ToD

I had a go at visual notetaking on our Teacher Only Days. Below you can see what I captured from Lynne’s talk on Phonological awareness and Chris Clays session on Innovation. From what I learnt during the process, I have too much colour and too many shapes. I also need to work more on my layout and frame them using HOTMaps.

In addition, several staff microblogged via twitter using our school’s hashtag #NPSFab and this was curated using storify.

phonological awareness

Innovation

Walk2School Campaign

School2

Towards the end of last term  Newmarket School have taken part in the Flat Connections Global Project, ‘A Week in the life.’ I am one of the lead teachers in the project and I oversee 5 global student teams under the theme of ‘Environmental Impact on Health’. One sub theme is to do with Air Quality of which is important to me. I am Newmarket School’s Travelwise Lead Teacher. I have found out that Auckland city has double the air pollution of Sydney and sometimes our air quality is on par with Tokyo. As a school that is situated right beside the Auckland motorway and our school entrance shares the same road as one of that motorways busiest arterial routes, I have concerns about what we as a school can do to raise awareness about the quality of our city’s air.

I have been the Travelwise lead teacher for three years now. This week the Travelwise team contributed their part to helping Auckland’s air pollution problem by leading the whole school in a Walk2School Campaign. I wanted the children to realise that our city’s air problem is our problem and whatever small part we can play will help an overall global effort.

school Maptravelwise

It has been an interesting learning curve for me to try and sit back and encourage the students to lead. I worked with 4 main members and each had a task to oversee with support.

The main leader began drafting the week towards the end of last term as part evidence for his leadership badge. He created a poster advertising the campaign and then stood up at an earlier school assembly this term to highlight the upcoming event.

Travelwise Notice

He brought on board a second Travelwise member who agreed to support and help. She helped with advertising.

A third member was brought in who suggested setting up a google form to collate data.

campaign

This week the campaign was carried out and the rest of the Travelwise team were involved by walking with a designated teacher around our school to help provide incentives for children who are dropped off. Each day a staff member agreed to become involved and take their turn with the Travelwise team.

IMG_2196

A fourth Travelwise member collated all the data and kept track of the kilometers covered. At the end of the week we had walked 681km.  While we did not walk the length of New Zealand as targeted we did manage to pass Hamilton. Next year we will run the campaign each term and aim for Bluff by December. 

Each day one Travelwise member took the list of children who took part in either walking to and from school and or walked or ran around the school during break times and randomly selected a winning student. They won a daily Travelwise prize consisting of goodies distributed by Travelwise.

At the end of the week a special draw was taken and included in the big prize was a 3D medal  crafted by a year 4 student and printed using our 3D printer kindly donated by Newmarket Rotary. 

Badge

From our total school 167 children took part over the week or approximately 60% of our school. Some staff members also took part including our principal Dr Kofoed who walked to school and caught the bus home. 

This campaign is a beginning of something bigger that I have planned for next year with the Travelwise team.

Our next step is to learn more about air pollution in our city and at the end of next week we have a skype session set up with an air scientist from the Auckland regional council. My next step as a lead teacher in the Flat Connection Global student project is having the students compare cities air quality and list some steps that they can take to help the cause.

Air quality is important because it is part of our environment. Like other important natural resources we need to look after our air.

Of course being the Travelwise Lead Teacher, I walked every day. But I did not win any prizes.

Connected Educator Month

 Ulearn15  CENZ15

October is always a mad month for me.

It is my mum and dad’s birthday. I look after them pretty much full time with help from my two elder sisters. It is my birthday.

This year it was my youngest son’s 21st birthday.

Below was how I spent October including flying to Christchurch for my son’s 21st.

Dates Title Links
Mid September Flat Connections A week in the life, student collaborative project. Flat Connection Site
1 Oct Launched EdBookNZ collaborative project EdBookNZ Wiki
3 Oct TeachMeetNZ google Hangout with TMSydney

Co Host with Matt Esterman

Google Hangout
7 Oct Present Ulearn, live stream Presentation
29 Oct Launched Ulimasao Bilingual Educator Group Blog Post
29 Oct TeachMeetNZ shared on TeachMeet Mackay Australia Via Google Hangout
30 Oct Complete my chapter on Innovative Learning Blog Post
31 Oct Curate and publish EdbookNZ EdBookNZ Educator book
31 Oct Curate reflections from EdBookNZ project Ongoing

Last year I curated October, since it is Connected Educator month. Therefore I was able to anticipate this month a lot better. But it still was busy.

I am also in the final stages of co-authoring a book with Pam Hook and I am really excited. I wrote down a book goal nearly 6 years ago.

Screenshot 2015-11-08 at 20.38.13

Whānaungatanga

whanaungatanga

Here is my understanding about Whānaungatanga from the #EdBookNZ collaborative co-constructed project for #CENZ15.

Whakatauki:

  • He aha te mea nui o te ao?
  • He tangata! He tangata! He tangata

Defining Whānaungatanga.

Whānaungatanga is the reciprocal rights, responsibilities and obligations that flow from the interrelationships of all living things through shared experiences and working together. Whānaungatanga provides people with a sense of belonging and also serves to strengthen each member of the kin group.

Tataiako explains Whānaungatanga as actively engaging in respectful working relationships with Māori learners, parents and whānau, hapū, iwi and the Māori community.

The PTC associated with Whānaungatanga.

The first Professional Criteria is about ethical, respectful, positive, and collaborative professional relationships.

Fully registered teachers establish and maintain effective professional relationships focused on the learning and well-being of all ākonga. (Ākonga is inclusive of all learners in the full range of settings.)

Key indicators:

    • Engage in ethical, respectful, positive, and collaborative professional relationships with:
      • ākonga/learners
      • teaching colleagues, support staff, and other professionals
      • whānau and other carers of ākonga/learners
  • agencies, groups, and individuals in the community.

How could we tell someone about Whānaungatanga?

Whānaungatanga is about treating others the way we want to be treated and to ensure that all voices in the learning community are heard. It is about everyone contributing.

What is an alternative explanation of Whānaungatanga?

There is no I in Team

  • Relationships and values
  • Respect for others.
  • Making connections
  • Collaborating
  • Co-Creating
  • Celebrating

What impact might Whānaungatanga have on our practice?

Teaching with respect. Respect for the learners, respect for our colleagues, respect for our parents, respect for the people we deal with in regards to our learners.

Acknowledging everyone has a voice and a part to play.

What are the positives of Whānaungatanga?

A respectful working environment.Everyone being a team member and contributing to the whole.

What are the challenges of Whānaungatanga?

Learning how to approach different communities within our school respectfully and appropriately.

Learning about the differing backgrounds where our children come from and even how they learn could be different to preconceived ideas of learning. Celebrating and planning for celebrations needs to be seriously considered in an overcrowded curriculum. Ideas of learning and celebrating are to be part of what we do.

What are we still wondering about Whānaungatanga?

We wonder

  • if Whānaungatanga is already happening in our schools.
  • if we can gather evidence about Whānaungatanga
  • if a school’s understanding about Whānaungatanga can have an effect of achievement

Whose voice is not being heard?

How do we ensure that as educators we have heard all the voices in our schools?

Can we hear the voices of our ancestors?

One statement that says it all

Whānaungatanga is the heart of learning with relationships, connections, contributing and belonging. In Samoan the word is Va Fealofani.

Innovative Learning

Innovative Learning

Pam (1)

Background

Last term I attended an Educafe session run by Emma Kingston.

Emma is a firm believer in privileging opportunities for face to face communication. She creates regular face to face events to enable educators to talk together.

What was particularly interesting at the Educafe evening was a chance to meet Professor Jane Gilbert. My virtual buddy Danielle Myburgh told me she had brought her professor along and would I like to meet her. Of course I jumped at the chance. After being introduced, Jane asked me some probing questions about the TeachMeetNZ project that I coordinate. I proudly told her that I have been gathering data since I began the project. The question Jane fired back at me was:

“How can you prove that what you do makes a difference to student learning?”

This is a great question – quite possibly the one question to rule them all. It is the provocation that comes from Thomas Guskey’s work on professional development (Guskey 200 p 85) and sits at the heart of John Hatties work on “know thy impact’ (Hattie 2012 p.169).

It is a question that encourage us to inquire into the effect of our actions on the learning of others.  Virginia Kung, Deputy Principal at Newmarket School, asked me something similar during my initial appraisal conversation around this year’s inquiry. She suggested I turn my teacher inquiry on its head and reflect on what it is I do that does make a difference.

I believe that one of the most influential elements to raising academic achievement over the past eight years at Newmarket School, is my and other teachers’ understanding of SOLO taxonomy and its focus on the student learning outcome. I have experienced this personally as I have used SOLO to drive my own learning to greater depth. When we as  teachers understand the importance of designing appropriately challenging (cognitively and physically) learning activities then that is when applied learning proficiency develops. SOLO has made me so much better at deeper or higher order thinking – linking my thinking with what I know, or knowing where to go to clarify what I need to know, or who to have a learning conversation with.  I recognise that unless I can make explicit links with my own pedagogy and my student’s learning then I am likely distracted from  the things that matter most.

I have used SOLO Taxonomy as the framework for what I do with all my various adult and student learners. My own reflective writing has deepened as a result. The overall outcome of my teacher inquiry is deeper in a number of significant ways.

Thinking about how I make a difference for the learning of English Language Learners

Thinking about learning and models of learning like SOLO taxonomy has deepened my understanding of the learning needs of my English Language Learners.

I am in the final stages of co-authoring a book with Pam Hook about my inquiry into effective pedagogies with English Language Learners. I join a group of incredible educators who have co-authored a book with her framing their pedagogy inquiry around SOLO Taxonomy. Pam has challenged several of my ideas around learning, so much so that a couple of times I have had to slink into a turtle shell and hide because I do not want to have further discussions. But that is what learning is all about.

Is this innovative?

I believe it is because I am being stretched to think about teaching and learning of L2 in new ways – to think at an extended abstract level. And my thinking has resulted in the design of learning experiences that have shown real gains in academic language acquisition for my ELLs students at Newmarket school.

Thinking about how I make a difference for the learning of teachers taking part in EdBookNZ

Thinking about learning and models of learning like SOLO Taxonomy has deepened my understanding of the learning needs of teachers in online collaborative environments  

As part of Connected Educator month I set up a learning environment for teachers. I wanted to see if  I could push boundaries on teacher’s learning. Could I make a difference to the ways teachers learn? This project has been ongoing as part of my personal inquiry that was selected as part of my Core Education efellowship.

I believe innovative learning is an iterative process.  It is not a series of over-hyped launches of the latest “new thing” – innovative learning is going back and finding out what changed, what worked, what didn’t  and then repeating the process until you find the real innovation – something that improves learning – something that endures.

Last year I had 10 educators agree to collaboratively co author a book around educator terms. The trial was so successful that this year I scaled the project to over 30 educators and coordinated them to work together in teams to co construct their understanding.

This year when I sent out digital feelers via Twitter I had the following fabulous educators respond.

prods

In this iteration I have 5x “prods” working in teams of 6x educators each. I am a prod for one team. Scaling a project is a real way to test the tightness of my thinking about effective online environments.

The teacher “prods” in the EdBookNZ project have had to learn, unlearn and re-learn knowledge and skills and they have to think independently and interdependently. I have not led something on this scale before and I am learning alongside all the members. I have had fabulous cognitively challenging learning conversations with the prods as they look to me for guidance and I frame our next steps for collaboration and challenging existing thinking using SOLO Taxonomy.

Is this innovative?

I believe it is – scaling up (rather than adopting the latest new thing) means the new idea or innovative thinking I have gained from this project is that developing deeper teacher learning comes from having clarity  about the purpose of the project.  The number of participants is not  necessarily a barrier if the learning design is clear.  Much like clarity of learning intentions helps in  a classroom so clarity over the purpose of an online collaboration is a prerequisite for deep learning outcomes. Using SOLO taxonomy to design the learning environment has helped ensure clarity – learning is visible. And this has made a difference to the depth of teacher learning as evidenced in the teacher’s dialogue and written texts.

Thinking about how I make a difference for my learning.

Thinking about learning and models of learning like SOLO Taxonomy has deepened my understanding of who I am as a teacher and a learner working with students and with teachers across New Zealand and around the world.  

I selected “Innovative Learning” because I wanted to see if I could define it. Do I even know what it is? Could I say what it is in a way that was deeper than shouting edu-slogans.

“Innovative” is commonly understood to involve novelty or creating something new that is worthy to the culture it is created in.  With respect to SOLO Taxonomy it would be learning at the extended abstract level.

As educators we love adding descriptors to highlight our in-vogue education terminology. I suspect we need to be wary of the need for descriptors – to ask why we need “innovative” inserted. So I would like to start by rephrasing the challenge and ask instead “what is learning?

The dictionary would have us think that learning is

Learning

John Hattie defines it with more flair.

“Learning is spontaneous, individualistic and often earned through effort.  It is a timeworn, slow and gradual, fits and starts kind of process, which can have a flow of its own, but requires passion, patience and attention to detail (from the teacher and the student).” John Hattie 2009 p2

My understanding at its most simple level is that learning is about building on.

When I work with learners I liken learning to building blocks and I use SOLO Taxonomy to identify the gaps between the blocks. Part of those learning blocks are study, experience, and being taught using a variety of strategies. Other components include self effort, other learners, the teacher, whānau and community.

I love my learning tools and digital environments so I have to claim a place for the tools and the type of learning environment in my definition.  

Then there is the stuff you cannot see that affects learning – learner attitude, background, language spoken at home.

So where does innovation fit into all this?

I believe the conditions for “innovative learning” are most likely to occur when the framework that surrounds the learning makes it visible to students and teachers. For if you cannot clearly see what the learning is – how will you ever know if it is innovative or not.

For me the framework for “innovative” learning is a model of learning called SOLO Taxonomy (Biggs and Collis 1982).

Simply put, SOLO Taxonomy is a model for learning that looks at the structural complexity of learning outcomes as learning progresses from surface to deep to conceptual levels – SOLO –  Structure of Observed Learning Outcome. Refer HookED.

I believe SOLO lies behind the pedagogy that effective teachers bring to learning that makes the greatest difference as has been highlighted by John Hattie, 2003. In particular the part about ‘how they will organise and structure learning in the context of their particular students and their circumstances.’

Did I make a difference for me?

For this section I focus on changes in my learning when I was designing opportunities to encourage teacher collaboration and prompt deeper learning outcomes in the #EdBookNZ project that is part of Connected Educator Month.

When I listened to Jane Gilbert’s Educating for an Unknown Future  podcast I found myself nodding in agreement at some of the ideas raised. I made links between the podcast and what I have witnessed with teachers in the #EdBookNZ learning community.

In designing the teacher learning community for #EdBookNZ I wondered – to paraphrase Hattie – how to ‘organise and structure learning in the context of the particular [teacher] participants and their circumstances.’ so that they would engage in cognitively challenging discussions.

My intent was to challenge the teachers to think deeply and in doing so increase the likelihood they would provide opportunities and challenge for  their students’ learning. Those of you who know me well often hear me say, “We should focus on the teachers and the learners will benefit.

I believe professional conversation should be about how we can do things better. That is what the #edBookNZ collaborative and co constructions project is all about.

Last year the #EdBookNZ project was quite individualised because educators got together and wrote a blog post each debunking current educational jargon. The feedback from the educators was that they had more fun learning when their disruptive friend probed their thinking than they experienced writing the actual product.

When I use SOLO to frame my learning I understood that my design task activity was multistructural because I simply encouraged a list of educators to write down their ideas. Don’t get me wrong – the educators themselves are thinking relationally and at extended abstract levels because they are reflecting on their learning and technically we are creating a product. However the activity itself is multistructural from a design perspective because I have created the conditions for simply bringing in ideas – a list of educators reflecting on their learning.

This year I wanted to move the learning design away from bringing in the individual writers and create one to enable linking of ideas – a more collective writing experience or force to create a single piece of work. I wanted to design a space to be more cognitively challenging.

I know that the space was cognitively challenging for teachers because I used SOLO levels as a framework for the set up and prompting the ongoing dialogue needed to stretch their thinking. I did this with prodding questions designed to drive teachers thinking using the SOLO Taxonomy  Question Generator . You can view these driving questions under each week’s activity in the Google+ community. And I needed reflective questions as prods to help keep that cognitive dialogue momentum going.

Team

The focus of this year’s collaborative project is a discussion around the Practicing Teacher’s Criteria (PTC) framed with Tataiako.  It is a work in progress. The real learning will surface when the teachers reflect about the process they went through. In all cases I made all dialogue visible so that observers could see the ‘messy thinking.’ However as a prod, I still had hidden dialogue available through the direct messaging of twitter.

I believe in lowering barriers to participation by simplifying access – to do this I amped up the teacher’s learning by asking my prod volunteers to create the artefact for all the discussion. For example I have chosen to use popplet with my team because I just love the way the Describe ++ SOLO maps created by HookED prompt for deeper and conceptual thinking.  I intend to use my understanding to guide ours.

Is this innovative?

Learning and pedagogy go together. So has designing and sustaining the various and varied collaborative #EdBookNZ learning spaces using SOLO Taxonomy had an impact on my pedagogy?  I believe it has.

What has come through strongly in my thinking about “innovative learning” is the need for co-construction using a common language or framework for learning conversations.  When I look at all the learning happening in schools using “Modern Learning Environments” or “Innovative Learning Pedagogy”, I look for evidence of co-construction. Are the children collaborating and co-constructing their learning or is the learning still individualised? Are our teachers working across schools or even more challenging across countries, time zones and cultures to co-construct learning? How visible is all this learning?

Conclusion

What am I still wondering about?

I am wondering:

  • if the #EdBookNZ space has been sufficiently cognitively challenging?
  • if I will see a shift in our teacher’s pedagogy at Newmarket School who are involved in the Flat Connections Global Project.
  • if you will find new learning in Pam’s and mine “awesome as” collaborative book.
  • if the environment I design has encouraged and enabled all voices to be heard?

The last question is the most interesting and ongoing.  This year several educators with Maori backgrounds and Pasifika backgrounds have joined the #EdBookNZ project. I encouraged a rural voice asking educators to look at sustainability from a rural New Zealand perspective and even managed to persuade a student to take time off exam revision to design a provocative cover. These are people whose voices are often not heard in the spaces we design for online dialogue.

Authours

We learn more through cognitively challenged dialogue. The most important part of learning is asking for feedback.  Those of you who are learning with me please see this piece as a request for ongoing dialogue.

References

Biggs, J.B., & Collis, K.F. (1982). Evaluating the quality of learning: The SOLO taxonomy.

New York: Academic Press.

Gilbert, J. (2015). On educating for an Unknown Future. Pddcasrt URL: https://www.pond.co.nz/detail/679500/007-jane-gilbert-on-educating-for-an-unknown-future

Guskey, T. R. (2000) Evaluating Professional Development. Corwin Press Inc.

Hattie, J.A.C. (2003). Teachers make a difference: What is the research evidence? Paper presented at the Australian Council for Educational Research Annual Conference on Building Teacher Quality, Melbourne. URL:

http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/Pedagogy-and-assessment/Building-effective-learning-environments/Teachers-Make-a-Difference-What-is-the-Research-Evidence

Hattie, J.A.C. (2011). Visible learning: A synthesis of over 800 meta-analyses relating to achievement. London and New York: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group.

Hattie, J.A.C. (2012). Visible learning for teachers. Maximising impact on learning. London: Routledge.

HookED Functioning Knowledge Rubric Generator URL:

http://pamhook.com/solo-apps/functioning-knowledge-rubric-generator/

HookED Question Generator iTunes App URL:  https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/question-generator/id989670360

PaCT Symposium

PaCT

Symposium

On Tuesday the 28th of September, I attended the PaCT Symposium held at Ellerslie Event Centre. With me was Virginia, Veni, Nola and Wendy.  I attended the day because I wanted to see how the tool was evolving and to see if it would deliver results as indicated. The agenda for the day was highlighted for us.

  • To help support the roll out of the PaCT to NZ schools.
  • To provide practical assistance to schools using the PaCT.
  • To support the first end of year OTJ using the PaCT.,

We heard several speakers including

Dr Gill Thomas from New Zealand Maths.

Her session was particularly interesting and she covered the following sections.

  • The literacy of New Zealanders
  • Teaching knowledge
  • Teaching practice

Some of the numbers she shared with us included alerting us to the statistical information that general population needed level 3 and above to operate in life.

At this stage approximately 20% of our population does not achieve this level.

Some of the messages reiterated for us as teachers is to make sure that students are on track with national standard data.

She shared with us how to use the framework to strengthen teachers knowledge about numeracy.

She also expressed her thoughts on us to think about the key ideas not the curriculum level.

The number project allowed educators to identify the steps that the learner progresses through

Not the next step. The general learning direction is linear but the learning is not necessarily next steps.

Gill  highlighted the importance of knowing what to look for when assessing students.

Just looking at a piece of work, without giving instructions of what to can affect the overall score given.

The framework provide a comprehensive view of what reading and writing and maths in the NZC. The PaCT illustrations provide examples of rich teaching and learning in everyday programmes. But the importance of reflecting on the learning is crucial for understanding.

The PaCT illustrations prompt teachers to notice what their students know and can do.

She asked us to consider the following questions

  • What opportunities do I  give students in my class to reflect on their learning?
  • Think about ranking the students, identify where they are at?

Identify the boundaries of where the chin are sit as a group.

Use the judgement tool to identify where the chin are at.

We must never forget where the children are aiming for. Teachers were continually amazed that they were not teaching enough of certain aspects of mathematics.

I followed up Gill’s session by attending The PaCT and standardised assessment tools.

We were asked to identify the differences between PaCT and other standardised tests.

  • Accuracy
  • Scaled scores gives a range
  • Over a range of information
  • Then teacher accepts and gives an otj
  • Descriptors scales gives a range.
  • It takes more and more to give the next levels.
  • Tests normally have norms.
  • easTTle has norms

Pact does not yet have norms. The framework looks at how the chin are progressing.

Over 10,000 judgements have been made so norms are developing.

pact2

We were also asked, Why would you use an assessment tool beside the Pact?

  • Allows me to drill down as a teacher.
  • What am I not doing as a teacher.
  • School identified large areas of maths that needed teaching.
  • Impact on the teaching and learning programme.

We were shown graphs that indicated a close correlation between easttle and PaCT when students use them. PaCT allows us to see different assessment results together.

What kind of information am I using this tool for?

Lynmore school from Rotorua shared their journey.

  • Students can cross two year levels.
  • Can go directly to the report.
  • The teacher can see the areas that need addressing.
  • Can I see what is missing in our teaching.
  • Teachers need to look at the tool first.
  • From the class report teachers can drill down to the individual reports.
  • Individual – drill.
  • Go back to the child’s evidence.
  • The PaCT tool has given the confidence to confirm the OTJ
  • Moderate all judgements against all data.
  • PaCT has a greater variety of exemplars.

Dialogue from the learner is the most important aspect of learning.

Can they tell you how and why.

Hekia Parata spoke about her support for us to use PaCT.

  • The system rationed success through school certificate.
  • Locally educated and globally connected.
  • Identify language and culture
  • We still have too much streaming in New Zealand
  • Every year counts for the learner.
  • There is a progression in the curriculum.
  • How do we ensure that they are getting a full year’s learning.
  • Our job is to ensure that the chin are getting a full year’s learning.
  • Ensure you are doing it in a consistent way.
  • The most potent resource is what is between the ears of the learner.

Community of learners.

PaCT helps you dig deeper into the curriculum.

Assessing for learning and capturing the progress.

The core business of schools is to know learning is happening and how to capture it.

Agreeing on common achievement challenges.

Embedding local content in the curriculum.

Daniel Kahneman: Thinking fast and slow

Each set provides different illustrations

What’s the big idea.

You can delete a judgement for 30 days and so judgement

Discussion around the framework.

There are always 2x surprises.

– conservative or the student is further along

 Overall I learnt a lot from the sessions. The biggest takeaway is

“In what format are we sharing reliable student data.” 

Wearable Technology

IMG_5403fitbit

Last year  as part of Flat Connection Certification, I learnt about wearable technology and how it impacted on social and global community and its impact on education at all levels.

My initial understanding at that time was that wearable technology was about augmented wearable headsets that are worn as part of gaming to enact a make believe scenario or those google glasses that were making a big noise on social media. I wonder what happened to those glasses. I haven’t heard about them for a while.

Some of the young teachers at my school came to me to see if I would be interested in joining them to purchase a Fitbit Heart Rate Monitor. Of course I said yes because I was interested in personal tracking and I wondered if there would be implications in teaching and learning by wearing a tracking device. I was particularly interested in tracking my own sleep patterns and in tracking my own activity.

My Fitbit arrived but I was sick and then procrastinated starting. The girls asked me daily, ” Where is your Fitbit?” On Thursday night I read the manual, charged the device and downloaded the Fitbit iPhone app

On Friday I activated my Fitbit. This involved syncing the device with the Fitbit app. On the app some of the extra tracking involved calorie intake, water intake and ‘GAH‘ weight.

So on the Fitbit app I set my first goal of 10,000 daily steps, 1500 mls of water and 8 hours of sleep.

Those of you who have known me for a long time will know that over the past decade, I have gained a few extra kilos and more. I have been concerned at the speed of gain and have been worried about diabetes as I am carrying weight around my middle. I had recently watched videos of myself in my thirties and can hardly believe the difference this past 15 years has been on my physical health.

Well the first day was marvelous. I walked to school and noticed all the native trees in flower. I love our native trees and stopped several times to watch the tuis.

At school I spoke with the girls and found out that over the past few days they were doing more jump jam with their children and this boosts their steps. As I said, I wondered what impact the Fitbit would have on teaching and learning, The children had to find all the teachers who wore one. Our children took ages to identify me. I am not sure if that was a good thing or not. But that is good too because throughout my first day the children would come to me and inquire where I was up to on my steps. See already I can see a maths activity happening here with graphing. That and motivation. I am competitive by nature and they kept telling me I had the most numbers. Let’s see if that lasts.

At morning tea discussion I said that the app had badges and who was up for a weekend warrior challenge. We set a date for that too. The app allows you to use social networking to find friends so that communities can be formed. At this stage I am not too keen on the bare all to the world idea but am happy to have a step competition.

After school I had a meeting at the university. The weather changed and it poured with rain and I caught a ride with one of the teachers heading home. On the way I thought, “Humph, well this is a great start.”  

When my community meeting finished it was still raining and by now it was dark. I thought I would grab an Uber taxi home. While waiting for the taxi my phone died. That was it. I just had to suck it up and walk home and in the rain. On the way the Fitbit alerted me that I had achieved my steps goal but I did not care.  It was late and I still had my geriatric kids to feed. I was grumpy, wet, hungry and tired. I got home and threw dinner together, hopped in the shower and got ready for bed.

After dinner with my parents  I sat down and played with the calorie intake part of the app. I ended up using the computer as there were several food not in the system such as our Molenburg bread. I guess I could keep up that part of the Fitbit up. But the thought of tracking everything I eat is daunting, particularly the crackers and cheese part. Overnight I wore the Fitbit and saw that I had two broken patches of sleep. I reflected on my first days progress the following morning. I identified that I really need to drink more water. I usually drink about a litre at night but really I do not drink enough during the day. Therefore I will wake to having a glass before I get out of bed and cut back the coffee at school.

Where to next, I feel committed to physical improvement and am particularly keen at tracking how much I walk. I like the device and think it is easy to use. I love how it syncs with the phone and I can track my progress there too. I used to have a steps tracker. But that was useless because I kept losing the device. Being a gadget girl I wondered if I should have bought the iWatch. I will continue to observe the effects on our teachers and observe the impact on class programmes.

Already I am visualising a wearable device that tracks learning. The Fitbit device has a silent vibrator that alerts you to achieved goals. Imagine if as a teacher you send an alert signal to students wearing one about being on task. I know that some teachers are doing something similar with class Dojo and sending messages home to parents. I can image children completing learning goals and a device alerting them. Some wearable devices have a GPS tracking system. Tracking our children in real time has implications for us as educators. For example for school trips.

I can identify the negatives because I do believe that sometimes we need to be device free.

My questions to educators out there:

  1. Have you had experience with wearable devices?
  2. What sorts of learning can you identify?
  3. What pros and cons can you see for wearing a trackable device?