Do we really know our students?

by Pinelopi Zaka (, @paz11uc)

I was so amazed when I first saw this video, wondering at the same time what kind of education this child will need after five years when she goes to school... But I could not stop thinking: Do we really know our students?
It’s been almost 10 years since Mark Prensky, based on his own observations, first used the term ‘digital natives’ to describe the current generation of students who:
"have spent their entire lives surrounded by and using computers, videogames, digital music players, video cams, cell phones, and all the other toys and tools of the digital age” (Prensky, 2001, p.1).

Prensky argues that the digital natives’ dependence on technology tools influences the way they learn and the way they should be taught.
However, although most students use technology frequently in their everyday lives, if we look at current research or if we observe our own students, we often see that they are not always able to transfer their skills into the classroom and use ICT educationally.
Two years ago, a large scale study from the University of Nottingham in the UK (Luckin et al., 2009) looked into secondary school students' perceptions and every day use of Web2.0 tools. Through their findings from surveys and focus group interviews, the researchers confirmed that students have high levels of access to Web2.0 tools. Based on the data, the students were categorized under three groups: a) researchers, b) collaborators, c) producers and publishers. Most students were under the first group, as they mostly used technology to retrieve information. Few students were identified as collaborators or creators and publishers, pointing out the areas where students need more guidance and support from their teachers.
Though unsophisticated, we can see that most students’ experience with technology tools makes them more positive towards ICT implementation at school. However students’ perspectives on their e-learning experiences in the classroom often question school’s ability to engage them in meaningful and authentic learning with ICT. “Do you know us?” and “Engage us” are among the basic themes that researchers found when investigating 4,000 middle grade students in North Carolina and their perspectives on school, technologies and academic engagement (Spires et al., 2008).
Yes, our students are often more familiar with ICT use in their everyday life, but we need to remember that not all of them are and, even if they do, they often lack the skills that will enable them to use ICT effectively for their learning. A student quote that struck me from the first moment I read it was in Sara Kajder’s (2007) article about the potential of ICT to enhance student learning.
Max, a high school student shared during an interview:
"My teachers don't have to know where to click. I can teach them that. I just want them to teach me the parts that I am not thinking about yet".
Looking into the New Zealand context, in her literature review on e-learning, Noeline Wright (2010) argues that, despite many students’ familiarity with ICT use, young learners still need more guidance in using technology in meaningful and educational focused ways. What is our role as educators in this context?
The rollout of ultra fast broadband in New Zealand is expected to increase student and school access to ICT. Therefore listening to student voice becomes more than necessary, so that we can improve our practices and address today’s learners’ real needs.
“If we make student perspectives a regular part of the educational dialogue and action agenda, we may create a proactive stance to student academic engagement and achievement needs and subsequently contribute to a more responsive and innovative schooling process” (Spires et al., 2008, p.513).

photo by delphwynd
Kajder, S., B. (2007). Unleashing potential with emerging technologies. In K. Beers, R., E., Probst & L., Rief (Eds.), Adolescent literacy: Turning promise into practice (pp.213-229). Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann.
Luckin, R., Clark, W., Graber, R., Logan, K., Mee, A. & Oliver, M. (2009). Do Web 2.0 tools really open the door to learning? Practices, perceptions and profiles of 11-16-year-old students, Learning Media and Technology, 34(2), 87-104.
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants, On the Horizon, 9(5), 1-6.
Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives – digital immigrants: Review by Nathan Walsh
Spires, H., A., Lee, J., K. & Turner, K., A. (2008). Having your say: Middle grade student perspectives on school, technologies and academic engagement, Journal of Research on Technology in Education, 40(4), 497-515.

Qwiki's round up of news 29-10-11

View Top News: 10-29-11 and over 3,000,000 other topics on Qwiki.

5 tips for staying safe on the web

  • Choose strong passwords
  • Enable 2-step verification
  • Install updates right away
  • Be wary of suspicious emails and offers
  • Scan regularly for viruses

Simon Breakspear shares at ULearn11

Simon Breakspear is recognised internationally as a leading thinker on educational futures, innovation and change leadership. In this keynote presentation from ULearn11, Simon says that for too long technology has been the driving force of change rather than the pedagogy. He urges us towards action and to become creative innovators. He asks whose future are we educating students for – theirs or ours, and are we preparing students for a future that no longer exists?

What the blogs say:

ULearn News
Miss T's Reflections

Things to do:

Virtual Professional Learning Development programme

Expressions of interest for the VPLD 2012 intake close this coming Monday 12 pm 31st October:

The Virtual Professional Learning Development programme (VPLD) team is very keen to hear from NZ teachers, Principals, APs and DPs, who are interested in participating in the next VPLD intake (programme beginning in February 2012).

The VPLD programme offers flexibility of choice, time and approach, and is designed to fit in with what you are already doing as teachers and/or leaders.  Each participant is partnered with a mentor, with whom they meet online using Adobe Connect (a Web conferencing tool that enables interactive synchronous communication), or Skype, once a month for between forty-five to ninety minutes. The programme also provides professional learning through engagement in the VPLD professional online Community of Practice (CoP). The CoP offers a safe environment where you can discuss and challenge alternative points of view about pedagogy and practice, across disciplines and sectors.

The literature suggests that the duration and frequency of effective PLD are important - little and often over an extended period of time being the most effective. Participation in the VPLD programme is therefore over the course of three years. In the final year, you will be encouraged to develop your own mentoring skills, and are scaffolded to work with someone of your choosing in a mentor role.

The overall aims of the programme are to raise the professional knowledge and skills of participants, while also accelerating students' achievement of learning outcomes.

If accepted onto this programme you will develop your own learning goals around projects that interest you, framed within an inquiry process.

Find out more about the VPLD programme:

Please use this form to submit your expression of interest.

To discuss participation, for yourself or a colleague, contact Hazel Owen, Rachel Roberts, or Clarrie Yates

Beattie&Forbes: Book Launch October 27, 2011

Thursday 27 October 2011, 5.30pm

'Native by Design'

Book Launch

RSVP for Drinks & Nibbles

Native by Design:Landscape Design with New Zealand Plants
eds. Ian F. Spellerberg, Michele Frey and John Maillard(Photographs)

In this lavishly illustrated book, 20 of New Zealand's top landscape architects and designers offer their wisdom and advice on landscaping with native plants. These personal narratives showcase some of our country's most beautiful out-door environments, from private gardens to public recreation land, urban and industrial spaces, and even farmland. Stunning photographs by John Maillard capture the uniqueness and splendour of each location, from Kaeo in the Far North to Queenstown in the south.

What INESS have recently been doing

Brett Lee says:

"This part of the year saw us travelling and speaking to audiences all across Australia and New Zealand. It was a privilege to pass our message onto thousands of primary, secondary and adult audiences. Mining towns throughout western Queensland, Brisbane Catholic Education PD, Melbourne Teen Expo, school communities in and around Queenstown New Zealand, Lutheran Pastors Conference, Queensland Secondary Schools Principals Conference and a Skype keynote to New Zealand where some of the interesting engagements I was given the opportunity to be involved with.

Everyday of the week, with every presentation, I learn more through the students and teachers. Being armed with this knowledge is a vital part of the process that we are involved in when it comes to bringing a relevant and up to date message to our audiences. Although we alone cannot change a person's internet based behaviours it is great to be an effective part of the overall process in teaching positive digital messages and giving users reasons for making sound online choices.

Having delivered thousands of presentations over the past years I have seen a definite change in the overall perception of communicating via the internet when it comes to our youth. I fully believe that teachers and parents are crucial in educating our youth in positive internet based skills and that YOU are making a difference.

Whilst presenting to a primary Brisbane Catholic School last term a year 4 student said to her teacher "someone asked me for my address on the computer the other day" to which the teacher replied "did you tell them". The student replied "no of course not, I'd never do that, mum said I shouldn't give my address to strangers on the internet". This is not knowledge the student is born with, it was taught to her. Most students of her age 3 years ago would have given out that information because they would have had no reason not to. We ARE making a difference."

Useful links:

Brett Lee's blog
Booking a cyber-safety workshop
Iness Brochure
CyberSafety for Schools
Cyber-Safety: What can you and your school do?
Other blog posts... 

Things to do:

Follow the news and subscribe to Iness newsletter

CORE Education Breakfast: "Social Media for educators"

CORE Education invites you to breakfast

Come and hear
Social Media Manager - CORE Education

Breakfast Seminar
Christchurch, Tuesday, 8 November at 7.30am

DK joined CORE Education in July as the company's first Social Media Manager after recently emigrating from the UK where he was the Founding Director of the highly successful MediaSnackers.

MediaSnackers inspires people to learn, work and live differently with social media. This work has included developing and delivering social media training for teachers and youth services, devising brand-raising strategies for national government departments and social media marketing strategies for games manufacturers. Recent clients have included the Welsh Assembly, UNICEF and The Gates Foundation. For more details of clients go to

DK has also created Social Media For Suits, personalised mentoring for CEOs and executives who want to understand and effectively use social media.

More information about DK


$30 including GST


By Friday, 4 November


Register online for Christchurch

What's all this social media nonsense?

Using cross-sector examples of social media in action, DK will illustrate how organisations are utilising social media to humanise their brand. He will also explore how others are leveraging the power of social principles to achieve wider learning opportunities including the ability to connect with experts across the world.

What is the value of this to educators?

DK will demonstrate that, while Twitter and Facebook are two examples of social media, there are many more platforms to utilise, to adapt and adopt. He will also show what's really changed for young people, outline the opportunities for educators and clarify how this challenges the traditional model of education.

This CORE breakfast session will:

- give an overview of the shifting media landscape

- enlighten you as to what social media is

- explore the use of social media through a range of cross-sector examples

- give guidance about how NOT to use social media

- share why "playing is learning by stealth"

- make you smile/think.

This session is for educators who want to understand social media and its uses in the context of their work. It is not a session about the 'how to use' aspects of these applications, but rather for those who want a brain melting overview of how these social media platforms can be used to extend learning.

Breakfast will be served at 7.30am, with DK beginning the discussion at 7.45am (please note the earlier start time). He will wrap things up around 9am but you are invited to stay and chat with DK, other CORE staff and one another after the seminar.

What the blogs are saying… #ulearn2011

There was much that was different about the ULearn conference this year. For example, the size and the location. but the important CORE reason we meet remains; the teaching and learning, to networking, the sharing.

There has been much blogged about the conference both during and after. Some of the top posts are:


Pecha Kucha



CORE Education Breakfast: "Thinking ahead - How financially prepared are your students?"

CORE Education invites you to breakfast

Come and hear
Diana Crossan
Retirement Commissioner

Breakfast Seminar
Hamilton Thursday, 10 November at 7.45am 
Wellington Friday, 11 November at 7.45am

Diana Crossan has been the Retirement Commissioner since February 2003. Last year, she was appointed to the OECD Financial Literacy Experts Group, an international panel that will oversee the first-ever global financial literacy component of the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) in 2012.


$30 including GST


By Monday, 7 November


Register online for Hamilton
Register online for Wellington

The Commission for Financial Literacy and Retirement Income promotes financial education from 5-105. The vision is for all New Zealanders to be financially sorted throughout their lives. The more New Zealanders know about money and how to manage it, the better placed they are to improve their standard of living throughout their lives, including in retirement.

Financial literacy is a vital life skill. The provision of financial literacy knowledge within schools is essential if our students are to participate, contribute and function fully both within New Zealand society and the world beyond.

The National Strategy for Financial Literacy has as one of its platforms "Working Together". While we know that financial education should be happening within schools, in reality is it? Only by working together will we successfully lift our levels of financial literacy.

This CORE breakfast session will:
  • discuss why we should prioritise the teaching of financial education
  • share cross-curricula examples of financial education
  • explore the learning frameworks and resources available
  • discuss approaches being used in schools around the world
  • introduce the financial literacy component of the PISA study
This session will be particularly useful for school leaders and classroom practitioners at all levels with a role in developing and supporting the inclusion of financial education within classroom programmes.

Breakfast will be served at 7.45am, with Diana beginning the discussion at 8am. She will wrap things up around 9am but you are invited to stay and chat with Diana, CORE staff and one another after the seminar.


Click here to view our cancellation policy

Qwiki's round up of news 24-10-11

View Top News: 10-24-11 and over 3,000,000 other topics on Qwiki.

Fiona White - Open talking: Open communication

Wednesday 26th October 3.30 pm
Session Overview
“What we have to face is that the more we ‘manage’ students’ behaviour and try to make them do what we say, the more difficult it is for them to become morally sophisticated people who think for themselves and care about others […].  In saying that a classroom or school is a ‘community’, I mean that it is a place in which students feel cared about and are encouraged to care about each other”
(Alfie Kohn from Beyond Discipline: From Compliance to Community (1996).
How do we do this?  A fundamental factor is our communication with ourselves and with others.  Fiona will be taking you through the 4-step process of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), and touching on other aspects of the NVC philosophy such as ‘Reward & Punishment’ and ‘Rules & Values’, with a view to creating a holistic, respectful classroom community.
This session will provide you with:
  • Strategies for developing classroom communities
  • Some culturally responsive approaches to communicating with students
  • Ideas for engaging students who are not engaged
  • A range of ways of thinking about how dialogue can influence the 'social' side of learning
In preparation, Fiona requests that you watch a Video on TeacherTube and consider what might be the effects of such a demonstration.

 The session will be facilitated in Adobe Connect.


Fiona White

With over 20 years professional experience in education, management, commerce, industry, recruitment and customer care in the UK, France and New Zealand, Fiona has a great understanding of the costs of conflict in the classroom. Fiona uses approaches to develop thriving, culturally responsive classroom communities, using strategies such as listening actively and respectfully, ensuring the student feels 'heard', and then asking the right questions to empower her students to find their own solutions.
Fiona is based in East Auckland, where she has her own Mediation and Conflict Coaching practice - Mediation Matters - and holds a clinic one day a week at the local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Please register your attendance here.

Quote of the Month

Considering  e-Learning in your school? ... 

"Would you tell me please, which way I ought to go from here?“
"That depends a good deal on where you want to get to," said the Cat.
"I don't much care where-" said Alice
"Then it doesn't much matter which way you go," said the Cat.
    - from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland

Holiday activity plans for the kids

School holidays are just around the corner for us and I've been freaking out as I've got to study (Uni exams in a few weeks and I'm way behind as usual). Generally I have no plan and we have a few playdates but generally it's bedlam & chaos & I get to the end & think "how could I have done that better?" and then forget about it for another couple of months.

This holidays for some reason I've decided to plan ahead. I am a mean mummy in that every morning of the school hols I expect my kids to write a story, with a picture. Mostly this is because I love reading the kids stories, but also because I love to see their progress from term to term and additionally I want to keep them busy.

I've decided that after they've written their daily story, they can choose from one activity from my newly formed "lucky dip bag" of things that we'll do together, so they have something to look forward to & I have something that I need to do with them before I hide back in my corner with my books & tell them to "go play" & "be good" & "stop fighting."

I've attached my ideas to the right there. I've printed each column in a different colour, so on a rainy day someone can choose a red piece of paper & when Dad's home they can choose a blue piece or on special days I can raid the bag first & pull out all the orange pieces except 1 before the kids get to it.

Anyway, the plan is in place. Will it still turn to bedlam & chaos? More than likely, but hopefully it will be better than other times. When it all turns to rubbish and you want a giggle, then check out the crappy pictures blog
Contributed by RosieO

A week in Review 30-9

Reading seems to be the main thrust of this week.
Top posts from this week:

The Great Gatsby Chapter 1
Stimulating interest in Literature through video
Publications for Teachers

Top Tips for School Mornings

Qwiki's round up of news 30-9-11

Qwiki's round up of news 30-9-11

View Top News: 9-30-11 and over 3,000,000 other topics on Qwiki.