Criterion 11 · Criterion 12 · Criterion 4 · Criterion 6 · Department TAI

How does the use of AKO and mentoring/facilitating at senior level improve results?


Ako is defined as a common language of learning. This means that every department at Orewa College uses the same terms from Art Costa’s 3 story Intellect when writing tasks and assessments. These terms are discussed and explained to students. The levels of thinking from the 3 storey intellect are also explained and made explicit to students. For example, when introducing or reflecting upon a task students may be asked whether it is a gathering, processing or applying task. Learning Intentions and Success Criteria are expected to be visible and explained at the beginning of each lesson. The Success Criteria is referred to again in the plenary. We also use Pam Hook’s Filters for Thinking schoolwide so that our students become familiar with and know how to use these useful mindmaps across all subjects.

Project Based Learning

PBL is an inquiry based learning model which begins with a driving question to challenge students to solve a problem and come up with a solution. There are 8 elements to PBL which are as follows:

1. What is the driving question (TAI) looking at?

Our department inquiry will be investigating how AKO and/or PBL improve results at a senior level. To do this we will need to gather evidence in the following ways:

  • By interviewing/ surveying students and getting feedback about their attitudes to AKO and PBL. It will be interesting to see whether students believe that these 2 things improve their engagement and ability to improve their results.
  • By keeping a close eye on assessment results and comparing them with previous years’ results. Reflection will be needed at the end of each unit of work to record successes, failures and other interesting aspects.

2. What does ako mean to you / what elements are important?

AKO is a valuable way of ensuring that our students have words, phrases and common ways of learning across all subjects. To me, the important elements are the levels of thinking and the words/terms from the 3 story intellect. Helping students to be aware of the type of thinking needed encourages them to put more effort into specific tasks and produce higher quality results. The words and phrases from the 3 storey intellect are also used in assessments and exams so it is important that students are familiar with these. I like the filters for thinking but only use a few of them.

As we are a BYOD school I think we should look at what apps can be included in as part of AKO.

 It would also be useful to incorporate 21st Century skills and literacies such as critical thinking, creativity, problem solving, innovation, media literacy, digital literacy etc. 

This should be a useful and enlightening inquiry for our department. We have plenty to investigate and should consider a revision of AKO for use in our BYOD environment.


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