Monday, December 31, 2012

Open Source Award 2012

The 4th annual New Zealand Open Source Awards ceremony was held in Wellington on 7 November 2012. According to the New Zealand Open Source Awards websitethe Open Source community nominates outstanding projects and people who make Open Source the vibrant and successful force it is in New Zealand businesses and communities.

Paul Seiler and Nevyn HiraSo it was a great honour to hear that two nominations had been submitted for the Manaiakalani project. One was for the outstanding work done by Nevyn Hira since September 6th 2010 developing an Ubuntu image for the Manaiakalani children to use on their netbooks. The other was for the impact of the Open Source technology on teaching and learning. 

We were surprised and delighted to hear that the Manaiakalani programme was a finalist for the category Open Source Use in Education - For the outstanding use of free and open source in education in New Zealand.

It was a fitting acknowledgement that Nevyn was able to attend the ceremony and accept this award for his work. Followers of his blog will see that Nevyn is continually developing the image to make it more responsive to the needs of the teachers and children.

Video footage of the entire presentation for this category is available here.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

APPA Fellow 2012

On the 7th of December 2012 it was my pleasure to attend the Auckland Primary Principals' annual luncheon and to witness Russell Burt being presented with this award, "Fellow of the APPA". It came as a great surprise as his colleagues from the Manaiakalani Cluster of schools submitted a nomination on his behalf to acknowledge his contribution to Manaiakalani since its inception in 2006.
The submission began: 
"Russell has lead the Tamaki cluster of schools since 2004 from the ICTPD cluster contract – leading to an EHSAS cluster contract and which now takes the form of the Manaiakalani Cluster project – eLearning/Digital Media pedagogies being brought to a community which had minimal computer access.

Manaiakalani has developed into an initiative that is leading the country, bringing 1:1 computer devices and free wireless internet to the Decile 1 communities of Panmure and Glen Innes. The project has developed an exemplary set of pedagogies which has brought a consistency of teacher practice in eLearning/Digital Media to a whole community...."

The video attached includes a full reading of the submission statement by his peers...

APPA from KPE TV on Vimeo.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Manaiakalani Film Festival 2012

Thanks to Iisa for the graphic
standing on the podium in the spotlight.
The 5th annual Manaiakalani Film Festival was held at Hoyts, Sylvia Park in the Extreme Screen cinema on November 14th.  This has become the major celebration event for our cluster of nine schools and this year we were pleased to have even more movies and bigger audiences. There is a 'live' component to the festival as each movie is introduced by one or two children who have 30 seconds to engage the audience before their film plays. Check out these two cuties undaunted by the blinding lights and huge venue.

One highlight was the noticeable increase in the number of movies entirely produced by students.  A number of movies were introduced as 'the winning entry from our class movie competition", implying that groups of children had made movies in each class. Because we are a Year 1-13 cluster we had a huge range of themes and subjects with kids ranging from ages 5-18 involved in the making of.  All our movies can be accessed from this link. 

This year we were at capacity for our daytime screenings and our evening showcase sold out with many disappointed parents.  We are looking at hiring more than one theatre next year and running the daytime screenings of the movies simultaneously.

An important aspect of this celebration is bringing our schools together to create the sense of community between our schools which inspires us to share our goals and dreams and learn from each other. It is lovely to see students crossing school boundaries to leave supportive feedback on each others' movies.  This year a number of students have dedicated posts on their blogs to movies from other schools.  This slideshow embedded below links to a sample of the many student blog posts reporting on the movies they saw.

  Other links: 
Film Festival planning website 
View all the movies
Post by Karen Ferguson (Tamaki College Facilitator/ lead teacher)

Monday, October 22, 2012

Maths Whizz

Our 1:1 programme has been well supported in Maths in the last 18 months with the introduction of Maths Whizz.  We have teachers across six of the Manaiakalani schools from Years 5-10 using it as part of their Maths programme.

Ted Barks, a Year 7/8 class teacher at Pt England School, presented at the recent Ulearn12 Conference in Auckland how he uses Maths Whizz with his students to compliment his teaching.
Watch this video showing part of his presentation:

Monday, September 3, 2012

Partnership Hui

On August 3rd we held our first annual Hui for all the partners of the Manaiakalani Programme.    The aim of the whole day event was

To bring together members of the Manaiakalani Programme to 
  • share and consolidate  work and achievements to date across all Programme workstreams
  • identify short and longer term goals
  • identify challenges and what is needed to overcome these
  • discuss and define the Programme’s strategic direction  
Around 100 people came together on the day from all our representative groups including; Boards of Trustees, Principals, Teachers, Students (high school), Hackers, Researchers, Corporate partners, Philanthropic Partners, Service providers and the Manaiakalani Education Trust.

The day began with an inspirational address by Derek Wenmoth before we got down to the business of reflection and visioning in our various work-stream groups.

The events and dialogue of the day were recorded on Google Docs and embedded in a Site which we are sharing publicly here.

Rob Munnik from our own Schools Inc was there to capture the day on video and two episodes have been shared on Schools Inc already, with one more to come.
(see embedded below)

There was complete agreement at the end of the day that the feedback most appreciated by all present was from the group of students from Tamaki College.  Many gems emerged, but a particularly poignant one came from a year 11 student who said that when he was handed his netbook this year it was the first time he had touched a computer, and now he was not only expected to learn using it but also to prepare for NCEA Level One!

While we as teachers and school leaders feel we have shouldered an enormous challenge moving our institutions into the digital age, it is easy to wrongly assume that our 'digital natives' will find this transition easy.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Agents of Change

Many of the students in the Manaiakalani Cluster come from homes where a language other than English is spoken, so at any given time a number of our teachers will be enrolled in TESSOL papers at university.

Two of our inspirational teachers, Kyla Hansell and Aireen Ah Kui from Tamaki Primary School, have been taking the same paper this semester and presented one of their assignments in the form of a video entitled "Agents of Change".

Take the time to watch this video and be inspired by how the Manaiakalani Programme can enrich and strengthen the learning of our English as a second language learners.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Managing the Learning Environment Pt2

Several months ago I posted links to short videos some of the innovative Manaiakalani teachers had created to share their teaching experience, focussing on how they have created a Managed Learning Environment using Google Apps for Education.

I promised there would be more to share, and here they are.  One is from a High School Graphics teacher and one is from a teacher in a Year 3 class.  The rest are Year 5-8 classes.

Karen Ferguson, Tamaki College
NCEA Level 1 Graphics, Google Site here

Wendy Burne,Year 3/4  Pt England School 

Literacy Cycle movie here, class Google Site here

Juanita Garden, Year 5/6, Pt England School
Writing movie here, class Google Site here

Kent Somerville, Year 6, Pt England School 

Maths movie here, class Google Site here

Kimberley Ouano, Year 5, Pt England School 

Reading movie here, Maths movie here, class Google Site here

Helen King, Year 5, Pt England School 

Writing movie here, Movie Making movie here, class Google Site here
Check out Helen's collection of Maths strategies videos here

Sarah Gleeson, Year 5, St Pius X Catholic School

Writing movie here, class Google Site here

Toni Nua, Year 7/8, Pt England School 

Inquiry (Mihimihi) movie here, class Google Site here

Sandy Lagitupu, Year 7/8, Pt England School 

Writing movie here, class Google Site here

Ted Barks, Year 7/8, Pt England School 

Reading movie here, class Google Site here

Helen Squires, Year 7/8, Pt England School 

Cybersmart Inquiry movie here, class Google Site here

Mike Harris, Year 7/8, Pt England School 

Reading movie here, class Google Site here

Nick Major, Science, Tamaki College
Presentation is here, Science Google Site is here

For those who missed them, here is the earlier collection:

Chris Marks, Pt England School - Year 5/6
Writing movie here, class Google Site here

Sarah Gleeson, St Pius X School - Year 5
Reading movie here, class Google Site here

Helen King, Pt England School - Year 5
Maths (number Strategy) movie here, class Google Site here

Joy Paton, Panmure Bridge School - Year 5/6
Art movie here, class Google Site here

Monday, August 6, 2012

Child's Perspective

Last post I shared the amazing speech given by one of Mt Roskill Grammar's prefects, Joshua Iosefa, at a school assembly.

In the first week of this school term Helen Squires used this as an opportunity to expand the horizons and challenge the thinking of her Year 7 and 8 class (11-12 year olds). The students shared their thinking via a written piece on their blogs.  This response excerpt is from the blog of Crusader, a year 7 boy:

This speech had a message to it, and it was telling brown people especially to stop limiting yourself by listening to the stereotypes because they are not true. Some messages in his speech relate to some of the messages that we have at our school here such as; Strive to succeed, Champions never Give Up and much more.
 My response to this speech is that, brown people like me can do anything we want as long as you have determination in what you do. It doesn’t have to be a sports star or a music person but you can be anything else like a lawyer or even the next Prime Minister.

There are many more such pieces from his classmates linked at the bottom of this post.

The Education Gazette, New Zealand's magazine where teachers find their next job, decided to post the entire transcript of the speech in this week's edition and is well worth checking out.

However, a particular delight for this class was receiving an email from Joshua's mother who had discovered their blog responses online and gave them some encouragement including;

I am Joshuas mother and it wasn't so long ago he was the same age as yourselves.  He didn't have a blog like you all do but he would write into a journal all his thoughts. Some were like poetic prayers and others were scribbles of inspiration he would pick up from people, or books he was reading.  We were encouraged by reading your blogs of the inspirations you all had chosen to keep in your heart and mind from Joshuas 'brown brother-spoken word'.

This was such an affirmation of our 'Learn Create Share' pedagogy on many levels and yet another example of how the online world our students inhabit can enrich their lives and experiences.

Links to other students' reponses below:


Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Teen Perspective

This video of a very moving portrayal of Pasifika and Maori youth is clearly making an impact beyond the  school hall where the speech was delivered. Joshua Iosefo is a Year 13 student at Mt Roskill Grammar, and this is his speech at his school assembly. 

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Embedding a 1:1 programme

The school year is well underway and all our Year 5 to 13 classes in the seven Manaiakalani schools are now using netbooks as the basic learning tool for every child.  It has been useful to stop and reflect on our progress in the last week. To those in the know, that means we have just completed our mid year milestone document for the Ministry of Education!

We are only in our second year of going 1:1, but it is already becoming increasingly difficult to write a blanket report about our progress.  We need to differentiate in our reporting, and this graphic below is our attempt to show the complexities developing within our schools.
Each X represents a teacher in one of our Manaiakalani schools

We have some students who are in their first year of net booking (1:1) and some who are in their second year. Then we have teachers who are in first year of 1:1 and teachers who are in their second year.

And just to make it a little more interesting we have about 60 kids in Year 9 this year who are in their third year as they were in the two pilot classes back in Year 7.

It probably is no surprise to you that the teachers reporting the easiest start to the year are those who are in their second year of 1:1 teaching with second year kids.
The most challenging?  Teachers in their first year with second year kids.

This is going to get increasingly challenging in 2013 when our schools hire in new teachers for students in their third year of 1:1 learning! 

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Managing the Learning Environment

    Last year our teachers in 1:1 classes experimented with a variety of ways of managing the learning environment in the digital world. Over the course of the year their thinking began to converge as
  • Teachers shared their practice at Netbook Teachers' meetings 
  • The PD facilitators, who moved from class to class, began to collate their observations and to share these  
  • The recently published research evaluation report included observations and teacher reflections around this.

So this year many of the Manaiakalani Schools felt confident that they had an approach that, while still a work-in-progress,  worked for them.  It created a personalised learning environment for the students, it helped teaching and planning 'make sense', it was transparent to whanau and school management - and was creative, collaborative and fun!

I asked a number of teachers across our schools to create a creen recording video sharing one aspect of how the learning environment was managed in their classes last term.

This post provides links to four primary school classes.  Take the time to explore the links and watch the videos as these teachers talk you through their students use of their Google Site and Google Apps. 

Chris Marks, Pt England School - Year 5/6
Writing movie here, class Google Site here

Sarah Gleeson, St Pius X School - Year 5
Reading movie here, class Google Site here

Helen King, Pt England School - Year 5
Maths (number Strategy) movie here, class Google Site here

Joy Paton, Panmure Bridge School - Year 5/6
Art movie here, class Google Site here

Examples from Tamaki College coming soon…..

Monday, April 30, 2012

Research Online

We now have five years of research reports available on our cluster website.  The latest report to be published is the 2011 Evaluation report of the pilot year of 1:1 Netbook implementation in 18 Manaiakalani classes.

The 2011 evaluation was designed to answer two major questions: 

(1) How does The Manaiakalani One-to-One Device Project contribute to the teaching of literacy in one-to-one device classrooms? 
(2) How does The Manaiakalani One-to-One Device  Project impact on student learning of literacy and engagement in one-to-one device  classrooms? 

The 465 students in 18 classrooms that effectively had a full year of implementation were part of the evaluation. The evaluation used achievement measures, video records and in situ observations of classrooms; one to one interviews with teachers and students; teacher surveys, and artifacts from class and individual blogs. 

To read the executive summary, or if you are extra keen to read the whole report, follow this link.

Research reports are not universally popular, so if you prefer an anecdotal approach to following an initiative I would recommend following clusternz on Twitter. This way you will hear it from the 650 or so children whose blogs feed through this account!  They are not afraid to be honest about most aspects of (school) life!  This should come with a warning though - 25,000+ tweets (each representing a blog post) have been processed in less than three years.

Farewell Colleen:
On another note, the Manaiakalani Cluster wishes Colleen Gleeson all the best as she steps into her new role as Review and Development Officer of Schools, for the Auckland Catholic Diocese.  Colleen has served the cluster as Researcher since 2008 and we are indebted to her commitment to the students, teachers and schools of the area, and her contribution to the Manaiakalani vision. She will be greatly missed.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Writing Exams? Who does that anymore?

In the previous post our students' reflections expressed a changed attitude to writing attributed largely to the mechanics of writing being so much more satisfying when the writing tool is a keyboard rather than a pen/pencil. These reflections have been backed up by the Manaiakalani Evaluation report for 2011 released by Colleen Gleeson.  She noted significant changes in student engagement and motivation, and the asTTle writing test scores of students had improved.

We have just completed the first term of the 2012 school year and increasing numbers of our Manaiakalani students are using their own netbooks - including the entire cohort of students at Tamaki College.

What does the immediate education future for these young people hold?  They prefer writing using a digital device and have a changed attitude towards writing.  They feel their writing has improved and the evaluation evidence supports this.

Nevertheless, many of these young people still have to sit exams and tests using pencil and paper, particularly for NCEA. It is not so bad for the younger students who are doing e-asTTle tests, which can be done online.  They will be tested using the tools they are familiar with.

But our Year 11-13 students have to face up to 3 hours at a time of handwriting 'high stakes' exams on paper booklets.  Is this a bit like asking kids to sit their drivers license using a horse and cart - it shouldn't matter because they would be covering the same content and route, just using a different mode of transport?

What are our private schools and high decile schools who have been 1:1 for up to a decade doing about this?  Is this just a transition period and if so, how long will we be going through it?

60 of our 2012 Year 9 students were in the Manaiakalani pilot classes for 1:1 in 2010.  They will be sitting Level One NCEA in 2014 after using a Netbook as their major learning tool for five years.  How will writing answers using pen in a booklet  allow them to express their true understanding of the questions being asked?

I do hope that the folk at NZQA are getting this sorted THIS year!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Student Reflections

Student Netbook Reflections: December 2011
After one year of owning Netbooks the Manaiakalani students were invited to publish a reflection on their personal blogs about their first year of having their own digital device.
90 children from Years 5-8 chose to respond publicly.

Kingston's reflection began:

Without A Netbook I Am Nothing!Do you know how much my Netbook has changed my learning?
Well last year (2010) I had to write in a book with a pencil and there was no point, because nobody could see it. Now that I have a Netbook I am able to write faster and my writing is much neater, but most importantly, I have an audience that can see my writing on my blog....

There were some repetitive themes coming through these reflections:

  1. A huge positive was around the mechanics of writing.  They seem to dislike the physical act of writing and most comment on how much easier it is to type - even when they are poor typists.  They also mention frequently how much they appreciate the ability to edit errors (back space, delete etc) without their work looking messy.
  2. Concepts around self-directed learning.  Consistent examples were; looking things up on the internet, finding out on YouTube, using the class Google Site or using specific sites like Maths Whizz.
  3. How having their own netbook enabled them to post on their blog more frequently.  This was often expressed in sentences like, “Now it is worth writing because people read my work.  When I wrote in a book, no-one read it”.
  4. Games were mentioned quite a bit, but definitely fourth on the list


  1. Issues with the speed of the internet frustrated almost every child who wrote a reflection.
  2. Quite a number mentioned their dissatisfaction with the paint app on the Netbook.  This was a cohort used to using Kid Pix, Hyperstudio and Photoshop on iMacs, so Tux Paint did not rate at all well!
  3. A few children mentioned issues around repairs, breakages and battery life.
These reflections were all posted publicly, so I have collated the ones I could locate on this Google Doc.  At the bottom of this document is a list of links to each individual student's post about this.

The unanimous consensus was that they would not like to go back to a life of pencil and paper!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Got a blog? Make a book!

 I never expected to find myself a fan of printing out blog posts, especially as a person who has shared satirical videos like this from way back.

However, this Christmas I ordered my THIRD book from Blog2print and on each of the 3 occasions I have been very pleased with the result. So why on earth would I want to have a hard copy of an entire blog?

On one occasion it was a gift to a person to recognise the 'completion' of a chapter in their blogging life; on another it was a gift to a person leaving a school (and a blog built up with huge amount of content) who wasn't sure what the school would do with the blog when they left, and the third one (which I have videoed below) was to create a quick 'coffee table' example of what the blog was about for occasions when I didn't want to log onto a computer. Sometimes books ARE simply quicker than going online in New Zealand!

All three of the blogs I created books for were rich with multimedia content, so it certainly is disappointing not being able to view the video and podcasts.  But it also reinforced to me the importance of creating posts that have text and images along with multimedia.  

We live in an increasingly device-rich world and it is not always appropriate to have sound playing because other people are often in close proximity who don't appreciate the sound pollution and headphones can be perceived as anti-social. So it is important to be able to grasp the main points about a blog post via text as well as video.

I am sure there are lots of sites that would create books from blogs but I stumbled across this one and gave it a go.  And having spent lots of NZ dollars in the process hoped for the best.  I was very happy with the simplicity of the creation process, the delivery time from USA to NZ,  the quality of the book and the very positive reaction of the recipient.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

High Achievers

Regardless of political stance, the Manaiakalani Schools were very proud to see one of our own; a local school parent, community member, Board of Trustee member for two schools and supporter of the Manaiakalani Programme from the beginning, enter parliament as the first Cook Island member of parliament in NZ.

Alfred Ngaro was also chosen to give his maiden speech in parliament in response to the Governor General's message at the opening of the 50th parliament in NZ.
As well as congratulating Alf and applauding his success, we were honoured that he made mention of Manaiakalani in his speech too - around the 9 minute mark... (see text below video)

Education with the right attitude can achieve anything, and I endorse the view of the Prime Minister that equity of opportunities of training and learning and mentoring deserves our greatest focus, and that the outcomes of successful employment, business development, and growth will follow. Great examples are the Ōtorohanga youth employment scheme, where the local council has taken the lead with a can-do attitude of reducing youth unemployment by providing training opportunities for all its young people. Or the Manaiakalani project in Tāmaki, where a blended approach with e-learning tools and multi-stakeholder support has seen a rapid rise in our literacy rates.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Generations of Bloggers

After three weeks at the beach and time to reflect on an action packed year in 2011 of new learning, innovation and challenges, it was hard to pick one stand-out event. 

My highlight personally and professionally would have to be presenting a workshop at ULearn11 in Rotorua with my own daughters.  Over the years I have collaborated on projects and workshops with a lot of teachers - many of them first time presenters. So it was a lot of fun working on a first-time presentation with my two daughters who have been teaching for two and three years respectively, and blog with their students.

We submitted a proposal we called "Blogging - a possibility for everyone" and began our 'blurb' with this:

Blogging has been around for a decade now and to many teachers it has become so mainstream that it is an automatic part of the class setup at the beginning of a school year. On the other hand, there are many schools and teachers for whom Blogging still has a very geeky vibe.
This presentation is designed to share experiences with Blogging, and lessons learned along the way, from a variety of perspectives:

  • individual, group, class and subject blogging
  • primary through to college students
  • decile 1a to decile 10
  • beginning teacher to been-around-for-decades teacher
The presentation is embedded below and some of the notes are attached.

We also created a quick links page for people to access the material we were talking about.

My personal pride in presenting this workshop with Georgie and Ashleigh is pretty obvious.
From a professional perspective it was great to be able to share the achievements and challenges experienced in high school classes as well as junior primary school and the middle school years.  Being able to share about blogging from the extreme perspectives of Deciles 1a and 10 (socio-economic extremes FYI to non-New Zealanders) offered a much more rounded picture than when I present blogging workshops on my own.  It certainly became clear that the issues and challenges are very different and this kind of online sharing (via Blogs) does not have a one-size-fits-all approach.

I was also interested that the high school teachers in the workshop were much more tolerant of the issues facing primary school teachers than vice-versa.  This was highlighted when we read through the written feedback forms where a few of the comments from primary teachers (yes - easy to work out who they were!) were quite judgemental of secondary schools. This is of concern to me because I work with Years 1-13 in our Manaiakalani cluster and know that to achieve a learning pathway that benefits all our students we need to be able to put ourselves in someone else's shoes from time to time.  

Fortunately most people took away our 'learning intention':

This workshop will NOT teach you how to set up a blog, but it will step you through the many reasons for using Blogging in your class/school/cluster.  You will hear about involving your school, parent and wider community. You will hear about things that work, things that are tricky-but-can-be-done and things that don’t work for us. You will hear many tips from the presenters about how to organise and manage both the set-up phase and the daily integration in the classroom. You will have ample opportunity to ask questions, like, “How come my lovely young Bloggers never get to do it once they get to college?”

PS: I should also mention that another highlight in 2011 was presenting a series of workshops with my son-in-law this year!  I was chuffed that Joel (who works in IT) was prepared to share a platform with his mother-in-law at a non-education event.

PPS: I had a number of opportunities to present with my husband again during 2011 which is always fun.

I am not sure which of the three groups produced the most heated debate during the 'co-construction' stage!