Marriene Langton Principal

Marriene Langton Principal

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Abbotsleigh and MLC on PhotoPeach

Friday, March 26, 2010


















Thank you to my Board of Trustees who supported me to be part of the eTime tour of schools in Sydney, Australia. It was an amazing opportunity and I learnt so much. Twenty school leaders and a board member from schools around Canterbury toured four school campuses over 6 days. It was hot and very tiring but more inspiring. The campuses were very large and spread out, sometimes on the other sides of streets.
We had 5 hours at the Apple Education Centre in the Hilton Hotel. The hotel catered our lunch too so that was a wonderful start to the tour.
We had a chance to look at the new Apple technology then had to complete a learning task ourselves. Later we viewed our iown work and had a good laugh at each others' creativity and wit.
We looked at the design and use of school buildings, the use of technology to support student achievement, the ways in which schools are structured to support teaching and learning and the pedagogy/philosophy that determines how the schools establish timetables and appoint teachers to ensure that the school culture and practices are protected.
All of the schools had adopted Reggio Emelio approaches or similar to teaching and learning. This means large open agile learning spaces where a hundred or more students in a year group are taught by several different teachers over the day or week. The teachers plan and teach together. Classrooms had no walls or very low walls. The furniture was very different to our traditional classrooms; there were couches, leather squabs, bean bags, big tables etc. Everything could be moved and re-configured very quickly. Shelving and nuits could quickly form a temporary outline for a learning space.
Most of the schools allowed the students freedom on the internet and they could be monitored by the technical team. John XXIII included the cost of the students laptops in their fee structure from Grade 6 upwards.
At Methodist Ladies College which was pre-school to Grade 12 the girls could twitter, email and facebook in school and class time as long as they were not overdoing it. I spoke to many of the children and they new the rules and thoroughly enjoyed the on-line learning and social networking.
Putting aside the millions of dollars that have gone into the buildings, furniture and technology there was a lot to learn about effective teaching and learning. I was delighted to know that there were also some things that I think we do better at our school like sharing specific learning intentions with our students and the ways in which we give our children very specific feedback and next step learning and the high quality examples I have observed of our teachers' teaching.
All four schools had developed sophisticated on-line learning environments. Sort of like Ultranet with bells on. I think some used Moodle.
Parents had limited access to be able to view their own child's learning and assessments. ( Limited only because they do not need access to other students work and assessments or to teacher records)
Teachers were using the technology to post the context for learning, all of the relevant links and assessment activities and using twitter, wikis, blogs and facebook to update students on new learning, timetables, reminders and shared learning sites.
Two schools had developed second life sites with world wide links forlearning. Learning from a virtual world with avatars is another astonishing and effective way of engaging students in learning. They also have autonomy and control of the ways in which they chose to learn.
Students had the equivalent of social networking across their cohort, specialist or leadership groups.The amount of sharing of quality information ws astonishing.
The staff had access to all information so it could be monitored but there was very little inappropriate interaction at all.
At MLC the Grade 9 students spend 2 weeks in the outback in Broken Hill on a geology and social sciences study. All of the planning and learning is done on line before and during the camp. The girls and teachers video conference and skype with the school each day and record their learning on their own blog. Alll of the requirements for the field study along with the assessment requirements are posted on line. Parents can connect with their children throughout the day while they are away and get immediate updates on their learning via blogs, wikis, skype.
It was a privilege to be on this tour and I would love to take the leadership team next year, along with a board member to talk together over the ways in which we can continue to raise expectations for learning and teaching at West Spreydon School.
I have some great ideas (borrowed of course) from the Sydney schools about a new school brochure, photographs that reflect Attitude, Adventure and Achievement in our reception area, the use of a flat screen t.v. in reception and school merchandise that promote the values and mission statement of the school. Oh for the dollars.
Our board places a strong emphasis on high quality professional development for all staff and in this case I was given the perfect opportunity to experience a new way of thinking. What is it they say "Next year in Sydney?" I would settle for Italy and Regio Emilio!
Totara Team Celebration of Learning on PhotoPeach

Year 4 Camp March 2010 on PhotoPeach

Abbotsleigh and MLC on PhotoPeach