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

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

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.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Time for a class research study about NZ Sufferagettes

The NZ Suffragettes battle for woman to get the vote!

Who is this woman on our $10 note?

The 1883 Woman's Christian Temperance Union and the Electoral Bill passed through Parliament and was given the Royal Assent by the Governor Lord Glasgow on 19thSeptember 1893.

I wonder how many New Zealand teachers took the time to discuss the importance of this event in the their classrooms? 

Arrest and gaol in England!
It's not just making students aware of woman getting the vote but trying to understand and imagine what it must have been like to be involved?

That we all have the vote is taken for granted today but it had been a hard won battle,  before this time only men had the right to vote.
It would be a learning experience for students to begin to appreciate the challenge this was for woman facing up to the fierce opposition th
at came from the men. 
Students could research the history of the suffragette movement world wide and the actions of those involved that included gaol, hunger strikes and force feeding  and the opposition and ridicule they had to face up to.

Students could try to imagine what is was like for men to have woman dress and behave like men in those times - even smoking cigars in public!
Nasty cartoons

The task  of the suffragettes was not easy because many woman believed  they had to accept their husbands opinions and did not need to vote!Students might wonder what some woman felt like this? Some men thought woman too foolish to vote while others thought is was a challenge to them as head of the house.

It might be interesting to consider ( and compare numbers to today) that  30 000 woman signed the petition  which was about a quarter of the woman in  New Zealand at the time.

Woman getting the vote was only a first step, the next was to elect woman as Members of Parliament - which was achieved in 1919. In recent times we have had woman Prime Ministers.

Kate Shepherd NZ
Today their is a debate about the importance of having equal numbers woman in parliament and in business positions. Do students think these are important and why, or why not?

Do students think men and woman's need and abilities are completely different or do they think that they share most things in common but both sexes have a few different but important characteristics? What might they be? Imagine a world run entirely by men or woman - what might it be like?

The fight for equality goes on throughout the world. Change is never easy it seems - students might wonder why this isusing their knowledge of the suffragette movement as an example.

What would they like to change if they had the chance? Would they be prepared to put themselves at risk to do ? What things are still unfair ?

Who are individuals in history that were prepared to face the power of authority to fight for what they thought was right?

Who have been others in history that have had to fight for votes or equality?

What has all this got to do with democracy

Friday, September 14, 2018

Career burnout / history of reform / votes for woman / school rules? / Reading Recovery / Play is learning / schools to develop talent

Kate Shepherd - Suffragette

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

Are you heading for a career burnout- the symptoms and how to beat it?
I can relate to this….
‘Career burnout usually creeps in quite insidiously; slowly but surely over time.Tthe very nature of career burnout can make it physically and mentally difficult to draw up the required energy needed to address it.’

Why This Time is Different - school reform the past 100 years.
‘“Given the number of books that have been written and papers that have been presented around  school change over more than 50 years by some very well informed and esteemed writers, why has there been so little change in schools and why do you think it will be any different this time ?
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.’

No gimmicks: technology in schools must serve a purpose
The push for more technology often misses the mark when it comes to improving educational outcomes. Just adding more gadgets to the classroom won’t necessarily benefit students. Rather, we need fewer gimmicks and more focus on what actually works.’

Zero-Based School Rules. Zero-Based School Procedures.
‘What would you do if you had to justify and defend every school rule? Every school procedure? Every school tradition? And you
had to do that before every new school year? Our schools are filled with rules and procedures and norms that define the hidden curriculum. And I find that when schools worry about their culture they rarely tackle that persistent structure of rules — formal and informal — that define that culture.’

What I Learned from Reading Recovery and How It Helped to Inform my Classroom Practices
Marie Clay
‘I’ll begin by saying what this blog entry is not about.  It’s not about trying to move Reading Recovery practices directly into the classroom or to create some pseudo Reading Recovery program. If you want Reading Recovery like results, then get your teachers trained by certified trainers. Before trying to move any Reading Recovery practice into the classroom, first visit the theory behind the practice and then adapt the practice classroom setting.’

The Unexpected Power of Reading Conferences
‘Teachers face many challenges when it comes to helping students develop a love of reading, some of which I wrote about in “Putting an End to Fake Reading,” but one of the most daunting is the accountability piece. How do we know if students are actually reading? How do we assess the learning students are gaining from choice reading?’

It’s Not About Behavior
By Alfie Kohn
‘Over and over — in schools, families, and workplaces — researchers continue to find that the more you reward people for doing something, the more they lose interest in whatever they had to do to get the reward. Often, too, they end up not doing it as well as those who weren’t treated like bundles of behaviors to be managed and manipulated.’

Play IS learning: why play-time matters more than you think
‘Play isn’t some sort of soft approach before the ‘real’ learning begins, says early childhood education expert Viv Shearsby. Play is learning, children are the experts – and all teachers should provide play time every day.’

A good prompt is worth a 1000 words.
‘I know that much is expected of today's teachers and students. I also know that the richest learning experiences and greatest demonstrations of student mastery
have emerged from situations where maximum flexibility is exercised. If deep learning is the goal, then when it comes to curriculum, less is more! I argue that anytime an adult feels it necessary to intervene in an educational transaction, they should take a deep breath and ask, "Is there some way I can do less and grant more authority, responsibility, or agency to the learner?

The new shape of knowledge.
‘If conventional schools aren’t likely preparing learners for this world of knowledge, what can? I
believe this new knowledge landscape makes Self-Directed Education both more feasible and more necessary. It is easier today for learners to learn what they’d like when they’d like. It is also more imperative than ever that children’s education prepare them less for amassing a head full of facts and how to remember what teachers teach, and more for a world where they must seek out the information they need.

From Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

The NZ Suffragettes battle for women to get the vote!
‘It would be a learning experience for students to begin to appreciate the challenge this was for
Kate Shepherd
woman facing up to the fierce opposition that came from the men.
Students could research the history of the suffragette movement world wide and the actions of those involved that included gaol, hunger strikes and force feeding  and the opposition and ridicule they had to face up to.’

Diane Ravitch : Finding the genius in every child
‘The role of schools is to tap into and extend the unique gifts of every learner - not to judge, sort , stream, or classify them according to some supposedly objective set of standards or expectations. Personalisation of learning is the true agenda for the 21stC.’

Friday, September 07, 2018

Quality NZ schools / Karen Boyes - future learning / Curiosity / John Dewey and Jerome Bruner

Mural assisted by n ex Art Adviser

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

Bruce went to visit a school. Here are two articles reflecting on what he saw:

A walk around a creative school - the senior school
‘Years ago, before Tomorrows Schools, I belonged to a group of teachers who believed it was important to develop classrooms that featured student inquiry and creative work. My walk showed that, at least in this school, the idea of the importance of stimulating classrooms still continues.’

A walk around a creative school - the juniors
‘It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to walk around a schools junior classrooms. From the impression one gets you might have thought all you might see is literacy and numeracy work but my walk showed lots more going on. The classroom environment is an important messagesystem of what is seen important to students and parents alike.’

Why our education system needs to change Karen Boyes
‘To create a progressive and future focused education system I believe it needs to be centred
around the life skills required to be a contributing citizen of the world, have a focus on thinking, and practical applications of knowledge and understanding. This will require a rethink of everything we know and understand about schools. Business consultant, Peter Drucker, says “One does not begin with answers. One begins by asking questions.

Who are these modern learners?
With all the talk around modern learners, its probably time we got up close and personal to understand a little more about their motivations, behaviors, and attitudes. They are producers and contributors, not just passive consumers. So how should we be responding to these modern learners today?’

Developing meaningful learning in your school
By Katie Martin
‘Are you ready to make relevant, sustainable, meaningful change in your school? Download the free whitepaper that educational leaders around the world are using to transform student learning in their schools.’

4 Ways to Create a Learner-Centered Classroom
‘I have been encouraged with the thoughtful ways that teachers are starting the year and focusing on the learners and the learning community.  Here are 4 ways that I have seen recently that are great examples of how we can prioritize the learners and relationships to create learner-centered classrooms.’

The Importance of Curiosity and Challenge in Education
‘Here is something I have been thinking aboutWhether schoolis the direct reason why kids lose curiosity over time shouldnt 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.'

Skim reading is the new normal. The
effect on society is profound
When the reading brain skims texts, we dont have time to grasp complexity, to understand anothers feelings or to perceive beauty. We need a new literacy for the digital age.’

Getting Inside Students' Minds: Why Misconceptions Are So Powerful
‘"Students are not empty vessels", Students are full of all kinds of knowledge, and they have explanations for everything." From birth, human beings are working hard to figure out the world around us. But we go about it more like the early Greek philosophers than modern scientists: reasoning from our limited experience. And like those early philosophers — we're often dead wrong.’

A snapshot of a New Zealand School inquiry learning
‘At Hororata Primary School we want to encourage our children to "think outside the box"; to use flexibility, creativity, innovation, and social intelligence to solve everyday problems. Our teaching provides children with learning experiences that include elements of developmental, discovery, STEAM, and Tinkering learning theory, with a strong emphasis on science and technology.’

Bruce’s ‘goldie oldies’ file:

On Knowing - Jerome Bruner
‘The themes Jerome Bruner covers in his book concern the process of knowing, how knowing is shaped and how it in turn gives form to language science, literature and art.’

Experience and Education -John Dewey 1938
‘Such a lot of the ideas expressed today have their genesis in the ideas of John Dewey.That Dewey's ideas have yet to be fully realised says something for the power of conservatism in education. 'Experience in Education' is Dewey's most concise statement of his ideas written after criticism his theories received. In this book Dewey argues that neither 'traditional ' nor 'progressive ' ideas are adequate and he outlines a deeper point of view building on the best of both.’

The room environment as a '' message'' system