Google Education Roadshow in Tauranga

Cyclone hosted an afterschool Google Education Roadshow in Tauranga today. Always useful to go along to these type of events, not only to try and win a spot prize (a Chrome cast was given away today), but you also usually meet someone interesting or pick up some tips. Here’s my takeaways:

  • In the Admin console, you can configure a bookable resource calendar eg school van, theatre etc
  • Use a Google Form as interactive newsletter. You can know add quite a bit of content (video, images, text etc) and if you add in a few questions related to this content you will be able to get some feedback from your readers/parents.
  • Google Apps for Education Core services are ad free and user data is not collected.  Additional services (including Blogger and Google+) have ads and data is collected. Privacy/user agreements should be signed for these services.
  • Use Blogger for teacher portfolio using tags for each of the PTCs. There is also a Blogger App for mobile devices to capture evidence in class.
  • Chrome apps for learning Maori language :Nga Tapuae Tuatahi, Ngā Tapuae Tuarua
  • Use Screencastify to give feedback to a student about their assignment. Rather than write long and detailed comments, record a short screencast (which will automatically save to Drive), shorten the link (using and add this link as comment on student document. Here’s a link to a more detail description.
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Growth Mindset workshop with Carol Dweck

IMG_4370Negative stereotypes, deficient thinking, ‘Can’t do this coz I’m dumb’… This type of attitude is not new in schooling but I discovered a new term for it a few years again when I first came across the concept of Growth mindset in Jo Boaler’s on line course ‘How to Learn Math‘ in 2014 (I get my Y9’s to complete the 6 part student course at the beginning of each year). In this course I learnt more about brain-based learning and the concept of Growth mindset and have been interested ever since. I even bought Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset, and eventually got round to reading it. So when the Learning Network NZ advertised they were bringing her over for a series of workshops, I thought I’d register and expand what I had already learnt.

It was obvious that Dweck’s work is quite well regarded. As well as hearing my own kids IMG_4373 (1)talk about ‘mindset’ from their primary school, the terminology kept coming up again and again (for example see a post by Clare Amos). So I guess I wasn’t surprised when I walked in to a full Ellerslie Events Centre with over 300 participants.

It a nutshell there are two types of mindset:

  • Fixed: intelligence is fixed
  • Growth: intelligence can be developed

It is important to realise that this is not a category for people – we don’t have ‘fixed’ people and ‘growth’ people. We are on a continuum along this scale and float in and out depending on our own psychology and how we react to various triggers. Mindset can also apply to organisations as well as individuals. These can have a culture of genius (fixed) or culture of development (growth). It got me thinking if this applies in my school?

“I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures, those who make it or those who don’t. I divide the world into learners and non-learners.” – Benjamin R. Barber


fixed vs growth mindset brainWhile also being a psychological concept, mindset is grounded in neuroscience. Based on brain plasticity (“You need to fire to wire”). There are a number of prominent authors on how the brain adapts to learning, including Dan Siegel and Norman Doidge among others.

If you really want to hear are remarkable story about how the brain can rewire, check out Barbara Arrowsmith-Young story at this TED talk. Her story is also detailed Doidge’s book The Brain that Changes Itself. Arrowsmith-Young’s story highlights how if you change the ability of the brain’s function in one aspect can lead to changes in other related brain functioning.

Dweck mention a Chilean study that investigated all Grade 10 students in the country (over 168,000). This showed there was a link between mindset and attainment that transcended socio economic status. However, she noted that twice the number in the more affluent group had a growth mindset compared to lower group.

Growth mindset gives students self belief to go for more than what they can already do. It’s not about celebrating mistakes but about what you have learned from your mistake. Identify this as a ‘learning mistake’ to differentiate from behaviour/other mistake. It’s about students thinking of themselves as a work in progress.

Carol talked of her message to all first years students in her Stanford University course: “Your job is to use the resources you have here to become the person you want to be to go and make a difference in your community”. One task she gets her students to do is to write her a letter from 25 years in the future focusing on the setbacks, mistakes and heartaches that they learned from along the way. This could be a useful task to give to my students.

Teaching the Growth mindset

So, if we encounter a student showing signs of the fixed mindset – what can we do. Here are some strategies:

Reframing Questions:

  • What strategies have your tried?
  • What are the achievement gaps?
  • What fabulous struggles are we having?
  • What will you try next?
  • What strategies might work better?
  • Show me what you’ve done and let’s figure out what you can try next.

Relationships: Focus on the relationship the teacher has with the relationship. Teacher’s attitude needs to be – “My life’s work is your development…”

Other Strategies

  • When students succeed, praise the process (and tie it to progress, learning). When they fail, focus on the process (fabulous struggles, the power of ‘Not Yet’)
  • Treat failures as beneficial for learning
  • Give clear feedback and a chance to resubmit
  • Role model making errors/mistakes

Assessing mindset

There are a number of online tools for students to assess their mindset (Mindsetworks, Mindsetonline, London Academy of IT). There are also non-digital methods. We were given on entry a set of cards with different statements on them and asked to put in piles of Agree and Disagree.

Growth mindset report comments: a significant way in which you can give growth mindset messages to your students and their parents is through the report comment. Hemi McDonald from HPSS in a blog post details to shift at the school to be more growth mindset focused in terms of identifying successful strategies and then next steps and why (further detail on HPSS reporting described here).

IMG_4372Other Notes

Negative stereotype = fixed mindset (e.g. Girls in math, ethnicity in educational achievement)

The journey to a growth mindset

  1. What is a growth mindset?
    1. It is not solely about effort – encouraging people to work hard vs. believing that talents and abilities can be developed
  2. What is the first step?
    1. Acknowledge we are all a mixture

Fixed mindset triggers:  These are things that set off a fixed mindset. There are four main triggers summarised in the table below:

Stepping out of your comfort zoneAvoid risk and challengeEmbrace challenges.
High effortIt should come naturallyHard work is the key (effort + strategies + input from others)
SetbacksHide mistakes and deficienciesConfront mistakes and deficiencies
FeedbackIgnore feedback or criticismSeek out feedback
SUMMARYNever look dumb, don't work hard or seek help, run from difficultyLearn, Work hard, use strategies, seek help to learn, learn from mistakes.

Related resources

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Data Based Decision making

So having recently gained my Google Trainer certification, I thought it may be a good idea to embark on some more post graduate study – let’s see how this goes over the next few years…

I have enrolled in Waikato University’s School of Education’s Master of Education (Professional Learning) course. This was 2 compulsory papers, one of which I am starting on Friday – Using Evidence for Effective Practice.

Our first assigned reading was:

Schildkamp, K., Lai, M. K., & Earl, L. M. (2013). Data-based decision making in education: Challenges and opportunities. Schildkamp, K., Lai, M. K., & Earl, L. M. (2013). Data-based decision making in education: Challenges and opportunities.

Chapter one was a good introduction to the paper and data driven decision making: “By data-based decision making, we mean that schools make decisions about students, about instruction, and about school and system functioning based on a broad range of evidence, such as scores on students’ assessments and observations of classroom teaching. (p1)

We often just think of analysing data as relating to outcome (test) results so Chapter 1 gave a good explanation about the importance of other types of data (context, input and process-p11) and how schools can use this range to best improve student learning.

I also found myself reflecting on how the authors reinforced the underpinnings of the Teaching as Inquiry process (e.g “synthesis of the literature on professional learning that makes a difference to student achievement found that schools that used data to inquire into the effectiveness of their teaching and school practices made significant improvements in achievement (Timperley et al.2007) p15). In fact, Fig 2.1 on p16 is another way of illustrating the TAI process.

Fig. 2.1 Process of data use

Fig. 2.1 Process of data use

At my school I’m responsible for guiding 2nd year teachers through a TAI and so this chapter was useful and in fact I emailed one of my colleagues the flow chart  to highlight the purpose of his Inquiry. So this idea of ‘instrumental’ use of data (p19) which “involves analyzing and interpreting and data as well taking actions to improve based on the analysis and interpretation” means we need to do more than just give kids a test and record a number in a mark book.

I was also intrigued withe the section on how data can be used and abused. An example is roll based vs participation based pass rate at NCEA and how that data can be used to overstate actual student achievement.

Chapter 3 was a good description of how to analyse achievement data in context of classroom practice data – the two are obviously linked. The concept of the ‘ill-structured problem’ (p27) succinctly defines the challenge we face in the classroom where there are “no definable procedures for reaching a solution and uncertainty about the information required to solve the problem.” 

Another quote that resonated with me is how data can be used to ‘blame’ the student’s family circumstances rather than analysed to improve teaching (p32). With the multiple facets to student achievement (socio-economic, family, peer group, mindset, teacher, school…) we as teachers can often feel a bit more comfortable in explaining low achievement on other factors that we can’t control rather than looking at our own practice.

I was also interested to see how the authors acknowledge than one challenge for schools is not only staff being unfamiliar with analysing data and aspects of Pedagogical Content Knowledge (how students understand and misunderstand their subjects p 42), but also that analysis of data is “not easily available on existing school analyses software p40.” I think of the behemoth that is KAMAR (the software that my school uses) that is very powerful in terms of how you can analyse data – if you are an expert in relational databases…

My main take away from the two chapters was how we need to link achievement data (outcome) with teaching practice data (process) and whether patterns of one can be explained by patterns in the other (p36). In my own practice, I think of the results of my Y9&10 classes with Algebra and how I used to look at this as just ‘Algebra’s tough’ rather than look at how I taught this topic.

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Steve Maharey-Has the revolution started?

Steve Maharey, Vice Chancellor of Massey University, has a really engaging presence as a speaker with entertaining while thoughtful message. While not quite the self-promoting ‘thought leader’ shown in the video below, Steve’s talk had a powerful message – do not fail!


  • ‘Summative experience’ AKA test
  • Technology as expression of social/cultural/political change NOT the driver
  • A degree is just persistence and memory – doesn’t reflect intelligent.
  • “When I see it on a screen I can’t take it seriously” on his preference for reading on paperIMG_4262
  • Move from instruction to (co)construction
  • Buildings reflect ideology of learning (eg lecture theatre)
  • Disruption – ‘remember Kodak
  • Revolutions don’t often work
  • NCEA Levels should be the terminal/exit point (i.e. if you are on track to University, don’t get assessed through Level 1 & 2 – start formally assessing at Level 3)
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The future of Edtech

Betsy Corcoran from EdSurge presented on trends in education technology. Her company focuses on what is the right technology for the organisations. EdSurge also publishes a teacher newsletter.

Science & Tech Trends

Magic Leap

How will our students use these new technologies?


EdSurge has a list of reviewed products.

Demographic shifts with work force: Reach Capital presentation

Socio Political trends

Brexit/Trump/Aussie elections

Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies


“If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow.” – attributed to John Dewey (or did he say this?)

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