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Code Ninjas

October 5, 2015

The statistics about the changing work place are clear, in the next decade automation is going to radically change the type of jobs that will be available to today’s primary school children. We need to prepare them now and it is never too early to start. Over the last two or three years a growing movement of educators have been calling for a more formal approach to teaching our children computational skills and understanding. In the UK, the teaching of coding is now part of the curriculum! There are calls for Australia to follow the UK’s lead and New Zealand risks being left behind if we don’t start making some strides in this area. Many New Zealand schools, including here at Fendalton, are now running code clubs to help expose students to the skills of coding. Whilst this is a great start, it should not rely on the passion and interests of individual teachers in schools to set up code […]


Building a Badging Platform

August 3, 2015

For a couple of years now I have been reading and thinking a lot about the concept of digital badges and micro credentials. In this context I am talking about digital badges as a way of recognising a learners progress in meeting a set of criteria with a digital artefact. These badges have been around for a long time and are heavily used across the world especially in the realm of teacher professional learning. I am interested in how this idea could be used with younger children to demonstrate their progress through a curriculum area. My first challenge was to overcome my philosophical problems with the badging concept as far as rewards go. I do not believe that rewards in education are a good (or necessary) thing. Having read and watched people like Daniel Pink and Alfie Kohn I agree with their asertion that learning is not aided by the use of rewards as a carrot. Learning should be intrinsically motivated […]


Digital Reporting and more

April 15, 2015

Many years ago, back when I was teaching in London, I had an idea that I could never quite shake. I couldn’t get over the belief that the way schools were reporting to families was fundamentally broken. This led me down a rather unexpected path and helped me to develop some unexpected skills along the way. In short I became a coder. As a deputy head in the UK and later a principal here in New Zealand, I started a journey with our staff and community to improve the way that we reported on student progress. I felt that we could do better, much better. Reporting as it stood was late in the year, very text heavy, prone to beingoverly generic and nearly always out of date. Teachers spent huge amounts of time writing these reports and the students suffered. Time that teachers could have been spending on planning and facilitating learning with their students was instead being spent on […]


Flipped Staff Only Day

March 3, 2015

When planning our Staff Only Days for the start of 2015 I had two main aims: Help the staff to engage with the Annual Plan and understand WHY it is important and why they should care about it. (Simon Sinek’s work at has been a big influence on me this summer). Model ways that teachers could use youtube to help with task organisation (especially in more collaborative spaces). I have always struggled with bringing the Annual Plan to life for staff and have tried various different ways over the years. Having the plan goals writ large around the staff room works to a point but it quickly becomes ‘noise’ and gets lost. Staff really need to be part of setting and unpacking the Annual Plan if I really want them to buy-in to it. So as I set out planning the staff only days with the leadership team, the focus needed to be on the ‘why’ so that staff […]

All principals should be digitally connected

All principals should be digitally connected

October 26, 2014

All principals should be digitally connected and tech savvy! There I’ve said it. That may appear to be a challenging opening gambit and I have no doubt that some will try to debate that there are many highly effective principals who are neither connected or tech savvy and that is true…for now. However not only are our children forging ahead and disappearing over the horizon many of our teachers are not too far behind them. If principals do not have an understanding of the power of social media and the possibilities of technology then we risk becoming irrelevant. It is easy for leaders to stick their heads in the sand and say that leading e-learning is not their job, that they can employ someone to do that. However the reality is that setting expectations for and driving the use of technology in schools comes from the top. We have to ‘walk the talk’ and actually engage with the tools that […]

Teacher Inquiry part 2

Teacher Inquiry part 2

September 9, 2014

John Hattie believes that schools need to stop thinking about things that don’t really matter and instead talk about teacher expertise, passion, diagnosis and practice. This is the premise behind our professional learning and development (PLD) model at Fendalton. We have been focusing all our PLD on teacher inquiry (read part one for more) and trying to reduce the time that we spend on meetings that are not about teaching and learning. I pinched the image shown here from twitter and this nicely encapsulates the aims for the year – how do we move from a traditional model of PLD to a more individualised and effective model which keeps children and their learning at the centre? We began the year with a reasonably prescriptive process for teachers to record their reflections on their target students as well as the actions that they would be taking to support that student over the following three weeks. The intention behind this was to ensure some accountability […]


Personalised Learning Networks

July 29, 2014

My twitter feed is awash with teachers referring to their PLN. It is a term that entered my consciousness a couple of years ago but only recently started to resonate with me as something that I really see as transformative for teachers and leaders. The term PLN is variously translated as ‘Professional Learning Network’, ‘Personal Learning Network’ or ‘Personalised Learning Network’. It is difficult to define a PLN as it appears to mean different things to different people and it certainly looks different for each person. My understanding is of a PLN is that it is the use of digital tools and social media to collaborate, share, support and connect with others. The amazing thing is that it doesn’t matter when you connect to your network, there is always someone online somewhere in the world. One of my aims for this year has been to expose the teachers at Fendalton to the idea and power of a PLN to help and […]


14 Day Twitter Challenge for Principals

July 28, 2014

Today is Day 11 of the 14 Day Twitter Challenge for Principals which conversely began 36 days ago ( I deliberately skipped weekends and the holidays). So with only 3 days left, has it worked? Like all good teachers, to answer that question I need to think about what my success criteria was. When I first decided to extend the 14 day challenge, to which the Fendalton staff were subjected in term 1, to the principals of Canterbury I simply wanted to get the idea out there. I thought that I might get 5 or 6 principals joining and that it might extend my professional network. Grander hopes were that the challenge would lead to regular twitter chats and the kind of sharing amongst leaders that teachers are enjoying through twitter e.g. #edchatnz which has now morphed into a full on conference! The initial response to the challenge was much greater than I had expected with 42 principals and leaders signing up within […]


# or @

June 26, 2014

Twitter can be a confusing place when you first start out. Tweets can be littered with @something and #something. This post is an attempt to explain the diffence using examples from the first 4 days of the 14 Day Twitter Challenge for Principals. Why are some tweets full of @? The @ symbol is used to refer to a person’s twitter account. In the example below Mike has included two names @ceridweng3 and  @gregwhitby. This is known as a ‘mention’ and both Ceridwen and  Greg will have received a notification telling them that they had been mentioned in a tweet. It is a virtual tap on the shoulder and a way of involving specific people in a conversation. Where do I put the @? The position of the @ is important. If you start a tweet with the @ then you are limiting who can see the tweet to people who follow both you and the person you mention. Look at the two tweets below. In Aimie’s […]


Can you organise twitter?

June 24, 2014

This post was intended to be the kick-starter for day 3 of our “14 Day Twitter Challenge for Principals” but a twitter message from Sandra at Linwood North School took me down a slightly different path. Sandra wanted to know if she could ‘save’ tweets that she may want to share with her staff at a later date. I have come up with three possible solutions to this: Use Hashtags Hashtags are the main way that people categorise their tweets. There is no list of hashtags and no real protocol around their use,  you can create your own. The beauty of hashtags is that you can use them to filter twitter. Right now for example, you may want to know what people are saying about the FIFA World Cup so you can search for the hashtag #fifaworldcup. This search will give you a list of all the tweets (in time order) where the tweeter included the word fifaworldcup with the […]