Saturday, October 11, 2014

Second Post

The beauty of the journey towards more technology at St Joseph's has been that it is for the sake of child-centred learning.  Learning where the students are in control of their learning.

We started our first two classrooms, year 7 & 8 with BYOD in 2013.  Previously the children had been leaving their technology in the teacher's box all day whilst we struggled to find enough outlets so children could go online.  It made complete sense to allow them to use their devices for learning.  Of course we had to put systems and agreements in place but really it all worked very smoothly.

In mid 2014 Jenny Jackson, Siobhan Patterson and myself visited the Manaiakalani cluster of schools in Auckland.  It was inspiring to see what this group of decile 1 schools could do together.  All children had their own devices, purchased by their parents.  Engagement was obvious and Auckland University researchers have proven that achievement has increased.  The learning in these schools was truly visible, it was all online and accessible by anyone.

Our ICT strategic plan included one-to-one devices for our senior students from the beginning of 2015.  I knew that the most important thing, as always, is what will this do for learning and how can we prove it?  So I started the St Joseph's Future Focused Learning website https://sites.google.com/a/stjoseph.school.nz/st-joseph-s-oamaru-21-century-pedagogy/ sharing the idea of many-to-many pedagogy with our staff.  I also conducted some small action research projects with my year 7 students to investigate the benefits of digital learning (also available on the site).

Siobhan set us all up with Google accounts and Jenny initiated all meetings and developments to be done using Google docs.  Staff were encouraged to experiment with a Google Site.  Mine is: https://sites.google.com/a/stjoseph.school.nz/manuka-clas/ 

In our teacher only day of 2014 the staff reviewed all the systems we use for thinking and guiding learning in St Joseph's and put them together on a SOLO map.

In term 1 of 2014 Jenny went on her principal's sabbatical and, even while she was still away, she shared some of her learning about project-based learning through the Matthew Moss High School that she visited in England, http://www.mmhs.co.uk/  This stimulated more inquiry into project-based learning which has been very motivating for our students and reminded me to explicitly return to key competency teaching.  The exciting part of this is we now have a student-driven curriculum in many areas.  The senior syndicate team are tracking our students' learning and making sure they cover all learning ideas and we are making sure we provide them with stimulating experiences which will encourage their learning.  But its really exciting that they are taking control of the direction, and its working.   They report that they feel more engaged and are learning more because its what they want to learn.

We have had two parent huis where we have shared our approach to learning and how we want this to develop in 2015.  The parents were brilliant and some have been really helpful with coming forward and sharing their perspective.

The big challenge this term, term 4, 2014 is for the senior syndicate to work towards having the main focus of our learning online and how to use one-to-one device technology to metamorphosise teaching and learning.  We will need to develop consistency with our planning and systems with the junior syndicate.  We are also hoping to involve the parents with using SOLO for learning in a learning process themselves while they develop some guidelines for digital citizenship at home and school.