Should we continue to persist with Year 9 and 10 students moving from class to class every hour, largely with the same students, to learn each subject totally in isolation from the other. Where will they ever do that in their lives (unless they go teaching!). We are asking them to learn in a very abstract way. I am not sure how many 13-15 year olds can operate effectively in an abstract world!

Maybe we can think about ways of wrapping around the key learning objectives of each subject into projects and assignments that students can connect with.

Comments from Mit
I have always believed in this idea or type of programme. The projects or self management learning is similar to the SPEC programme where students develop their own planning, relate to others, participate and contribute through their own knowledge and choice of study. All of the guidelines/learning outcomes used in SPEC meet the Key Competencies under the new Curriculum. Is it not possible for some classes to have 'homeroom' base learning especially the lower groups.

Response from Maurie
I am tending towards a home base for all junior classes or learning teams. Lots of issues to sort through though. The Spec idea, New Basics from Queensland, Future Problem Solving, Project Based Learning all are similar.

Faithe's Thoughts
In response to your initial question Maurie I would have to agree with you about the obvious mismatch of the way we learn at school as opposed to the reality of real world learning and living. This is different for everyone and is affected by the stories that have helped shape our lives. However, there are basic life / learning concepts that are relevant to all of us as well as sets of skills that we all need to function successfully within a community. One of the things that I have observed with our generation Y'ers is their incessant need to be 'connected' 24/7 to not only their friends but all of "living". I prefer to call them the generation I''ers as they want to do and expreience everything instantly, a bit like text messaging. I believe that if we were to explore this notion of connectedness we would gain much insight into how we might change the way we currently operate in many areas. Pehea o whakaaro?

Thanks Faith. The stuff about connectedness is true and I feel we need to include such practices within the learning experience. Hope you check out the other wiki on Web 2.0 tools. Neat article in latest North and South about Gen Y.

LAU's Comment:
Really support the home-room idea, there are just so many positives to this that it cant be overlooked. This is probably the most obvious...observation (i know that's grammatically wrong) that I made on the Primary Visits that led to success. Many students, especially the juniors would benefit from this structural security; moving from class to class every 50-60mins is simply dissruptive.

Faithe Again
Kia ora mo tera Morehu. I investigated Wiki's and Gen Y'ers etc quite a bit as part of my 2006 E Fellowship research project and like you believe that they can have a big part to play in personalising student's learning through the use of Electronic Portfolios (EP's) as tools for enabling students to manage their own current 'just in time' learning experiences as well as their past. Each of the adult learners in our ACE Study Support group this year has an individualised learning plan and a recently established EP on our intranet and I hope to have them actively participating in our CAO blogsite and Wiki. I look forward to the day that more staff are able to take on board these wonderful tools for learning.

Latest Plans After Aussie Trip

After a quick coffee we returned to the Hotel and spent the next couple of hours moulding our
excitement into a workable plan which follows:

Read material supplied by Education Queensland before landing in NZ.
Download and familiarise ourselves with all Rich Tasks and Blueprints by end of holidays.
Meet in first week of Term IV to prepare ALG presentation.
Present the following to ALG by end of week 3:

One year 9 class (minimum) be staffed by converts who would teach one Rich Task/Blueprint to that class in 2009 and report to ALG.
Combine two Year 9 classes as desribed above with four teachers and deliver a full Rich Task/Blueprint curriculum in 2010 and report to ALG.
All Year 9 and the Year 10 pilot have curriculum as above in 2011.
All Year 9 and 10 have above curriculum from 2012.

What follows is a summary of factors to take into account when reforming curriculum and has contributed to our plans above..

Curriculum Drivers
(Summary of address by Dr Michelle Bruniges)

Social and economic trends driving curriculum reform

Globalisation is a feature of the world we live in. Advances in information and communication technologies, and in transport systems have brought about rapid change and diverse challenges. The changing nature of production and the workforce will, and already is, influencing demand for different skills. Curriculum must respond to these changes. It is imperative that curriculum remains relevant, responsible, adaptive and responsive to the international arena – while at the same time not losing sight of the immediate local context.

The nature of knowledge and the knowledge economy
The rapid growth in knowledge – improved access to knowledge and use of existing knowledge to generate new knowledge – has resulted in changes to the way people work and to our understanding of the nature and value of knowledge. These changes must be reflected in planning the delivery of curriculum in schools.

As it is impossible for students to learn everything, it is necessary that students learn a core of knowledge that will provide the common understandings and language needed to be able to work with others in a variety of contexts, and develop the research and thinking skills to find and use information when it is required.

Three areas of emphasis must be made explicit in curriculum:

  • provide students with the core knowledge – what is essential to ‘know’;
  • enable the students to develop the intellectual tools, the learning strategies, and the critical faculties required for deep and lifelong learning;
  • ensure that students understand how to apply and critique knowledge and skills.

Advances in technology
Advances in technology have led to significant change in curriculum; not only in what is taught, but also in how it is assessed. There is a rapid progression from teaching students how to use computers, to using them as powerful tools in everyday teaching and learning. This has implications for not only the way in which students learn, but also for the method of instruction.

Curriculum needs to provide a path for students to develop values and a way of life that is consistent with sharing the rights and responsibilities of citizenship with others of different backgrounds.

Developments in teaching and learning
High quality teachers who have the knowledge, skills, experience and professional value to be able to respond effectively to differences in the cohort make a significant and lasting contribution to young people’s lives by enhancing their knowledge and their capacities.

Effective teachers
Excellence in teaching is the single most powerful influence on teaching. Effective teaching is needed to link pedagogy to the needs and prior understanding of the learner, the knowledge and skills to be learnt, the values to be acquired, and make valid and reliable assessment decisions about learning.

Equity in curriculum
Across the world, in education terms, the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The PISA results show that the biggest issue in New Zealand’s education system is the lack of equity evidenced by the long tail of under-achievement that exists. A valid response is not to have differential outcomes for students, but rather to ensure that the conditions necessary for student success exist in all schools and for all students.

The use of data to inform teaching and learning
Curriculum, pedagogy and assessment must be aligned. Valid assessment for the 21st Century will tell the teacher what and how much each student is learning and what needs to occur for that student to continue learning and meet the outcomes of the programmes that make up the curriculum. To be valid, an assessment has to adequately and accurately reflect the relevant learning objectives. This requires a pedagogical shift for most teachers.

Debbie signing in
too much to talk about in this wiki!!

Lots of exciting stuff,

we need to get smarter about NCEA assessments. Students programmes need to be better planned and morepurposeful, they need to be responisble for choices about assessments, so thatthey front up because they see the need. we waste a lot ofour students time and they know it better than we do. we need to be far more cross curricular inour courses.

what about some courses being single semester courses- e.g 11 Maths 3 and 11 hpe have similar client base , we have two classes of each, what about compactingtheir courses and running one inthe firsthalf and the other inthe second half, teachers would run 11 HPE twice, but the students would swap from Maths with their 12 or 15 credits, to 11 HPE for the second half or vice versa, kids get more out of their year, wouldn't work so well for academic students.
I have a big concern about doing only five subjects, we would need to manage the opportunity for students looking for Merit and Excellence Awards for NCEA to get enough chances to get their 50 credits at that level, often our more academic students are having trouble getting down to only six subjects, recently we have had students doing seven yr 12 subjects, not for credits but because they want the knowledge and experience to go on with. Perhaps we could offer an academic core subject which covers a few research type achievement standards, IT standards, Te Reo, Health......, differentiated programme!!!

Can I add in here that i think all our students should be Bilingual, they should all graduate with at least NCEA level 1 qualifications in Te Reo.
Can't wait. when is the presentation? when can other mere mortals have some more input.

Maurie responds: Yeehah! Brilliant ideas. Mere mortals should keep res[\ponding as they are now. I will present to ALG early in term for feedback. We still have to visit Alfriston and Unlimited. Whole staff later in term.

LAU - Just a point of clarfication; Debbie, I think you mean 11SPS, as 11HPE is largely an academic group of students. I agree, we do need to get smarter re: NCEA especially concerning compartmentalised assessment criteria and tasks - this is what chews away the time and takes lots of admin! Students should take courses to gain the knowledge offered by them; not to collect credits attained within them.

Hi all Pete here

I had an interesting day recently as a "reliever". I first sat and listened to the frustrations and concerns of some staff regarding the school canteen operation. I then took a year 11 IT class who were producing menu spreadsheets and costings etc... for a school canteen (somewhere). You don't have to be a specialist in the obvious to work out that this is only one of many opportunities that exist within the school that could have relevant actual learning outcomes should these ever meet. Menu design, brochure creation, dietry requirements, management, accounting etc.... all taught at school!!
The idea of "learning communities" is something that excites me. What this means to me is that I am excited about and want to learn about "item A" because I am interested in "item A". I naturally find myself hanging around with "item A" type people, reading/researching "item A" and doing "item A" as much as possible. One day I realize that along with "item A" came all of this other knowledge/learning such as: "item A" weighs this much, is found here, costs this much, should only be used this way etc....
In essence I think that if a person is excited or interested in any particular subject they will acquire the knowledge themselves and learn even if you try to stop them! "Don't expect kids to learn the way you teach, teach the kids the way they learn"
I believe that there are many examples of learning communities and awesome opportunities where an intergrated approach could be benefitial within our school and that we should not be restricted by year level when considering this change. I am not yet a trained teacher but this one really interests me.
regards a mere mortal has spoken.

This link lists the skills employers are looking for. We should keep these in mind when preparing our programmes.

"Employers need people who are able to read, write, count, do sums and speak effectively. They need to be able to get along with and respect others. They should be able to think, take initiative and solve problems. They need to have a work ethic and a sense of responsibility. And they need to be able and willing to keep learning."
Phil O’Reilly, CEO, Business NZ

Kazel here: That quote is from 2007. Here is an article by Phil O'Reilly in the NZ herald in Jan this year, discussing the importance of including discussion on Environmental Sustainability in any economic forcasts. It seems all very reasonable enough, until you realise that since then we have seen almost total global financial market collapse and the news that there may well be less than two years to prevent runaway climate change. If you have a look at this linkfrom just before the election, you might agree with me that the wishes of the business world are not necessarily the best skills we can give our students to prepare them for the future. (eg. 61% of them want to privitise ACC, 89% do not want laws for work-life balance).

Alfriston Report - KUI

On 25 November 2008 I visited Alfriston School in Manurewa with Maurie and Lea to investigate curriculum design/delivery and building/environment.

It was a very worthwhile day, the highlight for me being the chance to spend 14 uninterrupted hours with two great SLT members and explore ideas/pick each other’s brains/talk/learn together.

Below is a list of ideas that inspired me that I believe we should keep exploring for Opotiki College.

What: Student Diary
How it Works: Student Diary issued on a term by term basis. Has a variety of uses but is monitored by tutor teacher and involves regular reflection structured around Independent Learning Goals. Also acts as a “Passport” for students out of class.
Potential Benefits: Supports independent learning objectives. Helps support objective of students being in class unless they have permission.
Possible Drawbacks: Kids wont carry diary
Next Steps: SLT discuss issue, introduce idea to staff.

What: 100 Minute Periods
How it Works: 3x100 minute periods each day
Potential Benefits/Drawbacks: Lea to discuss/summarise
Next Step: SLT

What: 3 Day Learning Episode
How it Works: Whole school timetable suspended for 3 day learning episodes. One per term.
Benefits: Students learn in multi-level situations. Staff work cross curricular. Everyone follows passions and has fun. WE could remodel our existing Outdoor Ed programme into this model.
Drawbacks: Resources, teachers would argue that NCEA classes are more important
Next Steps: SLT discuss, KUI keen to work with this idea with staff

What: Library Textbook Issue
How it Works: Textbooks store in library and issues through library system
Potential Benefits: Huge reduction in book loss as textbooks are tracked through student library records
Possible Drawbacks: Extra work for librarians
Next Steps: KUI to talk to Leigh A about this and see if its possible under current library setup.

What: Independent Learning Licence
How it Works: Senior students involved in independent learning projects go through a series of steps to gain a licence to be in other places/managing their own learning
Potential Benefits: Supports independent learning goals and gives clear pathway for students who can self-manage and offers support for those that cant
Possible Drawbacks: We’re not ready yet
Next Steps: Keep working on Independent Learning for juniors but store this idea away.

What: Real Tasks
How it Works: Students working with local voluntary agencies eg MEALS ON WHEELS to assist/improve/redesign aspects of their service
Potential Benefits: Real task, authentic audience, community relations
Possible Drawbacks: Can’t think of any except that it might not be easy to find the right opportunities
Next Steps: Trial this idea through Rich Task Pilot

What: Learn to Learn
How it Works: 21st century take on study class
Potential Benefits: All Year 9s take learn to learn modules, exploring learning styles/metacognition/thinking tools etc
Possible Drawbacks: Timetabling? Staffing?
Next Steps: SLT

What:Independent Learning Centres
How it Works: Detailed information given out to ABR/VEL/KUI. Essentially a flexible, trained-staff space where students can pursue independent learning.
Benefits: Heaps. An logical follow-on development to trial work we are doing with independent learning in the junior school.
Drawbacks: We aren’t ready for it yet. Staffing.
Next Steps: SLT

Building Design Highlights:
Shared spaces, open classrooms (lots of glass), flexible spaces, movable walls, 6 computers in each class, school built around “whanau” blocks, safe design (no dark corners where bullies lurk), school core values displayed in every room, movable furniture.
Design Problems: Temperature – too hot/ no aircon. (Can students learn when they are too hot/too cold????)

Conclusion: The thing that stood out for me most in my visit to Alfriston was that the great “independent learning” outcomes that were happening in the senior school, started in year 9. The patterns and behaviours around independent learning were built up slowly over a students time in college so that by Year 13 they had those skills/values/behaviours embedded in them through a wide variety of experiences/practices and could in most cases manage their own learning in significant ways.

Great day.