Rethinking teaching practice

We’re in the process of curriculum redesign for our Year 9 and 10 programme. In some ways it’s quite exciting and in other ways it’s frightening. We’re moving from a correspondence, booklet-based mode of delivery and teaching to being fully online. There seem to be challenges and barriers around every corner.

One of the challenges I have been seeing is the understandable but limiting desire to continually think about how we currently do things or how we’ve always done it. We need to instead be dreaming about how we want teaching and learning to look like in the future of our school and plan to make it happen. It’s exciting to be able to do the big dreaming and to reshape the curriculum and practices of the school, but it can also be very scary.

In redesigning curriculum, we are having to consider current teaching practices, both those that take place within our school, as well as those that are happening in face-to-face schools. We are considering, amongst other things, how blended learning is occurring in schools and how new schools with Modern Learning Environments (MLEs) are using their spaces and team teaching etc.

The use of MLEs is of particular interest to me, especially how schools are managing large numbers of students in one learning space as well as combining curriculum areas within contexts. We’ve had discussion around having online learning hubs/spaces where the student could go to the virtual Garden, for example, and learn about horticulture and food and technology and then link that food preparation. Then that could head to the virtual Gym and consider the impact of that food on their body, their health and a link could be created to the Lab where the student could investigate how the food they are eating is affecting their life.

The idea behind the learning hubs/spaces was not so much to have them specifically separate spaces online, but as a model as to how the students could navigate or create connections between one “subject” and other, or one context and another. Connections are critical for us. We need to create resources that will be able to be combined into a standard course in Science or English or Maths etc, and we also need to be able to use those resources in a cross-curricular or contextual manner. They therefore need to be generic enough to stand alone or be used in a way that perhaps hasn’t been dreamed of yet. It’s about resources that are not limited to how they can be used.

Although these discussions have been going on for some time, our thinking probably still has a long way to go. We’ve now got to begin creating these resources as well as continuing to shape the way teaching and learning will occur once these resources are produced. It will require a shift in thinking and practice for a number of our staff as well as a lot of PD to help manage the shift.

Change is messy!

Christchurch earthquake – a teaching resource

My colleagues and I have set up a WikiEducator page about the recent Christchurch earthquake (February 22, 2011). We are collaborating with scientists, teachers and students from around New Zealand and the world. It is only in it’s very beginning stages, however the plan is that this resource will help lead students towards achieving the New Zealand NCEA Achievement Standard 90955 Investigate and astronomical or Earth science event. There is of course no reason why this resource could not work towards other qualifications around the world.

A big aim of the resource is that it will answer some of the questions that people have about the earthquake. A common question for example is, “What is liquefaction?” Hopefully, also, a resource like this might help people to be prepared for another disaster of this kind (if you can ever be fully prepared).

If you have something you are able to add to this resource, please do so. It is exciting to think we can collaborate on a project like this. Like I said before, it’s only in it’s beginning stages. It needs to have some structure given to it, but the hope is to have something prepared as quickly as possible – within the next 2-3 weeks.

Looking forward to the collaboration and the opportunity to work with a variety of different people!

Here’s the link:


Our thoughts continue to go out to those affected by this tragic event.