About Thinks

Sometimes good thinks happen and sometimes bad thinks happen. Sometimes it's hard to distinguish between the two.

Some thinks need immediate action and some thinks may remain as thinks forever. Thinks can be angry and heated. Thinks can be joyful. Thinks should never be cold.

These thinks are linked to many other wonderful thinks and I like to attribute these.

These thinks do not necessary reflect those thinks of my employer.

Think long, think on.

Friday, April 25, 2014


So we were in the car this morning, heading home from a dawn parade, and somehow the conversation got onto stick shift driving.
We both learnt to drive using a manual car and we started veering into the pros and cons of stick shift driving.

And then a Think happened.

Did the licensing people run into huge amounts of skepticism when automatic cars were introduced onto our roads?
Did they come up against angry mobs when suggesting that learner drivers could BYOC ( bring your own car) to a driving test, as opposed to using a Standard state sanctioned model?
Were there arguments around personalisation of tools?
In the end, were the changes that took place in the car licensing system based around resourcing and the greater economy?

Do you remember car-less days? I think they came in when we had an oil shortage. I remember the neighbour had a sticker on his car which signalled the day he was not to drive. My Dad had an exemption sticker - something to do with the fact that he needed his car to do his job. I wonder if our seemingly infinite supply of interwebs will ever run short? Will we have state sanctioned internet-less days for that? Will there be exemptions?

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Don't forget to pack extra socks...

Gear-lists for school camp never cease to amaze me. They are wonderful magical things.  I remember, last year at Amesbury, that it was the school camp Gear List that got parents in droves to the hub blog. We used the Gear List as a shared writing activity and the students co-created it with the teachers and then we published it on the blog.

This year I decided to take it a step further and have the students create their own personalised gear lists. I'd been fielding emails for about a week for "when would I  be handing out the gear list and many day-to-day requests from the students:
"When are we getting our gear lists?"
"Mum wants to know what I need to take on camp."

One afternoon I walked into class with a pristine pile of photocopying and made the announcement that today was the day they could take home their gear list. And I handed out this:

It was greeted with indignant looks of
"Are you kidding me?!"
And I heard one of the more intuitive members of the class mumble to his friends,
"Oh god, she's gonna make us think..."

On the wall I placed some additional information, for example:

  • We are away for 4 nights and 5 days
  • We will be doing activities such as abseiling, swimming, walking and go-carting
  • The beds only have a mattress
  • We will all be living together so please ensure you and your teeth are clean (okay, I admit that I loaded that one)

Some of them got straight to it and knew exactly how to deal with this situation. Others just looked at me in disbelief.  One of the boys asked me why I was doing this.  I explained that not everyone will need the same things. I showed him a gear list from another school and pointed out that not all children would have two woolen jerseys and that I did not want their families to feel like they had to buy everything on the list.

The next day one of the boys came to me rather upset and said that his mother had told him that it was illegal if i didn't provide him with a 'proper' gear list.

To ensure that I hadn't taken things a step too far, I dedicated a session to checking our gear lists and making sure that everyone was feeling okay.  I even showed them the other school's gear list so that they could add anything that they may have forgotten.  Interestingly it became a great exercise in critical thinking as they poo-pooed some of the items on the other list stating that their lists were far superior.

I could tell though that it was still killing some of them inside and that they really wanted to be provided with a 'proper typed' list.  One morning I came into the class and found one of the boys (who was very disturbed by the gear-list process) writing on the wall chart:

Don't forget to pack extra socks...

Probably a very good point.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Making our learning accessible

We've been pondering for a while how to share our learning and insights that we have gained while conducting our sabbatical research. How do we share the amazing conversations that we have had with all the teachers, students, and principals that we have talked to across the county (spanning Invercargill to Kaitaia) and the amazing people we had the pleasure of meeting in the UK?

We have considered and played around with essays, formal reports, wikis, and websites but came increasingly concerned that they were boring (or worse still) would not read by our target audience (parents, teachers and students). We have started this series in the hope that they are bite sized and easily digestable.

They take ages to make but I am sure that we will get better as we learn more about the program we are using. Here is Episode One - The Introduction. Coming soon: Episode Two - 10 things we hate about standardised assessment and Episode Three - 20 things you can do to Marginalise the National Standards (and not your students).

Friday, September 27, 2013

Because I am dumb

This term I have been trialling different assessment tasks based on a different definition of success. The definition was to 'manage self' and 'manage projects'.

Instead of being measured by running records, and other traditional tests, students were measured on whether or not they got day-to-day things done (in a 'flexi-time environment) and if their projects were completed by a deadline. 

A new group of 'high achievers' emerged as well as a new group of 'low achievers'. Generally my high achieving test takers were shocking project and self managers. Conversely the traditional low achieves created very successful projects and were good self managers.

Yesterday I gave the students a self-reflection survey. I predicted that the new 'high achievers' would finally have their moment to shine and that they would bask in their new found success. 

What I found, however, was that they rated themselves very low in all areas of self and project management.

When I asked one why it was she rated herself so low, she answered very matter of fact:
"Because I am dumb"
Amazing the effect 8 years of narrow testing has on our kids ...

Sunday, August 4, 2013


Last week at school we had a real-life illustrator (Margaret Tolland) in and she did a cool thing with the kids called "drawing warm-ups".

She did this by showing different slides of native birds and challenged the students to 'blind draw' (not looking at their paper).  Every 30 seconds the slide would change.  They did about 10 of them before they even stated thinking about their art work. The pay-off and focus time was impressive.

Doing a drawing warm-up
When I got home I told Jo about it and we thought it would be cool to have warm-ups for all curriculum areas. Often schools have things called maths warm-ups, but they are not quite the same. We started thinking about writing.

Using the same rapid fire format we came up with this that we will try out on Monday.

Obviously this is in the very beginning stages.  We'd love to have people contribute any other writing warm-up suggestions and any other ways we could do warm-ups in other curriculum areas.