Friday, April 18, 2014

You're trying much too hard to make your world seem like a dream (Felt)

Further to my last post about the iphone rules written by Janell Burley Hofmann. I found this on her own website.

I wonder if other parents have ever thought to do this? If not why not?

Luckily my children were young adults when the mania for having an iphone on you 24 hours a day, 7 days a work started but I'm not sure I would have thought about this stuff then.

I'm glad Janell has though. I especially like the way manners makes a return here, along with common sense. Sometimes they appear to be rare commodities in this millennium.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Everybody's talking, nobody's listening (Caspa)

I'm a big fan of Michael Smith and his Principal's Page blog (find it in my blogroll right).
He recently copied this set of rules by Janell Hofmann onto his blog and now, you lucky lucky devils, I am doing the same because I see phone abuse all day long at school and it certainly leads our students into a dilly of a pickle at times. 
Maybe we could adopt these rules and avoid that scene in the picture huh!
"Merry Christmas!  You are now the proud owner of an iPhone.  Hot Damn!  You are a good and responsible 13 year old  boy and you deserve this gift.  But with the acceptance of this present comes rules and regulations.  Please read through the following contract.  I hope you understand it is my job to raise you into a well rounded, healthy young man that can function in the world and coexist with technology, not be ruled by it.  Failure to comply with the following list will result in termination of your iPhone ownership.
I love you madly and look forward to sharing several million text messages with you in the days to come.
1.  It is my phone.  I bought it.  I pay for it.  I am loaning it to you.  Aren’t I the greatest?
2.  I will always know the password.
3.  If it rings, answer it.  It is a phone.  Say hello, use your manners.  Do not ever ignore a phone call if the screen reads "Mom" or "Dad".  Not ever.
4.  Hand the phone to one of your parents promptly at 7:30 pm every school night and every weekend night at 9:00 pm.  It will be shut off for the night and not turned on again at 7:30 am.  If you would not make a call to someone’s land line, wherein their parents may answer first, then do not call or text.  Listen to those instincts and respect other families like we would like to be respected.
5.  It does not go to school with you.  Have a conversation with the people you text in person.  It’s a life skill.  *Half days, field trips and after school activities will require special consideration.
6.  If it falls into the toilet, smashes on the ground, or vanishes in thin air, you are responsible for the replacement costs or repairs.  Mow a lawn, baby sit, stash some birthday money.  It will happen, you should be prepared.
7.  Do not use technology to lie, fool, or deceive another human being.  Do not involve yourself in conversations that are hurtful to others.  Be a good friend first or stay the hell out of the crossfire.
8.  Do not text, email, or say anything through this device you would not say in person.
9.  Do not text, email, or say anything to someone that you would not say out loud with their parents in the room.  Censor yourself.
10.  No porn.  Search the web for information you would openly share with me.  If you have a question about anything, ask a person – preferably me or your father.
11.  Turn it off, silence it, put it away in public.  Especially in a restaurant, at the movies, or while speaking with another human being.  You are not a rude person; do not allow the iPhone to change that.
12.  Do not send or receive pictures of your private parts or anyone else’s private parts.  Don’t laugh.  Someday you will be tempted to do this despite your high intelligence.  It is risky and could ruin your teenage/college/adult life.  It is always a bad idea.  Cyberspace is vast and more powerful than you.  And it is hard to make anything of this magnitude disappear – including a bad reputation.
13.  Don’t take a zillion pictures and videos.  There is no need to document everything.  Live your experiences.  They will be stored in your memory for eternity.
14.  Leave your phone home sometimes and feel safe and secure in that decision.  It is not alive or an extension of you.  Learn to live without it.  Be bigger and more powerful than FOMO – fear of missing out.
15.  Download music that is new or classic or different than the millions of your peers that listen to the same exact stuff.  Your generation has access to music like never before in history.  Take advantage of that gift.  Expand your horizons.
16.  Play a game with words or puzzles or brain teasers every now and then.
17.  Keep your eyes up.  See the world happening around you.  Stare out a window.  Listen to the birds.  Take a walk.  Talk to a stranger.  Wonder without Googling.
18.  You will mess up.  I will take away your phone.  We will sit down and talk about it.  We will start over again.  You and I, we are always learning.  I am on your team.  We are in this together.  It is my hope that you can agree to these terms.  Most of the lessons listed here do not apply to the iPhone, but to life.  You are growing up in a fast and ever changing world.  It is exciting and enticing.  Keep it simple every chance you get.  Trust your powerful mind and giant heart above any machine.  I hope you enjoy your awesome new iPhone.  Merry Christmas!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Without an umbrella we're soaked to the skin (Neil Sedaka)

I have a piece of paper attached to my bulletin board at school that I came across when doing some post grad diploma work a few years ago (wow - I just added them up - 14 actually!)

It's basically a summary of Inquiry methods like action research (wait! Stay with me!) but it came from Nissan and it's called The Nissan Way (bottom right corner on each picture).

The cycle is split into four sections and the cycle continues (like Spring Summer Autumn Winter...Spring): Plan > Do > Check > Action >... Plan > 

They called it a cycle of continuous improvement and I like that idea. 

I also like the simplicity on offer here. Less is more.

I was encouraged this morning in a staff meeting to think that that bunch of bananas I posted about recently is maybe (maybe...maybe) more within reach than I thought.

Next term we are working on some individual inquiries for the first five weeks during our Friday morning PD time. Guess what mine will be?

My thoughts on vertical vs horizontal tutor groups and vertical learning are things that have been on my mind recently as you know. So naturally I want to focus on this more next term.

I've done the kind of surface research on these things and my thinking about the organisational culture within the school will get some more freedom to roam next term.

I'm keen to actually formulate my thoughts in the form of The Nissan Way model

but at this stage it will have to be limited to the plan stage (as seen in the above Action Research diagram).

Saturday, April 5, 2014

What is it good for? (Edwin Starr) Part 4 of 4

I came across this article recently while I was looking for material on vertical tutor groups (did I mention that I love vertical tutor groups and House systems as a key part of a school's organisational culture?)

Vertical learning - teaching pupils of different ages together - could help your school reach new heights.  According to its advocates, “vertical learning” - getting pupils of different ages to work together - is one of the most powerful interventions you can introduce into the classroom. Breaking away from traditional year groups can, they say, have a remarkable transformative effect on the quality of teaching and learning, as well as attendance and behaviour.
There is a surprising lack of in-depth research into the benefits of vertical learning strategies, but the number of schools going vertical in some form is growing fast.
It began with vertical tutoring; the idea that smaller form groups comprising pupils of different ages can improve relationships and have a knock-on effect on everything else. Now more and more schools are adopting vertical methods for teaching, too.
This “stage not age” approach is becoming more common at GCSE level in England and a particularly popular model has Year 9-11 (S2-4) pupils sharing lessons in non-core subjects. 

I really really like this idea - it is something I've blogged about for years - removing barriers for learning and moving away from fixed year group social promotion systems.

There will come a time every school does this and people will shake their heads when they think about the bad old industrial models school used for learning and teaching. What WERE we thinking? They will say.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

What is it good for? (Edwin Starr) Part 3

Let's turn from the dark side and embrace the good in vertical forms.


  1. Creates a more cohesive and friendlier school community where students know and work with students from other years ("like a family").
  2. Emphasises students as individuals, not just members of a large group.
  3. Bullying is reduced, as older students see younger ones as members of their tutor group with whom they associate on a daily basis.
  4. More opportunities for student leadership within their tutor group and house.
  5. Easily accessible positive role models for younger students.
  6. Increased opportunities for students to develop their social skills through working with students of different ages, in preparation for adult life.
  7. Students support one another and understand the stages that they will go through as they move through the school. This has the potential to increase aspiration and motivation.
  8. Tutors get to know information for every year group, which is often of great relevance during their teaching sessions.
  9. Tutors can attend to small numbers of students at once, at critical times for them, e.g. new intake, option choices, work experience.
  10. Tutors develop a "whole school" experience and understanding of progression that makes them a stronger tutor.
  11. Reduces opportunities for "gangs" to form.
  12. Enables greater flexibility for intake numbers, as a new vertical tutor group can be more easily created than a tutor group all of one year group.
  13. Enables greater flexibility for the curriculum as learning groups will not need to be based on tutor groups.
  14. In conjunction with a House system creates a deep sense of belonging.
  15. Positions the House system at the heart of the organisational culture of a school.
  16. Allows all staff to share in the experience as usually smaller tutor groups mean more need for non teaching staff to become tutor group leaders. 

The testaments to success are many and varied. Here are some from Principals in the U.K.

  • Vertical tutoring has had a “dramatic” effect on pupils’ behaviour and, most importantly, their aspirations.
  • “It is the single most transformative thing that we have done in school,” she says. “The relationships and dynamics have vastly improved.”
  • “What vertical tutoring does is provide a new learning support operation that replaces the factory model and adds operational coherence. It builds value in and requires no social programmes and no cost other than time to learn. It transforms the culture of schools by positively building inclusive learning relationships and partnerships.


This had me at 'creates' but replacing the factory model? Yeah baby!