Saturday, September 20, 2008

Back Home

Friday was a bit of a wasted day as we filled in time before heading out to the airport for a 7.15 flight. All went to schedule and we arrived in NZ and made our way to the Venturra Inn where we crashed just before 2.00am. We left at about 9.30 and had a good trip home.

It's great to be here but the time with the group was great. The way the schedule panned out meant we experienced some stuff, talked about it and then developed plans together for our school. Even when we were flying back they were reading their material and taking notes.

The wiki on plans for Opotiki College now contains our current thoughts.

Last Evening in Australia

Feeling a bit slow this morning while waiting to check out, spend some time in town and then head out to the airport. Kurt and I headed down river to Regatta for a feed at the Boatshed. I had garlic prawns and snapper and he had lamb cutlets and barramundi. Andrew had a quiet night in while Teryl and Vickee met up with some friends and hit the pubs in town.

When we got back on the ferry we stopped at the Grand Central Station Pub where there was a live band Karaoke and lots of drunk people. We had quite a few top shelf drinks while I watched Kurt fighting off drunken babes! Not really!

We wandered back at about 1.00 but I stayed up as longas I could so I would drink heaps of water and crashed about 2.00. Teryl got back at about 11.00 while Vickee was out to about 4.30am! Have had breakfast but no sign of the boys yet.

Feeling bad because I forgot to do my Learning Matters column.

Education Queensland Thursday 18 September

This morning we were hosted at Education Queensland by Margie Burrell and Susan Brown who were keen New Basics supporters. We only spent an hour and half with them but it was very valuable.

We grabbed hard copies of Blueprints and a CD with the Rich Tasks on it. We saw samples of work and discussed pedagogy and various implementation models. As the meeting progressed I saw Andrew, Teryl, Vickee and Kurt realising the potential of this model. Margie and Susan were impressed with what we were planning.

After a quick coffee we returned to the Hotel and spent the next couple of hours moulding our excitement into a workable plan which follows:

Read material supplied by Education Queensland before landing in NZ.
Download and familiarise ourselves with all Rich Tasks and Blueprints by end of holidays.
Meet in first week of Term IV to prepare ALG presentation.
Present the following to ALG by end of week 3:

One year 9 class (minimum) be staffed by converts who would teach one Rich Task/Blueprint to that class in 2009 and report to ALG.
Combine two Year 9 classes as desribed above with four teachers and deliver a full Rich Task/Blueprint curriculum in 2010 and report to ALG.
All Year 9 and the Year 10 pilot have curriculum as above in 2011.
All Year 9 and 10 have above curriculum.

After that we discussed the Teacher Rubrics that everyone had been working on which will form part of the Teacher Observation programme we will be implementing next year which is described on the planning wiki.

This has been a wonderful team to work with and will be key people over the next few years.

After a late lunch we are relaxing a bit. Vickee and Teryl are going out on the town tonight with friends of Vickee and the boys are planning a ferry ride down the river to Regatta and having dinner there.

Tomorrow night we fly to Auckland and then drive home on Saturday.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

North Rockhampton High School

Library computer suite

With Principal Judi Newman

Feed at Chutney Mary's

Yesterday we spent a great day at North Rockhampton High School where we were hosted by Principal, Jude Newman. Their school is similar to ours and it was good to see what she was trying to do.

We started by observing a Maths teacher presenting the Maths part of a Blueprint Activity which was also taught by the Maths and Science teacher. This showed us one school's way of attempting to grow integrated learning.

Jude gave us an outline of her school and what she was trying to achieve. She shared a template that was used by all junior programmes to outline course and align with the curriculum and formalise assessment and then she left us for an hour to discuss and plan. This was valuable time as we attempted to take what we saw at Calamvale and what we were now seeing and establish a model for our school. We were very impressed with the programme planning template and plan to implement in our own school. All present felt this was valuable and doable. The others with me are very enthusiastic and I am finding that I have to keep reining them in a bit!

We played around with a structure and timetable and settled on a model which had 2 Year 9 classes combined in a home room and their 16 core class periods blocked and coverted by 4 teachers. There would be two teachers in the room at all time with 32 hours of coverage which could be 4 teachers at 8 periods each. This group would pilot a New Basics type curriculum.

After lunch we had a session with the IT teacher who gave us a bit of a tour. The facilities were inferior to ours.

After waiting a long time for a taxi we all ended up at the airport where we made our way back to Brisbane and after a nice Indian feed at Chutney Mary's crashed for the night. We were all a bit tired after our planning day, the travel and poor sleep at the Cattle City Motor Inn.


It is now Wednesday morning and I am sitting in the Cattle City Motor Inn in Rockhampton waiting to go to North Rockhampton State High School to look at their trans-disciplinary approach. It was a bit of an effort to get here as our flights departure time moved from 6.15 to 7.30. When we arrived at the Cattle City at 9.05pm we discovered that their restaurant closed at 9.00pm and that the food option was KFC 30 minutes walk away. We settled on delivered pizzas and a good talk about things we had seen at our visit to Calamvale and school things in general.

Everyone took different things from the visit and it was good to hear what people had to say. The discussion soon broadened to things like what it takes to be a good teacher at Opotiki. It was great for everyone to talk candidly. I am learning more about all four as the trip progresses and feel the school is in great hands.

Let's retrace steps a little.

Working As A Team

On Monday morning I rang Margie Burrell at Education Queensland. I was a little worried as I hadn't heard from her all last week. She said she hadn't received my latest emails but we have arranged to meet on Thursday morning.

We all met at breakfast and agreed to meet together for the morning and discuss school development plans. We arranged a conference room and brought along the packs of material I had provided them.

We began by discussing the building plans I had begun to develop for the school. We had a great time pouring over them and got some great feedback and further ideas. After that discussion I am more determined to move the canteen so that the flow of students through the open foyer continues through the canteen site, through large doors and onto a stage and steps overlooking the quad. The canteen would be rebuilt on the southside of B9 and that quad area be turned into an outdoor cafe setting.

It was also suggested that a low display cabinet be placed in the foyer to establish flows through the front door for visitors and students. Another suggestion was to have the doors off the B and C Block decks wide so that they gave a free flow through to the outsisde. The major discussion around C Block was enclosing the corridor from C1 to the Hall entrance and including decks on the north side of C1-4 as well. This would give computer/seminar space for all of C1-3, more flexibility for the use of toilets and resource rooms as alternative space and create more covered decking in the quad area opposite the planned stage. This plan would also give C$ more space for photography computers. I am now more in favour of building our new toilet block where the current tennis court toilet block is.

Andrew has also included a request to astroturf the tennis courts and I think, after the visit to Calamvale is going to want the gym floo resurfaced.

We then discussed the plans I have wikied for a programme of teacher observations. We had a great discussion about that and saw great value in it. Each person has also agreed to look at one of the Teacher Rubrics and make it relevant to our school.

We then had a discussion about what we would likely see at the schools during the week. After arranging for Lea to fax over the ALG questions we then had a free afternoon. Teryl and Vickee headed off to Fortitude Valley and Chinatown while the boys headed into the CBD to shop. Andrew soon disappeared into a maze of malls while Kurt and I found Rocking Horse Records and bought some music. I now have all but 5 of the top 115 of the Top 500 Records of all time!

Kurt and I wandered to the river and caught a ferry to Southbank. Not much was happening there though Kurt did a bit of goggling at the bikini babes at the artificial beach. I didn't notice them!

We wandered back over the bridge and headed back for a rest.

At 6.00 we met up and taxied to Chinatown to visit what I think is one of the best restaurants I have ever been to. It is simply called The Vietnamese Restaurant. We ordered a banquet and dined on dim sums, duck, quail, and spring rolls for entree, followed by the best squid ever, fish, chicken, bok choy and rice. It was superb and I was relieved as I had been talking this place up. If you are in Brisbane you must go.

Calamvale Community College

POD Classroom

Teacher work area in POD

Covered Area

Outdoor Steps for Stage

Sue Bremmer with our team

The next morning we piled into our maxi cab and took the 30 minute trip to Calamvale Community College where we were met by Geoff Latta (Geoff 1). He took us to meet Sue Bremmer, the principal, who remembered me from my last visit.

She gave a presentation on her school and the curriculum journey it has been on. It was opened in 2002 and is a Year 1-12 school. It was purpose-built for integrated teaching and learning. She is a passionate and visionary leader who is being a little worn down by meddling government agencies who have required them to move away from the New Basics model which I had seen two years previously. They were determined, though, to keep the best of that model.

Geoof then took us for a tour of the junior school where we saw the PODs in action. A POD is basically a circular building with a glass teacher space as the hub and the space around it being one large space that can be broken into four individual spaces with moveable walls.

After morning tea we were hosted by Sheryl, who is the principal of the senior school. I felt she spent too much time explaining the Queensland Qualification system and UE requirements. We had a quick tour with her but I would like to have seen more of their actual programme structures. We did, however, get a sample of their timetable which is largely 3 90 min periods per day with each subject getting 2 periods a week.

During and after lunch we were hosted by Geoff 2 who is the principal of the middle school. He gave a good outline of their structure and has provided us with a curriculum planning

Monday, September 15, 2008

In Brisbane

Andrew, Kurt, Vickee, Teryl and I arrived in Brisbane yesterday to investigate innovative curriculum ideas. We hope to visit the Department of Education today, but I am a little concerned as I have been emailing my contact all of last week and have not heard from them. It was all confirmed before I left on my sabbatical, but the silence concerns me. I will ring this morning at 8.00 and hope all is OK.

Tomorrow we visit Calamvale school which really impressed me when I visited 2 years ago. It was a school designed to deliver the New Basics curriculum. Apparently they have had to move away a little from this position because of state mandated learning outcomes. I am certain it will still be a very valuable visit.

We left Opotiki on Saturday and had an uneventful trip driving up in the school van. We checked into the Ventura Inn and set off walking to the Toby Jug Inn for dinner and to watch the rugby test. We got a little lost and then got hit in a downpour. After sheltering for a while we made it and had a basic pub meal.

The boys watched the test and we were rapt to thrash them. The downside was that we got back at midnight and had to get up at 3.45 to be at the airport for our flight. This made for a very long day yesterday.

Kurt is proving to be the traveller who needs watching and supporting. At he Toby Jug he ordered a beer and $40.00 cash, didn't get his money and didn't remember until the next morning. (He will try to retrieve on our return). Also, when we were checking in it was announced that Kurt needed a visa to get into Australia! The wonderful Pacific Blue people organised it for him (at a cost of $30.00!).

We finally got away. The flight was cattle-class cheap, but was great. The steward had a real Polynesian humour and joked all of the way. Tried to get some shut-eye but didn't happen.

We arrived at the Grand Chancellor at 10.00 and were able to check in straight away. Vickee and Teryl hired a car to visit Vickee's neice in the Gold Coast while the boys walked to Chinatown for lunch and then spent a couple of hours walking around the CBD and riverbank. Back at the hotel we had a rooftop swim, followed by some downtime before we wlked into town for a fairly average Italian meal. Andrew had a greaT Linguini, I had an average calamari and Kurt had a fish risotto thing, which I don't think he was that impressed with.

Asleep by 9.30 hoping the girls make it back!

Friday, September 12, 2008

Additions to Wiki

I have added new pages (Kids, Sustainability, Behaviour Management, Teacher Observation) to the wiki on Plans for Opotiki College. Some of the statements and suggestions may be challenging so I look forward to feedback.

About to go for a paddle and then fly out to Aussie tomorrow.

Hello Followers

I'm keen to see who is a regular reader of the blog. If you wish, go to the sidebar on the right and scroll down to Followers, click on it and add yourself. Give it a go.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

A Week of Running and Reflecting

This has been a good week. I have enjoyed getting up at a leisurely time and going for a run before sitting down and doing some planning.

I have been for a run everyday and got up to 14k today which I am rapt with. The only hassle was getting swooped upon by a couple of magpies on Tuesday morning.

Most of the rest of each day has been sitting down and trying to make sense of all of the thoughts that I have picked up on and then think about quite clearly when running and then promptly get confused with by the time I have had a spa and breakfast.

I have been into school a couple of times and feel it is a good way to ease slowly back, without getting in Robyn's way. She is doing a fantastic job.

I have been doing a lot of thinking of how to best build on this strengthening of leadership throughout the school while maintaining sustainability. I am concerned about burn out for Robyn and Lea and I also want to ensure that on my return I don't get dragged back into too much day-yo-day minutae.

I really want to concentrate on curriculum and teaching leadership which will require me spending a lot of time in classrooms.

I am looking forward to the trip to Aussie beginning on Saturday when Andrew, Kurt, Vickee and Teryl and I visit schools in Brisbane. It's people such as these who seem keen to be involved in improving the school.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

New Wiki for School Development

I have created a new wiki to begin a discussion about possible developments for Opotiki College. There is a link to it on the side. At the moment I am planning 4 pages, but, no doubt, more will be added by myself and others. Currently there is some thoughts up on the Property and School Structures Pages. I hope those who are interested in the development of Opotiki College will comment and add to the pages.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Getting Into The Groove

Yesterday I got up at a leisurely time and went for a run down Tirohanga Rd not knowing how far I would go. As it was I went to almost the end and ran for a total of 50 minutes which was great for me and puts me ahead of where I thought I would be.

I spent most of the rest of the day spraying my track and bank to get it back under control. Destry turned up and told me the broadband was now hooked up. I spent the next several hours installing and making sure it went. It was quite straightforward though I have had trouble connecting the EEE PC tp the wireless modem, but hope I have now solved it.

I was pleasantly surprised with the telecom helpdesk; I didn't have to wait longer than 1 minute to get a person and they were very helpful. I gave them top marks in the survey at the end of the call!

So we're now up and away with broadband and I can't believe the difference!

This morning I got up a bit later than I wanted (Father's Day afterall) and went for a 70 minute run. I am rapt with how the running is going. As I returned I caught up with Marg and Shirley whom I haven't seen for about 3-4 months. They were about to go for a ride with Leigh. I have an hour or so of peace and quiet before they return!

All of this down time is a bit dangerous as I am starting tp bring together my thoughts for Opotiki College as a result of the sabbatical. I am excited about the power of wikis to put my thoughts out there and for staff to comment on.

In three weeks time I will have finished my sabbatical report which will include my plans. These plans involve buildings, teaching pedagogy and support structures. I'll let you know when the wiki is up as I would welcome comments from all.

Looking forward to the September school holidays. I feel a bit tired!

Friday, September 5, 2008

Reconnecting With The Real World

This week has been the fastest of the sabbatical time and I wanted it to be the slowest as I am at home and I want to do some work on te section, do some school planning, do some IT development (Check out my wiki), put my feet up and listen to music and cook meals.

Tuesday was quite a slow day (first day at home). Leigh went to Gisborne for library PD (on blogs and wikis) and I mooched around at home mainly trying to save some grasses and trees I planted before I left which look as if they've been attacked by hares. However, started the day with a 40 minute run to prepare for the Motu. When Leigh returned I had prepared a nice Singapre style chicken dish.

She shared her learnings about wikis and I spent the next few hours that evening creating my wiki for staff to use to help them with Web 2.0 tools in the classroom. It is continually being updated so check it out on the link on the right and make comments.

The next day Leigh and I travelled to Taupo to watch Lucy and her soccer team at tournament. The standard is very high but they are playing well. Awesome to see her again. Head Girl, Alicia, filled me in on some stuff around the school Ball which Robyn dealt with very well. That night Leigh cooked up an Italian style pasta meal.

Thursday was a bit more productive. After Leigh went to work I went for another 40 minute run and then mowed the lawns. After that I worked on my wiki further.

Have been having some productive thoughts about redesigning the learning spaces in our school and have started to sketch these out a bit. As long as money is no object I reckon we can do quite a bit with the buildings that we have got. More on this later. I am thinking of developing a wiki with my thinkings about developments for the school, including organizational structures, curriculum and buildings. It could be a good way to let people know what I am thinking and get feedback. I prepared a spicy beef and Hokkein Noodles dish for dinner!

Today I went into school for morning tea and to hand out gifts. It was great to be there. The school is going very well and everyone has spoken highly of the work done by Robyn as acting principal with the support of Lea. The Deans, as expected, have been outstanding.

It was great to sit with Robyn and hear about the issues she has dealt with. Many of them have been complex and serious and she has handled them expertly.

I am really excited about the next few years. If we can deal with the sustainability issues for the Senior Management Team then I think we can achieve a lot. Leadership is certainly strengthened across the school and we seem to be placed to move the school along to take advantage of the new curriculum with the support of Web 2.0 tools and a willingness to be open to new ways of doing things.

I brought home a big box of reading stuff to catch up that Robyn saved for me. So far most of it has been straight forward and will be dealt with by the end of next week.

She has made some staffing decisions and has some good ideas on some staffing issues for next year.

I have to now confirm all of the details for the visit in just over 1 week to Brisbane by myself and four staff.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Girls' Soccer Tournament

Above are some photos from the Girls' Soccer Tournament in Taupo. The girls are getting on real well and have had 2 losses, one draw and a win.

It was great to catch up with Lucy after 9 weeks away. She will be home on Friday.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008


I've cancelled the new blog of How To Videos for web tools and have created a wiki (my new learning) which has a link on the right. A wiki is more suitable as it allows others to contribute to it. Go and have a look and post your thoughts here.

Back in Opotiki!

Tuesday 2nd September
We're back at home.

It was great to arrive at Whakatane Airport to see Mum and Dad waiting for us. They took us to The Bean for a great coffee. We couldn't stop talking about our trip and they couldn't stop talking about Opotiki and whanau events!

Mum cooked us a great kiwi feed of corned beef and spuds and we enjoyed their company for the evening. We are looking forward to seeing Lucy on Wednesday when we visit her at the soccer tournament in Taupo.

Leigh has gone to Gisborne today for library PD andd I've been for a jog, read local papers, sent off my EEE PC review, sent financial stuff to Joc at school and talked with Robyn for quite a while this morning. She has been doing an outstanding job and had dealt with some difficult issues.

After updating my blog I'm going to do some work around the section. 6 kereru are in residence and the trees are in blossom!

I'm then going to attempt to cook a Malaysian type meal for dinner and tonight begin the process of upgrading to broadband. On Thursday I will visit the travel agent to ensure the Aussie part of the trip is organised and on Friday I will visit school for morning tea and to catch up with staff, especially those going to Aussie.

Arrival in NZ

Sunday 31 August
This part of the sabbatical is almost over as we have arrived in NZ. We fly down to Opotiki tomorrow. I hoped it was Summer over here as I have got used to 29-35 degrees, but the 11 degrees when we arrived put paid to that idea.

On Thursday morning Leigh and I bused into Georgetown where we walked down the main street, through the colonial centre, around Fort Cornwallis, along the port area and through some scary traffic until our scheduled bus trip back to the beach. We spent the afternoon doing what we do well, swimming and sunning.

We went to our favourite food stall where we started with sambal fish and followed up with squid and chicken and dried chilli. Once again we had an outstanding feed.

On Friday we checked out of our paradise hotel and flew out of Penang airport to Singapore for one more night. We wandered around Marina Square trying to find some Skins for Lucy, but none were to be found.

We caught up with Terry and Dallas who had just arrived from Kuala Lumpur. After a pool side beer we wandered into Arab St where we had a halal meal. I had chicken and potatoes, Terry and Leigh had lamb, and Dallas had beef with prunes.

We needed a beer after that so wandered into our hotel bar where a dance class was showing off their skills. The barman was ill-mannerd and the beers were $15 so we bailed out.

On Sunday morning we taxied to Little India to Mustafa's 24 hour shopping mall. This was a treasure trove which I am pleased we did not discover earlier. Leigh managed to buy some nice jewellery!

After checking out we wandered down the road in a new direction and found a neat shopping area which I am also pleased we didn't discover earlier. Leigh bought a watch because her 'Rolex' is already broken. We also bought some neat shirts as gifts for some lucky people.

We then had a great lunch in a local's food court where we were looked after by a drunk old fellow who was good fun. He delivered lime juices and cane sugar juice to wash down our meals of chicken and dried chilli, black pepper beef, fish and noodles and pork.

We then relaxed by and in our hotel pool until about 4.30pm when we taxied out to the airport and after hanging around for a few hours boarded our plane to New Zealand. It was a pretty straight-forward flight but got little sleep as I found it difficult to get comfortable.

We said good bye to Terry and Dallas who were connecting straight to Tauranga and we headed to our airport hotel for our flight home tomorrow. It's a very average motel/hotel, but will do. We have decided to stay awake rather than sleeping so we get a good night's sleep tonight. It's now 5.30pm and I am really struggling to keep awake.

We went for a walk through the local Mangere streets in the cold wind to blow out the cobwebs.

Nearly home!

Penang and A New Blog

Wednesday 27 August
Went to the same food stalls last night and we each had a plate of sizzling noodles. Leigh's was chicken and vegetables and mine was seafood (shrimps, prawns, octopus with chicken and mushrooms. Very delicious!

We looked at more of the stalls, but again it was raining by now. I don't enjoy the bartering, besides things are cheap enough anyway. We bought a couple of batik shirts for Pete and Marcus and a sarong for Lucy from a stall run by the hearing impaired which made it difficult to barter which suited me. I hope I don't see her listening and talking later!

This morning was a bit of a slow start for me as my head feels a bit out of sorts. Not sure what I mean, but feel a bit gloomy. Lying by the pool and having a swim makes things a bit better. Poolside I have drafted my EEE PC review and written the introduction for my sabbatical report – not bad for someone on holiday.

We had our usual curry puffs for lunch then bought some horrible beach shorts for the head boys and some sarongy skirt things for Lucy to give to some friends.

It then started to persist down so took a break in the room. Started a new blog which includes some neat how to videos on IT use from

Once again hit the hawkers and food stall. We bought some more clothing type gifts for people including some stuff for Lucy to give to friends.

Tonight we ate black pepper prawns and a chichen murtabak. This was quite an expensive feed - $15.00 (not counting the Tiger beer and lime juice of course).