My Actions Post Palooza

I have had an awesome few days at iPadPalooza on the Gold Coast as summarised by the blog posts below.  I like to take a copious amount of notes at these events as I find my memory later fails me for details when I am speaking to others..  So, this is what I will do and then over the days that follow – I tend to reflect and think on actions that might be relevent for my own site.

It’s interesting to me that my take-aways from events like this are no longer about the technology.   Of course, there were some great tips on apps from some truly talented iPadPalooza greats – especially to do with coding, art, connecting with nature and STEM – but my key learnings are always now about change and how it can be managed to cater for the future of the kids we work with.

So here are my take-aways:

Change is an opportunity to do things differently

This is something that has been at the forefront of my mind for years now.  I really need to accept however that this is not how everyone views change.   Design thinking is currently providing us with a tremendous opportunity – It’s providing teachers with a tool for change, innovation and reflection  and it’s providing teachers with a tool to design curriculum.   This is wonderful change.    Let’s keep the momentum going.

The need to keep going

We have come so far.   And it’s tempting to start congratulating ourselves and to risk ‘resting on our laurels’.    But when I hear from people like Richard Wells – I feel quite simply overwhelmed at how much further there is to go.   And I’m pretty sure that our system is 20 years behind that of New Zealand.  But what we have to do is to understand and appreciate that the small steps we have taken have to continue.   We have to stop accommodating teacher comfort and assumptions and the industrial model that we all still naturally operate comfortably within and we need to start evolving our community of learners towards a new model of learning – one that places students at the centre and one which fosters THEIR creativity, THEIR independence, THEIR resilience and THEIR knowledge of self and what THEY are good at.

  • We need to realise that our school vision is a tremendous opportunity to justify doing things differently.  We need to keep the conversation evolving regarding its implications.
  • We need to keep placing the reality of the future in front of our community ALL THE TIME.  Assumptions are quite powerful and we need to start initiating conversations with the reminder to put them aside.
  • We need to carefully consider groups like Yr 2 and 3 because they are the ones who will be the proof of our vision in 3 years time.     Are those groups starting 2017 with a new focus on process over product and design?  Are they?  How will their beginning of 2017 be different from 2016 after a year of learning?   WILL IT?

The need to include wellness in our approach

  • Michael Carr-Gregg was excellent in the way he made it so crystal clear that if we aren’t managing children’s wellness – then they aren’t learning at optimum levels.
  • Our new Social and Emotional program presents many opportunities in this regard.
  • There are clear alignments between children managing and growing their own independence and wellness.  We need to recognise the importance of this connection.

So, moving away from my broad ideas –

Practical ideas and possibilities:

  1. Can the school visit in Week 1 of Term 4 from NoT be focussed on Yr 2 and 3 teachers?
  2. Can the 2017 year start with activities designed to remind staff of our vision and what this means in a practical sense.
  3. The Yr 5 work on Design Thinking with Geography/DigiTech unit needs to be shared with staff.    Similarly the Yr 6 work using design thinking.  We need to actually hear from the teachers involved and learn from their experiences – warts and all.
  4. Is it possible that Week 1 of 2017 for every class has a focus on Social and Emotional Learning AND the Design Thinking process?  And that they don’t jump straight into more teacher delivered content?
  5. Can we speak to our student high achievers and ask them how learning could be different and what frustrates them?  Then share this
  6. Can we continue to work with our teachers to encourage reflection and growth in learning.
  7. The pitches from Round 2 PI need to have outcomes/results.




ADE 2015 – Singapore

What a fantastic week and what an awesome learning experience!

Apple runs a very slick show and the line-up of learning experiences was impressive. Added to this was that we were in a  very exciting city – Singapore and in a top rate Hotel AND we were looked after very well.

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The week was going to be all about four things:
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Highlights included:

Showcase Sessions:  Each day started with an hour long session titled ‘Showcase’ which allowed 10 speakers to talk about a chosen area.  Usually it was their learners and how they had been enabled by learning experiences.  They were allowed 3 minutes.

Accessibility options enabling disabled learners:  The stories that emerged from many of the showcases highlighted how Apple accessibility options were changing lives for the disabled and transforming learning. These options were levelling the playing field and giving the students and the teachers opportunities that would not have been possible without the technology. They were amongst the most touching and impressive  of all the stories.

Masterclass with Bill Frakes:  Bill Frakes is a Pullitzer prize winning photographer, responsible for many of the iconic images we all know from sport, politics and global disasters.  It was a complete honour and privilege to have him speak to us, tell us stories about his images and stories about the subjects.  He gave us photography hints, opened his heart, and told his stories.   His images made us cry, made us wonder and dream and affirmed the power of visual imagery.

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Nebraska Project

Other images captured by Bill

The passion and energy shown by the community of learners with whom I spent the week.   It was emphasised to us again and again that we need to be bold, that we need to celebrate mistakes, that we need to keep pushing and that we need to celebrate the community of learners what we had just become a part of.



Other items of interest, many of which have come up since the conclusion of #ADE2015.

A great blog by John Burns who was responsible for the quote below “Everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the face”.  An Australia, John spoke in a very articulate way about his challenges when leading change at an International School.  This was during the daily ‘Showcase’ session at which 10 speakers from the Alumni group and the current class spoke for exactly 3 minutes of their experiences at their own sites.


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