Posted in Analyse and appropriately use assessment information, which has been gathered formally and informally., Demonstrate commitment to promote the well-being of all ākonga, Mindlab reflections, Student Achievement Analysis, Use critical inquiry and problem-solving effectively in their professional practice.

Contemporary Trends and Issues

Big Data

“‘Big Data’ and the use of analytics can provide insights into some of the gnarly challenges associated with improving equity and excellence.”(Data-driven organisations, 2016)

According to Core Education, the use of Big data and analytics is a contemporary trend that is influencing education in New Zealand and internationally. This can be seen with the use of Fitbits to measure and monitor health and fitness in PE; monitoring progress in gamification; and tracking academic progress. The reason for gathering this data is also to inform ‘next steps’. One of the assumptions associated with data use is that tracking numeracy and literacy and planning next steps will ensure success for the learner. However, the NZ curriculum states that a successful learner is a “confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learner.” Therefore as educators we need to consider monitoring more than literacy and numeracy to ensure that our next steps to help our learners are inclusive of other aspects of education such as a sense of belonging.

 “One collaboration found that the most powerful predictor of student success in College remedial mathematics courses is students’ sense of belonging to their mathematics class. The teachers have now been trialling different ways to improve students’ sense of belonging.” (Data-driven organisations, 2016)

The data that is currently most relevant to my practice is its use in the academic tracking of our priority learners. At every HOL meeting this year we have analysed data and evaluated the results. We have looked for patterns and reasons for low achievement. The data we have looked at is from year 7-10 E-Asttle testing in maths and reading. We have also analysed assessment related data for years 11-13.  Recently we also looked at other data related to extra curricular activities and attendance to see whether there were any patterns.

In our curriculum meetings I have presented this data to my department and asked each staff member to identify their priority learners and think about how they would help them. We then each completed a table to record our ideas. In our most recent meeting we collaborated on a Padlet to brainstorm specific ways that we could help our learners.


Collaborative Learning Approaches
According to the NMC Horizon Report (2015) collaborative learning approaches are increasing. This is not only between learners but between teachers, also. These approaches, which involve inquiry-based learning, gaming and global blogging, are proving successful, especially for less able learners.

Collaborative learning models are proving successful in improving student engagement and achievement, especially for disadvantaged students. (p. 12)

Combined with mobile devices and access to the internet, collaborative learning becomes possible anytime and anywhere. Teachers can encourage global sharing and learning also with Skype and quad-blogging. Many teachers worldwide are embracing collaboration between learners and also between themselves on social media platforms such as Twitter.

Bryan Bruce in his investigation, World Class? Inside New Zealand Education: A special report (2016) found that lower decile  schools that employed a collaborative approach to learning improved the results of their learners. He also found that Inquiry-based learning was instrumental in engaging and motivating learners to take ownership of their learning. However, even though this approach has proven successful, governments are still not mandating it as a preferred model for teaching and learning. This approach to learning has been outlined as something that will be happening in 2025! I find this a bit ridiculous as many teachers are doing it now, so why is the expectation set so far in the future?

Collaborative learning is relevant in my practice as I utilise inquiry-based learning regularly. I encourage my learners to collaborate in this way and also with teams in Classcraft, an online game which promotes 21st century skills. I also use shared Google docs to gather ideas and information for different projects in our department. Google Classroom is also used to share resources and discuss ideas.

Even though collaborative learning approaches are not mandated by our government, many in my department use this approach and we also share ideas of best practice, informally. In the various groups that I am involved in, collaboration is always encouraged.



1. Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., and Freeman, A. (2015). NMC Horizon Report: 2015 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from

2. Data- driven organisations. (2016). Retrieved from

3. Bruce, Bryan (2016). World Class Inside New Zealand Education A special report (2016)  May 23rd TV 3. Retrieved from

4. New Zealand Education in 2025: Lifelong learners in a connected world.

Posted in Criterion 11, Criterion 2, Criterion 7, Criterion 8, Personal TAI, Student Achievement Analysis

Personalised Revision

The Revision Plan

This year for revision for my middle school classes I created a revision multitouch book with text notes, essay writing instructions, and activities. Each activity is labelled with the level of thinking required – gathering, processing or applying.

The goal was for students to choose what they would like to work on each period and my role was to check their work, give feedback and answer questions. This means their revision was personalised and they revised what they needed to revise not what I thought the whole class should have done each period.

Once introduced, students spent most of the first lesson looking through the book and then selecting which activities they would do. Many students didn’t really understand that they were in charge of their learning so I had to explain it again to those who were struggling with the concept.

I woke in the middle of one night and had a small inspiration to extend some of my students – as you do! Many of my students have Macbooks so I thought that they could create their own personalised multitouch revision books. I wrote the task the next day and students now have the option of doing this if they want to. It’s all about personalisation and choice!


At the end of the second lesson I noticed that some students were spending a lot of time completing the gathering activities but not moving on to the hard graft of essay planning and writing. To deal with this I challenged the class to write one essay per week in the 4 weeks before the exam.  When and where they wrote each essay was up to them but every Tuesday I would be looking for essays to mark and give feedback on. The reactions on their faces was priceless! Shock and horror! But I told them that they would thank me when they got their exam results.

Once students had chosen their tasks and started working through them,they came into class and simply got on with their revision without any prompting from me. Each period I zoomed around the class on my roller chair and checked in with each student to see what they were working on and answered any questions.

Exam Results 

Year 10 Extension 2014/15 Comparison

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It is particularly pleasing to see the number of Excellences for the visual text almost double with this class because I tried a new way of teaching. Check out my blog post about this process.

The number of Excellences increased for the written text also but not to the same extent. We did PBL for our study of The Tempest and also a performance of the play so inquiry based learning definitely played a part in the results being good for this unit of work.

Year 10 2014/15 Comparison

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The visual text results for my mainstream class were slightly worse than last year’s. I think this is because the unit of work was not inquiry based but instead involved a list of tasks to work through. I did this because the class needed more structure. Students were able to work at their own pace with me as the ‘guide on the side’ but I would not do this again next year. I will go back to the PBL task that I used last year but provide more structure and feedback.

The written text results were slightly better this year with a slight increase in Merits and Excellences. This year the class completed a Solo/Gardner’s learning matrix which they were very engaged with whereas last year’s class completed a PBL without the matrix.

Students Reflections

I handed the class back their exam results and then asked them to reflect by answering these questions:


Reflecting on these questions helped students to see what they need to do to improve for NCEA next year. It also helped reinforce the connection between robust revision and good results.

I also asked them to say whether they thought they had received enough support from me while revising. Most replied that they did have enough support apart from one student who said that she did have some support but not the kind of support that she needed. She wanted me to explain how to write an essay in detail to the class. She also said that not everyone learns the same way and that she wished that I had taught essay writing instead of just having powerpoints to follow in the iBook.

I think that she makes a fair point and I could offer essay writing tutorials to small groups in class time, if needed. I have done this in the past but forgot to do it through this process.

Final Thoughts

The results from my extension class prove that giving students agency to complete inquiry based learning does improve results! Having them create knowledge to demonstrate their understanding of content was a successful experiment that I will repeat again.

I have discovered that, with a ‘normal’ class, PBL needs to be combined with the structure of a learning matrix. This helps students to stay focussed and engaged but they are still able to have some agency in their learning and create knowledge also.

As Mark Osborne says,

“…sustained higher achievement is possible when teachers use pedagogical approaches that enable students to take charge of their own learning. Such approaches do not leave students ‘to discover’ in an unstructured environment. Rather, they are highly structured in supporting student agency and sustained thoughtful engagement.”

Posted in Criterion 2, Personal TAI, Student Achievement Analysis

Change is a challenge but so worth it.

This year I have seen some real improvement in the results that my classes are getting compared to previous years. This has made me, and my students, pretty happy. It is great to feel like I am doing a good job.

Some examples include:

  • Year 10 English: 10 Excellences for their film essays compared to 3 at the most in previous years.
  • Year 11 Internal English: 8 Merits for Formal Writing and only 3 Not Achieved grades compared to no Merits for last year. 1 Excellence for Static Image – first ever in one of my Internal year 11 classes.


  • Year 12 Viewing and Presenting:  3 Not Achieved, 8 Achieved and 5 Merits for the visual text practice essay, a massive improvement on the first practice essay where 10 did not pass due to non submission or lack of understanding.

Possible Reasons

I believe that I am seeing this improvement because I have made a few changes in my teaching style:

Change 1: Not sitting on my chuff behind a desk

Getting rid of my desk was one of the best things that I ever did. I have been free to “get in amongst it” and have really enjoyed getting to know my kids. We chat about the work and also their jobs, sport or other interests. I have a stool on wheels (my hairdresser chair) which I can zoom around the class on travelling from group to group. I am at the same level as everyone else who is also seated so I’m not standing over anyone in an intimidating manner. I’m not a short, slim kind of gal so this is a positive.There are lessons when this doesn’t happen such as when we are watching a movie so I have an armchair for this purpose. A gal has to be comfy!

Change 2: Flipping the classroom.

This has been a major factor. My colleague and BFF, Linda Rubens, and I spent time at the end of last year creating iBook study guides for our students with all the relevant information that our students would need for the year. It has meant that we have spent less time at the front of the classroom teaching at our students and more time actually engaging with students and helping them in either small groups or one to one. I was chatting with one group and was about to explain a point when a student, who usually finds the subject difficult, interuppted me excitedly and said, “Don’t tell her, Miss, I’ll explain!” She was happy that she had understood and wanted to show this to her group. Pretty cool!

I created a Solo/Gardner’s activity matrix for a year 10 class to study The Outsiders by SE Hinton which included a link to the Shmoop website about the novel. All the information they would need is on this website. I was chatting with some students saying that I felt I hadn’t really taught them anything but when I checked their work I could see that they had learnt a lot. They replied that they like being able to work at their own pace and find information without being told what to do.

Change 3: Making more time for one to one conferencing.

Having more time for one to one conferencing leads to better relationships and has resulted in students being more motivated. At the end of one lesson, one of my students complained because I had not seen his work that period. He said, “Miss, you didn’t come to see us this period!” Conferencing with as many students as is possible each period is hard yakker but it is totally worth is to see more students engaged and motivated. The results of this are proof and gratifying after the hard work that has been put in from both parties.

Change is a Challenge

Anela Pritchard, a student, recently gave a speech critiquing the value of what was taught in school and the way that some teachers taught. What she said had merit but was not expressed in a tone that was largely well received. It has caused a bit of controversy and a lot of conversation amongst my colleagues.  However, it does highlight the fact that education needs to be in the process of change.  Many teachers do need to consider whether the methods that they have used for the last 30 years are still effective for their kids. 

Pritchard’s message may become a more regular message that we receive from our students, they will start demanding that we all change, not just the “Lone Nuts.” These are the teachers who have already changed the way that they deliver the curriculum and this is positive. However, they often have trouble creating any momentum as other teachers can be reluctant due to fear of change and/or a negative attitude. Their “first followers” are essential for this momentum to take place. This video provides an entertaining explanation of creating a change movement:

At Orewa College we are finally creating some momentum after 3 1/2 years of technology enabled pedagogy and the promotion of SAMR as a way of making sure that we are developing the way that we use technology with our students. This is exciting and great to have more colleagues on the journey towards more effective learning for our students. There is always more to do, though. I had a student say to me that his learning should be personalised, he should be able to choose the subjects that he wants and not have to fit a restrictive timetable. I had to agree with him. It will be interesting to see how this plays out in the future.

As we all know, change can be a challenge but it is worth persevering with.

Posted in Criterion 11, Criterion 2, Criterion 4, Criterion 6, Criterion 7, Criterion 8, Personal TAI, Student Achievement Analysis

An Unexpected Outcome

I have 2 year 10 English classes, one is an extension class but it is not this class that I am writing about today. I have just completed entering the grades for my mainstream year 10 class and have had a pleasant surprise – 10 Excellences for the visual text essay! This is unheard of for me, I would normally get 2 or 3, and it has led me to reflect on how this may have happened.

                                                             Screen Shot 2015-06-11 at 10.55.19 am

What happened?

We viewed the film Little Miss Sunshine and close read 2 important scenes together. I then flipped the teaching and learning by making all tasks and activities available on our learning management system. Students then worked through the activities at their own pace. They published each artifact that they created on their blogs. At 2 points during the film study I gave due dates for 2 essays and provided flipped resources to help students write their essays.

Flipped Resources

All tasks and activities were on a powerpoint which also included explanations of key themes and terms. I provided an Explain Everything video and essay templates for the weaker students. I also made myself available during class at the Essay Help Desk, and at other times via email.


 Tasks and Activities

Explain Everything

Essay Templates

Checking out the data

  • I completed an informal survey to see what resources had been used and found that most students had used an essay template. 
  • I also had a quick discussion wth 2-3 students about the unit of work and they commented that they enjoyed being able to work at their own pace and choose what they wanted to work on and when. They seemed to think that I had taught them something! I did prepare resources but there was very little sage on the stage.
  • I questioned whether I had been a little generous in my marking so I looked in my Kamar markbook summary and found that 5 of the 10 excellence students have a GPA over 75 which means they are very capable students. The other students had helped each other or I had worked closely with them at my Essay Help Desk. 

So what worked well:

  1. The choice of film. Students love this film as the characters and their issues are easy to relate to and understand.
  2. Allowing students to choose what tasks they wanted to work on and when to work on them. I often had some students writing essays, some pimping out their blogs for our class competition and some creating artefacts to demonstrate understanding in the same lesson.
  3. Giving extra time to write the essay. In the past I have spent one period teaching essay writing or brainstorming and then made the essay homework to be handed in a week later. This time I did very little essay teaching and allowed a 2 week deadline. Students were also able to work on their essays in class time so that I was able to help them when needed, and they also were able to help each other. Many students actually identified and wrote about themes other than the ones explained in the resource.
  4. Making all resources available on line – including me! I did have one or two students email questions about their work to me and I was happy to reply at a time that suited me. One student is very reserved in class and she was the one who emailed me the most. It was great for her to be able to ask questions in a non-threatening environment.

Examples of Student Work

Have a look at the following student blogs to see how well they did:

Posted in Criterion 11, Criterion 12, Criterion 4, Criterion 6, Department TAI, Student Achievement Analysis

Using Learning Intentions & Success Criteria

As part of our department TAI I have experimented with getting my year 12 class to write their own Learning Intentions and Success Criteria. My aim was to see if it helped to improve results. They were completing the Close Viewing standard and their work was very much self directed. The following is a diary of how it progressed. 


Today in period 4  I asked the class to write their Learning Intentions and Success Criteria for the period. The learning intentions had to be based on gathering, processing and applying. I explained what this would look like before they started. During the lesson I asked some students if they found this useful and they replied that it helped them to focus on what to do for the period. They also liked writing their own learning intentions compared to being told what to do because they knew what they needed to work on and they also liked the choice.

About half way through the period I warned the class that I would be coming to check on their progress in 5 minutes. Most of the class had made progress but a few were still unfocussed.

At the end of the period I asked for a show of hands to see who thought they had achieved their Success Criteria. Less than half the class put their hands up. We probably need to get into the habit of writing these so that everyone achieves their Success Criteria.


 Today I have designed a SMART goal format for students to write their LIs and SC. I did this because when I ask students what their goal for the period is they tell me they are going to complete a huge amount of work that I can see will be unachievable. This is probably why many did not achieve their Success Criteria when I asked for a show of hands in the last lesson. Hopefully this will guide them to making more realistic goals.

At the start of the period students wrote their goals using the SMART goal format but some seemed to have trouble actually writing so I asked them the questions orally. This was a faster, more effective way of doing this. Those that wrote seemed to labour over it a bit and took much more time than I would have liked. I think that I will give them a time limit next time.

At the end of the lesson I asked for a show of hands to see who thought that they had achieved their goals for the period and more than half the class put their hands up. I believe that this was because the goals were more specific.

I’m now just wondering whether I should modify the SMART template further by adding the levels of thinking… 


I created a template which includes the levels of thinking but, after trialling it, realised that it is way too detailed! I ended up asking students orally so that they didn’t spend so long on it.



I trialled a simpler sketchnotey version which I had fun creating! Students didn’t spend so much time writing their goals for the period so this was helpful.


 I asked the class whether they found it too busy to look at and most said they did not. They seemed to like it. 


 Here’s the latest creation! I’m planning on projecting this each lesson.


LI & SC 


 The class have been using the above guidelines for a week or so now and we are at the end of the unit of work. I have created a Google Form to get some feedback on the use of LI’s & SC, especially opinions on whether writing their own ones was useful and why. I’ll get them to complete this in the next lesson. 


25 students have completed my survey, here are the results.

Q1 What is your opinion of having a Learning Intention and Success Criteria each lesson? 

 Most students sat on the fence on this question and ticked the middle box which doesn’t help me at all! 

 Q2 Do you prefer to write your own Learning Intention?

Again half of the respondents sat on the fence…maybe I offered too many choices and should of made it a yes or no question. 

 Q3 In your opinion, what are the benefits of writing your own Learning Intention? 

 Most people said that they had a goal for the lesson and it helped them to focus. They also liked having a choice about what to work on, they were able to finish tasks from the previous period and not feel rushed into doing a new one. 

 Q4 In your opinion, what are the benefits of a teacher directed Learning Intention? 

 Most said that you know exactly what you should be doing and what the teacher wants. Some said that you don’t waste time writing your own and that because it was on the board you could refer to it during the lesson. 

Q5 Does the Success Criteria help you to understand what you need to do in the lesson? 

 Only 3 people said that the success criteria didn’t help them and the rest of the class had varying degrees of helpfulness. 

 Q6 Did you find it helpful to link the Learning Intention to a level of thinking? 

 Most sat in the middle for this question which suggests that more could be done to help students understand how to do this.

Evaluation of Survey

On the surface it seemed that students didn’t seem to mind whether they had Learning Intentions and Success Criteria or not but when asked what the benefits were, they could list several. Therefore it is a useful exercise in helping students focus and know exactly what they need to do each lesson.

The next step is to see how their results are affected.

Results compared with last year (2014)

In 2014, I had a class of 16 in which 9 did not achieve, 6 Achieved and 1 got Merit.

This year I have a class of 19 in which 3 did not submit, 6 did not achieve, 9 Achieved and 1 got Merit.


My results have improved slightly as a result of my students writing their own Learning Intentions and Success Criteria so this is a worthwhile activity. I think that taking ownership of your own learning and making goals to succeed is always helpful. Reflecting on whether you have achieved your goals can help to maintain focus and also to plan for the following lesson.

When I initially compared the results I thought that there was no difference and felt disheartened but now that I have taken a closer look at them I feel inspired to carry on with this practice. Now I want to aim for more Merits. Onwards and upwards!