Saturday, November 3, 2007

Gaming - Oh NO!

I think it would be fair to say that most people (parents) see gaming and learning as opposites. This premise is probably based on 2 main factors: 1) For most adults learning and playing/having fun is not (and based on their own school experiences) and cannot happen at the same time, and 2) games are bad for you - waste of time, encourages violence, make you anti-social, etc.

I am no expert in this field (I don't actually know exactly where I stand on this), but I have learnt a few things about it:
1) The main reason why people love it so much is the fact that they get to make so many decisions in these games,
2) People know a game is fantasy and don't easily confuse games with reality (the confusion is created by TV)
3) I have seen a few good examples of learning motivated and facilitated by gaming.

What do you think?

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Monday, August 13, 2007

We are getting there

Our new block of Learning Spaces is just about completed (the last few bits always take forever) and ready for the official opening on Friday 24th August. The Minister of Education will be our guest and will unveil a plaque.

The new block consists of four main learning spaces (call the classrooms if you want), 2 student work rooms and a big internal space that serves as an extention to 7 classrooms. This new facility has been designed to help support 21st century learning and break down some of the barriers to learning that traditional designs impose on students. They are L shaped, very flexible, no "front" and have a mixture of student desks.

I am very excited about this development and it was just amasing to see how the students started using in exactly the way we hoped.
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would - yes, like fish to water.

Monday, June 4, 2007

Lucky Lucky Lucky

I have been very fortunate to go on the USA Educational Experience earlier this Term. The tour focused on visiting schools that are on the 1:1 initiative. We talked to distinguished educators and visited classrooms to look at the impact of having a laptop per student is having on their learning.

We met some wonderful teachers and some delightful kids in Florida and in California. The last two days were spent at Apple's Campus in Silicon Valley where different members of the Apple team briefed us on various aspects of software and hardware development.

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

School Governance

We are currently having Board of Trustee elections in New Zealand. From what I've heard it is quite a unique system where the central government has delegated a large part of the governance roll to the Board of Trustees of each school. The BoT consists out of parent representatives, the Principal and a staff representative (high schools have a student representative as well).

In this system the Board is responsible for the governance role and the Principal (and management team) for the management of the school. A little bit like the directors of a company and the CEO. In general schools in NZ have quite a lot fo freedom in terms of self management and how they deal with the curriculum.

Generally speaking I believe the system works quite well, but there are some pitfalls:

  1. There are some grey areas between governance and management. As long as the Board and the Principal get on fine it is not a problem, but when they disagree a lot the seperation of roles can be an issue.

  2. Some communities strugle to find enough suitable and quilified people to take on this role and this can disadvantage some schools.

  3. Some decissions of the central government can make it hard for the Boards to fulfil their role.

I would be very interested to know how govrnance and management is handles in other systems.

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Up up it goes

After many months of planning and research our new block of learning spaces (note: not classrooms) is finally showing some visible signs of going up. I have been involved with a number of building projects, but this is by far the most exciting.

My Board and I decided that we will not add another set of rectangular boxes to our school - we will design something that supports learning - not stifles it! I was able to go on a fact finding mission to look at new trends and study what designers are saying about what spaces should look like for the new learning we are trying to establish. A good boook to read is The Language of School Design: Design Patterns for 21st Cantury Schools by Nair and Fielding

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Wrong Question

This is probably the wrong question to ask a bunch of teachers, but how important is grammar in this day and age? Does txtng have its own grammar? Or do we have to keep up the "standards"?

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Get going

I attended the Learning@school conference in Rotorua last week. One of the keynotes was delivered by David Warlick (Landmark project, USA). David's presentation was on "Telling the New Story" and it was absolutely inspiring. His key message was that we have to: "Prepare our kids not for a future of security, but for a future of opportunity". My/Our challenge is to make it happen in each of our schools.
Once again I have heard that international experts are amazed at the level of freedom that we have as educators in NZ. They all wish they had that at home. My question is: " What have we done with that freedom?" Often I think it is just same old, same old (maybe with a few new gadgets).
I have come back with the resolution to stay focused and work hard to ensure real change will happen. So watch out, here we come!!!