Nelson – Link learning cluster conference

Thursday, I was down in sunny Nelson for a one day leadership conference with the link learning cluster, working with Charles and Allanah and the principals and lead teachers of the 20+ primary schools that make up this ICTPD cluster.

The keynote was Key competencies in the 21st Century. In work that we (21st Century Fluency project) have done all round the world we have had our participants come up with the key competencies they see important in our dynamic world. The key competencies are:

  • problem solving
  • creativity
  • analytical thinking
  • communications
  • collaboration
  • ethics, action and accountability
This match very nicely with the key competencies from the New Zealand curriculum framework:
  • thinking
  • using language, symbols, and texts
  • managing self
  • relating to others
  • participating and contributing

The things I love about the ones we have developed and the New Zealand Curriculum is not only the obvious similarities and synergy, but also the focus not on learning and recalling knowledge but on processes and relationships.

The day in Nelson was great, a receptive and hugely enthusiastic group, eager to discuss, debate, contribute and share. Kia Kaha, our kids are in good hands.


Students at conferences

Next week my students and I are presenting at a conference in Sydney via video conference. They are presenting to teachers about how they use technology to enhance their learning.

The presentation will invove me introducing and concluding the presentation, but the really important stuff is coming from the students. They are explaining how they use technology to enhance their learning. Its very interesting.

In class I use a variety of tools, we use:

  • Google documents for shared collaborative documents and presentations
  • Wikispaces wiki for within school and international collaborative projects
  • Survey Monkey for surveys and information capture
  • The usual variety of content focused tools to provide up to date materials

Blogging, messaging and resource sharing is done using our Learning management system.

The students were asked to come up with their own list of key tools that they use. The list did include wikis and google documents, but there were some very interesting additions. They picked these as there best tools:

  • Google Documents
  • Google presentations
  • Bibme – the bibliography tools
  • Facebook groups – to run the leadership groups and committees – Facebook is not accessable from school.
  • Survey Monkey  – for their personal research for extended essays and Theory of knowledge
  • Wikis
  • Blogspot
  • Content sites including Youtube,  sparknotes, TED, How Stuff works, BBC Bitesize, Wolfram Alpha

These were the students selections rather than mine. Its interesting to find out what they use. There were a series of other suggestions but this selection was the most commonly selected.

What I find interesting is the students selections while they match some of mine are also quite different. Theya re using facebook for learning, they are using blogspot in preference to our own blogging tools. They are using survey monkey for their information gathering and personal research.

I have to say I am looking forward to this presentation.

Its is quite strange that students presenting at a conference is a rare thing. Its also rather sad too. As adults, we expect and demand that decisions that influence and effect us are made from a consultative basis. When they aren’t we protest and complain, whether this is on a small scale  – talking to your boss or union representative or by marching picketing or protesting on a large scale. Yet how often are students given a voice to shape, decide and direct their future? How often are they abl to tell us what works and doesn’t work for them? Are they allowed to shape and direct their learning beyond option and subject selection.

Interesting huh?


Innovate conference

At the innovate conference in Sydney in march I did a casual interview where I was asked a couple of questions and videoed as I replied.

It was a little daunting, but quite fun


On of the many concepts I got out of  the Workshop on building future focus schools was sustainability.

The concept is obviously not new, but its critical. Whether it is sustainability in terms of professional learning and development of pedagogy or sustainability in the use and reuse of learning spaces, its critical.

Professional learning, isn’t something that should be funded for a short period of time, and by short I mean 2-3 years. The model we have seen of government cluster funding a single or cluster of schools for professional learning is laudible but short sighted. For the 2-3 years of the contract, professional learning continues apace. But the cut off of funding post contract often (but not always) see a massive drop off in professional learning. It does not take into account staff churn as new staff come in and out of schools. Nor does it account for the different learning needs and speeds of staff. In short this is not sustainable – you end up with Flashes of inspiration and stretches of dullness.

The physical spaces need to be sustainable as well. I know of schools that under one leadership regime undertook redevlopment of classrooms into learning commons, removing walls and opening the structure and under the next replaced the walls and closed the structures. The changes need to be sustaibnable and this comes from clear purpose and outcomes, vision and integrity of purpose. This too relates to professional learning and the need for the vision to be articulated not only in words but in actions by training and supporting staff.

So then too our purpose and outcomes must be sustainable. These must be based on research and understanding. Supported by evaluation and analysis rather than grasping at the latest trend to appear on the educational horizon. This must be articulated to the three sides of the triangle the students, staff and parents. Here is what we are doing, when we are doing it, where we are doing it and who is doing it (describing the situation) Here is why and how we are doing it (analysing) and here is why its important, the outcomes, relationships and impacts (evaluation).

Sustainability is critical.

Bursting the bubble.

I have enjoyed my trip to India. Visiting ASB, the American School of Bombay, was a pleasure. The Students were proud to host us and show the integration of technology into their learning, the staff were incredibly hospitable and unfailingly helpful. The organisation was crisp and clean. There was little to fault.

My accommodation was 5 star and the service impeccable. The Trident hotel was only 3 months open and prided itself in being the best.

But the Trident and ASB are actually little insulated bubbles of America, Europe and Western society, that bear little or no resemblance to the real India outside of the gates of the school or the doors of the hotel. This is not India, this is a little slice of America grafted in to Mumbai. Its a bubble.



It would be easy to ignore the real India from the sheltered, comfortable and protected enclave I was resident in. And many of the teachers attending the conference said that this Bubble of “home” which the ex-pat community creates is the norm for much of the world.

But when you venture beyond the walls, when you take the local taxi or rickshaw you start to see so much more. You can start to see, touch and smell the differences.  The differences become clear as you venue out. Some comparisons should be made.

My laundry

My laundry

The Laundry

The Laundry

In the lobby

In the lobby

in the street

in the street

Apartment near the hanging gardens

Apartment near the hanging gardens

It would be easy to paint India as two extremes the slums and the uber-rich, but there are, just like any society, graduations. There are good areas and bad, middle class suburbs and poorer ones, the very rich and what is missing in most western societies the slums.

No India and Mumbai are not the privileged bubble of the 5 star hotel or the school. Mumbai is a vibrant, dynamic, alive city teeming with life, its crowded, hot, smelly and often dirty. Its a smorgasbord of cultures and religions and a hodge podge of streets and alley.

I thnk the bubble has burst.

Beach house?

Beach house?

Celebrating Failure

Schools are great at celebrating success and achievement, but they seldom celebrate failure.

Part of the workshops I have been running here in Mumbai have been focused on assessment particularly formative assessment. Too often, and particularly in the Senior schools, we have tunnel vision that is aimed and targeted on the final examinations that lead to qualification. There is a encompassing focus on summative assessment and schools celebrate the success of their students in these. The celebration is absolutely and completely justified, we should and must celebrate such successes.



But we also must celebrate failure. We must celebrate it as a vital part of the learning process. We must celebrate it as the opportunity it is to learn, develop and grow.

I feel that to often our schools are failure adverse and with that they also become risk adverse as well.

Failure presents our students with an opportunity to learn, an opportunity that we as teachers must seize to provide formative assessment – the timely, appropriate and honest feedback that enable and faciliate development and learning. For many of our students failure is the point that they give up or stop. We must make it a point that they try again.

Having a culture in our schools that accepts, cherishes and celebrates failure as a learning opportunity would encourage risk taking and with risk taking acceptance that it doesn’t always work out.

Having this culture promotes resiliance, as we accept that you make mistakes, your experiments fail, but you don’t give up you start again and learn from your mistakes and learn from your failures.

With such a culture in the classroom we will develop the scientists, inventors, leaders, business people, poets, authors, musicians,

Original image from Trekking in Nepal

Original image from Trekking in Nepal

sportmen and women and explorers & adventurers that we look up to, whom we honour as role models and hero; whom we aspire to follow. Not one of these people reached the lofty goals they strived to without failing, falling and making mistakes, but each and everyone of them learned from their mistakes and failures.

Yes, we must celebrate success, but we must also celebrate FAILURE.

Good morning Mumbai

I woke this morning to hear the call to prayer from the local mosque, across the river from the hotel. Last night as we were driven to a reception we passed the catholic catheral which is held up as a tourist attraction here.

Mumbai is a melting pot of religions and cultures, it really couldn’t be anything else when you have 17+ million people living in a city that is not huge in land mass. While the two extremes poverty and riches are most eye catching, the majority of the people get on with there lives in relative obscurity. The Dhariva slums are huge and at a glance appear to be poverty incarnate, but theya re incredibly productive and the land values witin the slums often matches and exceeds other areas of Mumbai.


No things are not always what they seem. A glance at the skyline from my 8th floor vantage points reveals construction is happening at a pace. Cranes tower above buildings and the local area is filled with construction sites, piles of materials and workers dressed in high visibility jackets and wearing safety helmets. This isn’t to different to a construction site anywhere. From my perspective the scaffolding made out of Bamboo appears flimsy, but I suspect that is a bias I hold, rather than a fact I know.

India – a land of contrasts

I arrived last night at the hotel and I have to say its stunning. I am spending today preparing and if that goes well maybe some exploring to.

I am struck again by the absolute contrasts between where I am in a 5 star hotel and parts of the same city I am in.

Here are two pictures from my window. The hotel is close to a river and you can see the shanty town/slum that exists beside the river itself. The contrast is huge and sitting in Luxury staring at poverty is not that comfortable.view 1

view 2

More to follow

2/3rd there. Dubai

Well I am 2/3rd’s of the way to Mumbai and the ASB-unplugged conference. Because of lots of booking I am flying Emirates to Mumbai rather than Singapore air. The quality is great but its a long haul from NZ to Dubai and then back to Mumbai.

Then conference looks great and I am really looking forward to it. I have 2 sessions  – they are a workshop onfriday on project based learning that I repeat on Saturday. At the same time as the ASB unplugged workshop, Julie Lindsay and Vicki Davis are running the flatclassroom conference. Seriously cool experience for the students and staff involved in that one.

Here is a thought for today – this is an article from Pew Internet Project – the internet is making our brains different not dumb

Today has been sooo cool

Its fair to say that today has been good, actually very good.

I recieved an update for ISTE 2010 in Denver and my two session proposals have been accepted. I am presenting:

  • A 3 hour workshop on Saturday on learning tools and learning styles.
  • A 1 hour presentation on the Digital citizen called Growing Digital Citizens For Our Digital World on the Wednesday.

Then I went to vote for the edublogawards and as I scanned through the categories I found that I had 3 nominations:

Its been a great day. The last three weeks have been incredibly buzy with a trip to Mumbai for an IB Workshop, the cluster conference at school and I had a dance show which I am the technical director for. This is the first opportunity I have had to sit down and blog.

It is interesting how much I miss blogging. There is something soothing about reflecting and sharing.