Wednesday, August 19, 2020

NEXT: A seamless switch to home learning

The Next Foundation has been a generous supporter of the Manaiakalani Programme for a number of years and this month produced a publication that included positive stories to emerge from our schools, ‘Rising to the Challenge, Stories from the Covid-19 Crisis’.

Term two has been a crash course in home learning for many New Zealand students and parents – but a group of schools from some of our most challenged communities have made the switch with ease

“The digital world is the world of our young people, but the key component is not a device, it is a teacher who knows how to teach and knows how to make connections with children and young people,” says Burt. 


“The kids are enjoying home learning. We are getting surprising numbers of children turning up to class with over 50% joining the video chats, even during the school holidays. And the cool thing we are discovering is that a lot of whānau are listening in too.” 

Supporting their children’s learning through the lockdown illustrates the high degree of engagement in the programme from Manaiakalani families. 

Read more on the Next Foundation website

Monday, March 16, 2020

Limit the Links

Kia iti ngā kuputoro

The Manaiakalani Programme response to Distance Learning

February in Aotearoa, NZ has seen us enjoying a beautiful Summer and although we were back to school the warm evenings and sunny weekends have been outstanding.
The news coming from overseas about the spread of COVID-19 has felt distanced from our experience, although it was impacting international students arriving to study at our universities and higher decile schools. Despite stories of ill travellers on cruise ships and NZ citizens being flown home from Wuhan on a special flight to quarantine in a military facility occupying our media, this felt like another northern hemisphere epidemic  that would have little impact on our lives in NZ, unless we were travelling to China, then Italy, then...

We had a case in NZ on Feb 28th, and the last couple of weeks have seen more cases of COVID-19 being identified with eight by this weekend.  At the same time we have seen parents overseas start to keep their children home from school and teachers talking about distance learning, home learning and blended learning. We have seen teachers overseas rising to this new challenge and teachers at a loss as they wonder how to cope.

It is looking highly likely that New Zealand will be impacted by this and our schools could be asked to supply socially distanced learning for our young people, and it would be wise to plan for this while we still have children attending schools and we have the opportunity to plan and prepare for this.

Over the weekend we worked on a document that schools implementing the Manaiakalani Programme could use as a guide and a support. These Manaiakalani schools around the country are well placed to move seamlessly into learning from home because we have established systems for our parents to buy a device for their child and we have a pedagogy that has been proven in a wide range of contexts.  But most importantly we have teachers with effective practice, who know their learners and their whanau, and have been leading learning using a digital learning environment for years.

In this time of uncertainty we want to empower teachers to back themselves and continue to design learning experiences that they know will be effective for their young people.  To neither be distracted nor confused by the offers that have begun flooding in from commercial companies offering their products and services. To take stock and plan for the eventuality we could end up in a similar scenario as schools in the Northern Hemisphere.

We called the document " Limit the Links" and sent it out to all our principals on Monday morning, with the suggestion that they share it with their staff and call upon our facilitation team to help them unpack it.

The biggest challenge if our young people find themselves learning from home is 'where do I find my work?"  "Where do I access my learning?"  So we have suggested principals make sure their school website is set up to be a direct portal that students can use to locate their learning - if it is not already.  Anyone can locate their school website through a simple Google search, so no one needs to remember a URL for this at all.

Our teachers lead learning via a class or subject site, so once the young person has landed on this from the school website, they should be good to go. No passwords to remember, a clear pathway to accessing learning online.

The missing ingredient here is the important link connecting our children and their teachers in real time. We emphasised that using the tool we already have as part of our Google Apps domain, Google Hangouts Meet, would have an important role to play as we focus on learner wellbeing. on making and maintaining connections with students and their families.  And of course invaluable as a teaching tool.

The final link we emphasised in the document was one we use to support our young people connecting with each other, sharing their learning with their peers, their teachers, families and friends.  This is their individual blog.

We believe that this will be enough- hence, Limit the Links.  Back yourself as a teacher, as a professional. Use the tried and tested technology teachers and learners are familiar with and together we will make this work!

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Hāpara: World Class

In 2010, when we piloted the idea of every child in the class having their own netbook and their own Google account, we did not factor in how much more content these engaged and enthusiastic young people would generate! Early estimates were that they were completing three times as much work.

There were two immediate consequences:

The teachers' Google Drives were flooded with documents, and they struggled to locate their own content, let alone sort out the students'.

Too much valuable teaching time was being spent on checking up on basic functions, "Have you shared your Doc with me?" "Do you know where you saved that Doc?"  "Do you remember what you called that Doc?"

Sharing this with a new friend who lived in our part of town, over dinner and red wine at La Vista, we discovered that Jan Zawadski was not only very clever with tech but was also a design thinking genius.  Some jottings and diagrams on a paper napkin (why did we never photograph that artefact?) led to many sessions gathered around whiteboards with groups of teachers and friends of Manaiakalani. And one momentous day Jan delivered a working model of the solution to our challenge - Teacher Dashboard.

Fortunately, I did have my phone handy when Teacher Dashboard went live in Toni Nua's year 7/8 classroom. You can see the record of that moment in the video.

Fast forward a decade, and in December 2019 representatives of the Global company Hāpara, operating in 64+ countries around the world, rocked up to honour us with a recognition for the part we played in the birth and development of Hāpara Teacher Dashboard.

I am deeply honoured to be designated a "Hapara World Class Educator" along with Russell Burt and Lenva Shearing.

Making Learning Visible

This is what spins my wheels :)

Friday, November 29, 2019

Off the Grid

Northland power outage: Major power cut to region
Recipe for chaos as Principals gather for a day of professional learning around implementing the new digital technologies curriculum and power is cut to the whole of the province.
See news article here

Or is it?

Ten years ago, maybe even five years ago.  But in 2019 the principals of the Te Hiku and Kaikohekohe clusters who had come together for a day of professional learning at Waitangi took it in stride.

The day started out with a buzz of energy as people enjoyed meeting up in the beautiful learning centre in the grounds of Waitangi.  A day of learning more about the Digital Technologies Curriculum that is required to be implemented by 2020 was in store, along with a session focusing on direction from the Manaiakalani Programme lead for the coming year.

With a bang it came to a abrupt end. All went still as aircons, bubbling coffee pots, data projector and other appliances lost power. And then the phones started ringing as schools called their principals asking 'what to do?'  Busses had been turned around, parents had gone to work and most of the principals had driven considerable distances to make it to Waitangi for this hui.

It was a treat observing the professionalism in the room as these principals calmly made decisions, empowering their 2ICs to make tough calls, and regrouped to focus on their own professional learning.

The decision was made to continue with the hui, but to reconvene outside as there was no benefit remaining in a room where the temperature was rapidly rising.

Having had the privilege of working with many of these principals for most of a decade it struck me how digitally competent they all are in 2019.  The programme documents and agendas were all online, so people tethered their phones to their laptops to restore the necessary documents. Then got down to the business of the day.

Kerry and Monica who had the task of leading us through the digital technologies curriculum regrouped and did a superb job in a situation where some may have abandoned this as an impossible ask.

It was a great reminder of the resilience and competence of our colleagues in the North. They all to often contend with weather-related and other disasters and continue to professionally deliver quality education to their communities. They support young people and whānau in communities facing significant challenges. And they do not get to enjoy the fabulous new school buildings and the reliable fast broadband that the majority of their colleagues in other parts of Aotearoa take for granted.

It is a privilege to work with you in Te Hiku and the Kaikohekohe Education Network.

From power and digital connectivity

To ingenuity and bird song

Friday, December 21, 2018

Telling Our Story

In 2018 we were offered the opportunity to work with a talented digital media group and tell the Manaiakalani story.  We appreciated their patience as they worked with us (herding cats!) to design the story and then capture it on video.
The seven minute version is well worth watching right through if you want to understand Manaiakalani.  We have appreciated the feedback from groups who have used this video with various audiences and report that it does a great ‘sense-making’ job for us.

These shorter vignettes are cropped to tell specific elements of our story for a variety of purposes.

Equity and Access

Russell Burt

Evidence Base

Prof Stuart McNaughton

IT and Infrastructure

Kent Somerville

Aireen Ah Kui
Clarelle Curruthers
Dorothy Burt
Let us know if you find these useful!