Wednesday, 18 July 2018

A cross-curricular curriculum

The school holidays have been busy as I was invited to present at two events on consecutive Saturdays: The Google Sparkshop organised by the lovely Beth Lamb in Whangarei, and the Microsoft Innovative Educator Expert Hui (#NZMIEEhui18) in Auckland. The new Digital Technology Hangarau Matihiko Curriculum was at hot topic at both events. I wish I knew more about the Hangarau Matihiko version, but sadly my reo Māori is not good enough to understand the document , so I am hoping that my colleague Kerry will be able to explain it to me when I get back to work.

There seem to be mixed emotions around implementation of the DT HM curriculum; some teachers are ready to embrace it, to use it as a validation and extension of what they have already been doing, others are reluctant, unsure where to start, maybe even overwhelmed, and apparently other teachers are not going there yet at all. With an implementation deadline of January 2020, now is the time to get your head around it, because 2020 will come around very soon...

At the #NZMIEEhui18 in Auckland, Iain Cook-Bonney and Chris Dillon gave a keynote on the new DT HM Curriculum. Chris used the expression "cross-curricular curriculum" which has been milling around my head since last Saturday now. What is a cross-curricular curriculum, how do you apply it - and why would we have that in the first place?

What is a cross-curricular curriculum?

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Generally I understand Curriculum as the document outlining what student need to learn at different stages in their schooling. It is usually split up into subjects / learning areas. To use a curriculum in a cross-curricular way, I see the learners going through the various learning steps, reaching the Achievement Outcomes or Progress Outcomes while being engaged in one or more other learning areas or subjects. Our Raranga Matihiko Programme is such a cross-curricular way of working towards Progress Outcomes in DT HM while being engaged in a Social Sciences, Art or other context. I can see more cross-curricular approaches in primary and intermediate schools than in secondary schools, and I assume it must be much easier to develop an understanding across the curriculum at the lower levels than at the higher ones.

When I want to teach in a cross-curricular approach, ideally I work in collaboration with a colleague. I might not understand the ins and outs of the specialist knowledge in learning areas outside my own; however, I need to have a base understanding what these areas are about, how they approach learning, and I need to know who I can ask when I - or my students - need to know more. I realise I am in quite an unusual position, I started out as secondary teacher and subsequently taught in intermediate and primary age environments, so over time I had to develop a greater understanding myself far beyond what I expected back when I was a high school music teacher. 

In fact it was a comment by Gerard MacManus in my Raranga Matihiko session last Saturday that highlighted this to me: I asked the participants to familiarise themselves with the Progress Outcomes of DT HM by 'cutting out the fluff' and 'focusing what the essential points are'. There were some comments about how there is jargon, how it isn't easy to understand to many teachers, and Gerard rightly said something along the lines of "but isn't this the case in all subjects". I'm not sure that I told you anything you didn't know yet in my sessions, but I can't tell you how thankful I am that you came to my session and that you made this comment! Gerard is absolutely right, every subject / learning area has jargon, 'fluff', in the NZC, and unless you are familiar with the matter, it can seem quite hard to understand. That is the reason why there are a number of documents to put teacherese into kids' speak (see for example this site for Literacy Progression in kids' speak). One of the Whangarei teachers at the Sparkshop talked about developing a kids's speak version of the DT HM curriculum which would be helpful not just for students.

Why a cross-curricular curriculum?

Ivory Tower Library of Primitives 2C
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I completely agree with Chris that DT should be seen not as a stand-alone subjects that gets addressed twice a week for 45min at a time in the computer lab (this was one of my concerns which I voiced during the consultation process). None of our Learning Areas should really be stand-alone any more, the good old ivory towers of years gone by need to be pulled down and opened up. You may ask why? Life is not organised in different subjects, life is messy (I once saw a really cool image with tidy paint pots, representing school curriculum, and the a really messy mix of paints, representing life but can't find that anymore; if anyone knows where it is, please send me the link!). Future-focused learning is all about giving students the necessary skills, tools and knowledge to be successful in their future, and as far as I can see that will involve applying across contexts and in areas we don't even know about yet.
In the NZC (implemented 2008/2009), rather than as a separate learning area, e-learning features under Effective Pedagogy (on p.36 of the curriculum document). Even though it has now been included into the learning area Technology, the value of e-learning across the curriculum remains.
Chris made another very interesting point when he explained his expression "cross-curricular curriculum": There are simply not enough DT teachers around the county, so DT needs to be taught across other subjects.

How do I go about this?

First things first: No matter what subject you normally teach, have a look at the Digital Technology curriculum document.  I have literally gone through the Progress Outcomes with a highlighter to 'cut through the fluff' and get a better understanding of what steps students need to progress through during their schooling (I have blogged about this here). Please note the placement of the POs is likely to change over time.

Get yourself ready: The MoE is providing a range of PLD options for schools, kura a kahui ako, check out this page for more information. If you want to straight go to some intiaities you can get involved in for free, try Kia Takatū ā-Matihiko and Mindlab's Digital Passport - I think the Digital Passport has a deadline for enrolments, so better get started soon.


I realise I might be somewhat biased, but this curriculum is not just here to stay, it is vital for our students - and that's who it is all about after all :)
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Saturday, 9 June 2018

Getting to understand the Digital Technologies | Hangarau Matihiko Curriculum

The Raranga Matihiko programme weaves the learning about taonga and artefacts in museums with the new Digital Technologies | Hangarau Matihiko Curriculum. According to the Ministry of Education
Digital Technologies and Hangarau Matihiko is about teaching our tamariki and children how technology works, and how they can use that knowledge to solve problems.
Once this new curriculum is introduced, our kids won’t just be using devices like computers and smart phones. The changed curriculum will mean that schools will be teaching our young people the computer science principles that all digital technologies are built on. Students will find out about how computers work – understanding what makes ‘algorithms’ and ‘binary code’.
Our young people will benefit from having these future thinking skills.
Tara Fagan brought up a very valid point in our recent PD session at Te Papa: With Digital Technology in virtually all areas of our daily life, how can we ensure that it is designed to meet the needs of the diverse society we have in Aotearoa New Zealand and in the whole world? We can probably all imagine the stereotype of a programmer / software developer (there is one in my family...): Usually male, European or Asian, young, possibly socially challenged. To my understanding, the stereotype is not that far from the reality (find one of many articles related to this topic here) though apparently this is beginning to change. Does the stereotypical software developer have the necessary understanding to design Digital Technology that is responsive to cultural and gender specific requirements, and if not, how can we make sure they do? I believe that you grow such understanding by adding diversity to the workforce.

The Raranga Matihiko programmes is targeted at students in years 1 - 10 from low-decile schools which commonly have a higher percentage of Māori and Pasifika students than their higher decile counterparts, and as a side effect I hope it will encourage more young people from diversity backgrounds to enter the IT field. Two main points of this programme excite me the most: Cross-curricular integration of Digital Technologies, and working with students and their teachers, empower ing them to teach their peers.

Since the DT | HM Curriculum was first published in draft, I have been concerned about it becoming a 'stand-alone subject'; I can easily see how e-learning, effective use of devices to support learning etc. would return to a "this is what you do in the Computer Suite 3h every week" - and I said so in my feedback to the Consultation Workshops (amongst other things). During the Te Toi Tupu BeL and LwDT programmes, we worked very hard to change this, due to the way many secondary schools are organised, high school teachers sometimes found that harder than their primary school colleagues.  I am glad that through Raranga Matihiko we can model what it can look like when you integrate DT | HM with other Learning Areas.

The updated version of the Technology Curriculum gives Digital Technology two of the now five technological areas:
  • Computational thinking for digital technologies (CT), and 
  • Designing and developing digital outcomes (DDDO).
While the three strands Technological Practice, Technological Knowledge and Nature of Technology still underpin them, they are fully integrated into these areas (while in the other three technological areas the curriculum document states them separately). Instead of Achievement Objectives, CT and DDDO are described through Progress Outcomes:

Both images retrieved from http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/The-New-Zealand-Curriculum/Technology
For Raranga Matihiko, I have had a close look at POs 1-5 for CT, and POs 1-3 for DDDO. Each Progress Outcome refers to in an authentic context and with the end-user in mind and (obviously) builds on the previous one(s). This is my understanding of their main points, using colour to illustrate ideas/concepts that I believe belong together in each technological area:


Progress Outcomes for Computational Thinking


  1. Break down simple non-computerised tasks into precise, unambiguous, step-by-step instructions; give these instructions, identify any errors and correct them.
  2. Give, follow and debug simple algorithms; create simple programs involving outputs and sequencing.
  3. Decompose problems into step-by-step instructions to create algorithms for computer programs, predict the behaviour of the programs, understand that there can be more than one algorithm for the same problem. Develop and debug simple programs that use inputs, outputs, sequence and iteration.Understand that digital devices store data using just two states.
  4. Decompose problems to create simple algorithms using sequence, selection, and iteration by creating programs that use inputs, outputs, sequence, basic selection using comparative operators, and iteration. Debug simple algorithms and program, explain why things went wrong and how they fixed them. Digital devices represent data with binary digits, have ways of detecting errors in data storage and transmission. Evaluate user interfaces.
  5. Independently decompose problems into algorithms; use these algorithms to create programs with inputs, outputs, sequence, selection using comparative and logical operators and variables of different data types, and iteration; determine when to use different types of control structures. Document their programs, using an organised approach for testing and debugging. Understand how computers store more complex types of data using binary digits. Develop programs considering human-computer interaction (HCI) heuristics.


Progress Outcomes for Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes:

  1. Participate in teacher-led activities to develop, manipulate, store, retrieve and share digital content in order to meet technological challenges. Identify digital devices and their purposes and understand that humans make them. Know how to use some applications; can identify the inputs and outputs of a system; understand that digital devices store content, which can be retrieved later.
  2. Make decisions about creating, manipulating, storing, retrieving, sharing and testing digital content for a specific purpose, given particular parameters, tools, and techniques. Understand that digital devices impact on humans and society and that both the devices and their impact change over time. Identify the specific role of components in a simple input-process-output system and how they work together; recognise the “control role” that humans have. Can select from an increasing range of applications and file types to develop outcomes for particular purposes.
  3. Follow a defined process to design, develop, store, test and evaluate digital content to address given contexts or issues, taking into account immediate social, ethical and end-user considerations. Identify the key features of selected software, choose the most appropriate software and file types to develop and combine digital content. Understand the role of operating systems in managing digital devices, security, and application software; are able to apply file management conventions using a range of storage devices. Understand that with storing data comes responsibility for ensuring security and privacy.


I think it was an interesting and helpful exercise when we asked our visiting teachers to look at where they place themselves and where they place their students on the continuum. I suggest you ask yourself, too: Where do I sit on here, and what do I need to do to progress further? The aim of our Raranga Matihiko programme is not just to give the students a one-off (albeit repeated in year 2) experience, it is to equip them and their teachers to become experts and to teach their peers across the school (students and teachers). Therefore it is vital that the teachers have an understanding of the curriculum so they can support their students as well as their colleagues (and themselves) to progress on this continuum.

I think no matter what age students we teach, or in what Learning Area we specialise, at least a basic understanding of the Digital Technologies | Hangarau Matihiko Curriculum is a must. There is Professional Support available through MoE, through your Kāhui Ako and various Online Communities (Digital Technologies on TKI, Core's Edspace, VLN, discussion groups on G+, FB and Twitter). If you are interested in the Raranga Matihiko programme, please visit this page.

Sunday, 3 June 2018

Back to ???

Term 1 at work was as busy as I had expected it to be, with a few extra challenges thrown in, namely getting ready to deliver a new programme, the Raranga Matihiko | Weaving Digital Futures Programme, from Term 2. This programme is about integrating learning in the new Digital Curriculum Hangarau Matihiko with the rest of the school curricula, supported by the taonga and artefacts at the various museums. I'm really excited about working in partnership with Te Papa as well as Auckland War Memorial Museum and MTG Hawkes Bay, this project is ticking so many boxes for me:

  • Working with students and teachers on a more ongoing basis, and having more opportunity to really apply future-focused pedagogy
  • Concentrating on local (and low-decile) schools, something that's always been very important to me
  • Using digital technology for students to tell stories that are important to them
  • Putting my Digital Fluency hat back on and getting knee-deep back into working cross- platform and across devices in order to support student learning
  • Working in collaboration across sites and museums, therefore modelling collaboration between Museum Educators, and learning with and from each other
  • A new challenge to get my teeth into:)

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By Google Inc., CC BY 4.0Link
There's probably many more pluses than I can think of right now (and they far outweigh the minuses of updating devices, dropped wifi connections or apps not wanting to play nicely); like the appointment of our fourth teachers to the team who is team teaching with me (she is absolutely wonderful, and she just gets it). I'm a little sad to let my active LEOTC involvement, the work with the visiting schools and the time spent with my lovely colleagues. It's a bit like handing your baby over to their N.E. teachers when they turn 5: I know the programme is in very safe hands, our two teachers are doing a marvelous job, and I am learning to not stick my nose into things I don't need to worry about.

So how does the Raranga Matihiko programme work? Normally schools come and visit us for up to three hours to learn from us about something that supports what they are studying at school (LEOTC visits). it's not unusual for this to be the only visit the student ever has to the Treaty Grounds, so many teachers are keen to pack as much into the three hours as they can (Museum visit, waka, Treaty House, Cultural Performance, film etc.). Our Education Vision is
For learners of all ages and from all backgrounds to critically engage with Waitangi, the place, with Te Tiriti o Waitangi and the Treaty of Waitangi, and with Aotearoa New Zealand as a nation.
There are many different learning models around, Thinking Hats, Bloom's Taxonomy etc. but we just narrowed it down to three verbs; we want to give students the opportunity to Collect (information), to Connect (that information with prior knowledge and with themselves), and to Reflect (meaning for past, present, future, for myself etc.) - this is where critical reflection happens. We are starting to get better to gather evidence of that critical reflection, some of this gets published on our Education Blog. With limited connectivity, limited access to devices (not all teachers are happy to take devices on outings), and especially limited time, our regular LEOTC visits are still very much a combination of paper with hands-on activities.

Our vision remains the same, but the Raranga Matihiko programme runs quite differently: In collaboration with the teacher(s) we plan a personalised programme for the students, then focus on an aspect that we can support here at the Treaty Grounds. As an example, one of our Term 2 classes studies 'awa' (water), and we will support that unit by work around waka (namely Ngātokimatawhaorua), navigation etc. At the same time we will introduce the children to certain digital tools they can use to share their learning about their topic with others. In turn they and their teachers become the experts within their school and teach others.

We start off with a Teacher Planning Day on site, looking closely at the Digital Technology Hangarau Matihiko Curriculum, and using this to underpin the planning of their Waitangi visits. Different to a LEOTC visit, they will have two consecutive days on site, and they will spend the majority of that time inside our Raranga Matihiko lab. Following these two days (one day in the second year), we will come and visit each of the classes, bringing the digital equipment with us, so they can continue on their projects. As it is currently funded, this programme will run over two years, with each classes being involved for a 10 week period in both years. 

I've been thinking of my elevator pitch: Maybe... "I work with students and teachers at the Waitangi Treaty Grounds, and I support them to tell stories that are important to them and their local community by integrating digital technology into their learning". Will that put people to sleep???

Soul II Soul's Back to life has been swirling around in the back of my head today; I'm not sure if I'm trying to look for meaning in something completely unconnected, but I feel very much alive and in my element coming up with suggestions, trying to find solutions to ideas the students come up with, tutuing with different tools, writing up one pagers etc. My family might feel differently, maybe it's more like Groundhog Day for them? However, the teenagers are rather impressed about 3D scanning and VR; maybe mum's mahi is even cooler than they thought...

Sunday, 21 January 2018

Let it go or Changed Priorities

Sometimes we need to let things go. Blogging and Twitter have been two things I pretty much have let go more and more since I left Cognition at the end of 2015. It is not that I don't see the value in it, other things have just taken up my time or become more important.

There is so much I have learnt from tweets and from other people's blogs, and I still do at times, and I realise that I consume much more today than I contribute. While I still find it hard to accept, I think it is a phase to go through - a bit like how parents move on from having nappy bags and toddler toys in the car as their children grow up. I always used to tell teachers different tools for different purposes and at different times, it's probably time that I stop beating myself up about not being everywhere all the time anymore.

I have also decided this weekend that I would let go of my Google Trainer certification though I had been so proud when I first gained it. But realistically I have held barely any training sessions, and I don't know that this will change any time soon, so why spend all weekend trying to pass all exams and create a resource to share? Instead I enjoyed the company of my family, even more important when the first is about to fly the coop.

I absolutely love my job at Waitangi, I am so grateful that I am allowed to follow my passions and shape the mahi we do here into what my team and I think it should look like. We have worked with more than 6500 students in 2017, and we hope that 2018 will bring us in contact with at least the same, if not more students. While I haven't been making much use of digital technology in my work with students over the last year, I hope this will change in the near future. 

For part of last year I had been wondering about where exactly Museum Education fits in the wider New Zealand education system; I am now convinced that it fulfills more than one function. On the one hand, Museums are partners to schools that provide specialist knowledge to supplement learning at school. If facilitated well, Museum Education in itself can follow the future focused themes (personalising learning, rethinking learners' and teachers' roles, life-long learning, equity and diversity, develop learning capacity). In addition, Museums can also facilitated professional development for educators including but not limited to content related to their collections, I tried to share this at Ulearn 17 with my presentation, if you are interested, you can view it here.
There were representatives of several museums at Ulearn this year, a few of us were asked to give an EDtalk. I spoke on The place of  museums in 21C learning and teaching.

Great learning for students means teachers need to have access to great learning themselves, too. We have hosted teacher PLD sessions here at Waitangi in 2017, have held some sessions for teachers ourselves, and on 31 January we will hold a collaborative webinar with CORE Education around planning a successful Treaty of Waitangi unit. This is a free webinar, please register at bit.ly/core-waitangi. We will also hold a webinar serious in collaboration with Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand in February - watch this space!

So while my priorities have changed a little, they may have changed less than I thought? After all I'm still trying to transform learning and teaching...