Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Teaching spelling as a tool for writing with Stephen Graham

In a nutshell
"Our kids need to see spelling as a problem solving process." 
That's the gist of Stephen Graham's message to us as educators. How do we teach our children to retain the correct spelling of words to be able to write them correctly in continuous text not just for spelling tests ? Stephen unfolded the answer to this question during the course of an action packed, informative and fun day of learning for our St Joseph's teachers and other educators from across North Otago. 

How did the day evolve ?
Sharon Johnson, the North Otago Resource Teacher for Literacy (RTLit) has a love and passion for spelling. I worked with Sharon in Culverden almost ten years ago and was thrilled when she was appointed to her role in North Otago. I distinctly remember Sharon enthusiastically leading a teacher only day with primary and high school staff at Amuri Area school many years ago. Sharon spoke fervidly about the importance of teaching spelling strategies and has continued to promote this important message in her practice.
Sharon has often referred to the spelling and writing guru Stephen Graham and it is because of Sharon's determination to make a difference for all spellers across North Otago that we had the opportunity to learn from Stephen firsthand during his visit from Australia to Oamaru. Stephen has a diverse background in education and literacy. You can read more about Stephen here.

Our St Joseph's teachers with the inspirational Stephen Graham
Here are my notes and reflections from the day

How can we explicitly teach children how to spell ? The gap between reading and writing is too high for many children. We need to close the gap. How can we do this ?

An important skill of a good writer is about being able to spell in context.
Children need to do something in continuous text, not just be able to spell it for a spelling test. They need :
1. Underpinning knowledge
2. Scope and sequence of teaching of spelling  (develop skills and strategies to solve words).

A good reader uses three information systems: meaning, structure and visual (MSV)
A good speller uses four information systems: (PVME) Research proves that many children only have two out of four of these strategies. (You will learn what these are below).

Spellers must be able to use words in a purposeful continuous text, not just in sentences. For example, a good recount.

Every text is made up of content words and function words- it's the function words that cause problems.
What kinds of words do you need for a recount ? You need a good bundle of time connectives, past tense action words and personal pronouns.

Stephen has bundled up function words for all genre of writing.

We carried out a writing scaffold activity for an explanation text based around the life cycle of a frog. What do we need for an explanantion text?
Start with a bundle of time connectives - one for every piece /step of the explanation. For example, first, next, eventually...
After and following are tricky words. They can't be followed by THAT
After (that) and following (that)... is not correct. It is better to go back to what you are talking about. Take the language from the previous step and use it instead of that.
You cannot put after and following next to each other. You must slide another time connective in between or it becomes too complex.

Turn time connective words into content using function words with content words.

By giving the learners the function words they can focus their writing energy on rich content. If you want to improve the quality of children's writing teach them the words they need to know. Function words are words that you can use all of your life.

Next we need groups of words called modifiers  (they tell us how big or small a group is....
many, most, majority, few).

It's the function words that make texts work.

What words glue the text together ? For the rest of your life whenever you write an explanation you can use those same function words.

To turn it into a good explanation, we need to add in description words.

The describing bubble: take a thing or phenomenon and describe it in a number of different perspectives... numbers, size, colour, shape, texture, position and doing....
Describing bubble to add detail to writing
Year 2,3 - Describe a noun. Firstly the frog lays eggs. Circle a noun in the sentence - eggs. Give me a colour sentence. The eggs are black.  Secondly... tadpoles. The tadpoles are three centimetres long. When the children are good at describing nouns from a number of different perspectives then describe nouns and verbs.
Year 4,5, 6. - Circle the noun. Female frog, verb lays and eggs. For the paragraph to have cohesion, then describe it in the order of the first sentence in which you introduced the idea.
For example, describe the laying of the eggs from a position perspective. The eggs can only be laid in still water. The eggs are small and jelly like with a black centre. Now we have used size, texture and colour descriptors.

If a child can't describe then writing will be difficult for the rest of the lives.
Explanations and expositions are the same but the verbs are in the past tense. For older children you need to add qualifiers.
An activity to model physically with children
To write well, children must be able to say it well. Use the correct  language: noun, noun, pronoun, pronoun, noun. For example, Toby the toy dog story. Have the children physically make the story by standing to say each sentence in the story.
Child 1: Title sentence Toby.
Child 2:  A Toby number sentence - Toby has two ears. He is multicoloured.
Get the children to repeat the story with you, as it is demonstrated. Get them to tell you another number sentence etc 
Child 3: A texture sentence. He is soft. 
Include conjunctions that make the sentences longer. Add more descriptions. There are three groups of conjunctionscoordinating, subordinating and modal conjunctions. In that order of difficulty.
For example :Toby has two ears and four legs.
Don't mix up the perspectives. If you are thinking of number keep with number.
Subordinating conjunction - include of or with.
He is multicoloured with a blue scarf.
Modal - this is when we change our mind and use... but, although, however, on the other hand.. But... is the opposite .Toby is soft however his eyes are hard.
Macro or defining sentence. A sentence that defines Toby.Toby is a stuffed toy. 
Add a feeling sentence at the end. Children physically watch the text being built in front of them.
If they can do it orally and then put it into a piece of writing and then spell it correctly then they have made huge progress with their literacy.

There is a definite scope and sequence in teaching children to describe. 
1. Describe themselves first.
To describe well they must attack a phenomenon from a range of perspectives.
2. Next they learn to describe familiar objects.

3. Describe less familiar objects 
4. Describe literary objects. If you can't do this you will never write a good narrative.
If teaching narrative, do a describing bubble for every narrative.
If children are not good writers then they need to go back to writing descriptions.
When you come across words you can't spell it stops the flow of the text. 
In writing this way, we did the opposite of whole language teaching. We started at the word level to the sentence to the text level.
Conclusion for your story -  Go to three macro sentences and choose your favourite one and put a circle around it. Take the sentence and resay it and link it to the process that you have explained. This glues the text together.

Editing the text
When boys in particular put the full stop on their work that's it. They don't want to know about it. What can we do ? Teach them to self edit by giving them a table like this. They tick or complete it as they progress through each column.
Have you used five different

No personal pronouns ?
You have a linking sentence. How is this writing going to continue ?
Check time connectors,if you used after or following then check you haven’t used that after it.
Tick if after each of your time connector sentences, you have at least one describing sentence

Find your first relating verb. If you have are, it is the present tense. If it is was it is the past tense. Now circle every other relating verb in your writing . Check they are same tense.
If they match all the way through then give yourself 2 ticks

Four spelling knowledgesNo phonics programme can teach children how to spell. It is one of the knowledges but not all. Our kids need to see spelling as a problem solving process.
A good speller has access to four spelling knowledges.
1. Phonological knowledge (P) Ability as a speller to hear sounds and know what marks on the page make that word. Important that children learn sounds first before names for letters.
2. Visual knowledge (V)- How words look. Don't ever sound it out. For example was - look at it and know it.
3. Morphemic knowledge (M)- you have an ability to have a bundle of spelling generalisations like 'i before e except after c'. Other part is when you have a word like penultimately, you find a base word and then add prefixes and suffixes ti it,other is ability to hear compound word ie big words in small words
4. Etymological knowledge (E) - derivations of words. Where groups of words come from. eg. Television versus tellyvision. Tele( means from far, far away).When you watch television from far away. Try telephone, telescope...
A good speller can jump between the four spelling knowledges. 
A school needs to agree on the above four knowledges and explicitly develop these areas throughout the school.

Activities to help teach the four spelling knowledges
Use four different coloured pieces of card to stand for each of the above areas.
Sort words into the four different groups.
Talk with the children as you do it. You are telling them what to think as they write it. 
What are you going to do ? This is the same pedagogical approach as teaching reading. The difference is your write.
When we read, we deconstruct. When we write we construct the word, build the word.
If there are more than one possible strategy in a word, go for the tricky part of the word.

St Joseph's staff having a go at the knowledge activities
The words should always be recorded in their four knowledges. 
We do different activities for each of the four knowledges.
If it's visual - do look, cover, write and check. But that doesn't work for every knowledge.
Visual - draw the shape boxes. They - start tall, then short and then tall.

Many spelling activities most teachers do, don't teach the children anything. They are just activities.

Stephen gave us a link to resources and activities to use to support the knowledge strategies. For example, Greek and Latin roots words go to a website link. Google search for etymological knowledge and it is the second one that comes up.

Differentiation in spelling - Make sure you give a variety of words from the four different knowledges so that the children don't become reliant on only one knowledge. If you just give children words that you sound out, then that's all they will be able to do later on.

Scope and Sequence for skills and strategies not just for words.
Stephen also provided us with a resource that we can use across the school.
For example:Year 1 - Lots of phonological, visual knowledge but hardly any morphemic and etymological. The teachers will be talking about words we can sound out and won't sound out at all. You can organise word walls into knowledges.
Year 4 & 5 - Morphemic knowledge has to start building just like times tables 
Year 6 & 7 - Etymological knowledge stronger

What spelling generalisations should children be learning ?  Stephen researched this with speech pathologists. They identified the main spelling generalisations to teach that will support children 93% of the time. We have been given a resource that supports the teaching of these.

If we want better spellers, they don't need more words but more knowledge to access words they can't spell.

Assessments for spelling - what do we use ?
1. Dictation - link it to genre that you are learning with
2. Edit a passage
3. Word test
4. Standardised tests 
5. Analyse a work sample (most powerful)
6. Phonic recognition
Everyone of these is a valid way to assess student's spelling. As a teacher and a school we need to use a variety of ways, not just one way. This will give us an overall picture.

It's better to spend time teaching kids spelling knowledge through function words rather than content words.

What about spelling homework ? We can give the children words sorted into the four knowledge groups linked to their work from school.The link between home and school is then meaningful and purposeful.

Having the strategies to give words a go is more important than learning to spell lists of content words.
Next steps :
At St Joseph's we are keen to action our learning from today and give our learners the strategies to strive forward with their spelling and their writing. We aim to ensure that "Our kids see spelling as a problem solving process." 
We aim to take our learning from today and action it across the school. Watch this space.

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Horizons of Hope: Reflections from the Catholic Education Convention

An excited team from St Joseph's Oamaru travelled via Dunedin to the triennial New Zealand Catholic Education Convention in Wellington.
As it stated on the convention website :The convention brings together Catholic educators, bishops, priests, school trustees and a range of others associated with the New Zealand Catholic education system. Our 238 Catholic schools, early childhood services and tertiary institutions have the opportunity to share experiences and learn from one another.
Here are some reflective snippets based on my own notes taken at the convention :
Professor Theresa D'Orsa - Catholic missiologist and educational leader Australia
  • Pope Francis says "I am a living mission." He proclaims the gospel very strongly by witness and symbolic action.
  • We need to integrate RE. The whole curriculum needs to be harnessed with biblical and faith questions and not just focussing on RE itself. 
  • It is time to intentionally rebuild our catholic education community taking everyone into account. It is part of a kingdom building project. It needs to be intentional. The more we do it, the more we rebuild faith and culture. The catholic school as Community for the Kingdom. A community can do so much more than the individuals in it.
  • We need to be engaged in serious formation work. It is business of the heart. The formation of staff and leaders is of the essence for success in this new era.
The Pastoral Challenges of the Family - Cardinal John Dew, Wellington
  • Cardinal John shared his synod experiences. All bishops had four minutes to address the synod. The pope asked for openness and honesty.
  • The pastoral issues that face our parishes and families are significantly different to worldwide issues.
  • Always look for the good aspects in people's lives and help them with pastoral challenges to move forward. 
  • Although we have our own lives, we  belong to a community of Christ and have a responsibility to help others. Bring the joy of the gospel and let it fill the hearts and lives of all who encounter Jesus.
  • Seek enlightenment, not entitlement.
  • The bishops document (see image below and reference on an earlier blog here) is a living document and we need to think about it in the context of our lives and the pastoral challenges we face.

You can access a link to this document by clicking here
  • Reignite faith in families through sending children's RE work home.
  • Never overlook the power of prayer.
Dr Gemma Simmonds CJ - Sister of Congregation of Jesus, UK
  • We need to be revolutionaries of tenderness. The pope does this really well. Jesus taught us to imitate him in gestures of humbleness and service.
  • Being nice is not the same as being a follower of Christ.
This is the same quote referred to by Cardinal John and Dr Gemma as shared at our presentation Authentic Catholic Leadership. You can access more information on this link.
  • Dr Gemma believed that the bishops' document is one of the best that she has read. These are robust words and a tough call.
  • Where is the happiness and joy of Catholicity ?
  • If we are willing to engage in the process of being makers of God in other people...then we will comes face to face with Gods longing for us...
  • What our teachers model, do and say with our kids are vital. We ARE the gospel. For some the only gospel that they will read.
  • We need to encourage our young people and ourselves to be open to receiving the gift - a relationship of love and worship of God in spirit and truth. 
  • What does a spirit filled life look like if we are modelling it ? It's a real life, an honest to God life. God dwells in relationships. God is love and anyone who lives in love is God and God lives in them.
  • can't learn about them in books but from the person. The catechists own heart must first be created and transformed. 
  • Pope said to his cardinals, "Don't be holy but be real."
  • Try and share our vision with others, wake others up to a life and faith leading to discipleship. Share the treasure of what you know with others. That will help us to be made God. 
  • We are a mission in every aspect of our life and actions. We are never off duty. Our mission is part of who we are. That's what we are as educators. We are missionaries.
  • Here are some thought provoking quotes that Dr Gemma shared with us -

  • Our Catholic schools can reach families before they come to our schools.
  • See the face of Christ in the lives of others and keep alert to the voice of Christ.
Gary Finlay - Acquiring a Catholic Worldview
  • Gary has written a paper based around answering the question raised by the 2014 bishops' document NZBC The Catholic Education of the School-Aged Children. You can access the full paper by emailing him 
  • Those around us, fewer have a Catholic background than in the past. It's hard for teachers to teach the traditional Catholic view in a society that is not modelling that anymore.
  • World of communications - a global village. It is an information environment and it's influence has been neglected. We need to promote a Catholic worldview.
  • We can't expect it to happen through osmosis but it needs to be identified and broken down. You can't hope that young people understand this but we need to help them.
  • We teach techniques for advertising by demystifying. We need to do the same with a Catholic worldview. We need to be explicit.
  • What does the Catholic graduate look like at graduation ?
  • Teaching students to pray is vital and may be the only time that they will pray.
Sir Brother Patrick Lynch
  • Most recently, in the 2015 New Year’s Honours, he was made a Knight Companion of the Order of Merit, for Services to Education over a 50 year period.
  • We are in the faith business. The Catholic review indicators show what makes us different to our state schools. It is harder but that's the deal. We have to sustain and strengthen our Catholic brand. One of us is never as strong as all of us. We are unabashedly Catholic.
  • Educational philosophy predicated on our faith is vital and should be expressed on our websites.
  • Get out the integration agreement and share it with everyone.
  • Globalisation. Look out for Catholic ideas from educators from around the world. Look outwards. This will happen with links on the new Catholic Portal.
  • Engage immigrant families and children so that they belong. They are strong in our parish networks and strong nationwide.
  • We are the face of Christ in our schools. We are witnesses to hope. We have a mission to spread Gods love and Jesus showed us how to act. Let us bring the good news of the gospel to everyone we serve. We are the adopted daughters and sons of God.
Dr Katy Novak - Teaching without barriers: Universal design for Learning (UDL)
  • Dr Katy's website link
  • UDL aligns with 2020 Catholic Beacon Goals. It's about teaching and learning with different dimensions.
  • Always be explicit about what we are wanting to happen.
  • Dinner party analogy. Plan the party differently to meet the needs of the guests dietary requirements etc. Think about your students and making sure you plan before to ensure everyone access to the learning. Make sure you don't just plan for what suits you. Our students are hungry for knowledge and we want to have food our students can eat and is nourishing for them.
  •  UDL based on brain research. Differentiation is presently based on students that already have a label. UDL - everyone gets the same thing from the beginning. It empowers students and they make choices of how they best learn.
  •  Reflect and assess yourself and then choose. Help our students learn how to learn.Why do they need this ? Allows them to advocate for themselves and feel better about expressing own knowledge. 
  • We need to say to students: I am teaching this to you because this is ultimately what you are going to do with it. You need it for life. 
  • Students have choice. They can choose the tool to write their responses with. 
  • Ask the children: What's your goal ? How much do you think is challenging for you ?
  • Give strategies and as much choice as possible. All the time relate it to real life. This is what you need to do to get to the next level as a learner. 
  • UDL guidelinesUniversal - introduce to all students every day. I am now going to provide Tier 2 targeted teaching to some students. Students make the choices. If they still need help, then offer more at intensive level. Ask them to express their knowledge and then you know that they are there. It allows the students who need the most time to get the most intense instruction.
  • Students can show what they know in countless ways: poems, videos, letters, posters, etc. Give choice. Give them many options and be flexible about assessment. For example state : If you have met the standard then these 3 things will be in it and then it can be shown in anyway.Be flexible about the way it's taught and really scaffold. Break it down if they are stuck, give them the words to express themselves if they are stuck. We need our students to know themselves as learners. 
  • Have them assess you frequently. We have to know ourselves as educators to be good role models. Let's talk about the grade that you got, what could I have done better that could help you do better ? What you are saying is I am weak at thisI need to model to be a learner, it is my job to help you learn. Are you engaged In this lesson? Teacher needs to be willing to work on how they teach to help students to learn.
  • Value your students and their personal stories. This is the goal and this is why it is important. Does anyone have a question? This builds their character on how to be successful. Leave 15 minutes for questions and the self assessment of rubric. They go through and take time to reflect against criteria of rubric. Write for me evidence of where you show this.You look at the rubric and they match it. Students need to reflect and assess, shouldn't be just the teacher. Those who were far off need more intense feedback. Video carrying out the self assessment and you hand this in with  annotations. 
  • Embed choice for assignments...response via podcast, audio recording, collaborative google doc . Turn it  

Jenny, Siobhan Burke, Ann Dooley all from St Joseph's Oamaru with
Pope Francis and key note speaker Dr Gemma Simmonds

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Awe-inspiring #growthmindset staff & students @stjoesoamaru

This is a mid year reflective post to publicly acknowledge our staff. This year, between all of us we are studying the following whilst teaching full time:

  • Masters Educational Leadership papers through The Catholic Institute (TCI) and Australian Catholic University (ACU)
  • Religious Education diploma and post grad papers through TCI
  • Primary Maths papers through Open Polytechnic
  • Applied practice (digital & collaborative) post grad papers through Unitec MindLab
  • Middle Leadership through Centre of Educational Leadership and Administration
This year, during the school holidays our staff have been working on their assignments, preparing for the new term and attending extra courses and workshops at:

Our staff have an enthusiastic approach to personal learning that can only benefit all learners at our school. They are passionate about their own learning. It is this passion that will motivate and engage our students to achieve in their learning.
Image from blogpost about motivational drivers for learning

To top this off , I received an email from some of our Year 8 students in the holidays. They had been collaborating together on a task that I set at the end of the term based around our school values and wanted to share it with me. The task was as a result of an active reflection June 2015 : Be proactive and nip things "in the bud"
This is an example of self-motivated senior student learners at work, taking the initiative to drive their own learning just like our staff.
Here is the video from the girls.
We are all looking forward to starting a new term as we continue to apply a growth mindset to our relationships and our learning as we reach for the stars as life long learners in the Catholic faith.

Infinite learning and change from inspirational National Networking Hui #nnh

The National Networking Hui marked the official end of the the government’s Learning and Change Networks (LCN) strategy. In true LCN style, the final hui was everything we had hoped for. Brian Annan summarised this in a final email: Thanks to you all for your openness and collaboration, a true celebration of lateral learning in NZ.  

Michael Fletcher's tweet also summed up the engaging two day hui in a nutshell.

Brian instructed everyone to take agency and make the most of the two day hui. 
I loved this comment. It was up to us to be proactive and make it work for ourselves. 
This works for anything. We can either sit back and complain that something isn't what we expected or we can actively ensure that we find value in it. It's like the half-full glass.

This blogpost is a lengthy one basically because there was so much I wanted to record and reflect on from the hui. Here is a summary of the contents of this blogpost:

Learning Session - Student Agency through Pathways 
Learning Session - Learning maps, a new evaluative tool
Links to Joanna Robson's blog accounts of nine learning sessions and key notes
Further videos and my notes to support the excellent learning session - Passion Projects Akoranga o Naenae (AON)
Final video snippets from Valerie Hannon keynote and video by Steve Cutts
Final video message from Brian Annan.
Learning Session - Sustainability the never ending story
Where to next for Whitestone Network.

Here is the link to the Hui blog that staff from Otahuhu Intermediate set up. It has a video of special guest speaker Valerie Hannon addressing the hui and links to presentations from participating schools.

There is an excellent video on the hui blog that captures the moving powhiri
There are also a range of comments, reflections and photos on the Twitter hash tag #NNH in relation to key notes and seminars.

Active Reflections:
Learning Session Student Agency through Pathways
Maungaraki School, Wellington from the Seaview Network. Janet Evans with students Hannah,Tasneem and Felix. This student-led presentation was one of the highlights of the two days for me. You can access the student's reflection of their time at the Hui here on their class blog. Much of the learning that is happening for these students mirrored the learning approach that we are actioning at our school this year. I loved the way that Janet introduced the presentation and the students, then let the students take the lead. The learning session content offered next steps for us to consider in our senior learning hubs.

Found on Marg D's resource site

  • The hub has 2 classrooms with 58 children and 2 teachers - "organised chaos", free to  move in the hub with 1:1 devices (chromebooks). 
  • They do the Myers Briggs personality test with the students to help them understand their learning styles, what makes them tick and why they learn the way they do. 
  • Targeted learners moved from 50% below standard to 25% below in writing. 
  • Tasneem said ".. children need to adapt to a modern way of learning to move forward in life..". There is a break out room for independent learning and testing with a whiteboard table and outdoor space. There is a cafe in their space to warm up food and feel more comfortable. 
  • Workshops are in the pathways timetable, alongside these are the passion projects. They are infinite, no limits but based around the main curriculum. Students follow their own passion and get motivated and engaged into their own learning and utilise their strengths and then publish the project for the end of term celebration. Projects are marked out of 100 reflecting high school grading system. They use not achieved, achieved, merit and excellence.
  • Hannah spoke about the collaboration tracking document on google sheets. The students mark off what they have done for the week and highlight when completed. The kids also use websites for their learning. The 2015 tracking document on the drive has the set activities for week. There is a typing club with agreed word per minute expectations. 
  • Everything is changing and evolving, teachers have added in levels to show compulsory and extension activities. Pathways is designed for students to never finish their work. They can continue at home. That becomes the student's homework.
  • Felix explained that on Monday they fill out and plan for the whole week, first put in compulsory stuff like coding, kapahaka etc. There is an expectation that there is a certain amount of maths to be done and to be filled into the timetable. Workshops - on Friday the teachers let them know the workshops for the following week.
  • They have also started student led workshops based on student's strengths. Students can go to the teacher and say they want to run a workshop (maths extension) but must come with the planning etc. 
  • Students record results in google doc in their drives each term including reading and writing asttles, dates completed, passion project scores. They set goals each time they assess, kids make goals based on feedback and check these with the teachers for any modifications. 
  • They have student trainees and managers. Managers can check other students wok and help them. Trainees graduate to become managers. Students will do maths in morning, literacy, mid morning and inquiry in the afternoon. If they haven't completed Level 1 'must do' then they go to sit with the teacher on a Friday to complete work while others do a game or art. Other levels are Level 2 'can do', Level 3 'extension'. Some others choose to come back and work if they want to like typing. 
  • They use the Typing Club app from google to increase skill of typing 40 words minute. During the writing asTTle lots of kids chose pen and paper because they were slow at typing and so they increased the skill level to 50 words per minute and will go to 60 next term.
  • They also include one leadership activity per week in their timetable. Felix shared that he went from a 3b to 5b in 4 months with this engaging hub approach to learning. Felix is now motivated to learn and has fun having choice within the hubs. There is a collaborative space and hub for independent learning. 
  •  Felix mentioned that he went to the Wellington College induction evening with his dad. They spoke about the skills that the kids would leave Wellington College with - one was to be an agent for learning and the other was to be confident in ICT skills. Felix and his dad felt that he was already confident in these skills and were looking forward to a smooth transition to high school.
  • This approach to teaching is also working for low ability children who struggle with being motivated including targeted children.Trainee manager students work like peer tutors. The targeted kids are still fully capable of learning to manage themselves and get motivated through choice. Kids get shoulder tapped to come to certain workshops. If you can make it work for targeted kids then it will work for all. The kids gain self-confidence and the ability to collaborate with others. 
  • Felix said, "Myers Briggs helps us to understand that although we are different we all need to learn to work together, extroverts and introverts." We have a Twitter account and blog that kids can put things on. We learn about being a cybersafe citizens.
  • Jackie explained that for the blogs they share their work with the teacher for quality control as they aim for excellence. It's part of their school motto. 
  • Thanks to Jackie Sutherland and the students for their inspiring presentation.Here is a link to the slideshow.

Learning Session Learning Maps, a new Evaluative Tool Brian Annan and Mary Wootton Although I am already familiar with learning maps, my respect and regard for these presenters drew me to this learning session. It has made me more determined to make greater use of learning maps as an evaluative tool at school. Their value as a simple yet powerful visual record of learning and achievement can't be overlooked.
 Mary explains the meaning of learning maps

Brian explains the value of learning maps

Brian and Mary explain that the maps help the learners to articulate change priorities.
Brian and Mary respond to questions about learning maps.
 Brian explains that all learners are capable of creating learning maps.
Brian explains what could happen if learning maps become interactive and social.
  • Ask the learner to describe their map and capture this in a two minute video. It's in kid speak and is a true snapshot in time
  • Learning Maps can reflect something in their learning that they are finding tricky. Link it to one academic subject, for example, maths or writing.
  • Research carried out by Jean Annan is showing how fast learning and change can happen and that it can be captured through learning maps and videos. One group of children moved from below to at and above in three months.
  • Learning maps are a modern day tool that move away from traditional evaluation modes.
  • Learning maps can be scanned and stored with the videos.
  • Brian and Mary are available to run learning map sessions with students, parents and teachers through Infinity - where learning never ends This video is taken from the Infinity Website and captures the essence of learning maps for students, staff and parents to understand


Joanne Robson's blog

I was fortunate to see @Joanne Robson in action, live blogging on seminars and workshops that she attended and recording them on her engaging blog Joanne captured succinctly the essence of learning sessions and published them immediately. This is an awesome skill. Thanks to Joanna, I have provided links to her work below: 
Building Leadership Capacity and Commitment -Tasman School Nelson, Moutere Hills Network

Learning through Different Eyes - Sharlene Carki, Weston, Whitestone Network Oamaru. Sharlene's presentation was based on her work as part of her sabbatical with targeted learners at Weston school. It was very well received.

Science isn't just a Subject -Dr Michelle Dickinson (Nanogirl)

Passion Projects - Akoranga o Naenae Kelly Layton, Clare and Natasha
My additional notes: This presentation was another one of the highlights for me. The fact that three teachers from different schools across their network came together with forty-five targeted learners every Friday over a fifteen week period and focussed on active learning traits was inspiring.These videos are snippets from this excellent presentation:

Active learning and passion projects

Kelly explains the challenges experienced with AON.

                                      Measurement tools to assess deep learning

Networking opportunities and outcomes from AON

Introducing Global Trends - Valerie Hannon

                           Four levels of learning challenge for us as educators.

Valerie Hannon shared this video by Steve Cutts. It looks at man's relationship with the natural world. It brought home the important role that we as educators must play in changing attitudes to caring for the environment. This fits very closely with the message from Pope Francis in his encyclical letter entitled Laudati Si - Care for our common home

Valerie's deep and powerful conclusion

Brian's final words. Where to next ?

Learning Session - Sustainability. The never ending story.
I would like to thank Nicky Ryan my fellow presenter for this session. Together we presented a session based on our work as part of the Whitestone Network. It was empowering to present from a network perspective rather than a school only perspective. You can access our notes and links here. 

One of our tasks was to map out our next steps as a network. We will share our thoughts and ideas with our network and ensure we continue to keep the momentum going and drive forward for the benefit of all learners across our network of schools.

Thanks to Sharlene Carki for her valued input and for scribing our Whitestone map.
This was an invaluable two days and I sincerely thank the organisers especially Leanne Smith the Sector Co-ordinator who did a stunning job. 
Finally, an extra special mention of thanks to my daughter Chantelle who is teaching in Melbourne. She flew over for a surprise catch up and joined into the hui.