A Collaborative Community Cluster: Deep Learning

 NARATE - North Auckland Regional Association of Teachers of English 

After successfully hosting the NZATE Conference 2008 at Takapuna Grammar School, a group of enthusiastic and passionate Heads of English from the North Shore, established NARATE.  As a dedicated committee of "keen beans", we have continued to meet for one hour at the beginning of every term, planned an event, and subsequently hosted events each term. Our aim is to be invitational, we have school memberships, personal memberships, as well as non members who are welcome to attend. As we are a non profit association, we have made the conscious decision to provide a generous koha to our presenters as a way of honouring the extra hours of their time and energy.

Over the years, there has been a fantastic range of keynote speakers, Aotearoa Authors, as well as our own fabulous English teachers who willingly present workshops on various topics to enhance our teaching, leading and learning. In Term 4, we hold a light hearted, highly competitive Literary Quiz. Additionally, our professional learning community share resources, assist with moderation, we generate new ideas, develop, mentor and guide our leaders, PRTs and everyone in between. Furthermore, our amazing catering by Julie is phenomenal - a key factor to entice educators in their own time! Also, special thanks to Sandrea Ware, Library Manager at AJHS, who is always there assisting with setting up, providing resources, and a calm manner overall.

This year, we sponsored two English teachers, within their first five years of teaching, to attend the recent NZATE English Conference, Capital Letters 2015, in Wellington. Read Kat and Cameron's reflections from Conference here.

We also encourage you to check out +Narate Auckland for further information, AND follow along on twitter #NARATE15. Even better, come and join us for our Term 4 event: bubbles, quiz time and a social and professional occasion for all.

Making A Difference: Deep Learning

This week, as I was reading the New Pedagogies for Learning, via Derek Wenmoth at Core Education, the focus on six Deep Learning Competencies caught my eye:
Reading the above competencies here, is an affirmation that our NARATE work within the community cluster continues to strive for deeper learning. We are connected, collaborative, and have built strong relationships across schools who are in competition with one another. Our next step is to build these relationships and connections with our primary and early years. We aspire to continue building deeper learning, building connections, collaboration, critique, creativity, and of course, what most English teachers excel in - communication! Our principals are supportive and encouraging, this certainly helps. It is a win/win for all.


Learners at the Centre

Agency, Engagement and Authentic Learning 

The steering committee - behind the GEGNZ student summit
 Hobsonville Point Primary School (HPPS) 
Thanks to a dedicated and passionate group of educators, a dream was turned into reality...the inaugural #GEGNZ student summit happened on Wednesday, attended by Year 0 -13 students from schools across New Zealand. Daniel and his team at HPPS also need to be mentioned - thanks for being so welcoming. I was fortunate to attend as part of my role at Core Education, plus as a Mum whose son and three classmates were presenting.

The Highlights:

Keynote speaker, Toby Carr, provided students with a succinct, clear message which included: following your dreams, be prepared to help out others, and make the most of school and teachers.

Next, the students themselves were leading the learning, with learners having the opportunity to select, attend and participate in workshops of their choice. These ranged from robotics, creating animations and i-movie to filming studios, create your own Streetfighter with Scratch and Powtoon!

Click here to see the Google+ story from the day. The four boys from Glamorgan School shared their experiences of Science Week. Each class member chose an aspect of Science they wished to explore, plus the way in which they wanted to present it. The key aim was that they needed to teach the rest of the class what they learnt.
Science Week - Callum's 5 days of Science - https://goo.gl/DvRadq
Dylan, Ryan, Callum and Joshua with Mr Van der Hoorn, DP

Here are some photos of the students teaching the participants:

Year 1 & 2s - Animating Google Slides
Creating an Inquiry Script

What the students say?

"best most awesome day ever
(Hugo, aged 10)

"A great experience - I liked that not only did we get to present, but we also got to choose sessions to learn cool things" 
(Callum, aged 9)

"It was a really fun day of learning. The presentations were really interesting
That was so cool. It was so much fun! The whole day was really amazing!
Hope I get to go next year! Loved the robotics"  

(Ryan, Dylan & Josh, aged 10, 11 & 9)

What the research says?

This quote from Bruce Feiler (2013) resonates well, affirming my stance both as a parent and an educator: 

Children who plan their own goals, set weekly schedules and evaluate their own work, build up their frontal cortex and 
take more control over their lives.

Special moment - proud of Callum and his team - facing the fear and making it happen!

How might you empower your students/children to have agency over their learning; to be authentically engaged; and learner centred?