Want to Transform Learning? Then Choose Transformational Tools

Introduction Over recent years I have regularly encountered two questions from schools: “what learning apps should we choose?” and “what devices should we use?” I am writing this article with the assumption that schools have a suitable and robust digital infrastructure including network, WiFi, and access to high speed internet. New Zealand schools are currently…

Teaching Effective Research Skills to Middle and High School Students

Introduction In this recent article I discussed the alarming incidence of plagiarism by students, particularly copy/pasting work from online sources directly into their research work, often re-arranging some text so that it appeared to be in their own words. If students are properly taught basic skills in how to gather and organise their research, then they can build on…

Tackling Low-Level Plagiarism in Schools

“Houston, we have a problem!” At the start of 2013 I joined a new secondary (high) school where I taught two junior Social Studies classes. The students for both courses were required to complete three internally assessed research assignments over the year. There was some scope for teachers to modify aspects of the assessments, so…

Redesigning and creating tasks to transform learning using digital technologies

A few weeks ago I facilitated some professional development for teaching staff and management at a primary school (students aged 5-11). I was asked to design and lead a workshop that would help kick-start staff collaborative sharing with Google Docs, including engaging those who were skeptical about the use of new technologies of this type. I decided to use…

Meaningful learning achieved through students creating concept diagrams with collaborative inquiry tasks

Introduction When improving student literacy we tend to focus on reading and writing skills. Apart from the core numeracy skills, research and critical thinking skills are also spoken of as highly valued. But, what about the visual literacy skills – the ability to see, understand and think, create and to communicate graphically? The Theory of…

Scaffolding Maths is numbing our students minds

Today I saw the video below for the first time “Math class needs a makeover” by Dan Meyer from his TED talk back in 2010. Dan describes how today’s math curriculum is teaching students to expect – and excel at – paint-by-numbers classwork, robbing kids of a skill more important than solving problems: formulating them. In his talk, Dan Meyer shows classroom-tested math…