Virtual School Meanderings

March 21, 2017

March Update 2017

One for my Kiwi readers…

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VLN Primary School logo

VLN Primary School

March Update 2017

VLN Primary Kids #connectedlearners
VLN Primary Kids #connectedlearners, by Rachel Whalley

Expressions of interest are sought for appointments to VLN Primary Governance Group by Rachel Whalley

Our AGM is coming up soon, and we are looking for new trustees who will help take our work to the next level. If you are passionate about empowering our young people with equity & access to education, you have networks and experience in business and community, and are serious about making a difference then we need you! Read more

Kia ora koutou katoa

Naumai, haere mai ki te Kura Tuatahi – Akonga Aka Mariko.Welcome to the VLN Primary School

Our goal is to:

Connect Schools for Enhanced Learning Outcomes

Things have got off to a great start with our online classes this year. We have a record number of classes on our weekly timetable, and at last count over 580 learners! It is great to see so many schools picking up on these opportunities for their children. Welcome to our new schools – Kiwitea, Waiotira, Puriri, Viscount, Waverley Park, The Gardens & Ngatapa. It is awesome to see such a mix of different schools from across the country. We also have three new families who have enrolled their children in our classes.

In this newsletter:

We profile our German class. Stephanie who teaches this class from Kaimata has been teaching online for many years and is one of our first VLN Primary eteachers. German is often overlooked when choosing a language of study and for students who continue in their studies there are some great scholarship opportunities.

We have, as always, had a high demand for Te Reo Māori and have had to close off taking more enrolments for now until we can find another team member to work with Koka Jules. If you know someone who would love this opportunity, here is the information. It is currently advertised in the Gazette.

Our ALLiS (Asian Language Learning in Schools) team has had it’s first PLD meeting for eteachers recently in Auckland. If you are interested in doing more with Asian languages in your school for your students or for your own professional learning find out more here. We profile the opportunities for hosting visiting teachers through AFS to immerse yourself in a cultural experience and encourage you to start your planning for this now.

We share with you a couple of competitions that your children will find interesting and challenging. Look for a way to integrate them into your school programme. Add ons are often difficult to manage – plan to participate, make time to participate and map against the curriculum to make these experiences purposeful and relevant to where your children are at. Check out the new open resources about Soil, Food & Society.Teachers are invited to give feedback on these resources and join their online community.

Last but not least we are inviting interest for appointments to our Governance Group. The VLN Primary School is your organisation – get shoulder tapping in your community with people you think would stand up for this opportunity to make a difference for our learners. Save the date for the AGM – Thursday 6th April 4 pm – We need you there!

Kia pai tō ra

Ngā mihi nui


Prince Harry visiting the German class, Halfmoon Bay

Learn German online with Frau Michel

Some pretty exciting things have happened in our German classes and there are always spaces for new faces. Read more

Paparimu children join in Te Reo Māori Online 

Wanted – another Te Reo Māori kaiako to join our awesome team!

Are you a registered teacher with a sound knowledge of te reo Māori, tikanga & kaupapa Māori? Have good level of digital fluency? Want to develop your skills as an online kaiako? We have a part-time position & would love to have you join our team! Read more

ALLiS Teachers Explore Zoom

Asian Language Teachers PLD

VLN Primary ALLiS teachers had their first PLD session of 2017. They not only explored the tools for teaching online, but shared their experiences unique to teachers who work in the online environment. Read more

Yaju with the Junior students at Halfmoon Bay School.

Immerse Yourself in a Cultural Experience

AFS Educational Advantage Teacher Exchange  coming up soon. Contact Prue at AFS & prepare to participate now. Read more

Soil food and society - open resource image provided.

Soil, Food and Society: An open education resource.

Check out this great new open online science resource for Primary teachers. Read more


Create a GIF around a Gaffe  

Create a short GIF* to best showcase an intercultural or a linguistic gaffe of some kind.                                            Read more

Learning from Nature

This annual essay contest is organised in an effort to harness the energy, creativity and initiative of the world’s youth in promoting a culture of peace and sustainable development. Read more

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Attribution-ShareAlike (by-sa)  Some rights reserved, VLN Primary School, 2017

Please note that I am a member of the Governance Group for this e-learning cluster.

March 20, 2017

Update on the Education (Update) Amendment Bill

While almost every group that presented to the committee  spoke against the Communities of Online Learning (at least in their current form), it appears that the New Zealand government doesn’t care what stakeholders in the education sector or the research has to say on the topic…  They’re charging ahead anyway to privatize public online learning!

Good afternoon,

Thank you very much to everyone who gave a written and oral submissions on the Education (Update) Amendment Bill.

The Education and Science committee have read your submissions and considered proposed changes to the bill. We have written a report detailing our recommended changes, which have been included in an updated version of the bill.

You can read our report here (amended bill included):

If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. You can also follow us on Facebook to keep up with what the committee are doing. Find us here: Education and Science Facebook page

Kind regards,

Education and Science Select Committee
Parliament Buildings
Wellington 6160
New Zealand


Follow us:
Education and Science

March 9, 2017

Education News And Advice – CORE March Newsletter

Another for my Kiwi readers….

Discover all the latest in education from CORE Education. News, resources and inspiration for educators.
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Kia Ora Michael

Welcome to this month’s issue of Ki te Ao. We have a great article about the value of a Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako, diversity in an innovative learning environment, UDL framework, and we invite you to run your own session at uLearn17.


Leveraging collaboration within your Community of Learning for best results

What is the additional value of working as a Community of Learning | Kāhui Ako? We all know the value of collaboration, we also know that aspects of it are very complex, complicated and sometimes feel chaotic – especially at the initial phase. Carolyn English, Professional Learning Services Manager with CORE Education, explains in a recent article with School News.

For advice and consultation you can contact our Expert Partners.

Read the article >


Designing a learning environment that works for all students

Recognising the diversity students bring to the classroom and creating an environment where all students can excel are essential for educators in 2017. We’ve combined these two important principles to bring you the ‘Changing Spaces — Learning for All’ one day event, so you can learn how to design an innovative learning environment, inclusive of all students’ needs.
Read more >


Would you like to run a session at uLearn17?

Invigorate and inspire fellow educators at the annual educators conference, uLearn17. Share your ideas and professional experiences at uLearn17 by leading your own session. Start by submitting an abstract about what you would present. Sessions delivered in English and te reo Māori welcome!
Read More >

From the blog

Questing – a modern approach to learning design
Stephen Lowe discusses the question “How might Game Artificial Intelligence (AI) inform and influence learning experience design in the future?”
More >
Universal Design for Learning
Lynne Silcock writes about a framework that supports the UDL planning process.
More >
Subscribe to the blog >

Professional Learning – workshops, programmes & events

16 & 17 March
Breakfast seminar 

Learning through gaming and game design


8 May 
Online Programme 
Change Leadership – build your knowledge, skills and confidence in leading change.
Breakfast seminars
Innovative Learning Environment Series


19 May 
Breakfast seminar
What’s the Treaty got to do with it?


1 May
Online Programme
Modern Learning Assessment – shape your practice based on current research
22 May 
Online Programme 
Culturally Responsive Practice in School Communities

Contact us

We love receiving your feedback and ideas of things you want to read about.
Feel free to email us anytime!

Wherever you are located in New Zealand, if you are looking for specific professional learning and development, talk to one of our consultants who can tailor PLD to you, your school or your CoL.

Copyright © 2017 CORE Education, All rights reserved.
You have received this newsletter because you have attended one of our events and were happy for us to update you on future CORE events, subscribed to our newsletters at, registered with LEARNZ virtual field trips at, registered with Connected Educator NZ at, or registered with EDtalks at

Our mailing address is:

CORE Education

144 Kilmore Street, Christchurch Central

Christchurch, Canterbury 8013

New Zealand

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March 6, 2017

Your Ethos Newsletter for February

This arrived in my mailbox on Friday – something for my Kiwi readers…

Your newsletter from the Ethos Online Community – February 2017

Kia ora, talofa lava, and greetings,


First a quick update. Hazel is undergoing a few health challenges at the moment, so I (Charlotte) am picking up the whole of the newsletter for this month.


Leadership is something that seeps into all aspects of life – family, work, friends, education and more. Leadership has been a discussion of high visibility lately, with one of our most powerful nations gaining a new controversial leader in the form of Donald Trump. While Trump may not be everyone’s cup of tea, he does bring to light an interesting question – what makes someone a good leader?


This question is one I always find challenging as it has little to do with likeability or the usual benchmarks we use to measure the appeal of our peers, for example someone can be a good leader but not necessarily a good person. While Trump may have met a lot of negativity, there is no denying that he has managed to capture the following of a significant amount of people. This is a well-known and common occurrence with past world leaders.


This month, John S. Oliver, has shared with us his stance. In Here is my article on leadership… what do you think? John comes from the standpoint of assessing a leader more on the guidance they can give and how effectively this is delivered, rather than the normal method of analysing qualities and traits. This looks at what a leader provides rather than how they provide it.


As the world has witnessed many a time before, there is a dark side to leadership. While we need good leaders to be in control, sometimes this control isn’t used in a positive way. In Carol Black’s documentary, Schooling the World, she ponders how this control is asserted in education. Carol states “as our climate heats up, as mountaintops are removed from Orissa to West Virginia, as the oceans fill with plastic and soils become too contaminated to grow food, as the economy crumbles and children go hungry and the 0.001% grows so concentrated, so powerful, so wealthy that democracy becomes impossible, it’s time to ask ourselves; who’s educating us? To what end?”


This is a particularly interesting point – one that is commonly overlooked due to people associating education with inherent good and therefore not feeling the need to dip below the surface. In Merryn Dunmill’s post around the documentary and this subject, she points out how accustomed our society is to having an education system that is simply dictated to us. How often do we question the motive behind our curriculums, assessments, and the collection of data? We accept that being tested and ranked is simply part of gaining an education – something we consider a privilege.


What do you think about the subject? Should control in education be something we are concerned about? And if so, what is the alternative? Jump into the community to add your comments!


Welcome to new members – February

The Ethos Online Community now has 434 members. Hope you will all give a warm haere mai (welcome) to January’s new members to the community:

  • Nicholas J Major, a Nelson based Education Consultant. Nicholas is curious about how ICT can help best harness the benefits of digital technologies to support education without becoming either overwhelming or distracting


Know anyone who would like to join an international Online Community that’s all about learning – across all education sectors, business & ITOs: Please invite them :)

Member Blog Posts and discussions

In this newsletter, as always, we have some great posts. Please jump into the conversations and feel free to ask questions.

  • We’ve most likely all come across someone we considered a great leader, but there seems to always be an air of mystery around what exactly makes someone a better leader than someone else. It’s therefore always a great topic to discuss and hear others opinions on. John S. Oliver shares his thoughts on positive leadership in here is my article on leadership… what do you think?. John delves into the different types of guidance a leader should be able to effectively provide. It would be great to hear others thoughts and experiences on this.

  • While education is seen as a privilege and has even been described as the key to freedom, do we ever delve deeper into the control that may lie behind the current systems? In ‘Occupy Your Brain’ Carol Black ponders, when so many negative things are being allowed to happen at the hands of the ‘educated’ powers that be, do we ever stop to ask, ‘who’s educating us, and to what end?’ In developed societies we have become worryingly desensitised to an education system with centralised control. This is magnified due to the fact that education is often viewed as innately ‘good’ and therefore it doesn’t come naturally to question the motives behind it. However, we are letting others dictate what we must learn, how, when and the assessment process.  Occupy Your Brain: On Power, Knowledge, and the Re-Occupation of Common Sense looks at Carol Black’s documentary, Schooling the World. This was the culmination of many years of research into cross-cultural perspectives on education. Thanks to Merryn Dunmill  for this fascinating post.

  • Nicholas J Major has this month posted an interesting blog that fits nicely into the mentoring information we’ve had filtering through over the last few months. Nicholas simply asks, what’s in a question? Here Nicholas asks how effective the questions commonly used during mentoring sessions actually are. Particularly the often used ‘why’ question. Nicholas states that a number of sources he has recently encountered suggest that ‘why’, ‘who’, ‘when’ and ‘how’ questions are information seeking questions, whereas ‘what’ questions are wisdom accessing questions. The difference being that the former questions tend to elicit responses grounded in the past, whereas the latter can produce deeper insights that help understand what is important to the other person or help them move forward to accomplish their goals. Nicholas gives some great examples of particularly evocative questions and research that’s gone into the subject. What do you think about the different styles of questions?

  • Paul Keown has kindly shared with us a series of posts focused on values in schools. The first addresses the ambiguity around how values in education are defined. Addressing the value dimensions in curriculums can be challenging and confusing. Nicholas draws upon some key educators and theorists, along with the dimensions outlined in the NZC values statement, to simplify these down to three categories. Paul stresses the importance of all parties involved (parents, teachers, schools and students) comprehending these three dimensions in order for the values programme to be a balanced one. Off the back of a question raised from this post, Paul then discusses the third dimension in more detail in The issue of the 3rd dimension of values in schools. This dimension focuses on the need for a school’s programme to be fully discussed and negotiated in the community and, once adopted, made clearly evident in the all actions and interactions in the life of the school. From Paul’s work implementing values systems it is evident that the third dimension is the most challenging and often the one left behind. Paul stresses the importance of an action plan and gives some in-depth and insightful advice on how to get around the difficulties this dimension may propose. Some values bouquets and More bouquets: Two secondary schools then analyse four case studies. One example looks at a school that has done particularly well at building their values system across all dimensions (including the tricky third one) while another looks at a school that has taken an unconventional approach that has produced some interesting ideas. Great to see how values can work in practice also.


Also recommended

As always you have contributed a superb variety of posts this month. Thank you. Here are some of the posts and topics that you may find of interest:

  • Although Twitter is a widely used social tool, it doesn’t seem to have found its place in the education world just yet. This post references a session by Lyndon Walker that looks at different ways Twitter can be used in teaching. The session starts off with ‘transmission’ (e.g. reminders that appear via Blackboard directly to a student’s Twitter feed), as well as class questioning, microblogging, interaction (such as debate and discussion), and sharing of social media links. Lyndon also introduces R – a  free software environment for statistical computing and graphics that is widely used and well supported. There are tools such as usage statistics, networks (which enable you to map followers across the world) and sentiment analysis – in other words what students are tweeting. Twitter has many useful teaching applications, and access to the underlying data can add a meta level to student engagement and learning

  • Unfortunately, we all know what it is to feel snowed under and short on time. Thankfully we received a fantastic time saving recommendation from John S. Oliver. The power of the crowd: Online communities that help save you time will send you to a great blog that helps address some of those ‘time’ challenges we all face

  • Xochitl de la Piedad Garcia suggests that engagement comprises of the time, energy and resources that students devote to activities designed to enhance learning at university. Xochitl wanted to investigate how to harbour engagement in a first year statistics unit. Using behaviourism as a framework, Xochitl’s idea was to encourage  behaviours that were going to increase the likelihood of students developing specific strategies related to improved performance. Xochitl used weekly online exercises to facilitate the engagement, while also providing opportunities for detailed feedback. Take a look at this post to find out what the students comments on the system were, both negative and positive. What do others think of this system?


Recommended videos

From the ever growing repository of videos ( 1,424 in total – thanks as always to John S Oliver for his awesome contributions), these are a just few of the highlights.

  • We live in a time where we quickly put people in boxes. Maybe we have more in common than what we think? Introducing ‘All That We Share’ – a touching video about getting past ‘types’ in order to connect with your fellow man: TV2 – All that we share

  • Interactive notebook is a nifty little video all about using Interactive Student Notebooks in your ELA classroom

  • In this video you can learn about ‘New Classrooms’, a non profit organisation that leverages classroom design, teacher talent, and technology to enable personalised learning for more than 7,000 students in 15 pioneering schools

  • How to learn faster with the Feynman technique (example included) – If you want to cut your study time, using the Feynman Technique is a great way to do it. Named after the physicist Richard Feynman, it revolves around explaining a concept in simple language as if you were teaching it to someone else

  • In every workplace, there are three basic kinds of people: givers, takers and matchers. In Promoting a culture of generosity, organisational psychologist Adam Grant breaks down these personalities and offers simple strategies to promote a culture of generosity and keep self-serving employees from taking more than their share

  • Working hard but not improving? You’re not alone. Eduardo Briceño reveals a simple way to think about getting better at the things you do, whether that’s work, parenting or creative hobbies. And he shares some useful techniques so you can keep learning and always feel like you’re moving forward. Take a look – How to get better at the things you care about.



  • Online communities, ideally, should play an important part in their members long-term learning, contributing also to their professional development. An effective community should provide a space for people with common interests to creatively, robustly and respectfully, unpack some of the interesting challenges in their own practice and everyday lives. However, this is easier said than done. In Developing relationships – the key to fostering online professional communities there are a number of resources and articles designed to help those facilitating communities do so in a positive way

  • One of the great things about technology and the internet is the access to information we may not have previously had – such as the ability to hop online and learn a new skill – for free! 10 tips to get your head around design – especially in the digital realm is one of these fantastic resources. The linked article gives lots of tips on how to get the basics down, and progress, your design skills.


What’s on?

Lots of other things happening (online courses, conferences and other opportunities) including the 2017 Global Student Conference – keynotes and presentations by students for students, taking place on March 4th as an online activity.


Please feel free to add events to share them, or just let me know and I’ll add them :-)



Nāku iti nei, faafetai lava, and warm regards


Charlotte Caines

Community Coordinator

Ethos Consultancy NZ Ltd

PO Box 90391, Victoria Street West,

Auckland 1142

Phone +64 (0)9 9738027 / +64 (0)9 5750206

Mobile +64 (0)21 2273777

Web site:


Email addresses: /

Skype: hazelowendmc

February 28, 2017

iNACOL Webinar | 3/15: Future-Focused Education Innovations: Insights from Global Leaders

And from the neo-liberals today…  Note the international presenter for this webinar, which might make this session quite interesting.

To view this email as a web page, go here.

Future-Focused Education Innovations: Insights from Global Leaders

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

3:00p.m. – 4:00 p.m. ET (register)

On Wednesday, March 15, 2017 from 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET, the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) is hosting a leadership webinar to share insights on future-focused education innovations from global leaders.

What, in the end, will differentiate an educated person in 1950 from an educated person in 2050? How will this influence our view of schools, learning, and our education system as a whole? New Zealand is leading efforts to transform their education system around excellence and equity, providing learning experiences that offer the opportunity to build depth of knowledge through highly personalized learning.

Learn from experts how school leaders are designing new learning models and working together to build knowledge and practices that develop deep learning and foster whole system change. The New Zealand Education system’s vision is described as a “highly connected, interdependent education system that equips students with skills for the future, fosters students’ identity, language and culture, and prepares students to participate as successful citizens in the 21st century.”

Join this webinar to learn about the future trends in global education, and discover ways global systems are collaborating to create educated citizens for the future. Understand the differences between surface learning and deep learning, and explore the characteristics that define each level. Learn about the CORE Educational Positioning System (EPS), a self-reflection tool to empower schools to shape and drive their future development.

iNACOL CEO Susan Patrick said, “Grounded in social justice and equity, New Zealand has transformed their education system toward personalized, competency-based learning. Join this webinar to explore future directions in education and exchange ideas on global education systems transformation and educational innovation for equity.”

This webinar is free to attend – participants are invited to register here for final details and login information.

Webinar Title: Future-Focused Education Innovations: Insights from Global Leaders


  • Derek Wenmouth, Director of e-Learning, CORE Education (New Zealand)

About iNACOL

The mission of the International Association for K-12 Online Learning (iNACOL) is to catalyze the transformation of K-12 education policy and practice to advance powerful, personalized, learner-centered experiences through competency-based, blended and online learning. iNACOL is a non-profit organization focusing on research, developing policy for student-centered education to ensure equity and access, developing quality standards for emerging learning models using online, blended, and competency-based education, and supporting the ongoing professional development of school and district leaders for new learning models. Visit our website, like us on Facebookconnect with us on LinkedIn and follow us on twitter.

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