Sunday 29 November 2020

Some musings about 2021 ready, Leading and Innovating and Where to next

This week we finished our Term 4 webinar series. During the session I was thinking about how so much of the publications around integrating Digital Technology learning with your local curriculum have focused on this idea of being '2020 ready' (and we know, few if any of us were ready for what 2020 has actually brought). 

Both Leading local curriculum design in the revised learning area technology and the DT implementation support tool describe four stages a school would go through as they are weaving digital technology learning into the school's local curriculum:

Not yet started

A school has chosen a leader for this change and is beginning to explore the revised curriculum content. While not explicitly stated in the above documents, I would expect the school to consult with their local community on how this new learning fits with the current local curriculum.

I prefer using the term Just starting, I believe this helps us all to recognise that some work is being done, but there is still more to do.

Now underway

The school has recognised the new learning in their strategic planning; they have reviewed their local curriculum, compared to what is currently being taught and looked at the necessary changes; consulted with students and other schools, e.g. within the local kāhui ako; established teacher confidence and competence in regards to the new learning, examined current PLD practices and chosen suitable PLD to support their teachers.

2020 ready

Schools have DT learning in their strategic goals and planning, and have resource plans in place; they are mapping DT learning progress outcomes across the school's curriculum; are communicating with whānau and community on what has changed and why, and are finding real-life learning opportunities outside school to apply the new learning; teaching the revised curriculum content is trialled, student progress is measured and effectiveness of teaching and learning is measured; suitable PLD is offered to teachers and middle leaders, and the school leaders are actively participating, as well as checking on the effectiveness of putting learning into practice.

During this week's webinar I tried substituting this with '2021 ready', but this doesn't quite feel right. I believe the authors must have tried to say "this is what needs to be in place at a school that is ready to implement the revised technology learning area" (with a deadline of 2020) - and now that 2020 is almost over, is 2020 ready still the best term to use? Ready for DT learning sounds a little wooden - what would be a more eloquent phrase?

Leading and Innovating

A school has a digital resource plan to support DT learning; their local curriculum is a meaningful collaboration between school and community, future-focused for learners thriving in a transforming digital world; technology learning is cross-curricular, and learning experiences connect ideas across the breadth of the curriculum while developing students' KCs; PLD supports teachers to innovate alongside their students, relevant information about DT learning is shared amongst all across the school (staff, students and community) and records show how everyone's participating in ongoing PLD makes a difference to teacher planning, teaching and to student learning.

While the NZ education system operating under 'Tomorrow's Schools' leaves individual schools a lot of freedom in what and how they teach, for me this description include some of the most exciting indicators of what the Ministry of Education would like schools to operate like:

In collaboration with the community, schools will develop a local curriculum with connecting ideas and technology learning across the curriculum, teachers will be innovating with their students, and ongoing PLD will make a difference to planning, teaching and learning. 

I realise not everyone might share my excitement about this, in fact I personally have had conversations with teachers who very clearly see Digital Technology learning in the realm of technology teachers. It reminds me of the discussions our profession have had about the place of literacy for example; once upon a time firmly the domain of English teachers, nowadays students can gather literacy credits at NCEA levels across a number of subjects.

I am wondering about whether all NZ schools will see 'Leading and Innovating' as the stage they want to achieve, or, with our national affinity to the Tall Poppy Syndromewill they be happy to remain on the level below?

Where to next for schools:


Now is the time to plan what next year will look like. Start with a review of where you are at, and then select your next steps. We have created a simple template you can access here to help you.


While a lot of the Digital Technology PLD is finishing at the end of 2020, the strong connection to Local Curriculum and the importance of Digital Fluency mean that schools can continue to be supported in their PLD journey by applying for accredited PLD - feel free to reach out if you would like the Raranga Matihiko team to help you submit an application ( We are also available to provide PLD outside the accredited PLD scheme.


There are many useful resources available online and as print copy from Down the Back of the Chair:

Our Raranga Matihiko resource page has recordings for all eight webinars under Leadership (as well as many other useful resources).

The Kia Takatū ā-Matihiko site contains many useful resources, as does Digital Technologies Teachers Aotearoa, and DTHM for Kaiako

Saturday 31 October 2020

Planning for 2021: Raranga Matihiko supporting school and curriculum leaders

COVID-19 has proven a challenge for all educators and for PLD providers. Thanks to the foresight of our Programme Director Tara Fagan, the Raranga Matihiko team were able to move online immediately when the March lockdown was announced to continue supporting our schools and kura, and certain aspects of our work have remained online since then.

During Term 3, Tara Fagan and I have facilitated four webinars for school and curriculum leaders from all across the motu:

  1. Understanding the revised Technology learning area
  2. Integrating digital technology into your local curriculum
  3. Is your school ready for Digital Technology learning?
  4. Digital Technology learning in action

Each of these webinars has been recorded and is available under Leadership on the resources section on our website.  Following lots of positive feedback from participants, we have decided to offer a follow-up webinar series in Term 4 to support schools as they plan for 2021:

Please register at; feel free to attend one, some or all of the webinars. These webinars are free for educators from all schools and kura across Aotearoa. Please note that in addition to the Raranga Matihiko programme, we also support schools with accredited PLD, notably in local curriculum design, digital fluency and around NZ History - feel free to get in touch if you are interested to find out more.

Of course we haven't forgotten about classroom teachers: During Term 2 we wrote and presented 16 episodes for Papa Kāinga | Learning from Home TV, including supporting teacher resources. These are also available from our website under Raranga Matihiko TV. In addition we ran a free online conference at the end of September, and we were absolutely blown away by the huge interest. If you missed out, or if you would like to rewind the learning, please head over to Webinars on the resource section on our website.

Sometimes, a challenge can lead to something positive, it can lead you to challenge what you do day-to-day, push you to come up with a new, hopefully better way. As you are planning for 2021, we trust these resources can support you. Come back to our website regularly for updates and new additions.

Saturday 1 August 2020

Designing tasks that allow students to shine

Digital Technology learning does not happen by accident. Lately I have been thinking a lot about how we can design student tasks that truly allow our students to show their progressing learning in Digital Technology. I have previously written about integrating digital technology learning across the curriculum (probably most of the more recent posts on this blog, e.g. Integrating DT Learning into Learning from Home). As teachers we often wonder how to balance developing the students' digital fluency (DF) skills and setting them tasks that challenge the students to apply these skills in an authentic context and for their chosen audience.

As I have said many times, Digital Technology (DT) learning needs to be across the curriculum, every teacher needs to take responsibility for developing some basic digital fluency of their own, for developing a basic understanding of the revised content of the Learning Area Technology, and for integrating DT learning into the learning in their context. I realise this is not easy to fit into an already busy day, so please look into the PLD that is available to you and reach out in person or online to colleagues or to PLD facilitators you think are able to help you. I know that some schools have had different priorities before, during and since lockdown, and PLD for Digital Technology and for Digital Fluency have now fallen off the MoE PLD priorities. If you feel strongly that this is not meeting your needs and therefore the needs of your students, speak to your Senior Teachers / HoDs, your schools' SLT and to your local MoE Senior Advisors.

While I might be slightly biased, I feel looking at the 'decoded for learners' version of the DT Progress Outcomes might not just help students, it might also help teachers. With the recent update to our website, the location of our Decoded for Learners resources shifted; for now, you can access them here:

So how do you design tasks that allows students to show off their DT progress, and how do you allow the students to develop more digital fluency (DF) so they can work at higher progress outcomes?

Developing digital fluency
In our Raranga Matihiko (RM) programme at Waitangi, we always start with a tutū session, a short session where students first get a basic introduction what a tool can do, and then get time to simply try that tool out. As we get students into our programme for a very limited period of time only, we organise this in rotations of approx. 5min, swapping across several different apps and tools - you might want to introduce fewer tools over a longer period of time. Buddying up can be useful, and as the teacher, it pays to listen in to their conversations.

Choosing tools that are free to use and / or available across a range of devices helps with equity between students. If you are unsure about what tools you could introduce or how to introduce them, feel free to get inspiration from our clips from Raranga Matihiko TV which were recorded for Home Learning | Papa Kainga TV - or, if appropriate, use them directly with your students. The accompanying Teacher Support Materials are available here.

Following a tutū session, we have a conversation with students about the tools they have used and about what would be the best tool for a particular purpose. E.g. if I want to create whakairo (carvings) that I can print out in a 3D printer, SculptGL is a very good tool (I have written about choosing the best tool here). Here is an unplugged activity we have developed for you to use with your students to help them think about choosing the best tool.

With this approach you help students develop their DF and they will learn to choose the most suitable tool from a  range (Progress Outcomes 2 and 3 from Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes).

Task design
Digital Technology learning sits under the Learning Area Technology. In its most simplistic form you could describe the purpose of Technology to provide a solution to a problem
All Progress Outcomes refer to authentic context and to an enduserLet me be very blunt: In all but a very few instances, creating a DT project for the teacher to mark does not meet either of these. Instead when integrating DT across the curriculum, this could be creating a movie about a pūrakau for a whānau evening, coding a project to share a story digitally with young people across Aotearoa, creating an app to guide a visitor across the school grounds etc.

When you truly integrate DT learning across the curriculum, you look at learning, at authentic learning, within the local curriculum of a school first. Local curriculum has become more and more important in NZ education, and MoE have made a number of resources about this available, for example here.
Local curriculum is about ensuring that what students learn about is important to them and their local community, while at the same time using this as the springboard to understanding the world beyond their local area. For me it is providing students with a solid grounding in their local community, their local history, their local tikanga, the local environment, and developing a connection and a pride in where they are from. This means that while our schools might still be a central hub for learning (though possibly no longer sole place of learning), we invite the knowledge and skills in the community to be a partner in the learning journey, and we all, students and adults, learn together (there is much more to local curriculum, but this will be the topic of another post at another time).

Digital Technology learning can be one of the ways your students show their learning. Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes and Computational Thinking are often interwoven. Depending on the age of your students and on their DF skills, design tasks that:
  • Require an enduser: Who will see their project and what are their needs (e.g. younger students might need few and simple text)? How will you facilitate sharing their projects (class or student blogs, school FB page, whānau evening etc.)?
  • Allow students choice about how to show their learning, e.g. within a tool (if their DF is limited to this) or across several tools. Ask students to explain why they are choosing particular tools.
  • Include application of  Digital Citizenship (DC): Model good DC in the way you access online content and how you attribute the source of this content. Incorporate requirements for displaying DC in the student projects.
  • Encourage students to push beyond what they already know and beyond what you know. Collaborative brainstorming can be very useful, as can be collaborative projects (buddies and small groups). Embrace ako and celebrate success.
My last post had some task ideas for Learning from Home - some of these translate easily to the classroom environment. Over the coming weeks I plan to share further exemplars about tasks that allow students to shine - feel free to contact me if you would like your activities included in this.

Sunday 26 April 2020

Integrating Digital Technology learning into Learning from Home

First up I want to say how thankful I am to all those teachers out there who are out there doing their best to support their students learning from home. The next step, some students learning from school again, must surely be daunting to a few teachers and students. No doubt the first little while at least will be nothing like our old normal, and only time will tell what our new normal will look like.

Many people (including me) fall back to the tried and true when in a challenging situation - and I think education (like most things in our lives currently) could well count as challenging. Given the 'new and revised learning area technology' (there's a mouthful for you!) only became compulsory at the beginning of this year, it probably doesn't count as tried and true for everyone yet. To make it easier on teachers, I have come up with a few ideas for teachers to help them integrate Digital Technology learning into their students' learning from home.
A quick reminder of the difference between Digital Literacy and Digital Fluency curtesy of my colleague Elaine from Waikato Museum:

Digital Technology learning goes beyond Digital Literacy and Digital Fluency. In the NZC it is described through Progress Outcomes, and to make them more accessible to learners, we have now published them in our Decoded for Learners series.  This tool has been designed as a guide for learners to the language and concepts used in Computational Thinking and Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes.  Learners can be working on multiple progress outcomes at one time. While it breaks the progress outcome into several statements, it is not a checklist to work through, nor is it a replacement of the technology curriculum progress outcomes for Computational Thinking or Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes. Please use the link or the QR code to access the Series.

Here are some examples:

Computational Thinking POs 1 & 2 decoded for learners

Designing & Developing Digital Outcomes PO 1 decoded for learners

When you read the Progress Outcomes (original version or supported by the decoded for learners series), you can clearly see that tasks need to be designed very deliberately to allow students to move through the progress outcomes. When designing these tasks for learning at home, there are a number of variables to keep in mind:
  • Does the students have access to a device and the internet?
  • How confident is the student in applying their DT learning?
  • What support in regards to DT learning do you need to provide to students and their parents?

Some ideas for Learning Activities
Learning is rarely isolated to just one Learning Area. The following are learning activities I have seen or I could imagine being set while learning from home, and I have integrated Digital Technology learning into these.

Choose a simple meal or snack idea (e.g. peanut butter sandwich, toasties, pikelets etc.). Record all the steps to make this meal or snack (in writing, pictures, audio recording, or mixture of these). Give your instructions to member of your bubble and observe them make your snack. Take note of any mistakes in your instructions as they follow them and correct your instructions.
Computational Thinking PO1

Create instructions as above, then swap them with another student so everyone gets to follow each others' instructions. Find and fix any mistakes.
Computational Thinking PO2

Choose a toy or an object in your house. Create or draw a background and make up a story about XYZ featuring your toy / object. Use Stop Motion animation (e.g. Stopmotion Studio) to make the story come to life.
Computational Thinking PO2
Designing & Developing Digital Outcomes PO1

Māori didn't use to write down stories, whakairo, kowhaiwhai and tukutuku were some of their ways to tell stories. Tell a story about a happy day through whakairo: Use SculptGL to create your carving. Take a screenshot of your finished taonga to share with the class.
 Designing & Developing Digital Outcomes PO1

Create your whakairo as above. In a digital painting app like Google Drawing, Autodraw or Paint 3D, create a background for your carving, then import it into SculptGL. Arrange your carving in front of your background, and when you are happy with the final result, take a screenshot.
Designing & Developing Digital Outcomes PO2

Your whānau needs something to help do chores around the house. Design a gadget suitable for your home: It needs to be safe for all ages and it needs get to all areas of your house.
You need to show your finished gadget from different sides and explain what it does. Choose from Tinkercad, Google Drawing, Autodraw or Paint 3D or another app you are familiar with. Your explanation can be in writing or verbal.
Designing & Developing Digital Outcomes PO2

We all know that washing hands is important, now tell a Scratch sprite about washing hands.
You will need to use two sprites, you can choose any background from the library. Your code needs to include movement and speech. Make sure you debug your code so the story makes sense.
Computational Thinking PO3
Designing & Developing Digital Outcomes PO1

It is autumn and mice are looking for a warm home over the winter. Help the cat sprite catch mice that have come into its home!
Create a Scratch project where mice are moving around a house, then code the cat so that it chases and catches the mice. Design your code so that the mice disappear when the cat has caught them (you might want to use the If-then block).
Computational Thinking PO3/4
Designing & Developing Digital Outcomes PO1/2

Imagine you and your whānau bubble are on a journey to Mars. Record a vlog of a day / of several days.
You will need to create a script. You also need to create a background for your vlog e.g. the inside of your spaceship (use a 2D or 3D design tool of your choice). You can use a Greenscreen tool like Greenscreen by Do Ink on the iPad or OBS Studio on the Laptop. Think of any props from around the home which you can use to help tell your story.
Computational Thinking PO2
Designing & Developing Digital Outcomes PO3

I hope some of these might be helpful. If you end up using any of my ideas as inspiration, feel free to let me know in the comments what your Learning Activities and / or your students's creations looked like!

Wednesday 13 November 2019

Not just Coding for the sake of Coding: Digital Storytelling in Scratch

In October I ran a workshop on using Scratch as a tool for digital storytelling at Ulearn19 in Rotorua. As part of this I introduced the participants to our kids speak version of the Progress Outcomes for Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes as well as Computational Thinking (see this previous blog post). Here is my slide deck  from the workshop:

Digital Technology Progress Outcomes in Kids Speak

Earlier this year I starting a new professional inquiry, looking at how we could support teachers to get a better understanding of the newly added curriculum content for Digital Technology in the learning area Technology. As part of this I wondered if a Kids Speak version of the Digital Technology Progress Outcomes (like we have for Literacy) could support learners and teachers to gain a better understanding of what is required and for learners to be able to take more ownership. Tara Fagan and I drafted a kids speak version and we trialed it during October; this draft is available to download here. Please share your thoughts via comments or by emailing

Monday 12 August 2019

Choosing the best tool for the purpose

The Progress Outcomes for Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes include for students to learn about choosing the best tool for solving a technological problem:

Progress Outcome 2
In authentic contexts and taking account of end-users, students make decisions about creating, manipulating, storing, retrieving, sharing and testing digital content for a specific purpose, given particular parameters, tools, and techniques. They understand that digital devices impact on humans and society and that both the devices and their impact change over time. Students identify the specific role of components in a simple input-process-output system and how they work together, and they recognise the “control role” that humans have in the system. They can select from an increasing range of applications and file types to develop outcomes for particular purposes.

Progress Outcome 3
In authentic contexts, students 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. They identify the key features of selected software and choose the most appropriate software and file types to develop and combine digital content. Students understand the role of operating systems in managing digital devices, security, and application software and are able to apply file management conventions using a range of storage devices. They understand that with storing data comes responsibility for ensuring security and privacy.

For my Professional Inquiry during Term 2 I chose to focus on students choosing the best digital tool for a particular purpose, while keeping in mind that many teachers are time poor, often have limited access to digital technologies in their classrooms and some teachers lack confidence in their using Digital Technologies effectively in learning and teaching. How can I enable students to make such choices while showing their teachers that with some guidance you can students go beyond what the teachers know or feel confident in?

Here is the link to my Professional Inquiry Plan for anyone who is interested to see the full process I went through. This is a summary of what I found effective in the Raranga Matihiko programme:
  • Running a structured tutu session for the students where they can explore the different tools - encouraging the teachers & adults to have a turn also
  • Holding a conversation with them about how to choose the best tool for a particular purpose
  • Designing tasks in a way that allows students age-appropriate choices
  • Engaging the teachers in conversations about their students' choices, also how they can apply this in their own practice back in the classroom


As a teacher you might wonder what this could look like in your own classroom. Here are some ideas inspired by what I found during my inquiry:

  1. Think about your inquiry topic; what could be some digital creations your students could make to show their learning? How can you set up the task(s) so you students have age-appropriate choices?
  2. Research possible digital creation tools; some tools we enjoy using are Tinkercad (3D creation tool), Paint 3D (Windows 10 only; for images, photo manipulation, 3D objects, Mixed Reality creations), SculptGL (3D sculpting), Stop Motion Studio for stop motion animation, Scratch to code digital stories, Green Screen by Do Ink for green screened images and movies.
  3. Have a tutu yourself :) remember you don't have to be an expert, you just have to know the basics, your students will explore beyond that.
  4. Set up a structured tutu session for your students. I suggest you select a limited number of tools, set up some different stations in a way that students physically have to get up and move from one station to another - this seems to help some of them with remembering the names of the tool and what they did with these tools.
  5. Run your tutu session: Run through all of the tools you want them to explore with the whole group first; use online tutorials or demo a few functions for each programme. Split your students into manageable groups; just keep in mind how many people you can accommodate at each station. For example, if you have 5 stations, with 30 students you end up with 6 students per group. Depending on the personalities of your students and on the class culture, working in pairs can be really useful - in this case you need to set up 3 devices at each station. Use an audible timer to help with swapping from one station to the next, 5-8 minutes per station works well for us.
  6. After the tutu session, discuss the different tools and what they would best be used for, e.g. a stop motion animation needs inanimate objects (otherwise you might as well just video the action). SculptGL is great for creating carvings, but it is much harder to make a building. Go beyond the app or programme to the tools inside, e.g. within ScultGL, 'crease' is better for creating carvings than using 'paint'.
  7. Have a conversation about 'cool' versus 'best tool: In our context we usually talk about their transport to the Treaty Grounds - was this the coolest way to get here? What would be a cooler mode of transport (I think we've heard it all, from helicopters to limos to waka to unicorns to jetpacks and much more). In the end we usually agree the bus was the best, though not necessarily the coolest way.
  8. Give your students opportunity and permission to make their choices and get creating- sometimes the best learning comes from not making the best choice first, and then swapping to a more suitable tool.

I would love to hear from you how you enable your students to choose the best digital tool for the purpose.