Sunday, 24 September 2017

The development of our Professional Learning Programme

In 2016, we sat down and re frame how we deliver professional development to teachers in the Christchurch Diocese. Instead of the typical stand and deliver methodology that operates at the remember/ understand level, we wanted to move into the analyse/ create level of Bloom's Taxonomy. It is important that we deliver programmes that meet the needs of our busy teachers and allow them time to chew over content and how this can shift their teaching practice.  As Sergiovanni (1992) suggests, the idea collaborative workplace would allow teachers to work, debate and problem solve together and share successes as well as challenges. This is what we wanted for our teachers and we investigated what platforms could deliver this.

We decided on Moodle which focuses on providing an online environment of their own, a voice and an agency. Here are the three ways you can use Moodle four your teaching practice outlined by Stephen Lowe (2017):

Teacher-centric ways you can use Moodle: Create content for the students to read; publish a list of useful links to get more reading; post a video of yourself talking in an authoritative way about your subject; create a quiz so the students can self-assess their progress; post homework exercises for students to do over the weekend. This is using Moodle in a teacher- centric manner.
Learner-centric ways you can use Moodle: Set up a forum where students can ask questions, let the other students answer first, let them up vote good answers,  only intervene if you need to; set up an empty glossary and invite the students to explain concepts in their own words, solicit feedback through the comments; encourage the uploading of short video clips made by students as they reflect on their learning journey; spend some time showing the students how a wiki works and familiarising them with markup language, then encourage them to create their own revision resource; invite them to co-construct a revision quiz. That’s using Moodle to disrupt.
Here are some truly radical ways to use Moodle: Flip the online space – make all the students teachers and all the teachers students, switch roles, take teach-back to a whole new level; encourage your students to open free accounts on H5P and embed their interactives into the Moodle space; suggest each small study group creates a whole Moodle course around their project for the other students to access, don’t tell them how to do it just watch and learn from what they do. Now as a modern teacher all you have to do is follow Sugata Mitra’s Self Organised Learning Environments and make like a granny. Login to the Moodle and use the comments and forums they will have set up to appraise and support.
We wanted our online space to be learner centred so that teachers could share their ideas and collective wisdom. Three ideas underpinned this process for our platform:

  • Read/ Watch an aspect of content
  • Do something with it via a forum or activity
  • Share your ideas and receive feedback on them from others on the programme.

For the 2017 year, we have had over 200 teachers from our 35 schools completed a professional learning paper. We have had the privilege of going into schools and see the wonderful ways in which teachers apply their learning to their classroom practice. We are always rethinking the design and development of our papers and are implementing some of the strategies mentioned by Lowe (2017).

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Sexuality Education Community of Practice

We had a wonderful turnout of twenty five educators from twelve different schools, arriving at St Anne’s Primary School to develop and share their collective knowledge of Sexuality Education Programmes. We had four fantastic speakers including Ellen Walsh (Roncalli College), Monica Moore (NCRS Resource Developer) and Josh Halkett (St Anne’s Primary School).

The purpose of a TeachMeet is to gather  together as Christian educators and pool our resources and knowledge together as teachers. Granovetter (1973) and Fullan (2011) note that strong institutions have many voices and provide opportunities for educators to network together for explicit purposes. Coming together in a Community of Practice through an informal learning system helps to support and provide a space for teachers to network and enhance their practice. We enjoyed the development of our new discussion time feature, which enabled participants to discuss content presented and ask questions for a deeper understanding.

Here are the topics that were discussed with a short synopsis and links to their presentations:

Monica Moore

Monica has been seconded for two terms to develop Sexuality Education resources for NCRS. In our interview below listen to the vision Monica has for this resources and the content you will find within it.
Please click on the image to open the video
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Ellen Walsh

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Ellen presented her Year 9 & 10 Sexuality and Health Curriculum and the range of topics they present. This is within the timetabled Religious Education time slot  and rotates every term, enabling the teacher to meet and interact with every student in the year level. Ellen began creating this programme by first visiting other Catholic Secondary Schools in the Christchurch Diocese and investigating how they were currently implementing the Sexuality Education Programme. From here she attended and completed the Understanding Sexuality Education Programme provided by the Diocese. This informed the creation of here programme which focuses on the Achievement Objectives of the New Zealand Curriculum, the  teachings of the Catholic Church and the needs of the students she has in front of her.
We were also provided with a explanation of the Well Being Programme that operates at Roncalli College to ensure that they are supported in any challenges that they face. Ellen has recently led a Well Being competition where students  shared an image from Instagram where a students is completing physical activity, with large student body participation.
Ellen is looking to connect with schools who are looking to develop their Sexuality Programmes in Term Four. Please email

Ellen Walsh Health and Well Being presentation 

Josh Halkett

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Josh discussed the development of Sexuality Education programme that focuses on the mental, spirirtual and physical well being of his students. A feature of this is developing positive images of ourselves and how we present this to others. An interesting question he covered was around social media and “What would Jesus post?” Josh explored the different images we see in social media and the messages that we receive through this medium. Linked to this analysis of social media is a focus on the spiritual development of our young people through prayer. Josh has recently completed the RE 502 Spirituality paper and links his Sexuality Education programme to prayer forms that can embed his positive message of self.
To find out more about Josh’s presentation please click on the links below:

 What would Jesus post?

We are wonderfully made Unit 2017

 Growing with Jesus prayer celebration 2017

Jeremy Cumming

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Jeremy presented the issue of Pornography and how we can discuss this in a Secondary School context. The rise of social media and personal devices has seen the access to pornographic content to our young people easier than ever. Pornographic content is regularly used in marketing and music to capture the attention of our young people. This shifts focus away from relationships being about sacrificial love and towards sex as a commodity. We can discuss the four virtues of Prudence, Justice, Temperance and Fortitude with our young people and how we need to think about the dignity of the individual and the value of our relationships.

Pornography and the Church Presentation 

We have also created a Understanding Sexuality booklet for you to look at how you can teaching this programme using the Religious Education Programme and links to the New Zealand Curriculum. This is a fantastic starting point when developing your programme in conjunction with the Understanding Sexuality Professional Development we will be holding in Christchurch for 2018.

The NZC and teaching Sexuality Education in a Catholic School

Thank you to our wonderful hosts particularly, Marian Jones and Judi Parker from St Anne’s School. They provided some amazing food and a wonderful environment to connect in. Finally, thank you to Ellen and Josh. They are two amazing educators who have a wealth of knowledge and skill. We thank them for sharing this with our Catholic community of practice.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Experts in our Catholic High Schools

We would like to congratulate the following Catholic Educators who have been named as Microsoft Innovative Educator (MIE) Experts for 2017/2018:

Andrea Craig (Villa Maria College)
Paul Donnelly (St Thomas of Canterbury College)
Tim Muir (St Thomas of Canterbury College)

This programme is recognition for the amazing work that they are currently doing with technology innovation in their classrooms.  These three educators spark creativity among their students with thoughtful integration of Microsoft technologies to improve student learning. 

Here is the full list of 2017/2018 MIE Experts  along with Microsoft Educator Community where you can develop your knowledge and application of Office 365 tools into your classroom. 

To find out more about this programme and the impact it has on professional learning please watch the video below:

Sunday, 3 September 2017

A student reflection - The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard

I recently came across this reflection from a student who is studying Religious Studies in Year 10 and thought it was worth sharing. You can follow here blog here.

So in RE this term, we’ve been looking at parables. Well, some would be better classified as fables, but that has not stopped our teacher. I also recently read The God Who Is There by Francis Schaeffer, which was really interesting. It was written last century, but dealt really well with several issues that are still relevant today- a bit like C S Lewis. And so a few days ago, I was bored and decided to write a bit of an essay on a parable and cover the stuff we don’t always cover in RE. (You may like to know that I hand-wrote it on a pad of refill. And they say that handwriting is dying…) Here it is:
The parable of the workers in the vineyard is an interesting one to examine. In it, the owner of the vineyard pays his workers the same wage, regardless of whether they had worked the full day or merely a couple of hours. It seems to go against our innate sense of what is fair and what is not. Why should “slackers” who have worked but a few hours receive a full day’s wages – the same as those hard-working folk who had been busy since daybreak? It seems, for want of a better word, wrong. And when the logical meaning of the parable is examined, it would be easy to be distressed – what on earth do you mean, that recidivists repenting on their death get to go to heaven with mewho never would’ve hurt a fly? But that is where we have got the wrong end of the stick entirely. 
One might easily leap to the conclusion that because we don’t think it is right, it must be wrong and God must be terribly unjust. However, direct evidence from the Bible shows beyond doubt that God is just – not to mention incredibly eager to forgive. Does not this parable show God’s infinite capacity for forgiveness of those who truly repent? Does it not show humanity’s willingness to hold a grudge for some perceived injustice? God recognises that, no matter his past actions, when a man finally sees his inherent sinfulness, he will find the universe a very cold and lonely place. He is just as much in need of saving as any other, and yet humans cannot forget his past actions. Leading on from this, it is important to note that all the workers, from the first to the last-hired, thought their wage fair at the time. It was only upon comparison with the “slackers” that the first men hired began to think their wage insufficient. Again, this is a reflection on the fallen nature of humanity as opposed to the nature of God.
The effect of this parable upon its readers is rather curious: it sparks the innate sense of justice within us, yet if one is a rationalist (as defined by Francis Schaeffer), then this feeling should not be occurring. If one starts, as Schaeffer covers in The God Who Is There, purely from oneself and attempts to reason from there, then there is no logical reason for this feeling of indignation. If humanity is all there is, then there is no (logical) place for morals and justice. It must be noted, however, that many humanists ignore this fact, indeed, Schaeffer articulates this admirably. Some really do not see the illogic of their presuppositions, but some do: feelings of right and wrong, justice and injustice, as often aroused by this parable generate an uncomfortable push and pull between the logical conclusions of their presuppositions and what is presented to them by the world. This sensation can be eye-opening, and used in evangelism – however, to paraphrase Schaeffer, we must always do it in the spirit of love, for if we begin to enjoy it as a sort of intellectual exercise, then we are incredibly cruel to the person.
Through analysing the parable of the workers in the vineyard, albeit however briefly, we may observe some important truths about the nature of God, humanity and their relationship. God is ever-willing to forgive, even though human beings re often rather less so. Despite the misguidedness of our feelings of injustice aroused by this parable, the presence of such feelings in the first place demonstrates the truth of man’s inherently moral nature and the illogic of this, were one to assume a purely humanistic perspective. The opportunities for discussion arising from this parable are endless, and ought to be put to good use.

Thursday, 6 July 2017

Passion Projects & RE - Rosemary Madden - Catholic Cathedral College

In the Term One holidays I went to a presentation (G Suite Summit) by Simon Ashby on the idea of running 'Passion Projects' within your class. Rosemary Madden from Catholic Cathedral College was in the room with me and set a goal for her Year 10 class. Her class would complete over a five week period (five classes) a 'Faith & Me' project in Religious Education. 

Rosemary, is using this project as part of her Teaching as Inquiry whereby, she is analysing whether the use of 'Passion Projects' has positive academic outcomes for her students (with one class per week give to a Passion Project) compared to those who are completing a standard topic. Within this project time, Rosemary is noticing the benefits on her students soft skills (communication, teamwork, critical thinking, sense of self and social responsibility).  This links well to the 2013 OECD report the Nature of Learning, whereby students should be encouraged to develop their adaptive capacity. Adaptive capacity is a willingness and ability to change competencies and expand the breadth of their expertise. The reason why this is important for our learners today, is that they will be required to be life long learners due to the disruption that technology will have in their lives.

How might I complete a 'Passion Project' within Religious Education? Let's find out..........

Four Guiding Rules

1. Frame it as a Driving Question

Ideation: 20 ideas in five minutes, 100 ideas in 10 minutes
Use the Chilli Challenge - How hard is my question?

2. There must be research involved

What do you do with an idea? These are your teachable moment(s)

3. The Project needs to have a purpose

Can your passion be useful to someone else? Local/National/Global impact.
What is the ‘why’ of your project…?

4. It must be shared

What are going to be the best ways to share your project? Will anyone see that website you made?

Collate Evidence

Collate your learning evidence as you complete your Passion Project.

You could format it as:

Forms for feedback
Docs., Slides or OneNote for weekly reflections
Mind Maps for ideation and questions


Role of the Teacher

Facilitator = Provide a sounding board for your students and prompt through advice and questions
Questioner = Seek to develop solutions to their barriers by providing them with options
Motivator = These projects do not provide immediate gratification. Provide them with regular feedback and remind them of why they are completing this project.
Innovator = Innovation is hard and requires the launch of multiple experiments in order to get to the final destination.

Tips for developing Passion Projects

- Allow a generous amount of time during ideation
- Put alot of time into the planning stages
- Work hard to drive enthusiasm/ motivation
- Bring in outside mentors to collaborate
- Create a deadline and stick to it
- Connect with others teachers using Passion Project time
- Celebrate at the end

Further Resources

Expert Genius Hour template

Motivational videos

Livebinders website

Planning Doc                                   

Genius Hour Reflections

6 tips to get started

St. Marks School-59 Genius Hour Projects 2015


Have a look at these short videos were students described their 'Passion Projects' to me.

Faith & Me World Religions Project

Faith & Me Popular Culture Project

- Thanks to Simon Ashby for sharing his awesomeness too!

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Draft Digital Technologies Curriculum for Consultation - How does it impact my School?

I'm sure you have been reading in the media that the Ministry of Education has released a document for consultation around Digital Technologies in the Year 0 - 10 Curriculum. You can find the document here.

The document begins with the statement "Our education system needs to change how we prepare our children and young people to participate, create and thrive in this fast-moving digital world." The purpose of this Year 1- 10 curriculum is to ensure that all students are able to use digital technologies to solve problems and take advantage of new opportunities in this digital or second machine age. In Years 11 - 13 they will be specializing these skills  for industry and how they can lead the next generation of innovation.

There are three strand to this curriculum:

1. Technological Practice
Students develop  a range of outcomes, including concepts, plans, briefs, technological models, and fully realised products or systems. Students investigate issues and existing outcomes and use the understandings gained, together with design principles and approaches, to inform their own practice.

2. Technological Knowledge
students develop knowledge particular to technological enterprises and environments and understandings of how and why things work. Students learn how functional modelling is used to evaluate design ideas and how prototyping is used to evaluate the fitness for purpose of systems and products as they are developed.

3. Nature of technology 

 students develop an understanding of technology as a discipline and of how it differs from other disciplines. They learn to critique the impact of technology on societies and the environment and to explore how developments and outcomes are valued by different peoples in different times.

Within this document there are also eight outcome statements for the Curriculum Levels. Below are the outcomes expected for students at the end of Year 10 & Year 13.

By Year Five (Progress Statement Three) students will be able to:

- develop a basic computer programs in a block-based programming environment
- understand the need to be precise because computers cannot infer
-  make algorithms more efficient through the use of iteration (repeats/loops)
-  understand that multiple algorithms can have the same outcome but are not necessarily equally efficient.

It is noted in the Plan B Report that by 2030,  "80% of work will be collaborative and 20% will be individual. Currently the workplace is 80% individual and 20% collaborative."

Skills required in our future will be ideation, long term pattern recognition and complex communication. This draft document promotes this shift and it will be interesting to see how schools/ teachers react to this change.

To think about this as a technical change would be mad! Simply saying to staff 'well, we have to do this' would be the wrong attitude to take. 

Rather, we should look at this process as an adaptive change. This involves looking at:

- What your values as an educator/ school are
- Why you are making this shift in practice
- How you will make this shift in practice
- What you will do with the students to achieve this shift in practice
- Launching multiple experiments and analyzing feedback/ data to see effective practice
- Drawing together the 'Collective Genius" in your school/ CoL - Everyone has gifts and talents - make sure you harness these individuals

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Historically 70 - 80% of organisations fail in to shift in a moving context because they fail to focus on these five questions:

Why - What are the opportunities & threats?
How - Do we design our learning journey?
Who - Do we collaborate with?
What - Steps do we take?
Where - Are we heading to?

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If you are reading this post think about your school today and discuss these questions with your team. If there are some grey areas then these could be your focus.

- Do we have a single sign on for our students?
- Are we operating one platform? (G Suite or Office 365)
- Do we have an e - learning strategy?
- Do we have an e- learning leader/ team to develop our staff?
- Do we have a minimum standard of integrating technology into classroom practice?
- Are our students creating content for others or passive consumers of content?
- Are our classroom operating under the Substitution model (Pen & Paper - Device) or Redefinition ( Creation of new tasks) under the SAMR Model

The development of our Professional Learning Programme

In 2016, we sat down and re frame how we deliver professional development to teachers in the Christchurch Diocese. Instead of the typical s...