Bookmarked (

From partisans of Inquiry-Based Learning™, I can take ideas for inviting student knowledge. I can take activity designs that draw out of students what they already know, activity designs that activate inert knowledge and yield mental resources a teacher can use in their direct instruction.

From proponents of Direct Instruction™, I an take ideas for developing student knowledge. I can take designs for teacher instruction that respect the cognitive architecture of the brain, principles for using multimedia in learning, and the ways all of the above can help students productively re-organize their existing ideas.

See? That was easy! You can change your life right now by starting with broad, sturdy premises about learning that cut across these branded, self-limiting ideas.

Source: How to Not Waste Your Only Life Debating Direct Instruction and Inquiry-Based Learning by Dan Meyer

Dan Meyer pushes back on the debate between Direct Instruction™ or Inquiry Based Learning™ instead calling for a middle ground where you borrow the best of both worlds. This reminds me of my idea of a ‘pedagogical cocktail‘. I think that the real challenge is actually knowing what you are drinking.

Replied to Are Great Teachers Born or Made? A cheat code for education (

I am convinced that a huge amount of the enthusiasm for AI in education (and for teaching machines historically) is simply the wish for a cheat code, a wish to press ↑↑↓↓←→←→BA, enter god mode, and escape our current condition where it’s hard to understand how to select, train, and support the people most essential to the education of our children. I’m suggesting that if you’re serious about this work, you can’t cheat code your way around teachers. If your work doesn’t account for teachers—the way they work, the way they move through a class, the tools they use, the way they think about their students, their aspirations for their work, the outcomes for which they’re accountable, the vastness of their experiences prior to teaching—you will make a meaningful impact on student learning only by accident. One possibility is that great teachers are born but that good teachers can be made.

Source: Are Great Teachers Born or Made? by Dan Meyer

Dan, I really like your point about artificial intelligence and a dream of a ‘cheat code’. This feels like an extension of ‘Uberification of education‘. I am also reminded of my discussions of greatness over building capacity.

Replied to Pluralistic: American education has all the downsides of standardization, none of the upsides (16 Jan 2024) by Cory DoctorowCory Doctorow (

If I found myself at loose ends, trying to find a project to devote the rest of my life to, I’d be pitching funders on building a national, open access portal to build an educational commons.

Source: American education has all the downsides of standardization, none of the upsides by Cory Doctorow

Although it was not necessarily ‘national’ or ‘open access’, one of the things that was attempted by the Ultranet was an educational commons. The challenge I found with this was around mindset. Even though staff were paid by the government, many teachers saw resources created as their own, not something to be added to a collective repository.

I kind of get the feeling that this maybe what Bonfire is trying to achieve. I have not given it enough time to know though.

Replied to What is the purpose of educational technology? (

I don’t mean that title as a rhetorical, smartass, question, but rather a more fundamental one. It’s probably not one we ask ourselves very often, we tend to be caught up in the application of a particular technology, or trying to solve a specific problem. But at the more abstract level, what do you think educational technology is for? When we adopt it, what is the purpose we are intending it to fulfil? I expect the answer will vary depending on technology or context, and not be limited to one function overall. But of you had to answer the question “what is the main purpose of educational technology?” at a cocktail party, what would you answer (apart from asking yourself how did you get invited to a party where this is the conversation).

Here are some potential responses I think:

  • Improve learning performance
  • Making learning more accessible/flexible
  • Financial benefits
  • Student experience and choice
  • Improved pedagogy
  • Reflection on practice
  • Administration and monitoring

Source: What is the purpose of educational technology? by Martin Weller

Martin, this has me thinking about a post I wrote too many years ago about my ‘vision for eLearning‘:

Is Transformative: More than just redefined, learning is purposeful and involves wider implications.

Is More Doable: Makes things like critical thinking and collaboration more possible.

Enables Student Voice: Technology provides a voice for students to take ownership over their work and ideas.

Involves Modelling Digital Citizenship: More than a sole lesson, eLearning should be about foster competencies throughout the curriculum.

Source: Vision for eLearning by Aaron Davis

The thing that struck me then was that vision is a collective enterprise and so often is contested, no matter how much work is done. For example, this week, I got caught talking with a colleague who argued that there are three facets to the technology project that we are a part of: finance, student/community and pedagogy. The problem that we face is that there is nobody who is properly invested in all the areas, therefore any decisions made are always made based on the priorities of the group in question. When I started too many years ago now, my focus was all about the students, as outlined in my vision, and although this is still the case and will always be something of a north star, my day-to-day focus these days is on administration and finance. Sadly, I have come to learn the reality that when it comes to technology at scale (financial benefit, you might say), the focus becomes the quality of data you are working with and improving the steps to producing such data more efficient. Many prefer to call this ‘magic‘, but to me it is the foundation that allows the house to be built. Invisible to most, until a massive crack appears in the wall and you need to go digging.

I was also left thinking about Ewan McIntosh’s post about the various purposes alongside Ewan McIntosh’s discussion of a school’s ‘value proposition‘. He posited that beyond two values, teams get lost:

A value proposition, even if you are a state school, is a vital value to hone down, not just so that kids aren’t ripped out of your school but so that everyone, including the leaders, can be held to account when kinks in the system appear. If you state that excellence in education is your value proposition, then you’d better get that nailed, all the time, every time, or perceptions will change and take a long time to bring back.

And defining a value proposition is easy – you can really only choose one top value you pursue, and a close-place second one. Beyond two core value propositions, your team will be lost and not know what they are chasing

Source: Working out a school’s competitive position even when it’s not competing #28daysofwriting by Ewan McIntosh

All in all, your post has me intrigued to think about what has changed and what remains the same regarding education technology.

Bookmarked Learning recognition beyond an ATAR by gregmiller68 (

Despite the need to engage in rigorous processes to develop Learner Profiles for students, in mid December when HSC/VCE/SACE etc., and ATAR results are released, we will still see the media bombard us with league style comparisons of schools and their end of year results. There will also be many schools, promoting enviable ATAR results of students suited to an examination approach to learning. However, I remain positive that one day, and one day soon, each one of our students will leave each one of our schools with more than one number on one day and a certificate filled with only marks and bands. I look forward to the day, hopefully one day soon, where we will have a Learner Profile which showcases the very best of who a young adult is and what they can do so they can find their place of meaning in this rapidly changing world.

Greg Miller talks about the various efforts in Australia to recognise learning beyond ATAR. This includes New South Wales Digital Wallet, South Australian Learner Profile Pilot Project and the New Metrics Project. It will be interesting to see how technology develops to accommodate these changes, whether it be timetables and assessment.
Bookmarked Stop Wasting Your Time on School Improvement Plans That Don’t Work. Try This Instead (Opinion) by Peter DeWitt (Education Week)

Some of this seems complicated, right? Problems of practice, theories of action, assumptions, success criteria, and program logic models all seem like a lot of work. However, what is more work is when leaders create a document in isolation that they never intend to use and never engage in conversations with teacher leaders about areas of focus they could work on together.

Peter DeWitt discusses the importance of a theory of action to guide the development of an improvement plan. In addition to a ‘theory of learning’, DeWitt suggests that it is important that plans are also practical.

When working on a school improvement plan, or what some schools may refer to as an academic plan, it’s important for its creators to make sure that it is useful. How do we do that? We do that by:

  • Making sure that we do not have too many priorities;
  • Taking time to reflect on how many actions and activities we should engage in;
  • Including teachers and staff in the discussion and not just creating the document in isolation;
  • Not storing them away only to look at next year when we have to create our next school improvement plan; and
  • Making the document workable and based on our needs.

I wonder about the user of the How Might We question to frame this theory?

After this we returned to our original groups and worked through the ‘How Might We’ task. This involves completing a prompt: how might we ACTION WHAT for WHOM in order to CHANGE SOMETHING. The purpose of this was to come up with a clearer guide for our moonshot.

It also has me thinking about the IOI Process in providing a structure to not only understand the intricacies of context, but help map out a path to change and innovation.

Bookmarked Five thoughtful ways to approach artificial intelligence in schools (

The use of artificial intelligence in schools is the best example we have right now of what we call a sociotechnical controversy. As a result f of political interest in using policy and assessment to steer the work that is being done in schools, partly due to technological advances and partly due to…

Greg Thompson, Kalervo Gulson and Teresa Swist provide five recommendations when considering the use of artificial intelligence in schools:

Ultimately, we suggested five key recommendations.

  1. Time and resources have to be devoted to helping professionals understand, and scrutinise, the AI tools being used in their context. 
  2. There needs to be equity in infrastructure and institutional resourcing to enable all institutions the opportunity to engage with the AI tools they see as necessary. We cannot expect individual schools and teachers to overcome inequitable infrastructure such as funding, availability of internet and access to computational hardware. 
  3. Systems that are thinking of using AI tools in schools must prioritise Professional Learning opportunities well in advance of the rollout of any AI tools. This should be not be on top of an already time-poor 
  4. Opportunities need to be created to enable all stakeholders to participate in decision-making regarding AI in schools. It should never be something that is done to schools, but rather supports the work they are doing.
  5. Policy frameworks and communities need to be created that guide how to procure AI tools, when to use AI, how to use AI why schools might choose not to use AI in particular circumstances. 

Bookmarked “Eduspeak” Reconsidered (

Not all of our lingo can or should be replaced with simpler words. Nor would everyone who criticizes it be satisfied with greater clarity. Nevertheless, educators, like other professionals, have a responsibility to communicate as clearly as possible with people outside their field. It’s a matter of basic courtesy to elucidate terms that may be puzzling to others even though we’ve come to take them for granted. And that clarity may also help more people to understand why traditional practices so often fall short and thus to build a constituency for change.

Alfie Kohn explains that the complexity of language depends upon the context and situation.
Bookmarked The Problem with Teaching Sophisticated Vocabulary (
Alex Quigley shares some activities to support students with making apt vocabulary choices, including:

  • ‘Vocabulary 7-up’ is a simple vocabulary game that encourages pupils to record as many synonyms as they can for common words (seven ideally!).
  • ‘Word Triplets’ offers students three words to choose from, or synonyms, so that we can begin to shape their apt vocabulary selections.
  • ‘Said is dead’. The use of ‘said’ is part of the fabric of academic writing.
  • ‘Simple >< Sophisticated’. Teachers can quickly and repeatedly model apt word choices, along with the movement from simple to sophisticated, and the reverse when it is needed.
  • Word gradients. A common approach is to have pupils discuss and select from a range of word choices – debating their meaning and value for a given task.
Bookmarked Teaching After Twitter (

I am interested here as someone who realizes how much a) community, b) professional learning, and especially c) knowledge production arose from the particular context (including technological, political, personal, epidemiological, generational factors, etc) of 2005 to 2015. And I’m wondering where teachers–especially new teachers–will get that next.

With the changes to Twitter, Dan Meyer wonders where people might go to in order to engage with community now? He suggests that platforms like TikTok do not allow for the same level of engagement. This has me thinking about Dron and Anderson’s Teaching Crowds and Ian Guest’s research into Twitter. For Miguel Guhlin, the answer is Mastodon. He has published a number of posts to help with the transition.
Bookmarked “Let Them Leave Well” (

Unfortunately, principals and leaders have limited options, but one thing they can do is guarantee that the classroom door remains ajar by ensuring effective teachers “leave well.” Leaving is not necessarily a reflection of the family or school environment; sometimes it is a result of certain circumstances or the need for independence, wellbeing, or personal growth. If they leave on a positive note, they may be enticed to return to the classroom or the school in the future.


Inspired by an ACEL presentation, “A synthesized model of teacher turnover” by Dr Hugh Gundlach, Andrea Stringer shares her thoughts on teacher retention. Gundlach and Gavin Slemp spent four years working on a meta-analysis on teacher turnover. One of the key take-aways is addressing those things that are within a school’s control by letting those who leave leave well. Associated with this, to help principals to better understand the situation, Gundlach provides some questions to consider in reflection:

  1. Was the teacher’s departure voluntary?
  2. Is the teacher’s departure a loss for the school?
  3. Could the school have done anything to prevent the departure?

Definitely food for thought.

Liked What Teaching Movies Get Wrong About Teaching by Dan Meyer (Mathworlds)

It’s interesting to see how often teaching in TV and movies is characterized as:

  • Easy for outsiders—perhaps even easier for outsiders than for insiders, the people who have studied and practiced teaching for years. (Dangerous Minds, School of Rock, Stand and Deliver, Kindergarten Cop, etc.)
  • Individualistic—a profession where you’re successful in spite of rather than because of your colleagues, most of whom are weighted down by their antiquated traditions or their inadequate beliefs in the potential of their students. (The Wire, Blackboard Jungle, Stand and Deliver.)
  • Sacrificial, indeed to the extent that successful teaching may require you to forsake your marriage (Freedom Writers) or your health (Stand and Deliver).
  • An economic equalizer, where classroom success is the engine of economic mobility, rather than, say, wealth redistribution or a strong social safety net. (Dangerous Minds, Blackboard Jungle, Stand and Deliver.)
  • Cultural discipline, a medium for transmitting cultural and social values from the middle class to the lower. (Dangerous Minds, Freedom Writers, Lean on Me, The Principal, Stand and Deliver, The Substitute, Blackboard Jungle, and on and on.)
Replied to so what’s the deal with teaching after lockdown? by Tania ShekoTania Sheko (

I’m torn. I’m aware that teachers need to balance the amount of assistance they provide to students with a certain amount of room for them to work through things on their own so that they learn from that process, otherwise they are so used to us feeding them what they need that they are under the impression that learning is consumption of skills on a platter, whereby they learn things they are given by rote and follow a formula to the end result. Even if that were the case, how engaged would they be? And without engagement they won’t have a source to draw from – a source of interest and self-confidence, a thirst to understand and learn more. Isn’t that the point of teaching and learning, that balance?

Tania, reflecting upon your thoughts and reflections on scaffolding, I am left wondering how much the issue is something missed during the COVID years or a general lack of engagement with learning in general?
Bookmarked (

I try not to give examples. (I learned a couple lessons here. The first lesson I learned the last time I did this is to ask a follow up question: “What’s your favourite answer”, to help guide my choice when I pick their response to go with the photo. The second, hard lesson I learned this time is not to also ask for a school goal in the same form… this resulted in a number of students focusing all of their answers on school goals.).

David Truss shares an activity he uses at the start of the year where he creates a portrait wall with a want, a wish, a hope or a dream underneath it. The key is that these are separate from any sense of learning goals, they are instead focused on the world beyond school. This is an interesting alternative to the walls of jedis or minions.
Replied to Farewell to designing and establishing a ‘new normal’. by gregmiller68 (

What a privilege it has been to be the Foundation Principal of St Luke’s! I have appreciated playing a small part in a big team. I will be forever thankful for the staff who trusted me and I leave being in awe of their work.

Congratulations Greg. I have really enjoyed following your journey. Thank you for openly sharing. Good luck with whatever the future has to bring.
Bookmarked Timetable Absurdity by Cameron PatersonCameron Paterson (

In a century that is being defined by flexibility in time, we no longer need to be held hostage by sacred school timetables.

If we value deep learning and human connection, then this should be explicitly built into the school schedule.

Cameron Paterson reflects upon the way in which schools are still held hostage by the timetable.

While flexibility in time and space will define the workplace in this century, students get little experience deciding how to learn, where to learn, and when to learn, because schools account for every minute. Schooling is predicated on the perception that busyness is good. Treadmill schedules leave little time for deep learning, quietude, or human connections.

  • What does our allocation of time say about what we value in the teaching and learning process?
  • How can we provide time to enable young people to take more personal responsibility for their own learning, in line with the adolescent predisposition to begin taking charge of their lives?
  • If flexibility in time and space will define living and working this century, how can school best prepare young people for this?

He shares examples of schools that have more fluid arrangements that allow students to engage in deeper learning.

I am reminded of a piece from a few years ago from Michael Bond Clegg:

The good news about timetables? We’ve created them, so we can destroy them.

As I have said before, what intrigues me is how the technology helps and/or hinders any sort of change to timetables. I feel that the flip side of flexibility is accountability. For some the answer is things like RFID chips or AI driven facial recognition. I wonder what is done in some of the settings that are mentioned in this piece? I imagine that open spaces like those discussed by people like Steve Collis remove some of that stress. Like removing the weeping willows from cluttered waterways, I imagine that it is important that we place some other alternative in place for fear of erosion.

Bookmarked Unbeaching the whale by AdministratorAdministrator (

There is no shortage of things that could be added to this list. The revolution’s questionable taken-for-granteds (“equality of opportunity,” “choice,” schooling’s economic contribution) badly need re-examining. So does the habit of looking for silver bullets in other countries rather than trying to understand how Australia’s system has developed and what it can and can’t become. So also the endless talk about what makes a good teacher or a good school to the exclusion of what makes a good system.

But the point is not in a to-do list. The point is that the revolution has failed and so has its way of thinking. The first step towards unbeaching the whale is to start thinking outside that suffocating box.

Dean Ashenden reflects on the failure of Gonski and the education revolution. He suggests that the biggest ‘success’ was the way of talking about education which focuses on outcomes:

The revolution’s one real success was in directing the attention and shaping the language of “policymakers” and “thought leaders.” They now have no other way of thinking and talking about schooling. Hence ministers declaring that yet another bad PISA result to be yet another “wake-up call,” hence more announcements about lifting teachers’ pay or entry scores, hence new tests to make sure that teachers can spell, and hence more looking at other countries to see what they are doing right that might work here — all less from conviction than from not knowing what else to do. Seen from the outside it comes close to a famous definition of insanity.

As a model, the notion of outcomes comes from health services. Ashenden posits that this is problematic as those doing the ‘working’ are in fact the students, not the teachers.

The most fundamental mistake lies in imagining that schools are essentially deliverers of the service of teaching in much the same way that hospitals and clinics deliver health services. In reality, schools aren’t like that at all.

Schools are sites of the production of learning, not by teachers but by a four million–strong workforce otherwise known as students. The big determinant of their productivity is not the quality of supervision but the organisation of their work.

As much as I agree with what Ashenden is saying, my fear is that we are all always already ‘inside the box’? I also worry about the metaphor of the ‘beached whale’ as some whales cannot be unbeached and are blown up, or simply left to decay, providing food for opportunistic seagulls and sharks.