ULearn 2014 – Day Two

I may be spending ULearn14 in Wellington, but I was engaged as ever online, following everything I could from twitter, to live streams, to blogs, to the various links that popped up. Here’s some snippets of the things I took away from day two and some of the next steps.

Keynote #1: UDL with Dr Katie Novak – collaborative notes & powerpoint plus  Novak’s site.

UDL = Universal Design for Learning.  It seems like the philosophy around it is:

If they have not learnt, we have not taught

Which is such an appealing idea! It is a responsive attitude to teaching, taking ownership your potential and exploring it fully to assist all learners reach their potential. I wrote about the reflective (as oppose to refractive) educators a few months back and this this work with that nicely.

UDL_GuidelinesThe philosophy seems to me more important than the specifics. I like blogposts like this, which popped up on twitter during the presentation, where the list of tips together articulate a vision for strong teaching to all students. This blogpost of UDL at the dentist is a good application. It’s about fixing our teaching, not fixing the kids. We are the professionals, we should be finding the way that works for them.

So in a way is this just the New Zealand Curriculum with best practice? Or differentiation dressed up in purple, blue and green? Probably. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a helpful framework. I think that there is a lot of this that happens naturally in my classroom because I value individualised structures to learning, but there are some great elements in here that can be unpacked and used to enhance SOLO processes or self-directed units.

UDL_summaryTakeaways: allow students to assess me? Encourage meta-cognition and more authentic student choice with sharing the power in the classroom. Further principles of encouraging independent thinking and respecting student difference. Asking questions: “What does your teacher do that helps you learn? What have other teachers done?”

Breakout #3 – Social Media Ninjas: A masterclass in becoming a connected educator with Karen Melhuish Spencer

Argued that we shouldn’t just share for the sake of sharing (guilty!) but instead weave your sharing into your inquiry. How can we learn more about what we do? Then we draw on the wider social media network to inform what we are doing?


I’m not sure if I picked up quite why there are kumaras there, but as guidelines for using social media they make a lot of sense.

Takeaways: a lot of my social media use is incidentally passive – in the sense that I actively post, but I don’t necessarily get involved in dialogue or seek help. So while I add my voice, I’m not sure if I add value. Two things I can do right off the bat is participate regularly and actively in #edchatnz (stop going out for drink after netball) and use twitter to ask for help using “why” and “should”.

Breakout #3 – Learner Agency in the traditional school: a call to adventure with Tim Gander – collaborative notes

Came across this via twitter due to the lack of working stream (above). Also found a colleague was there and she helped me to collaborate and get a full gist of the content from Wellington. Basically, Tim allowed his PE class at level 2 to co-construct their learning and then choose the standards they sat – something which was really valuable for increasing engagement.

From the shared notes:

  • Autonomy is different from agency
  • A class website of content isn’t creating agency – Google+ community
  • Time constraint – NCEA credits
  • Like everything it may not work for everyone.  But are the ones the current way isn’t working for the ones we should be focussing on?

He has written in detail about this process: First cycle of the enquiry: Co-Constructing agency; Second cycle of the enquiry: Hacking the NCEA; My thoughts on UDL, e-learning and learner Agency.

Takeaways: this is totally inspiring. How powerful would it be to turn up day one of my Y13 media class (I wouldn’t do this with Y12 because I think that it being a new subject there’s a lot of base concepts and adaptation that goes on in that formative year that students have to experience in order to make good choices – unlike which is compulsory in the junior school and builds on those foundations and structures) and not have a course outline, not have a preconceived idea of what I want to teach, not have a prepared NCEA scheme. Holy meatballs- this could be amazing! Then this would be co-constructed with the students and we would take that journey together. I think there’s an opportunity to trial this approach in the next three weeks with my Y11 drama class and the revision process. We have three week to simply revise prior learning, so I’ll introduce learner agency and see how they want to do it. That could be so powerful. I’m buzzing!

Breakout #4 – Before collaboration teachers need to make connections – Sonya Van Schaijik & Wendy Kofoed presentation hub

Profiled: #GlobalClassroom, #edchatnz, #TeachMeetNZ, #educamp, #eduignite, #edbooknz, #CENZ14, #POND

TeachMeetNZ seems worth exploring. The wikispace is here and the YouTube channel is great. Each educator has only three minutes to introduce themselves and their initiatives. This one here from Richard Wells is a good example. He goes through how he solved various issues when he became the Head of Technology at Orewa College with a general focus on thinking long term.

Takeaway: maybe I could endeavour to get up there?


2 thoughts on “ULearn 2014 – Day Two

  1. This is awesome Jerome – I hadn’t really wrapped my head around the fact that I’m attending too, from Hokitika! I’d planned to keep an eye on things via twitter, but the tweeting has been so awesome I’ve pretty much been engaged all day for the last 2 days… so, best I be inspired by your lead and do some reflections too! Thanks for sharing : ) @Madel1ne

    1. Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment! So happy to hear that there’s others doing the vicarious approach – so much to take away! My brain is buzzing!!

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