Deeper Learning

Deeper Learning……Increasing Student Engagement……..I Like….I Wish…..I Wonder…….

More evidence coming out of the recent ULearn PLN held recently in NZ where educators are sharing best practice around student centred learning.

What was shared? What is happening in schools across the globe especially to Aust, NZ educators? How does best practice look?

I love how you don’t have to attend these conferences in person but can learn so much “more” in one sense after the event by reading all the posts. Here is a great one from Steve Mouldy who gives us a glimpse inside his school and how teachers are working in TEAMS to share practice, discuss ideas, and solve problems no doubt. His reflection comes after hearing from Grant Lichtman’s work at the conference.

I love the “Kitchen Table” concept and teachers sitting around a table talking. Another way of reworking the staffroom and staff meeting concept.

Plenty of food for thought here.

Many thanks for sharing Steve.

Steve Mouldey

This week’s provocation at Hobsonville Point Secondary School was Grant Lichtman’s Deeper Learning Cheat Sheet. To follow up on this our Learning Design Kitchen Table (20 minute staff ‘meeting’) was an activity based upon that reading.

We started off by looking again at the tips that Grant has disseminated for increasing student engagement, curiosity and student centred practice.


Many of these strategies are commonplace and found every day throughout our school. But we recognise that we can always improve our practice. So, we focused on how we can scale up or amplify our practice on these.

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Just one of many critical issues for schools – the need and opportunity to rethink schooling

Rethinking schooling……


Leading a school in an age of disruption driven by technology is not easy. There are so many critical issues that schools are facing and need to be tackled.

In this blog we want to confine our thinking to one issue only – the need and opportunity to rethink schooling.

The need

Sounds desperate. But we are not desperate! Some talk about the issue of rethinking schooling as if we had never started. This is silly. For years keen educators all over the world have been exploring ways to rethink and improve schooling. We are not just starting now, much progress has already been made in transforming schools. What we need to do is to continue this work, moving at a faster pace than ever before, just to keep up with all the other changes in society – especially the immense opportunities afforded by the huge advances in digital technology.

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Maths Assessment Pre Task

Maths, Assessment tasks and moving away from exams. Another example of a school pushing the boundaries of learning for it’s students.

Innovation in Learning

This year our Maths department desided to make a major change to the way we assess students in Maths. Previously all assessments have been in the form of formal examinations across Years 7 to 12. This year both Year 11 and Year 8 will complete one assessment in a different format.

We are currently in the process of working through the Term 3 assessment task for Year 8. The task is built around the completion of a ‘polygon puzzle’ using the iPads and Google Slides.

The first phase of the assessment involved three periods of teacher directed instruction. This involved working through three exercises from the text to ensure the students had background knowledge to enable them to engage with the task.

Phase two was a group task involving teams of four students completing a ‘polygon puzzle’ and an associated ‘learning log’. This was in effect a ‘trial run’ for…

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The Modern School – Adaptive Education Beyond 4 walls

The Journey

I read much about the industrial model of school still dominating school thinking and design today for many school systems around the world. But times have changed and many teachers working in schools know that our response to guiding the learning process for our students needs to change as well.  The industrial model was for another time and another generation that will not continue to serve the current generation of students.

Photo reprinted with permission by Unsplash. Photo by Sonja Langford

There is an old joke about three professions, a Doctor, an Engineer and a Teacher, that get transported ahead in time 100 years from 1900 to the year 2000.  The Doctor walks into a surgery and cannot believe the modern equipment, let alone how to use it.  The Engineer sees the modern buildings and architecture and is totally a-gasp.  Meanwhile the teacher walks into the classroom, picks up a piece of chalk and starts talking! There is an element of humour but I think also truth about this joke. There would be many teachers, possibly younger or older than me, who would have not modified their approach to teaching and learning in their entire career.  Why is this so and how can it be allowed to exist in a world that has been rapidly changing due to the technology revolution occurring in the past twenty to thirty years?

I was recently watching a TEDx talk that engaged me greatly and got me thinking about the state of education, not only in the world, but in my own country of Australia and more specifically about my own school and students.  Grant Lichtman made some outstanding summary points that were sublime and resonated with me. Across 30 years of experience he found:

  • Students need to be taught CRITICAL THINKING and PROBLEM SOLVING today.
  • Students should be ASKING QUESTIONS more than giving answers today.
  • Schools should be thinking across systems rather than teaching SINGLE subjects today.

Grant also travelled across the USA visiting over 60 schools and found that:

  1. Schools are not good at INNOVATION – in essence they are risk averse.
  2. For every one school that had a problem there was another school that had solved that problem
  3. CHANGE in education is REALLY HARD. Why?
  4. REFLECTION for students on their learning is as important as the time schools devote to traditional “learning time.

Barriers to Change in the Modern Era

Lichtman reflects on John Dewey’s model of Progressive Education and argues schools need to forgo the industrial model of schooling and return to the progressive era of essentially learning by doing.

How John Dewey Reformed Education

Dewey’s pragmatic and democratic approach to schooling may not stand out as radical today, but in the early and mid-1900s his view of education was in contradiction to much of the then-present system of schooling. Dewey’s approach was truly child-centered. A child-centered approach to education places the emphasis of learning on the needs and interests of the child. In Dewey’s view, children should be allowed to explore their environments.

He believed in an interdisciplinary curriculum, or a curriculum that focuses on connecting multiple subjects, where students are allowed to freely move in and out of classrooms as they pursue their interests and construct their own paths for acquiring and applying knowledge. The role of the teacher in this setting would be to serve more as a facilitator than an instructor. In Dewey’s view, the teacher should observe the interest of the students, observe the directions they naturally take, and then serve as someone who helps develop problem-solving skills. (taken from Adam Jordan).

Lichtman says schools need to INNOVATE to break down what he calls the “dams” and “silos” and open the doors to the learning environment that educational pioneers like Dewey and Montessori created. But this isn’t easy so suggests schools:

  1. Schools teach into the unknown – no good preparing them for our world;
  2. Help students become self-evolving learners
  3. Schools and school systems need to become self-evolving organisations that constantly embrace change

He says INNOVATION is all about the future not the past so schools should focus on this guiding imperative to build the MODERN SCHOOL that is constantly adapting to the needs of students now and into the future and this means rethinking schooling and how we teach.

Establishing Australia’s first Creative Collective for education 

Building Creativity Leadership models.

Bianca Hewes

A few weeks ago I was invited to participate in the Düsseldorp Forum and the Mitchell Institute’s  Creative Collective, a new initiative designed to bring together a range of people from different backgrounds, who are interested in nourishing a creative society. To be honest, I was surprised to get an invitation, since I didn’t know any of the people from either of the two main organisations. It was nice to be included, however, and nicer to know a couple of the attendees.

The day started with introductions – lots of great people, all with varying ideas about the current standing of creativity in society, attitudes towards creativity, and the importance of living in a creative society – and we learnt more about the research of Prof Bill Lucas who facilitated the day. (OK, let’s take it back a step, the day started with me freaking out about the fact that…

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Five Friday Faves (Steve Jobs quotes edition)

I like these quotes from Steve Jobs. Reading his biography by Jacobsen it also sounded like his achievements came at some costs. He sounded very driven and these quotes indicate that. He was all about building something great, leaving a legacy which we remember him every time we get the latest iPhone upgrade etc. but he also didn’t have time to tolerate fools gladly so his temper was apparently famous when things didn’t go his way. Is this acceptable in today’s management world? I think he certainly appreciated the value of time and squeezed much into his life. I often wonder how his children turned out and what sort of people are they? Maybe we not only need to look at people like Jobs from the success angle but what can he teach us about values?

Certainly an interesting individual and a huge legacy. Thanks our sharing.

Innovative Education Solutions

Steve Jobs

I recently read, “25 Steve Jobs Quotes That Will Change the Way You Work—in the Best Way Possible” by Kaitlyn Russell.  Here’s how it begins:

“Fact: Steve Jobs didn’t become successful overnight.

It took years of hard work, determination, and perseverance to build Apple into the company that it is today. When you take a step back from your MacBook (and put down your iPhone), and really think about all that he accomplished, it’s beyond remarkable. He changed the way we live.”

You can click the link above to read the entire post.  Another fact is that Steve Jobs has so many impactful quotes attributed to him.  I decided to pick my top five from Russell’s list for this week’s Five Friday Faves.  What are your favorite Steve Jobs quotes?

  1. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be…

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Find the Time

Time is a variable that needs to be prioritised in schools.

“Let’s agree to find the time necessary to do what is needed in education.

Let’s agree to find the time to be a better educator.

Let’s agree to find the time to learn something new.

Let’s agree that time, although not our friend, will never be our excuse as a professional educator.”

A good read

Project Based Learning

How PBL looks inside a real Aussie school?


At Parramatta Marist High the New Tech Network’s Project Based Learning model is employed with Year 7-10.

What is Project Based Learning?

According to the Buck Institute: Project Based Learning is a teaching method in which students gain knowledge and skills by working for an extended period of time to investigate and respond to a complex question, problem, or challenge.

What does PBL look like?

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Parramatta Marist High iBook

Teaching PBL:

I was fortunate enough to complete my last university practicum at Parramatta Marist High and therefore had a good understanding of how project based learning worked prior to starting my job here. Honestly, it can be quite overwhelming to begin with because it is so different to what we consider ‘traditional teaching’.

Here are the facts:

  • 60 students in a class
  • 2 team teachers
  • Projects can be stand alone or integrated with another subject
  • 100 minute periods
  • Open plan…

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Introducing the PLC model and Action Research to our staff

Here is a great sample of an outstanding leader working in a great school…….what can you takeaway from this?

If you’ve been following my endeavour with the implementation of the Performance and Development Framework at my school, you’ll know that staff development day at the beginning of this term was massive. I spent four full days preparing for the day, because I wanted it to be perfect – well, as close to perfect as […]