Thursday, 1 August 2019

The power of making learning visible 1

So what's this big deal about making learning visible?  'Manaiakalani', we say. "Learn Create Share' we say. "Accelerating learning", we say. How does that work? What does the Share part of that look like, and what it the big benefit of sharing learning?

Our basic sharing tool is student blogs. Blogs are our mechanism for sharing our thinking, our work, our learning, with a real audience. This blog post that you are reading is me as an educator sharing my thinking. And whenever a student writes a blog post, she opens up the possibility of connection with an authentic audience, with an audience that at the very least may be interested in the topic, or an audience that has much more specific expertise to offer on the blog topic. That offers a pathway to much deeper learning by connecting with levels of expertise that are not easily accessible within the student's own localised community. Sometimes that connection occurs naturally, and sometimes we have to 'engineer' it in the same way that a business or organisation has to engineer its own connections with its market or audience. But that's okay. We are most often so overloaded with information that we relish any opportunity to have our attention steered towards what matters, or what may be of interest.

This post is the first of two looking at real examples that we have seen at Hornby High School in the past few weeks.

Late last term a group of students from 7/8 Al started to read the book 'Night Vision' by ex Christchurch author Ella West.

Ella now lives in Australia. The students loved the book so much that they decided to contact her. To their surprise Ella replied. What's more she replied to each and every one of them.

And then this happened:

Followd by this:

The following day Mrs Allan-Fletcher took a phone call from Ella West, with the offer to come and talk with the class when she is in Christchurch in September this year. Mrs Fletcher came to tell me, and she was almost literally jumping up and down with excitement. If I am to be truthful, so was I when I heard the news.

Here are some of the responses of the students, who were equally as excited. Their words tell the story far better than I could. These are 11 and 12 year olds, hooked onto reading, and hooked onto learning. These are 11 and 12 year olds grateful for the opportunities they have, grateful for the chance to connect with a real author.

THIS is the power of blogging. THIS is the power of making learning visible.

Perhaps most importantly this is the power of Manaiakalani, Learn Create Share, and the use of Chromebooks as a way to create real connection, to create learning in context. This is how Chromebooks amplify learning. This is how we are accelerating learning. This is how we are accelerating writing development for our rangatahi by twice national averages. Theirs is perhaps the most powerful statement of that impact, and the most powerful argument for delivering a Chromebook into the hands of each and every child. We remain grateful to those whānau who make the sacrifice to purchase a Chromebook for their tamariki. After your time, you are giving your tamariki the best gift you possibly can.

This is not the first example of Hornby High School students making those real world connections with world experts to enhance their learning. Mr Rees' work with a Year 9 Maths class constructing sundials was the first I documented on this blog. This is another outstanding example.

Let's not forget that this is students showing our school values of Commitment, Achievement, Resilience, and Respect. And let's also not forget the power of an inspiring teacher in all of this. In this case, thanks Mrs Allan-Fletcher!!! And let's also not forget the manaaki, the whanaungatanga, the simple kindness, shown by Ellas West herself... reaching out to our tamariki in this way is true humanity. Thank you!!!

In part 2 I will describe another wonderful example of the power of sharing, of making learning visible, that has occurred in our kura over the past few weeks.


  1. Wow! Great to see and hear students who are really enjoying their learning and talk about authentic contexts to help engage and motivate. Is it blogging that allows this or is blogging one vehicle for expressing yourself...????

    1. Neil
      That's a good question. We would argue that it is the blogging because of its ease of use, its visibility, and its capacity for engagement with comments etc.
      Thanks for reading

  2. Thank you for your post and the acknowledgement for the students. They are genuinely so excited (as am I) and have recognised the power and opportunities blogging can give them. Such a wonderful experience for all of us!!

  3. Malo Robin, wow! There is so much happening in this piece of work ... A wonderful example of Learn Create Share and the affordances of digital technology; visible, ubiquitous learning that connects and empowers students. Those boys are hooked on reading and the other students spoke so confidently and passionately! Go Hornby High School!

  4. The power of making learning visible.... So good, HHS, Uru Mānuka and Manaiakalani.

  5. It's so exciting to see how Learn Create Share has developed over such a short time at HHS. I can imagine the students' responses when they received the comments back from Ella. Taking the time to respond to each of them will have shown them that their thoughts and ideas are valued. That surely is powerful motivation and will encourage them to learn and share more