Tangongitanga – innovation


TPACK is the acronym for the Technology, Pedagogy, and Content Knowledge model that can support our development of modern teaching practice. Most teachers have developed a certain amount of content knowledge, or understanding of “what to teach”, as well as a range of pedagogical skills, or “how to teach”, the final aspect of the model is technological integration. What technological tools effectively enhance teaching and learning in that context?

A teacher with access to multiple devices and technological interventions may make different about what and how to teach to their unique group of learners. Confidence in using the technology available will also affect those choices. Where these three aspects meet is the modern teaching ‘sweet-spot’ – a balance of relevant content, good pedagogy, and integrated technology creates an engaging and effective modern learning context.

Gauging the impact of the technological integration is where the SAMR model comes in…


Six constructs identified by the literature to be relevant to technology integration: technology proficiency, computer anxiety, attitudes and beliefs toward technology in education, previous and planned professional uses of technology, pedagogical styles, and [understanding of social dynamics]”.

“The study confirmed the assumption that teachers’ technology proficiency plays a major role in classroom technology innovations. Moreover, it added a new dimension to the variable. Traditionally, technology proficiency has been understood as the ability to operate a piece of equipment or use a software application. However, our observations suggested that an additional dimension of technology proficiency plays an equally important part: knowledge of the enabling conditions for a technology—that is, knowing what else is necessary to use a specific technology in teaching.”

“Among the qualities of a teacher that appeared to make a project more or less successful was her or his understanding of and ability to negotiate the social aspects of the school culture. Our analyses suggest that socially savvy teachers were more likely to implement their projects successfully. These teachers knew the social dynamics of the school, were aware of where to go for what type of support, and were attentive to their peers.”

Zhao, Pugh, Sheldon, Byers; 2002. “Conditions for Classroom Technology Innovations”


Technological integration in education is important because tomorrow’s economy is reliant on careers that utilise diverse technologies. From food production to fashion design, the dream jobs of the future will have a technology component, possibly even one that we haven’t imagined yet! Molly Schroeder, a global digital age learning specialist, stated earlier this year, in her opening keynote address at GAfE summit Christchurch, that the technology we are using today, is the worst our students will ever have.

There has been a lot of learning over the last few weeks:

  • Developing an understanding of ‘knowledge’ as a verb
  • Cognitosphere, Co-Presence & Thought Leadership
  • Key Competencies & 21st Century Skills

All these ideas will help me identify, justify and plan a digital and collaborative learning innovation that can be applied to a specific area of my teaching practice.

Pūnaha hauropi – ecosystem


Schools can be adaptive, creative, innovative spaces. They can embrace all the vital characteristics of a successful ecosystem: creative, adaptive, permeable, dynamic, systemic, and self-correcting – truly out-of-the-box thinking removed from the past industrial model.

Grant Lichtman describes the cognitosphere – reminiscent of William Gibson’s “post geographical meta-country” description of the internet. Lichtman believes schools should harness their access to the cognitosphere, or shared and responsive knowledge platforms, by working together in collaborative clusters; an initiative that many New Zealand schools have already embraced Communities of Learning introduced in 2014 as part of the IES initiative. Positives of the CoL school networks – problems at one school have most likely already been solved at another, networking enables us to share solutions. The cluster model helps promote the imagery of schools as connected ecosystems. This big idea brings in the next question though – how do we get better at working together, so that our ecosystems thrive?

Developing Co-Presence

Essential to a healthy ecosystem, are innovative leaders. Confident communication, and encouragement in groups, is how ‘leaders’ emerge. People with positive social skills tend to support and encourage others to step outside their comfort zones and try something new. How does this play out in online forums where the physical aspect of ‘co-presence’ is negated? Online social skills and leadership is becoming increasingly important as more of our networking and interactions take place in the ‘cognitosphere’, where immediate feedback via body language and voice tone are invisible. Intrapersonal and interpersonal skills for face to face and online collaboration are crucial, so how do we foster their development in ourselves and our learners?

Practising focused, mindful presence, during face-to-face situations and while online networking will attune learners to the nuance and idiosyncrasies of both situations and support them to engage in deep learning, as well as develop productive relationships.

In my current learning environment my co-teacher and I have regular citizenship sessions. We hold face-to-face circle times and speak openly, and we also hold digital citizenship discussions and tutorials. I believe both are equally important and am proud that my co-teacher and I recognised the need to explicitly teach mindful interactions and have responded to it.

Thought Leadership

Exploration and discovery in this time of change and technological development is going to require embracing some challenges with enthusiasm and overcoming obstacles with positivity and perseverance. Understanding self and appreciating the diverse perspectives of others is fundamental to innovative ‘thought leadership’ and followership.
The NZC Key Competencies are important to learner development and this week we were given an additional framework of 21st Century Skills alongside them to inspire fresh thinking and re-inspiration about how the KC’s can be interpreted and developed.

Key Competencies: ITL Research 21st Century Skills:
Thinking Knowledge Construction
Understanding language, symbols, texts Problem Solving and Innovation
Relating to Others Skilled Communication
Participating and Contributing Collaboration
Managing Self Self-Regulation
Use of ICT for Learning

How might teachers’ and students strengths in developing capabilities in thinking, using language, symbols and texts, managing self, relating to others, and participating and contributing, be recognised and celebrated?

  • Role-modelling Key Competencies in the classroom, encouraging them as skills in our learners.
  • Utilising the cluster model as a network and opportunity to practice the Key Competencies as a professional.
  • Awareness of cognitive, interpersonal, and intrapersonal strengths and areas for development and seeking out ways to refine and reflect on practice and purpose.

Whāia te iti kahurangi ki te tūohu koe me he maunga teitei
Seek the treasure you value most dearly: if you bow your head, let it be to a lofty mountain.

Mōhio – knowledge

Possible dream jobs of the future: organic fashion designer, robot rights lawyer, rainforest reconstructor, dinosaur breeder, or even solar plane racer… As a teacher today, I am preparing learners for an uncertain future, full of unimagined possibilities!

The rate of technological change is at an exponential rate.
As a child, I would imagine being able to access knowledge anywhere and anytime (I wanted limitless books – a library on demand!)… I had no idea that would become reality in my lifetime. We cannot predict now what will be available in our world in 2025… or 2035?!

The future options available are unimaginable to us now…
The rate of technological change has an impact on us in small ways – recently the first AI robotic lawyer, ROSS, was hired; and a self-driving vehicle caused the first fatal accident of its kind leaving us to wonder who was at fault; man or machine? As the world as we know it becomes more like the dystopic Sprawl imagined by William Gibson, there are questions raised about what is important to teach the youth of today about the possibilities of tomorrow?

What is knowledge? Is it an idea, or an action?

Knowledge as Informative / Noun: Blocks of facts (who, what, when, where) and ideas (how, why) that help us navigate the world.

Knowledge as Transformative / Verb: A process of becoming (rather than being) that is specific and unique to each person.

Knowledge definition is impacted by your view of reality. Here we encounter metaphysics and two differing ontological views:

  1. that perception is reality (external and same for all)
  2. that process is reality (internal and uniquely constructed)

So, how do we know things at all?

In a nutshell, humans use reason and evidence to construct knowledge and understanding. Even then there is an element of choice – we must choose to believe that what we discover is true, and fits with our developing theories and assumptions about the world.

How do we decide what is valuable to know? Who decides? Why?

  • Enculturation of people as a social purpose for education, so that we share similar values and belief as a community, and can live harmoniously.
  • Qualification or gaining useful skills and knowledge which has value as a commodity, can be quantified, measured and exchanged for a fee.
  • Subjectification of individuals, or the self-directed growth in areas of interest and critical thinking that keep us satisfied as individuals.

The intent to create a predictable and measurable education outcome (treating schools as enculturation or qualification factories, churning nameless masses into ‘ideal’ citizen workers) takes away the spontaneous and innovative development opportunities of individuals. Personalised flexible learning pathways are increasingly important, yet education cannot be a sovereign or chaotic system without constraint either. There needs to be an option that balances structured, predictable intents with personalisation.

Knowledge is what empowers us to be, to create, to dream, to act, to achieve, and to connect; and the purpose of education is to learn how to learn, to communicate, to unlearn and re-learn, to create, to question, to apply, and to challenge and be challenged… 


What what assumptions about teaching and learning underlie my teaching practice?

  • A supportive environment recognizes and promotes the acceptance of diverse individuals. Learners need to feel a sense of belonging and safety.
  • Quality learning occurs within a collaborative and constructive community. Learners who work together and encourage each other can focus their combined strengths towards achieving outcomes greater than could be achieved alone.
  • High learning-focused expectations should be clearly communicated. Learners should feel challenged and empowered to strive for their own success.
  • Learners should be encouraged to develop relevant knowledge, flexible skills, and a mindset that enables their active participation in their community and the wider world.
  • The teaching and learning environment is influenced by the relationships developed with the wider community, particularly learners family/whānau.


Tīmatanga – Inception

This term an exciting new adventure in teaching began – I am teaching in a ‘power of three’ collaborative team which is spread over four learning spaces! I am the newest team member and have had the pleasure of setting up the third and fourth ‘rooms’ in temporary accommodation (portable units) on the school site (the school is currently undergoing a large demotion and construction project).

There are limitations to space and available furniture but what I have noticed is that anything is possible if you are enthusiastic about what is unique. I had a definite “a-ha!” moment when I was contemplating the metal walls of the temporary buildings… they are magnetic! It was as though a world of possibility opened up and I immediately dug out the dusty box of magnetic letters to spell out some words of welcome on the wall.

Bringing a new learning space together in a limited time frame has also shown the value of “just in time” support. This is a rapidly growing school with a busy staff – finding the right person at the right time could be an impossible task. However, I have been on the receiving end of a generous amount of support as colleagues have stepped up to answer questions, source equipment, move furniture, share data, and I have even had coffee brought to me twice this week!

Everything that went well in the first week, in a nutshell:

  • Positive relationship building with colleagues, students and parents
  • Setting up new learning spaces which are safe and engaging to be in
  • Being put forward as my team’s rep for school-wide kapa haka
  • Setting professional goals with mentor teacher
  • Offering professional support for upcoming Enviroschool projects
  • Collaborating over student data in preparation for next week


Professional readings this week:


Whakamanawa – encouragement

Amazing words of encouragement and support from the people who saw the day to day effects of my teaching on their child… It was a privilege to work for them and with their children. The community as a whole were dedicated to supporting the children’s success at school, so having such positive feedback is really affirming. This post is meant as a heart-warming digest for me that I can look back on in the future.

“I have found Carolyn to be conscientious, well organised and professional. Carolyn has a caring nature and is personable and approachable. She has a calm and measured demeanour, but has a presence in the class which the pupils respect. Carolyn is not afraid to join the children in activities and has displayed an ability to laugh along with the children while taking part in games.
Carolyn has encouraged [our daughter] throughout the year not only in her education but in her personal development. [Our daughter] has matured and grown as a person over the last 12 months which in part, is due to Carolyn’s positive influence as a role model.
Carolyn is intelligent and thoughtful and has been a wonderful teacher.”

“During [2013] I have seen an amazing change in our son. He started the year on a remedial reading programme and was having difficulty generally with his learning in all subjects. [He] has just blossomed. He is now above the required level for his age for reading, he is confident with his reading and thanks to Carolyn has developed a confidence I never thought he would get in the classroom.
He is now very confident in his ability to nut out problems and discuss it with his classmates in all subjects in the classroom. He is probably a natural leader and Carolyn picked up on this very early in the year and has nurtured this quality in [him]. I am just so impressed with how she has looked at him as an individual and thought about what qualities he has and how to make them shine and in turn given him so much confidence and happiness in the classroom.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Carolyn for all she has done for [our son].”

“We would like to thank you for being such an awesome teacher. [Our daughter] has had a very happy and settled year in your class and has come home excited and enthusiastic about learning. She has loved your great sense of humour and jokes! It has been reassuring to me when I drop her off in the morning that you are so welcoming, calm and cheerful – nothing ever seems to ‘faze’ you. I have felt really comfortable that I could ask you anything (even the trivial stuff) about how [my child] is going at school – and I’ve appreciated how you have always been available before and after school to talk. You really seem to ‘get’ [my child] in a way other teachers haven’t.
So, let me take this opportunity, on behalf of [our whole family] to thank you so very much for teaching and inspiring [our daughter] this year to be the best she can be. You have made such a hugely positive impression on not just us, but the wider school community as a truly ‘inspiring’ teacher – and in only your first year of teaching. We believe you have a very good teaching career ahead of you and we do very much hope you will return […] at some point in the not too distant future.”

“Thank you for your amazing effort this year. [My son] is a sensitive child who can retreat easily into his shell, however this year you have encouraged and supported him in every way. He has blossomed. Under your care, his reading has gone from mediocre to WOW and so has his maths. If you had not pointed out to me his difficulties I would not have picked up his issues. So thank you for your attention to detail. Your calm but determined approach is to be commended, it has bought out the best in my child while not causing stress in these important years of learning how to learn.”

“I am very very disappointed that you have not been kept on at […]. I feel they are losing a valuable asset. A dedicated, hard working, intuitive and motivational teacher. I wish you all the best for the future and am envious of the school who hires you next.”


Each parent generously gave their permission for these letters to be shared.

Āwhina – asking for help

One of my biggest learning moments this year has come recently when my mentor and I began having regular structured PRT meetings. Prior to this term we have had a flexible and fluid arrangement that meant we could go for over a month without meeting about PRT specific topics. However, each one of those meetings would conclude with my mentor saying, “Remember you can come and ask me if you need any help.”

The recent change to our meeting arrangement has brought one very clear fact to the fore: I have never learned to ask for help. The ingrained habit of waiting until I need help before asking has meant that I have missed dozens of opportunities to ask for help simply because I want to be better at something and feel able to ask for support in achieving that goal.

The small but significant difference in what motivates people (ME!) to ask for help, I think, can be identified thus:

Asking for help when you need it usually stems from a fear of failure and is associated with a sense of self-doubt and, for me, a sense of being a pain in the ass for the person whom I am asking (and my method of asking for help is usually prefaced with a lot of apologising for needing help in the first place).

Example: “I just don’t understand why this isn’t working, so, I know you’re busy and I’m sorry to be a pain but I just don’t think I’m doing the right things and I’m not sure what to do to make a difference…” etc. Add some more self-depreciating apologies and excuses for not independently having the situation under control… This vague and confusing method of asking for help can result in frustration for both sides. (I know because I have been on the receiving end of this method myself!)

Asking for help when you want it, before you need it, feels different. It feels like asking how to be greater and more successful tomorrow than you are today, and is combined with a sense of aspiration and purpose. In the last few weeks I have learned that this type of asking is usually met with enthusiasm and can even be a compliment to the person you’re asking to support you – people, including me and teachers in particular, love to help – especially when you are specific about what you want to achieve. If the person you ask can’t help, they will generally direct you to someone who can when you use this approach.

Example: “I haven’t collected any evidence of meeting Registered Teacher Criteria #11. What would this evidence look like and can you help me identify some quality examples?” 

That’s it – simple and specific. I want this help, can you support me. There is no reason to feel like a nuisance if you are being responsible and proactively asking for help. This is a lesson (not just for teaching, but for life in general) I wish I had learned years ago. It makes all the difference to whether you have set-up your support network to wait at the bottom of the cliff, or whether you are working together co-constructing the wings you need to fly!

Ask... seek... knock

Ask… seek… knock

For information on high-quality co-constructed PRT induction click here

How do you ask for support and ensure you are reaching your aspirations, rather than just surviving? How are you teaching your students to ask for help in specific and constructive ways?

Tangata whenuatanga – who am I, where am I, and what is the nature of this place?

My place in the world is near the edge of Te Waihora / Lake Ellesmere in Waitaha / Canterbury. Ngāi Tahu is the established name of the mixture of indigenous Māori tribes who came to reside in the Waitaha area. Before Ngāi Tahu’s 17th century migration the dominant tribe had been Ngāti Mamoe, who had themselves previously displaced the tribes of Hāwea, Rapuwai and Waitaha. It was the chief, Te Ruahikihiki, who established control over the Taumutu territory on the edge of Te Waihora, in conjunction with several chiefs who held territory to the North and supplied the Ngāi Tahu stronghold at Kaiapoi pā. Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki is now one of the five primary hapū of the Ngāi Tahu iwi. Historically Te Waihora has been an abundant mahinga kai teaming with waterfowl and sea-life and was guarded by the protective taniwha, Tūterakiwhānoa (Christchurch City Libraries, no date).

When considering place-based education, or more specifically Ngāi Tahu and Taumutu based education, teachers need to think about how students can develop understanding of themselves as a citizen in connection with this community. How does Ngāi Tahu/Taumutu fit in with the student’s perception of history and identity? How can teachers engage students with the concerns, customs and cultural ways of knowing of this community, and enable them to make connections to the ecology of Te Waihora? As Woodhouse & Knapp suggest (cited in Gruenewald, 2003) place-based education is inherently multidisciplinary and pathways from Ngāi Tahu/Taumutu to the New Zealand Curriculum can easily be found. It is the dynamic relationship between place and student that must be recognised and nurtured.

In order to establish and maintain student connection with Te Waihora, class groups must go out of the classroom and spend time there and learn what is of this place. These visits are opportunities to encourage students to make and share links of what they personally know of the place with their classmates, creating relationships with each other and the locality. There must be people in the community from Ngāi Tahu/Taumutu on site, to share their own knowledge of the place, for students to reflect upon, consider and connect with, an expectation that was voiced by Ngāi Tahu themselves (Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, 1996). This social sharing of knowledge and memories then becomes part of the students’ awareness of this place through multiple perspectives and exploration (Gruenewald, 2003). Rather than read about the history and significance of Taumutu from an objective perspective, students can go to Ngāti Moki Marae, built on the site of Te Pā o Moki (a pā built by Te Ruahikihiki’s son over 600 years ago), and see its proximity to Te Waihora in order to learn about its importance to Ngāi Tahu and the wider community, which will develop empathy and interest, and a foundation for reflection and inquiry.

In 1848, the land around Taumutu was sold as part of “Kemp’s Purchase”, the largest Crown purchase in New Zealand history which involved some 20, 000, 000 acres being ‘sold’ by Ngāi Tahu  for £2,000. The eastern edge of the purchase was contested by Ngāi Tahu almost immediately, as they had not consented to the inclusion of Te Waihora (or several other valued locations along the eastern coast). The Crown disregarded Ngāi Tahu’s right to the mahinga kai as it was seen to interfere with the civil drainage required for the immigrant settlements (Waitangi Tribunal , 2012). Te Waihora subsequently became polluted as Ngāi Tahu were no longer allowed to manage the water levels and the land was converted to pastures for the new European colonists. Irrigation canals were routed and livestock effluent entered the waterways. Because they have been a site of social, cultural and ecological disruption Taumutu and Te Waihora provide opportunities for rich place-based learning from social, cultural and ecological perspectives.

Gruenewald (pg.9, 2003) asserts that developing a critical pedagogy of place can “teach us how to live well in our total environments” and “identify and change ways of thinking that injure and exploit other people and places” (2003, p.9). Both aspirations are relevant in the New Zealand context which promotes the values environmental sustainability and bi-cultural identity. It would be impossible to separate the two values, as the landscape and ecology is so closely woven into the fabric of Māori identity, and the Pākehā identity has also formed over generations in response to colonist, indigenous and environmental experiences. 

Das (2008) adds weight to the argument for place-based learning by suggesting that education is not only for preparing children to become active citizens in the future, but can be used to enable their democratic participation now. This is not to suggest that students be burdened with a sense of political responsibility to solve every social, cultural and ecological problem, which is also warned against by Gruenewald (2003), but they can be inspired to feel an empathetic connection with one place where they can and want to make a positive impact.

In 1998, after nearly 150 years, the Ngāi Tahu grievance against the Crown was settled in one of the most significant settlements by the Treaty of Waitangi Tribunal. The bed of Te Waihora was returned to Ngāi Tahu and Ngāi Te Ruahikihiki ki Taumutu were appointed primary kaitiaki of the lake, a role which is officially recognised by the local Selwyn District Council (SDC) and Department of Conservation (DOC) (Waitangi Tribunal , 2012). Over the last 14 years a number of joint initiatives between Ngāi Tahu, SDC, DOC and Environment Canterbury (ECAN), the regional management council, have been put in place for Te Waihora, in order to revitalise its historical, cultural and ecological values. More recently, Fonterra has stepped in with funding also to help the community revitalise this taonga (NZ Government, 2011). The social, cultural, ecological and economic value of Te Waihora is not questioned.

A purposeful initiative in action in the Taumutu area which addresses these values and offers educational opportunities is the revegetation of the Canterbury Plains by Te Ara Kākāriki Greenway Canterbury Trust. Students are invited to get involved with the project which aspires to develop a greenway from the Southern Alps to the sea, including the shores of Te Waihora. The community based project works alongside other environmental initiatives and has the support of Lincoln University scientists and governing agencies. Students are encouraged to design and develop native green space in their school as well as to volunteer at planting days where native plants are reintroduced to public areas, such as riverside recreation spots (Te Ara Kākāriki, no date). This one project can be linked directly with the aspirations Ngāi Tahu have expressed and documented for their children.

In response to the invisibility and reported achievement levels of their tamariki in education Ngāi Tahu developed Te Kete o Aoraki, a memorandum of understanding which specifically details how responsibilities and relationships between the iwi, schools, and Ministry of Education can be developed. Te Kete o Aoraki states Ngāi Tahu expectations that the school environment should ensure Māori students “have an understanding of the uniqueness of their takiwā/rohe” and “ be confident in themselves and in their identity as Māori” and provides a framework for schools and iwi to work together to achieve these expectations. (Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, 1996, p. 21). One of the suggested methods for achieving this is to utilise ‘real-life’ contexts for learning which are compatible with Ngāi Tahutanga, and the example of participation in enhancing mahinga kai is used. To fulfil their role in this framework, Te Taumutu Rūnanga has established relationships with the schools in their takiwā and have gone so far as to produce resources to aide schools teaching of Te Taumututanga, including He Tirohanga Ūara Nō Taumutu, a document which aligns Te Taumutu expectations with the New Zealand Curriculum. This document is made available to teachers employed in the schools in the Taumutu takiwā.

Christchurch City Libraries. (no date). Te Waihora. Retrieved August 12, 2012, from Te Kouka Whenua: http://christchurchcitylibraries.com/TiKoukaWhenua/waihora/

Gruenewald, D. A. (2003). The best of both worlds: A critical pedagogy of place. Educational Researcher, Vol. 32, No. 4, 3-12.

Sobel, D. (2004). Place-Based Education: Connecting Classrooms & Communities. Great Barrington, MA: The Orion Society.

Te Ara Kākāriki. (no date). Te Ara Kākāriki Greenway Canterbury Trust. Retrieved August 19, 2012, from Te Ara Kākāriki Greenway Canterbury Trust: http://www.kakariki.org.nz/

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. (1996). Compulsory Sector Education. Retrieved August 22, 2012, from Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu: http://www.ngaitahu.iwi.nz/Ngai-Tahu-Whanui/Ngai-Tahu-Education/TeKeteoAorakiAndMemorandumOfUnderstanding.pdf

Waitangi Tribunal . (2012). The Ngai Tahu Report 1991. Retrieved August 18, 2012, from Waitangi Tribunal Te Rōpū Whakamana i te Tiriti O Waitangi: http://www.waitangi-tribunal.govt.nz/reports/view.asp?reportID=D5D84302-EB22-4A52-BE78-16AF39F71D91