Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Junior Engineers Collaboration project

I really enjoyed working with two Infotech Engineers with a team of teachers and students to development of water collection and distribution system. This project included everything we believe in: E-Learning, Collaboration, Higher Order Thinking, Team, Authentic Learning, Reflecting, developing a solution to an authenitic challange and reaching out to our school communities.

We developed this Prezi which summerises this project.


Enjoy the presentation. Prezi is my current favourite presentation tool and our students love it!

Friday, August 12, 2011

Parent Portal is launched at Freemans Bay School

This week we launched our Caregiver Area on our online learning environment - Knowledge Net. This is a screen shot of the home page of our parent portal.

Parents can:

-View their childs learning goals and learning journals.
- View their child's attendance records.
- View their child's school records,
- See their child's profile, class and groups that the child belongs to

- Visit websites to support thier child on their learning journey

Parents can put in their on reflections on forums about school activities as well as comments on their childrens learning pages about how they see their child in doing with their learning goals.

This is very interactive and supports parents to support their children in their learning. It helps to strengthen the learning partnership between parent, child and school.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Student Led Conferences at Freemans Bay School

Student Led Conferences Freemans Bay School 2011 on PhotoPeach

2011 Student Led Conferences

Student led conferences provide an opportunity for students to talk about their learning goals and have parents find out what these are and consider ways to support their students learning at home. Students are able to open up their goals on a classroom computer to access our on-line learning environment “Knowledge Net” and talk to parents about their goals and next learning steps. Parents interact with their students in the classroom and take part in some learning activites both online and in the classroom.

The focus of our student led conferences includes:
■Literacy goals
■Numeracy goals
■Habits of Mind (work habits)

What does a student led conference look like?

■A conversation between the students and their parent about learning
■Other families are present in the room at the same time
■The teacher is present but the student is doing the talking about their learning

Student learning artifacts:

Portfolios provide documentation of your child’s learning. Exercise books, digital files, drawings and classroom displays also represent student learning. The information in each student’s portfolio, along with other classroom working documents, clearly informs parents about their child’s expectations, actual progress and achievement. Portfolios also provide a curriculum expectation checkpoint. This enables parents to see information that details:

■The student’s actual level of attainment in key curriculum areas (literacy, numeracy and habits of mind)
■The student’s current achievement level compared to the age expected level

Parents are always welcome to make a time to have an individual appointment with the class teacher to talk about their students learning.

Students and parents find this process very engaging and compelling!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Knowledge Net Parent Portal to be launched at Freemans Bay School

We are looking forward to launching our parent portal next week at our student led conferences.

The Prezi presentation by Sarah Ingram of Knowledge Net gives you an idea of how parent portal assists parents to support their students learning.

We are looking forward to having feedback from our parents on how they find our parent portal and how it helps to support student learning.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

South Korea digitizing educational material

South Korea has announced that by 2014, their educational materials will
be digitized, and by 2015, the entire school-age curriculum will
be delivered on an array of computers, smart phones and tablets.

It is estimated to cost South Korea's education ministry $2.4
billion buying the requisite tablets and digitizing material for them.


While we can envy this level of resourcing being spent on e-learning we would not want to go down this path as it is systematic of a 20th century learning model. Chalk (even if it is digital chalk) and talk. Rote learning and worksheet mentality.

At Freemans Bay School we are using Knowledge Net as our integrated Learning Management e-learning environment. Our use of Knowledge Net allows our students to reflect on their learning and thinking and have their peers/parents/caregivers and educators provide feedback on their progress towards their goals.

We believe our students should have opportunities to collaborate with others, self manage their learning through their use of habits of mind and reflect on that learning and thinking.

Some further resourcing from our Government to support 21st century learning would be appreciated as we would like to be able to have 1-1 netbooks and fibre instead of asdl to support our access to the WWW. However I expect this will be a reality in the next few years.

Meanwhile I do not believe that we will go down the path of South Korea but we will continue developing a pedogogy for the world of our students live in- this way they will be engaged and motivated to learn.

National Standards and Resourcing What Matters

One of the things that annoys me about National Standards is that I think it is a waste of valuable resourcing that could be spent on really making a difference to education in New Zealand where it matters.

The National Government sold the idea of National Standards to voters on the basis that our education system is in crisis and needs fixing.

However this was manipulative electioneering and as move into the next election continues to be so.

We have a very good education system in New Zealand - this is well proven by our results in OECD research. We are listed in the top countries for literacy and mathematics. However we do have a tail of underachievement. This tail comprises mostly of Maori and Pasifika students.

The National Standard policy is supposed to address this tail of underachievement. But it will not. How can continually testing students make them improve?

I believe that the money that is being put into National Standards would be better spent on a national strategy to address the underachievement tail.

Reversing the staffing cuts to early childhood centres would be a good place to start on this issue.

Imagine if all of the funding that is going into MOE officials hasseling principals and schools about school charters, the employees salaries that are tied up in the promotion of National Standards, training, media and the like went into a national strategy on addressing the real issues of underachievement.

Now that would make a difference.

Meanwhile the next meeting in Auckland for Boards of Trustees Against National Standards is to be held at Freemans Bay School on July 12. These Boards of Trustees and Principals are demonstrating courage around what they believe in: That we have a high quality public education system in New Zealand and that the resourcing that is being spent on National Standards would be best spent elsewhere to address the underachievement issue in our system.

Booking School Interviews Online

Student led conferences provide an opportunity for students to discuss their progress on their learning goals, where they are at with their learning and their next learning steps.

For our student led conferences this year parents are able to book their times online through http://www.schoolinterviews.co.nz/

Up to 5 families are in the classroom at the same time.

If parenta need more time with a particular teacher they can arrange a separate meeting.

We think that this system will be convenient for parents and teachers and save a lot of school administration time setting up interviews by a snail trail!

We are looking forward to this celebration of learning at Freemans Bay School and are hoping that our parents will take the opportunity to book online.

Student Led Conferences 2011

In week two of this term we are holding our student led conferences.

This Prezi presentation encapulates the key ideas of why we believe student led conferences are important in helping students achieve their learning goals.

Student led conferences are about the student leading the discussion on their learning as we believe that by the students articulating their learning to people who are important in their lives, will sharpen their thinking around their learning goals and next learning steps.

Students will be presenting their progress on goals and next learning steps to their parents on the online learning environment - "Knowledge Net". Some students will also be presenting learning journals which we are trialling on Knowledge Net as well.

Parents are able to access their child's work on Knowledge Net and make comments about their child's progress towards achieving their goals.

Learning journals are collaborative , in that the child can comment on their work as well as teachers, chosen peers and parents. We will be doing more whole school development on this in 2012 when the next iteration of Knowledge Net is ready.

We are also launching our "Parent Portal" which will enable parents to access information about their childs learning, such as, attendance, assessment information, school reports and current goals that students are working towards.

We are surveying parents opinions on our student led conferences. The survey will be conducted online with the survey monkey online tool.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

New Building

At last we have opened our new building!


The design of this two story classroom block is dedicated for flexible learning. The classrooms do not have sink benches in them or teacher desks. All the classroom spaces are dedicated learning spaces. The "Art Space" and "Teacher Admin" are seperate areas in the shared atrium - leaving the classrooms for teaching and learning.

The classrooms are wired for e-learning - with wireless throughout the building. Each classroom has a soundfield sound system, a Two Touch interactive board, and a cupboard to lock the netbooks with power for charging. An amplifier is also in this lockable cupboard which enables sound to go from laptops or other devices - to the speakers recessed in the ceilings. There is also hdmi ports for video and mixed media presentations.

There is a large shared atrium space for the students and teachers to utilise for a variety of activities such as assemblies, dance, drama, music or breakout groups. This will also have a drop down screen and data projector and a dedicated sound system set up as well as the hdmi port.

The building design gives teachers and students a lot of flexibility in the way it can be used for teaching and learning. For example teachers can team teach to larger groups of students and then use the classroom spaces for breakout activities.

There is a lot of glass doors and windows and you can see into five classrooms at once when you walk into the Atrium space.

Each floor has a teacher work area where there is a dedicated area for teachers workstation with shelving and cupboards. These areas also have a set of Lundia shelves for resources. Each floor also has a withdrawal area for teams to utilise for small group or individual work.

We have only been in the building for two weeks but it has lots of possiblities for flexible ways of teaching and learning.

This building was funded by the Ministry of Education. We were able build a new building because we had an old , 1970s open space teaching block that was subsiding. The school site is an old landfill site and this building did not have the foundations to mitigate subsidence. This block was demolished over Easter and we now need to demolish the concrete pad it was built on and turn this area into a courtyard.

This building work will totally change what our school looks like and provide a modern first class teaching environment for our students and teachers!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Ultra fast Broadband

Well we have had some pricing done and it seems that we can get significant support to get the fibre to the comms room - the cost is $14K and we pay $4K. But the monthly cost is $900 compared to $150 a month for broadband. I dont know if the $750 extra per month would be worth the extra speed. The Ministry of Education is very keen for us to do this but there is no support for the extra monthly cost. Its a lot dearer. We need more competion for communication in NZ!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

School Vision and Strategic Plan

Last year our Board developed a new strategic plan to define out work programme for the next three years.


There are 10 goals that represent what we would like to achieve for Freemans Bay School.

Our Board of Trustees reviews progress on our strategic work plan every second Board of Trustees meeting. This keeps our strategic focus alive and is a meaningful, exciting way of working.

Student weekly reflections

On our online learning environment - "Knowledge Net" students post weekly reflections.
They do this as part of their reading, writing or mathematics tumbles. This is another way students can articulate their thinking about their learning and how they can impove.

The way it works currently is that the teacher posts questions for the student to respond to. The student cut and pastes the questions and writes their response.

Here is an example from a Yr 5 class:

The teacher had uploaded a video on friendship and posted questions to get the students thinking and reflecting.

This week in our learning pathways we are learning about friendship.
What is a friend?

A friend is someone who will compliment you, cheer you up when you are sad, let you win sometimes, remember your birthday, is fun to be with, and will make you smile.

2. Think about which Habit Of Mind have been used. list at least 3.

Wow, because the orange character said "Your groovy" and was blue character was amazed.

Make it right, because the blue character was sad and so the orange one made it right by cheering him up.

Persistence, because when they were on the bike the blue thing had to carry extra weight and persist to get the job done.

Here is an example from a Y3 student.

Teachers question:

Can you explain what you have learned in maths by explaining what partitioning is?

Partitioning is splitting numbers to figure it out more easier than making it harder, like if I had 2645 to make it easier it would be 2000 600 40 5=2645.

Thank you Marys class for reading my reflections!!!!!!!!!!!! and have a out-standing day!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Weekly reflections by students is now embedded in our practice at Freemans Bay School. I think the improved infrastructure of wireless and more netbooks has supported this to happen.

Goal setting conferences

This term we did our goal setting conferences a little differently. Each student now has a home page that has a section for learning goals. Prior to the conference the students set up learning goals in four areas: Reading, writing, mathmatics and habits of mind.

Most students were able to utilise the class interactive white board and present the goals to their parents. Parents were given log-ins to access the information from home.

As part of the work over the term, students will update their reflections on their goals. We are aiming for the updates to be scheduled twice a term.

We are hope to strengthen parent access through this and e-portfolios through our parent portal - this is work under development but should be fully available by the end of this term.