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Tim Gander's discussion posts

  • Tim Gander 02 Sep 2013 9:29am () in FORUM: How are you using technologies to both report to parents and encourage them to engage with their students learning?

    Hi Catriona, some great tools there - has anyone had experience with using Remind101, I looked into it a while ago but found out that it is only available in the US - has it been updated to support NZ?  It looks like a really quick and easy way to communicate with parents and students!

    Here are some of my thoughts and experiences of reporting and assessing in secondary school which I expressed on my blog a couple of weeks ago;

    "Last week I sat in the school hall on a cold and stormy thursday night, in the middle of the hall, possibly the furthest point from any source of heat you could have found, for 2 and a half hours furiously marking yr 9 tests ready for the junior deadline next week - I saw 3 parents out of 79 potential.  I couldn't help thinking there must be a better way to do this......

    Later that evening I went home and had a look at some of the Edchatnz talk on twitter - the conversation topic was about what teachers spent most of their time on, and it echoed my feelings that we spend far too much time on assessing and reporting, at the moment I feel like that is our main emphasis - and not enough time on teaching and nurturing our students, over the past 3 weeks planning interesting and engaging lessons has had to take a bit of a back seat as I have been marking books/assessments and writing reports for my junior and senior classes for the second of four occasions this year.  I'm not saying that there is no need to assess students - but at the moment I feel like we are assessing for the sake of assessing, but this is a different issue all together!!
    So, a few thoughts that I had to make the process more effective for everyone involved.  Instead of having defined reporting dates and evenings, the teacher keeps an online mark book where students and teachers could actually see how they were getting on in real time, updated and amended live (like the one below in I keep in google drive - see this post to set one up).... PE is an internally assessed subject, and for the last 2 report rounds we have not had any internals to report on as they are ongoing, and results are collected in the form of homework and other tasks - this information could be kept in the online mark book and parents/students could drop in at anytime - from the start of the year until the student leaves school.

    We could be more flexible with meeting parents - it is clear that the system at our school is not working at the moment, especially mid year/mid-winter - a 3 parent night is not a good show, some staff didn't see anyone - many parents are working and have other commitments,  I don't think it would be too hard to increase this ratio with Skype/google talk hangouts and a booking system that parents could sign up for using a shared google calendar, you could open up times which were convenient to you and also prepare more examples of work and methods to improve learning if you specifically knew which parents you would be talking to.  You would also keep an option to talk face to face with parents who would like to meet with you, I still believe that this is the most valuable way of communicating, but I think we need to take steps to use technology to involve more parents.  The more parents you can connect with and start a relationship regarding the education of their children the better, and if it means being more flexible in our use of available technology then we should be doing something about it now.  I'm not too sure what is happening in other schools at the moment, some of these things could be in place already - I'd be really interested to hear if anyone else had any other thoughts or ideas?"
    So in relation to this forum I can see there are some great ideas being used already - are they implemented schoolwide or is it down to the individual teacher?  Has anyone used online conferencing with parents - how did it go?
  • Tim Gander 22 Aug 2013 9:10am () in Google Doc Sharing

    Hi Megan - double check that you are signed into the correct account at the top right hand of the screen - sometimes when I log out of gmail I am still logged into drive on my personal account.  Add your school account to your primary (personal) one and it will be easy to switch accounts (see image below)?  Not sure if this helps - let me know if it is still sharing your documents automatically?   


    Correct account?


    Switch accounts

  • Tim Gander 21 Aug 2013 4:26pm () in Professional learning in the digital age | Opportunities and challenges

    I have just finished reading the article in the PPTA news (August 2013) which confirms many of the points which that have been made in this discussion.  

    The headline reads "The government is spending $200 million a year on woefully inadequate teacher professional learning and development (PLD) that doesn't help student achievement-and the Ministry of Education is starting to take notice"

    The article continues to highlight that local provision is not often supported and if you are in Taranaki, Gisborne or Wainuiomata your PLD opportunities would be far worse than people in Auckland or Hamilton.  This resonated with me as I am teaching in Gisborne and have found it extremely difficult to attend professional learning to stay inspired and up to date with effective practices due to lack of financial support and the costs associated with teachers leaving school for a day or two to travel through 'the gorge'!

    Earlier this year I jumped at the chance to attend a ULearn conference which thankfully came to Gisborne and was pointed in the direction of the VLN - this has been an amazing resource for inspiration and a catalyst for many ideas and experiences I have implemented through teaching.  The opportunity to take part in webinars has really helped me connect with other educators who are working towards positive outcomes with a great amount of passion.  I feel it has challenged myself professionally and pushed the boundaries of what I previously thought was possible, as well as enhanced the learning and engagement for students in my classes.  The opportunity to take part broke down the geographical boundaries but there are still time constraints that I had to compromise and had to arrange alternate nights for sport coaching etc when considering attendance at webinars - It is possible to view the recording of the webinar, but always better to be present in real time as you can ask questions and develop a greater feel to the topic - and as Anne and Janet write it is still not comparable to the 'face to face' connection that you make when talking and learning with another person - but financially more realistic for remote schools and an amazing way to learn from people proficient in the fields you are interested in.

    I have found by expanding through twitter and the PLN that I have created through initiatives like #edchatNZ and #PEgeeks and using groups on google+ there are never ending opportunities (definitely 'info-whelm' Anne!) to develop personal knowledge but I think the main challenge is how do we encourage others who may not be as intrinsically motivated as ourselves who choose to do this off our own backs and make the effort to take part in events in our own time, or even look into the possibilities of connecting with other educators who are in the same situations as them?

    As an additional question….I have also been a bit confused about the N4L, how will that fit in with the VLN and potential PLD opportunities?

    Great thread, keep up the good work!!!

  • Tim Gander 20 Aug 2013 10:03pm () in Chromebook Purchasing

    Hi Allanah - I used Norcom and they have been brilliant from the start of the process and are still giving support now through email and phone calls.  The management console is essential if you are running more than a small number - it allows real customisation of the devices for different groups/classes - as well as control over network settings etc.  I'm afraid I can't help you with the AOG part as I'm not in charge of the funding at our school - if I was we'd have hundreds of them!!  Better join the chromebook group - thanks!

  • Tim Gander 02 Jul 2013 8:03pm () in Come, let's meet and share what we do...

    Number 2 on the randomizer!!  Exciting! See you all tomorrow Smile

  • Tim Gander 26 May 2013 8:52pm () in Growing leadership of e-learning | NAPP Kōrero 6 - Resourcing

    Hi Xanthe, 

    In leading change we have to be following some example and guidelines from the NZQA when integrating technology with senior students taking NCEA, I know that the new standards are encouraging teachers to assess through blogs etc. but does anyone know anything about how the NZQA accept moderation material?  I have been using 'coaches eye' to teach and assess biomechanics, the students talk and record analysis to prove understanding.  It is all saved in an e-portfolio and marked.  After speaking to a colleague who had been to a NCEA workshop they claimed that they would only accept written work.  Is this still the case?  I know you can link google docs for the moderation, does it go as far as video clips?  The accepted formats need to be clear and encouraged if we are to be modelling it in our schools for other staff - this is an important area that we all need to understand?!

    On a side note it's great to hear you are adapting your internals to incorporate blogs, wikis, learning logs, e-portfolios etc.  I am attempting to do a similar thing here in Gisborne and it seems to be going quite well - I agree with you on the excitement factor - as well as enhancing results!!  I'd be interested in looking into what you have been up to, do you have a blog or any resources - have a look at what we've been doing here..... http://bit.ly/15c37X9

    Good point in your answer to Jim's question, I really feel that quite a few of the students coming into year 9 are equipped with skills that will enable them to be digital learners, but some secondary schools are not equipped with the staff or facilities to maximise their potential as 21stC learners - hopefully webinars like this will move us all in the right direction.  I'm really impressed by the amount of passionate educators who are contributing to this forum, looking forward to Wednesday!