from the hui


























And there were many more fabulous little ideas and snippets floating around the conversations, tweets and presentations. They are weaving themselves into a stronger sense of possibility for the new curriculum and how we can better support our young people to be the very best they can be. What models and exemplars could be made to support staff as learners of these new ideas? How can we insure we are meeting the needs of all our learners, and embrace the rich cultural aspect that the NZC supports?

So I had a fabulous weekend. Some specific learnings, and some big picture where to next learnings, ponderings and dreams.

Bring it


Posted in Professional learning, random ramblings

Reflections from the #NZMIEEhui18 part 1

It was very hard to know where to start writing this post, as it has been an amazing journey, filled with successes, failures, excitement and despair, collaboration and lack there of, to get to the point where the NZMIEEhui18 has been and gone. It was an amazing weekend, filled with learning, laughter, ideas, diversity and fun. I would like to thank everyone who came along and made it what it was.

So how to did come to be?

The New Zealand ‘chapter’ of the MIEE group (Microsoft innovative educator expert) had never had a face to face meeting before. Small groups had meet at the global educator exchanges, most of the ‘initial’ group meet in Sydney back in 2014, and there have been local events held in Auckland, Christchurch, Nelson etc. Occasionally we would bump into each other at other conferences (there was an excellent crew at energise!!). We do meet once a month on a Wednesday evening to have a webinar, with usually 40 or so people there, to share, chat and have occasional guest speakers. These calls have really grown, and focus on a mixture of pedagogy, curriculum, tech tools/demos and conference feedback depending on the month. But we had never had an NZ wide meeting, and there are people I work so closely with that I had never meet, or I could count the number of times I have meet them using one finger.

But then Nikkie gave me a buzz and said, hey, should we apply for this funding (the networks of expertise funding). I was a bit skeptical at first, we were already so busy, but also really thought it sounded good, so I said yip, but I’m not spending hours on it. But of course we did spend hours on it and sent away an application for funding for a face to face meet up and some money for release time and for the monthly calls. After what felt like AGES we heard back, could we meeting to discuss. Sure we said, not quite sure what was going on. And then we found out we had got the funding for 2 years, not one, and we were good to go.

Which then lead to an interesting conference prep time, where we both had to learn about different things, like accessing money from the ministry!! writing invoices, getting things paid, navigating other commitments. We had one planning day during the holidays when I flew up to Auckland and then loads of late night skypes. Nikkie’s school was amazingly helpful. We organised speakers, had to build a webpage (which was a real rush job at the initial time, as in when do we need it?? Oh tomorrow, sure we can do that tonight…..), we sorted flights and accom (with the help of the fabulous Janine) and then we sorted the last minute changes and challenges.

And then it was the weekend.

I flew up on Thursday so I could have some time to get my head right (I don’t like flying) and so I could meet up with the fabulous Becky Keene that night, as she also arrived that day. Friday was busy with last minute jobs, as well as a lunch trip to Waiheke island (we had to show Becky around after all). Friday night I barely slept despite having had a couple of ciders… and it was Saturday.

And while there were specific pieces of new learning, and some deep, challenging learning conversations that I will post about separately, my lasting and overall impression was of how fabulous ALL the educators who came are. Old and young (my goodness 24 is young, I’m getting soooo old), primary and secondary, senior leaders and classroom teachers, facilitators, everyone was amazing. Everyone had something to offer in a rich tapestry of being the best they could be. I had some challenging chat with Pip around the differences between the NZ and Australian school curriculums, talked through some minecraft tips with Noellene, talked literacy with struggling learners with Lynette, talked about heroic models and filling holes, about how to grow the community, connected with Koen again via skype, about building PLD that works for you. I meet people I have worked with for 3 years and saw their energy and passion with no filters. I reconnected with people I have only ever meet overseas. I filled my kete, and I know I contributed to filling the kete of others. It is true that people are the most important thing in all the world, and I am so proud of the work that was done to bring everyone together.

Screen Shot 2018-07-17 at 1.21.39 PM.png
Fellows – pretty much sums us up I think


Screen Shot 2018-07-17 at 1.12.12 PM
4 amazing woman in this picture – and we also had a fabulous time
Screen Shot 2018-07-17 at 1.13.44 PM
I got to meet Bridget Crooks – human sunshine 


Time to just chat and catch up

Screen Shot 2018-07-17 at 1.13.51 PM
The NZ MIEE crew that went to Toronto – minus the boys who had already left.
Screen Shot 2018-07-17 at 1.14.02 PM
Screen Shot 2018-07-17 at 1.13.07 PM
Doers – just happy to help in any way 🙂
Screen Shot 2018-07-17 at 1.14.19 PM
Even found these guys at the airport on their way home from the Chemistry camp in Taiwan with the Otago University Chemistry outreach.