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Tessa Gray's discussion posts

  • 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 22 May 2019 1:34pm () in Computational Thinking in a Literacy programme

    Computational Thinking compliments the Key Competencies, so students can develop a way of thinking that enables them to hone their critical, creative, problem solving and collaborative skills.

    With CTDT Progress Outcomes starting with, “In authentic contexts....with end-users in mind...” it makes sense to integrate activities that make natural connections to the NZ Curriculum, where students can learning about, with and through Digital Technologies. CT Progress Outcome 1 introduces non-computerised concepts, while Progress Outcome 2 builds on this and reads,

    In authentic contexts and taking account of end- users, students give, follow and debug simple algorithms in computerised and non-computerised contexts. They use these algorithms to create simple programs involving outputs and sequencing (putting instructions one after the other) in age-appropriate programming environments.

    Progress Outcome 3 introduces the concepts of decomposing problems as step-by-step instructions, logical thinking, prediction of programmes, variety of algorithms, and understanding that digital devices store data as two ‘binary’ bits.

    Literacy is an obvious vehicle to explore these processes and concepts more in-depth, so we’ve done some digging around on the Internet and come up with a few activities (both plugged and unplugged) in the presentation below for you to try with your students. Like a good stretch, some activities just take a few minutes a day. 

    While we've collated some ideas, please feel free to click on the Google slides, either add text or a slide of your own to help create a crowd-sourced resource for us all to use. 

  • Tessa Gray 20 May 2019 12:17pm () in Techweek don't miss out!

    This is just too much!!! Gaming for kids, Lego Mindstorms and lego challenges, virtual reality experiences, coding, robotics, geospatial, 3D printing, Minecraft, coding, using technology for good and human advancement... and much much more!

    Techweek screenshot

    Techweek 20 - 24 May 2019 has fantastic workshops for teachers, students, parents, whānau and business right across the motu. Check out the events near you. Don’t miss out, some of it’s FREE!

  • Tessa Gray 15 May 2019 4:07pm () in Real-time reporting using e-Portfolios

    By now, most of us are familiar with the purpose, potential and tools for e-portfolios – a digitally visible and accessible way to capture, celebrate, reflect and feedback/forward on learning. We know that regular connections between parents and whānau and school and kura can have a positive impact on learners.

    In this Enabling e-Learning video, Students at Motu School use e-portfolios as a way to share and explain goal setting, sharing their learning, and reflecting on their progress as they lead three-way conferences with parents and teachers. Having the portfolios online means parents can access and be part of their children's learning at anytime.

    Fast forward to now, and some schools are taking a fresh look at their twice yearly reporting processes to rethink what a personalised and responsive model for reporting could look like; using digital solutions to provide a more accurate picture of their child’s real-time performance (Ten Trends 2019 PDF p10).

    With technological advancements, anyone can receive ‘on demand’, real time, personalise feedback (how am I doing) on pretty much anything - from health records to bank records. So it would seem six-monthly, one-size-fits-all reporting model is an outdated and ineffective way to provide real-time formative assessment to inform next steps in learning. (Ten Trends 2019 PDF p10).

    What does real-time reporting look like?

    PLD Facilitator Katrina Laurie has been working with schools unpacking the Ten Trend: Real-time reporting using digital platforms like Seesaw.


    In Linton Camp School (Palmerston North), there has been a PLD focus on assessment capability and learner agency so students can articulate and share their learning via digital portfolios with parents/whānau. Teachers have been creating 60sec elevator pitches to explain: Real-time reporting, drivers for this change, how this will look, and what is needed for this to be successful.

    Westmere School (Whanganui) have engaged in Digital Fluency PLD with a growing focus on using Seesaw to replace their mid-yearly reporting format. They have created a draft framework, so that students can share their learning with parents and whanau using Seesaw. For more on this framework and the rest of the story see, Ten Trend: Real-time reporting. 


    Is your school looking at your current reporting processes? Is there something you’d like to do differently, improve, change or replace? We’d love to hear more. Feel free to join the e-Learning Leadership group and add your comments below.

    You might also like...

  • Tessa Gray 09 May 2019 3:33pm () in Flipped learning and the changing role of the teacher

    Throughout the Enabling e-Learning community, we’ve hosted discussions about flipped learning before, to help build understandings about flipped learning. We’ve hosted a webinar sharing how one teacher (Angela Stensness) has flipped learning in maths for her secondary students and Warren Grieves has shared a resource on how to teach/use Scratch through flipped learning instruction. The whole notion of flipped learning prompts us to reflect on teaching in a traditional sense – a model where;

    ...teachers share knowledge with students on a particular subject, through lessons that build on their prior knowledge and moves them toward a deeper understanding of the subject. (Ten Trends 2019 PDF, p22).

    One of CORE’s Ten Trends 2019 looks at the Changing role of teachers, where we acknowledge a shift, is marked by a move from a “one- size- fits-all” approach of delivering and receiving knowledge, to an approach that honours the individual and their diversity (Ten Trends 2019 PDF, p22).

    The demands on teachers to make this happen in a responsive and manageable way, could sound alarming for most, but at Ashhurst School the teachers are training themselves to implement strategies where students can learn new concepts through sourced or prepared video content; so that by the time they get to the teacher, time is freed-up for higher order application of the learning to occur. Ie; the students then do something with that learning. Who wouldn’t want to ‘free’ themselves up more to do what we’re meant to do – teach?

    In this video, Teachers, Sara and Emma, explain how they plan their lessons for a flipped classroom including how they make their instructional videos. In this context the flipped learning occurs in the classroom but parents and whānau can also access the content if need be.

    The digital tools they have used to create instructional videos include:

    • Quicktime: to video themselves or a screen capture
    • Explain Everything app: to video instructional video with voice-overs
    • Youtube: to store videos and create embed code to host elsewhere
    • Playposit: to insert learning activities (pause to reflect or discuss, links to websites etc)
    • Google site: to create a portal to house the content

    Playposit tools

    Playposit instructions tools

    Are you interested in giving this a go on your own? Then you might like to:

    If you're already flipping your lessons or have any questions, we'd love to hear more...

    Also see:

  • Tessa Gray 09 May 2019 9:46am () in FREE DT & HM Readiness Workshops in your region

    ERO recently conducted a survey of 221 EM schools (with 97% response rate) asking about their awareness, understanding and readiness to implement the Digital Technologies content as part of the Technology Learning area by 2020. You might surprised by the results. 

    Just under half of the survey group reported that their teachers were starting to engage with the DT content, but only 16% of schools have teachers already working on it. Most of that percentage of schools are planning at classroom level with slightly fewer planning at school-wide level. https://www.ero.govt.nz/footer-upper/news/ero-insights-april-2019/digital-technology-curriculum-content-survey/

    There is an expectation that DT is integrated across the curriculum and compulsory to Year 10. How ready is your school? Are you part of the 45% starting to engage or the same as 16% who are currently working on this already? For more support check out:

    Enabling e-learning

    The readiness programme  Kia Takatū ā-Matihiko

    Technology online

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.