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Personalising Learning

Our third year of the ICT contract has seen us focussing on personalising learning for all students.


  • Diane Mills

    Our story focuses on Personalising Learning under national goal 3.  (Schools use e-learning to give effect to the NZC by increasing the capability of teachers to integrate e-learning effectively into their practice creating an innovative and exciting learning environment for all students).  

    Our cluster consists of two co-educational secondary schools in Dunedin: Logan Park High School and Kavanagh College.  This is our third year of the contract.

    What has changed? Since being involved in the ICT contract, we’ve seen a shift school-wide from using technology as tools to engage, enhance and extend learning to actually embedding the pedagogy of personalising learning.

    Why did this need doing?
    Teachers and students were aware of the enormous opportunities available through our new curriculum and current technology.  Students and teachers were keen to embrace more effective ways of teaching and learning.

    What did we learn?
    A number of factors have contributed to this shift.  Senior management have led the change.  At the start of 2012, at our first Teacher Only Day, there was a stated focus in terms of Strategic Goals, Our Curriuclum Focus and linked to our Appraisal system encouraging teachers to personalise learning for all of our students.

    Our PD focus for 2012 asks all teachers to inquire into the effectiveness of their teaching (inquiry focus) and share their reflections within a learning community in their online blog. The Pedagogy committee and Heads of Departments have continued this focus.

    See link to image of our curriculum with Personalising Learning as one of the wrap around themes. https://docs.google.com/a/lphs.school.nz/document/d/1lkPl3sVij9qfwdkioYuDTeR9J4j_m6go6JM40NEGnZ8/edit

    What did it achieve?
    Significant schoolwide shifts in our teaching and learning conversations and programmes have been observed by teachers and students.
    During the programme we have had a much greater focus on student voice, surveying students, learning conversations with teachers, students and whanau to look at what makes a difference to student learning, engagement, and achievement.

    Students wanted their own voice heard which led to establishing a student blog attached to the front page of our website. They wanted more access to learning anytime, anywhere, and to bring their own devices, and students were consulted about delivery of learning eg g-sites, moodle, facebook.  We have tried to respond to our students’ suggestions.

    Teachers have also been more open about sharing strategies and experiments etc (within departments and across the whole school in PD sessions) and this has been extended further into our online blogs where teachers have chosen an inquiry focus and are sharing it with a selected community of peers.

    How do you know things have changed?
    Students were interviewed about the changes they’ve observed over the past few years.
    See youtube video of students reflections.  See link here.

    Advice for others trying to do this?
    Take everyone on the journey.  Let everyone set their own goals in terms of using technology or personalising learning.  Stay open to best practice examples out there eg vln site, tki, ted talks, ulearn etc.
    Involve key people: senior management, heads of departments and keen individuals in planning PD and reflecting on progress. And involve students and whanau because they have different insights and suggestions.
    Change takes time.  Our first year almost exclusively focussed on personal upskilling in IT applications and teachers setting their own goals and challenging themselves.
    Everyone needs access to good IT support (technicians, experts, gear, and access to wireless have all helped).

    The Elearning framework provides a useful barometer of where you’re at as a whole school and where you want to get to.
    We’ve been influenced by Best Evidence Synthesis (BES) and Teaching as Inquiry as part of the pedagogy of the New Zealand Curriculum (ie where sustained improvement depends on teachers developing their own inquiry skills so that they collect relevant evidence, use it to inquire into the effectiveness of their teaching and its effectiveness in terms of the impact on students, and make continuing adjustments to their practice.)
    We’ve also been influenced by the Maori Education Strategy (Ka Hikitia) and the He Kakano programme our school is currently involved in.  The concept of “ako” describes a teaching and learning relationship, where the teacher is also learning from the student and where teachers’ practices are informed by the latest research and are both deliberate and reflective. Teachers have seen themselves as “agentic,” (agents of change) and have worked collaboratively with students, whanau and other teachers to make improvements to teaching and learning.