Friday, June 22, 2018

Modern Learning Environments and screen time - pros and cons / project based and personalized learning / is evaluation harmful ?

Too many experts
Education Readings

By Allan Alach

Every week Bruce Hammonds and I collect articles to share with teachers to encourage a creative approach to teaching and learning. I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

The Snares And Delusions Of Education Research

In the end, when it comes to research, only one thing matters. Does it work when a teacher uses it in her classroom?If the question comes down to, "What are you going to believe--the research or your own eyes?" most teachers know which one they're going to choose.’

Dare we disturb the universe?
‘Those who have worked in schools will know the timetable controls everything – who learns what,
when and with whom. Often in schools, the person who wields the most power is the one who is in charge of timetabling. Get that wrong and the system ends up coming to a grinding halt.’
With Student Trauma, It’s OK to Set Boundaries
Student trauma impacts teachers, too. Taking care of yourself isn’t a necessity its a luxury
‘As educators on the frontlines, teachers regularly encounter students who have experienced
significant hardships in their homes and communities. But psychologists and mental health practitioners say that the impact of trauma goes beyond the kids and reaches into the lives of educators who work closely with them day to day.’

Modern teaching trends a “monstrous threat to social justice”
A recommended read.
Some of today’s school settings, typified by open-concept classrooms and heavy use of digital devices, are “downright dangerous and causing harm”, according to a leading New Zealand educationalist.’ Kevin Knight

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Stephen Newnham – in defence of 21st century learning
Another recommended read - a response to the above article about modern teaching
‘I believe there is some validity to what Mr Knight says, but bundling open plan learning environments,
pedagogy, use of digital devices, and collaboration together under the banner of 21stC learning
and labeling it 'monstrous' with little data to support this claim is using a very blunt chisel to carve out
a complex argument, specially when his chosen target in low decile schools in east Christchurch.

Children, Learning, and the 'Evaluative Gaze' of School
How a watched pot loses the desire to boil.
My mother looked up from the sink where she was doing the dishes. “What’s that?” she said.
I looked at her and announced: 
“I just realized that you should never do anything you love for school, because that will make you hate it!”’

EdTech is Driving Me Crazy, Too
So, yeah, the current crop of ed tech “solutions” is driving me a bit mad because they’re not solutions at all. They’re masking the problem. Which unfortunately seems to be what we want. Because treating the real problem is
“more than we can handle at this point.”’

Screens in schools: The good news
‘Australian schools have leapt feet first into the age of digital learning. Our classrooms hold the world’s record for the highest daily usage of the internet,
and virtually every Australian student uses a computer at school. But is there any evidence that our technology-filled classrooms are actually producing better outcomes for our kids? Actually, there is. Quite a bit, in fact. Here’s a round-up of some of the recent findings.'

Lingering Fears from Outdated Screen Time Recommendations Stunt Parent Buy-In
‘I know what screen time can look like when it is not optimized for learning. But over the past two years,
as our district has rolled out our 1:1 device initiative to an increasing number of grade levels, I have also witnessed the benefits that some types of screen time can have on learners.

11 Powerful Characteristics of Adaptable Learners
Most of what is learned in the traditional approach to school is not adaptable learning. It is
discrete learning. It's focused on a specific body of knowledge and isn't
always transferable to new situations. Yesterday's learning is in silos with distinct separation among the disciplines.It's the type of learning that was useful in a world where you could train for a profession
and be assured of relative stability in that profession for many years.
Gone are those days.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Transforming schools through Project Based Learning (PBL).
'American educationalist Thom Markham is an enthusiast for Project Based Learning (PBL)
and believes that the most important innovation schools can implement is high quality project basedlearning. He provides seven important design principles for teachers to ensure project based
learning is of the
highest quality.’

Inquiry based learning -an approach to personalised learning.
The paper describes and explores the key elements of an approach to personalised learning which
is rooted in student experience and choice, learning shaped by the learner's interests which is rooted by their curiosity and purpose. The approach to pedagogy described takes seriously the 'self hood' of the learner while at the same time not abandoning the rigour of specialist knowledge in the various subject fields.’

Friday, June 15, 2018

Gifted students / N Z Educational Reform / Life after National Standards / Counsellors in primary schools / planning the school day...

Education Readings

By Allan Alach

Every week Bruce Hammonds and I collect articles to share with teachers to encourage a creative approach to teaching and learning. I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

“Differentness twice over” – what do we know about multi-exceptional learners in our schools?
Multi-exceptional learners are the students in our schools and centres who are both highly able in a particular area or areas but may still have learning, behavioural or physical difficulties or impairments. So, for example, a young person who is extremely intelligent academically may yet have a specific learning disability (SLD) such as dyslexia, or a student may be exceptionally able in the performing or visual arts but have a sensory processing disorder or be diagnosed with ADHD or Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).’

Reform & New Zealand Education: Why we need to look in our own back garden…..
‘So what values would reflect New Zealand if policy were formed around what Kiwis hold near and dear to their hearts?  What does it mean to grow up in New Zealand and participate in an education system that reflects the most important values of all Kiwis?’

The Marshmallow Test And The Crisis In Social Policy
One of the milder (though misguided) consequences of this was in education. Educationalists - some of them excited by the marshmallow test - thought that they could help tackle poverty and inequality of opportunity by teaching "character,” even as neo-liberal economic reforms were tearing apart the communities they taught in.’

Here’s Why Kids Fall Behind In Science
‘Efforts that increase schoolchildren’s science achievement – particularly those from diverse, traditionally marginalized populations – could help provide children with greater future employment opportunities while ensuring that the U.S. remains economically competitive. The question is, when should these efforts begin? That is, how early do leaks in the STEM pipeline begin to occur?’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Assessment in the early years.... now National Standards have gone!
If you are reading this blog post, I am absolutely that like me, you did a little dance and leap for joy when the demise of National Standards was announced. If you have been reading my blog for a while you will be well aware of my views on assessment or to be more specific 'testing'.  I talk about this a bit in my latest book as well. In my opinion assessment has taken over many schools, it has made the teachers role one of box ticking and created stress for children and adults alike.  It has taken a way a lot of the freedom and innovation and led us to believe that there is no other way.’
Technology and the death of civilisation
‘Late last year this photograph of children looking at their smartphones by Rembrandt’s ‘The Night Watch’ in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam started doing the rounds on the web. It quickly became viral. It was often accompanied by outraged, dispirited comments such as “a perfect metaphor for our age”, “the end of civilisation” or “a sad picture of our society”.’

“If we wait until high school, it’s too late” – the urgent need for counsellors in our primary and intermediate schools
But with a “crisis of anxiety” in our schools, including a shocking increase in suicide rates among 12 to 24 year olds and a spike in children with mental health issues generally, educators say there is a desperate need for counsellors at all pre-secondary schools.’

One student’s open letter to educators: please prepare us better for the real world
There is plenty of rhetoric that the education system needs fixing as it doesn’t prepare students for the real world. But the extent of this tragedy isn’t fully apparent until you understand how students are letting a world of opportunity slip by, as they leave high school completely unaware of how our world is rapidly changing.

School Has a Content Problem.
But try as we might to think of reading or mathing as a skill, we cannot divorce any of it from
specific content in the classroom. These aren’t Subjects that can be studied or mastered in any manner divorced from content, which is infinite in possibility and purpose and audience.Content’ and ‘Skill’ are not equal partners, because skill is universal while content is specific. You cannot learn a skill without the content, but the content requires the skill no matter what it is.’

What Doesn’t Work: Literacy Practices We Should Abandon
‘To help us analyze and maximize use of instructional time, here are five common literacy practices in U.S. schools that research suggests are not optimal use of instructional time.

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Pavlov's Dogs - an untold story (getting rid of National Standards mentality)
“t will require a real sense of urgency to shock schools to change, and for the wider community to appreciate that schools, in their present shape, are the real problem and that new thinking is required. Courage and leadership will be required to help shape a new vision of an education system suitable for the 21stC. As one writer said, ‘Our schools are OK if it were 1965’.”

Organising the school day for 21st Century Teaching - the Craft of Teaching
Personalising learning
How to organise the school day for personalised learning.There are a lot of exciting ideas about teaching these days but one thing that gets little mention is how the day is organised to make best use of them.’

Friday, June 08, 2018

Bullying behavior / exhausted teachers / role of parents / testing - educational malpractice / talent development..

Educational malpractice
Education Readings

By Allan Alach

Every week Bruce Hammonds and I collect articles to share with teachers to encourage a creative approach to teaching and learning. I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

Want to get rid of bullying? Get rid of schools
‘The Victorians created schools to produce people to run their empire. Educator Sugata Mitra said these people must be so identical that you could pick one up from New Zealand and ship them to Canada and they would be instantly functional. The system was so robust it is still with us today, continuously producing identical people for a machine that no longer exists.’

Why Children Aren't Behaving, And What You Can Do About It
If we respond to our kids' misbehavior instead of reacting, we'll get the results we want. I want to take a little of the pressure off of parenting; each instance is not life or death. We can let our kids struggle a little bit. We can let them fail. In fact, that is the process of childhood when children misbehave. It's not a sign of our failure as parents. It's normal.’

Following the Child: What Does that Look Like?
Lessons need to be planned and kids need literacy instruction. What does following the child look like in literacy instruction? Following the child in reading instruction means assessing where the child is in the literacy learning process and then providing the instruction, guidance, prompting, questioning or resources needed by the learner.’

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

Factory Model Education “Reforms” Were Designed for Product Testing, Not Children
“The factory model was developed to ensure quality control and produce identical “consumer” products cheaply. It is NOT an approach that should be used with children. Modern researchers and professional educators have come to understand that the human brain is wired for learning, and that the most effective methods of education are aligned with how children naturally learn.”

Educational Malpractice – The Child Manufacturing Process
‘It’s a model of education that seems straight out of George Orwell’s 1984 or Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, designed to produce obedient workers for the modern industrial economy of the last century. In effect, its more like a method for manufacturing future robot workers then for nurturing true creativity, independence, skillfulness and learning.’

Invest in Children, Not Testing. It’s That Simple.
‘Children don’t magically do better when we test them more or raise the bar higher, they do better when adults back up higher expectations by creating supportive and enriched learning environments, that nurture and nourish children as whole human beings, with social, emotional and creative needs, not just as data points and test scores.’  

‘Should I look and feel THIS exhausted?’
Teacher’s heartfelt plea for parents to STOP their ‘bizarrely lenient attitude toward disciplining children,’
‘Lately, it seems that many parents have adopted a bizarrely l
enient attitude toward disciplining children as well as bending over backwards to accommodate their children’s every demand. It’s unclear what’s causing these parents to believe that children should be subject to no limits, no discipline, and no stringent requirements at school. Whatever the cause, these parents are, in fact, doing a terrible disservice to today’s young people and to society as a whole. And, they are leaving their children’s teachers feeling frustrated, ill-supported, and utterly exhausted.’

Study finds popular 'growth mindset' educational interventions aren't very effective
A new study found that 'growth mindset interventions,' or programs that teach students they can improve their intelligence with effort -- and therefore improve grades and test scores -- don't work for students in most circumstances.’

Teach Kids When They’re Ready
A new book for parents on developing their kids’ sense of autonomy has some useful insights for teachers as well.
‘Not only are parents feeling undue pressure, but their kids are, too. The measuring stick is out, comparing one kid to another, before they even start formal schooling. Academic benchmarks are being pushed earlier and earlier, based on the mistaken assumption that starting earlier means that kids will do better later.’

One student’s open letter to educators: please prepare us better for the real world
There is plenty of rhetoric that the education system needs fixing as it doesn't prepare students for the real world. But the evidence for this isn't clear until you understand how students are letting the world of opportunity slip by as they leave high school completely unaware of how our world is rapidly changing.

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

 Developing talent in young people? Benjamin Bloom
I’n the future schools will need to focus on developing the talents of all students rather than
academic success for those students who are best suited to the current education. This is the position of creative expert Sir Ken Robinson. Howard Gardner is obviously a key figure in defining the range of multiple intelligences or talents student have but Bloom’s research is very interesting.’

Why art is important in education?
Art is as important as reading and maths but I am not sure many parents or children would think this – and not many teachers. One amazing educator Sir Ken Robinson has said that creativity is as important as
literacy and numeracy and that if we focus on reading and maths too much we wont have the time discover the gifts and talents children have in other areas.'

Friday, June 01, 2018

Modern Learning Environments / quality observation / engaging students in learning /emotional intelligence.

Check out Austin's butterfly drawing lesson - the secret of excellence

Education Readings

By Allan Alach

Every week Bruce Hammonds and I collect articles to share with teachers to encourage a creative approach to teaching and learning. I welcome suggested articles, so if you come across a gem, email it to me at

Bad PD is Sometimes Your Own Fault

‘Professional Development/Learning is to teachers what school is for many students. Ask a random group of students what they think of school and you’re sure to get answers related to boring or worse. it’s almost cliche. It’s also kinda cool to say school sucks.'

Contributed by Bruce Hammonds:

The Architecture of Ideal Learning Environments

Think this would be worth sharing. Although I am critical of aspects of it, it shows what's coming, ready or not.

Wiring the entire school—including the outdoors—is necessary, architects agree, and projectors,
screens, and sound systems are migrating out of classrooms and into hallways, common spaces, cafeterias, and even stairwells. Students can access the network anywhere on campus, and view and share work on digital displays throughout the building. The effects can be subversive in all the right ways, reducing students’ dependence on the teacher, promoting peer-to-peer collaboration, and widening the sphere of learning from the confines of the classroom to the whole school grounds.’

How We Can Make Research Matter to Kids

Angie Miller
Reckon this is spot on.
‘Instead, we want assignments where students do something with their facts. I don’t mean put them in a brochure or on a website—no matter how beautiful you make it, regurgitating information is still regurgitating information. What I mean is research should always build to something greater in either an organized classroom conversation, writing, or presenting.’

Why misbehaviour isn’t just a free choice

'Cast-iron' behaviour policies are alluring in their simplicity, but do they result in long-lasting behavioural change?

In fact, he suggests, rewards-and-sanctions-based behaviour policies may actually be failing our most vulnerable students. The numbers for both permanent and fixed-term exclusions are rising year on year. If current behaviour policies were working, whywould the statistics tell a different story?'

Empowering Kids to Make Decisions

‘Where do people acquire the kinds of information that will be useful to them for decision-making purposes? How can we help children learn to make good decisions? How do decision-makers prioritize things? Here are some answers to these questions, along with suggestions to share with kids.’

Emotional intelligence: What it is and why you need it

Emotional intelligence is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results. Emotional intelligence is made up of four core skills that pair up under two primary competencies: personal competence and social competence.’

Researcher challenges the way schools
Alison Gopnik

‘Gopnik believes the long period children spend dependent on caregivers is evolution’s way of freeing them to exercise brains with an immense capacity for learning and creativity. Adults tend to instead make priorities of planning, executing and exerting executive control.’

What's Going On In Your Child's Brain When You Read Them A Story?

‘A newly published study gives some insight into what may be happening inside young children's
brains in each of those situations. And, says lead author Dr. John Hutton, there is an apparent "Goldilocks effect" — some kinds of storytelling may be "too cold" for children, while others are "too hot." And, of course, some are "just right.”'

Austin's Butterfly:Building excellence in student work.

Very much the process we used to use in Taranaki. Shows the importance of observation, peer support and feedback. All about slowing the pace and encouraging thinking. Please watch

‘In this six-minute video, Models of Excellence curator Ron Berger shares a student project with elementary school students to illuminate the power of critique and multiple drafts. Ron shows students six drafts of this drawing, and elicits their kind, specific and helpful critique to consider how each draft could improve. The progress of the drawing from a primitive first draft to an impressive final draft is a powerful message for educators: we often settle for low-quality work because we underestimate the capacity of students to create great work. With time, clarity, critique and support, students are capable of much more than we imagine

Preserving the Early Excitement of STEAM

An educator argues for keeping the creative spark of primary school STEAM education as
students move into middle school.

'When someone walks into a classroom in the 21st century, it should be unclear exactly what subject the students are engaged in—the lines between subjects should be blurry, or removed, and the only thing that should be clear is that students are engaged and learning.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Self managing learners

‘If students are to become 'active seekers, users and creators of their own knowledge' then self-managing skills need to be 'taught' deliberately as an important goal of any classroom. The best way to see if students are self-managing is when the teacher leaves the room what intelligent behaviours would you hope to see on return?’

Fundamentals in education

In recent years education has become more and more cognitive or rational; learning that can be seen and measured so as to prove evidence of growth. In the
process real fundamentals have been overlooked. The creation of the mind is more than simply cognitive. The mind is a unified, active, constructive, self-creating, and symbol making organ; it feels as well as thinks- feelings and emotions are a kind of thought. Attitudes are created from feelings and emotions.’