Friday, October 19, 2018

New Zealand loses a top educator - Kelvin Smythe / teacher well being / Importance of PE / Deep learning / creativity



Education Readings
 By Allan Alach

Sad news this week. One of New Zealand’s premier educators, Kelvin Smythe, lost his battle against prostate cancer last Saturday

Kelvin was one of the very best educators in New Zealand’s history and his passing is a tragedy for primary school education. Over the past decade from 2009, Kelvin led the battle against the then government’s imposition of national standards (not too dissimilar to common core standards in the USA) and I think it’s fair to say that his efforts contributed to the removal of these when the government changed a year ago.
He was indeed an educational warrior who fought to the end to protect holistic /creative /democratic teaching from current technocratic formulaic approaches.

Our condolences to Kelvin’s family, who devoted themselves to his care over the last few weeks.

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
allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Mindset is encompassed by the holistic and should be seen as commonsense given space: I give it a strong tick

Kelvin Smythe’s last article, written with one hand as he had a broken arm and when he was in very poor health. He was determined to write to the end and one of his big regrets about dying was
that he had so much more that he wanted to write.
This posting supports mindset as expressed by the American academics Jo Boaler and Carol Dweck. I perceive mindset as a strategy to encourage holistic ideas into mathematics, in particular, a curriculum much in need of being repaired from its fragmented and perilous condition.’

Kelvin Smythe and John Hattie – the killing of creativity by the technocrats

‘Smythe, after reading Hattie's book 'Visible Learning', writes that Hattie's 'feedback' is really attached to a direct instruction process .It is more concerned with testable transmission of teacher devised content to the students and as such is antithetical to individuality and creativity. The book, according to Smythe, is 'skewed to a certain style of teaching and learning ( learning set up for measurement) and towards appealing to conservative influences.’

Kelvin Smythe’s advice for principals
“Principals need to be in charge of their own destiny.  Principals need
to focus on the important things -as for the rest just get them done. Principals, he said, need to take a moral stance. The best advice, Kelvin believes, is to 'colonise' the New Zealand Curriculum document and to keep integrity with their own beliefs. If principals cannot keep true to their beliefs they will become as confused as a 'chameleon on a Scottish plaid!’”


Teacher Wellbeing- some research highlights
‘Teaching as a profession is inherently stressful. We are working with people all day and human beings are complex, sometimes tricky even. Here’s some of what I found out about what may contribute to positive teacher wellbeing in our current educational climate.

Physical Education is just as important as any other school subject
PE is yet another subject area that lost ground due to the relentless focus on ‘raising achievement.’
Physical Education (PE) is often viewed as a marginal subject within the curriculum. PE is still championed for its potential to promote health and encourage lifelong physical activity. This is an important issue given that over 30% of year six pupils are classed as “overweight” or “obese”'

Being Barefoot Benefits Brain Development
'Proprioception gives us the ability to perceive the motion and position of our bodies in space, while
the vestibular system is responsible for balance and coordination.
The development of both of these senses relies heavily on sensory input we receive through bare feet, especially during infancy and childhood, Flegal explains in an article for Natural Child Magazine.'

5 Things Children Learn at Preschool That Are a Waste of Time and Not Developmentally Appropriate
'Calendar Time, Craft Projects, Teacher-Directed Lessons, Worksheets, and "Letter of the Week"
They're part of a typical preschool schedule, and parents rarely question their legitimacy. Instead, they see them as "real learning" and what's needed to prepare kids for kindergarten. Many child development experts, however, believe they're largely a waste of time and may even be detrimental.’

What is Deep Learning? Who are the Deep Learning Teachers?
‘Deep learning promotes the qualities children need for success by building complex
Deep learning
understanding and meaning rather than focusing on the learning of superficial knowledge that can today be gleaned through search engines.'

How to Teach Self-Regulation
‘To succeed in school, students need to be able to focus, control their emotions, and adjust to change.'

From Traditional Teacher to “Modern Learning Advisor
'What is the role of the single teacher in a classroom in a world where millions of potential teachers are now a few keystrokes away on a laptop or phone?

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Wounded by School

Success in life is all too often determined by success at school. And all efforts to improve schoolingvery rarely take the trouble to listen to the voices of teachers let alone students. In her wonderful book 'Wounded by School' Kirsten Olsen speaks passionately about the experiences of young people whom the school system has failed.
The importance of observation
Drawing is an ideal way to break through habitual ways of thinking. All too often our students see but they do not look. Observational drawing has long been an important means for some teachers to develop deeper consciousness in students - to assist students see through their habitual ways of seeing and to develop new awareness.’

Friday, October 12, 2018

Handling student trauma / the artistry of teaching / embrace uncertainty / vision and values /



Escaping traditional thinking
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 allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Secondary Traumatic Stress for Educators: Understanding and Mitigating the Effects
An article that examines the effect of student trauma on their teachers - a vital read.
‘With this evolving role comes an increasing need to understand and address the ways in which student trauma affects our education professionals.
In a growing number of professions, including firefighters, law enforcement, trauma doctors and nurses, child welfare workers, and therapists and case managers, it is now understood that working with people in trauma — hearing their stories of hardship and supporting their recovery — has far-reaching emotional effect on the provider.’

Problems with Evidence-based Education: Side Effects in Education
Introduction to Zong Zhao’s latest book:
‘Educational research typically has focused exclusively on collecting evidence to prove or disprove the benefits or intended effects of products, programs, policies, and practices. The recent movement toward evidence-based educational practices and policies is only about gathering and verifying evidence for effects. It shows no concern for negative side effects.
Does this mean that educational products are immune to adverse side effects? Does it mean that all educational products have no negative impact on students?’

Oracy: The Literacy of the Spoken Word
‘School 21 believes oracy is as important as reading and writing, and the research supports it. From Harkness discussions to talk-rich assemblies, learn how you can integrate oracy at your school.’

How to Teach an Inductive Learning Lesson
‘Inductive learning takes the traditional sequence of a lesson and reverses things. Instead of saying, “Here is the knowledge; now go practice it,” inductive learning says, “Here are some objects, some data, some artifacts, some experiences…what knowledge can we gain from them?”’

'Embrace uncertainty: leave students grappling'
‘Certainty isn't desirable It’s always assumed that the responsibility for questioning lies with the teacher, but wouldn’t it be great if we trained our students to use questions more effectively?’

The Artistry of Teaching
There is one goal [of education] that, if not achieved, makes the
achievement of all other goals very unlikely. That goal is to create those conditions that make students want to learn; not have to learn but want to learn more about self, others, and the world. The overarching purpose of schooling and its governance is to support that goal, i.e., to create and sustain contexts of productive learning supportive of the natural curiosity and wonder with which children start schooling’.

Big Picture Learning
In the schools that Big Picture Learning envisioned, students
would be at the center their own education. They would spend considerable time in the community under the tutelage of mentors and they would not be evaluated solely on the basis of standardized tests. Instead, students would be assessed on exhibitions and demonstrations of achievement, on motivation, and on the habits of mind, hand, and heart reflecting the real world evaluations and assessments that all of us face in our everyday lives.’

How Should Teachers be Professional With Social Media?
‘In this compulsive age of one-click logins, left and right ‘swipes’ and selfie auto-sharing, it can be easy to let our guard down and cross the line between what is appropriate and what is inappropriate when using social media.


The Danger of Teacher Nostalgia
This is the worst group we’ve ever had.”When I hear a teacher say this, I know those students are in trouble: The person in charge of their well-being, the tone of their classroom, and their opportunities to grow has decided they are beyond saving.’

Tear Down Your Behavior Chart!
'Behavior charts and similar public shaming methods don’t teach self-regulation. They mainly harm vulnerable learners.’

5 Ways to Decrease Disciplinary Issues in the Classroom
‘Many educators indicate that mastering classroom management is one of the most difficult parts
of the profession. Teachers who struggle with poor classroom management skills will never get their students to learn at their highest potential. Their students are seen off task, talking to their friends, defiant, and disrespectful The goal  is to change the behavior, not to continuously battle for power with a child in the classroom. Sending them out of the classroom only gives in to what some of them ultimately want.Here are five ways to decrease disciplinary issues in the classroom.'

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

There is no master plan
Darwin
‘In this fast changing world there is no grand plan held by the technocrats in Wellington, as much individuals
as they would like to think so! All this certainty was put to rest by Darwin and his theory of evolution. Life evolves and it is impossible to predict what will eventuate. This applies to the universe as much as it own lives. This provides real challenges for individuals and schools.


Importance of School Values
‘A vision gives an organization a sense of direction, a purpose, but only if it is ‘owned’ and translated into action by all involved.But vision is not enough in itself. The values that any organization has are just as important or even more so because they determine the behaviors that people agree to live within. Alignment of people behind values is vital but too often both vision and values are just words hidden in folders are rarely referred to. What you do must reflect what you believe if there is to be integrity. And any alignment needs to include students and parents as well.’

Friday, October 05, 2018

Personalized learning / importance of the arts / engaging students / beyond the 3Rs / and time for principals to fight back

Time to refresh your energy.

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 allanalach@inspire.net.nz


Arriving at a Definition of Learning
'Personalized and blended learning and differentiated instruction should be viewed as interrelated supports for deep learning.’

Play based learning
However, the play environment is only one part of the puzzle in supporting and observing how children learn through play.  Much
of the critical work is unseen to the 'naked eye' by visitors intent on seeing how schools 'do' play in their environment.’

Why an education in visual arts is the key to arming students for the future
'Visual skills are essential for a sophisticated workforce, yet we offer so little education in the vital skills of learning to see and developing the ability to interpret and critique our image-saturated world.’

Does Teacher Diversity Matter in Student Learning? Relevant
for NZ teachers?
Research shows that students, especially boys, benefit when teachers share their race or gender. Yet most teachers are white women.’

How to Ensure Students Are Actively Engaged and Not Just Compliant
'Engagement is a crucial part of learning, but ensuring students are actively engaged is more complex than whether a student is paying attention or not. As technology has made its way into the classroom many educators describe how attentive students are when on devices, but a quiet, outwardly behaved student is not the same thing as one that is truly engaged.’

Where have all the Powerful Ideas Gone?
‘I’m talking about the educators and educational leaders who are still timid and tentative about the use of computers in their schools.  I’m talking about the low bar ideas that are all about sustaining existing practice. And I’m talking about the dumbing down of every idea so that it’s ‘simple’ and easy’, as if teachers are not capable of rigor or higher-order thinking.’
http://bit.ly/2zOX9TD

WASO Crescendo program lifts NAPLAN results as schools see the benefits of music in class
  A music program that pairs children from disadvantaged areas with classical musicians from the West Australian Symphony Orchestra (WASO) has been shown to have a profound effect on their learning.’
https://ab.co/2y8zbkh


Alan Watts: 'Why modern education is a hoax’
"Let's take education. What a hoaxYou get a little child, you see, and you suck it into a trap and
you send it to nursery school. And in nursery school you tell the child 'You are getting ready to go on to kindergarten. And then wow-wee, first grade is coming up, and second grade, and third grade.' You are gradually climbing the ladder towards, towards, going on towards progress. And then when it gets to end of grade school, you say 'high school, now you're really getting going.' Wrong."http://bit.ly/2QoW7mU

Dr. Wayne Ross: The Fear Created by Precarious Existence in The Neoliberal World Discourages Critical Thinking
Can we have a school of knowledge under a neoliberal policy? Simply, can we have an education
under the neoliberal yoke? Are neoliberalism and education compatible?

Accountability and the Tyranny of Metrics
For educators, that draws a focus to assessment, where maybe it's time we asked if high-stakes standardized testing has finally reached its use by date? I mean what do you think it will take before we see public acknowledgment that the damage such ill-conceived tests have done to our kids and their learning, far outweighs any real or perceived benefits?



From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Seymour Papert : The obsolete 'Three Rs' - blocking real change in education
'Schools are still identified by the old turn of phrase ‘the three Rs’- reading ‘riting and ‘rithmetic', Seymour Papert. The 'three Rs' still reign supreme – more than ever in New Zealand  particularly since the introduction of governments National Standards in literacy and numeracy. As one English educational commentator has written ‘the evil twins of literacy and numeracy have all but eaten up the entire curriculum.’

Time for principals to fight back!
‘Principals have been too passive the past decades busying themselves with complying with demands placed on them from those on high. In this process they have become stressed out, not sure what is expected, and this is exacerbated by the Ministry continually adding new requirements

.It is time they added their collective voices to the debate and this is easiest done by groups of courageous principals, defining what is important, and sharing it with others.’

Friday, September 28, 2018

The power of imagination / getting creative / teaching as an art / Reggio Emilia / school vision..

Time to refresh your energy

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 allanalach@inspire.net.nz

Time for art and history to rhyme
Peter OConnor:
‘The international evidence is crystal clear on the value of the arts in education.  Children in arts rich schools do better academically across all areas of the curriculum. They are more engaged and motivated to come to school.  Children who play musical instruments do better at maths, children who do drama are better at writing. Children who have access to the arts begin to understand and value the power of the imagination.'

School walls are oozing with unhelpful growth
mindset cheese….
Get these slogans blown up and laminated and plaster your corridors and walls in them… Bingo! Go Growth Mindset.
What’s it all for?  Here’s my hunch: You could replace all of these posters and slogans with pictures of cute cats or Harry Styles and it would have the same effect: No effect.’

Is The Big Standardized Test A Big Standardized Flop?
‘After almost two decades of its use, we've raised an entire generation of students around the notion of test-based accountability, and yet the fruits ofthat seem.... well, elusive. Where are the waves of students now arriving on college campuses super-prepared? Where are the businesses proclaiming that today's grads are the most awesome in history? Where is the increase in citizens with great-paying jobs? Where are any visible signs that the test-based accountability system has worked?’

How Genius Hour Helps Kids Connect What They’re Learning
in School to Their Future Goals
“'It bothers me that I am not learning things in school that will help me become what I want to be.” This is the most sobering and common response to one of three questions I ask my students before we start Genius Hour: What bothers you? What do you love? What do you wonder about?'

Designing a Public School from Scratch
‘The offer sounded too good to pass up—a paid year off from teaching to create a new public school with a mission to “change the way we do school The opportunity to build the school they had always dreamed of, working alongside educators who shared a commitment to innovation.’

Education research is great but never forget teaching is a complex art form
'Research, research, research. Everyone is talking about education research. The movement for
“evidence-based practice” has become somewhat of a phenomenon in recent times, embraced by teachers, bloggers, education media, politicians and even the school’s inspectorate. If you want to get a teaching job in the next year or two, bandying around the terms “retrieval practice, metacognition and spaced learning” will be a bad start.’

Get Creative – Find the artist inside
“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso“When we are involved in creativity, we feel that we are living more fully than during the rest of life.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi We are all creative beings, but like anything the less we use it the harder it is to access it.

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. We now teach reading to 5-year-olds even though evidence shows it’s more efficient to teach them to read at age 7, and that any advantage gained by kids who learn to read early washes out later in childhood.’

Opinion | Charter schools have done more harm than good
‘Why is it that every time I chat with a charter school cheerleader  (such as privatization, school choice, competition, school closings, vouchers, teacher tenure, funding, regulations, testing) , they are unable to muster a defense of those policies.’ 

What do I need to know about Reggio?
So why is ‘everyone’ talking about Reggio Emilia? Probably because ‘it’ was identified by Newsweek magazine in 1991 as ‘the best’ early childhood education in the world – or at least a noteworthy form of excellence catching the attention of some senior American educators.’


From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The Interactive inquiry - Learning in Science  Project (LISP)
‘In the 80s a university physics professor became worried that the knowledge he thought his students ought to have been taught seemed to be missing in his classes. He found that it had been 'taught' , but that the students had been taught in way that their 'prior ideas' had not been changed in the process, or that they did not have the confidence to use what they 'knew' in practical situations. Some call this 'fragile' learning and it exists throughout the curriculum.’
 
Developing a powerful school vision
‘All schools these days have Visions, Missions and Strategy Plans but all too often few people can articulate them let alone say what they really mean in action. No matter how well they are drawn up if no one knows what they mean they are not worth the paper they are written on. For all this I still believe that a vision, properly developed with all involved, is a powerful idea. There is no more important work than the development of an inspiring vision that provides a clear sense of mission for the staff.’

Friday, September 21, 2018

The importance of curiosity / the need for play / Marae style teaching / the New Zealand Curriculum




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 allanalach@inspire.net.nz


The Importance of Curiosity and Challenge in Education
‘Whether “school” is the direct reason why kids lose curiosity over time shouldn’t matter. What should matter is that school should become a place where curiosity is developed in individuals no matter what factors have led to its decline.’

Why are Americans so bad at math?
This is very relevant all over and not just restricted to the USA
‘Research shows that the way math is taught in schools and how its conceptualized as a subject is severely impairing American student's ability to learn and understand the material.’

The Global Search For Education: The Need to Play
“Giving children meaningful, quality, free play opportunities in this period of exponential brain growth is the best, most cost-effective way to prepare them with the skills required to live in our modern society.” — Marcus Veerman 

What if a bird went to flying school?
‘We all know how birds learn to fly.  The mother and daddy bird
feed and care for their young until they are developed enough to push them out of the nest.  Birds fly by nature and discover their wings in the space between the nest and the ground.  But what if we ignored the nature of birds and flight?  What if a bird went to flying school?'

Marae style teaching spaces – a good fit for tamariki
Newton Primary School is seeing fast progress in te reo Māori learning by its bilingual and full immersion students. The school has a new teaching block with flexible spaces for the students, and the school is taking the opportunity to explore what it means to have a Māori learning environment.’

The art of unlearning
‘We often talk about our learning, but how often do we give thought to how much we need to unlearn. As Russell Ackoff says, “the only thing that’s harder than starting something new, is stopping something old.”’

What makes a good school culture?
Most principals have an instinctive awareness that organizational culture is a key element of school success. But like many organizational leaders, principals may get stymied when they actually try to describe the elements that create a positive culture.’

Why this time is different – the big picture of educational change
‘It’s a question that we’ve all struggled with from time to time, however, I do think the answer becomes a lot clearer if we step back and look at the bigger picture, which tells the story of school reform over the past hundred years and highlights why this time is different. Most importantly, it also gives meaning to the work of those who have gone before.’

How curious are you?
‘I’m curious about curiosity. It’s not something we have talked enough about in the past, but in a
society that celebrates creativity and innovative thinking, I feel it will be a lot more prominent in the future. So when I hear someone say that it’s a pity their kids aren’t more curious. Surely you must learn to be curious because you need to be curious to learn. So what’s going on?'

Should we review the New Zealand Curriculum?
The Minister has invited us to have our say on Education as many aspects are up for review. Should the New Zealand Curriculum be one of them?There is ongoing debate about whether our curriculum really meets the aspirations of our tamariki to be active citizens now and in their future so that they are well prepared for the task of making this world the best they possibly can for all people.’

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

Savants: beautiful minds
Savants are very special individuals that have one amazing passion. Possibly the most well known savant was featured in the film ‘Rain man’ portrayed by Dustin Hoffman. The programme made viewers wonder about the amazing potential that lies within us all.’

Natural born learners.
‘I had written, a while ago, that children, given the right conditions, had the attributes of young scientists. A comment, from the Netherlands, suggested I ought to read the book The 'Scientist in the Crib' because it provided up to date research about how children learn to back up what I had written.’
Great advice.