Is technology swinging our moral compass?


What is technology doing to our moral compass? Many people would proclaim that technology is responsible for the decline in moral standards – everything from increasing societal violence to a weakening of the family unit.
But is it the technology itself or the uses we put it to that are challenging – or changing – our understanding of “right and wrong”? Is the technology simply exposing a our moral flaws as the ease with which questionable actions can be taken without perceived consequences?

The video below has a range of very thought-provoking responses from some global experts. Each one of these experts has a point that is succinctly made and challenging – both for and against the notion that technology is affecting our moral compass as individuals and as a society.


National Standards and the damage done


National-StandardsMany schools around New Zealand still struggle to align the strange dichotomy of a curriculum that embraces our understanding of the developmental growth of children and National Standards which are completely arbitrary. The New Zealand Principal’s Federation have produced a substantial amount of information to try and make our concerns known since 2009 when they were first introduced. Now the results of a major research project have raised considerable concerns over the effect that the initiative have had on teachers and schools. With the current government pursuing the use of data as a way of evaluating schools ( and probably teachers in the future ) there are grave concerns for how this process will further complicate and alienate the education community from the political powers.

“National Standards are having some favourable impacts in areas that include teacher understanding of curriculum levels, motivation of some teachers and children and some improved targeting of interventions. Nevertheless such gains are overshadowed by damage being done through the intensification of staff workloads, curriculum narrowing and the reinforcement of a two-tier curriculum, the positioning and labelling of children and unproductive new tensions amongst school staff.”

A very astute quote from the Research, Analysis and Insight into National Standards (RAINS) Project, Waikato University. The paper is aptly titled “National Standards and the damage done…”

For more info you can visit the Wilf Malcom Institue of Educational Research website.


Feedback, praise and the power of “yet”


The skill of giving effective feedback is such a vital part of a teacher’s toolkit. Without focused professional learning about what effect our feedback has on learners and how it can support the learner and encourage them to develop persistence through failure and adversity, or allow them the opportunity to pass through mediocrity to mastery, teachers will often end up giving feedback that has little effect on the learner. Seemingly positive feedback can even limit their learning! 

…Hence the power of yet: “Your sentence structure does not yet match the tone you are trying to achieve.” Yet allows negative feedback while also transmitting trust that they will get there.

Drawing on the collective wisdom of two very respected author/researchers Amy Conley gives some great advice about how to adapt some commonly used phrases to have a better effect on learners and build better engagement and ownership.

This article gives some great insight into one teacher’s learning as she discovers a new way to impact the learners through her own voice. This is definitely five minutes of your time well spent!


iPads or Chromebooks… which is best in the classroom?


As schools increase their engagement with Modern Learning Practices and pedagogies which not only leverage, but are founded on technological systems the decisions about which technology to purchase and which is best for learning rages across classrooms, schools, districts, nations and the globe. Costs are definitely falling but undoubtedly one of the biggest factors for many schools is still the economic bottom line.. Which device ( that we can afford ) gives the best performance and impact on student outcomes at the right price point? This conundrum is also confounding parents as they struggle to figure out what will be the best fit for any particular BYOD initiative being rolled out.

In my own professional role as a school leader I use three devices regularly throughout my day – a tablet, smartphone and a laptop. All are mobile and all have advantages which make them the most appropriate device to use in different situations. If economics wasn’t a major factor then this would probably be the way most students might choose to work, too.

The article linked below gives an interesting point of view from school districts in the US that are bucking a major trend – to follow another major trend. It also identifies some of the challenges faced by school and district technology leaders as they struggle to keep up with changing trends and ever-changing models and feature-rich iterations of devices.


20 years married today…


Wishing my wonderful wife a very happy anniversary today. She is the glue that holds me together and the love of my life.

20 years down… time sure flies when you are having this much fun!

Fostering deep reading on digital devices

ipad_kidThere’s no doubt that the experience of reading online is different than reading in print, and emerging studies have found student comprehension and retention are lower on digital devices. As teachers we have got some time-proven effective pedagogies under our collective belts to develop students’ reading abilities using traditional print media. As we move further and further into an age saturated with digital media, however, how do we foster the same “deep reading” and comprehension that we have been able to achieve with printed text?

“The same plasticity that allows us to form a reading circuit to begin with, and short-circuit the development of deep reading if we allow it, also allows us to learn how to duplicate deep reading in a new environment. We cannot go backwards. As children move more toward an immersion in digital media, we have to figure out ways to read deeply there.” Maria Konnikova, New Yorker.

The following article discusses many reasons why reading digital materials is different to reading traditional print-based texts. What are the challenges these issues raise for teachers trying to grow young readers holistically?