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Book Group #1: Key Competencies for the Future, with NZCER | from 3rd October

Started by Karen Spencer 14 Sep 2014 12:48pm () Replies (36)

NZCER Key CompetenciesWe are delighted that NZCER will be hosting the first NZ Book Group in Connected Educator Month this year.

The new publication, Key Competencies for the Future, will be spotlighted through webinars and online discussions. This is a wonderful opportunity for educators across New Zealand and beyond to come together online to talk to the authors and explore the themes in the book. Join Sally Boyd, Rose Hipkins, Rachel Bolstad and Sue McDowall as they share their thoughts on this popular new publication.

Recordings from the Book Group


Meanwhile, check out this video in which the authors, Sally Boyd, Rose Hipkins, Rachel Bolstad and Sue McDowall, talk about what some of their values are and how these values helped frame the discussions in their new book:



M logoBrought to you with the support of Microsoft, our National Connector partner.


  • Karen Spencer (View all users posts) 28 Oct 2014 12:38pm ()

    Kia nora koutou


    Some incredibly rich reflections here - thanks again for all your participation over the month. I'm just popping the links to the recordings in here again in case anyone else want to review and I'll add them to the initial post on this thread as well:

    The closing session explored several of the questions that have come up in this thread, and we also heard from two guests, Danielle Myburgh (Hobsonville Point Secondary School) and Reid Walker (Henderson North School), who have been exploring some of the book's ideas with their learners and generously shared their journeys.

    This thread will remain open beyond the end of Connected Educator Month for anyone else to drop into as they wish.

    My thanks to Rachel, Rose, Sue and Sally for all their time and participation in this discussion so far - and to all of you who have been participating:) It seems to me that the book is a timely guide to reimagining learning design in ways that honour the 'front end' and intent of the NZ Curriculum.

    Keep the comments, questions and stories coming;)

  • Rachel Bolstad (View all users posts) 24 Oct 2014 4:29pm ()

    Hi Kerri,

    A couple of thoughts spring to mind here. There are actually some fairly easily accessible statistics around drownings and water safety in New Zealand that could be very interesting starting points for asking some very good "why" questions  with students. Some examples are cited in this set article by Sally Robertson , for example 

    • NZ has one of the worst drowning rates in the developed world
    • In 2008, New Zealand had twice as many people drown per capita as Australia
    • Recent data show that children’s swimming ability has been decreasing

    These worrying stats are all just begging to be unpacked and questioned! There are a lot more statistics here on the water safety NZ website. This could be a neat opportunity to use some real-world NZ-based data that's actually pretty easy to access and use.

    A second thought: One thing I found very interesting to learn when I was at a public lecture some time ago is that there appears to be a problem getting men over 40 to wear life jackets. This sort of thing presents another really good opportunity to delve deeper into with the "why" questions. Why aren't men as inclined to wear life jackets - what are the social or psychological factors that are at play here? I heard of a guy who was doing research all over the world on this question - he would go down to the docks in whatever city or town he visited and interview the men there - and he consequently had some very interesting things to say about notions of masculinity and how that affected the propensity of men to wear or not wear life-jackets - and how we need to take this into account when trying to think about how to prevent drownings. I wish I could remember who he was and what conference that lecture was at! 

    Issues like this I think are interesting because they help us get past the idea that simply providing people with information is sufficient to bring about changes in their behaviour. For example, simply telling men to wear life jackets because they decrease the rates of drowning (for example) may not be a very effective approach - so how could you go about addressing this issue?

    There could be all sorts of tangled social, cultural, economic, and technological challenges associated with  water safety challenges in NZ, so I think it's definitely a ripe area for a wicked-problem-finding approach! Students could generate some creative ideas about how one could go about addressing a knotty problem (a mini-wicked problem?) around water safety, or do some investigative research in their own community to better understand the problem and what they could do about it. 

  • Kerri Thompson (View all users posts) 24 Oct 2014 2:25pm ()

    Hi everyone in this conversation. I have just finished watching the recording of the 'wrap up' webinar which I was gutted to miss (softball duties on a Thursday afternoon). As I watched .. so many questions came up!

    Loved listening to Danielle and Reid with their 'at the coal face' contributions...just brilliant.

    From some of the discussion above it is clear that although many of us are keen to 'get started'... the dilemma is how? where? what? Danielle and Reid provided me with some kind of answers. Thanks so much the two of you.

    So.. the key things to come out of the discussion for me were.. 

    • Key Competencies can be woven into our learning experiences. I agree that we should not start trying to 'measure' them...too much measuring loses focus on the actual learning and starts putting students into boxes.
    • Reflective thinking is at the heart of ALL competencies. I was pleased to hear this as it confirmed for me WHY I spend so much time on reflection...at start of lessons, during lessons, end of lessons, end of week, sometimes through platforms like Twitter, #kidsedchatnz, Kidblogs, Edmodo, #tamatealitchat (our own school Literacy chat which I started and host!) at other times through Learning Journals.
    • The 'pesky question' around assessment which keeps coming up was answered for me succinctly 'Bring assessment into the learning experience'. I actually do this when I think about how I teach/assess Literacy.
    • We need to open pedagogy so it 'allows different perspectives'. We need to provide opportunities which can 'create different perspectives' which the students can then use to 'create something new'. 

    The webinar concluded with ONE piece of advice from Danielle and Reid.

    Danielle: "Start with Design Thinking"

    Reid: "We don't need to start with 'lofty' ideas...they can be small, manageable, school-focused problems which are relevant to the kids" to get started on.

    With that reflection done... it now comes to MY questions and ideas of how I might tackle this during the last few weeks of the school year.

    We have had programmed into Week 5/6 a Water Safety Study. I have been thinking how I can 'turn this into' more of a 'wicked problem' than a Topic study type thing which my colleagues are doing.

    Some help or guidance with my ideas would be appreciated. I am thinking I could put it to the kids..

    We are having a focus on Water Safety ...why do you think we are focusing on this? Is this an important topic for us/you to focus on? Why is this an important topic for us/you? How does 'water safety' relate to you personally? Would a trip to the beach be appropriate as part of this study? Why would a trip to the beach be part of this study? What might we do/learn at the beach which relates to 'water safety'? (Hopefully questions arise about other 'water' places like rivers/lakes/pools etc which kids can follow-up too).

    Am I right in thinking that if we can discuss some of these questions (and others that the students come up with through the discussion)...the 'wicked problem' of drownings at our beaches would hopefully come up and that from here...'away we go'!!! with the kids initiated question being... How do we reduce/stop drownings around water in New Zealand?

    Any feedback on my idea would be great. Thank you for providing this platform for discussion...invaluable!

    Kerri Thompson


  • Karen Spencer (View all users posts) 23 Oct 2014 9:29am ()

    Thank you to all of you who have been participating in this Book Group thread this month. There's a real richness of discussion and reflection which means that, even after we 'officially' wrap, this discussion can continue...

    Whether you have read the book or are still curious about the ideas in it, you are all invited to join the authors - plus Danielle Myburgh (Hobsonville Point) and Reid Walker (Henderson North School), two educators with stories to share - in this afternoon's wrap-up [23 Oct] at 3.45pm:

    Hope to see you there!

  • Rachel Bolstad (View all users posts) 18 Oct 2014 11:51am ()

    Camilla - I think it's very related! One idea that I got from "The Human Scale" was this (potted summary): Urban planners have traditionally built for cars, and of course there is heaps of data available on trafffic flows, patterns, etc. So in other words the data that would drive urban planning was "the data we have" - i.e. traffic data - fed into a mindset that was a car-based, "master-plan from above"-based view of urban design. Gathering data about traffic patterns is relatively easy to do. What urban planners DIDN'T have (at least in the same sort of formats) was data about how humans used space/travelled the city as pedestrians, cyclists, and how people used open spaces just to "be" people. Therefore that sort of information wasn't factored into urban planning. So how do you gather that kind of data if the city doesn't have those sorts of spaces - because it was not designed for the human scale? Jan Gehl's answer was to create little pockets of spaces that would enable people to use space on the human scale - and then to gather data in those little test-spaces and city corridors to start to build an empirical evidence base to show that it IS possible to build cities around human-scale ways of thinking - and that it works.

    Are there analogies here with education? For example,  what kinds of educational data do we currently collect and use to drive decision-making about our learning systems? If we can only ever fall back on the measures of what is "easy" to measure, standardisable, quantifiable, etc, and if we only ever use measures which simply reflect back to us the various underlying mentalities that our systems have been designed around, are we falling into the same trap? Conversely, as this thread shows we know there are many other ways we can gather and use evidence for learning and growth with learners - including the all-important reflective conversations that give learners the opportunity to exercise, notice and grow their own capabilities in ever-more-challenging contexts - the sort of thing Amanda talked about in her post. I suppose my own question/wondering is whether or how this kind of evidence for learning and capability development, which can be relatively easy to point to at the human, classroom scale (as evidenced in some of your stories here!) can or should be scaled up to provide a system-level view - and who is it that needs this, and for what purpose?

    I guess in a roundabout way this takes me back to Ray Burkhill's provocative question in the webinar which I reposted a few days ago and I'm still chewing on:

    Ray Burkhill: Does there need to be some sort of measurable outcome to the KCs or is it enough to design a learning experience where the KCs can be expressed?

  • Camilla (View all users posts) 17 Oct 2014 12:34pm ()

    Hi Rachel, 

    I watched this doco (The Human Scale) a couple of weeks ago - through Apple TV. We really enjoyed it and it makes you condiser the implications of what/who drives design and the unintended social/emotional outcomes on humanity (in the doco's case around city planning, but in our minds education). Less haste, more speed springs to mind. We can never 'know' an outcome to solving a problem, wicked or non-wicked, we can merely predict, because there are so many competing factors that influence the outcome. Lessons learned from the past. 

    One thing that struck me was the intial resistance to change and if the public at large could see the big picture benefits, or were more focused on the 'immediate' displacement of their everyday norms.

    But anywho, that's not really related to this book group. 

  • Rachel Bolstad (View all users posts) 16 Oct 2014 5:01pm ()

    Camilla and Paul and Terry - and everyone else for that matter - I thoroughly recommend this documentary - "The Human Scale"  I saw it over a year ago and still think and talk about it frequently! Friends tell me this one, "Urbanised" is even better, though I haven't managed to watch it myself yet. 

    Camilla you are making me think about a story I read from an ICTPD cluster - a project that Rob and Sandie Haddock from Tahuna School wrote about in 2009-2011 called "Little boxes" - I have always been very interested in this story. Rob and Sandie if you are out there it would be great to hear from you!

  • Paul Scott, Mercury Bay Area School (View all users posts) 16 Oct 2014 4:38pm ()

    Hi Camilla

    I 'liked' your public spaces inquiy.

    It might interest you to know that in the UK there is a debate about banning smoking in outdoor public spaces.


    There is bound to be some better journalism than the Daily Mail but this is what google picked up first!

  • Paul Scott, Mercury Bay Area School (View all users posts) 16 Oct 2014 4:27pm ()

    Hi Rose!

    In my comment I was talking about ‘key competencies’ in general.

    I am mindful the role that the ‘Science Capabilities’ play in exploring wicked problems and this is where I have most confidence. What strikes me is that ‘Key competencies’ are also coming into play alongside the ‘Science Capabilities’- they blur. Seems rather obvious when I actually stop to think!

    The Science Capabilities have been helpful and I have been able to adapt them. For example working with a group of Y8 students only yesterday… we looked at the particle model (video/notes/quiz) and then students were asked “What would happen to the mass of a coke bottle when the top was unscrewed and the gas escapes”. Students were asked to “agree” with one of three hypothesis which involved a gain / loss / or no mass change to the bottle of cola. They were asked to draw a particle model diagram to help articulate their thinking. There was a diversity of ideas amongst the group, each idea being respected, and a willingness to have an open-mind. We will collect evidence by way of an illustrative experiment next week and those who got the wrong answer will be able to change it based on the evidence!

    I read an article of yours some time ago about ‘capabilities’ versus ‘competencies’ and I took from it the travel metaphor – capabilities suggesting a journey as opposed to competencies suggesting a destination or end point.

    The NZASE article is very helpful in “joining up the dots” between science strands and I really need to look at the KC & Effective pedagogy project!

    I would like to focus more consciously on the more personal ‘key competencies’. I think a guided self-assessment is best here and the role of a ‘coach’. That makes me think of Guy Claxton who talks about learning dispositions - I dipped into this 2 or 3 years ago now! I do like the way that ELLI makes some attempt at ‘measuring’ capabilities – a tool to start and carry on conversations. I have not taken the opportunity to use ELLI.

    I do like the backward mapping idea. My Y10 students have just completed the Schoolgen carbon footprint inquiry and it would be useful to have some ‘future focus’ discussions with them. As you point out some tool or framework to help both students and teachers would be useful.

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