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Tessa Gray's discussion posts

  • Tessa Gray 15 Aug 2019 8:48am () in DISCUSSION POST: Robotics and electronics in the classroom


    imageMany of us are exploring the new digital technologies content as two new technological areas of the Technology Learning area. Considering funding doesn’t come from a bottomless pit, deciding what equipment and consumables (electronics, robotics, peripherals, 3D printers) to purchase and how to use them wisely, can be a huge consideration for schools and kura.


    Start with what we know

    An important place to start; is to find out what equipment you already have. Create an inventory. Gather teacher data on the frequency, use, appropriateness and desirability of the equipment being used. Ask teachers what they would like to see more of and why?  


    We don’t know what we don’t know

    Investigate what is available to schools:

    Authentic integration

    MakerspaceRobotics is an excellent vehicle for project and inquiry-based learning. By providing opportunities for students to interact, exchange ideas, solve problems and come up with solutions together, students can drive their own learning. They are able to be curious, question, and be responsible for outcomes. Robotics Getting started: Enabling e-Learning (TK).


    Use a design thinking framework, much like Clive Francis has done here, to think how new purchases will fit into your curriculum delivery plan. For example, based on learner needs (interests, needs, abilities), how will you plan and implement CTDT (unplugged, plugged coding, peripherals) and DDDO (inputs, outputs) into the Technology Learning area and beyond, into other learning areas and/or authentic contexts (problem-based learning, student-inquiry, Makerspace, STEM/STEAM) and what digital tools, products and resources will enable this to happen in a relevant and meaningful way?


    Budget and resourcing


    • Purchasing and payment plans – immediate/long term costs, fundraising, student fees and/or leased equipment?
    • Price vs value and most efficient use of the resource? EG: one laser printer instead of separate printers in each classroom
    • Ongoing costs to purchase and maintain consumables – sensors (moisture, sound), lights, batteries, wires, conductive tape, filament, etc
    • Donated or free products – ie: old phones, computers for tinkering 

    Electronics kitUse criteria to judge functionality, effectiveness and durability and make comparisons between products. For example see Best robotic kit for beginners for some guidelines to consider. 


    Also think about where the equipment will be stored and where it will be used – ie: booked/wheeled out to classrooms, used in one space. Consider the age appropriateness of coding platforms, robotics, electronics, peripherals, inputs/outputs. For more see, Robotics Start small: Enabling e-Learning (TKI) and Setting up a Makerspace in your school: Enabling e-Learning (TKI).


    For more informal discussions, join us in next week’s informal Q&A session, LIVE WEBINAR:  Choosing and using robotics and electronics in authentic contexts​, 21 August, 3.45pm - 4.45pm where your questions and ideas become part of this hui. Register Now.

    In the meantime, how is everyone choosing and using technologies and equipment? Do you have any audit templates or criteria for purchasing or using to share? We’d love to hear more. 



    Also see:


    INTERVIEW WITH A GURU: Makerspace with Digital Technologies in a primary classroom

    INTERVIEW WITH A GURU: Computational thinking in the primary classroom with Ginette Van Praag

    Dealing with the growing pile of e-waste: Interface article

    Image sources: Flickr: Mathius Pastwa Monopoly money, Pxhere: CC0 public domain Makerspace, Flickr: Adafruit industries Robotics kit

  • Tessa Gray 31 Jul 2019 5:37pm () in Using digital technologies and social media for good

    The Project As parents and educators, we want our young people to be innovators and change agents - empowered to make a positive difference in the world they live in. But what happens if our young people are increasingly being exposed to negative social behaviours (via social media) that follow a ‘pack mentality’ aggressively online? Where does that leave us as a society?

    As luck would have it, The Project (Tuesday night 30 July, 2019) interviewed Jonathan Haidt (Social Psychologist from America) who talked about the age of outrage. He talked about how humans have evolved into moral, social, co-operative creatures, but are also good at fighting. Social media comes along and we’re especially good at 'turning up' the aggression online.

    “You can get all moralistic on social media, you can judge people and you punish them and there is no forgiveness, there’s no forgetting there’s no mercy. So it’s really turning our democracies dysfunctional and savage. The net effect is a real shift in the balance from openness and co-operation to defensiveness and outrage.” The Project

    Jonathan suggests we need to stop calling out and uniting against the enemy, and instead our face our challenges with understanding, forgiveness - in a more positive way. Richard Culatta says, we can also teach our young people about successful digital citizenship practices of using technology to:

    • make our community better
    • respectfully engage with people who have different beliefs from ours
    • shape and change public policy
    • recognise the validity of online sources of information. (Kirirarautanga | Citizenship)

    1. We can share examples of how communities come together to influence change for good, like Alexia Hilbertidou who started Girl Boss NZ at just 18yrs, and Sam Johnson who used Facebook to help victims of the Christchurch earthquake, and we can also be very explicit about teaching our young people to:

    • Facebookfind a balance between their online and offline life
    • dismiss exclusive behaviours online
    • ignore the plight for the prefect body, perfect life
    • understand and embrace differences, diversities and the marginalised
    • become more media savvy and literate and understand how their online persona is easily influenced by algorithms and external influencers (false advertising, propaganda)
    • create opportunities to respond to challenges and mobilise ‘the tribe’ for good

    2. We can create opportunities for students to think about looming issues on the horizon by encouraging them to respond proactively, collectively to local and real-world sustainable issues using a variety of technologies. For example, students from Frankley School (New Plymouth) have created an app to tackle bullying. Find out more in App Development.

    Humanity cards

    3. We can share these insights with our parents and whānau, so the responsibility is shared beyond the school gate. Maybe then, we can change the growing statistics that social media negatively effects the mental wellbeing (anxiety and depression) of our young people. In a diverse, multi-ethnic society like ours, how we can we all support our young people, to tone-down the negative, aggressive ‘tribalistic behaviours online and use social media for good?

    What stories shock or startle you on TV, in the media and online? How does this concern you?

    On a more positive note, what examples can you share that demonstrate our young people using social media or technologies for good? We’d love to hear more.

    Also see:

    Image sources: The Project, CCO: wikipedia: Facebook

  • Tessa Gray 28 Jun 2019 8:58am () in App development in the classroom

    We had a jam-packed live webinar with Brendon Anderson from Frankley School yesterday. Brendon shared the processes his students undertake to: think of themes and local needs, imagine what kind of app they will will produce to address those needs, the wireframe design of that app, building using programmes like MIT App Inventor 2, prototyping, testing and producing for the marketplace. 

    With a strong emphasis on effective pedagogies that drive learning, Key Competencies, digital technologies in the Technology Learning area and design-thinking, it's clear to see how app design and development in the classroom is enabling Brendon's students to be savvy app developers and 'mini professionals' in their field. Thank you from the Enabling e-Learning community Brendon, this has been an enlightening and engaging webinar to be a part of.

  • Tessa Gray 14 Jun 2019 10:38am () in Using Minecraft for game-based learning in the classroom

    Yesterday James Robson (Forrest Hill Primary) and Andrew Corney (Tauranga Boys College) shared how they're using Minecraft in their primary and secondary classrooms to support and enhance learning opportunities through gaming based learning and design.

    During the webinar, we also touched on the benefits for students, curriculum integration as well as links to Digital Technologies content. For more templates, web resources and examples see the following presentation.

    Check out this cool wee Minecraft story re-telling a famous tale of a troll...made without any adults involved!

    If you have any more comments, queries or questions, please add them to this discussion thread and feel free to share with your colleagues and peers.

  • Tessa Gray 12 Jun 2019 12:00pm () in What is the Internet of Things?

    You may have heard the term, Internet of Things (IoT) but what is it and how does it effect teachers in everyday classrooms? 

    Smart fridgeThink devices, machine learning, automation, wireless networks, sensors and controls and what do you get...everyday objects and devices that are equipped with micro-controllers, sensors, transceivers can communicate with one another by sending and receiving data wirelessly (with/without humans) over the Internet.

    For example: I leave my house but I can still control my fixtures, thermostats, home security, heat pump, monitoring systems, cameras and other home appliances remotely via my smartphone or Internet device the same time my refrigerator orders my groceries.

    What this mean for the connected classroom?

    While connected technologies are changing the way we interact with our home devices, the IoT and smart technology is also powering up education and turning classrooms into connected ecosystems (connected smart devices/apps, collaborating in the cloud, immersive resources, data analytics, track attendance, automated services, management systems, wearable devices, 3D printers). 

    As one education professional said of the IoT, “It is not about the technology; it’s about sharing knowledge and information, communicating efficiently, building learning communities and creating a culture of professionalism in schools. These are the key responsibilities of all educational leaders.” https://builtin.com/internet-things/iot-education-examples

    For more examples see:

    In terms of the Digital Technologies content  (Technology Learning area), we can also teach our students about the history and advancement of smart technology and automation. For example, how did the 'dumb' light switch become so smart? We can guide this process with questions like:

    Internet of Things

    • What are technological advances? 

    • How has technology advanced? 

    • Why does technology advance? 

    • Are all innovations effective? 

    • How can we design effective innovations? 

    For more ideas about teaching about technology and innovation, see Nature of Technology and Characteristics of technology in the Technology Online website.

    Students can also learn about electronics, sensors, automation, robotics, and programme these to create innovative solutions that respond to local or global needs. For example the follwoing exemplars from, Strengthening Digital Technologies in Technology Online demonstrate Learning with the Internet of Things.

    Learning with the internet of things in years 5–6

    Year Andrew Wills and the students at Bradford Primary School describe how they used their new knowledge in electronics (inputs and outputs, sound, light, sensors, motors) to solve problems in their school.

    Learning with the internet of things in years 7–8

    Bill Boyes, Iain Cook-Bonney, and Tahuna Normal Intermediate School students talk about the wide range of digital technologies they can now make using their new skills.

    Learning with the internet of things in years 9–10

    Julie McMahon and Mark Greenfield discuss the application of electronics and the internet of things at St Hilda’s Collegiate and King's High School.

    How would you like to see your classroom connected or 'powered up' by the Internet of Things?

    Can you see the potential for integrating Computational Thinking, Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes while learning about the nature (and history) of technological advancements?

    We'd love to her more, simply join the e-Learning: Technologies group and add your comments below.

    Also see

    Five Ways the Internet of Things is Changing for Education and Learning

    Image:  Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) CODE_n Fridge, Flickr, CCCO wilgengebroed Internet of Things

  • Tessa Gray 07 Jun 2019 5:30pm () in Using Minecraft for game-based learning in the classroom

    Kia ora koutou, here's an interview with a guru,Tim Muir, STEM teacher talking about how St Thomas of Canterbury College integrates Minecraft in the classroom as a learning tool.

    I thought this venn diagram of how Minecraft can be used for both Computational Thinking and Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes might be useful as well. What do you think?

    Thank you so much Tim for your time for this interview and for your story about using Minecraft as a learning tool in Enabling e-Learning.

  • Tessa Gray 05 Jun 2019 8:22am () in App development in the classroom

    I drove a rental car recently, where the built-in GPS system voice instructed me to correct any driving breaches and warned of potential road hazards ahead. My iWatch also prompted me with directions and I had thought... how cool would it be to have an app for guiding drivers, including international travellers on our roads. The new safety app could become part of a rental-car service, where good drivers are recognised in a rewards scheme a bit like Speed camera lottery that uses game-based thinking to reward drivers.

    GPS in a rental car

    Now, imagine a Dragon’s Den scenario, where students pitch innovative mobile solutions to very real problems? One teacher has introduced student-created apps in a project-based/inquiry-based learning programme, where the students have done just that and developed some pretty impressive skills along the way.

    In addition to all the marketing, graphic design, website building, and content creation activities that take place when you create an app, the students are learning brainstorming and social entrepreneurship. Edutopia The impact of student-created apps.

    When students make apps, they learn:

    • valuable STEAM skills like coding, programming, graphic design, and content creation
    • how to solve real-world problems with digital design.

    Students can become active and proactive members of society - creating apps to respond to local needs, drive social change, for entertainment, education or even business. Students who develop apps:

    • have increased interest and awareness of opportunities in STEAM areas
    • are empowered to succeed in computer science
    • have creative outlets to demonstrate their competence in STEAM skills
    • learn social entrepreneurship
    • learn how to work in a team
    • gain self-confidence.

    Enabling e-Learning: App development in the classroom

    What does this look like?

    Five primary school students from Frankley School (New Plymouth) have worked together to tackle the growing issue of of bullying in New Zealand for 7 to 14 year olds. Their app educates bullies and the bullied about the different types of bullying and what they can do to stop it - it also has a feature that reads the words on the screen to the user in case they can't read it. Find out more in, Primary students create app to combat bullying for tech competition.


    Where to start?

    Choose apps or software best suited to the technological skills of your students. App development doesn’t have to involve coding, however if you did want your senior students to develop apps that way, there are text-based programmes that would suit. You might also like to teach your students about the planning processes for designing apps, ie design thinking and wireframe mapping. If you are new to this process, there are two pathways and a list of programmes (coding and non-coding) for you to consider in Enabling e-Learning’s App development page.

    Strong links can be made to the curriculum (Technology learning area, Makerspace, STEM/STEAM) through authentic learning processes and contexts, ie: problem-based, project-based inquiry learning. The links between Designing and Developing Digital outcomes and Computational Thinking are also strong. See more in Getting Started in Enabling e-Learning.

    The potential for students is endless where they can: work together to pitch new ideas for change, enter in competitions/tech challenges, add these skills to their resume and ultimately make a real difference in their world! Why wouldn’t you introduce app design in your classroom? Or have you already? We'd love to hear more.

    smiley To find out more about app design and creation at Frankley School, join us for our up-coming  LIVE WEBINAR: App development in the classroom: 27 June, 3.45pm-4.45pm where well hear from Brendon Anderson from Frankley School talking about how his students are creating apps in the classroom and responding to genuine needs. Register Now

    Image source: Smartphone, Pxhere, CCCO public domain

  • Tessa Gray 29 May 2019 5:05pm () in Using Minecraft for game-based learning in the classroom

    It’s the month of May and we get to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Minecraft, where apparently we’ve watched pixel blocks being arranged a whopping 436 billion times so far! So what makes Minecraft so loved? Five years ago, the simple answer was:

    Minecraft is many different things to many different people. It’s a playground for the artist, architect, engineer, and computer programmer, where imagination is the limit when it comes to building whatever they want. It can be both social and solitary, relaxing and invigorating. It’s fun and also educational. It’s a vast place to explore, where players can venture into great, unknown worlds, climbing mountains and crossing oceans. Or they can be stranded on a desert island, and test their survival skills with only the most basic resources. In short, Minecraft is whatever you want it to be! https://www.readbrightly.com/why-your-kids-are-still-talking-about-minecraft/

    Today, Minecraft has evolved to include new objects and worlds, where both can be combined in a mixed world realityEducators are increasingly acknowledging Minecraft can be used as part of a game-based learning methodology to inspire writing, explore real-world concepts in Maths, Science and Chemistry, to create and manipulate objects to overcome challenges in both single player and multi player mode. Minecraft has also been used as an assessment tool for learning. By using Minecraft, teachers can also learn from their students and learning more about how they learn and play.

    Minecraft users can:

    Minecraft as an open-ended tool where students can build, design and create in a virtual world of endless possibilities that reflects the progress outcomes for Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes as part of the Digital Technologies curriculum content. Ie: design, develop, store, retrieve, test outcomes and share digital content in order to meet technological challenges.

    Computational Thinking: Coding in Minecraft

    Computational thinking is about addressing problems of scale by designing systems and automating solutions. In Minecraft, this could mean programming a building action: instead of building something yourself brick-by-brick, you could direct the game to build it for you according to coded inputs. You can do this with Minecraft Edu's "Code-builder " tool, which encourages players to tinker with the Minecraft game-world through a simple block-coding interface. Students can solve problems by coding or create their own scenarios, like the Hero’s journey for others to solve. The possibilities are endless, check out Minecraft Hour of Code for more ideas.

    Why use Minecraft in the classroom?

    Expanding on the game's potential for play-based learning, Microsoft released an education edition of Minecraft in 2016. Included in the education edition are tools designed for learning management, such as:  

    • a "classroom mode" providing an overview of the world map and student activity
    • tools for collaboration
    • "allow and deny" permissions to manage student activity
    • a camera and portfolio tool to track progress and evidence learning
    • a vast collection of lesson plans, online courses, and tutorials designed to help teachers facilitate learning in Minecraft.  http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Teaching/Future-focused-learning/Minecraft

    Want to know about using Minecraft as a tool for learning? Then check out Enabling e-Learning’s new page on Minecraft. For more about Minecraft’s Education Edition (part of Ministry of Education's software agreement with Microsoft) resources and support see Microsoft Education website. You might also like to contact community members like Caroline Bush (Minecraft teachers group owner) Sam McNeill (Microsoft) or view his blog, SamuelMcNeill.com for top tips for starting out with Minecraft in the classroom.

    Interested in diving in some more? Are you keen to give Minecraft a go to gamify your student’s learning and enable them to learn through game play? We’ve love to hear more. Feel free to leave a comment below to share the first thing you plan to do to make this happen in your classroom.

    smiley Join us on the 13th June, as we host a webinar on, Using Minecraft as a learning tool: 13 June, 3.45pm - 4.45pm. In this live event, we’ll hear how primary and secondary teachers are using Minecraft to enhance learning opportunities in the classroom. Feel free to register here.

    Also see:

  • Tessa Gray 28 May 2019 12:08pm () in Computational Thinking in a Literacy programme

    Kia ora Tara, these PDF resources are extremely useful, especially if schools/kura print these out for teachers and kaiako too thank you. smiley I like the other examples shared for Science, Maths etc as well. I'll go and add these to the Google slides. If you have any more ideas, please feel free to add them there too.

  • Tessa Gray 28 May 2019 12:03pm () in Computational Thinking in a Literacy programme

    Kia ora Hayley, thanks for this, doable and I think fun too.

    A vocabulary wall sounds intriguing and useful. Do you have an example/picture to share? Maybe others would like to do the same especially if scaffolding this learning across Progress Outcomes 1-3. Also if you have any other resources and ideas, please feel free to drop them into the Google slides. smiley 

Tessa Gray

Enabling e-Learning online facilitator. I'm excited about the prospects of the VLN and how it can bring like-minded people together online. I am here to help promote discussions and share effective practice.