Monday, June 27, 2016

Changes in Practice (Week 32)

Applied Practice in Context (APC) - Changes in Practice

Activity 8: 'Changes in my practice'

It is fair to say that I am someone who gets bored easily, but this MindLab journey stimulated my senses and I feel invigorated for new challenges ahead. It has also made me think about engaging in future study as to further grow and challenge myself personally as well as professionally.

Osterman & Kottkamp (1993) has contrasted traditional approach of professional development by outside experts delivering workshops for schools versus reflective practice model. They suggest that traditional approach results in knowledge acquisition while reflective practice can lead to change in behaviors via self-awareness.

As reflective practice can assist with understanding and evaluating of practice, I have been doing so with reflections on my practice, PL & D and presentations on this blog (and by tagging posts since 2013, with the relevant Teacher Criteria). This has not only helped me to inform and improve my practice, but also enable me to adapt to change. 

Digital and Collaborative Learning in Context was very hands-on and gave me the opportunity to apply technology into lessons straight away. I have always enjoyed giving my students (5 year old's) opportunities to make connections to prior learning and provided opportunities to apply new learning in different contexts. This feedback (below) from Shannon (after this blog post) meant a lot to me and confirmed the opportunities I am providing my students with. The Key Competencies, NZC Principles and PTC's 1 - 12 have all played a crucial part.

Leadership in Digital and Collaborative Learning
PTC 2 (Demonstrate commitment to promoting the well-being of ākonga)
PTC 4 (Demonstrate commitment to ongoing professional learning and development of professional personal practice)
PTC 5 (Show leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning)
This area was the first to play a part in key changes in my practice. 
I had an opportunity to touch on some research into 'Building partnerships by sharing learning on student individual blogs and why this is important to us, to our community and to our students. This left me wondering how I could develop this within our school. I also had the opportunity to reflect on all the forms of leadership I have had experienced throughout my teaching career. It became clear [through studying the leadership styles] which leader I aspire to be, whilst others had shown me what I need to avoid to enable me to be part of a collaborative, motivated and engaged team that focuses on change and growth mindset. Upon further reflection, I realised that I need to remember that while I maintain high expectations for change and growth in our team’s professional practice, my excitement is definitely not the case for all teachers.

During Research and Community Informed Practice the opportunity arose to do [some] extended research around a topic that is close to heart and to plan my Teaching as Inquiry Project plan around it.
PTC 1 (Establish and maintain effective professional relationships focused on the learning and well-being of all ākonga)
PTC 5 (Show leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning)
This is the second area that is playing a part in key changes in my practice. Through readings it became evident that there is a difference between parent involvement and parent engagement. I am in the process of making our community aware that digital technologies allow students to share their learning in a variety of visible, interactive and engaging ways. This will help our community to be more involved with what is going on, build effective partnerships and engage them in their children's learning.

Reflective blog posts in Applied Practice in Context not only allowed me to identify, critically examine and evaluate my teaching practice, but also gave me an insight into the thinking and perceptions of other professionals. I enjoyed reading and commenting on posts. This extended my thinking on a variety of 'issues' in our profession. 

Future Professional Development:
Master's Degree: I have always been interested in Educational Leadership and (now being part of the Senior Management team), believe that by studying for my masters it will allow me to pursue this topic further and develop my knowledge and skills.
GAFE Summit: I would like to attend one of these events to focus further on deploying, integrating, and using Google Apps for Education and other Google tools to promote student learning.

Osterman, K. & Kottkamp, R.(1993). Reflective Practice for Educators.California. Cornwin Press, Inc. Retrieved on 7th May, 2015 from

Ministry of Education (nd). Practising teacher Criteria and e-learning . Retrieved from

~ "Progress is impossible without change, and those who cannot change their minds cannot change anything." - George Bernard Shaw ~

Monday, June 20, 2016

Crossing boundaries and creating connections (Week 31)

Applied Practice in Context (APC) - Crossing boundaries and creating connections

Activity 7: 'My interdisciplinary connection map'

The world of professional practice is changing rapidly. The boundaries between disciplines are moving, new disciplines are being invented at an unprecedented rate and the boundaries between disciplines and becoming more porous.

Today and in the future, the environments that practitioners are working in, or will be asked to create, will require people who are skilled in the ability to work across disciplinary boundaries.

One of the most important skills one will need to learn is to become “self-aware” as a teaching professional and to understand the context of your own discipline: it’s strengths and its limitations. When you can clearly define your actions as a teaching practitioner and the context of your practice you will able to move across disciplines to other areas of practice where you can make informed contributions on the practice of your own current and future practice along with emerging practice disciplines.

Interdisciplinary practice allows individuals who are based in their practice discipline(s) to focus on collaboration and participate in finding solutions to the increasingly complex problems occurring in the world today. When working in an interdisciplinary manner we need to draw on multiple perspectives, practices, epistemologies and methodologies to identify how these can be utilized to solve real world problems.

A map which demonstrates my current and potential interdisciplinary connections

Two of the potential connections from my map as my near future goal(s) are:
Master's Degree: I have always been interested in Educational Leadership and (now being part of the Senior Management team), believe that by studying for my masters it will allow me to pursue this topic further and develop my knowledge and skills.
GAFE Summit: I would like to attend one of these events to focus further on deploying, integrating, and using Google Apps for Education and other Google tools to promote student learning.

The benefits and challenges of working in a more interdisciplinary environment
Jones (2009) stated that “the interdisciplinary approach is a key concept to the advancement of school curriculum at all levels”.  Although this approach has many benefits, it is also [now] debatable if this approach is the best path for an educational programme. Whereas this approach can positively enhance communication skills, it also has the disadvantage of being time-consuming in lesson planning. Jones goes further and argues that “having more than one instructor can create problems in the sharing of responsibilities.

However, in a Boyer and Bishop (2004) study the interdisciplinary approach was used as a technique where students learnt to be the teacher and they had to connect with peers from other grades. The outcome was positive, as older students had the opportunity to take up a leadership role and younger students were able to get help from the older ones.

Another benefit is that when students master higher order thinking skills by being taught with the interdisciplinary technique they became the interest of wealthy businesses and top colleges.                                                                               
According to Jones (2009) “Interdisciplinary techniques are not only important for a student to learn any one single discipline or solve problem in a synthesized manner, but it also enriches a student’s lifelong learning habits, academic skills, and personal growth.

Duerr, of “Interdisciplinary Instruction”, justifies the importance that broadness has to student’s futures in the way that “Their cognitive development allows them to see relationships among content areas and understand principles that cross curricular lines. Their psychosocial development gives them the ability to understand people and to look at situations from various viewpoints” (Duerr, 2008, p.177).

When expertise is shared across connections it means that expertise outside of the scope of immediate connections is more accessible and the consistency of integrating disciplines can be attained over many platforms. As Mathison voice that by integrating this interdisciplinary approach we will have “Better collegiality and support between teachers and the wider community of disciplines” (Mathison, 1997, p.20).

Nevertheless, the benefits of an interdisciplinary environment is not without its challenges. Our education system is [still] very much structured, which makes the integration of an interdisciplinary environment a bit unrealistic in some instances. Interdisciplinary connections can also be time consuming as building and sustaining professional relationships outside day to day connections can seem hard and exhausting.

However, in my opinion, the benefits of working in a more interdisciplinary environment outweigh the challenges far more...

Boyer, Bishop, 2004. “Young Adolescent Voices: Students' Perceptions of Interdisciplinary Teaming,” RMLE, v.1. Retrieved from:

Duerr, Laura L., 2008. “Interdisciplinary Instruction, Educational Horizons.” Retrieved from:

Jones, C.(2009). Interdisciplinary approach - Advantages, disadvantages, and the future benefits of interdisciplinary studies. ESSAI, 7(26), 76-81. Retrieved from

Mathison,S.. & Freeman, M.(1997). The logic of interdisciplinary studies. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, 1997. Retrieved from This review of literature of interdisciplinary studies can help you explore more about the interdisciplinary approach used by teachers in their class.

~ "Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success." - Henry Ford ~

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Professional Online Networks (Week 30)

Applied Practice in Context (APC) - Professional Online Networks

Activity 6: 'Using social online networks in teaching and/or professional development'

The debate on whether or not to use technology in education seems as outdated as old technology itself. Educators are now engaged in improving digital tools to effectively cater for student learning.
A study investigating social media use in teaching (Silius et al., 2010) showed that student motivation for social media can enhance study.

Social media platforms have been able to provide personalised learning which is need-based and flexible in time and location. Teachers can use online social network to seek information, share ideas and even contribute to the development of deep knowledge.

In the New Zealand context, the Ministry of Education has introduced an initiative to enhance professional development via online social networking. The Virtual Learning Network is a platform where educators can engage in professional conversations. Melhuish (2013)’s study has suggested that VLN Groups can enable an informal type of professional learning for teachers.

What are some key features of social media that are beneficial for teaching and learning?

We know that the world is changing at an incredible pace for our students and if we want to prepare them for their future, it is important that we, as connected educators also become the connected learners.
As social media have the power to connect educators, I utilize Twitter and some of the # chats, the VLN groups, Google+ communities, Pinterest, TeachMeetNZ (where teachers come together to present virtually and broadcast live through a Google Hangout for the rest of New Zealand and Globally), N4L Pond, Class Blog (as a means of maintaining an effective communication between home and school), Professional Blog, LinkedIn, NZ Teachers (Primary) Facebook page, to make connections with even more incredible educators. I can’t imagine a more creative way to discuss the needs for future focus learning with fellow professionals and cherish the opportunity of having teachers and school leaders working together locally as well as through global networks.  We are able to connect, collaborate and use each other’s knowledge to apply in our schools and classrooms. Being a connected educator allows me to do something with the information I find.  I allow myself time for experimentation, innovation, questioning, mistakes and constant reflection as I am driven to make learning even more rewarding and purposeful for my students, thinking about what is important to them and their learning

As a connected educator/learner, I also want my students to experience this.  Therefore they connect with other classes through KidsedchatNZ and Quadblogging Aotearoa. I have also previously participated with my class in the global classroom project called 'the Travelling Rhinos'. They enjoyed their involvement in such a way that we extended our learning with a class production the next term. My 5 year old students also participated in a 10 sentence story based on a topic with 9 other schools using Google Docs.

As co-organiser of KidsedchatNZ (a twitter chat for NZ schools) and having my five year old students participating through our class account, I have seen first hand the benefits of their involvement, not only as we are able to discuss online behaviour in a safe and positive environment, but I can also see an improvement in their reading and writing skills. It is great to see how students gain confidence and feel good about themselves, which in the end leads to them being actively engaged in their learning. That is what KidsedchatNZ offer to students.

I believe that learner agency can be developed when using social media in the classroom. My students have an ILP on our class wiki and each one have their own ePortfolio. With having these opportunities, students can slowly be introduced (through lots of scaffolding) to be in control of their own learning.

Social media provides us with a range of learning opportunities that would not have been available through any other context.

What social media platform do I feel best supports engagement with my professional development?
My professional development is supported in different ways through all the various social media platforms I belong to. Each one of them have a specific purpose in my learning journey, however the following would be my main 'go to' places:
Twitter: For learning from and sharing with my own Personal Learning Network. I can learn anytime, anywhere. It's like brewing your own personalized PD.
VLN groups: Are the online community I use to connect, share experiences, and learn together with teachers, school leaders, and facilitators.
Google+ communities: This is the platform where best practices can be shared, questions can be answered and valuable information are being shared.
TeachMeetNZ: There is always something new to learn at each and everyone one of these sessions. By just listening to presenters, I realize that there is so much more for me to accomplish... and there are many more ways to assist my students to reflect on and think critically about their learning! I can and have to select [other] technologies and resources that will be effective and address the needs of individual students. My journey is ongoing...


Melhuish, K.(2013). Online social networking and its impact on New Zealand educators’ professional learning. Master Thesis. The University of Waikato. Retrieved on 05 May, 2015 from :The author presents an in-depth investigation into the use of online social media networking in teachers’ professional development

Silius, K., Miilumäki, T.,Huhtamäki, J.,Tebest, T., Meriläinen, J., & Pohjolainen, S.(2010). Students’ motivations for social media enhanced studying and learning. Knowledge Management & E-Learning: An International Journal, 2(1), 54-67. Retrieved on 7th May,2015 from

~ "We don't have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it." - Erik Qualman ~

Friday, June 10, 2016

Sandpit with Google Classroom at Connected Rotorua

What a fantastic turn out for our session on using Google Classroom as a structure to support Future Focused Learning, with staff from nine out of the [current] twenty Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru schools attending.

Hancine and I came prepared with our presentation slides, but with the number of attendees, decided to change 'the plan' and Hancine quickly sussed out that the knowledge were in the room.

There were many new faces and we got underway with the usual introductions, whereafter people that felt comfortable, took up the role of leading a small group in setting up and using Google Classroom. The collaboration among our educators were great.

If you are interested in learning more about Google tools for the classroom have a look at Monica's Google Site 101. Thank you for sharing this, Anne.

A warm thank you to all who attended the session on a wet Friday afternoon/evening.

~ "Everyone you will ever meet knows something your don't." - Bill Nye ~

Monday, June 6, 2016

Law & Ethics influence on professional practice (Week 29)

Applied Practice in Context (APC) - Law & Ethics influence on professional practice

Activity 5: 'Legal and ethical contexts in my digital practice'

We are constantly being asked to make objective judgements on issues through the process of ethics, yet many of these ethics are based on theories of morality. Ethics are not a single topic you can study in isolation but are a foundation upon which you live and practice. Everything you do, every decision you make, has ethics at its core, driving or motivating your actions and decisions.

Colleste (2012, p. 30) stated that Professional ethics develops within a community of professionals as a result of a tradition of moral thinking. “Applied ethics is the art or science of reflecting on moral dilemmas and moral problems in different social contexts and is an academic discipline analysing moral problems in different social arenas.” Colleste (2012)

In today's age, ethical dilemmas are unavoidable and the use of social media makes us all even more vulnerable to the 'not so good' decisions and hindsight. Therefore it is vital to establish safeguards and consider what the purpose is of using social networking, as mentioned in a video from the Education Council.

The Education Council of New Zealand also has four fundamental principals for professional interactions of teachers:
1. Autonomy to treat people with rights that are to be honoured and defended
2. Justice to share power and prevent the abuse of power
3. Responsible care to do good and minimise harm to others
4. Truth to be honest with others and self

These principals are very broad, hence the importance of following the correct procedures when using social media. (The Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand 2016).

As an active user of social media forms like Twitter, Google+, Blogger and Facebook, I am very conscious of my privacy settings, however when typing my name into a search engine, it was disturbing to see all that was visible to the world, although there was nothing to be ashamed of. Having seen the evidence of my digital footprint I am thinking of how our students interact online...

My school is making use of individual student blogs as ePortfolios and that being the case, we are all in agreement that it is important that Digital Citizenship/ Cyber Safety are being taught from a young age. We strive to keep our students as safe as possible by using the 'Cyber Safety Use Agreement for Primary Students'.

Blogs/ePortfolios can be private, but many schools prefer it to be open to enable collaboration, to share and celebrate students' learning. Feedback from our parents are that students often tell them about an activity, or a piece of work, they have been engaged in. Therefore our class blog and ePortfolios are used as a means of maintaining an effective communication between home and school. When checking these blogs (sometimes late in the evening) parents get to see images or videos of what children have described. There is an enjoyment of having the opportunity to provide specific feedback to students, and teachers and parents appreciate this additional way of being involved in the learning process.

I only publish positive things on our class blog about students' learning, but I think we should not loose sight of how students might feel in years to come when [still] seeing their learning from years ago online.

Although I have yet to deal with a situation, it is [still] frightening to see how 'open' our lives are once we engage with an online environment.

Code of Ethics for Certificated Teachers Retrieved from:

Collste, G.(2012) Applied and professional ethics. Kemanusiaan, 19(1), 17–33.

New Zealand Teachers Council.(2012). Establishing safeguards.[video file]. Retrieved from

The Education Council of Aotearoa New Zealand 2016

~ "Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do." - Potter Stewart ~

Friday, June 3, 2016

Indigenous knowledge & Cultural responsiveness (Week 28)

Applied Practice in Context (APC) - Indigenous knowledge & cultural responsiveness

Activity 4: 'Indigenous knowledge & cultural responsiveness in my practice'

Culture is not exclusive to race and/or ethnicity. It also refers the unique features of a community; its demographic makeup, including location, age, gender, language/s spoken, local history, industry and economics.

Understanding the specific cultural characteristics of a community is critical for achieving positive outcomes.

Culturally responsive pedagogy is defined by Gay (2001, p.106) as “using the cultural characteristics, experiences and perspectives as conduits for effective teaching”. It is reflected in five elements including the knowledge about the culture diversity, the culturally integrated content in the curriculum, the development of the learning community, the ability to communicating with culturally diverse students and the culturally responsive delivery of instruction (Gay, 2001). Whereas, Bishop, Berryman, Cavanagh and Teddy (2009) emphasises on the importance of student-teacher relationship in culturally responsive teaching. It is suggested that the learners’ culture needs to considered and integrated their learning activities.

Although it was hard fought, and not fully recognised until the 1970s, Aotearoa New Zealand is now a bicultural nation within which resides a multicultural society. The treaty of Waitangi is significant in policy and the principles of partnership, participation and protection are central features of policy (Findsen, 2012).

My view on culture is that it includes the beliefs and values (where one must be virtuous to a certain degree) of a group of people. It is about adapting a code of ethics which is also a requirement from the education council for certificated teachers.

Learning about culture is important as it is a way of linking people, to bond, to shape behavior and standards. It is my perception that if we treat others with dignity regarding our different cultures, positive relationships will be build on trust.

How does culture apply to my class environment?
I value productive partnerships and attempt to involve all parents, no matter what culture/ethnicity. As Siromani Dhungana so rightly tweeted on 22 Feb 2014, "One World Many Voices". Everyone who plays a role in education should take action and work together. We learn from each other and grow together to the benefit of the students.

Mission, Vision and Values Statements:
Mission: To provide a stimulating and progressive learning environment where students develop the skills and confidence to become actively engaged life-long learners
Vision: ‘Celebrating personal excellence’
Our students will be part of a learning community of creative and critical thinkers who take pride in all areas of their learning. They possess a strong sense of belonging and are valued for the positive contributions they bring to our school & society
Values: Our school actively promotes and models a virtues-based culture

All these statements are further supported by The Guiding Principles of Ka Hikitia (2013), as we know in fact that which is good for Maori is good for all students.

School-wide activities:
Our school uses Te Reo in the classroom and we are also responsive to Māori celebrations. Karakia plays an important part in our daily programme. We attend the yearly Cultural Festival where all of our students participate in Kapa Haka performances.
Our school hosted evening Te Reo classes which all of our teachers embraced, however I feel saddened that not many parents/whānau or members of the community attended this.
We have held hui at school and invited our Māori parents to share their thoughts on how they would like Māori to look, feel and sound at our school.

Does this mean that we are fully engaged with cultural responsive pedagogy? I wonder... or is it like Mike Hogan mentions in his video, we need to "stop doing the surface stuff." 

Bishop, R, Berryman, M., Cavanagh, T. & Teddy, L. (2009). Te Kotahitanga: Addressing educational disparities facing Māori students in New Zealand. Teaching and Teacher Education, 25(5)734–742.

Findsen, B. (2012). Older adult learning in Aotearoa New Zealand: Structure, trends and issues. Presented at Adult Community Education (ACE) Conference.

Gay, G. (2002). Preparing for culturally responsive teaching. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(2),106-116.

Hogan, M., (2016).  Culturally responsive practice in a mainstream school EDtalks. Retrieved from

NZ Ministry of Education (2013). Ka Hikitia - Accelerating Success 2013-2017. The Maori Education Strategy. Learning Media. NZ

The Education Council Code of Ethics for Certificated Teachers. 

~ "If a curriculum does not respond to a culture, then the culture won't respond to the curriculum." - Unknown ~

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Using ICT to Enhance Literacy

I have been asked by the Waiariki Literacy Association to present and run a workshop on how ICT can be used to enhance literacy.

Thinking back to when I first started presenting in 2013 under the wing and guidance of an amazing woman Sonya van Schaijik, and then to my CORE Education #eFellows14 presentation at uLearn in 2014 with the support of mentors Louise and John and the fabulous people in our 2014 eFellows group, I know I have come a long way.

Previously, I would be scared to bits just by the thought of giving a presentation, but lately I feel quite excited by the prospect of presenting to a group of people and then giving them the opportunity to 'have a play', whilst supporting and answering questions.

These opportunities also helps me to grow personally, as I get challenged with questions that I [sometimes] do not have all the answers for. Then... back to learning I go!

~ "Too many people spend too much time trying to perfect something before they actually do it. Instead of waiting for perfection, run with what you go, and fix it along the way…” - Paul Arden ~