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Mt. Roskill Grammar School ICT PD



A smart approach to Professional Learning.

What do we want to achieve?

At Mt. Roskill Grammar School, we are looking to develop effective and resposive teaching pedagogies aimed at assisting our students to become successful, powerful learners who are active and responsible citizens. To this end we have restructured our professional learning environment and are looking to support our learning community using the most effective ICT tools and e-Learning techniques.

Redefining our Curriculum and Professional Learning Model

In 2009, here at Mt. Roskill Grammar school, our whole approach to professional learning  changed with the introduction of our Professional Learning Circles or PLCs. We are now into out third year of operating and refining both departmental and cross-curricular PLCs. Within these groups teachers participate interactively to learn together by carrying out cycles of teacher inquiry.

There are two types of cross-curricular PLC. There are topic PLCs and core-class PLCs. The topic PLCs are focussed on finding the best ways to meet the needs of groups of students at risk of underachievement. The core class PLCs consist of teachers of the same junior core-classes across a range of compulsory (and some option) subjects. The focus of these is again to develop effective pedagogies that are responsive to the needs of those students.

All the PLCs are commited to the appropriate use of ICT as a tool for advancing their inquiries into meeting student needs.

In addition to these PLCs, we have a few "Lead Teams" of teachers who have committed to building their own expertise and practice and to be leaders within their departments. One of our lead teams is the E-Learning Lead team.

The mrgs professional learning model supports teachers and students to work together to achieve the vision of the school, "Successful, Powerful Learners who are Active and Responsible Citizens". We consider that the key to making this vision real is to develop quality resposive teaching practices across the school.

The principles that inform our MRGS curriculum are

  • a determination to facilitate quality learning where students and teachers aspire to excellence and are committed to learning about learning and about themselves as learners;
  • a commitment to the formation of partnerships with the community, with whanau and the other campus schools;
  • a fostering of respectful relationships where students learn about themselves and others within a safe and ethical learning environment;
  • a commitment to being enriched by the diversity around us and within our communities (including the online communities where students learn).

The ICT PD project is assisting us to build the learning communities necessary to make the above aspirations real at Mt. Roskill Grammar School.


The E-Learning Lead Team and "iLearn"

The E-Learning Lead Team at Mt. Roskill Grammar consists of two or three teachers from each department who work together to develop their own expertise in e-learning and to lead and assist others within their departments to grow their smart use of e-learning within their subjects.

One way that the E-Learning Lead team has assisted in the development of e-Learning at Mt. Roskill Grammar School is to promote and assist with the use of the school's Learning Management System. Known as "iLearn", this moodle platform assists teachers to do new things with their practice. These include:

  • designing and trialling more interactive learning experiences for teachers and students;
  • gaining feedback from teachers, students and the community;
  • creating online learning environments so that learning continues outside of the classroom;
  • providing resources and links to other relevant learning sites worldwide.

The school's iLearn system is developing into a bustling learning community. Teachers have also begun to use iLearn as a discussion forum to continue conversations about professional learning outside of the times for PLCs. If you would like to visit it, please logon here using the information below:

We have created an iLearn account for users of the VLN

USERNAME: vln2011 PASSWORD :Vln_2011 (these ARE case specific)

Also note: Navigating around iLearn - most courses have enrolment codes: either ilearndepartment or the timetabled course codes: e.g. ilearnenglish, ilearnscience, 9MAT, 10MAT etc.

The iLearn site is found at: http://ilearn.mrgs.school.nz/login/index.php

The E-Learning Lead team also has its own space on iLearn where you can see the impact and activities of the e-Learning Lead team. In particular, if you follow the links to the discussion, "How might this learning space contribute to achieving our goal ?", you will see some of the reflections of the e-Learning Lead team as they have thought about their use and leadership of iLearn.


Some members of the lead team have also used wikispaces to develop online learning communities and have assisted others in their departments to do the same. An example of such a space is given below:


Other online learning communities being developed by the E-Learning Lead Team and those they assist include the use of "my Portfolio" sites and resources. These are assisting learners to collect and track their learning whilst gaining new and up to date resources to assist them. Below is an example of a "myprotfolio" space set up by an English teacher who is a member of the Lead Team for students intending to sit scholarship English.


Here is some feedback from the students on their use of myportfolio:

and here are some reflections from the teacher:



Other activities of the Lead Team include:

  • Ashween and Joanna are leading the Science department PLCs in the task of developing resources and formative assessments in all science courses on iLearn.
  • Fiona and Haizley are supporting the English department to upskill teachers, especially in moving exemplar resources into iLearn English courses. They continue to use My Portfolio and other platforms to encourage student collaboration. Also they have opened up a computer lab at lunchtimes for student use.
  • Raj in Commerce has successfully used wikispaces last year, and is helping his department move these strategies and resources to iLearn.
  • Danielle in Technology is supporting her department with the development of audio visual resources, use of iLearn, and encouraging them to explore ideas on the e-Learning course.
  • Sophie and Jon are supporting their department across a variety of ICT appraisal goals, which include use of specialized software, data projectors, and iLearn. Maths has incorporated the use of iLearn for many years, but there is a need to update and tidy up the many resources available to suit current unit planning and the realignment.
  • Lorraine in MacLean Centre is helping her department to interact and share student work with teachers and parents. Students are using ICT to create and publish their learning and knowledge.
  • Andrew and Nina in Social Sciences and Kim in PE are assisting their departments to plan and develop iLearn course material and resources across a variety of courses.
  • Nina has done some research on the use of cloud computing and these ideas are beginning to be shared across the ICT leaders. See her work at http://ilearn.mrgs.school.nz/file.php/237/elearning/Cloud_Computing.pdf

There are also cross-curricula tutorial sessions being regularly offered in Term 2 for all staff to upskill themselves on the possibilities and use of Moodle iLearn.

Some Random Statistics: To date in 2011: 1547 students and 103 teachers have used iLearn
There are currently over 200 courses across 20 different departments or categories, with most being currently used and updated.
Teacher spaces are being developed this year for e-Learning and Core-Class PLCs to enable better communication, sharing and collaboration.

Our E-Learning Story.

Self Review is an integral part of our Professional Learning and we have developed a Mt. Roskill Grammar School Self Review Model to assist teachers to track their own learning, including data, theorising and beliefs associated with their practice.

Several members of the steering group and the Lead Team presented at the most recent U-Learn conference telling our story and explaining how the model helps us to plot our e-Learning story. The attached power point has details of what was presented:

U-Learn Conference Power Point on E-Learning and Self-Review

What we have learned

  • When creating a Professional Learning community or refining your model, it is vital that a layered consultation process is used. This way, common understandings of the objectives can emerge that are owned by the community.
  • Successful Professional Learning happens when a community considers everyone as a learner.


  • Teachers need time to think about teaching and learning and to plan together new learning with an investigative mind-set.
  • We have found the teacher inquiry cycle (from the BES) and our new MRGS model of self-review to be invaluable tools to focus the work of teachers towards improving and refining effective pedagogies;
  • We have learned that leadership in e-Learning is really about leadership in effective pedagogy combined with a culture of sharing knowledge and skills;
  • We have learned that when teachers are able to access quality feedback and feed forward from colleagues and students, they feel valued and begin to get creative with innovative new pedagogies.

Next Steps:

At Mt. Roskill Grammar, we need to:

  • continue to support and refine good structures to support professional learning and reflection;
  • identify and celebrate progress and success, developing and sharing our practice;
  • further develop i-Learn (our LMS) for the management and facilitation of student learning both inside and outside of the classroom;
  • further develop online forums and resources for professional learning of teachers so that discussions and reflections can be shared and recorded outside of professional learning time.
  • further develop our shared understanding of our Mt. Roskill Grammar School Curriculum and further negotiate and define effective pedagogies that assist our students to become effective 21st century learners.

We currently struggle with some technical difficulties including a very limiting internet speed, but we have invested in a review of this side of things and have identified some possible future improvements to reduce technical barriers.

We are proud of our progress so far with the ICT PD project and appreciate the help and support of our National and Regional Facilitators, teachers from other clusters and our own Facilitators and collaborators both from within MRGS and from external consultants.

Please post any feedback or comment you may have.