Self Assessment and reflection tool

I have been working on a tool for students to do a self assessment/reflection and feedback. There are two version of the tool, though the difference is more in layout as the core content is the same.

The tool is based around the work of Stephen Dinham which is used by DET NSW and  New Zealand educators John Hattie & Helen Timperley.

Both works are created under the creative commons share and share-alike license. Acknowledgement is appreciated


Dinham S. May 2008. Feedback on feedback. Teacher, the national education magazine issue 191 Art 6. Australian Council for Edducational research (ACER)
Timperley,H. Hattie,J. 2007 The power of feedback. Review of educational Research p77-87

self assessment & feedback landscape self assessment & feedback

Digital Citizenship

As a frequent presenter and speaker on digital citizenship, I feel it is critical to presented a balanced and considered perspective.

Its easy, particularly when presented with a captive audience, to place undue emphasis on the darker side of out digital lives. The media abounds with horror stories and tragedies, of mis-adventure and mis-direction, crime and punishment, but this is what sells papers and magazines and attracts readers/viewers. Seldom do you see the predominant reality of our digital world, people getting on with their day to day activities, be these business or leisure.

Standing up and preaching about the dangers and risks is easy, often captivating and grabs attention. Its simple to find the latest disasters and use these to highlight the pitfalls and traps that are present. Shock and awe does make for a good presentation, but to focus on the negative or exaggerate the risks is to lose the opportunity for learning. You don’t want to see teachers, parents or others in a fit of fervor banning all technology use because of perceived risks and dangers.

Its critical that we provide a balanced perspective and provide mechanisms and processes that provide guidance and support. Short term solutions like blocking, banning etc are ignoring the underlying issues of digital citizenship. While they will stop or limit the incidence or occurrence of  either inappropriate action or damage, they do little to prepare people for a world beyond the walled garden we have created.

It is only by changing behaviours and understanding, that real change can be made. It is only by changing these that we can make a sustained, hopefully life long, difference.

Rules don’t work

Too many people have fallen in to the trap of setting rules in an attempt to provide a safe environment. Definitive statements have a very limited life expectancy, they are often out of date before they are written. The rapid evolution of the web, of social media and technology means that statements specify medium or technologies are soon obsolete.

However, behaviors and actions are timeless. Change and adapt these and you provide a safe foundation for activity, learning and recreation in a dynamic world.

Want some Ideas on these?


Saving the world, Conservation and outdoor education


The kids have just finished watching the final episode of the Brilliant BBC series Africa, hosted and narrated by David Attenborough. As we watch the last part of the last episode, Attenborough made a point about the importance of the wild places and the need for these to sustain the planet.

The series was predictably brilliant, and for those schools in New Zealand who subscribe to screenrights, you can record and use this legally in our classes.

But the point that Attenborough makes about the importance of preserving the wild places and their vital role in powering the planet is important, but unless you experience “the wild” then often this is a concept with out support and or experience. To be able to understand the beauty, scale, size, variety and critically importance of these wild places can only be touched on by documentaries like Africa. That is not to decry the brilliant cinematography, stunning vistas and awe inspiring settings. But the wild is not just visual, it is not just sound it is a holistic experience.

To gain an appreciation of the diversity and complexity of the outdoors, of the wild places, it is best to experience them, even if it is in a limited setting.

I am fortunate that my school takes all of our students out for an Outdoor education week, and we run outdoor education as a subject at senior levels. It encourages adventure sports, promotes the brilliant duke of Edinburgh scheme and happily supports the Roots and Shoots club based on the work by another legendary figure in Biology, Jane Goodall.  Outdoor education is a medium for understanding, experience and developing a passion for the wilder places, and the need to conserve them for not just our future generations but for our very survival.

Outdoor education as a subject, and as an event is potentially one of the keys to our survival.

 Screenrights –

Facebook – new poke application

The new facebook poke app raises a concern or two for me in regards to appropriate use. The app which is essentially facebook’s version of snapchat allows the user to do a number of interesting things.

Here is what they say about it in the 12 December news release

With the Poke app, you can poke or send a message, photo, or video to Facebook friends to share what you’re up to in a lightweight way. You can poke an individual friend or several at once. Each message expires after a specific time you’ve set, either 1, 3, 5 or 10 seconds. When time runs out, the message disappears from the app. ” source:

So you can set a message that is only visible for a short space of time and then deletes. The message could be text, image or video. but wait there is more facebook will only hold the message and the encryption keys for the message for 2 days (source:

When working with students we ask them, if they are being repeatedly bullied to:

  • Talk with a trusted adult – be it the school Councillor, teacher etc
  • not delete the messages and hold them as evidence

Now they have a message that will appear for upto 10 seconds and then disappear/deleted, even the most tech savvy user is going to struggle to take a screen grab in that time. What’s more there is a 48 hour window to get facebook to recover the the poke. If you have ever tried to get facebook to do anything it is usually more than 48 hours.

Am I concerned, yes – this is a tool for the cyber bully.

I know concerns have been raised to about snapchat as a tool of choice in sexting. Does facebook really need to match it? They ahve attempted to match some of the terms and conditions of snapchat “When you send or receive messages using the Snapchat services, we temporarily process and store your images and videos in order to provide our services… we attempt to delete image data as soon as possible after the message is transmitted.” (Source: click on terms at the bottom of the page)


Well, what would I say to my students about this application?

  1. Don’t use it – this is suspect will fall on deaf ears but, it may raise some awareness
  2. if its abusive or inappropriate, unfriend the sender or is you are struggling to see who it is uninstall the app
  3. If its serious and/or persistent, talk to a trusted adult and move with speed to report the issue to facebook – Facebook – report a violation –

Resources and links:

Facebook – report a violation –

Digital citizenship resources –

Follow me on Twitter - @achurches

Follow me on Twitter – @achurches


Apple trick – Dictation using Mountain lion

One of the very useful, but perhaps under utilised features of mountain lion is the dictation tool. Once its switched on the world of dictation is opened.

Switch it on by going to system preferences > dictation and speech and switching dictation on you can also select your language type.

From here it’s really easy double click on the function key FN  and speak.

I found the Apple care page on this useful as well. Here is a selection that covers the basic problems you often have with dictation.

cap (for example, “this is a cap Test”) Capitalize next word
all caps (for example, “this is a all caps TEST”) Type in all caps
caps on Caps lock on
caps off (for example, “this is caps on A VERY IMPORTANT TEST caps off tomorrow”) Caps lock off
no caps(for example, “what time is my meeting in no caps boston today”) All lowercase
new line Insert new text line
next line Go to the next text line
new paragraph Begin new paragraph
next paragraph Go to the next paragraph
no space Do not insert a space after the next word
no space on (for example, “the new car is no space on reallyreallyexpensive”) Do not insert any spaces between words
no space off Resume inserting spaces between words
space bar (for example, “this restaurant is first space bar class”) Type a space
numeral (for example, “he starts from position numeral 5″) Type the numeral, such as 5 instead of “five”
Roman numeral (for example, “in January it’s Roman numeral MMXIII”) Type the spoken as a Roman number

Do you have an iPad 3? Try out siri for dictation. Once you have enabled it in settings by clicking on the microphone icon in the pop up keyboard  (Settings > General > Siri). Here is the help file –




Google Drive – Your information and their use of it.

Lee sent me this article recently and I have to say I am a little shocked.

Like many in education I make use of the Google suite of tools, for a long time Google documents and more recently Google drive. I suspect that like many people when it came to agreeing with the terms and conditions I just ticked the box and got on with it. I have to be honest, I am shock at what I have agreed to, and it makes me question what I would upload to google.

Here is the critical section for me:

“When you upload or otherwise submit content to our Services, you give Google (and those we work with) a worldwide license to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works (such as those resulting from translations, adaptations or other changes we make so that your content works better with our Services), communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute such content. The rights you grant in this license are for the limited purpose of operating, promoting, and improving our Services, and to develop new ones. This license continues even if you stop using our Services (for example, for a business listing you have added to Google Maps). Some Services may offer you ways to access and remove content that has been provided to that Service. Also, in some of our Services, there are terms or settings that narrow the scope of our use of the content submitted in those Services. Make sure you have the necessary rights to grant us this license for any content that you submit to our Services.”

Concerned? I have some reservations about this. Essentially I have given google by default permission to use, host, store, reproduce, modify, create derivative works, communicate, publish, publicly perform, publicly display and distribute my content and the license continues even if I stop using Googles Services.

As an educator trying to encourage my students to be appropriate ethical citizens in the both the real and digital world I struggle with this. I put my hand up for the primary mistake of not reading the terms and conditions, but this over the top.


If I was to try and draw a parallel to the real world I think it would be hiring a storage space and giving the owner of the facility or anyone he is associated with, his friends, business associates or anyone else he chooses – permission to ferret around in my stuff, use it when it suits them, the right to show to the public anything I have in the space (pictures, letters, drawings personal items) and distribute it as they see fit.

Hum, yes I think I have some concerns here. Google, I am not impressed!

Starter Sheet – the reflective cycle using a blogs

This is the next in the assessment series – this use a blog as the medium for a student applying the reflective cycle to reflect on an event.

The reflective cycle has 5 stages –

  1. Select an event
  2. describe the event – what, where, when and who
  3. Analyse the event – break it down into the component elements and as the How and why questions
  4. Evaluate the event – make a judgement having considered the impact, importance, effectiveness and relationships
  5. Transform – make a change based on the process

This can be used in a wide range of situations whether it is a student reflecting on their learning and contribution, a students posting a comment on a peers blog and using the cycle to offer critique and comment or a student reflecting on the events of the day.

Starter sheet reflection cycle in a blog post

As always comments are appreciated

For the complete set of starter sheets visit the education origami wiki –


educational origami wiki

Digital Kiwis

The online news site stuff recently had an interesting article detailing some of New Zealanders online actions and behaviours. It makes for interesting reading and is worthy of reflecting on. The article is at this URL –

Here are the salient points:

  • Number of mobile internet users is >2.5 million. This is linked with the increase in smart phones
  • Average fixed line user used 16GB per month
  • The data caps offered by ISP are increasing
  1. 50+GB data cap on fixed lines increased by 800%
  2. No data cap increased by 270%

Telecom is offering 150GB per month for $99 in its make your own package site ( Orcon has unlimited data ++ for the same cost ( and Telstra clear is offering 100GB naked broadband for $105 per month (

To require this much bandwidth the use of the internet is changing. Its no longer just about looking stuff up and searching. This is now about watching, listening, talking, interacting, playing, sharing, doing and possibly creating too. It more than facebook, though with over 1 billion people globally on facebook ( that is undoubtedly part of it.

The main NZ broadcasters like TVNZ and TV3 and others are hosting on demand sites (,, the way we access entertainment is consuming part of this increase in capacity. Access and capacity, linked with reducing prices (but we still have a long way to go on the price to be comparable with much of the world)are changing how we relax and are entertained.

The questions for me are when are we going to see changes in school that will enable our students to leverage the full media capacity of the internet – bandwidth, cost and capacity are becoming less of a bottle neck and linked to this is how are we going to support our students in making the right decisions regarding when, how where and why to access materials and the ethical issues that surround the availability of media on the web.

It is sad to think that a high school I worked with recently in the Pacific has a data cap of 30GB per month (smaller than Telecoms smallest offering) and this costs them over 10x’s the cost of telecoms 50GB plan ($75 per month).


Media release: –

Unit Planning, the 5C’s

As teachers we know that we need to have unit plans. This is a standard expectation of teachers, in many circumstances we are also expected to have lesson plans as well. We often hear adages as justification of the need for planners like

“Failure to plan is planning to fail”

“Proper planning prevents poor performance”

While these are very applicable and true, I think there are five underlying reasons for structured unit planning. These are the five C’s – Consistency, Continuity, Coverage, Considered & Creativity

  • Consistency – Consistency allows us to have consistent delivery of the curriculum between classes and across the course. We know that what is covered in one class is covered in the others, thus the preparations for assessment is fair and equitable. Consistency does not mean that each class is delivered in the same manner, rather that the core content is covered.
  • Continuity – Continuity is planning for the unthinkable. Should a member of staff be unable to teach, their is suitable structure in place to allow the replacement teacher to quickly and easily pick up the thread of teaching and learning and provide continuity of education to our students.
  • Coverage – Coverage is ensuring that all aspects of the syllabus or curriculum are addressed, that they are covered in sufficient depth and rigor to meet the requirements for assessment. It allows us to apply curriculum mapping to examine the syllabus as a whole and to make the links between the different disciplines, building the cross curricula links that are synergistic to learning. Cross curricula learning is the core element of Daggett’s application Model (see Activity mapping –
  • Creativity – Unit planning allows you to look at the bigger picture. Once you have laid out the wealth of content, concepts, attitudes and processes you need to share with your students, you can start to consider the different approaches, methods and strategies you can use to engage and motivate the students. You can link the higher order thinking skills (See Bloom’s Digital Taxonomy –, Sensory learning (See ICT & Learning styles – Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences ( See ICT & Multiple intelligences – and consider how you can integrate traditional and digital approaches to teaching and learning – (See Traditional practice and Digital Approaches –
  • Considered – Structure and planning allows all of these and it faciltiates reflection. We can look back and consider what we did and how we can improve. It allows our teaching to be deliberate. This does not mean we can not seize the teachable moment, I would never ever want to see regimented teaching.


National Library Service

Last night I was a guest at the National Library for the round table discussions on the services to schools provided. It was a fascinating session and one I really enjoyed.

The session was looking at the future of the national Library service through the lens of a SWOT analysis the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.  What I saw coming thorough was the huge service the Library service performance and the opportunity that presents itself for them being leaders in the digital environment. The digital environment is also the biggest threat to the service as well. The changing nature of the digital medium and publishing,  Google’s desire to control every thing all challenge the existence of the service. OER is also making considerable changes to the landscape of learning.

Almost everyone present stressed the digital citizenship aspects and the key validating skills that the staff at the national library had. This led in turn to the digital leadership opportunities that may present themselves for this service.


What was clearly understood by all was that the national Libraries service to schools and the wider national library service itself must change and adapt.

There were a couple of points that came as a surprise to me though I think many of the others in the room already knew them.

1. There is no legal requirement for a school to have a library or to provision one with stock or staff.

2. The average primary school in New Zealand has 160-180 students and the average secondary school has approximately 4-500 students. Half of the  schools in NZ are under this size (this information came from a MinEd staff member) half the secondary schools have under 500 students.

How could these small schools provision a library space with out the assistance of the national library service?


I am not a fan of reference books like encyclopaedia etc, most are out of date before they are published, occupy space and are seldom used. There are better resources that can be accessed via subscription or in the case of EPIC for free for schools – these are often timely and up to date. Wouldn’t it be better to have a small fleet of ebook readers which link to subscriptions like EPIC as the reference material for the school – I would pick that the cost of the readers would be the same or less than the cost of the equivalent books.

Much to ponder. Much to ponder…..