Friday, 21 December 2018

The Manaiakalani Story...Our Story

At the end of 2018 we had the pleasure of working with Steve Adams and his amazing team to tell the Manaiakalani story. This was our chance to explain our story rather than have other groups create movies on what they understand about us.

This first movie is the full story, explaining what Manaiakalani is and who we are.

As part of this I was asked to talk about the tech side of Manaiakalani. We focused on why we use tech in the classroom, how we do it reliably and responsibly and what gear we use.

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Pt England Ambassadors @ Epsom - 2018

Today I had the pleasure of taking the year 6 Ambassadors to the University of Auckland in Epsom. We were presenting on how PT England School uses digital technologies to further develop children's learning and enhance teacher's capacity as teachers.

What I liked about today's group was their passion for learning and their obvious love for children. They were a very eager group to learn as much about digital literacy as they could and asked great thoughtful questions. One thing that definitely stood out from todays discussion was the importance of having a very real audience for children to share their learning with. Our ambassadors did an excellent job of fielding questions about this and further making the point that this is why they post on their blogs. Not because the teacher, or their parents told them too.

Thanks again Heather for having us today! We very much enjoyed working with you all and we are looking forward to seeing you in 2019!

Wednesday, 15 August 2018

DFI Presenting: Otaki

Today I had a heap of fun flying down to Otaki in the Kapiti Coast and working with Vicki, Makaore and their awesome teachers.

This visit really inspired me, in two key ways. Firstly, I was so warmly welcomed into the learning community that Vicki and Makaore are helping to shape down in Otaki. They really reminded me of my childhood, where I grew up in Palmy before moving to the very busy, fast paced life of Auckland, 10 years ago. They reminded me again of the simple reason why we are's all about the kids. It's all about doing what ever we can to connect our beautiful tamariki to learning in such a way that they continue to learn, even as adults.

Secondly, I was so inspired by their passion for their heritage, their culture and their language. There were so many times during the day where they would break into animated conversation in Te Reo Māori, laughing and enjoying learning together, that I wish I could speak Māori and join in too. Don't get me wrong - they didn't do this to leave me out, but did this because it was natural and normal for them. This reminds me of all out kids at PT England who should be doing the same. Talking, conversing, LEARNING in their own language. This has truly inspired me to think of ways that we could be doing this more at PES... what would this look like? How could we make this happen? What community connections could and should we be looking into to have our children speaking more and naturally in their own languages?

Thursday, 31 May 2018

Product Review: Phantom 4 Pro Drone

Earlier this year we upgraded our Phantom 3 and bought the DJI PHANTOM 4 PRO. Here is my review of this product.

1. Super easy to fly!
This is simply an amazing drone to fly. With 5-direction obstacle avoidance system
sensors you are going to be hard pressed to crash this drone! DJI's new sensors actively scan the environment around the drone, which allows it to autonomously fly if you so wish. This feature is a huge improvement on the Phantom 3. You can set the P4 Pro to circumnavigate a point of interest, create a preset path that it will follow over and over, or even follow a person using the new improved 'Follow Me' mode. They have even added other autonomous modes. These include, Terrain Follow,
Tripod Mode and Active Track mode. Needless to say, these are all amazing and was the very reason why I bought this drone in the first place! DJI have also upped the speed at which it can fly. With a top speed of 72kph and 32kph when flying autonomously this is one fast drone.

2. The camera has had a major upgrade from the Phantom 3.
The P4 has a brand new image sensor that is 2.5cm wide, which is the widest of all drones on the market. Not only that, but they have upgraded the camera to shoot 4K video at up to 60 frames per second. And for those who want to take perfect images - this camera can shoot up to 20 megapixels! This is truly an incredible camera!

3. Build quality
The build quality of the P4 is great. You notice when handling it how sturdy it feels and the 'non-plasticky' nature of it gives you huge confidence. This is a very strong and robust drone, perfect for schools.

DJI have upgraded the Return to Home (RTH) feature hugely from the Phantom 3. When I used to hit this button with our old P3 I was always worried about it flying as fast as it could to it's home position, whether a tree was in it's way or not. When you use the return to home button on the new P4 Pro, the drone will now retrace the flight path you have just used to get back home, all while  automatically avoiding any obstacles that might be in its way. This is amazing!

DJI have only been able to increase the battery life by 10 minutes. And with everything you read online, this is only under optimal conditions... no wind, smooth flying, etc, etc! Would have been nice if they were able to make a battery that can keep the P4 up for over 45 minutes.

So. My advice - but this drone! It is definitely worth every cent.

DJI Phantom 4 Pro Features
(Source: Best Drone for the Job)
  • Accepts any size phone or tablet for FPV video display
  • 20 Megapixel Photo Camera w/ 1-inch CMOS
  • Shoot 4K Video at 60 fps 
  • Take burst-mode stills at 14 fps
  • Integrated 3-Axis Stabilization Gimbal
  • Easy to Fly, Intelligent Flight System
  • Live HD View
  • Dedicated Remote Controller
  • DJIGo Mobile App w/ Auto Video Editor
  • GPS-free Positioning for Indoor Flight
  • 30 min flight time
  • 45 miles per hour top speed
  • 7 km range

Check out some recent footage from our P4 Drone:

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

DFI Presenting: Northland

Today I felt very blessed to work alongside Kerry Boyde-Preece at Northland College in Kaikohe to share my expertise around live streaming at school and in the classroom.

At Pt England school we have decided to live stream using Youtube. We had looked into other platforms but feel as though Youtube provides the best solution without making you use proprietary software or websites. At the moment we are live streaming school events like Cross Country, Production, Fiafia and different sports like Rugby and Rippa Rugby played on our sports field.

In the below presentation I have shown three different ways that you could live stream.
  • using the Teradek Vidiu Pro multicast streaming box
  • using a drone - like the Phantom 4 Pro made by DJI 
  • or even the camera on your laptop.
Have a look below and please comment on ways that you are live streaming.

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Pt England Ambassadors @ MIT - 2018

Today Garth and I took our year 6 Ambassadors to present our learning to students studying to be teachers at MIT. This was a very passionate and eager group who were very impressed with our year 6 Ambassadors!

From their feedback it became clear that there were a few main areas that challenged them the most:

  1. Why teach with digital devices? We use Chromebooks and iPads because these devices enable our teachers and children to capture their teaching and learning so that it becomes rewindable and can be re-watched and re-used at anytime. If it is worth teaching, it is worth capturing. If it is worth learning, it is worth capturing.
  2. It stops learning from only happening in the confines of a school day - 9am till 3pm. It enables children and their whanau to continue the learning together at home with all of the same scaffolding as they would get at school. 
  3. It enables children to work at their own pace - either ahead of the class or slower if needed.
Thank you MIT for having us! All the best for the rest of your studies and for teaching in 2019!

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

DMIC PD 2: What Does a DMIC Lesson Look Like?

Today we had our second PD session about DMIC Maths with Bobby Hunter. Here are some notes from this session:

In general guided lessons, who is doing the teaching? Who is doing the talking? THE TEACHER...we need the children taking control of the learning and the teacher facilitating THEIR discussion.

Setting up routines:

  • Begin by using problems that are not at grade level in order to get the kids used to talking. Once you start to see wins in your routines, and talking groups...then move things along.
  • Everyone in the group needs to be working in a way that allows for them each to be critiqued.
  • Everyone needs to be struggling in their effort to learn something new. 

We, as teachers, need to be working on the possibilities of what they should know instead of focusing on what they don’t know (and filling gaps).

When kids argue...Talk about how you are not disagreeing with a person but you are disagreeing with an IDEA. Also, it's ok to disagree, just understand you are only allowed to if you are able to express why you disagree.

Setting Up Your Class for Group Work

  1. Social and Strengths groups...these are not friend-based groups. They are groups of students that you know will work well together.
  2. Class is split into halves-each half seen on alternative days. However, always have one group of 4 that you could see 2 days in a row to give them an opportunity to grow or teach others their different thinking. 
  3. Groups of 4 (2 for younger children)
  4. One challenging task. If any student can solve it on their own it is not challenging enough)
  5. Encourage recording and multiple representations

One Lesson

10 minutes - Warm Up
5-10 minutes - Launch/group norms..need to discuss everyday (values/beliefs & family orientated)
15 minutes - Small Group Activity
15 minutes - Large Group Discussion
10 minutes - Making connections to the big idea* (this is where the teacher explicitly teaches and connects to the big idea*)

Independent Work

  • Make it purposeful
  • Include elements of choice
  • Make the practice related to previous maths focus (problems from previous days, refer to previous problems)
  • All students should use this time to cement previous learning.

Friday, 26 January 2018

DMIC PD - Introduction with Bobby Hunter

Developing Mathematical Inquiry in a Learning Community

Today for our teacher only day we are very blessed to be working with Bobby Hunter. She is kicking off our learning journey with DMIC. Here are my notes and wonderings from this sessions.

We need to be developing children who are doing the thinking...not just listening.

There is a common misconception in NZ that Pasifika children come to school ‘not knowing anything’ when it comes to maths. However, the truth is that they know a lot of applied maths (setting the tables, laying out the mats, cutting sandwiches into fractions, etc).

It is important to provide current cultural context for our students. They may be Samoan but they are living here! It is important to remember that Culture and Mathematics are one and the same. Every culture uses maths in context. 

When writing problems always ask, “Will my students be able to relate to this question?”

In order to bring the cultural aspect into a classroom you MUST look at the values held by you and your children/whanau. Instead of saying “work as a team” rephrase to “work as a family”.

DMIC-Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities
Connected, rich mathematical thinking and reasoning
Proficient use of mathematical practices
Inquiry learning within mathematics
Social grouping and group worthy problematic activity
High expectations and inclusion
Culturally responsive teaching and learning
Co-constructing teaching and learning

Struggling in Maths is a good thing:-It is important to let the kids know that the problem is is ok to struggle and work on it over a few days.

Important Mathematical Practices

As a teacher, it is important to add on the “because” when reacting to student involvement (eg. “That was a really good question/explanation because…”)

Talk Moves are important for promoting student interactions when discussing student explanations. (eg. why? how?). If every teacher made their math problems a level or two higher than where the students are achieving, our maths scores will increase dramatically.

Making a claim/conjecture:
Taking time to hear and acknowledge the conjecture (jot it down) and come back to it at the important time
Developing a mathematical explanation
Justifying thinking
Constructing arguments
Generalising a mathematical idea
Representing mathematical thinking using pictures, material, and numbers
Using mathematical language

Teachers need to always use the problem context to make the explanation experientially real.
Active listening and questioning for sentence making
Discuss and role-play active listening
Use inclusive language “show us’, “we want to know”, “tell us”
Structure the students explaining and sense making section by section
Emphasise need for individual responsibility for each other.
Encourage students to listen to (and look at) the student who is presenting.

Only work with about 12-16 students (in groups of 4) at a time and then rotate. This will allow for students who don’t quite get it to join in with the other group the next day.