Blogs and Sites

This piece of writing is to clear my head. I have so many ideas whorling around that I am forced to take a moment to clarify my thinking. I am not quite sure where I am going with this piece but really wanted to clear my thoughts.


The major idea is about transparency. I have been thinking about #EdBlogNZ where New Zealand teachers blogs are curated. For me personally the site has grown into being a reference of New Zealand Education and I often pop in to see current trends happening.

The site does not have everything about education on it, but what it does provide is a window to what is happening in schools nationally.

What I find really interesting about educators who take time from the busyness of the job to reflect on a variety of topics and share their learning is how do others in our profession do justice to the Registered Teachers Practice if they are not curating what they do in such a public way.

I guess I liken it to seeing folders stacked on the teachers table with their appraisal documentation and I state- So what?

The next steps I note is cutsey folders in the cloud with all documentation and again I state – So what? Yes it is digital, but I wonder how findable. I wonder how shared those folders are so that others can see? And yes you can create artefacts that gloss over names and personal data. At the end of the day blogging offers stories and the opportunity to glimpse a snapshot of what is happening that frankly, cannot be seen behind a locked digital or paper folder.

At my school this year we have 12 teachers and out of this 12 we had at least 4 regular bloggers. The others have not updated at all in 2017. Being a blogger myself, I had aimed to up my reflections to one a week, but again tracking back over the year, it was more like one a month.

Here are some interesting facts about EdBlogNZ. Currently there are 174 teachers who blog with 67.2% female and 32.8% male. Under principals there are 31 with over half male at 54.8% and 42.5% female. Under facilitators there are 29 with 79.3% female and 20.7% male. What the site cannot do is archive key words or ideas and in order to dig deeper with this would require accessing each site.

Often I hear school leaders say, oh we have most of our teachers who blog. I have been tracking #EdBlogNZ since March of 2014 so I believe we have built a reasonably accurate picture of reflective practitioners and what I conclude with is there is not nearly enough of educators who share their stories.

I often say to teachers if I cannot see what you do then it does not exist which was something I learned from my Flat Connections certification.

Planning and sites

I have embraced google apps for education for the ease of sharing that the tools have provided. I like the way the apps allows multiple access to the same artefacts that is totally easy to do. For example if a video is stored on youtube, I can link it in Docs, I can embed it into slides, I can embed it into sites and blogger. I can also embed it into wordpress.

When I nosey around planning I am interested in how the planning evolves over time and what tools come to the surface. For example, at my school I have watched one team embrace sheets for planning and have observed how the sheets are continually shifting and evolving as the teachers become much more knowledgeable at how to manipulate the information so that it becomes like a hyperdocument. I really like their use because sheets offer a terms planning using one document and tabs are used to differentiate for the different weeks.

I observe another team using calendar in an advanced way that is like an advanced planning system and the neat idea is this is accessible by the students in the team. This same team also uses sheets to drive the calendar. Yet I can see that calendar is much more efficient and really I believe they are duplicating the workload using both. As they bring in new staff who are new to the collaborative planning ideas, I think they will continue to use both until the new people have used and understand the system.

So the challenge can be when schools insist on one way of doing things and ‘coerce’ all staff to follow a templated way of doing things. Don’t get me wrong. Some items for accountability are non negotiable but I believe that teachers need to show how they are continuously evolving with the tools. We all know how fast these change. For example I am playing in new google sites and have always believed that sites are perfect for curating all manners of artefacts. Yet I struggle to find any teachers at my school who use sites for planning.

I maintain our staff site using Google sites and use it to curate important pieces of information and embed artefacts that aid the running of the school. In our staff site, there are slides, sheets, calendar, folders and docs embedded in a variety of ways.

We began using a staff site in 2014 and each year I duplicate the master site and added the year to the duplicate and then this was archived. Over the past three years the site moved quickly in structure and design. Until the current site worked. So for 2018, I created our staff site using new google sites and used the lessons learned to structure it in such a way that it is much easier to navigate. But am not sure what to do at the end of 2018 when I generally curate the site and restructure it to show our current school trends. New Google sites cannot yet be duplicated.

I look forward to seeing how systems continue to evolve in 2018. I hope to see other tools used for curating, reflecting and for collaboration. It is always exciting when I see teachers and students co construct artefacts for learning. What tools do you use in your work?


Bear Breaking off Corn


During my session of Chinese language this week I learnt a new saying

‘狗熊掰  玉米  Gǒuxióng bāi  yùmǐ’ which means Bear breaking off corn.

This is explained that the bear gathers corn and stores it under his armpit and we can see what happens as he adds to his stash. It is an analogy about the importance of maintaining previous learning. The Chinese story tells of a young bear who plucked a piece of corn, then saw watermelon and thought that was better. So he drop the corn for the watermelon. Next he spotted a rabbit and thought that was better so he dropped the watermelon and chased the rabbit. Unfortunately the rabbit ran fast and the young bear returned home empty handed. I guess the English version of this saying is ‘ A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush.’

That is a perfect explanation for my learning over this past few weeks. So much has happened that I feel like the earlier learning has dropped away.

Just before the October holidays I sat Google Certified Educator Level 2. This was my second attempt after having a computer freeze in the final 20 minutes during my first attempt. At the end of my second attempt I scored 78% out of 100 and you need 80% to pass. Therefore I failed.

Google Fail

Then this week I received notification of my HSK level 2 result. I scored 108 out of 200. I needed 120 to pass. Again I failed.


Sometimes having knock backs is disheartening, but as a learner I know that in some ways they are important to help refocus, reflect on how to do better next time and know that learning can have many FAILS.m

Straight after both results I felt like the glass half empty. Yet if I refocus on the glass half full perspective I can reflect and share the good outcomes. This year, I got to visit Beijing on a scholarship and this year I passed Google Certified Educator Level 1.

In addition I ran a successful TeachMeetNZ for our CoL, managed to persuade three of my colleagues in my CoL to present with me at Ulearn. You can read about all about that here.  Last weekend I published EDBookNZ 2017. This is an initiative where educators from around New Zealand contribute to a shared book about current education happening. You can read about past EdBookNZ books here.

Over the past two weeks my Travelwise Student Leaders collected our Gold Level certificate that reflects the work we have done this year at my school and just yesterday we were evaluated as a Green/Gold Enviro school and beyond and our students made that final decision based on our kete of evidence. So just from this term alone lots of fabulous personal achievements. This reflection is still coming.

Where to next

In regards to my Google Certified Educator Level 2 exam I will spend time over the holidays revisiting all the modules and aim to try again later January. In regards to my HSK level 2 exam, I have downloaded the brand new Duolingo app for Mandarin which so far is flippin amazing and practice for 5 minutes daily then try HSK level 2 again in May of 2018.

Update: Oh and check out Reading too much into star wars, ‘The Last Jedi. By Rachel Chisnall


Message to the Right Honourable Curran

(This post is one of several that were collated into #EdBookNZ for 2017.)

In response to the Right Honourable Curran, New Zealand’s new minister of Government Digital Services recent call for “algorithmic transparency”.

Let us remember to forgetViktor Mayer-Schönberger (2009, 2011)



Teachers as evaluators  

New Zealand schools gather and store data about their learners.  They do this in an attempt to make meaning of the school based learning processes – to determine the extent of their influence on changing the learners’ knowledge, skills, attitudes and behaviours over time.  This data gathering and storage activity assumes that the infinite complexities of human understanding can be reliably and validly represented by a simplified set of statistical profiles and continuums.

Effective teachers think of themselves as “evaluators”. Teachers who want to make  a difference are exhorted to adopt certain mind frames about what they do – “most critically a mind frame within which they ask themselves about the effect they are having on student learning.” (Hattie 2011 p14).  

My fundamental task is to evaluate the effect of my teaching on students’ learning and achievement. Hattie in Visible Learning for Teachers (2011 p159)

When teachers are evaluators then schools become places where to paraphrase Schama (1995) “measurement is the absolute arbiter of value”.  

Technologies have enormously enhanced the ability of schools to gather and store this data. As a consequence of the facility with which we can gather and store student data – the focus of school administrators shifts to monitoring the management and exchange of student data as the student moves through the school system.  For example – the New Zealand Ministry of Education’s recently released report on the Student Information Sharing Initiative (SISI) is intended to improve the management and exchange of student data.  

Balance: Good intentions and unintended consequences

Postman (1998) reminds us of five things we need to know about technological change. His first idea is about balance. He reminds us that “for every advantage a new technology offers, there is always a corresponding disadvantage”.  The advantages of using technologies to make learning progress visible are commonly described and experienced. Even the most temporary of visitors find that signing in at the front office is transformed into an expensive  data collection process where they find themselves – bar coded – time-stamped, stickered and photographed – their names (first and surname) and signature recorded along with their intentions and details of their car model and registration.     

I would like to explore this balance between advantage and disadvantage.  What is the corresponding disadvantage to students when schools have a mandate to gather and to  store their achievement data. To ask just because we can gather and store student data – should we? (Van Schaijik, 2011).

My question asks:

What rights does the learner (and or their family)  hold over the gathering and storage of their personal and achievement data by schools and institutions?

Does the learner have the right to ask for the sharing of their data to be restricted?

Does the learner have the right to ask for their data to be forgotten?

Calls for data transparency versus the right to forget data.

Schools collect large amounts of varied data on students including their medicals records, academic scores, and character traits.  They are expected to share student data in ways that keep parents informed on matters of their child’s academic and social well being. The shift to Kāhui Ako identifies that schools also sharing student data with other  schools within their Community of Learners.

Sharing individual and collective student data can help build community and pedagogical content knowledge.  However, when others control and share your data it compromises the rights of children and families to make their own decisions about the data – their rights to privacy and autonomy.  

Mayer-Schönberger (2009) identifies three concerns about providing information to others who then store and share this information online. In school settings I would describe them as follows – concerns over:

  1. Power and control

Students and their families lose power and control of the data that educators put online in digital platforms like Kāhui Ako. Sharing the narratives, history, culture and creativity of students online comes with some important responsibilities. It seems to me that the use of digital platforms like Kāhui Ako for communicating and storing information about young children should raise many more questions than it does about the nature and ownership of our students’ digital memories.  

Who is advantaged and who is disadvantaged when others own and control access to our memories and our data?

  1.  Surveillance across space and time

Technology enables the collecting and storing of unlimited quantities of data and artefacts of student learning on digital platforms in ways that massively extends the surveillance available in the past. This surveillance of student data extends over time and across all learning spaces.

Who is advantaged and who is disadvantaged by this surveillance of learning outcomes?

Who is disadvantaged when learning outcomes from the past are as easily accessed as learning outcomes from the present?  

  1. Information overload and impaired reasoning

When we can gather unlimited quantities of information – and nothing is forgotten it makes it hard for us to discern the data that matters most. We let detail and data from the past that has long since lost any relevance influence our interpretation of data from the present.

Who is advantaged and who is disadvantaged when our past is so easily conflated with our present?  

Building community

One of the aims of Kāhui Ako is to build connectivity between schools through transparency, collaboration and participation. Currently this is being carried out at teacher level and some student level. One area that has been identified for further focus is agency.  As learners develop in understanding they will see that autonomy – personal control – is an important facet of being an agentic learner.

When does personal control over individual student data and information become part of the learners journey?

Transitioning data

Previously data has been drilled down at school and individual year levels, making school data transparent across classes. With the advancement of the New Zealand Ministry of Education data collection processes, student data can be seen across schools and across Kāhui Ako. Now each learner has a National Student Number so with a click of a button and a bit of importing and exporting, data is shared across management systems. The system is not perfect we still ask feeder schools for manually collected data and information about their learners. However, the NZ MoE is active in devising better ways of sharing information across management systems as is seen from the SISI initiative.

The questions asked about this data collection all assume that collecting and sharing data more efficiently within and across schools as students transition will be advantageous.  There seems little interest or appetite to ask about the disadvantages of student data sharing.  

What breeches of privacy and autonomy are built into the architecture of institutional platforms like Kāhui Ako?

What rights do/will individual students and their families have over ownership and control of their data in Kāhui Ako?

Do students and their families have the right for student data to be forgotten?

Forgiveness and understanding

Privacy and autonomy are too easily undervalued when building an online community of learners. Therefore school must maintain a sense of responsibility and balance  between the legal space of the internet and the ethical space of schools.

The internet has amplified the ideals of freedom of expression as well as the importance of privacy.  Along with the advancement of cloud technology it has enabled ease of data storage in ways that have raised questions over the legalities of who owns the rights to control the data collected – its use and how long it should be stored.  

Thinking about this in the context of schools makes it apparent that we must think past issues of data ownership and consider the collection and storage of student data in the context of forgiveness and understanding of what it is to be a young learner.

What limitations should we put on the storage of student data in the context of forgiveness and understanding?

What should we remember to forget?

The right to forget data

As children move between levels historical academic data can now be accessed to give a clearer understanding of the progress of learning which gives a clearer learning picture than benchmarking against National Standards.  As learners move sectors other information is also asked for and again the question is asked ‘What needs to stay out of the data gathering and might be better forgotten?’ Some schools believe that all information helps give a better picture of the child. Yet surely there needs to be a balance to include new beginnings. Therefore ‘How much and what gets passed on?’ As is often heard, ‘if a child is in the banana’s reading group they will stay in the banana’s reading group.

Hook, (2010) reminds us that “When the control remains with the producer of the content, and we shift the default back from retaining information forever to forgetting it after different time periods we restore something of what it is to live well with technology, we restore what it is to be human.”

I urge that all members of Kāhui Ako to find a positive balance between our communities desire for transparency and our students right to privacy so that each child and their families can be involved in the decision making over what happens to their personal details and data.  

I would like all school communities to discuss how their student data is gathered and shared. We must ensure that any data gathering has a purpose and any data sharing is done with fully informed consent – respecting fundamental rights and liberties of students and families over the use of their data – including decisions on how long student data can be stored or when it should be forgotten and deleted.

Note: Thanks to Pam Hook who as usual can really challenge my beliefs and thinking especially around using Digital Tools.


Curran, C., Hon. (2017, November 9). Address to Nethui 2017, Aotea Centre, Auckland. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from

Hattie, JAC. (2012). Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximising impact on learning. London: Routledge.

Hook, P. (2010, May 16). A giant romance of primitive life and unfettered love. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from

Mayer-Schönberger, V. (2009 , October 22). Delete: the virtue of forgetting in the digital age. The Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society. . Retrieved November 10, 2017, from

Mayer-Schönberger, V. (2011) Delete The Virtue of Forgetting in the Digital Age. Princeton University Press.

Ministry of Education. (n.d.). Communities of Learning | Kāhui Ako. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from

Ministry of Education. (n.d.). Data Services. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from

Ministry of Education. (2016, June 22). Student Information Sharing Initiative Report. Retrieved November 11, 2017, from

Ministry of Education. (n.d.). Student Information Sharing Initiative (SISI). Retrieved November 10, 2017, from

Ministry of Education. (n.d.). Managing Student Data. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from

Ministry of Education. (n.d.). National Student Number. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from

Postman, N. (1998, 28 March). Five Things We Need to Know About Technological Change. Talk delivered in Denver Colorado. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from

Schama, S. (1995). Landscape and memory. London: HarperCollins. Retrieved November 10, 2017, from

Van Schaijik, S. (2011, August 14). How young is too young to have an email? Retrieved November 10, 2017, from


Ronald Reynolds

Ronald Frederick Reynolds

17 October 1927 –28 October 2017


On Saturday our beloved father passed away peacefully at home surrounded by his loving four daughters. He had said goodbye to us all including his grandchildren. On the 2nd of November we celebrated his life.

( Just to be clear, this was not just written by me but by all of us including my brother in laws. This section was my part in the service and family overseas have asked for it.)

Our father, Ronald Frederick Reynolds was an incredible dad, grandad, father-in-law, brother, son, uncle, friend, and mentor.  He was loved and adored by his wife of 60 years, Katie, his four daughters and all eight grandchildren.  

He had one older sister, Shirley.

Dad had a long successful career as an accountant and auditor and yet still maintained his sense of family.

Details of facts

He was born on the 17th October 1927 to Emily Victoria and Frederick William Reynolds in Rangiora Public Hospital just out of Christchurch.

Like many of his age his early memories also included growing up during the “depression” a very difficult time for all families.  However, he described his early childhood as humble but happy, growing up with his sister on his family’s apple orchards in Loburn with his parents, Grandma and Grandad Saxton.

As a child, those around Ron called him ‘Snow’ because of his white blonde hair.

His Father, Fred, loved fishing, if you can call catching white bait and using it as fertilizer on the vege garden fishing.

Fred also loved to hunt rabbits, but young Ron wasn’t so keen on this – he hated seeing the dead bunnies.

He also remembers how he and Shirley would go into the Botanic Gardens in Christchurch.  To prove his fishing prowess to his sister they made little fishing lines with sewing needles and fished for goldfish. Of course this was a no no and they got caught, ending the day with a hiding from Dad

Our father developed a love for the outdoors; tramping and sailing. He learned to sail on Lyttelton Harbour at a very early age and continued sailing for most of his life.

His mum used to coach basketball for North Canterbury.

While watching one game, the basketball bounced into the side-lines and hit dad in the face breaking his nose. Dad never learned how to dodge balls. At Intermediate, while playing hockey a ball to the face reshaped his otherwise perfect smile.

Sadly, when Dad was 17, his mother passed away. This was near the end of the Second World War. Everyone was celebrating but he and Shirley were miserable.

At 24, our father was an Accountant working for Nottingham & Son Chemical Manufacturer. It wasn’t long until he felt trapped in the system deciding that he couldn’t bear to be entrenched in this job for the rest of his life.

As luck would have it, he saw an advertisement for the Samoa Audit Department – he applied and won the position arriving in Samoa in 1953 by flying boat. He worked there as an auditor for the NZ Government.

Two years passed before he returned to Christchurch to catch up with his dad, new step mother, Eth, and step sister Joan.  

In 1956, Katie returned from Europe and Ron first clapped eyes on her at Treasury.  She was the new Charge Typist. His initial reaction was “Where did she spring from? What a beautiful girl.” And then described her as “a very uppity young lady with a posh English accent.”  

Dad got her attention by flicking her typewriter return. Not sophisticated by any means but it worked.

A year later Ron married Katie signing their wedding certificate with red colouring pencil.  Now for the serious work – Kathie followed 9 months later, Astrid 2 years later then Sonya.  At this point we were always told that they were going to stop – we don’t know who convinced whom, but mum always wanted a brown eyed, dark haired boy. Enter Biddy.

Even though mum and dad didn’t have a son, we had brothers. First came Patrick, then Peter and finally Fred.  They all became very special to our parents.

As a family in Samoa, we have many happy memories of dad including;

  •      Yacht Racing every Sunday on his 14-foot laser yacht when he was not in Savaii,  
  •      Picnics on the other side of the island, usually on a Sunday after church,
  •      We loved Salamumu, and on the way back would swim in the fresh water pools at the top of the Mafa Pass or visiting Papaseea (Sliding Rocks).

His Datsun station wagon, our main form of transport, on those bumpy roads, lasted well indeed.

Over the years, our dad built up a business working as an accountant / auditor in Samoa.  He also spent time helping businesses start up, including Apia Bottling Co, Polynesian Airlines just to name a couple.

In 1973, all but our dad, immigrated to Christchurch, because his family lived there. Dad kept his business in Samoa and commuted.  

He was then heavily involved with Polynesian Airlines.  We remember him making trips to the Boeing factory in Seattle to buy aircraft for the fledgling airline.  To occupy his spare time in Samoa, he would train with the Manu Samoa team by jogging up Mt Vaea.  

Our life in NZ changed from Sunday picnics on the other side of a tropical island to tobogganing in the snow at Porters Pass, swimming in the Ashley River or at Taylors Mistake.  Dad was always behind the camera and insisted on taking our photos .

In 1981, Dad finally left Samoa the island he grew to love and moved back to NZ for good. He joined Lane Walker Rudkin finishing his work life there and retired with mum when she turned 60.

They spent their golden years playing golf, travelling and having adventures such as camping at Totaranui, travelling around Canada via camper, going to Bali, the Gold Coast of Australia, driving to Foxton to visit Shirley or visiting his grown children and taking delight in his many grandchildren.

Our parents moved to Auckland in 1995 to be closer to their grandchildren.

Dad continued with community service and was the Treasurer for the Lion’s Club – during December you would often find dad and mum selling Christmas cakes.  He also helped with Senior Net and regularly ran sessions on using Spreadsheets.

Our father loved his sport, particularly rugby. He was never one eyed. When Canterbury played they had to win and when the all blacks played they had to win, except of course when they played Manu Samoa.

He would often be found glued to the television with the rugby, netball, hockey, or the America’s Cup.  

Ron was a healthy old fellow.  He learned to ski when he was 50, bungy jumped in his 70s and right up until his early 80s was still playing golf, driving, walking, swimming and fixing things.  

One of these fixing activities saw him fall from the 2nd storey roof of his house and bruise his internal organs. We thought we might have lost him then as he was in hospital for several weeks – but he mended.

In 2008 when he was 81, our father took a trip to Australia to meet his long-lost cousins for the very first time, a highlight for our dad.  We are so grateful to them for creating a great memory for Dad.  

Ron cherished his independence fiercely, but finally agreed to move in with me so we could help him with mum.  The move in 2013 was not easy for both dad and mum because they were so used to their independence and they knew their bossy daughter well.  But with Kathie’s less than gentle determination, I returned home from a trip away to find my house taken over by… Parents!!

The last four years have been happy times as together we looked after dad and mum at home:  I was on night shift, Kathie on day shift and Astrid doing all the grooming, medical appointments and running around.  

This year saw a couple of milestones for dad:  the first was his and mum’s 60th Wedding Anniversary in May and just 2 weeks ago, his 90th birthday.  He has had such a full life and we were very lucky to have him as our Father and to see the role model of a loving husband for our mother.


Lessons learned from an Across School Leader in a Kāhui Ako


I have written before about the importance of making connections before collaboration can happen.


(@edu_sparks took the photo)

Just as an update this is a reflection about this year’s uLearn. Sometime I meet educators who say ‘I hear the same stuff and I haven’t picked up anything new.’ My response usually is, ‘Are you presenting? If not then it is time to give back to the community.

Co-Creating lifts the game of collaboration.


This October several collaborations happened. As an Across School Leader in the  ACCoS Kahui Ako, I ran a TeachMeetNZ with a focus on ACCoS. You can read all about that collaboration here with principals, ASL, ISL and classroom teachers involved. We even had a facilitator take part too. Then following that I attended uLearn with 3 Across School Leaders in our CoL who presented with me and we shared our narrative. You can read all about that here. We can talk about collaboration but when we co-create evidence of what we do then that is even more amazing. Here is a link to the abstract.

Links of resources from uLearn17


(@coreeducation took the photo)

Core EduCation have just updated their page of resources for uLearn. This helps with curating the experience. So from there I managed to locate some images to help with this blog on their flickr site.

During uLearn plenaries, I uploaded my own notes of Eric Mazur’s session and also of Brad Waid. I did not take any notes of Anne Milne’s session and cannot stress enough to teachers that they must listen to her plenary as she speaks openly about her experience being a principal and how she addressed the marginalisation of her learners. Anne wrote a great article here that also included what she spoke about in her plenary.

During the breakout sessions I attended the following

  • Using the Seesaw App to enhance learning and connect with families
    • Presenter: Renee Morgan, Sarah Corkill, Casey Frew
        • Takeaways: My query why student’s work would need downloading as PDF? I then reflected on wondering if this was the pathway we need to be taking.
  • The exponential future of education
    • Presenter: Kaila Colbin
      • Takeaways: How fast things can change.
  • Augmented Reality, emerging technology and the future of learning
    • Presenter: Brad Waid
      • Takeaways: update own knowledge of VR and keep tracking what is happening in this area.
  • Night at the Movies ‘The heART of the matter’ movie screening
    • Presenter: Alex Hotere-Barnes
      • Takeaways: the importance of story-telling
  • Raising the bar – with Abdul Chohan
    • Presenter: Abdul Chohan, James Petronelli
      • Takeaways: With the right people and tools magic happens.
  • Building a collaborative culture – everyone with us – 2
    • Presenter: Jo Robson, Jo Wilson
      • Takeaways: Ideas for getting our ASL and ISL working together. I really liked how they structured their session to have us talking together.

Highlights for me

    • Presenting with three ASL from our ACCoS cluster. I felt really proud of how we managed to work together and pull the session together. A great discussion and a great sharing. I believe that the padlet we shared allowed us to see how far we have travelled on our journey.
    • Meeting Chad for the first time face to face. I met Chad several years ago via twitter and I was part of one of his google hangouts.
    • Celebrating my birthday at the uLearn annual dinner. I usually celebrate my birthday at uLearn but this year somehow the word got out. I attended the dinner with Sue from Epsom Girls Grammar School. As usual I took many selfies. I caught up face to face with several educators I talk to via twitter and I met some of the Core #efellows17.Pete.png

(@SteelOtter took the photo)


(Rachel took our photo)

Takeaways for me

  • Continue to push for documenting and sharing of what we do in our ASL roles.
  • Work towards collaborative inquiry across our ACCoS Schools.
  • I would love to run an ISL session like we do for Flat Connections and give teachers a taste of using the tools to collaborate digitally across our schools.

Special thanks to Newmarket School Board of Trustees and my principal Dr Wendy Kofoed who supported my journey to present at uLearn.

Extra special mention of the following ASL who presented with me

  • Catherine Palmer from Kohia Terrace School – Across School Leader in ACCoS Kāhui Āko
  • Erin Hooper from Cornwall Park District School – Across School Leader in ACCoS Kāhui Āko
  • Sue Spencer from Epsom Girls Grammar School – Across School Leader in ACCoS Kāhui Āko

Ulearn- Brad Waid


Engaging the globally connected student of today: A look at emerging technology, gaming and digital citizenship


@EduWells  @Techbradwaid  @vanschaijik

Engaging the globally connected student of today: A look at emerging technology, gaming and digital citizenship

What does it mean to be growing up in a “globally” connected world? Brad pushed us to look at the engaging factors students are faced with on a daily basis and how to leverage them in a learning context. He talked about emerging technologies; what is here and what is coming, the power of gaming, and why students are willing to spend hours online or connected, and the importance of digital citizenship in an ever shrinking world. (Paraphrased from Core Education)

Brad began with his pepeha in Te Reo and straight away made connections to us because he took the time to learn something about who his audience is.


Learning digitally

  • Exponential access to information
  • Technology for learning is continually being invented.
  • You never know what will change a student’s life
  • The power of screen time- leveraged the engagement of a screen to get chn up and moving. Niantic Lab built Pokémon using Ingress maps.

Learning in communities

  • Social World of mouth
  • No longer using email to communicate

Learning for success

  • 65% of students entering school today will be doing jobs that are currently non exist empower kids with skills to prepare them for their future
  • The device spoke his language. It does not matter what the tool is because it is relationship with our learners. That is about making connections


How can we make a difference today?

  • R  – relationships
  • U –  understanding
  • L –  learning
  • E –  environment / expression

In a world with billions of servers and tonnes of technology the MOST important thing is still how we treat others. (whanaungatanga)

  • Together we can change the world
  • We all have a gift to give- what will you give
  • Sharing our messages to benefit our chn
  • What the world needs is more of us in it sharing………..
  • What is our legacy??
  • Together we can change the world just by changing our minds. via @/jmw58

You can read more about Brad’s keynote on Edspace.

PS: Thanks @coreeducation for inviting Brad to my huge birthday celebrations.

Ulearn -Eric Mazur

@eric_mazur keynoting at #ulearn17

Who is Eric Mazur

“Teach by questioning rather than telling.”  Socrates

Ulearn began today with plenary speaker Eric Mazur speaking about shifting the focus from delivering information to teamwork and creative thinking and how this greatly improves the learning that takes place in the classroom and promotes independent thinking.

Takeaways against the Ulearn Strands

Learning digitally

  • Change the idea of delivering and transferring information for your learner
  • Transmission of knowledge vs construction of knowledge
  • Interactivity in learning
  • Give students more responsibility for gathering information so we can better help them assimilate it
  • Better understanding leads to greater problem solving

Learning in communities

  • Education is not just information transfer
  • Get learners to convince others if they have a different opinion
  • The learning happens in the discussion.
  • No chance to sleep because your neighbour will talk to you
  • Two way flow of information.
  • Feedback of the learning to the students.
  • Personalised the learning by learners helping each other.

Learning for success

  • Give the learners an opportunity to assimilate information outside of the context they have learned it in and the assimilation of information is the key to learning success
  • Teachers are becoming better at assimilating knowledge rather than just transferring information
  • Getting the brain engaged and not the fingers on on the device.Technology can be abused
  • Turn the out of class component into a social activity
  • Reawaken the curiosity of the human mind and reactivate the human scientist to awaken innate curiosity
  • Learning is about inspiring students to be curious and then letting them “get fired up”

Once you learn something, you forget the difficulties of learning. Rediscover the thought process of a beginning learner.

  • Question
  • Think
  • Poll
  • Discuss
  • Repoll
  • Explain

Using this way of learning resulted in doubling and and then tripling of success rates and the learners had a higher retention rate.

Be cautious about the best way to transfer knowledge. For example watching videos can involve passive learning

  • Transfer pace set by the video
  • Viewer passive
  • Viewing /attention tanks as time passes
  • isolated/individual experience

Note from Sonya: however knowing youtube there are ways to activate clickable moments for a poll, or adding a chat comment. Also rather than watch a video, create a video of your own learning, even better co-create a video and crowd source components from your collegues.


  • Transfer pace set by the reader
  • Viewer active
  • Still is isolated experience
  • No accountability
  • Every student prepared for class without having to put in more hours

We were introduced to ‘Perusall’ and shown how students highlight and add chat transcript. Asynchronous discussion happens. Note from Sonya: the system is free.

Take aways

Education is not just about

  • Transferring information
  • Getting learners  to do what we do or want.
  • Active engagement both inside and outside the class is imperative

We want our learners to stand on our shoulders, to tackle the wicked problems that we cannot solve.

Other links to check out

Alan November

I found Eric’s opening plenary thought provoking, visible and I loved that straight after the session his presentation was available for us to rewind.


You can read more about Eric’s presentation here on EdSpace.

TeachMeetNZ meets ACCoS


Yesterday I hosted TeachMeetNZ meets ACCoS. TeachMeetNZ is about New Zealand teachers connecting online. The project reflects the research and work of New Zealand educators in action. These live events are convened across all education sectors to address the emerging technologies, trends, and challenges poised to significantly impact teaching and learning.  TeachMeetNZ has been live streaming since May 2013.

This session’s focus was to highlight some of the fabulous learning happening in Kāhui Ako across New Zealand and especially from our Auckland Central Community of Schools (ACCoS) Kāhui Ako  and was an initiative approved by our ACCoS Lead Principal, Jill Farquharson. Somehow she trusted that TeachMeetNZ would be an important strategy to help share our work across the Kahui Ako. Jill often hears me say, ‘If I cannot see what we do then it does not exist.

Nearly two years have passed since I have hosted a full TeachMeetNZ session. The system has changed a lot since that last time and in some ways is a lot more stable and a lot smoother. I now launch a live stream via youtube using Google Hangouts. Before I would do this the other way around.

As I prepared the team of educators for the session, I had a few challenges. My main one being that several are not yet on twitter so in some ways that forced me to use email for communication. The challenge with email is that the conversation is closed where as on Twitter, using the #TeachMeetNZ hashtag enables the conversation to be open and transparent. I liken it to eavesdropping because you can move in and out of conversations by listening and often you do not need to say anything, just listen.

Therefore the main organisation was via email. I had put out the call for presenters via our Across School Leaders and via our Google+ community yet still most of the presenters were gently persuaded with a bit of arm twisting.

I love the numbers of any event and here are some numbers.

Yesterday 8 presenters took part.

  • 1 principal
  • 1 across school leader
  • 2 in school leaders
  • 3 classroom teachers
  • 1 external facilitator

In addition there was

However the power of asynchronous communication means that many more will come and visit the recording after the session.

I have learnt to make use of playlists on Youtube so on the TeachMeetNZ Channel there are

  • 9 ACCoS mini videos sharing work across our ACCoS Kahui Ako.
  • 3.45minutes was the fastest presentation
  • 5.13 minutes was the longest presentation

After the session I had evaluations completed from 7 Educators, one quote I liked  was  ‘Interesting range of topics.  Wonderful opportunity for sharing within and beyond our kahui ako.’

What happens after the session with the individual videos has always been enlightening. Each presenter has their video clip on their TeachMeetNZ wiki page. Some will complete the triangulation of learning and reflect about the process. Some will go back and share their video and slides with their staff. Some will investigate twitter and join the global staffroom. Some will take time out to rest and recharge because they have been through a huge learning curve.

However all will return to their places of work with a spring in their step knowing they have achieved a huge milestone in their careers and that is to share what they do in such a visible way with the global community. From an event such as this I usually sit back and watch what happens to the team and smile as those hesitant steps of sharing with technology become stronger.  So to the following educators who helped make the session the success that it was, thank you.

TimeKeeper: Catherine Palmer  (ASL) @CatherineP63

Twitter Broadcaster: Dr Wendy Kofoed @newmarketschool

Presenters Name Topic
Alison Spence

Principal Kohia Terrace

Principal’s ASB APPA Travelling Fellowship 2017

Leadership Across Schools

Amy Battrick


Esol Strategies at Kohia Terrace School
Elena Reihana


Using WeChat for Parent Engagement
Erin Hooper


As a matter of PaCT
Hannah Cameron


Engaging the Community – Reporting to families
Patricia Whitmore


Learning Maps for reading
Sarah Morrison


Using See Saw as a digital portfolio for junior school learners to share with their families.
Viv Hall Growing Kāhui Ako leaders

So where to next?

This week I leave for Hamilton to attend ULEARN and I am running a session with Sue, Erin and Catherine, three other Across School Leaders in the Auckland Central Community of Schools. The title for our session is ‘Lessons learned from an Across School Leader in a Kāhui Ako. Our session is Fri, Oct 13, 2017 10:15 AM – Fri, Oct 13, 2017 11:15 AM at the Claudelands Events Centre.

In addition I am with Christine Trimnell as she shares  ‘Global Projects – 21st Century learning in a digital world’. This is the work we have done with Flat Connections.  This session is: Fri, Oct 13, 2017 8:30 AM at the Claudelands Events Centre in the Holman Stand room.

I look forward to catching up with old faces and new faces at ULEARN, I look forward to meeting my digital buddies face to face and to connect with other Across School Leaders from other Kāhui Ako. I especially look forward to getting a #Grelfie with  Brad Waid an old time twitter buddy. Then when I get back I need to start my piece of writing for EdBookNZ another collaborative project that I coordinate.


In September of 2014 I had been turning a few phrases around as I researched the term Connected Educator.  From there I created a list of current phrases and decided to get some bloggers to unpack and query what these terms meant. Then thought, why not write a book and each blogger contribute their part. Via twitter I out a call out and the following tweeps responded. Each author literally had to take a term that they used and critique why it needed to change. My other stipulation was that they needed a critically friend who would give them feedback before their post went live.

#EdBookNZ 14

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The following year, I thought, let’s do this again.


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At the same time I realised that I needed to seriously look at co-construction. So running alongside the book, I set up the wiki and invited educators in to unpack the Practicing Teacher Criteria. I was aiming for a collaborative definition of each of the criteria. However as is usual I learnt the most as understanding Tataiako helped frame the terms of reference.

Here you can check out the wiki of terms.

Doing this huge collaborative helped me see where I needed to move with TeachMeetNZ, My ideas appeared so big and daunting that I literally freaked out and shelved TeachMeetNZ under the pretence that I was studying. In some ways there was no way I could carry out what I could envisage. That too and just having a year to percolate my thinking.

In 2016 I put out another call in regards to EdBookNZ as I believe in always giving back. So that was my main claim to collaboration. That and tuning communication systems for our ACCoS Community of Learners.


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  • @leonie_hastings
  • @stuartkellynz
  • @jamesanderson
  • @newmarketschool
  • @AKeenReader
  • @mrs_hyde
  • @nikora75
  • @Doctor_Harves
  • @beechEdesignz
  • @kerriattamatea


Now this year,



Purchase the paper copy


I put out another call for EdBookNZ and have my complete list of educators. I am really excited because as usual creating an artifact for the education community pushes me into hyperdrive as I also one of the authors.

With EdBookNZ I had a massive disaster on ISSUU when I accidentally deleted all my collaborative books. I was more gutted in losing the history of downloads.

But in saying that, better things happen and now on ISSUU the books can be purchased or the PDFs download free. However you do need to create an account for the downloads. I also am unsure how to make the paper copy link easily accessible but am working on that.

Finally I am really excited about holding a printed book because I have been trying and trying to do something on Amazon, but found the process of publishing too technical.

I used ISSUU because it was the easiest platform for digital publishing. 

A dear friend and mentor said to me recently, holding the completed #EdBooks in your hands is a powerful example of collaboration.

To finish with, I just have to put a shout out for Saturday’s session of #TeachMeetNZ. This session highlights our ACCoS Kahui Ako. If you register on Eventbrite, you will go in the draw to win another example of collaboration. ‘SOLO Taxonomy and English Language Learners.’




Recently I ran a collaborative project with four amazing educators and learnt from them what happens when we provide conditions, and then learning takes over.

Since then I have been reading the work of Tony Wagner and he writes that

‘isolation is the enemy of improvement’.

Over the years I have read around the following labels for teachers such as

  • Teacherpreneur
  • Connected Educator
  • Disobedient Teacher
  • Outlier Teachers

So focusing on Tony Wagner’s term of Outlier Teachers I put on my SOLO Taxonomy hat and made connections with my situation.

If you used our National standard Data to access us as a school you will quickly see that out the 11 schools in our Kāhui Ako, we appear to fall short. However if you dig deeper into our school’s data, you will see that many of our children have scores that stand up straight as they head towards the national norms. Therefore our children have exponential learning. If you look at our attendance data, we are above the national norms for attendance for our decile rating and for our major ethnic group. Our current ethnic data reveals that our dominant group is 65.1% Asia.


In addition we have currently surveyed our students using ‘Me and my school’ survey and can see that our children love coming to school, that they know where they are with their learning and that they feel safe and valued as learners. By doing this we listen carefully to our students to better understand their classroom and school experiences.

Most of our learners at our school need time. They need time to learn in their second language of English and they need time to collaborate.



Collaboration is essential for professional educator innovation. As an across school leader for our Kāhui Ako, how do we create opportunities for collaboration? Research identifies that the greatest variance happens within a school. Therefore I wonder what our principals and school leaders do to support and create opportunities for collaboration within their own schools. I believe that part of our ACCoS work is to forge across school collaboration yet still be aware of what happens within school.


In our school

In our own school we value transparency and communication. Our teams of teachers work together to collaboratively gather data about learning, set goals and plan learning. All data and planning is open across the school. Teams plan learning sessions to develop children’s curiosity and imagination, teaching them the skills and dispositions that matter most. Learners passions often evolve through perseverance, respect and self discipline.


One team has been experimenting with developing genuine interests through group projects. When we see this in action there is a genuine love of learning and excitement. Experiences are created that excite the learners both intellectually and emotionally. These teachers  have the courage and sense of urgency needed to make a radical break from the old ways of learning and have encouragement from our senior management  to innovate their practice.  As students undertake new ways of learning they must provide evidence of what has been learnt such as the creating of something useful. One strategy I really like is the peer review that happens. Children give each other feedback on work completed and failure is celebrated if the process has been documented. They are known to take calculated risks and sometimes this has resulted in incredible learning. Problem solving happens across disciplinary boundaries and we can see other curriculum areas as well as key competencies come into the learning. These sessions are noisy and can appear chaotic to an outsider however real learning is happening as passion and purpose develops through this discovery-based learning. The children are intrinsically motivated.


Over time the other teams in our school are now beginning to trial and experiment with similar ideas.


Placing an arm around the shoulder of disobedient teachers- Digby Wells.

Often when I see teachers experimenting outside normal phenomena I am aware that they can be under constant scrutiny and ongoing questioning. An arm of support that I have given some of these teachers is to share their narrative using #TeachMeetNZ or reflecting via #EdBlogNZ. Often within their own school they fly under the radar but via social media they use technologies to learn from other outliers, connect with them, collaborate with them, and create stunning learning for their learners. They understand the importance of authentic, performance-based forms of learning and show their own learning via their educator digital portfolios. They leave breadcrumbs of learning for other educators to follow. They have a strong sense of service to the education community and often I hear the words justice and citizenship in their discussions. If I dig further I can hear the importance of sustainability and looking after our planet voiced strongly in the work they do. There is also a commitment to diversity and ensuring that all voices are heard. They understand and embed cultural competencies in their pedagogy. Therefore generally out of the norm these teachers have sets of qualities strongly in common with each other. What these qualities are? I am not sure of yet but I am working on my understanding.


Leading from the middle

Through the work of Michael Fullan we understand the importance of leading from the middle and that great ideas about education come from all levels and not just at the top. We are currently unpacking the need to work collaboratively and not in isolation. However within our CoL we are still unpacking what this looks like. Pockets of collaboration are happening at teacher level as some professional Innovation surface.


Adapted from My NingBo Principals Presentation


Where to next?

  • How do we instill the Importance of service and giving back as a driving sense of purpose?
  • How do we develop the In School Leaders (ISL)  that we work with to develop their own sense of purpose?
  • How do we engage all educators within our CoL?
  • Ultimately how do we get our teachers and students working together across our schools?


I believe that we can do this through the use of technology to connect, collaborate and cocreate. Face to face connections are a beginning but I believe are not enough. I think we need to push the idea of connections and collaboration  further to include blended connections and blended collaborations through using blended learning spaces.


Some ideas for further discussion

Within our school I can see variance between levels. For example our year 3 students have individual google accounts and use these to access their learning. When I look at our junior school there appears to be little preparation for them to move straight into using individual chromes. They use iPads generally as a tool to access apps and the internet. I see little evidence of creating with the apps. Some teachers are beginning to use SeeSaw to share learning and we are in the stage of bringing this into a school account.

When I look at our middle school, I see children using their google accounts for school work but see very little digital collaboration between children. I also do not see much sharing with the outside except via wechat and this is teacher and parent driven. As I look to their future at our school I can see little preparation of what happens at year 5 & 6 where children are expected to plan their day using google calendars. Or when our seniors carry our their critical friends evaluations.

Therefore even within our school transitioning between levels is a huge step up.

Our own ISL have organised our teachers to observe writing at a level above and below of what they teach so that hopefully this begins to address some of the transition gaps. This process has raised some interesting discussion. But as a digitally fluent teacher I wonder why not enough use is made of the technology for learners to see each others work or for them to work together in a visible way. I also wonder why many of our teachers do not show the children their planning via sites.

Sometimes as an observer who sometimes works in class, it is easier to be critical but at the same time as the elearner leader at our school I have worked hard to ensure that all equipment is maintained and working, learning apps are added to iPads that are requested within reason, online learning spaces are available such as Reading Eggs, Edmodo and Wevideo to help with student collaboration, Flat Connections have been used to help raise teacher learning in the use of collaborative learning tools but still there is the usual way of learning that I have observed 5 years and more ago happening. So as a strong digital teacher, if I cannot get our own teachers to move faster how can I get our CoL moving to work across. What I have done is look for my own tribe and that is where twitter has been invaluable. So on twitter I can do heaps more collaboration and co-creation than I can within my own school or across schools.

When I look at the collaboration chart above, I believe that we can move to level 4 where students are working with students across schools with teacher support using the technology. I was asked how did I know that across school collaboration is not already happening. I responded with, ‘If I cannot see evidence of across school collaboration, then it does not exist.’

I know how to get us there but I might loose a few people in the process.  

Show me what you do

  • Can I see your reflections?
  • Can I see your videos?
  • Can I see you chatting with colleagues in a visible way?

Surely by now our own learning portfolios are live and not sitting in a paper folder.