Thursday, November 14, 2013

6 Years of Film Festivals

November 13th, six years down the track, our Manaiakalani Film Festival expanded to two theatres over the 12 hours. 3000 children visited during the day and our extravaganza at night was packed with parents and supporters.  It was fabulous to have a Manaiakalani alumni, Peni Peleti, as our MC in the evening.

This year Sommerville Special School and Stonefields School attended and showcased movies.

Be sure to visit our webpage and check out some of the movies from the schools.

Manaiakalani Film Festival 2013 from SchoolTV on Vimeo.
Thanks to Andrea Tele'a for this video

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Google Video

In June this year we had the amazing experience of having a team from Google led by Robin Morgan come to Pt England School to make a video about our community of learners.

Today we heard the news that it was ready to air and we are so pleased to see our young people and their whanau being showcased on YouTube.

The professionalism of the team made this experience special for our community. We all learnt heaps from watching how Anna Brent, Jeremie Battaglia, Karen Mackenzie and Zara Balfour worked together to create the film. Even the weather in the gloomiest part of the year gave us a break for the filming outside.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Partnering with the Super City

It was a special day for Manaiakalani when the Mayor of Auckland City, Len Brown, signed a memorandum of understanding between the Manaiakalani Education Trust and the Super City of Auckland, NZ.
Thanks to Auckland City we are able to carry out our dream of providing free internet to our children in our homes and mount the access points on power poles in our streets.  We appreciate the way our mayor has cut through red tape and barriers to help the Tamaki Learning Network to become a reality.

According to Len Brown,
“I am excited by the opportunity for Auckland Council to pool resources and share information with the trust to support digital learning for children and young people.”.

Read more about this here

The Mayor of Auckland City signed a 'Memorandum of Understanding' between Auckland City and the Manaiakalani Education Trust. This movie shows you this hui which includes people of our community, our Kapahaka group and whanau.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

A Nation Born of Sailors: Kia Kaha

We have spent the past weeks reflecting on the huge distance our Manaiakalani schools have come over the last 4 years, and the America's Cup racing this week has underlined it again.

Every class able to watch the racing, in real time, in high definition, with sound, on a big screen.  
And/Or, every kid, on their own device.  All cheering on Team New Zealand. All with access to information and data - at a mouse click.

This wonderful video, "Kia Kaha San Francisco", is presented as a gift from a Nation Born of Sailors to the Best Sailors in the World...

And to many a reminder of the origins of Manaiakalani.....

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

A Control Group

We began tracking outcomes from the Manaiakalani Programme in 2007 and from time to time get asked, "Do you have a control group of students?"

The answer has always been an unequivocal "No" for a variety of reasons, including a philosophical disagreement with the thought of select young people having an innovative, engaging learning experience while others in a class next door look on.

It came as a surprise when reading through our research report to realise that - inadvertently - for the first time in 2013 we have a control group of students in one of our cohorts.  It was the transition from Year 8 in our primary schools to Year 9 at Tamaki College that enabled this. When data was collected in Term One from e-asTTle testing in Reading, Writing and Maths there was a cohort (one third approx) who had participated in the Manaiakalani programme when they attended Manaiakalani primary schools, and a cohort (approx two thirds) who came from a wide variety of primary schools from around Auckland and beyond. This second group mostly came from low decile schools also.

The difference in e-asTTle data was surprising, even to us true believers.  

The full report is available online and pages below are referenced from this document.

This commentary was provided by Prof Stuart McNaughton in the brief summary of the report:

Students entering Year 9 (2013) (into Tamaki College) from the Manaiakalani schools had higher average achievement levels than those from elsewhere, supporting evidence that the primary schools are having some success in achievement levels, compared with students from schools in like circumstances. The two thirds of students who came from outside the cluster were two sub levels below the others in reading (3B). This meant the total cohort entering Year 9 had widely spread achievement levels. 
The patterns for maths and writing were similar but at lower levels.

The Reading image is taken from page 122 of the report.
The cohort on the left are the Year 9 students who were at Manaiakalani primary schools in the previous year.
The cohort on the right came from 'Other' primary schools.

This is the most startling contrast , with the red line indicating the gap between the two groups of students' achievement in Reading at Year 9.

The Maths image is taken from page 158 of the report.

The cohort on the left are the Year 9 students who were at Manaiakalani primary schools in the previous year.
The cohort on the right came from 'Other' primary schools.

The Writing image is taken from page 177 of the report. 
The cohort on the left are the Year 9 students who were at Manaiakalani primary schools in the previous year.
The cohort on the right came from 'Other' primary schools.

The challenges our high school teachers face in effectively teaching this diverse group of students are huge. 

"The pattern (also) indicates a substantial challenge catering for the range and especially the very low group, who have reading skills and knowledge which are not sufficient to engage effectively in reading in subject areas at expected levels without intensive support. The level of the challenge is such that they need to make up four full curriculum levels by Level 2 NCEA for the school to meet the 85% pass rate." p11

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Research Report 2012 to 2013

At the beginning of the month the Woolf Fisher Research team of Dr Rebecca Jesson, Prof Stuart McNaughton and Aaron Wilson presented the report from their evaluation of the Manaiakalani Programme over the academic year 2012-2013. The full report (170 pages) and the executive summary (17 pages) are publicly available at this link, and the slides from their summary to educators are embedded below.

The report covers the most disruptive year a cluster could hope to have - in the old-fashioned as well as the modern usage of the term disruptive!

The 'housing situation':
The vast majority of students in our Manaiakalani schools live in rental accommodation i.e. government housing. And in 2012 the Tamaki Redevelopment Plan meant some of our families had to leave their homes (and their schools) and many lived in a state of insecurity, dreading when it would be their turn to be moved out. This meant half our schools saw increased churn in their student population. Some schools at one end of the suburb had rolls shrink, some at the other end had rolls increase to accommodate families moving around.

All in:
This was the first year that ALL students from years 5-13 in ALL our schools moved to a digital learning environment using their own netbook as their basic learning tool. The pilot years were officially over. This meant that ALL teachers were required to work in digital learning environments and the days of the research only including enthusiasts, lead teachers, pilot classes (i.e. willing volunteers) were over. It was all in! The number of uncertain or unwilling was low, but we also had a number of relievers, beginning teachers and staff changes during the year across the 8 schools included in the research data.

 A couple of weeks of reflection and discussion with colleagues have gone by and today I met with the research team for a big picture conversation.

The Manaiakalani cluster has some key goals which have not changed since 2006 when the principals' group co-constructed the vision statements. Raising student achievement outcomes is absolutely at the forefront - not just because it is a government priority but simply because our students as individuals deserve this. Early screening of our new entrants shows that across our cluster our 5 year olds start school two years behind the norm academically. For our children to catch up we have to accelerate their academic progress.  This means their shift inside a year has to be more than a year.  
We have become used to our research data from our pilot and lead teacher classes demonstrating an accelerated shift towards the norm, and even overtaking it.

This year, with 'all in', our aggregated data showed our cluster moving at the expected rate for the rest of New Zealand i.e. in one year our kids made one years shift, but as a cohort they didn't accelerate.
So yes, those who are passionately committed to this are disappointed. But given the year we had, we have to take some satisfaction that we didn't fall back into the low-achieving mould of making less than one year's progress.
"In summary, like international studies of large scale 1:1 programmes, evidence for acceleration of student achievement is limited once 1:1 programmes are rolled out in larger sizes. While there is little evidence for acceleration and higher levels over time associated with Manaiakalani schools at an aggregated level (cluster, school) there are pockets of substantial achievement. What evidence we have suggests that Manaiakalani may be associated with important educational outcomes from these pockets; for example in the  ̳pilot‘ group of NCEA Level 1 students or in the classrooms with above nationally expected gains. " p65
Lots to work on there.

The feedback from researchers spending time in the classes observing learning and teaching, and interviewing students and teachers following these observations, was more in line with the other Manaiakalani goals.

Engagement, one of the key elements of Manaiakalani 'the hook from heaven', was clearly evident and commented on
"Overall, the present data confirm predictions that the e-learning classrooms were associated with high levels of behavioural engagement, possibly sufficiently high to overcome what has previous been described as a generalised drop in engagement over the transition to secondary school." p65

"In interviews, teachers indicated that they had goals to develop students‘ independence, most often in terms of accessing their curriculum and engaging independently in learning tasks. Our observations confirmed that in general on task behaviour and 'streamlining' of classes suggests that is largely successful." p74

This is much more complex than a couple of 'sound bites' can represent. All teachers are interested in engagement inside the classroom, but this report also covers 'Active Pursuit', students who are engaged with learning and extending this beyond the classroom.  We are excited to have our hunch confirmed, that students are actively engaged in learning outside of school - somewhat atypical in Decile 1 communities. 
"The interviews with students suggest there is a notable group of students across the schools and at both primary and secondary who are actively pursuing school/academic related activities."p67

Our teachers are clearly implementing the Manaiakalani vision
"…our analyses of the classroom observations show that, in large measure, implementation of Manaiakalani reflects teachers‘ understanding of the goals of the programme." p64

"Teachers articulated high enthusiasm for and fidelity to the goals of Manaiakalani. They articulated digital access to resources and curriculum and engagement as goals. In large measure we saw evidence that teachers were operationalising these goals, implementing digital pedagogies and engaging their students in learning. This provides some indication that given shared vision, teachers in general have the means to implement this in their classes." p73

An innovative intervention covers three phases (R Jesson), and to use NCEA terms our current report card reads....

The Manaiakalani Programme:
  • Implementation  - Achieved with Excellence
  • Changing Teacher practice - Achieved (in some cases with Excellence)
  • Student Achievement outcomes - Achieved (in pockets)

Like 1:1 interventions internationally, Manaiakalani seems to have precipitated a shift in classroom dynamics, allowing for more extended discussion, student control, personalised feedback and instant access and infinite range of learning resources. The challenge now it to understand the conditions under which this leads to improvements, not only in the learning experience, but in outcomes for learners. p73

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Thinking about SAMR

The SAMR model developed by Dr Ruben Puentedura has been around for some time now and three separate events have led me to take another look at it recently.

First our research report for the Manaiakalani Programme was presented to our schools at the beginning of July for the 2012 academic year. It was the first year all the children in our cluster from years 5-13 had owned their own digital device AND the first year all our teachers had been required to create a digital learning environment.  The overall picture was very positive, but in the 100+ pages of data there were also concerns. In her oral feedback Dr Rebecca Jesson pointed out that 2012 was the first year the research data included all children and all teachers, rather than volunteer and lead teachers as in previous years. It is clear that the PLD team has work to do yet, and my thinking turned to the SAMR model.

Secondly, I caught up with a friend I haven't see for a couple of years and she asked my advise about the 'hard to shift' teachers she works with, those who are not prepared to step onto the bottom rung of the SAMR ladder. A recent experience came to mind of digitising some family papers and I suggested she try using a new feature of Google Docs with them to at least entice them onto the Substitution rung. 
Did you know that if you photograph a page of text (any basic camera or phone camera will do - just get the lighting crisp) and upload the photo to your Google Drive with all the conversion options checked, you will then get a Doc that not only has the photo embedded in it but also has copied all the text and pasted it below in the Document ready to use? 

Delete the photo from the Doc and the text remains in your Document ready to process, and no scanner or complicated technology needed.
I know what you are thinking here!  A filing cabinet of worksheets about to be converted to Docs! It is not my preferred option for teaching either , but in 2013 if a teacher has not yet made an attempt to use technology this could be a hook to get started.

Thirdly, we have been investigating Modern Learning Environments and a month ago went overseas to look at some fabulous schools and classrooms.  Everyone in the group agreed that our Manaiakalani schools (most built in the 1950s) would love to have had any of them and our teachers and young people would thrive implementing our pedagogy.  We were intrigued to see that in some instances the very expensive modern buildings were being used in ways that surely hadn't been intended.  And so the SAMR model popped into my mind again.
We saw a multi million dollar building being used at the Substitution level ie young people seated in rows, facing lecturing teachers, but inside a space designed for personalisation, collaboration etc etc. We also saw Augmentation and Modification but mostly we saw Redefinition and were envious :)

Finally, I came across this image below by Susan Oxnevad and thought it was worth sharing with our team.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

‘ReTooling School’

‘ReTooling School’: a principal's perspective

The July Nethui, held in Wellington this year, featured an education perspective on ReTooling School as one of the Keynote addresses. 

Although I didn't get to attend or watch the live stream, I was able to keep an eye on the Twitterstream and the collaborative note-taking while attending another event.

It seemed that most of the tweets from non-educators and that participants were appreciating hearing that innovation is occurring in the education sector. Blog commentators also reflected this. 

Russell has been speaking about ReTooling School for some time now and was recently interviewed for an article in the Term 2, 2013 edition of "School News" (p7). The cover featured Modern Learning Environments, so a principal with a predominantly 1950's building complex may appear an unusual contributor to the conversation. However, it is clear that significant change needs to  occur in the hearts and minds of the people in the the school community if modern structures are to have an impact on learning environments. 

ReTooling School requires:

1. A Change Pedagogy Imperative

2. Operationalising of Te Tiriti o Waitangi
3. A new partnership around Schooling
4. Technical Provision
5. Research and Development

The full text of this conversation can be read here

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Transition Years

The Manaiakalani Schools are in their 4th year of a programme designed to ensure all Year 5 to 13 students in the area own their own digital device, enabling them to participate in a digital learning environment. 

2010/11 were pilot years, and 2013 embedded this approach.

Now the focus has moved to the younger years with emphasis on preparing our students in the transition year (in most schools Year 4) to feel at home in the digital world when they first get to purchase their own device.

The leaders of the junior classes have been meeting together and in Term 1 they brainstormed this list of actions they would like to experiment with as they implement "Learn Create Share":

  • Start individual blogging younger
  • Use desktops and tablets more efficiently and effectively
  • Have an older Buddy class
  • Have a Chromebook pod available for Year 4 classes
  • Training/support to the Year 4 teachers, including release to observe in Chromebook classes
  • Observe the impact on younger siblings skill level as Chromebooks go home - meaning more digital access at home now
  • Typing/ keyboarding preparation

We met again last week (June 2013) and many reported back that they had been successfully working through the bullet points above.

Two schools, Tamaki Primary and Pt England, reported back on the positive difference it was making having a pod of five Chromebooks allocated to their classes for their children to share. They also have shared desktop computers and iPads as well as the teacher laptop and a data projector.  The teachers had ensured the children were confident at logging into their Google Apps accounts prior to introducing the Chromebooks and had access to Teacher Dashboard so they could monitor student progress and activity.

Kirsty Macfarlane from Room 10 at Tamaki Primary School has been sharing posts like this and this. These students clearly are enjoying their opportunities.

I took the photos (slideshow below) in the two Year 4 classes at Pt England School as Keri Barks and Lisa Walters were teaching their students.  I loved the blended approach with some children totally digital while others were having quality micro-teaching experiences in a small group with their teachers.

For anyone interested in exploring this further:
One of our MITA Fellows, Joy Paton, has chosen to investigate 'From Zero to Hero - how to implement a digital learning environment with students who have no prior digital experience" as her inquiry for the Manaiakalani Innovative Teacher Academy in 2013

A few snapshots from a quick walk through of Rooms 11 and 12 at Pt England School in June 2013.

These teachers each have a pod of 5 school-owned Chromebooks to supplement the Macs, iPads, teacher laptop and data projector. We are hoping to do an even better job of transitioning the Year 4 children in to Year 5 (2014) when they will own their own device and have a digital learning environment

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Next Step: ChromeBooks

Manaiakalani Schools ordered 700 Chromebooks for the start of the 2013 school year. These have been spread across 11 schools and bought by children 8 - 18 years of age. Most of the uptake of Chromebooks has been either from students recently enrolled in our schools or the youngest students entering a 1:1 class for the first time.  The remaining students in that age range are still using the ASUS eee (with Ubuntu OS) netbooks we first introduced in 2010. A handful have talked their parents into ‘upgrading’ to the latest device, but most are seeing out the 3 year purchase contract on their first device.

Hard to believe it is June and I have yet to post a reflection.  Enough to say it has been a very busy year so far!

I have blogged extensively about our move to 1:1 beginning with a post outlining the vision and many posts followed commenting on our experiences.
During 2012 we went through what has become an annual cycle of deciding what device to purchase for the Manaiakalani schools for the coming year.  Students are very much included in this decision making.  The outcome was a consensus that the time was right to move to Chromebooks and we were supported by the Asia Pacific team at Google to be the first schools in the OZ/NZ region to do a Chromebook rollout.

We chose the Samsung 500 (Wifi only) model.

Our experience
The out-of-box experience for our users (children and teachers) was delightful to witness.  That 8 minute boot, the ‘switch it on and it connects with the wifi and logs you into your account’, no fuss and start learning was such a pleasure to be part of.  The teachers and principals who have experienced other IT rollouts were extremely positive about the start up -  I include the wide-ranging device and OS types used by adults and students across our schools in this comparison.

And six months down the track, a check this week with teachers continues to report a very positive user experience.

We did have to get our heads around a different way of viewing technology and our digital learning environments. For example
  • We can’t load lots of desktop apps such as our much loved Hyperstudio! We need to find web hosted alternatives or Chromestore apps
  • We have 16 GB of storeage space on the device BUT 100GB in their Google Account. This actually means way less angst if the device requires a restore than with our previous models (kids who have downloaded way too many GBs of songs and movies resist a reimage!) but still requires a shift in thinking.

Adam Naor said at the recent Google Apps Community Event in Auckland, “The Internet is the platform for learning”, and this device choice has helped us all make the move to digital learning environments much smoother.

Because we were first off the block with this device, we did learn some lessons the hard way - through human error! The licensing and enrolment process this time round was different again from previous tech rollouts in our schools. We appreciated the support from the Google team (Inam, Adam and Suan) and our colleagues in the USA (including Donna Teuber, Technology Integration Coordinator at Richland School District Two).

As always, teachers and students have posted about their experiences, so check some of these out:

Room 14 at Pt England School

Tamaki College Years 9-13

Check out the parent's comments under this boy's post

Marilyn's delightful post - nine year old girl reports her out-of-box experience

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Rolling Over Individual Blogs

I have spoken a lot about the benefits for children when they have their own blog to use as a record of learning.  In the last few months I have presented workshops at two Google Apps Summits on how to manage a quantity of individual blogs. A question I was asked from at both GAFE Summits by teachers was, "Why go to all this effort managing the individual student blogs?". They would like to simplify matters by simply getting each student in the class to set up their own blog for the year and the teacher have no responsibility for what happens the following year.

There are three parts to my response:

  1. In our Manaiakalani schools the teachers take delight in supporting the children build their record of learning - an ePortfolio - and our original child bloggers are entering their 6th year of having a personal blog.  So we do need to be able to track the blogs and support the children as they transition from class to class.
  2. If we create the blogs with an accurate naming structure the posts and comments feed through to Teacher Dashboard - a fabulous way to monitor them for the teacher.
  3. We are able to ensure the settings are all completed in the way we have discovered gives us maximum accountability for the online supervision of minors. (More about that at this link)

As we enter a new academic year I have updated the workflow for a school managing the transition of a set of student blogs onto the next teacher(s).

I will headline the stages below, but the full process is available for anyone to use at this link.

Blog Rollover - Workflow

Step by step to transitioning the student individual blogs at the end of the academic year to their new class/teacher.

Stage One
Getting Organised
Get all the documentation sorted BEFORE starting the rollover process so it happens in a methodical fashion

Stage Two
Passing on a class set of blogs to the new teacher(s)
This really should be done by the teacher who taught the class in the PREVIOUS academic year.

Stage Three
Updating information on the new set of blogs
The classroom teacher has just been made Admin of a whole new set of student blogs. Now the header information, which displays publicly, needs to be updated.

Stage Four
Spreading the word about the children’s blogs is an important way of supporting their learning.

I do hope this is of use to others!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Kids share their Summer with the world

There is nothing like a good Summer holiday at a beach enjoying the sun, surf  and family to re-energise and clear the head. The things we read and the conversations we have (lots of educators or people who have been educated visit our beach campsite!) inevitably lead to plans about how we can do things differently to lead to better outcomes for the kids we teach in the coming year.

A paragraph in one of the magazines I took away with me to read got me thinking again about what a huge team effort is required in our Manaiakalani schools as so many of our students start school two years behind academically in year one:

“Most new entrants turn up to high decile schools well-prepared for learning. Research suggests that they will have heard some 32 million more spoken words than a child turning up to a decile 1 school...”

And various pieces of research kept popping up about the Summer Drop-off and how it inevitably impacts Decile 1 kids far more than high Decile kids.  This relates directly to the amount of exposure children will have during their holidays to experiences (including print and conversations) that will continue their learning.

This could have been a depressing train of thought to entertain during the holidays, but thanks to the Flipboard app on my iPad and the @clusternz Twitter feed it was far from it. Why? Because everyday I saw Blog posts from our kids being tweeted.  Children who were writing in their Summer holidays. This Summer there were dozens of Manaiakalani children posting online yet we still do not have all our children taking their netbooks home, nor have we completed the Tamaki Learning Network which will deliver free wireless connections to all their homes. Imagine what it will be like next Summer when they are fully connected!

Some of these posts brought tears to my eyes, some were funny, some were clever, some were well written and some would have had a teacher using up an entire red pen back in the old school days of ruthless corrections. But all were indications of children intentionally sharing with the whole world snippets of what they had been learning at the time.

While some were clearly posted quickly in a Facebook announcement style, many showed signs of careful thought and planning: Iisa who is writing a serial story; kids who took the time to draw graphics to illustrate their stories; kids who must have taken photos while on an outing specifically to post with a piece of writing they had in mind; students who obviously were recrafting their writing to use the English conventions they had been learning during the year; students doing online Maths activities and capturing screen shots to ‘prove’ their achievements; ditto kids keeping up with their typing tutorials.

Most made it clear in a variety of ways that they were intentionally posting for their audience. Some thought about creative 'hooks' and included graphics, photos and movies. Willy went so far as to create a ‘Spot the Difference’ game for his readers with photos he had taken.

I know that some of our children have been keeping in email contact with their teachers during the holidays too.

If we can build on this enthusiasm our young people have to Learn, Create and Share regardless of whether it is ‘school time’ or ‘holiday time’ - if we can inspire them to become life-long learners, then surely we can help them overcome the circumstances mentioned in the first couple of paragraphs.

Finally, because they took the time to connect with us, I am going to share links to as many of their posts as I could collate - you might like to dip into one or two and leave them some feedback.....

Many children shared Christmas highlights - with a couple of lowlights amongst them: Roezala, Cheyanne, Ane, Lesieli, Sela, Josephine, Sarona,  Rave,  Lorenzo,  Kingston

And Boxing day was big too, especially for those who got money to spend!:
Willy,  Cheyanne,

New Years was big: Kaycee, Sela, Jordenne, Quasia, Roezala,  Makerita

Some have clearly been following the news and comment on events:
Alexandria, Stevenson
Levi built this shed with his Dad
Rocky illustrates the movie he watched.

Some went to the beach: Paris, Levi, Ana, Serena, Rocky,  Kaycee, Gloria F,

Some went overseas to Australia and back to the Islands:
Gloria,  Alexandria, Josephine

Some spent time doing house or yard work:
Paris, Levi,

Some wrote for writing’s sake (short fiction pieces);
Iisa, Sarah, 

Some wrote to (or about) connecting with friends and family;
Mary,  Brooklyn,  Shirquera, Quasia, Iron, Lesieli, Sela, Sarona, Rave, Stevenson, Willy
Iisa illustrates his creative writing.

Some recounted movies watched, games played , outings or books read:
Korobeau,  Rachel,  Atamani,  Sonya, Iisa, Paris, Tyla-Marie, Isara,  Rocky,  Quasia, Gloria F,  Roezala, Siutaka, Silas, Makerita

Some reflected on school life, teachers and events;
Lesieli, Iisa, Nikki,

I have scraped the Twitter feed and pasted the raw links here.