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Supporting secondary teachers to engage with students online

 Our cluster consists of two co-educational secondary schools in Dunedin: Logan Park High School and Kavanagh College. This is our second year of the contract and one of our current areas of focus is supporting teachers to engage with their students online.

 The New Zealand Curriculum seeks to make students confident, connected life-long learners and the document outlines effective pedagogy including teaching and learning as inquiry and evidence based.  There is an abundance of research including Hagel and Brown, The Big Shift, Dave Orphal, and numerous education research articles featured in ASCD publications, Eudutopia, and Education Week which clearly demonstrate the benefits of utilizing technology to connect, engage and extend students.  Our intention is to support, extend and enhance student learning by engaging with them online.

This focus has always been clearly defined for Kavanagh College; they decided last year that all their teachers would start using Moodle (called Koodle within the school) to supplement their teaching. For Logan Park this focus became apparent at the start of this year when we saw that a lot of our teachers had requested PD in this area. Both schools have now significantly increased the engagement of students online. We know this from anecdotal feedback that we have had from our senior students who say they are increasingly able to engage with their learning online.  There has also been a measurable increase in the material available at both schools on Moodle, gsites, facebook etc.

 The Story

 Why we did it:

Initially at the beginning of the Twin Primes contract at Kavanagh, it was decided through discussion with staff that we wanted technology to be available to enhance the idea of "anywhere, anytime" teaching and learning. Following on from this it was decided that the Kavanagh Moodle Site would be set up. It was decided that staff can follow interests such as gsites, facebook and wikis for example but that all access to these has to occur through a department or subject Moodle site. This is to avoid confusion for students and make the Kavanagh Moodle site the one stop site for student learning.

Logan Park:  After reflecting on what we did last year, we asked our staff for suggestions of what to cover and overwhelmingly, teachers said that they wanted to learn more about engaging online with their students to supplement and extend their learning and achievement.

How we did it:

At Kavanagh staff met at the start of the year and began with a staff best practice presentation showing staff what other departments and teaches were doing with technology in their classes. Then in Term 1 we had three two hour afternoon sessions and two Wednesday morning PD sessions that usually began with some showcase of new skills and then time to develop and learn. Groups were split across three computer labs. In addition to this the three Twin Primes facilitators worked one on one and in small groups with staff to further develop skills. 

At Logan Park we decided to start off by showcasing a few different platforms for engaging with students online in our after-school sessions. By doing this we hoped that our staff could make an informed decision about what would work best for their own teaching. Reflections on these sessions can be seen here:


We started with Google Sites and a reflection can be seen here:


We then looked at Facebook, making use of one of our teacher's extensive exploration into using these applications with his senior classes. You can see this happening here: http://en-gb.facebook.com/pages/Y13-History-at-Logan-Park/113426372018991

A reflection on the session he took can be seen here:


An finally we had an overview of Moodle, which can be read about here:


For the rest of the term we used our Tuesday sessions as a time for teachers to work through their own method of online engagement with technical support available. This was very successful and allowed people to work at their own pace and set their own goals.

What changed:

The Logan Park PE department is an example of how teachers are now engaging more with their students online:The Health and PE G-site is located here: https://sites.google.com/a/lphs.school.nz/hpe/

One of  the department's Facebook pages can be seen here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/Y13-PE-at-Logan-Park/118576098219833

At Kavanagh College more teachers are connecting with students online through senior and junior courses. For example:   Y12 English with Pauline Ireland Kenny                                             http://koodle.kavanagh.school.nz/moodle/course/view.php?id=48)%20.

Y7 Homeroom class Nina Railton   http://koodle.kavanagh.school.nz/moodle/course/view.php?id=73

Y12 English Esther Kristel


Chris Manley is connecting with her Drama students via facebook . This is a closed group only available to senior drama students. It offers on-line information of activities and engagements. This page also links to the Kavanagh Koodle page.


Impact on teachers:

In general teachers are finding that are now connecting with their students more online, or at least starting that process. These teachers' blogs reflect this:

"Over the summer I worked on creating a g-site for level 2 biology.  It is looking good and I have invited my students to add things to it (web sites etc) anything that they find interesting and helpful. Today I attached my Powerpoint from the days lesson, several students asked for it to be made available and I hope they will make use of it."

"S has made us a page! Yay!  So now it's just about building it up and getting students connected to it.  So far things are looking really good!  We have the g-site linked to the Facebook page, so hopefully students will start using both more often.  The g-site is ideal for us, as it caters for those students that do not have facebook or limited access to the internet (i.e. at school where facebook is blocked).  This is fun!  That's all for now."

Impact on students

Students from Logan Park have given us this feedback about connecting online:

"Mr B has a blog on the google site where he posts his lesson plans. I've found this really useful [on] days I miss. He has also written notes [on the google site]on how to do different questions which I use regularly."

" I have downloaded most of the Powerpoints we used in class. I used them to help organise my bio book. The information being online is really helpful if you have missed a class."

"I have used both the Logan Park Moodle site and the year 13 History page on Facebook. Both have provided excellent access to subject resources, with the Facebook page also allowing us to the see the previous students' comments, and ask the teacher relevant questions outside of school hours or in the holidays."

Students from Kavanagh College have given us this feedback about being able to engage online:

"The Facebook page for senior drama students is revolutionary because it bridges the gap between education and technology. The link to Koodle through face book makes life so much easier. We all need to be saving paper in this time"

"Koodle Forums are very helpful because you know other peoples' opinions. People may tell you what they feel but you forget. So when it is written down you can go back, re-look, reply and show others. It is good to read others opinions and if they saw something you didn't then you can see it in their post."

"We can be socializing online at the same time as we are doing school work. For exams we can go back and be reminded of things about shows that we have forgotten or didn't first pick up on".