Defining my Community of Practise

My composite/rural area school is situated in North Canterbury and has approximately 300 students and roughly 22 teachers plus administration staff/teacher aides. It caters for students from Years 1 to 13 from the township and surrounding rural areas. Teachers make good use of the school’s location to provide students with many varied outdoor education experiences. Eighty percent of students travel by bus.

The school plays a central role in the community as it provides facilities such as the library and a skate park for out-of-school use as well as offering educational opportunities for adult students to further their qualifications alongside senior students. The student roll is affected each year by the movement in and out of the area of families working in the dairy industry which contributes to increasing numbers of students with different cultural backgrounds attending the school.

The statistics behind my school are:

School type: Composite Year 1 to 15

Decile rating: 8 (*1)

School roll: 300

Gender composition: Boys 55%; Girls 45%

Ethnic composition:          New Zealand European/Pākehā 79%;

Māori and Pacific: 12%;

Asian: 3%;

Other: 6%

As a city secondary teacher of 25 years this is my first experience of both an area school and a rural school (an area school is one that combines both primary and secondary students). Unsurprisingly 90% of the roll bus to school so events like earthquakes like the recent 7.8 Kaikoura earthquake or heavy rain or snow tend to effect it more than most.

Teaching staff are divided into two syndicates, Primary and Secondary, and these are overseen by an Assistant Principal and Deputy Principal respectively with overall governance across both accorded by the Principal.

There are regular year-level pastoral or syndicate meetings scheduled almost every Tuesday and Wednesday after school where academic or other needs are addressed. HELA’S (or Head of Learning Area) also meet regularly and have the responsibility of providing support and guidance to the primary as well as secondary area in their subject. This is a new challenge for me in that I have never had the opportunity to introduce Digital Technology pedagogy to the Primary area in my 25-year career to date. I have started off this process by introducing a Virtual Reality (Samsung) headset (that is kept in the AP’s office) and also by gifting a mini-robot each to three primary classes to engage with during the term. This is a new journey for me and I am very interested in how the incoming generation students will be changed by new technologies like this that are available to them.

It worth noting here that the school runs a ‘vertical’ form system where all students from year 7 upwards are mixed together with students from other levels. In my opinion, this makes any pastoral work so much more equitable across the school and also provides more opportunities for regular contact between student leaders and the other students compared to a horizontal system.

There has been an increasingly digital focus across the school and One Drive/Office 365 was introduced as teaching delivery system across the teaching staff and the student’s above year 9.

It is worth noting that ‘SOLO’ is the teaching taxonomy has been introduced across the school (the acronym means Structure of Learning Outcomes).

In SOLO, learning outcomes are classified into five levels of increasing structural complexity – from pre-structural (no idea) to uni-structural (one idea), multi-structural (many loose ideas), relational (related ideas) and extended abstract (extended ideas). The levels represent both an increase in understanding (knowing more, moving from uni-structural to multi-structural outcomes) and a deepening of understanding (moving from multi-structural to relational to extended abstract outcomes) (Biggs 1999, Hook, 2016)

See video: SOLO taxonomy explained using Lego (4 mins) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDXXV-mCLPg

Beyond that, there is a more general focus on reflective practise across all levels within the school as outlined by Philip Dawson of Monash University  in the following clip: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uDXXV-mCLPg

“Reflective practice is the ability to reflect on one’s actions so as to engage in a process of continuous learning” (*2)

I would be grateful for any comment regarding any of the above particularly other teacher’s experiences of:

  • Use of Reflective Practise in present or past schools
  • SOLO in present or past schools
  • Vertical forms levels in present or past schools
  • Collaborative learning with a Technology context in present or past schools
  • Any current use of Virtual Reality headsets in present or past schools
  • Any current use of mini-robots in present or past schools

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(*1) (for an explanation of decile meaning see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Socio-economic_decile )

(*2) Schön, Donald A. (1983). The reflective practitioner: how professionals think in action. New York: Basic Books. ISBN 046506874X. OCLC 8709452.

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Why I am Choosing SOLO Taxonomy as my framework for Encouraging and Developing Independent Computational Thinking and/or Computer Science

Description:

As the importance of computer science increases, I believe more educators, school administrators, parents and students in NZ will be interested in understanding how it can be best delivered in NZ classrooms. The two methodologies that I compared in my previous Mindlab research assignment were Bloom’s and SOLO taxonomies

http://blogs.sussex.ac.uk/tel/2016/11/22/5-tips-for-multimedia-enhanced-teaching-and-learning/

 

http://www.slideshare.net/danlaw7/pd-august-nps-51968962

 

 

 

BLOOM’s taxonomy certainly seems to be more generally useful across a greater range of subjects (like the creative arts such as painting and sculpting) but SOLO seems particularly applicable in the ‘hard’ sciences like Mathematics, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) or my subject, Digital Technologies.

 

I have created a BLOG which I plan to use to keep my Target Communities updated about my progress and findings. This will hopefully highlight some of the benefits and challenges of my implementation of ‘EDICT’ in my classroom which will hopefully encourage other teachers and students using SOLO taxonomy (across all subjects) to join me in their own digital teaching journeys and experiences.

 

In this way we will learn together as a distinctly NZ educational community by refining our approaches together, collaborating on our research and justifying our new approach to our classroom learning through measuring our long-term effectiveness at delivering EDICT using SOLO in ways that this project will attempt to showcase.

Interviewing a SOLO expert

To find out the benefits and challenges of implementing SOLO in my classroom I am planning to interview _______________ who are actively involve with Digital Learning which encompasses SOLO. My interview questions will focus on the benefits and challenges of embracing he principles of SOLO within my context, that of a small rural area school of 320.

  • Are you familiar with SOLO taxonomy?
  • Can you remember what the acronym SOLO means?
  • Do you agree/disagree with this statement: Higher levels of SOLO (relational, extended abstract) must somehow involve some degree of ‘Blended’ learning in any secondary classroom in NZ today, any subject (note: ‘Blended learning’ is where the student self-paces his/her classroom learning with online sources rather than teacher intervention). Can you give a brief reason why you feel this way?
  • Do you agree/disagree with this statement: Higher levels of SOLO (relational, extended abstract) must involve some degree of ‘Flipped’ learning in in any secondary classroom in NZ today, any subject (note: ‘Flipped’ learning is where the student prepares for class by doing the extra study necessary at their home). Can you give a brief reason why you feel this way?
  • Do you think some degree of ‘Blended’ learning is important in the NZ secondary classroom of today that has a digital context?
  • Do you think some degree of ‘Flipped’ learning is important in the NZ secondary classrooms of today that has a digital context?
  • Do you think some degree of ‘Blended’ learning is important in the NZ secondary classrooms of today for achieving the higher levels of ‘SOLO’ (relational, extended abstract) that has a digital context?
  • Do you think some degree of ‘Flipped’ learning is important in the NZ secondary classrooms of today for achieving the higher levels of ‘SOLO’ (relational, extended abstract) that has a digital context?
  • Do you believe that homework of any kind is important for achieving the higher levels of SOLO in the secondary classrooms of today, any subject?
  • Do you believe that homework of any kind is important for achieving the higher levels of SOLO in the secondary classrooms of today that has a digital context?

Survey request: Do you use SOLO? Are you a NZ Primary and Secondary Digital Technology teacher?

Please (please) copy and paste this (first prototype of a) questionnaire about the use of SOLO within your practise.

I will eventually be using some form of this survey this year, both within my school and across NZ through the NZ Association of Computing and Digital Technology Teachers portal (NZACDITT). Eventually of course I’ll put it on survey monkey when I have adequately tested the questionnaire.

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  1. What subjects do you normally teach?
  2. How long have you been in teaching?
  3. On average, what hours do you normally work on your job each week (exclude vacations)?
  4. How old are you?
  5. Are you aware of a teaching taxonomy called “SOLO”? (which means Structure of Observed Learning Outcomes)
  6. Have you ever used SOLO as a pedagogical structure or model for the delivery or assessment for any of your digital teaching at any stage of your career?
  7. Are you familiar with SOLO taxonomy?
  8. Can you remember what the acronym SOLO means?
  9. Do you agree/disagree with this statement: Higher levels of SOLO (relational, extended abstract) must somehow involve some degree of ‘Blended’ learning in any secondary classroom in NZ today, any subject (note: ‘Blended learning’ is where the student self-paces his/her classroom learning with online sources rather than teacher intervention). Can you give a brief reason why you feel this way?
  10. Do you agree/disagree with this statement: Higher levels of SOLO (relational, extended abstract) must involve some degree of ‘Flipped’ learning in in any secondary classroom in NZ today, any subject (note: ‘Flipped’ learning is where the student prepares for class by doing the extra study necessary at their home). Can you give a brief reason why you feel this way?
  11. Do you think some degree of ‘Blended’ learning is important in the NZ secondary classroom of today that has a digital context?
  12. Do you think some degree of ‘Flipped’ learning is important in the NZ secondary classrooms of today that has a digital context?
  13. Do you think some degree of ‘Blended’ learning is important in the NZ secondary classrooms of today for achieving the higher levels of ‘SOLO’ (relational, extended abstract) that has a digital context?
  14. Do you think some degree of ‘Flipped’ learning is important in the NZ secondary classrooms of today for achieving the higher levels of ‘SOLO’ (relational, extended abstract) that has a digital context?
  15. Do you believe that homework of any kind is important for achieving the higher levels of SOLO in the secondary classrooms of today, any subject?
  16. Do you believe that homework of any kind is important for achieving the higher levels of SOLO in the secondary classrooms of today that has a digital context?

Researching the use of SOLO in the delivery of computational-thinking/computer-science in primary and secondary using SOLO in classrooms in NZ schools

Day 1: December 31st, 2016

4 hours of investigation have narrowed down the focus of my research into the planning of my ‘Teaching as Inquiry Project’ to:

(1) What are the benefits and challenges of implementing the delivery of computational-thinking/computer-science in primary and secondary using SOLO in classrooms in NZ schools where learners are aged between 4 and 17?

and

(2) What are the contributing factors that lead to effective implementations of the computational-thinking/computer-science in primary and secondary using SOLO in classrooms in NZ schools where learners are aged between 4 and 17?

 

 

Day 1: December 31st, 2016

 

4 hours of investigation have narrowed down the focus of my research into the planning of my ‘Teaching as Inquiry Project’ to:

(1) What are the benefits and challenges of implementing the delivery of computational-thinking/computer-science in primary and secondary using SOLO in classrooms in NZ schools where learners are aged between 4 and 17?

and

(2) What are the contributing factors that lead to effective implementations of the computational-thinking/computer-science in primary and secondary using SOLO in classrooms in NZ schools where learners are aged between 4 and 17?