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ICT2LRN Reflective Summary 4 - November, 2011

 

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ICT2LRN is a cluster of 10 full primary and contributing schools in Southland, New Zealand.  We are in the 2nd year of the ICTPD project.  After term 1 of this year we decided to form 3 sub clusters that comprised of 3 schools in each sub cluster.


Cluster Goals:

The ICT2LRN goals are focussed on the 5 national goals: to use eLearning to give effect to the New Zealand Curriculum / Te Marautanga o Aotearoa

Our cluster goals emphasised the development of ICT integration through the classroom inquiry teaching and learning model and we also wanted to develop the student inquiry learning happening in our classrooms – using the Kath Murdoch Model, in particular.

Our cluster focus, therefore, was in three key directions

  1. Using the Teacher Inquiry Model to improve student achievement through the use of ICTs and elearning pedagogy.
  2. Developing our school Inquiry Model through the Kath Murdoch Model.
  3. Integrating ICT strategies and Elearning Pedagogies into our teaching and learning.

The following cluster reflective summary is a collation from the school’s reflective summaries, completed in September of this year.

 

Interventions – what we did:

Teacher Inquiry

In term 4, 6 of the 10 schools encouraged their staff to complete their own teacher inquiry- using this teacher inquiry model.  Teachers were encouraged to have increased student outcomes as their goal and some schools allowed their teachers to choose a focus, while others encouraged a school wide focus (such as literacy or numeracy).  Here are two examples that were started in term 1.

-       Example of Principal Inquiry, “Developing school wide eLearning pedagogy”

-       Example of Teacher Inquiry, “Building student independence and initiative skills”

 

Teachers were supported and encouraged to develop ICT and elearning strategies and techniques that would help increase the achievement of their students.

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In the second half of this year schools were able to support their teachers in their inquiries in a variety of methods.  Some discussed their inquiries in staff and syndicate meetings, some encouraged digital reflections and online sharing through the use of blogs and others continued meeting their ebuddies that were introduced in term 1 of this year.  2 schools included their teacher inquiry goals and progress into their teacher appraisel process.

 

Most schools reported that the use of teacher inquiries allowed their teachers to increase the knowledge, capability and confidence of ICT integration into their teaching – and that this had a positive benefit to the learning of their students.  There were also noticeable increases in staff sharing their progress and collaborating on various projects such as quad blogging (4 classes working together to share and showcase student learning with their classroom blogs) and the creation of an efolio network.

 

 A key ingrediant to the success of teacher inquiries was the release time given to staff at the beginning of the year.  This helped build relationships across schools – that have continued with the arrangement of the sub-clusters.  The schools that reported the best success were those that continued the teacher release into the second half of the year with observations and time during staff meetings to share and reflect.

 

The reflections after the first year of teacher inquiries across the cluster were mixed.  Some schools identified areas of their teaching practice that needed strengthening, such as developing student questioning skills.  Other schools reflected that they would require more PD on the teacher inquiry model before staff felt confident to use it successfully.  3 of the 10 schools intend to implement the T.I. process into their appraisel systems for 2012 and most will continue to use T.I. to develop the teaching practice of their staff.

 

Inquiry Model – Kath Murdoch

All schools are developing their classroom inquiry models along the structure of the Kath Murdoch Inquiry Model and this has continued to be an ICT2LRN cluster focus.  The sub-clusters have continued to develop their own school inquiry model and most reported a consolidation of their progress.

Schools spent this year further embedding new strategies and tools in their classrooms.  Many adapted their planning and assessment processes for inquiry and most felt that staff are increasing in confidence with their own inquiry pedagogy, they are planning and collaborating together within their syndicate teams.  Most Principals have reflected that there are now school wide consistencies within their inquiry practises.

 

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The clusters next steps are to further consolidate the progress made.  This takes time.  Principals are keen to see more sharing of the improvements some have made with their assessment processes and are planning to visit other cluster schools to see their inquiry practises in action.  Some would like to organise some workshops around new inquiry tools, such as PD on using the QuEst website and some of Trevor Bonds initiatives.  One school even intends to focus their Teacher inquiry next year on inquiry learning.

 

ICT Integration and Elearning Pedagogy

One of the major needs identified at the start of our cluster’s journey was the need to upskill our staff in the authentic integration of ICTs – and to develop a working understanding of how elearning can transform our teaching pedagogy.  There has been a large variety of initiatives and strategies that the sub-clusters have employed to help this continue.  One of the strengths of having a sub-cluster structure is that these initiatives are tailored to the needs of each individual school.

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Schools have organised a variety of afterschool techies that utilise the strengths of teachers within their schools to share and facilitate the use of ICTs in the classrooms.  Teachers have often attended 2 sessions, weeks apart, on the same topic to share successes and support the problems with solutions.  Some schools have made use of the after school PD opportunities provided by our local IWB facilitator and also the Enrich school team who ran sessions on animation, blogging and imovie.  2 schools sent 1 Principal and 4 staff on an Apple Bus Tour that provided them with a massive wealth of inspiration and initiatives to explore for their schools.

School Website 1

School Website 2

School Website 3

Facebook Page

 

 The majority of schools have been developing new systems and sites that will take their communication systems into the 21stCentury.  5 schools have revamped their school websites to be more engaging with their communities.  2 have even started Facebook pages to allow accurate, to the minute information for parents and students.   4 schools have started using Google Apps for documents, calendars and staff sites.  This has greatly improved the efficiency and collaboration of their staff and internal administration.  They are reporting less paper printing and improved communication within their schools.

School Video 1

 

School Video 2

School Video 3

School Website

School Wiki

Class wiki for spelling

Classroom Blog

School Radio Show Blog

Use of Skype in the classroom

Wallwisher in the class

 

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The next steps for many schools involve the development of purchase plans to increase the device ratios with their students.  Some are considering implementing a BYOD (Bring your own device) programme for 2012 and others are pleased that their staff are requesting more technology to use in class – considered a sign of increased confidence and capabilities in their staff to ICT integration.

 

3 schools are planning to implement eportfolio programmes for 2012.  A group has formed across the cluster to share and collaborate the progress towards this.   These schools are looking to build on the success of their student blogs and further develop the connection between school and home to improve student achievement.

 

Intentions – why we did this:

The cluster review of 2010 revealed that the majority of schools had experienced and developed expertise in a wide range of eLearning and ICT tools.  The cluster Principals decided to target the cluster PD going forward for each individual school and teachers needs.  It was felt that the teacher inquiry process would help schools and teachers differentiate their own development.

The Kath Murdoch sessions were part of the clusters overall aims to further develop the inquiry learning model in our schools.  Our aim was also to enhance our inquiry delivery through the integration of ICT and eLearning pedagogies.

Impact on students/teachers/whanau

Teacher reflections noted the improved student outcomes as a direct result of the strategies used by teachers in their Teacher Inquiries.  Because the inquiries are focussed on the needs of the students and are many varied, so too are the strategies being used.  Some examples are;

  • the use of blogs as reflective tools and for reluctant writers
  • skype to connect with a wider audience and develop questioning skills
  • using online sites linked through a blog to develop a basic facts programme for numeracy 

 

Teachers and Principals are reporting an increased use of ICT tools in their daily delivery and increased student engagement as a result. 

Teacher Reflection 1

Teacher Reflection 2

Teacher Reflection 3

Each teacher is required to reflect once a term on their teacher inquiry progress.  Some have started professional blogs and are starting to connect with each other, both in and out of cluster initiatives, eg. On twitter, in blog comments and through the use of RSS readers. 

 

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Schools are also reviewing and implementing their cyber safety and internet policies school wide.  As a result of schools reintroducing these changes, some are noting the need for further community engagement around informing parents about the benefits of eLearning for their children.

 

Schools are in the process of planning a range of initiatives to inform and connect with their communities.  They are intending to run workshops, parents meetings, newsletters and other initiatives to do this in the future.  This development directly links to the Teacher Inquiries being developed by many of the Cluster Principals.  Many have identified the need to engage with their communities from the results of our cluster survey and as a strategy to develop the understanding of the need for eLearning practices within their schools.

Next Steps

Most schools have decided to continue with the Teacher Inquiry process, for the rest of the year, as part of their newly formed Sub-Cluster action plans.  This has been dependent on whether they saw it’s benefitial for their staff in meeting their overall school goals within the cluster.

 2012 - Consolidation

The overwhelming theme for the last year of our cluster is to consolidate the progress made by many of it's teachers.  Many have started using new technologies and strategies that are increasing both student engagment and motivation.  The key is to look for new ways to engage with their communities for to look for developing sustainability in the long term.

 Another key drive towards achieving our goals will involve a increase in the number of devices but in others it will be to build on the new found confidence in the ability to integrate and innovate ICTs in our schools.