Thursday, 28 February 2019

This is what creative excellence, Learn Create Share, can look like

If you are asking what does 'Learn Create Share' looks like, sounds like, feels like in a school? If you are asking what creative excellence' look like, then you need look no further than these two outstanding examples form Te Huruhuru Ao o Horomaka this week.

Mr Rees, Technology and Maths teacher, was doing some work with a Year 9 maths class. He decided they would look at sundials. However he went much much further than this. He decided the class members would each make a sundial, using his own skills as a technologist as well. And so they did. They researched the devices, their history, and the maths behind their workings, and then they made one each. All along they blogged about their work, explaining what they were doing and why.

However Mr Rees went one step further. His class then visited one of our Year 7 & 8 classes, the students demonstrating their sundials, explaining what they were doing and what they had learned. Here are some photos of the day.

The interactions were exciting, and outstanding. The conclusion to the whole learning experience will see the Year 7s and 8s commenting on the blogs of the Year 9s. This is tuakana teina at its best. This is 'Learn Create Share' as it can look. This is 'creative excellence.

And then this...

Our new Year 7 & 8 curriculum includes 'Modules' of learning that combine homeroom classes with their homeroom teachers and a specialist teacher. Each module is expected to meet not only the curriculum requirements of the specialist area, but also literacy and/or numeracy requirements.

One of those modules saw Mrs Clemence (HoD Art) working with two classes on 'claymotion'. Students delved into the world of creativity and art to create clay models, from which they will then make 'claymotion' movies. Here is one example from two Year 7 boys. Their clay modelling is outstanding.

This yet again is 'Learn Create Share' at its best. This is 'creative excellence'.

The levels of engagement from the students was outstanding. The rooms were filled with that purposeful working buzz. Everyone was so focussed they hardly noticed me wandering through the rooms. It's one of those times when as a Principal I loved being ignored.

And all of this comes about because we have staff who see our vision for our kura as 'a centre of creative excellence' as central to not only what they deliver, but also to their key tasks of learning design. These tasks have been set up to focus on creativity, to deepen learning in meaningful ways, ways that revolve entirely around 'Learn Create Share'.

In doing this, staff have taken big risks, they have modelled being responsible risk takers. The risks have paid off in a massive way, and our learners have been big winners, and so too have ur staff. I see their confidence rising in the same way as that of our learners. Our leaners have been given agency over their learning, they have used digital tools to do some things they couldn't otherwise have done (the claymotion, in particular) while also modelling and developing their soft skills in collaboration, and tuakana teina, in self management, in commitment, resilience, resilience, and respect. And it is also enabled by our use of an underlying pedagogy to drive all of our learning, our pedagogy of 'Learn Create Share'. This is the gift of "manaiakalani' and the use of digital devices (Chromebooks) form our learners.

This is powerful stuff. This is the liberation we talk about. And it happens when we empower staff and learners, when we trust them, and when we allow and encourage them all to take risks.
Frankly I couldn't be prouder of our staff and our students.

Ka mau te wehi

Robin Sutton

Thursday, 21 February 2019

'Learn Create Share' as an embedded pedagogy

Here we are four weeks into the term, four weeks into the first new year occupying the first of our new buildings. Just as significantly here we are two weeks into the engagement of children in Years 7 & 8 from our client schools, coming to us for their 'dose of technology' education.

In 2018, lead by then Deputy Principal Mr Jon Rogers, our teachers (from across the curriculum areas) worked hard to re-imagine what that technology experience might look like. They took themselves a long way outside their comfort zones, they took risks that they had possibly never considered taking before (my surmise, not their statement). The end result is currently one in which students begin their time with us by undertaking a small dose of 'Connect  class' in which they work with a specialist teacher in the sciences, the arts, or the digital technologies, on work that is designed to complement the main technology activity that they will undertake. They do this while working amongst our own Hornby High School students (from across a range of age groups) who are engaged in their own explorations of the sciences, the arts, technologies, or foods, in the same spaces.

Amongst other things, children have been undertaking 'Connect' activities as diverse as experimenting with the colour wheel, and learning some simply coding with Spheros.

Early observations are encouraging and exciting. Here are some of the things we have seen.

A younger Year 7 student from a client school pushing the behavioural boundaries, and a senior Hornby student calmly and positively walking over and saying 'We don't behave like that here.'

A Year 8 student in an Art Connect class struggling with a small piece of work, and again a senior student reaching across and offering some advice and a helping hand.

These things are absolute gold, they are things you could never plan for, they are 'tuakana teina'.

Despite the relative openness of the spaces, there is a calmness and a quietness about proceedings. Noise levels are relatively low, and the work focus is high, despite the fact that there is often a lot of 'hands-on' work going on. This speaks highly to the skill of the architectural designers, and to the rangatahi working within the spaces.

This also says a lot about the professionalism of our amazing staff, and about the culture amongst our students. I have said to the staff that what we are doing here is all new, no-one has done this before. When planning it we often didn't even know what questions to ask, let alone what the answers would be.

Staff have captured our 'Learn Create Share' pedagogy in their own work. Activating prior knowledge, and coming up with new and innovative approaches to how we cause learning, are very clear to me. We share the thinking and the progress in many ways, this blog is just one of them.

The Manaiakalani pedagogy not only needs to permeate all areas of student learning. Student learning is strengthened when it permeates our own professional thinking as educators. I believe this makes the learning deeper, the engagement stronger. I believe that if we have the pedagogy more deeply embedded in every aspect of our work we are more likely to develop the types of engaging curriculum that our learners need.

This really is all about 'liberation' for our learners, and also maybe about liberation for our staff as well.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

True Liberation for our learners: exciting new data on achievement

What if we could figure out how to take learners who were well behind their peers nationally, and accelerate their learning to the point that they exceeded the statistical average of achievement growth for all learners? What if we could figure out how to reduce the inequities that run through our society such that all learners were able to learn and be the best they could be, regardless of gender or ethnicity?

Would we be interested? Would we want to embrace those processes?

Well, within our Uru Mānuka cluster (and in fact all Manaiakalani clusters) we know how, and here is some of the latest evidence.

Hornby High School and the Uru Mānuka cluster have been a part of the Manaiakalani Outreach since 2015. The efficacy, the impact, of the pedagogy and the digital devices is tracked carefully and independently by Woolf Fisher Research Centre (Auckland University) to verify the truthfulness of claims as to its effectiveness. WFRC uses the nationally determined and normed assessment tools e-asTTle, and PATs, to measure progress in writing, reading, and numeracy.

This is no laboratory controlled experiment, ethically we cannot deliberately have some children in our kura experience the impact of 'Learn Create Share' and digital devices, and some not. We can however measure the impact of the work that we do against children nationally, the vast majority of whom do not experience the pedagogy.

So last week we had our first sight of three years worth of achievement data tracking learners at Horny High School, and the Uru Mānuka cluster.

The improvements in writing are frankly nothing short of spectacular, gobsmacking, exciting .. choose your own superlative.

The following graphs track achievement as measured at the beginning and the end of the year in writing, using the e-asTTle writing tools. They track the same students and their achievement across three years, beginning of year 2016 to end of year 2018. The gray line on each graph is the progress measured for all students across the entire country of that age. Acceleration . we define as progress at a rate faster than that national progress.

The best way to look at these graphs is to look at where they begin at the very start (Fenruary 2016) in comparison with the grey line, and where they have ended up at the end of 2018.

What do you notice?

Hornby High School writing progress Years 7 - 10 by gender
All of the groups have shifted form well below the national grey line,. to above the grey line. That is acceleration. In this first graph you will see that both groups of students, boys and girls,  have made that shift. The dips in achievement you see are what we term the 'summer slump', the learnign that is lost over the summer break. As an aside, it is with this in mind that Manaiakalani set up and runs the Summer Learning Journey. More about that again later this year.

But it is even more powerful that that. The following graph shows shifts in achievement by ethnicity.

Hornby High School writing progress by ethnicity

Regardless of ethnicity, all students have made massively powerful shifts in their writing achievement. This is truly culturally responsive stuff, it overrides ethnicity. It enables all learners to accelerate their learning.

And this is not restricted to Hornby High School. Here is that same data across our whole cluster.

Uru Mānuka cluster writing progress by gender
I began this blog post by asking this question: "What if we could figure out how to take learners who were well behind their peers nationally, and accelerate their learning to the point that they exceeded the statistical average of achievement growth for all learners?"

WE KNOW!! We KNOW how to do this. We do this by using the 'Learn Create Share' pedagogy of Manaiakalani, and by magnifying the impact of that pedagogy by using digital devices (Chromebooks).

This is LIFE CHANGING stuff. This is TRANSFORMATIVE stuff, transforming lives before our very eyes.

Now in all honesty our own progress in reading and mathematics isn't as spectacular. We knew that and so in 2018 we experimented with several new strategies that showed great promise, and so we will be rolling these strategies out in 2019, sitting alongside and supporting the work that takes place under the Manaiakalani banner.

I am brought back to the wonderful cartoon used by Mr Pat Sneddon:

Image result for snedon cartoon equity liberation

What we see unfolding before our eyes is true liberation.

The critical success factors are:

  1. Teaching staff who are well versed in and committed to 'Learn Create Share', and the use of digital devices, and
  2. All students with access to Chromebooks
This week we released details of the new finance and purchase options that have now become available to whānau as a result of the work of our wonderful Uru Mānuka Education Trust, connecting with the Manaiakalani Education Trust in Auckland. 

We KNOW how to accelerate learning. Sadly as kura we are not resourced sufficiently well to provide Chromebooks for all learners. However, we are able to address the financial obstacle that stands in the way of so many. We KNOW how to do this. Providing a Chromebook for your child is, after your love and time, the next best investment you can make in your child's future. Join with us. Together we are unstoppable.

Ngā mihi nui
Robin Sutton