Saturday, July 19, 2014

Setting up iPADs using VPP & Meraki

In the next phase of our learning with digital technologies we rolled out 2 iPADs per junior class (10 classes) and 1 iPAD for each of our six learning assistants who work 1-1 or in a small group with students. A total of 26 iPADs therefore needed sorting out. We are a "pc", "Google"and "Chromebook" school so working within the apple iOS was new for me.
Firstly, I had to get my head in the right space to research what other school's were doing. It's great being able to send out a tweet to get the collective wisdom of my twitter PLN for some advice.  I put out this tweet...
which linked me through to lots of interesting feedback and advice.  I then had a skpye session with the lovely Anna Gerrit to see how she had set them up at her school. Our LwDT facilitator Esther Casey also provided some great support with her contact in other schools and what/how other schools had set up their iPADs when they weren't "apple" schools.  My main priority was to ensure that I set up a system so that apps were legally purchased and deployed to each of the iPADS.  Plus I discovered the importance of having similar naming conventions for each iPAD and details in the Apple ID set up across the school.
Here are the steps that I have done (for better and worse) and how I'd do it differently for when/if we get more iPADs:
  1. Create a Google account for each iPAD so they have email within our school system.  This was easy to do as I'm the administrator for our school.  This way all the iPADs have a similar naming convention and password. The email then became the apple ID.  I also set up the iPADs as a separate organisation within the administration panel.
  2. I set up a VPP (Volume Purchasing Programme) account through Apple Education so that I could bulk purchase apps for the team (purchases over 20+ reduces the cost of each app).  This process took over a week to set up from the time you submit your details.
  3. As we didn't have a MAC computer to use as a server to push out the apps through either Configurator or Profile Manager I decided that we would use Meraki as a MDM (Mobile Device Management) service.  Setting up the Meraki account was quick and easy.  The instructions to link the VPP account and Meraki was simple too with very clear instructions (including images!).  
  4. I then set up the apple IDs using the Google email address that was created - unfortunately I had to change the password convention on my Google mail addresses to align with the Apple ID conventions of having 8 characters, a capital letter and a numeral, so this took a bit of time (plus I used my email address as the rescue email which meant that I had to log in to apple ID not only 26 times to activate those accounts, but a further 26 times to activate my address as the rescue email address).  A long tedious process but simple enough.  See my next time advice - as I wouldn't do it this way next time.
  5. In Meraki you "invite" each Apple ID/email/iPAD to receive apps pushed to it through the iTunes store.  This is where I encountered a problem.  The Meraki invites were really easy - but the set up of the iTunes billing information was problematic! It took several hours on the phone to apple support for them to activate each iTunes account as you can only have one credit card linked for every three accounts and while I had deleted the billing information each time, there were issues with from the iTunes store.  This was really frustrating! I even shed a tear through the stress of trying to sort it all out, which is very unlike me! So hopefully this post can help others through this mistake - see my next time advice.
  6. Finally, once all the Meraki invites had been accepted through the iTune accounts I could allocate (in Meraki) which apps purchased in the VPP could be allocated to which iPAD.  I had purchased some different apps for the learning assistants iPADs.
  7. I then gave the iPADs out to the staff who could then turn on the iPADs, put in their new Apple ID and then go to the iTunes store to the 'purchased' apps section and download the apps onto the physical iPAD.
Next time advice:
  1. When setting up the Google mail accounts use the same password conventions as Apple ID from the start - I had to go back in and change my gmail account passwords so that they aligned with the Apple IDs - time consuming but necessary. The password must contain a capital letter, numeral and be at least 8 characters.
  2. Create the Apple IDs through purchasing a "free app" then you don't have to enter in billing information - this was the BIGGEST head ache for me!  As unfortunately there was an Apple error that took 2 weeks for Apple to resolve in-order for the accounts associated with our email to accept the credit card - it was very frustrating and I was on the brink of deleting all accounts and creating the Apple IDs through the "free app" way - so please follow this recommendation, + it saves the $1 per activation on the credit card per account that could be used for purchasing an app instead!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Our GAFE Launch >>>3, >>2, >1 - GOOGLE !

Wow! What a term it has been - one term down into our Google Apps for Education and it's really transformed learning opportunities for our students in the senior team.
Part of our strategic roll out of learning with digital technologies saw us at the end of term 1 having a fantastic Chromebook and Google Apps for Education launching day in our senior school.  The Board of Trustees and PTA generously have supplied each of our five senior classes with ten Chromebooks.  All students have a GAFE account for their learning and teachers are using the Hapara teacher dashboard to manage and access student accounts.

The Chromebooks have been cleverly stored in lockable filing cabinets with dish racks as a cheap solution for security and storage.  Each Chromebook has been set up to only accept school domain log ins and we have created a sticker as a deterrent for would-be thieves to alert them to this fact.

Some of the kids reflections from Room 19 using VoiceThread of our launch:

Monday, March 24, 2014

Reflections from the Festival of Education

The Festival of Education was held in three locations across New Zealand this week and I had the opportunity to present and attend most of the Auckland event held at the Viaduct Events Centre. Here are some reflections of my experience:

I had previously been part of the inaugural session of TeachMeetNZ in 2013 and enjoyed this exciting new platform for sharing professional learning, so I jumped at the opportunity of being part of the virtual presentation organised by Sonya van Schijik.  A TeachMeet is a professional learning opportunity where up to 10 presenters join a Google Hangout and share a nano presentation (approximately 3 minutes) of a strategy that is working well in their professional practice.  The Hangout is streamed live via the internet and recorded so that viewers can rewind the learning and unpack the presentations at a time that suits them.

Sonya was coordinating the session in front of a live audience at the Viaduct Events Centre and co-presenting from their homes across New Zealand in the Hangout were: Juliet Revell, Myles Webb, Monika Kern, Diana Wilkes, Emma Alaalatoa-Dale, Manu Faaea-Semeatu and myself.  The Hangout was supported by Kathy Scott as master time-keeper with her rattlesnake (aka jingle bells) and Marnel van der Spuy as chat-wing moderator and tweeter for the event.

Getting organised I joined the Hangout ten minutes prior to "going live" only to find that my computer at home wanted to allow an update for Google voice and video to optimise my Hangout experience, I allowed this and joined the Hangout - only to find I could see my fellow presenters but not hear them.  I was to present third in the line-up for the day, so was anxious as to whether I would miss my cue to start, or whether my presentation would be seen or heard.  My colleagues were great in the chat bar trying to help me out with all sorts of problem solving, and then it happened ... my computer FROZE! I was nervous already about presenting live, and the thought that I could be connected to the Hangout and not hear was already raising the nerve factor and then this! I calmly tried to shut down my computer which then had the whirring cog of death displayed - I had to resort to physically pulling the power plug out of the wall and rebooting the computer.  Now as we all know, clock watching doesn't help in these circumstances, and what seemed forever to boot back up, I finally rejoined the Hangout for TeachMeetNZ with sound and video! Hurrah! I caught my breathe, wiped off my sweaty palms and shared my presentation last.  

So what did I learn in all of this?  I truly believe that this platform for presenting and sharing ideas is valuable because it is recorded permanently and viewers can go back at anytime and rewatch the ideas being presented.  There is a supporting wikispace that clearly profiles each of the TeachMeetNZ sessions and presenters.  Each presenter has a page with links to their presentation and online digital footprint. I also learnt that many of our staff often look to contributors of events like these or facilitators as 'experts' and that things 'don't go wrong technically ever for us' however I think with my technical issues on the day, it shows that you need persistence and tenacity to keep calm and keep on trying with digital technologies.  I also have a closer connection with the presenters (albeit virtually) 
Here's my contribution to our full Google Hangout below:

Here's our Google Hangout Presentation (my segment is at 33.30):

Christian Long 
Christian spoke about the influence of The Third Teacher . In essence in every student’s life there are 3 teachers:

  1. The parents/adults/teachers
  2. Their peers
  3. The environment - everything around us affects us (similar to the Reggio Emilia philosophy that there is an influence in the relationship between community and learning).
Christian works with a group of designers who create learning environments that are seen to have a positive influence on student learning. He has been involved in projects to repurpose old building and land, as well as designing new structures like this one below form the KOC Foundation inTurkey.

Christian spoke of the need to have more creative problem solving in the curriculum in order to equip students for the future and promoted the notion of getting into a "moonshot mindset" and getting students to "prototype" by embracing the now and launching ideas in a prototype style, rather than waiting until you are sure you have completely worked out all the kinks. I loved this video he showed that embraced this thinking - particularly the quote "have the courage to try, that's how great things happen."
John Hattie

I missed John Hattie's keynote address, however had the opportunity to join his chatroom session that continued the discussion from the keynote of "High impact, passionate teachers".  Hattie discussed the difference between expert and experienced teachers isn't the from the years of service one might have but of those teachers that work with their students at a deeper level to increase and accelerate student outcomes. The image below I snapped quickly on what expert teachers do:
Michael Fullan
I was lucky enough to attend both the keynote and chatroom session from Michael Fullan.  This felt like a real treat to be in the presence of such a respected educator.  I loved everything that he had to say, and would refer people to his website to find a wealth of shared articles on his work.  I particularly agree with the notion of Principal as lead learner, modelling and participating in the learning and professional development that staff are undertaking. He talked about effective change occurring through the strength and sustainability of a school with the quality of the lateral relationships - "if you want to change the group, use the group to change the group" this can be achieved through leveraging the quality of knowledge and collectivity of ideas. He states that in the unplanned revolution pedagogy is the driver, technology is the accelerator -He looks to Hattie’s work which stated no correlation between technology and student outcomes, however this is possibly because the technology has been acquired without the pedagogy in mind - now there is a flip towards the pedagogy first. He also promoted the use of Hattie's discovery that Teacher as Facilitator (.17) was too passive and Teacher as Activator (.60) was the desired state for working in the deep with students as this wasn't a passive state.

Deep learning (21st Century learning skills) - Of the six characteristics 3-6 have previously been included in 21st Century learning skills however 1-2 have been added in recent times...Character - persistence, resilience etc…, Citizenship is based more on the empathetic side, global thinking.

Fullan also discussed that Principal's do not get trained in developing the group - coaching models are particularly useful to help build the capacity of the organisation. I'd refer you to the book that Fullan has written along with Hargreaves "Professional Capital" which outlines the formula
PC=f(HC, SC, DC). Professional Capital - decisional capital (quality of knowledge for decisions), social (quality of the group and purposeful relationships, collaboration) and human (quality of individual). Social capital needs to be the driver - you can have quality individuals, however if they aren’t in a culture of growth then they will be rejected - collaboration is key - to what extend do you and other teachers work in a coordinated and effective way to improve outcomes for the students. I look forward to investigating more of his work on his site and in his book Stratosphere too.

Other reflections
I loved the showcase of student work using digital technologies from schools in the Manaiakalani Trust. A delightful boy named Robin from Glen Innes School politely came up to me and asked whether I'd like to look at some of his learning on his netbook. He shared with me his learning on his blog (link to come) and we discussed the features of a quality comment which he had been learning about too.

I also got interviewed for a quick segment for the Inspired by You channel. Where I said that when I was at school Mr VK of Manurewa High (now at Botany Secondary) was inspiring because of the relationships he had with his classes to make learning fun and engaging. I thanked Kim Benjamin as a leader who was always so positive in her dialogue with others and then stated the Festival was a great opportunity to showcase the excellence and variety across the sector.
Finally, it was great to make face to face connections with many educators that I am usually online with. The Festival of Education was held over a weekend, therefore it has meant that many of us have not stopped working. The difference I think for those that contributed and attend, is our deep commitment and passion towards our own learning and contributing to the sector for better outcomes for everyone. It was disappointing then not to see it showcased in any national news broadcasts.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Rewindable Learning via TeachMeetNZ

Earlier this year I was fortunate to take part in the very first TeachMeetNZ session. An online event, a meeting of minds for educators to share a nano presentation on something that is topical to the presenter. These sessions in New Zealand are coordinated by Sonya van Schaijik (@vanschaijik) that sprouted from her investigations into the Hyper-connectivity of educators with digital technologies and are part of a wider global movement of connected educators.

The presentations take place live via a Google Hangout and therefore are recorded, so if like me you miss the actual event you can watch the presentations again and again to grasp concepts or follow up on points of interest. Prior to the event Sonya has several practise sessions to make sure you feel comfortable with knowing how to join the hangout, share your screen, turn your camera and microphones on and off - plus she has a template that can be utilised to help frame your presentation. Once you've been a presenter you also get the priviledge of sharing the TeachMeetNZ badge on your blog.

I was keen to participate in the very first TeachMeetNZ because it was a new platform that we were all trying and experimenting with.  Sonya wasn't sure how it would go and I'm so pleased that it has now had it's forth session - with a breakout session being hosted by PE New Zealand teachers too using the TeachMeetNZ online space also.  This proves the power of hyper-connectivity that Sonya planned to achieve.  Personally I was pleased to synthesise my understandings from my 2011 study leave with my thesis research on teaching as inquiry.  It was a great opportunity to put my ideas together concisely in only three minutes to introduce the concept and explain my research findings with my summary diagram.  Further information on the concept of teaching as inquiry can be found on my wikispace (  Please feel free to contact me if you'd like to discuss my ideas further.

TeachMeetNZ has now had it's fourth event and all events can be viewed at - Each presenter has a page with links to their nano presentations (9 slides @ 15 seconds/slide for a total of 3 minutes). I enjoy being able to watch the presentations when I'm available (timing wise for example today's event was mid afternoon and I was out with my family). So what better way to spend a Saturday night now that it's very late with the family all tucked in their bed but to continue to learn! There are currently 20 interesting presentations on this site, so go on... discover the learning possibilities of a TeachMeet by either watching an event or volunteering for a future event!

 My TeachMeetNZ page and presentation:

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Team Collaboration for Teaching as Inquiry

I often get asked what does "teaching as inquiry" actually look like since this was the focus of my thesis work in 2011. While at my school we have adopted a teaching as inquiry approach since the launch of the revised NZC my current work has lead our staff to review the way that we work together in order to really focus on teacher practices that will have a positive impact to raise student outcomes. This year we changed the way that individual teachers evaluated their termly reading, writing and mathematics. I had a concern that teachers found the evaluation process a waste of time when I would hear comments like "no one reads them" so why do we do them? Some teachers did them for the sake of doing them but not viewed the process as one to reflect and transform their practice. I called a meeting of the team leaders and facilitated a conversation about what they thought of our evaluations, what they liked about them (or not) and if they were effective in actually having an impact on teacher practice to reflect on their actions that would change the way they viewed their professional activity. After the team leaders all had a turn sharing their ideas I could summarise that the system wasn't working and proposed a new way of working. Together we decided that a team approach would be the best option and came up with a possible template together that was agreed upon. 

We decided to use a Google Doc that staff members could collaborate on and analyse together as a team. After the first round of evaluations at the end of term 1, early in term 2 the team leaders reviewed the new system. All team leaders agreed that there were merits, better ownership of the team data and targets, putting the % of students to reach the target into actual numbers to get students "across the line" to meet the target was real, and that teachers didn't feel that they were alone in their endeavours to raise outcomes, the collegial approach seemed to be working Team leaders discussed that rather than doing evaluations at the end of terms they would do them as assessments were done and being updated (in reality it still ends up being at the end of a term). At the beginning of term 3 we reviewed the template again based on the ERO report on Accelerating the Progress of Priority Learners in School's report was published. As a team we identified that the evaluations in the current form were effective and to make the practice highly effective we would add in the changes since the last round of evaluations. We identified that staff were easily able to identify the gaps that students had, but weren't adding the specific strategies that they would try to see if it had an impact of student outcomes, what were the teachers going to try that was different? Here is a current example (with the names modified to reduce identification)
 In section A teachers choose a colour and record the students names and add the totals at the bottom of each well below, below, at and above section for their class. Students on the special needs register and receiving support are also identified by highlighting or * so that at a glance the curriculum leaders, team leaders and SENCO can see if support is required (if none already allocated). As a team they then add the totals and write a statement of how many students are achieving in relation to the National Standard targets and the shifts that need to occur. In section B (added after the ERO reading at the beginning of term 3) staff now have to describe the progress that has been made since the last round of evaluations and try to pinpoint what deliberate acts have caused this shift - what did they do differently. There is still a little bit of work across most teams to complete this new section, however we have made a great start. In section C the team work together to identify gaps in student knowledge and the strategies that staff will employ to accelerate progress - not just for the well below and below students but for the at and above students also. 

The team leaders ensure that the evaluations are completed before the school holidays so that the curriculum leaders for reading, writing and mathematics can review the data and see what professional learning they can provide for the team or individual teachers to improve outcomes. As DP for curriculum and assessment I then work with aggregating the shifts over each point the data has been collected and tally the information (example) I give print out a copy of all the evaluations for the curriculum leaders and also display the information in our staff professional learning room. The intention with the printed out tables being in a public space is so that staff may browse the data of other year levels to check how students that they have previous had, have progressed over time. If a teacher has identified a child they have had previously they might share some insights with the current teacher of strategies that they found had worked for the particular child. In this way the data and progress of all students is monitored and staff work collegially to take ownership of improving outcomes for all students.

Next steps: moving forward in 2014 we are going to continue this practice, however we are deciding on how this will look for us with the implementation of anniversary reporting.  At present we report in year group cohorts, so the move to After 1/2 &3 year at school anniversaries is leading us to think creatively how this might look next year.