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Diane Mills's discussion posts

  • Diane Mills 16 Oct 2014 10:58am () in Book Group #1: Key Competencies for the Future, with NZCER | from 3rd October

    I am with you on this one Amanda.  If we begin to 'measure' things like key competencies, we start to narrow them down into more simplistic things that can be described easily for measuring.  We force students then to react and respond in certain ways to match the rubric we have created.  We need to be more adaptive and generative and look at ways that we can capture and celebrate student learning and the key competencies - just like the student reflection you mention above.

    I have to say, as I read all of the responses here, a TED talk by Diana Laufenberg: How to Learn - From Mistakes illustrates and supports so many of the ideas we are talking about.  Take a look and see what you think, it is a good conversation starter for PLD.

  • Diane Mills 13 Oct 2014 4:18pm () in Book Group #1: Key Competencies for the Future, with NZCER | from 3rd October

    I'm enjoying reading Key Competencies for the Future, now downloaded onto my iPad and I have also enjoyed the conversations posted here too.  It is important that we do pose 'wicked problems' for students to consider.  Well crafted lessons and content are the starting point for this, but allowing the flow to be at the students' pace and direction is important too.  I can share an example my husband shared with me. He was working on the film  Welcome with his high school English students.  Briefly, a young Kurdish-Iraqi illegal immigrant is hiding out in France and trying to make it through to England to meet his girlfriend, whose family have been accepted into England. So many questions came from the students after watching the film - 'Why couldn't he just go to England?' 'What was stopping him?' 'Why do countries have borders?' and finally 'Who decides who is welcome and who is not?' This latter being a perfect example of the wicked problem - "highly complex, uncertain, and value-laden"1. Knowing when to dispense with a set program and allow time for the students to talk about, think about and pursue these questions further is crucial and one that some teachers might find difficult to do in a time-driven and assessment laden program.

    1. Pg 52 Key Competencies for the Future

  • Diane Mills 02 Oct 2014 10:03am () in Inviting your school community onto the modern learning practice (MLP) waka

    Kia ora Jilena,  getting family in to see what learning looks like in a modern learning environment is obviously one of the most powerful drivers for acceptance and change.  One of the schools I worked with hosted such an evening, at a suitable time for families (earlier rather than later!); it was hosted by students, with students showing and talking about their learning.  I will put a link to their story here, which might help give you some ideas: Open Evening at St Mary's School.  Two of the key things for them were using a variety of ways to sell the meeting to parents: facebook, twitter, newsletters, word of mouth; and of course the part that many students had to play in the event.  The turnout, positive feedback and enlightenment of parents amazed the school.

  • Diane Mills 18 Sep 2014 3:29pm () in St Joseph’s School Hastings - Maori -Pasifika Hui Fono

    A fia vave o’o lou va’a, alo na o oe, ae a fia tuli mamao le taunu’uga, tatou ‘alo’alo faatasi.

    If you want your canoe to go fast, go alone; if you want to go further, let us go together.

    It is not always easy finding ways to entice busy parents in to school to support student learning, but St Joseph’s School in Hastings rose to that challenge by hosting a hui- fono - a meeting to celebrate Pasifika and Maori student achievement in reading.IMG_0657 (2).jpg

     How could parents resist this?  With the help of Togi Lemanu, the Learning with Digital Technology Pasifika facilitator, the evening fono was sold to parents and caregivers as a celebration of the great work that Pasifika and Maori students were doing.  Maori and Pasifika children from the senior, middle and junior classes prepared to share their reading skills and their work on the ipads at the evening.

    Togi made sure that the invitation was translated for the weekly school newsletter, into Samoan, Cook Island and Kiribati languages to reach all of the Pasifika families and that protocols familiar to Maori and Pasifika families were used throughout the evening.  The students enjoyed working with Togi – one of their own – and teachers spoke of the visible pride Pasifika students were taking in their own culture as a result of this.  Parents at the hui-fono, related to Togi’s easy and culturally familiar style and felt comfortable sharing any issues they had.

    In their words:

    'It is nice to see a Pasifika person talking to us about how we can support our children'...

    'It felt comfortable to share having you up there to start the sharing and conversation'…

    The benefits for the school and students were many. This year The Board of Trustees had identified a need to consult with the Pasifika families because a similar meeting in 2013 had drawn only 2 parents. This was picked up by one teacher, as part of her inquiry, who decided to try to bring about change by combining a meeting for the Maori and Pasifika communities. As a result of a concerted and combined effort from a support team of 3 teachers manning the kitchen and preparing a sausage sizzle, 35  Maori and Pasifika parents and whanau attended the hui-fono - a big increase on previous meetings.

    Students shared their reading with the audience and teachers modeled and explained successful reading strategies parents could use to support their students.

    Parents and Caregivers were surveyed about reading and writing with their children.  These results were displayed on the interactive board helping to promote discussion and sharing of thoughts and feelings. The discussion was robust and very honest and at times caused a lot of laughter. This lead to some parents recommending the use of resources they knew of, in their language, for their children’s classes.

    The Principal made the most of the opportunity, sharing a new reading program for parents and talking to them about how to work with their students. Two of the parents have now offered their support for the school reading program and suggested a theme of celebrating Pasifika languages through reading stories.

    Seven of the students had been identified, as part of the teacher’s inquiry, as students who could benefit from learning with their families. These 7 children are now showing improvement in their literacy progressions. At the completion of the Inquiry, results and recommendations from the hui-fono were shared with the school Board of Trustees.

    St Joseph’s School Hastings is doing all it can to help Pasifika parents and their families engage with the school in supporting their children’s learning - one of the key goals of the Pasifika Education Plan for 2013 - 2017.


  • Diane Mills 25 Aug 2014 2:28pm () in Live Webinar: Have you considered flipping your Maths programme in a Junior Secondary context!

    I missed the webinar, but in terms of flipping - you may find this link to the Student Made Math Movie useful.  The following outline is taken from the American site:

    The idea of the Math Movie Network was born from websites like Khan Academy. There are so many incredible resources on the web that if a student is stuck on something, they can hop on Khan Academy or LearnZillion and watch a video to help them out. There is no doubt that these sites are extremely helpful. However, sometimes it is helpful for students to learn from their peers. Sometimes, having an idea reinforced by other students allows for better connections to be made. So, students in Mr. Avery’s class started making math videos teaching others about concepts they were learning about in class.

    As Mr. Avery’s class began making videos and sharing them through their blog, they discovered that other classes were making great math movies featuring students as well! With all of these great videos available, it made sense to have a place to keep them all together, sorting them by concept to make it easier to search through. This led to the creation of the Student Made Math Movie wiki. This site was widely used, with over 25,000 visitors, but navigation through the site wasn’t the easiest.

    This past year, Mr. Avery applied for an ING Unsung Heroes grant and was one of 100 people chosen throughout the United States to receive the award. Part of the grant was the opportunity to create and host MathMovieNetwork.com!

  • Diane Mills 19 Aug 2014 3:11pm () in 'Digi Devices in Action' Open Evening at St Mary’s School Hasting

    Ki te maha ringa tīmata tatou haere

     With many hands our journey begins.

    The words of the whakatauki are echoed by the words of a delighted principal:  What a fabulous evening! We were thrilled to see so many parents and grandparents observing and talking to our students, about how they use digital devices to support their learning.  Source:  St Mary’s Facebook

       Parent Evening at St Mary's School, HastingsDigi evening at St Mary's School Hastings

    The eLearning team at St Mary’s had worked hard to encourage their community into the school to learn about Digital Citizenship and how students are using digital devices to enhance their learning.

    Strategies were put in place to make sure that the message for their early evening event had gone out to all parents and that they were all welcome.  Twitter, facebook, blogs and the newsletter were all used to spread the word with a grocery voucher competition as added incentive.  Of course one of the greatest drawcards is students – so it was decided that after a brief presentation about digital citizenship, at St Mary’s, students would take over in their respective classrooms and share their learning with parents and caregivers.  Some students were purposely chosen to entice their parents in to the school.  The strategy worked – usual meetings draw about 20 parents, but this time over 80 parents turned up.

     The students rose to the challenge and loved sharing their work – they were articulate, confident and comfortable with what they are now able to do.  In fact technology is now a seamless part of learning and so embedded that students felt at home with the topic.

    Students shared how they were using the LEARNZ activities in science, their maths and reading apps on the iPads, as well as work they had done with popplet, Book Creator and their class blogs.  Students demonstrated the ActivBoard in action and how they used their Chromebooks.

    Parents summed up the evening with:

    ‘What a great night’

    ‘I enjoyed seeing the learning progressions through the school’

    it is an eye-opener as to what is being done now in school’

    ‘I’m surprised at what the students could do in the junior end’

    ‘I now know how a digital classroom works’

    ‘Using Hapara has allayed concerns that children are accessing and doing what they want’

    “By the way, the school looked fantastic and the students were marvellous the other night on Digi Night :-) “

    Two High School teacher parents commented on how impressed they were at where the school was at.

    Parents also liked the formal start to the program that explained the school cyber safety program and how the principal gets a printout of what sites students are using. They were happy that the school had clear processes to engage with the community about helping students learn effectively and safely online.


  • Diane Mills 19 Aug 2014 2:55pm () in Stories of Change - Putaruru Primary School

    Learning with Digital Technology at Putaruru Primary School

    Kimai, Putaruru Primary School Kimai lovingly traced the artwork on the iPad as he told us about his visit to the Marae, - the story they learned there and the art that came from the visit.  At times he looked into the distance, remembering the story in detail and reliving the visit to the Marae.  He told his story with pride, confidence, knowledge and ownership.

     Kimai and his fellow classmates at Putaruru Primary School were sharing their inquiry into the possibility of creating a Ki o Rahi field in the school grounds.

     Teacher, Fraser Quinn, said that the inquiry has been totally student driven, with the starting point the possibility of creating a Ki o Rahi field at Putaruru Primary.  The inquiry has evolved organically with the students asking questions, brainstorming possible solutions in a Google doc. and then contacting experts as ideas took shape.  While the 7 pou in the game relate to Matariki, a decision was made to use the 7 Marae in the Putaruru region to represent the game’s 7 pou.  Stories heard on each Marae would be translated into carvings with the help of their expert carver, Kyle. 

     Science questions are bubbling out of the inquiry as students consider using different grasses to represent different zones of the game.  Mathematics problems relating to measurement, diameter, circumference have been grappled with and students have stepped up to communicate and sell their idea firstly to the BOT and then with the wider community as they seek support and help to bring their idea to fruition.

     All of this has been made easier with the use they are making of technology – communicating with experts for support, researching ideas, and creating videos to help others see their vision. Maori Television has been emailed and is interested in re-telling the students’ story.  Local businesses have got involved after requests from the students and are lending a hand with support and materials.  The students have connected with their community and the experts within it.

     The class is abuzz with enthusiasm about their project.   When asked what it had meant to them so far, students responded with:

    •  Learning like this helps me keep on track – the game has helped me physically too.
    •  Learning how to co-operate and work as a team and communicate with each other.
    •  I have learned about radius and diameter and how to use a compass.
    •  Making all the movies and circling the field and doing Maori art – all the Maori patterns, and playing the game of Ki o Rahi have been good.
    •  Planning where the field is going to be and getting the radius right has been fun.

     … And getting back to Kimai – the fun part for him has been visiting and listening to the stories at the Marae and then making that into the artwork for the Pou.


  • Diane Mills 02 Apr 2014 11:15am () in Personalising learning!

    I received an email from the Langwitches Blog this morning which linked into a comment by my bright quick thinking 7 year old granddaughter who commented that Maths was so hard.  Why is that I wonder - an experience so many students face.  Dan Meyer's challenge to make maths lessons more meaningful is definitely a first step and helps students see where the learning fits in the real world, why it might be important to know and more importantly his use of videos shows in 3D what the problem looks like.  

    We need to allow students to behave like mathematicians.  Real mathematicians play with ideas, try many avenues, test each solution to see if it is the best fit.  They don't get the right answer straight away.  Someone made the comment that FAIL actually stands for first attempt in learning - I like that, students should be encouraged to try things and not feel inadequate if they don't get the right answer, we need students to be able to persevere, to try to find solutions from different angles and to know that this is all part of being a mathematician.  

    Technology allows students to share their learning and the steps they are taking in their mathematics.  Students should be able to talk about and share the problem they are working on, to share the key vocabularly associated with the problem and the process they have used to find a solution.  Using the collaborative powers of technology students can then invite others to contribute their solutions and process and critique each method to choose a best fit most efficient solution.  

    Getting students to work together on a problem, allowing students to make some choices about what problem they might want to solve all gives ownership back to the student helping them build the confidence so many students lack in mathematics.

  • Diane Mills 14 Nov 2013 5:27pm () in Teaching as Inquiry

    Thank you Alison for uploading your recent teacher inquiries.  I am adding in some thoughts here for you to consider for next year! :)

    Professor John Hattie wrote: ".. the biggest effects on student learning occur when teachers  become learners of their own teaching".  Obviously though, there is more to it than that.  A robust school inquiry process needs to be implemented to maximize the opportunities for teachers to learn and for students to progress.

    A shared starting place for the staff might be to talk about such things as:

     1.  What is powerful, important and worthwhile for students to learn?

    Does our school curriculum reflect this?   future focused thinking – what is important for students to know and be able to do as they look towards their future and world of work?

    2.  eLearning is about good quality teaching, learning and assessment, not about the tools to use– therefore exploring the inquiry in terms of quality learning for the students is first and foremost.  ‘IT tools’ should support the quality learning.

    3.  What key competencies can we promote through the inquiry? Working independently, self management, thinking, using language, symbols and texts, relating to others, participating and contributing

    4.  How can we support each other to gather robust appropriate baseline and final data? Formal assessment data but also some way of measuring well-being, engagement of students

    5.     What teaching strategies will we put in place to support student learning? For example: How to work collaboratively, question effectively, manage self, find information, create new material

    6.     How will we reflect and support each other to ensure that all of our inquiries are robust and worthwhile? Professional learning community within school and beyond such as the VLN

    7.     How will we encourage teachers to use research information to support their professional learning? School visits, readings, conferences, local events, VLN groups and …

    8.     What expectations will we have of teachers for reporting back on their inquiries?

    One of our facilitators used the following as a feedback model:

    • Name/Inquiry title
    • What did you set out to achieve?
    • Target group, reason for working with them, intended outcomes.
    • What actually happened?
    • Include evidence here, actual or links to other docs, photos etc.
    • Why do you think there was a difference?
    • Feed forward to next inquiry cycle.

    Done well, Teaching as Inquiry not only improves student achievement, but also builds capacity within the school to self reflect, improve teaching, learning and assessment and to continue to grow and develop.    


  • Diane Mills 02 Sep 2013 1:27pm () in handwriting

    Hi Steph,  I just responded to Teresa and suggested she join the ipad/ipod user group in the VLN.  The link to that group is:/groups/profile/26613/school-ipadipod-user-group/  By doing this you have access to a wider range of resources and ideas shared from teachers throughout NZ.  Good to see you using this space! :-)