Seeing the light

I love working with teachers that trust you. I have been working in a school for 18 months now and one particular teacher, just wants more all the time. They are open for change, they want to shift their thinking and pedagogical practice and work hard to do so. What has been happening in this class over the last year has been really rewarding and amazing to watch, but today we crossed a threshold. We have had an alignment of several factors. The teacher has continually updated and reflected on their pedagogy, allowing me to encourage them to move more, to think bigger, to genuinely enable student agency and today, the students paid back and the teacher’s eyes have now been truly opened. The Rubicon has been crossed pedagogically, I witnessed magic today and these are the moments that make my job as a facilitator wonderful.

I have taken some screenshots from the conversation chain, I was not even working in the school in question today, but was there on Monday, where I really laid my cards out on the table, clearly the message was heard and in the intervening time, a real shift has happened in the classroom.

The website the students have produced is secured behind the schools sharing permissions, so I can only share a simple screenshots of some of the content, but the content and the quality of what is being generated on this site is amazing. However, the QR codes will take you to YouTube videos that the students have created. For reference the journal is the result of a book study of Stone Cold and a unit of work that we co-constructed called Stone Cold Roulette and was a transmedia focussed project, that used the book as the basis for what the students wanted to find out about/investigate, related to the book but not about the book.

What is evident is that the students have agency over their learning and they know it, learning has now become personal to the students, they have ceased having to endure being taught someone elses agenda and are now learning, learning what is authentic and engaging to them. As I said earlier the learning Rubicon has been truly crossed in this class, on to the next challenge!


I was in a year 1 class today and the teacher had set up a directions activity with the class. She had adapted my teddies activity and was using giant playing cards for the students to use as a grid or maze for them to collect teddies along the way.

What I was particularly impressed with was the precision of the language that these year 1 students were using. The teacher had used a key feature of each of the walls in the class, the numbers, the sink, the colours etc to enable the students to orient their character in the maze, without them having to use left and right, which is a directional skill they have yet to master. This solution was excellent, you can hear the precision of the language in the video clip.

Colour Mixing in Action

I have been working in several classes today and the teachers were sharing with me how they are integrating CT into their classrooms. A year 1 teacher was keen to show me the colour mixing activity the students had done earlier in the week.

The teacher said that the students were really enthusiastic about the task. Initially the students rushed head long into the activity, but as soon as they saw the colours change progressively, they immediately became more measured and logical in their approach, used the algorithm to mix and record the progressive colour mixes. The students were amazed at how the colours changed as they followed the mixing algorithm.

The teacher will now use these mixes as a display for the students to reference when they paint in the future and the teacher will only put out primary colour paints in the future, so that the students have to use the colour swatches and the algorithms to get the secondary colours they desire for their creativity.

Computational Thinking – Unplugged activities

We have been creating a lot of activities that allow teachers and students to hone their computational thinking skills, but without needing to use a computer to do so. These non-computerised computational thinking activities are called “unplugged” activities.

We have been sharing these resources with our clients and they have been testing them. The feedback from our clients and the students is that they are really engaging.

Binary coding – unplugged CT

I have been creating lots of resources lately and have been trialling them with students in classes. This latest one is an unplugged Computational Thinking activity that illustrates to students how images are encoded into binary and sent over the internet and then rendered into an image on the receiving computer. The students emulate this by calling out their code to each other, one encoding their image design into binary and calling out the binary code to the receiver to reassemble the image and then error check.

This student is doing the high resolution challenge and is making a QR code to then encode to send to another student

Binary unplugged activity

We have just created a new resource that allows students to understand how data is transmitted in binary code and re-compiled at the destination computer into something recognisable, in this case a series of black and white images. In the unit we begin to investigate the impact of resolution on transmission and introduce the concept of error checking.

If you would like more information about this resource, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Simple Machines

I have started to implement my “Cardboard Automata” unit of work at several schools this week. It has been interesting to observe how the students engage with this open ended construction task. At the moment they are in the immersion phase, understanding the relationship between gears and cams and how they could potentially manipulate this information to make something move. Doing this investigation in cardboard has also thrown up lots of interesting bumps in the road for the students.

Their construction skills, their preponderance to eschew rulers and box cutters and use guestimation and blunt scissors is a sight to behold! We will need to have some deep reflection about their construction process and its impact upon the effectiveness of the outcome, before we move onto the meat of the project! Fun to be part of though.

Students at Howick working on their first cardboard automata

Remote Controlled Gate

I spent the last week in Hokitika working on a DT/HM PLD contract. On Thursday I worked with the STEM teacher from the High School who works with the students from contributing schools. We set up the students with an initial challenge to work out how the radio function works on the Micro:Bits so that the students could send “texts” to each other. Once they had mastered this skill we set the students the main challenge to design and build a remote controlled farm gate.

In the first instance we had to show them how to configure the Adafruit Crickit to work with the Micro:Bit. Once we had led them through this task, we left them to the challenge. This is the end result:

Hamilton – STEAM workshop

We ran a very successful STEAM workshop at Te Ao Mārama School in Flagstaff, Hamilton today. We had 15 teachers arrive at the school, several of whom I had worked with in the past, some a very long time ago! It was good to see old colleagues again. The focus today was on using the principles of STEAM pedagogy to engage students in their learning and also focusing on the soft skills of the NZC.

To focus the teachers on these soft skills we showed them the trailer from the “Most Likely to Succeed” video on Vimeo and suggested that they watch this video to make them consider how they need to adapt their pedagogy to meet the needs of our students to be successful in the workplace of the future.

Trailer for Most Likely to Succeed

The teachers had a great day and they all said that they had a lot of “fun” working on the challenges we set for them. This is how it should be in class!

Food Pyramid

I have had a pretty productive week working with schools to put together DT/HM PLD applications, I hope that they are all successful. In addition I have been working with a number of schools on some very exciting projects for term 3. We have already had a pretty innovative term 2 with our Matariki Star Domes, our AR writing projects and others.

Next term promises to be just as innovative, I have a large interactive games wall in the pipeline that will utilise Makey Makeys controlling coded tumbling dice, solderless electronics and a game board controller made from cardboard, transmedia book studies and this Food Pyramid computational thinking game designed for intermediate students, term three could be even more innovative than term 2. Watch this space for more details and contact me if you want to know more.

Students have to create a fridge that helps the user make appropriate food choices .