Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A Community of Schools

In March 2015 international author Michael Fullan visited our Manaiakalani Schools  to find out more about learning and community development in our school context. He wanted to understand why the cluster endures and what is next. 

Some of the footage depicts the cluster Writing moderation day at Glenbrae School. Teachers from across our schools come together to moderate writing from children in Years 1 - 10.  
The classroom footage was shot at Pt England School.

This video was made by David Copeland and consists of an overview and 5 shorter vignettes.

  • The Manaiakalani Story
  • Learning and Digital
  • Characteristics of Successful Clusters
  • Spreading and Supporting Clusters
  • Full Partnership with the Community
  • Embedded Professional Learning

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Our Teachers' Share their Learning

We are all back at school for the second school term and many of our teachers are buzzing as they implement new learning from the 'non contact time' a.k.a school holidays.
  • For some it was a time to reflect, read, rewind and review in their own time and at their own pace.
  • For some there were heaps of conferences and workshops going on, so they headed out to learn with their peers.
  • For some it was an opportunity to learn by sharing - there is nothing like creating conference presentations to help you process your thinking and learning, and then the conversations with the people who attend your presentations provoke new ideas and learning.

We are very proud of the large number of Manaiakalani teachers, leaders and facilitators who exemplified our belief that 'Learn Create Share' begins with the adults, and got out there in the holidays and presented workshops locally and even internationally.

The two main conferences our team presented at were the GAFE Summit in Auckland and the BYOD -Making it Mobile Conference in Auckland.

This table collates the many wonderful presentations shared by the Manaiakalani Educators

Monday, February 9, 2015

Learn Create Share: Overview

Over the past month I have posted a six part series outlining the Manaiakalani "Learn Create Share" pedagogy.  The Link to this series thread can be obtained here.

The graphics below are links to the individual posts.  We are very happy for people to re-use  this on their own Sites, with attribution.




This series has been 'in the making' for a couple of years now, and it would have been much different if I had created it back in 2013. And undoubtedly in another 12 months it will need an update.  Co-constructing a pedagogy based on continuous teacher inquiry and innovation is exciting!

A couple of editorial comments about this series:
First, each post is constructed to model 'Learn Create Share' with some comment on what we have been learning, a short digital object having been created, and of course shared publicly here.
Second, this ended up being a 'selfie' series as all my tech gear was flogged at the end of the year, including cameras, mics, tripod etc, so I decided to see what I could do with selfies on my phone! Complete with my tent and the sound of surf and birds in the background.....

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Linear or Spiral: Learn Create Share Pedagogy

The way "Learn Create Share" trips off the tongue as three short sequential words can easily lead observers and new teachers into thinking this is a linear framework; 
Learn something, Create something to show or practise what you have learnt, then Share it with others.

It certainly starts out that way for most teachers new to this way of learning and teaching. Not because it is a complex framework, but because our young people use digital tools to access learning. And we have discovered that there are still a significant number of experienced teachers coming into our Manaiakalani schools as new teachers who are not at home in a digital world, and the graduates from our universities coming into teaching are certainly not. 

So while these new teachers are getting 'up to speed' with the technology required, a linear framework appears to be necessary.  This also applies to classes of children who are moving into 1:1 learning environments for their first year.  While the teachers are transitioning them from their previous blended learning environments, a linear, routined, scaffolded framework moves everyone more quickly from focusing on the technology to focusing on their learning.

As teachers and learners become at home in a digital world, thinking about Learn Create Share becomes more spiral and we hear many conversations about 'Create to Learn' and 'Share to Learn'.  Our researchers observe this in their visits to our classrooms and it is under the spotlight regularly at the various PLGs we run for our experienced teachers and school leaders.

Create to Learn
Comes with the idea that in starting with the Creative process powerful learning can emerge. In a previous post I quoted Sir Ken Robinson's mention of the Beatles starting out knowing three chords for the first song they wrote. Some of our schools value 'Break Through' time or 'Passion Projects' as part of learning and often we see a child start out with something they want to create and in the process deep learning occurs. Our annual film festival shares many examples of this from across our twelve schools.
We believe that in this environment cognitive engagement is happening, and teaching and learning is inevitably pushed above the line on the SAMR ladder.

This post by +Fiona Grant  shares the content of a professional learning day where the teachers explored the idea of Create to Learn.

Share to Learn
Similarly triggers cognitive engagement.  When learners are sharing with an authentic audience on a platform such as their blog or in a Google+ community for the teenagers, powerful learning opportunities occur.  Threaded conversations empower reflection, feedback and feed forward to occur. The contributions of experts and strangers inspire further learning to develop. This also occurs when learning is shared in face to face or 'real time' situations, but teachers have often remarked that in our analogue classrooms the pressures of timetabling, bells and deadlines meant that this opportunity would slip by.

The Manaiakalani teachers are continually inquiring into their own practice in this area as we work with determination to raise student achievement outcomes and prepare these digital citizens for a successful future.  

We still have much to learn.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

It Starts with US: LCS Pedagogy

"If we are to successfully implement the Learn Create Share pedagogy with the children we teach, it has to begin with the big people - the adults."

Teaching is a profession where we need the support of the adults in our work life  - cause we’re surrounded by kids!  Whether these kids are wee children, teens or almost adults, they can’t (and shouldn’t) replace the friendship, collegiality, professional energising and empathy our fellow teachers provide.

But sharing is a funny old thing in teaching; it seems to come naturally to some and has to be specifically elicited from others.

In the past millennium, as a bright eyed beginning teacher, I walked into my experienced buddy teacher’s class next door the day before school started and as I was looking admiringly at his walls he snapped, “Don’t you go stealing my ideas!” Who knows what that was about?

For many teachers a reluctance to share is mostly about underestimating their own competence, shyness, fear of the ‘tall poppy’ syndrome or simply never having been told how good their ideas and practice are.  I don’t think it is a competitive streak in most cases.
One significant barrier to teachers feeling empowered to share has been the term 'Best Practice' that is used by government, academics and senior management in education.  We need to get away from this mentality which emphasises if something is being shared by a teacher it is considered to be an exemplary model of teaching for all to follow. Sharing (within the bounds of ethics, common sense and good taste) should be a snap shot of what I have learned today and I am putting it out there so you can learn from it too.

“If we are to successfully implement the Learn Create Share pedagogy with the children we teach it first has to begin with the big people - the adults” is a quote from Russell Burt.

The digital age we live in has made it so much easier to share with our colleagues as we enjoy the same affordances our children experience - anywhere, anytime, any pace and with/from anyone.  Many teachers are now well established in social networking with their peers, sharing their experiences and learning from each other. Some school leaders have formalised the processes for their staff to share professionally in spaces such as Google+ Communities, Blogs, Google Groups etc.

However we choose to do this, it is of huge benefit professionally and very important to have established in our own practice before we embark on this with our learners.

Some examples of how our Manaiakalani teachers share their practice include:
Google Plus Communities - we have our own public Manaiakalani community, and many of us belong to and contribute to other communities as well.
Blogging - a number of us blog professionally and in some of our learning groups it is a required part of the process. Here are some to get you started: Aireen,  Kirsty, Laura, Matt 
Twitter - lots of us can be found sharing on Twitter
Face to Face - our teachers put their hands up to share with colleagues at conferences and unconferences regularly, as well as at our local professional learning opportunities.

We invite you to explore some of the links below that will take you to resources and sharing communities contributed by our Manaiakalani teachers.

Manaiakalani Innovative Teachers

Explore the links here as teachers have shared their inquiries from the 2014 school year.  These cover the full range of learners from Year 1- Year 13.

MDTA Beginning Teachers

This group of beginning teachers have shared their journey throughout their first year of teaching in Manaiakalani schools.  Lots of interesting ideas to explore from the link above.

Digital Immersion Network for new teachers.

Our teachers new to our cluster begin publicly sharing from the very first orientation session they attend and this becomes an ongoing part of their practice.

Teachers contributing resources to our websites

Manaiakalani Teachers regularly contribute resources to our profession learning websites so their colleagues can learn from their practice.  These are never called 'best practice'. These reflect how we are, what we have learnt, on the day we make them.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Share: Learn Create Share Pedagogy

Two of the foundation goals of Manaiakalani are encapsulated in the word 'Share':

  1. Work with learners to establish an authentic audience for their learning outcomes
  2. Empower our learners with an evidence-based belief that their personal voice is valuable and powerful

I have written several posts on this blog over past years about the significance of an 'authentic audience' and this one back in 2008 is still highly relevant.

Sharing, like giving, has benefits in both directions; the person shared with is blessed as is the person doing the sharing.

For both our learners and our teachers the act of sharing is hugely beneficial. It it is affirming to receive feedback and a sense of appreciation, and motivating to raise the bar on ones own performance.

I am sure many adults shudder when memories return of having to handwrite a neat/perfect copy of something so it could be 'displayed on the wall'.  Especially for those of us old enough to have experienced the drip of fountain pen ink ruining a laborious copying task.
And who read it?  No-one.
Or to have been selected by the teacher to come out the front of the class to read our completed piece to disinterested-at-best classmates.

The digital age, with social media leading the charge, has made sharing the minutiae of our lives with all and sundry the norm. And in the process created a new social disease as well as careers and business opportunities.

In 2005, when social media was becoming main stream, it was a given that education needed to rethink how to move into this world that our children want to inhabit and to harness this new source of energy and engagement for our bottom line - raising student achievement outcomes. Our journey in Manaiakalani has been one of carefully weighing up the pros and cons of developing a learning environment increasingly online. We've been proactively using tools that would 'hook' our learners while constructing systems and processes which are age appropriate, legal and allow us to teach our young people to be Cybersmart from first arriving at school.

To use a transportation metaphor, sharing your learning online follows a similar process to learning to drive a vehicle; 
you start as a young child strapped into a car seat in the back simply enjoying the ride, you hear the types of driving talk and explosions the driver makes from time to time, you graduate to sitting in the front seat next to the driver and observe their driving habits, you swap seats at the right age taking the wheel while the adult instructs you, etc etc

We do harness the huge audience potential of the internet to engage and support our learners, but we certainly enjoy more localised audiences such as our own school publications and assemblies; big events such as productions and learning showcases; our Manaiakalani Film Festival; and a live audience of thousands last night at the Movies in the Park event.

I conclude with the tagline chosen by the first KPE Podcasters in 2005, a group of Year 5/6 children who are now all grown up and have left school:

"We want you to hear what we have to say"
Korero Pt England

Monday, January 26, 2015

Create: Learn Create Share Pedagogy

One of the foundation goals of Manaiakalani is to
"Motivate our learners  to engage with the curriculum" 
and a significant driver for engagement has been our intentional use of modern technologies to enable creativity to play a significant part in learning and teaching opportunities.

Since the beginning of the Manaiakalani programme our teachers have been exploring how to increase opportunities for our learners to be creative - and this often means physically moving, making and doing - both individually and collaboratively. Our evidence confirms that Creativity is a significant hook into learning and we need to be empowering our young people to develop this.

One of the proponents of creativity who has impacted teachers across the globe is Sir Ken Robinson.  There are few who would not find his talks entertaining, but implementing the ideas he discusses can seemed daunting to teachers constrained by a 9-3 school day, timetabling and testing/assessment. His suggestion that Dance should be a daily event seems beyond the realms of possibility.

Our digital learning environments, which remove the time constraints of traditional classrooms, allow increased opportunity for our learners to be creative.  We are talking about creativity in traditional forms (song, dance, art, culture etc) and using digital technologies (MakerSpace, digital art and design, movie making, animation, coding, etc). And whatever medium a child uses to express their creativity, the affordances of the technology mean that this can be capture digitally and shared with a wide audience.

We talk about creativity being an element of the Manaiakalani pedagogy, a component of the learning cycle.  And often this is where it sits; Learning activities occur, the learner creates something to demonstrate this learning (process, activity, knowledge building etc) and then shares it with a wider audience. This almost linear framework can be a comfortable starting place for teachers who have little experience or are hesitant about 'letting go' and empowering children.

We believe, and our researchers concur, that significant learning and cognitive engagement occurs when our young people 'Create to Learn'.  They begin with creativity and the learning emerges from there.  Sir Ken, in this interview, uses the example of his home town band, the Beatles, and his belief that when they first started out they only knew three chords and their musical knowledge and learning exploded as they were involved in the creative process.

This thinking around 'Create to Learn' is where our experienced and confident teachers are focusing their attention. We have adopted the SAMR model as a shared framework across our cluster of schools, and have been interested to note that teachers who are focusing on cognitive engagement and 'Create to Learn' are automatically working above the line on the SAMR ladder.  It promotes modification and redefinition in digital learning environments.

We have much to learn and are interested in what our colleagues around the country and the world are doing in this space.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Learn: Learn Create Share Pedagogy

Implementing a pedagogical framework across a community of diverse schools has been an exciting journey.  The 'Learn' element had the potential to be the most challenging aspect of 'Learn Create Share'. Our foundation document from 2007 described our common agreement to implement our learnings from Schooling Improvement alongside emerging digital innovations.

This movie is a short description of how our schools retain their autonomy and meet the needs of their individual learning communities and yet have a remarkable coherence around the implementation of 'Learn'.

The coherence around this has been noted by the Woolf Fisher Research team and in this video Dr Rebecca Jessen and Prof Stuart McNaughton discuss their observations.

A number of examples of the collective practice around 'Learn' are provided on this page.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Learn Create Share

This movie is a brief summary of the backstory of the co-construction of the "Learn Create Share" pedagogy. 

Learn Create Share emerged from the literacy cycles used by our teachers in the days when we had limited or shared access to digital devices. We were looking for ways to ‘hook’ our young people into learning and were exploring the opportunities offered by
  1. the exciting new technologies becoming mainstream in the early years of the 21st century
  2. the connectedness social media platforms were offering freely to all digital citizens
Within limitations imposed by access to these technologies and access to the internet, we chose to focus on the biggest achievement challenge we had in common, literacy. The first project to explore this was a podcasting project called Korero Pt England (KPE) which began in 2005, and through the literacy cycle used to implement KPE we saw significant acceleration in reading and learner engagement.  The research report about this is available here.

In 2007 the initial seven Manaiakalani Schools formed a cluster and 12 volunteer lead teachers piloted constructing versions of the literacy cycle to reflect their own contexts (from years 1-10) and innovative approaches using differing technologies and social networking platforms. Read more about this here.

For three years teachers in the Manaiakalani Schools implemented literacy cycles in their classes and Colleen Gleeson wrote research reports documenting the outcomes.  As we observed the acceleration a recurring theme became, “imagine what we could achieve if our learners each had their own digital device!"

In 2010 the first two classes piloted digital learning environments with each learner buying their own netbook. As the teachers implemented the literacy cycle they soon observed that the three components of the cycle would be equally effective across all curriculum areas. 

So in 2011 when 17 classes across the cluster went 1:1, Learn Create Share (the three elements of the cycle) was successfully trialled in all curriculum areas.