This week I was lucky enough to go back to my old 'hood at Clearview Primary. I was catching up with Tori Wilby ( @miss_wilby, @Clearview7and8) who has been using Hapara Workspace with her Year 7/8 class.
I've long been a fan of Hapara Teacher Dashboard - such an amazing way to organise google apps, which let's you take the collaborative GAFE suite next level! Hapara Workspace builds on the features of the dashboard, by allowing you to create learning pathways/ sequences of work for your students. Students are able to easily access selected resources, complete activities in google drive, collaborate easily and receive and respond to feedback. If you already have Teacher Dashboard, you have Workspace available to you also.
When I visited, one of the Year 7/8 reading groups was in the process of finishing up working on the novel "Frankenstein" by Mary Shelley. A challenging text, but the students were so engaged and told me how much they had enjoyed the novel. Most students had the novel as an ebook, and some had it as a graphic novel. ( Love this differentiation - following the principles of Universal Design for Learning.)
To support this novel study, Tori has run guided reading sessions, where there has been close analysis of selections from the text. Vocabulary development and comprehension have been they key focuses of these sessions. Student discussion and collaboration is planned for in these sessions.
Student learning activities have then been available on the "Workspace." Tori has added relevant resources such as videos and weblinks, then attached a range of google docs/slides/forms that the students need to access in order to complete their reading task followups. Workspace allows you to sort students into groups to allow for even further levels of differentiation. Some of the activities are collaborative, with a task shared amongst a group of students and some are for individuals.
When Tori opens Workspace, she can see all the learning pathways she currently has running.
This is what the "Frankenstein" workspace set up looks like. You can add learning intentions/ goals, rubrics and more!
Tori highlighted the key benefits of using workspace in her classroom and for this unit of work:
An added feature in Workspace is the ability to set due dates for assignments. Once a student has submitted their work, Tori is able to assess it. If necessary, she can send the work back to the student for editing. The newly added "see recent changes" feature in google docs lets her see modifications instantly once the students resubmit their work. When Tori is happy with the completed work, she marks it as assessed. Workspace then makes a copy of the work and puts it in a separate folder. This means Tori is now the owner of that piece of work and has a final copy from that moment in time. The students get their own copy back and could make modifications if they wish, but Tori still has the finalised copy. She can then easily download these as PDF's and will sometimes make into a class book - either by printing, or importing into a programme such as Book Creator or ibooks author.
It was great to touch base with the students and talk to them about their learning. Some benefits that they highlighted from this unit of work were:
A huge thanks to Tori and the Challenge Team for having me along to their class. And MIND BLOWN: Did you know that Frankenstein is NOT the name of the monster in the story, but the name of the monster's creator?? STILL SHOCKED. Maybe I need to add this book to my summer reading list. To end with, check out these amazing thoughts from the students - the slide show below is from their K-W-L slides that they had worked on throughout the novel study. These are some of the "L" learned slides.
It was great to pay a visit to Halswell School, Canterbury this week. They invited our staff to come by for a visit. It is looking amazing and soon all areas of the school will be ready for use. It was lovely to wander through and chat with their teachers. They too are experimenting, trialling and learning unique ways to use their new learning centres. Check out a few pics below! Thanks for having us, Halswell!!
The fabulous team at Clarkville school were our hosts for the first MLE PLG for 2014. I was excited to return to Clarkville after my visit during my sabbatical term, to see how they were going on their journey using Modern Learning Practices. (Original blog post.)
Pene and her teaching team relayed their story so far:
Bells, homework, desks, students only learning in class, students as learners of facts, curriculum coverage.
Choice - students are self regulated learners, there is a high trust environment.
Connectedness - between the school, the community, the students and the teachers.
Culture - a culture that is focused on learning.
Consultation - student consultation team that provides authentic student voice, community in action (CIA) groups and workshops, relationships with early childhood providers and high schools, to develop transitions for students.
Authentic learning opportunities.
The development of a professional learning community.
Critical friends - seeking feedback from professionals such as Christian Long. ( Christian Long blog post)
A dynamic, responsive curriculum.
Student think tank.
All teachers teach all kids.
Clear data shift.
Enablers of a school wide culture shift:
A strong strategic plan owned by everyone.
Principal/ Board support.
Teaching as Inquiry.
Clear appointments process.
After this excellent introduction, some of the Clarkville students lead tours around the school. Teachers were able to spend time in each area of the school, talking with the students and teachers and seeing student work and learning environments. It was exciting to hear that some of the classrooms are going to be renovated and linked together, to enable collaborative teaching in a more open environment. The teachers and students are really excited for this next step to happen.
There were almost 100 registrations to attend this PLG and all around I could hear teachers discussing what they saw, chatting together and being inspired by new ideas. A huge thanks to the Clarkville staff and students for sharing their vision, hard work and innovations.
Taking my own advice about field trips, I paid a visit to Willowpark Primary School in Birkenhead, Auckland, adding on my CRT day to a weekend in the big smoke. Willowpark has modified their furniture and classroom layouts significantly in the past 2 years, moving from one desk per child to a variety of spaces created within their traditional classroom environments. There has also been a move towards Self Regulated Learning, with a variety of models being used throughout the school. Student voice and highly visible learning was evident in the classrooms I visited.
Discoveries at Willowpark
Willowpark has set up MLE's in their traditional spaces. This has mostly been done with use of furniture. There are lots of different heights and spaces for individual and collaborative work.
It was great to see Emma Winder running her fantastic My Learning programme. The students were articulate, well organised and engaged in their learning programme. Their reflection blogs showed insight into their learning and I was impressed with the range of activities the students were participating in.
I visited Melinda Borland's awesome Year 5 class. Melinda makes extensive use of modelling books and these were very impressive. Her class constantly uses them as a resource to aid their independent learning. I really liked how every day activities were extended with thinking tools and student voice. For example, there are boxes of maths games and activities set up for students to practice their basic facts targets. For each activity, they complete a reflection about the purpose for their activity and how they did. Students were selecting maths games for their groups and making decisions about how they were progressing, deciding whether to change or not.
Melinda uses Mondays as "setting up" days in the classroom. This is where modelling, and class activities are organised for the week. Tuesday through Thursday is group teaching sessions and independent personalised learning. Friday is a conferencing day, to meet with students and discuss their learning.
It was interesting to see The Daily 5, a literacy programme running in a Year 4 classroom. This was one I hadn't heard of before, which I would like to find out more about. A neat gadget I saw was talking tins, being used by diverse learners for a variety of activities, including recording their thoughts for writing.
Wonderings at Willowpark
While seeing some excellent teaching and learning, I wondered, "How would this look if the teachers were team teaching collaboratively? How would their systems need to change? What would be the advantages and disadvantages?
How do you streamline tasks such as student's planning their own timetables, so that it doesn't take up too much class time? (A question I should have asked!)
I had a great day checking out the Willowpark teachers and learners. Thank you so much for having me to your school!
The first meeting of the Canterbury PLG for teachers interested in Modern Learning Environments and Collaborative Teaching, was held at Clearview Primary. There was a great turn out - in fact we had to cut off registrations, as we had reached well over one hundred people coming.
It kicked off with a presentation from James Petronelli, Clearview's principal. This was followed by presentations from myself and our Associate Principal, Angela Scott. We were fortunate to have Chris Bradbeer as a speaker also. He came down from Auckland, where he is Associate Principal at Stonefields School. Chris shared with us how the Auckland PLG got started and the kind of events they have held.
People then had the opportunity for small group discussion. We really wanted to get a feel for the needs of Canterbury schools. People identified opportunities, challenges, ways they could help other schools and support that they need.
We finished off with a tour of the spaces at Clearview Primary, which promoted much dialogue and discussion. Keep an eye out on the PLG blog for another event in Term 4.
This week I visited Waimairi School, hosts of the well received "Think Forward" conference this year. Principal Mike Anderson spoke at the CEFPI conference (see previous blog post) about the challenges his school has faced as a result of the Canterbury Earthquake. Despite the disruption caused by the earthquakes, the school continues to move ahead, developing their learning environments and pedagogies.
Waimairi currently has Te Puna, a new entrant block with 5 teachers working collaboratively. This is the newest building on the campus. Two year 1/2 teachers are also team teaching in an adapted space.
Mike described the journey the school has undertaken over the past few years. A lot of initial work was undertaken examining the values and beliefs that underpin all aspects of school life. There was a lot of time spent developing the vision for teaching and learning at Waimairi. Mike believes that it is vital that all the staff (not just teachers, also support staff) are part of professional development, and that you need to spend money on the people in your school.
Discoveries at Waimairi:
The teachers who are teaching collaboratively are taking time to reflect and critique how the teaching and learning is developing. They are constantly refining their practice based on their observations and student needs. They are adapting their spaces and using furniture creatively.
A learning space was created for less than $800 with two existing classrooms. Walls were removed and a cloak room carpeted, to create a fantastic learning space.
Waimairi has worked with Angus McFarlane to create a culturally responsive environment. They are keeping this is mind as they develop their collaborative teaching programme.
As part of professional development, teachers are involved in a walk through model, where they have a critical friend. They visit other classrooms, then reflect on their own practice.
Inquiry learning drives the curriculum at Waimairi. Each term, students are involved in a process along with curriculum leaders and teachers, where the focus for the next term's inquiry is developed. This ensures student voice is heard in an authentic way. Community involvement is high, with sharing of high quality work, projects and performances.
Google docs are used by students to enable learning 24/7. Staff use hapara's teacher dashboard to organise their student's work. A focus is the development of purposeful, effective feedback.
Waimairi is part of a cluster and will be having some rebuilding and redevelopment in the future. They are the first cluster in Canterbury to be ready for the Master Planning stage.
Staff will visit Melbourne in the next school holidays, to gain inspiration and ideas for the future development of their school and cluster.
It was excellent to visit Waimairi and talk to Mike, staff members and students. A great teaching and learning environment and awesome opportunities ahead.
What a privilege to visit the fabulous Breens Intermediate School today! For those readers from other countries, an intermediate school is a "bridging school", between primary school and high school. It covers two year levels, Years 7 and 8. They are quite unique in the fact that students only attend these schools for 80 weeks.
Principal Brian Price showed me around his fantastic school and I was able to speak with various teachers, leaders and students. The classrooms were built in the 1970's, but once again, this is an example of a school adapting their traditional environment to enhance teaching and learning. About 5 years ago, many of the internal walls were replaced with windows, to open up the classrooms and deprivatise practice. The school has also reorganised some spaces, taking storage rooms and specialist spaces where able to develop three learning "hubs". Furniture has been adapted and purchased to create flexible learning areas.
Discoveries at Breens:
When students enter Breens, there is a rigorous induction process. Interviews are held with parents, teachers from the feeder schools and with students. The year begins with a three way conference. Teachers do their best to place students in a class where they will experience the most success. Students do have a home class, but there is ownership of all students by all teachers.
Within the learning hubs, the teachers plan and teach the students collaboratively. As a staff, they visited several Auckland schools for inspiration, and attended the "Think Forward" conference. Senior leadership has also played a vital role in the development of team teaching.
Breens has strong values underpinning the school culture. The students have a deep understanding of the values and they are an integral part of everyday life in the school. The school's visual metaphor draws on the community, family and feeder schools as the supports to grow strong students.
Each learning hub has three teachers and up to 90 students. Two of the hubs have large gathering places, where the students assemble each morning. This means the day starts with shared karakia and waiata. Notices and messages are shared. Students and teachers can also work in this space throughout the day.
The school also has an excellent library, known as COIL - Centre of Information and Learning. Students can access this anytime. The library area has been really well developed, featuring several "rooms within rooms". A support person is available to help with research and there is excellent ICT access.
Breens is a BYOD school, with students able to bring a device of their choice to support their learning. There are also multiple technologies available around the learning hubs for student access.
Teacher spaces have been developed in each hub. Team Leader Nathan Maclennan, described how easy it is to collaborate in the teacher space. Planning, professional conversations, moderation and reflection occur on a daily basis. The teachers plan using google docs, so plans are easily accessible. Assessment is also recorded on the google docs - teachers can make anecdotal notes about students that can be accessed and added to by the other teachers. In some cases teachers are focusing on specialist curriculum areas, for example, one teacher doing literacy groups, another doing maths groups.
Students have a lot of ownership and independence with their learning. In one of the blocks I visited, each student had a personal timetable and knew when they would meet with a teacher for workshop style instruction. Meanwhile, they had negotiated tasks and challenges to be working on. Students were motivated and engaged, working in a variety of spaces and using ict tools to suit their purpose. This year the students are also responsible for their own blog, which they are using as a record of their learning. This was also inform three way conferences and provide a way of sharing learning with families.
Goal setting is authentic and visible. Students set goals each term, then reflect weekly on their progress. Breens is introducing a coaching model called "Learning Advisors" where students will meet with a coach to discuss their progress on their goals. Mentors will also share their own goals, and model active listening. Students will develop skills to share with their peers and give feedback and support.
The students I spoke with at Breens were very articulate when talking about their learning and how they were using the space in the learning hubs. One comment some Year 8 students made, was how well they knew the Year 7 students in their hub. They said in their past school, those year divisions were quite strong, but in this environment, it didn't matter.
I left Breens, inspired with some new ideas to try in my school. The teachers and students are definitely demonstrating the values of being bold enough to try new ideas and it's a beautiful thing!
How can I make goal setting in my own class more purposeful and effective? Younger students often find goal setting difficult and easily forget their goals. How can I make goal setting an integral part of learning for my Year 3/4 students?
This week I was fortunate to pay a visit to Linwood North School in Christchurch. I was very interested to see the design of their school, which was built at a similar time and by the same company as the Stage 1 build at Clearview Primary. There are lots of similarities between the two builds, with the main differences probably being that they have corridor bag storage, inside bathrooms and bifold doors between classes and learning studio areas. Breakout rooms are off the learning studio. At Clearview we have bag storage inside the classrooms, outside bathrooms and breakout rooms between two classroom spaces. We have large sliding doors dividing class space from the learning studio area.
Linwood North will soon welcome Ferndale Special Education School to their campus, integrating this facility with theirs. They are looking forward to this as an enriching experience. They also have Early Childhood Provision and Plunket Rooms on site. Linwood North is currently without a hall due to earthquake damage, and have utilised their learning studio spaces for shared gatherings. This space can be a bit small when parents are involved as well, so they are looking forward to having the hall back in the future.
Future plans include developing pedagogy around the classroom spaces that they have, continuing to integrate ICT to a high level, and providing a hub for their community.
Wondering: As a lower decile school, Linwood North has a lot of support from outside agencies. They often need to use some features such as breakout spaces for meetings and for teacher aides to work with students. Different schools will have different needs - how can we ensure that school design takes these into account and caters by providing appropriate and necessary spaces?Schools are not just "one size (or design) fits all."
Check out some pictures from my visit to Lyttelton West School, Canterbury. I spent the morning in "The Block". This has Year 5- 8 students and two fantastic teachers, Eve and Jeremy. Again, this class was an awesome example of creating a "better learning environment." Eve and Jeremy have been teaching collaboratively this year. The first term of school they still had a wall between them with just a door, but now the wall has been taken out and they have two classrooms opened up.
Lyttelton West will merge with Lyttelton Main school as part of the Christchurch Renewal Project, but Eve and Jeremy are already forging ahead with changes in pedagogy. They have created a flexible learning space and have plenty of technology available in the class. Currently they are mostly parallel teaching, but are looking to develop workshop style teaching and student lead learning opportunties.
Tēnā rāwā atu koe. I had a great day at "The Block."
At Clearview Primary, we have two different types of buildings. We have our Stage 1 build, which opened in 2010 and our Stage 2 build, which opened in 2013.
Today I spent some time in the Stage 1 classrooms. These blocks consist of 6 classrooms, with small breakout rooms between each class. There is also a full length learning studio, which runs beside the classrooms. There is a teacher workroom, wet area and technology area.
The teachers in these blocks are experimenting with collaborative teaching methods. Our school this year is working towards pedagogical changes, to enhance the learning experiences for our students. The teachers are working either in teams of 2 or 3. They are very much trialing differents pedagogical approaches, and constantly refining to see what works best for their students.
I spent some time with two of our Year 2 teachers, observing the way they are running their reading programme in a collaborative way. There was some amazing learning taking place.
These teachers are using their 2 classrooms, learning studio area and breakout room.
The students are grouped for reading according to ability.
One teacher works in a classroom, taking reading groups. The next day the other teacher takes the reading groups.
One teacher roves. Students might be working on follow up activities, literacy games, reading or other word study type activities. They have Interactive White Board games and reading eggs to access on the student laptops.
The teachers plan for their reading groups together.
The teachers running this programme are noticing many benefits for their teaching and student's learning.
They both know the students really well, as they take turns with group teaching. This has meant excellent professional discussions about student progress and intervention plans. When making overall teacher judgements, they can discuss a student confidently, and have support with their assessment. The teacher who is roving is able to interact and question students about what they are learning. They are on hand to provide support and immediate feedback and feedforward. The teachers feel that independent activities have become so much more purposeful and are reinforcing the learning, rather than just being fillers while the teacher takes reading groups.
I definitely noticed how engaged the students were in these classes. They were focused and on task. I also noticed students teaching each other. The set up for reading is also being replicated in Maths, so I look forward to observing that session also.
In the Year 3/4 block, they are getting underway with team teaching in Maths. Although just getting started, I could already notice how well the different spaces are being used, with students selecting work areas based on the learning styles and preferences. It will be interesting to see how this develops over the term.
My name is Ngaire Shepherd-Wills. This website is a record of my TeachNZ sabbatical, Term 2, 2013 and then I have continued to share my wonderings and discoveries about Innovative Learning Practices. I now work for CORE Education. Views are my own.