Fostering Lifelong (e)Learning in Staff

Earlier this year I profiled Ms Donna Jones from the English Department. One aspect of that profile was a mention of her embarking on a Postgraduate Certificate in Applied Practice (Digital and Collaborative Learning). She is the first staff member at the college to be enrolled in this qualification, so as she nears course completion, it is a perfect time to catch up with her regarding her progress.WIN_20160816_14_23_01_Pro

Collaboration with colleagues

One of the most pleasing aspects of the course for Donna has been the ability to collaborate with colleagues from a variety of different schools, and teachers of other year levels. These opportunities for collaboration are an important aspect of educational postgraduate study like this, as Donna describes:

‘It has given me a much clearer understanding of the big picture educational landscape across Canterbury. Engaging with teachers from all sectors has been both enlightening and inspiring.’

A second aspect of the course that Donna has particularly enjoyed is the hands-on time that is spent learning through technology. Donna has thoroughly enjoyed working with stop-motion, robotics, and AR. This increased awareness has manifest in a new-found interest in the potential of concepts such as gamification to help raise engagement and achievement in her English classes.

Finally, she has gained a greater understanding of the theories of leadership, particularly Transformational Leadership in 21st Century Learning.

Applying Learning in the Classroom


Students making stop motion

Whenever staff attend Professional Development courses, one measure of success of the applicability of that development, is the impact that the new learning has on classroom practice. One particularly pleasing aspect of Ms Jones’ participation in the course is the immediate applicability of her new learning.

She has already been able to develop different ways of assessing existing concepts. An example of this is the use of stop motion as a way of assessing understanding of theme within a novel study. She has recently done preliminary work to investigate the use of an ‘Escape Room’ with Year 9 students which complements her implementation of a cross-curriculum project solving real-world problems; used last year.

‘The course has been a reality check and reminder that if we as teachers don’t engage with 21st Century technology and integrate these into ou programmes, we are not providing students with the correct preparation for their future. The pace of change in classroom technology is both exciting and frightening.’

Climbing the SAMR Ladder with Google Earth

Last term I blogged about the planned use of the SAMR scale in my Year 13 Geography class. The teaching of this unit took place in the final weeks of that term, so now is an opportune moment to reflect and update the progress of this unit.

The planning of the unit reflected my desire to account for, and more fully utilise, the extra teaching time that should be released to me due to my Substitution of note taking in class, for the delivery of class notes using OneNote. Last year, my first year using OneNote, I reflected that I was not satisfied with the amount of extra teaching I was able to do to help my students apply the understanding of the material presented in class. I simply could not adequately account for that time.


Basic Unit structure using the SAMR ladder

As part of my planning of the unit, there were specific tasks that I incorporated in order to help student apply the new knowledge, rather than copy it down.

Using Google Earth to Identify Spatial Patterns

One of the most engaging tasks within this unit was using Google Earth to create a resource that identified the spatial patterns that Tourism Development has created in our Geographic Environment; Queenstown. As you know, Google Earth is awesome.

In our case we were interested in the spatial variations in the locations of visitor accommodations; specifically Hotels, Motels, Backpackers and Luxury Lodges, and attractions; both allocentric and psychocentric. A more ‘traditional’ approach would be to have students develop a paper map resource with the specific examples accurately mapped; in fact this approach may well form part of an answer that a number of my students choose to complete during their November NCEA examination. However, by doing a similar task using the Placemark feature of Google Earth, students can create a resource that is much more adaptive and maliable.


Spatial Variation in location of Accommodation

The students found the completion of this task engaging and motivating. After an initial period when a few of them wondered what the purpose of the task was, it quickly became evident to them the power of the layered approach of the data. When it came to discussing and recording the detailed reasons why the spatial patterns existed the students were easily able to create links between the location of accommodation or attractions, and the topography and infrastructure of Queenstown particularly.     

The final aspect of the task was adding this summary understanding to the map. This was done by adding a final layer of Placemarks and entering our summary information to the map. Upon completion the placemarks could easily be exported, saved, and shared as a single .KMZ file.

Sharing the Learning

A pleasing aspect of the task was the enthusiasm of the other Year 13 Geography Teachers at St Andrew’s College inviting me into their classes to replicate the task. These students were also fully engaged in the task, and the feedback from these staff was extremely positive. It was great to see a wide range of students, with extremely varying levels of experience with technology, being able to articulate the benefits of the task structure. Hopefully we will see reinforced student understanding of this content when it comes to my revision program for their upcoming examinations!

Promoting OneDrive for Student Use

At St Andrew’s College we are extremely fortunate to have two great staff manning the IT helpdesk; Joshua and Brodie. Frustratingly, as the College’s 1:1 laptop programme nears universal coverage, they continue to see students, and occasionally staff, whose computers have failed, often through no fault of their own. Too often the owners are faced with the, sometimes devastating, realisation that their data is potentially irretrievable. This can be particularly traumatic for students who lose part, or all, of an NCEA assessment.

Brodie Dickinson

Mr Brodie Dickinson

Joshua Harrison

Mr Joshua Harrison

Educating Students in Data Security

Earlier this year all Year 9 students were, for the first time, initiated into the platforms and programmes that we use most often at St Andrew’s. This is obviously an avenue for future student education about file safety, but for the rest of the student body there are challenges engaging students with a topic as potentially un-engaging to them as data security.

The catalyst for action on the College-wide promotion of OneDrive as the cloud storage solution for Collegians was the opportunity to test the class-wide implementation with Year 8 students. In an earlier meeting, a Year 8 staff member had mentioned that there was some confusion within his class of what they should be doing, and the ins and outs of using OneDrive as a storage solution. Our solution was to approach all Year 8 teachers and request a period to install OneDrive on the devices of all their students.

With the stability of the Next Generation OneDrive Sync Client we felt that it was prudent to actively encourage students to use this service. Joshua and I gained access to the four Year 8 classes in a two week period – refining the process down to less than 25mins to install and activate the Client on all student devices in a class. There were certain challenges with a small number of students whose devices were set up to stop them installing software on their devices without parental permission – a situation that is understandable for Year 8 students.

The result of this action was that we were happy with the class-wide implementation of OneNote as a feasible way to gain traction within the Preparatory School, and perhaps class-by-class may in fact be the most effective implementation method for students of this age.

Year 9 usage survey

In the Middle School, and Senior College it is perhaps a little more complicated. With upwards of 1000 students it is difficult to find an efficient way to engage students in the process. In an informal brainstorming session it was decided to try a range of approaches in a short period of time to try to raise awareness of OneDrive as a potential secure, online data storage solution.

Poster created for Preparatory Students

Poster created for Preparatory Students

To gain a bit more information about OneDrive usage in the school I initially surveyed a Y9 class. It was interesting to discover that, from a group of 26 students, only four were actively backing up their data to a cloud based service – two using OneDrive, and two using Dropbox. This behaviour was not due to ignorance of the risks however, as every student spoken to was able to articulate awareness that their data would be compromised if their computer was stolen, or damaged. This information further solidified my opinion that many of our students are aware, but essentially ambivilent to the risks of losing their data. This, in turn, consolidated my desire to produce a resource to change student attitudes and behaviour in this space.

Resouce Production

As a result, Joshua and I have produced a series of four posters, and accompanying videos, to help students engage with OneDrive as a sensible online data storage solution. Because we are a Y1-13 school the posters have been designed to hopefully engage students of different ages, with one produced particularly for a Preparatory School audience and another for Senior College students. The remaining two are for a more general audience.


Example of a more generic poster

Student Feedback

An important stage of the production stage was gaining feedback from students. It is important that these posters effectively inform students, and by showing early drafts to students of differing ages we were able to make some important changes, mostly around the clarity of the message, ensuring that it was obvious to the students what their next step should be. This feedback was gained from students who were in Helpdesk, as well as Joshua and I approaching students in different parts of the school asking for direct feedback.

Video resources have also been produced to guide students through both the installation process, and the basic usage of OneDrive as a tool. Care was taken to ensure that we produced videos for both Mac and Windows users. As usual these video resources were stored on the StAC eLearning YouTube Channel.

Resource roll-out

With the holidays quickly approaching, it will be week one next term when we launch these resources. I am planning a multi-platform approach, with printed and electronic versions of the posters in circulation, deans and tutors emailed, and spoken to, in an attempt to generate a conversation in class, and the instructional videos will be promoted to students via email and the front of the moodle site. I am hopeful that students will engage with this message, and ultimately the payoff will be fewer students in Helpdesk with lost work!

Making Great Television to Reinforce Social Studies Learning

As blogged about in 2014, St Andrew’s College has been running the only professional television studio in a New Zealand school for almost 20 years. What is particularly exciting for me is the potential of other subjects to utilise this fantastic resource to allow students to conceptualise, and create video content.

Earlier this year, I was lucky enough to attend a PD day that featured Dr Rueben Puentedura, that developed my own understanding about the SAMR model and its application in unit planning. An important aspect of this learning is that, as part of the redefinition of a unit, technology is allowing students greater opportunities to create meaningful content. With our fully functioning studio, students at St Andrew’s College have the opportunity to produce high quality video content, that both reinforces their own understanding, and displays their learning for others. One such recent example has recently concluded in Year 10 Social Studies.

Mr Simon Williams - Head of Television and Film

Mr Simon Williams – Head of Television and Film

Decade Study – The Swinging 60’s

A Level 5 Curriculum Objective in Social Studies requires students to study how the ideas and actions of people in the past have had a significant impact on people’s lives. This year, students undertook a decade study of the 1960’s; including aspects such as historical events, music, and fashion. This was a very popular unit with students, but, as always, the challenge was making their learning authentic.

Mr Simon Williams, the head of Film and Television, was interested in this new unit of work, and offered to assist the teachers to create some video resources to complement their classroom learning. Because the majority of students access learning in the TV studio as part of the Performing Arts course at either Year 9 or 10, there was no need to spend time on the ‘how’ to create such material. This meant students already had the skills to produce an interview style television program, and they could focus on the content.

Mr Williams wanted the process to be smooth and clearly beneficial for the Social Studies staff members, so he assisted by writing a simple script, and organising several interviews with staff that have fond memories of the decade, as well as a television cameraman who cut his teeth in Vietnam in the 1960’s; Mr Wayne Williams.

Student Involvement

The students’ roles included filming, performing, presenting and editing the final production – to create a number of professional standard videos that were ultimately edited into a 35 minute television program.

Students with varying levels of experience were able to contribute to the production of such a programme as the interview format is very familiar and accessible for them. This fact emphasises the potential of the Television studio to help students of almost any subject area to enhance their learning by creating resources of various forms.

Putting Social Studies Learning into Action

The head of Social Studies at St Andrew’s College, Miss Kerry Larby, was enthused by the activity.

One of the key aspects of Social Studies is perspectives, so it was extremely beneficial for our students to hear the authentic experiences of staff members they interact with on a daily basis, but may not realise their past experiences. 

Miss Larby also noted that one of the focuses of the unit was helping students to discover the wealth of resources that exist within people, rather than relying on the easy, often web-based, option. Each student was encouraged to identify, and interview, somebody who had clear memories and experiences in the 1960’s and make use of this information to supplement their learning in class.

Collaboration for Mutual Benefit 

Students at St Andrew’s College are extremely fortunate to have access to the remarkable television studio. SetWidth204-TV-Studio2What was particularly pleasing about this activity was the cross curricular nature of the production; utilising students’ existing television creation and editing skills to show, and develop, their learning in Social Studies.

There is certainly scope for more subjects across the College to implement similar tasks, and I look forward to reporting on them on this blog in the future!





Putting the R in SAMR

One of my on-going goals is based around the successful implementation of eLearning into my teaching of Year 13 Geography. In my role as eLearning integrator at the College, it is important that I am seen to be visible in this area, and that I can show that I too am implementing some of the strategies and tools that I am advocating to other staff.


The SAMR Model

SAMR is a popular model used to help teachers infuse technology into teaching and learning. The man behind the model is Dr. Ruben Puentedura, an Argentinian academic. The SAMR model is based around a planning progression that aims to transform learning experiences so they result in higher levels of achievement for students. We have previously blogged about the SAMR scale here – a great post that thoroughly describes the model.

Alternatively you can listen to Dr Puentedura explain the SAMR model on this video. 

Hearing Dr Puentedura Explain his Model

Last week I was lucky enough to attend a presentation by Dr Puentedura here in Christchurch. During the presentation he spent time analysing the structure of the SAMR model, by modeling how the model could be used in the teaching of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet.

The way we were challenged to think about the model was as a SAMR Ladder.  A unit of work must involve a deliberate progression through the stages of the SAMR model, with each learning activity building on the complexity of student understanding generated by the last.  This ladder analogy was the crucial aspect of the presentation for me, and really consolidated my own understanding of the model and the most appropriate way to implement it.

The second part of the presentation was time spent working in small groups implementing the model into a unfamiliar situation. In my case it was helping Year 5 students consolidate their understanding of correct notation in Mathematics. While, as a senior Geography teacher, the context was unfamiliar, this actually proved beneficial as the exercise consolidated my understanding of the importance of a deliberate progression of learning activities required to move through the ladder, thus improving student engagement and understanding.

Takeaways from Presentation

I found Dr Puentedura’s presentation the most engaging I have attended recently. On reflection, my main takeaway’s are:

  • The SAMR model is designed to be implemented progressively across a long unit of work, rather than used to justify the planning of an individual task.
  • Think of the SAMR model as a ladder, and plan to progress your students and their learning.
  • The challenge for teachers is to move beyond Augmentation to Modification

Putting it into Action – Queenstown Tourism Development Unit


My Ideas for a SAMR Unit on Tourism Development

Upon returning to school I felt compelled to put my new learning into action. Next week my Year 13 students begin work on a new unit of work; Tourism Development. The aim of the unit is to help students demonstrate understanding of how a Cultural Process shapes a Geographic Environment; in this case Queenstown. During this unit they will study the historic and contemporary role that Tourism Development has played in the life of Queenstown.

Whilst technology has previously played a part in my teaching of this unit, this will be the first occasion where I plan to implement the SAMR model this deliberately throughout a unit.

Four levels of Task Development

Because OneNote plays such a big roll in my class it was easy to identify tasks in the unit that are clearly Substitution. Particularly with the recently added Classroom Notebook Add-in to OneNote it is now incredibly easy to ensure that class notes are easily distributed to all students in an organised, and deliberate way.

The second level of the scale is Augmentation. These are tasks that technology acts as a direct tool substitute, but there is a level of functional improvement. A good example of this will be a task that I have previously used during this topic where students use the Placemark functionality within Google Earth to investigate the Spatial Patterns of accommodation and attractions in Queenstown. This task could just as easily be done with a paper map and felt pens, but the functional improvement comes from the ability of students to turn the different layers on and off, and add text detail to each of the Placemarks.

Task Modification is where the real challenge lies for me in this unit. Google Earth makes another appearance on this list, as the program is so useful for students to visualise an environment such as Queenstown; so there are two further tasks that utilise its potential. The third task is aimed at utilising the potential of the site Canva which we have recently discovered in our team as an easy site to use to create visuals.

The final step in my ladder is based around task Redefinition. At this level the technology must allow for the creation of a new task, one that was previously inconceivable. In this case I plan to have my students create a revision website that will be made public. We have previously blogged about student produced websites and I feel that this is an authentic purpose for the students to challenge their organisation and, most importantly, their learning.

The unit of work is planned to take approximately 5 weeks of class time – and with the amount of content material that is demanded of Y13 students it will be interesting to see the progress that I am able to make through this plan. I feel particularly optimistic at this stage however, as the substitution aspect of my providing notes for students to annotate, rather than copy, frees up huge amounts of time to complete more in-depth tasks.

At the conclusion of the unit I will revisit its success – watch this space!

Staff Profile – Bronwyn Radcliffe

During 2016 I have been profiling a number of Staff members from different departments to help to highlight the seamless nature of ICT integration into the vast majority of classrooms here at StAC. In Term 1, I began by profiling Donna Jones; a post which highlighted and celebrated the willingness of an experienced classroom teacher to innovate and model effective learning to her students. That post was followed by a profile of some of the great work occurring in the Mathematics department; focusinbronwyn radcliffeg on the strong collaboration occurring between Mr John Quealy, and Mr Mitch Howard as they work to raise engagement and success levels for some priority learners.

This week I am profiling Mrs Bronwyn Radcliffe, a member of staff who predominantly teaches in the Languages department. Over recent years, it has been pleasing to see the enthusiasm with which the Languages department has embraced the potential of eLearning tools in their classrooms.

Introducing Digital Textbooks


An example of Digital Textbook Content

In 2016 the French department began a digital textbook trial. In an attempt to source the best product for the differing needs of each year level it was decided to use two different products; Studio for Year 11 students, and AQA for Year 12.

The allure of digital textbooks, for Mrs Radcliffe, is the range of interactive activities that are seamlessly linked to self-marking activities, and the detailed analysis of student performance that she, as the teacher, has access to. This analysis is replicated by the functionality of the second main online platform that Mrs Radcliffe utilises; Language Perfect. This product allows Mrs Radcliffe to personalise the learning of her students to the particular topic content by ensuring that the vocabulary lists that she requires students to learn are directly relevant to the classroom content.

Capture 2

An example of the Language Perfect analytics that Mrs Radcliffe uses to track student progress in her class.

“I love that I can provide Language Perfect with the specific vocabulary lists that I need my students to learn, and in most cases, it is entered into the programme for them to learn within 24 hours”

This functionality of Language Perfect enables Mrs Radcliffe to run include elements of a flipped classroom in regards to students knowing in advance the vocabulary that must be learnt to enable their learning to progress more immediately in class.


Providing Students with Better Feedback

Capture 3

An example of feedback utilising the strengths of the Surface 4 Pen.

As part of our three year teacher laptop lease, Mrs Radcliffe has recently been issued a Microsoft Surface 4. We have previously blogged about the efficiency gains that a Surface tablet affords a teacher in giving students timely and valuable feedback, and Mrs Radcliffe has been quick to implement such practice in her class, through the class OneNote notebook. Her students now receive handwritten feedback that clearly identifies the areas for improvement in their work and, as in the example above, they can use the highlighter function to record the changes that they have made.

A second feature of OneNote that is adding value to Mrs Radcliffe’s teaching is the Insert Audio function. As a teacher of language, it is imperative that students are exposed to the correct pronunciation of new vocabulary. By using the insert audio function, both students and Mrs Radcliffe, are able to record, and listen to, each other speak. This has clear benefits for the quality of the student’s speaking.

Technology in Language Teaching 

While researching this profile, it was again pleasing to see how fluently our teachers are able to articulate how technology influences their classroom practice. The confidence that they have to innovate, and more importantly reflect on the successes, and obstacles that ICT brings into a classroom, shows a real commitment to the flexibility and pride that they take in the development of their pedagogy. Mrs Radcliffe is a great example of this.

Re-imagining Staff Professional Development

In my role as eLearning Integrator at St Andrew’s College, one of my major responsibilities is to provide Professional Development to staff in a wide variety of eLearning, and more general ICT products. In 2015 I ran a series of lunchtime sessions, on a variety of different topics, as well providing individual PD sessions to staff who requested it. Attendance at these sessions was sporadic, with many commenting that the time the sessions ran, Tuesday lunchtime, was not convenient for them.

Early in 2016 I put a lot of thought into the best delivery model to follow to ensure that as many staff as possible could access eLearning PD this year. In addition, a clear goal was set, that all secondary staff attend at least one, optional, eLearning PD session during 2016. This PD contact is in addition to the informal eLearning support that I provide to staff on a daily basis.

Reflecting on the feedback that the flexibility of timings is important for staff engagement, I decided to embrace an extremely flexible approach to providing Professional Development. The model I decided to follow, in Term 1, was to have a weekly theme(s) for the sessions, and then run the sessions upwards of 10 times during the week.

Choosing a Weekly Theme

Teachers are busy people. One aspect of eLearning that I am extremely conscious of, is the dangers of exposing teachers, and students, to too many new products. I find that this can lead to a disjointed view of the benefits of such tools, and a general feeling of disengagement with eLearning and a possible perception that it is too hard to get to grips with.

With this feeling clearly in mind, I made the decision to only provide professional development for tools that had already been introduced to staff in some capacity. This doesn’t mean that these tools would not be new to some staff, but a significant number of staff would, at the very least, have a basic conceptual understanding of the product. The services I decided to focus on were eTV, Zaption, Office Mix, Moodle, OneNote, and our Appraisal platform; Appraisal Connector.





Improving access to PD

By offering a variety of potential times for staff to attend PD sessions, I was hoping that attendance would improve. The typical week had a mixture of before and after school, lunchtimes and individual period sessions.

An example weekly schedule

An example weekly schedule showing the times and location of PD. This information was widely circulated to all staff.

In addition, all staff were emailed the full weekly schedule, and in certain weeks, daily email reminders were sent. These daily emails proved particularly effective, and were surprisingly easy to manage by writing them all at the start of the week, and then using the delay delivery function in Outlook.



Staff engagement levels and satisfaction

With the aim of all secondary staff to attend at least one optional eLearning PD session during 2016, I was very interested in how they would respond to this new delivery model. During Term 1, 62 different Pd session were run – over a 7 week period. With approximately 90 teaching staff in the secondary school, it was pleasing that, during the term, I had 68 attendees at my sessions, made up of 42 different staff. On reflection, I am satisfied enough with these numbers, as the PD sessions were deliberately marketed as being optional, and they are all in the teacher’s own time.

Positive staff feedback on the sessions

This week, all staff who attended at least one of my sessions were emailed a short survey to fill in.

PD SurveyResults are obviously still coming in, but over half of staff have responded. The results are pleasing. 85% of respondents have used the eLearning tool in their classrooms, 90% say that are extremely likely to attend a Term 2 session, and 95% would highly recommend an eLearning PD session to other staff here at St Andrew’s College.

eLearning Professional Development in Term 2

Based on the attendance at the Term 1 sessions, and the positive survey feedback I will run a similar model during Term Two; with a few possible alterations:

  •  8am sessions were not well attended, so fewer will be offered
  • After school sessions will be extended, with the possibility of running two on any one day – eg straight after school at 3.30, and then a later 4.30 session
  • Daily reminder emails will be sent consistently
  • Timetables of weekly sessions to be included on the weekly staff information sheet; ‘The Green Sheet’
  • Large format timetables to be produced and pinned on staff workroom doors each week
  • Target specific departments for topic eg: a week of Digital Static Image creation is planned for English Department

I am fully committed to the continued upskilling of staff, and I feel that there is ongoing value in this approach to providing Professional Development. I look forward to connecting with the remaining staff that could not find time to attend a session in Term 1.