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Escondido Union School District


Quantum Academy


Today we had the pleasure of visiting the District of Escondido, San Diego, California. District ICT lead Kathy Shirley was our guide for the day.


There has been a deliberate action by the school district to implement devices in school over time. It is interesting to hear of the 5 year lease that the union enters into with their chosen provider. In a New Zealand context this is a long time to lease, albeit a common occurrence here in California.


The first school we visited was the Quantum Academy. We were met by TOSA’s Jo, Scott and Chris as well as Ted the principal. The school opened on August 17, 2015. Starting with grades 4-6 in this first year. Since the last tour the school has developed from a concept to a physical space with students. Quantum Academy has students in grades 4-8 currently and will extend this in the future. Their are building works continuing as the school grows. We observed this as a group. The school is innovative and is open to all Escondido children through the School Choice lottery process. All students transfer from surrounding schools and students really want to be there as well as parents. Quantum Academy offers opportunities for students to create, collaborate, communicate, and think critically to impact the community through STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) learning experiences. The school aims for students to have  choice and attempts to connect learning to the real world while meeting the expectations of common core national standards. Quantum Academy students use their technology to integrate learning in all content areas. An area of note was their Genius Hour programme.


In the genius hour the teacher provides a set amount of time for the students to work on their passion projects.  Students are then challenged to explore something to do a project over that they want to learn about. They spend a dedicated amount of time researching the topic they want to pursue before they start creating a product that will be shared with their their community and displayed in the school. Throughout this learning process the teacher facilitates the student projects to ensure that they are on task. The teachers and students we spoke to were stoaked about the autonomy that students are finding in their classes.

Central Elementary Programme


We were met at the school by ICT school lead Joan Bohnstedt who took us to her room where we introduced to the principal, Stephanie Rosson-Niess. Central School was built in 1935 and was under a significant building upgrade during our visit. The Kindergarten and preschool renovation has been completed The school district was attempting to keep the school looking traditional and meet the stealth and safety requirements. The school caters to students in grades KG-5 and Steph describes the the character as a     ‘neighborhood school.' Nearly all the students live within walking distance. This was an example of a school that students can apply from to attend the Quantum Academy. We spoke to 2 students on the panel at the Academy who had previously attended Central and it was an opportunity to link their comments between the schools. Central School were proud of their partnerships with families. The school does not use traditional class numbering in the middle school. They use the names of local universities.


We saw how the school has used Sphero for children to inquire into robotics and the capabilities of these tools for learning. We also had the opportunity to watch how the school delivers a video message to all the students in the school using a green screen.


Escondido Union


We were invited to join the lead teachers of ICT for all schools in Escondido by Kathy. We listened to the team go through their meeting and then had a Q and A session.


The Escondido Union School District (EUSD) is a school district that serves the city of Escondido, California. The district serves over 17,000 elementary and middle school students with a student to teacher ratio of 19.6 to 1. The district contains 5 middle schools, 17 elementary schools, and one specialty school.


Multi Platform or single platform?


Money shouldn’t be an issue. Most principals in the Escondido district prefer an Apple it is rare for anyone to go from a Mac to a PC.


IT department make the decision for the schools. Very rare to get independence for devices.


Students do not get the same opportunities in high school. They are run by a separate student union.


You use Google Classroom. Did you consider another?


My Big Campus. We tried it for free. We heavily invested but a month before school ended the company couldn’t sustain the product and pulled pin. Wasn’t great. At the time we were migrating to gmail. Google classroom is used by most teachers. It is going to be interesting to see the work by students. We realised the Google and Apple were not going away. The union used Hapara for a while for device management. Most high schools use Google.


When you purchase MacBooks do you get pros or airs?


We go for 13 inch Mac. Pros hold their value for longer. As a lease we get a better return.


So you have a Digital Curriculum?


We have been working on it slowly. There is a state system. We are tied by lawsuits.

San Diego District


Mount Everest Academy


We were met at the school by the school Principal Courtney Browne. I noticed that the school didn't have many students when we first entered the school. The school motto is - Do school differently - Flexibility to pursue your passion. Mount Everest is a school for a homeschool setting - very similar to out correspondence school in New Zealand. Their point of difference was Blended learning spaces. Online and “in class”.They have many students that come here who need flexible timetabling such as actors, actresses, athletes that compete overseas, students with anxiety issues who need smaller classes. Mt. Everest Academy is a Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) accredited K-12 school that assists student learning at home using state-adopted curriculum with the support, guidance, and supervision of credentialed teachers. Students and parents are supplied with educational materials and educational workshops. Courtney and her teachers endeavor to provide an environment that fosters and promotes independence. This being said, it is a school within the San Diego Union that requires students to apply for from other schools. The school is not private and is funded like other public schools. There are factors that allow a child to be enrolled at Everest as a good fit these include:

  • Reading at age level - this school does not have capacity to raise achievement.

  • Responsibility

  • Self Motivated

  • Quite a different school - elite athletes, actors, dancers, acceleration, kids might not have to attend school each day

  • Students need to be self motivated, responsible, have good time management, support at home, self advocate, organised, on grade level.


All students who meet the requirements for enrolment have a supervising teacher who facilitates enrollment, distributes materials, coordinates their studies, and collects student work. The parent, student and supervising teacher sign a contract that outlines what is to be studied and when the work is due.


As the school has a physical presence and not in the cloud or in an office the students can come into class to work with teachers and parents. We visited a Maker-space that is  open from 10-2pm for students to just walk in and use for their own projects. A staff member is there. At the time of visit a parent was running it.


What we found interesting was that the school cannot accommodate students with behaviour management issues or below reading grade.


Two interesting noticeable factors to consider was the time management - no bells and Courtney said the school have 100% attendance with work being completed.


For digital expectations the school uses - the international society for technology and education. They also have houses standards around digital technologies. This is facilitated using a dashboard to inform the students and families about what the students are working on.


One thing I am still wrapping my head around was that the school relies heavily on home support and they still have a school community with lots of activities, outings and extracurricular activities.


Students are self advocates for their own learning and success - they ask for help when they need it.

High Tech High


Wow Wee...Developed by a coalition of San Diego civic leaders and educators, High Tech High (HTH) opened in September 2000 as a small public charter school with plans to serve approximately 450 students.  HTH has evolved into an integrated network of thirteen charter schools serving approximately 5,300 students in grades K-12 across three campuses. The HTH organisation also includes a comprehensive adult learning environment including a Teacher Credentialing Program and the High Tech High Graduate School of Education, offering professional development opportunities serving national and international educators. Teachers are completing their Masters Degrees and are all on one year contracts. Do the mahi and get the treats, no mahi - no job.


The school is guided by four connected design principles—equity, personalization, authentic work, and collaborative design. They use Project Based Learning to facilitate learning and have every tool under the sun to make learning happen. These kids were switched on and student agency was centre to their success. They had the soft skills to handle any environment. The work they were completing was above my pay grade. I saw children who WILL be the millionaire 16 year olds. The school prided themselves on equity where teachers work to address inequities and help students reach their full potential. The 4 schools are intentionally diverse and integrated, enrolling students through a zip code-based lottery aimed at creating schools that are reflective of the communities in their district. Teachers recognise the value of having students from different backgrounds working together, and employ a variety of approaches to accommodate diverse learners without academic tracking. High Tech High has an acute focus on college entrance and college completion for all students. These kids are planning on going places and they have some impressive graduates. Personalisation of learning happens through learner-centered culture where an inclusive approach supports and challenges each student. Students pursue their passions through projects, and reflect on their learning. The success of the personalisation lies in the design elements of the learning environment - small school size, small classes, home visits, and student collaborative work. We are pursuing this at Mayfair as individualised learning. The school focuses on authentic learning through projects that integrate hands and minds and incorporate inquiry across multiple disciplines, leading to the creation of meaningful and beautiful work. The kids pretty much engrossed in their learning as they can choose the project to match their interests. The key difference to our kids is that they they have the skills to manage their learning. They have all the gear but they have every soft skill to make them sensational. Students engage in work that matters to them, to their teachers, and to the world outside of school. Students connect their studies to the world through fieldwork, community service, internships, and consultation with outside experts. The facilities are collaborative workplaces with small-group learning and project areas, relevant technology, and common spaces where artwork, prototypes, and other artifacts of student thinking are created and displayed. This is something that could be the focus of improvement at Mayfair. High Tech High teachers were fully collaborative, most of the time, and collaborate to design curriculum and projects, lead professional development, and participate in hiring, while seeking student experience and voice in each of these areas. With students as design partners, staff function as reflective practitioners, conducting inquiry into equitable teaching and learning, school culture, project design, and authentic assessment.

Inspirational working environments where children are encouraged to think outside the square, be creative and think about the intended audience. The kids show real value in the process and the end product produced. Project overviews presented beside wall displays, with driving questions, and the aims for the lessons.


Essentially I felt the school had a really good inquiry model but the thing that stood out in the comparison between my students and these students was the understanding of the soft skills and the students being able to competently talk about what they were learning, what they needed to be successful and what they were going to next. Mayfair is ripe for the picking and it reminded me that the later was the success of Sherwood and Frasertown and that what I saw at HTH with the soft skills is the nuts and bolts for future success at Intermediate and High School. Not the knowledge of all the fancy tools.


I had the privilege of having Mike Malcolm and Hamish Fenemore on the PD. The following are their notes for reflection


The reason for the artist bent of the projects, is the influence of a high school art teacher who was an establishment member of staff, who created the philosophy of having meaning, pride, and value.  After each expo they discovered that learners were taking their projects home and throwing them in the dumpster. So therefore, they wanted to prevent any further “dumpster projects”. So when planning these projects, they focus on where they can be displayed in the spaces and what value they will have, and the budget for each project.  So no “dumpster projects”, valuing the work, and excellence.


Building teacher capabilities:

I asked the question about the employment of staff to meet their expectations and They have their own teacher training to accreditation level on campus.  This enables them to recruit staff who have had a years experience in this space, planning alongside a mentor, hands on experience.

Speaking with the teacher student from San Diego University who was with Colby.  He only needed to be on campus for 3 hours, but he stays the whole day because he really enjoy the context.  A tension though, is that he was concerned that if was to accept a job in a traditional mainstream school that he would have do work harder to understand the unit standards and plan using texts to meet the standards.



Professional development is carried out every Wednesday in the afternoon as the student s go home for a half day.  They also have an hour 2 days a week for 1-11/4 before school starts. There is a specific focus each session. Building capability, on the vision, project based, planning forward, checking in.

  • Through discussion with students at the school I found the programme to be carefully structured to help students grow in this approach in education. The elementary school follows more traditional programmes of learning found in a lot of schools in NZ.

  • The maths programme I found in one of the elementary rooms was based on CGI Maths, very similar in its approach to the ALiM programme in NZ, however, this was translated into a whole class direct teaching approach where the teacher shares a problem, sends the students away to try to solve the problem for themselves and then selects and shares back with the class particular strategies that were effective.

  • Today provided an insight into how a project can be more of verb than a noun. The process and learning through feels more weighted than what we would ever consider. The concept of being able to ‘pivot’ when you’re are having project failures happen is important to remember.. consider.

  • The way in which PBL has been developed in this school means

  • What made you choose the projects? Do you use curriculum guidelines? AO’s?

  • Curriculum is written by small teams and have to justify it to the rest of the larger team! (Cool)

  • Reviewing what programmes is set of classes is doing, active appraisal process that would give teachers ability to enhance programmes of learning.

  • Set processes for presenting, analysing and critiquing each others plans and programmes. (They keep to them to give all a chance to express everything and so teachers will remain professional and not interrupt each other.)


What made you choose the projects? Do you use curriculum guidelines? AO’s?


  • Projects are determined essentially through the passions of the teachers, sharing their own passions with the students and then fitting the goals/standards within the project.

  • Elementary - Much more structured and scaffolded in terms of developing minimum standards in reading, writing and Maths.

  • Projects still occur during this stage, however, it does not necessarily mean they integrate everything.

  • Once they move into middle school, projects go across the entire curriculum so whilst they are still developing standards in Maths strategies and knowledge students will also do a project that expresses the passion of the teacher they are with as well. Potential drawback from this in Maths is a lack of coverage? The maths teacher would need to express their project within the confines of coverage within the curriculum - targeted projects based on passion? Selection of staff might limit coverage?

Tustin School District


It was fantastic to be met by old friends from 2014


Garrett Kerr - Coordinator, Educational Technology

Michelle Ciecek - 6-12 ELA and HSS TOSA

Ashly McNamara - K-5 ELA TOSA

Dr. Brandee Ramirez - TUSD Connect Coach


They were just as amazing when Maurice and I were last visiting and we managed to catch up with a few other familiar faces. Of note was that they had all been promoted internally. Something that I feel resonates with Mayfair. Their success and transition was evident in 4 years as it was with our re-visit to Escondido.


Tustin Unified District


Tustin Unified District is located in the city of Tustin, Orange County and was created from the 1972 voter-approved unification of the Tustin Elementary School District and the Tustin Union High School District. It is located in Tustin, a city in Orange County, California, United States. Its district territory comprises the cities of Tustin, North Tustin, and the western part of Irvine. It has 18 elementary schools, five middle schools, four high schools, one K-8 school, and one adult school. At the district office we met with Dr Robert Craven. Many questions were asked. The following is a loose transcript of the meeting.


How are we improving the learning with devices? What would you describe as improved learning?


Reflecting is important to us. To be honest this is what we want our students in tustin to  learn. Our role at the district is to work out and continue to discover how we could use technology to support this? We want technology in the district to be visible but not overt. Some of the programmes we have in school are the STEAM Magnet Program that brings the academic subjects of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math together to create a collaborative learning and mobile digital learning where TUSD educators are using new tech-forward classrooms to boost student engagement. The updated classrooms will provide a “Future Ready” classroom experience.


You mentioned in your opening “Connect Coaches” - describe more about this?


We are getting our message out to the district that technology is the vehicle where the lesson resides. Technology is not the focus and neither are the measures - we never talk about the device in class. It is a tool that students can use. TUSD connect that we implement has high expectations for kids, engaging instructional strategies - things that make all kids raise the bar. Our connect coaches are a big part of that. Teachers sign up to be coached to start with. We choose coaches we choose the best teachers who have had very good practice. We want a tremendous impact for instruction, supported by technology. Fireworks do not come from having devices in hands, it comes from collaboration, creativity. Using these benchmarks we have a starting to define improved learning for teachers and students. Vital to our operation is getting our Message out so everyone (teachers knew what we were looking for - changing the people is where the key is.


Have you had push back from parents about the negative impact of screens for children?


Sure look at where we have come in 7 years, what about 10 years - how get ready for that?In order for instruction to  continue to evolve and change - social and emotional learning for students, multi tiered levels of support. Our patents in the district have seen the impact of technology of learning and get in and support.


How does tech play into it? how maximise even more?


The biggest game changer have been online programs and AI solutions. Devices help us to manage the data. Our students and teachers are able to recognise the impact and differentiate faster. What we have noticed is the limit in the gap between high end and lower learners.


Maker spaces, more evolved and developed?


Maker spaces are tied to curriculum and close gaps.  There is still a disparity with equity. Having the tools in the room to solve the problem is what we have found success with.


Homework disparity - home able to help with learning when they get stuck?


Our whole community have internet. 40% of kids wonder what they are going to have for dinner so Wifi supplied by the school district! No opportunity gap left for delivering content to kids. We have bypassed the big Telcos and run our own system. It was and still is hard work but we have done it! Aaaaannnnnnnddddd we have 8 gig per second fibre network!!!!!!!


We have 13 pathways for learners who want to chase technology at High School - including carbon fibre 3d printing, laser printing! Our opportunity funnel keeps growing - the children should be able to make that choice - not the adults!


Cooperation, collaboration, critical thinking, communication - overarched by problem solving. At the basic level we are using coding apps used with learners.

Empowering students to become teachers, using scaffolding.

Language for the STEM approach impressive, support for staff to build on these new skills to improve their own practise.

Challenge has changed from lack of device to how to support and enhance practise using appropriate tools, one of which are devices.


Three key foci:

  1. Rigorous standards

  2. engaging strategies for learning and,

  3. Supported by technology.


  • The magic is in the people. Technology is the tool not the be all and end all.

  • Development of maker spacers, understanding design and robotics.

  • Problem solving, creativity and developing student capability.

  • Building a positive vision to enhance learning. Inter-school collaboration of maker spaces, innovation coordination or pedagogical coordination.

  • Priority is not necessarily creating one to one but quality instruction in the classroom.


Loma Vista Elementary


We were met by Lauren Steinman, Principal. It was the first school I had entered where PBIS was evident.  The focus of Loma Vista is:


  • Technology-rich learning environment including 1:1 iPads in most grade levels, SMART boards, and an integrated technology set-up in each classroom.

  • Rigorous, research-based curricular programs including Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) math, STEMscopes science, and Readers and Writers Workshop.

  • Engaging STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) and Maker education offerings and an award winning Robotics Team! The Cougar Innovation Lab houses Beebot and Ozobot coding robots, Osmo interactive learning tools, a green screen studio, Lego stations and more!

  • Spectacular, community-built learning garden allows students to participate in hands-on learning activities, planting, harvesting, composting and more!

  • Arts education in all grade levels with Art Masters and FIBO art programs, as well as John Yeiser music assemblies. All 3rd-5th grade students participate in a weekly music program, including voice, strings, and recorders.


The school is intent on building a comprehensive curriculum in all areas, including physical education and wellness, while fostering and cultivating the 21st century learning skills, implement the Common Core Standards with a goal of creating systems of continuous school improvement that will result in well defined, elevated expectations for all students. School-wide teachers have professionally studied, embraced and implemented the high-impact teaching practices of Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) in mathematics as well as Reading and Writing Workshops. As a teaching staff they understand that teaching best practices takes students to deeper levels of thinking and reasoning, enabling teachers to facilitate a highly engaging and meaningful curriculum inside of student-centered, technology-rich learning environments.

Loma Vista students engage in a variety of experiences to develop and nourish creativity. Throughout the year, students participate in the Innovation Lab, Art Masters and FIBO art history assemblies and hands-on workshops, Imagination Machine writing recognition and performance arts assemblies, interactive Philharmonic assemblies, and interactive music assemblies. All third, fourth and fifth grade students participate weekly in a dynamic, one hour music program where they study instruments, rhythm, and singing. Students benefit from a credentialed physical education coach and have the opportunity to participate in a 100 Mile Club. They have an annual Variety Show provides students with awesome opportunities to shine in the performing arts.

The Parent/Teacher Organization (PTO) builds community and generates over $35,000 a year to enhance and support our students’ school experiences. With these funds the school have purchased an abundance of technological resources including student iPads, Apple TV, educational software programs, and a new state of the art sound system for our multi-purpose room, along with Art and Music programs, a PE Coach, instructional supplies and more. There is a  Loma Vista Dads (LVDs) group that is a special branch of our PTO that also makes a huge difference to the school. Established in 2011, and going strong today, this group of dedicated men can be seen, showing their support, just about every single day. Whether it be helping out with parking lot safety, digging trenches in our garden, volunteering at school events, or greeting community members in the mornings, these LVDs impact students’ lives by being present, positive male role models who hold education in high regards. I love the idea of the Dads group. I would love to have our home and school up and running but this will need to be a really thought out plan.

The school motto is “COUGARS ARE KIND, SAFE, AND RESPONSIBLE” and give 100% of their effort, 100% of the time sets the tone for our student body and learning community. The motto embraces the 3 PBIS values. Their Values of Success awards, student Academic and Attendance Recognition assemblies, Ripple Kids community service projects, Student Government, Cougar Card program, Courageous Cougar peer mediator program, Principal’s Summer Challenge program, and the weekly flag ceremonies model the high expectations the school have for our students.

It was really interesting visiting the classes. They have school wide engineering challenges. Classes/teachers have autonomy over whether they use the maker space to teach/facilitate or if they teach the concept and plan in their classes and then use the Maker Space for other learning opportunities around green screening, coding, robotics, Osmo etc.


They have a student leadership group called techsperts. Their role is to support teachers and learning by coaching them with different technology. The process for applying for this is that students create a How To video that shows a skill set that they can bring to the role. They also sign a contract which means they agree to a certain level of extra work and responsibilities.


Classes have iPads. Some state bond funded and others purchased through school budget.


Classrooms set up with digital tools (computer, projector, interactive whiteboard).


Further research and collaboration in PB4L would be beneficial for future learning and connection to the USA Sabbatical


Hicks Canyon Elementary


As I walked into the school I was met by Jaclyn Spangler, the deputy Principal. It was pretty cool having visited her as a teacher to seeing her now in management. I was also struck again by PBIS evident in the school. Hicks pride themselves on being a 21st century school of excellence. At Hicks Canyon Elementary they believe they  build strong relationships with parents, students, staff, and community partners. Providing meaningful and engaging learning experiences is their top priority, while ensuring a safe and nurturing environment where students are encouraged to communicate, collaborate, create and think critically each and every day.


As technology integration among schools increase across the country, ongoing support for teachers and students is in demand. Instructional coaches support technology integration with pedagogy, but Hicks Canyon has implemented “mini-coaches” known as TECHsperts Hicks Canyon TECHsperts applied for their leadership role and meet weekly with Coach R and Mrs.Gumz to work on a variety of ways to grow as leaders and peer role models. They use Google Classroom, Seesaw and REMIND to communicate, collaborate and collect information. TEChsperts main role is to provide support to teachers and students. This school was like Myford, as I found out it was a straight replica (see 2014 notes)


  • collect data on the needs of our campus

  • visit classrooms once a week

  • teach new technology tools

  • support and lead small groups

  • introduce new and innovative ideas

  • support teachers with Google, Seesaw, DoInk and various educational apps


Hicks Canyon TECHsperts was something I implemented at Frasertown and the analysis we made at the time was that students who were progressing to their level ended up stagnating if they became techsperts. One interesting analogy made by Sue Smith, my deputy at the time was that they were a bit like the bright kid in reading who was paired with lower readers for help. Where is their development? That being considered the trade off was the scaffolding of excellent communication and leadership by these students.

Of note was Cuethink. An app students were using to scaffold their thinking around solving maths problems while also recording this to share with their peers and teachers.


Orchard Hills School


Orchard Hills was a relatively new school and the crown jewel in Tustin. The thing that reinforced the Districts vision was that this school was a replica of the other two! It reinforced the message from the district office that their aim was to have the same message going out to all teachers and principals in the district of their expectations. This is what we want to have happen, these are the parameters to do it. Get going.


The main take away from Tustin is to make sure administrators that you are in schools and classes all the time and to always be actively engaged once you have set those parameters.


Fullerton School District


Valencia Park School


I visited this school in 2014 and in principal did not notice many changers other than the staff. It felt as if I was looking at the same stuff again but my lense was changed on this day. Instead of looking at the fancy I wanted to see the deeper features of student learning. The school was still being successful with student achievement - so what was the same in student learning. What were the skills the school was using for students to be successful?


The school was fortunate to have the support from the Costen Foundation who hires a teacher on staff as a mentor who focuses on inquiry, PD, can study for two years, or become Apple Distinguished. They have to do common core but believe in “Common Sense Education”. PBIS relationships as foundation to learning and literacy writing workshops with vocabulary provided success for all - These kids can write and read to a phenomenal level.

The teams takeaways today were

  • Time to Focus…

  • Brought us to their display room.

  • First thing I noticed was that this is a PB4L school. (PBIS)

  • Lions: Fierceness, proud, protective, brave,

  • Hosting other schools from around the district, Aspire school and internationally.

  • 680 students Pre K-6

  • 88% free and reduced lunch

  • 90% Hispanic

  • 60% English learners

  • 1:1 Ipads 3-6 take them home

  • Apple distinguished school

  • Cotton foundation

  • Common sense education

  • District wide opportunities in robotics and STEAM

  • 21st century learning, individualised learning, think critically, work collaboratively problem solve and offer a caring environment

  • Explore your passion, Act with purpose, Unleash your full potential

  • Bilingual evidence in presentation not in classroom.

  • Computer science pathway school - “trying it out”

  • K-2: Robots play learn ship. Coding, robotics exposure and play.

  • Company called Coded: teaching teachers to understand coding, use makey-makey’s, robotics, learning python language.

  • SAMR model: Substitution, Augmentation, Modification, Redefinition

  • Facilitation rather than teacher direction.


Acacia Elementary


I was pretty well worn out by the time I got to Acacia Elementary School. With so much information in my head I really needed to sleep and think for the next couple of days. The schools aim is to provide an education of the highest quality, blending the resources of the home, school, and community. They are committed to empowering students to reach their full potential with rigorous academic standards. The school want to develop confident children who can collaborate, create, and communicate in a constantly evolving world.

Zara, who is a kiwi, was assigned by the district to extend ICT. Of note was how similar this school was to most New Zealand Schools.

District have to many NZ Schools...

  • Integration of technology in a meaningful way.

  • Rotations through media room to learn about coding, robotics and other things (STEM) e.g. Raspberry pies to help develop coding.

  • Instructions and tutorial displayed on screens/ipads - goes through the step by step process for students.

  • Purpose - The why - children are able to express the purpose very clearly.

  • Teachers good at explaining how to code. Clear examples.  (Words of the kids)

  • GATE reading groups - reading the same text but sharing in small groups, asking questions and answering independently.

  • Level of discussion in classes.

  • Devices were not the focus but were the tool used to express an aspect of DT.

  • Streamed classes. Most classes we were taken through were GATE classes.


My two takeaways were:


Digital Citizenship award through Common Sense Education

Teachers stay with class during coding and robotic classes to also upskill the teacher


Robert C. Fisler School


Robert C. Fisler School is known for its innovative 1 to 1 Laptop Program for students in grades 3-8. Students in grades 1-2 begin with the 1 to 1 iPad program. While the use of technology is tightly woven into daily teaching and learning, the focus is less on technology and more on student achievement. The technology-rich environment supports goals of high academic achievement for all learners. This commitment begins with their mission statement: At Robert C. Fisler School, we empower each other to create, communicate, collaborate and think critically in a technology-rich environment.

At Robert C. Fisler School they are capitalising student learning through rigorous academic programs. Fisler represents the top 5% of schools in Orange County in state testing. The school emphasises enriching students’ learning through a progressive Computer Science Pathways Program that offers middle school students AP Computer Science. As the only school in the nation to have an Apple Distinguished School Recognition for 10 years, they have 1:1 iPads (Grades 1, 2) and 1:1 laptops (Grades 3-8) that serve as vessels for optimizing powerful learning.  The staff empower students to be agents of their own learning by discovering, defining, and impacting their future with innovative solutions that change the world. The Middle School Compass Program encourages students to discover their passion and apply it to pursue a career pathway with mentorship from professionals in the field. Student leadership groups are part of the decision-making process at Fisler School by being active members in various school organisations such as our Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA), Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS) Team, and National Junior Honor Society (NJHS). Fisler young voices are valued at the district level with student representatives on the Fullerton Education Foundation Board. The school leads in innovation for students to become makers, not mere consumers. Students become programmers, engineers, inventors, and designers: specialist and leaders in their field. Students utilize coding skills to communicate with technologies that allow students to access opportunities in the computer science field. They offer coding skills that build upon through the grade levels, beginning in Kindergarten and progressing to 8th grade. They are solid on promoting the greater purpose in utilising tools and skills to discover pathways towards a passion, accelerated academics, and/or future careers.

I found it interesting that most teachers hold Master's Degrees and additional certifications in GATE and technology. All teachers have been trained in using Apple Laptops in the classroom as well as integrating interactive lessons using Promethean interactive whiteboards.


School Programs:

  • iPad Program, Grades 1 and 2,

  • 1:1 Laptop Program, Grades 3-8

  • Computer Science Pathways Program K-8

  • AP Computer Science; College Board Approved Site

  • Middle School Compass Passion Program

  • Middle School Technology Core Program: Photography, Animation, HTML Coding, Computer Competency, Digital Arts


San Francisco




Walking in to the school I immediately noticed that there were iPad and laptop bags out in the open. I was absolutely amazed. Had that been in  a New Zealand school it would have been gone in an instant. After the first 10 minutes of our introduction it immediately struck me that the context of the school was a far cry from any other school we had visited and from my context as the leader of learning. Nueva is a student-centered school known for its distinctive inquiry-based interdisciplinary studies, constructivist project-based learning, and its pioneering work in social emotional learning and design thinking. The school also offers specialist teachers in numerous other core and elective areas, including STEM, writing, the arts, entrepreneurship, and physical education.


So my lense for San Francisco changed to follow the last of the LA schools. What could I take away to implement in our context to improve teacher and learner agency and what skills did the learners have to use technology as tools. My previous trip had emphasised that I was going to see some amazing stuff again and to look deeper than the flash “toys”.


Visible Learning Project - I like this idea. Visible Learning Project exhibits are displayed providing students, teachers, parents, and campus visitors with a dynamic and informative space to celebrate and reflect upon learning at Nueva. Over the course of an academic year, each grade participates in the documentation process capturing the full life cycle of a project from inception through completion, presentation, and assessment.


  • Project overviews of divisions, objectives, and disciplines

  • Photos and examples of brainstorming and preliminary work

  • Interviews with teachers and students

  • Iterations of inquiry and process

  • Documentation of final results

  • Examples of reflection, feedback, and assessment

Many projects explained digital storytelling being embedded in students learning and being a real living thing in the classroom and in reporting to parent live including the use of seesaw. I really liked this concept and something I have been thinking about since the removal of National Standards. The only nigly thing I had creeping in was how much of the final product was completed for display by the teachers or students.


Student Agency - Good learning and good teaching do not look dis-similar. Full stop. Students were looking at issues and finding a way to solve the issues or solving humanitarian problems or from a book kids have read. There was a real authenticity of purpose in the projects. Project Based Learning? Again I thought of the links to inquiry. The school had a significant focus on individualised learning but was still able to keep themes across year groups. It showed how well these teachers knew the kids. The teaching team encouraged and supported Interdisciplinary learning choice within the students authentic project. The bonus for this school was they were able to hire who they wanted so most teachers were experts in their chosen fields, not necessarily trained teachers. These kids could talk about their learning. This is the common theme among the schools I saw operating and students achieving at an extremely high level. The students knew what they were learning about, their next steps to being successful and what they were going to learn next. The added feature and development from my last trip was that the high function schools had students that had the soft skills embedded in order to be successful in which ever context they chose. These students have great; communication, organsation, teamwork, punctuality, critical thinking, social skills, creativity, interpersonal communication, adaptability, friendly personality. How do we make this happen at Mayfair - PB4L? Lessons? This is the key and next step past Frasertown and Sherwoods development.


Further Key Points


  • Student outcomes are very high. Language used in the classes were very sophisticated.

  • School takes on students through a rigorous application process can take 4 months.

  • Teachers selected and are chosen based on characteristics: “the Nueva Teacher”

  • Non-assessed process. Students work is evaluated through narrative assessment based on an unspecified set of criteria.

  • Question: Are student outcomes grown by the intrinsic creativity developed through a broad curriculum? Is the lack of pressure beneficial in establishing positive outcomes for students? How do they ensure that students outcomes are enhanced by the schools curriculum and pedagogy? Is the structure of their curriculum relevant for mainstream schools?

  • Preserving relevant forms of schedule and assessment that promote risk taking, collaboration that you can see in traditional high schools. Students learning from one another. Faculty learning through peer development.

  • Teachers are highly accessible to each other and students. Teachers are assigned seating in meetings? Intentional seating to develop collaboration between teachers in school. Mixed faculty. Authentic learning (travelling experiences) accessible through parents with resources.

  • Similarities between Waldorf philosophies and Nueva. Furniture, aspects of the curriculum, first name basis of staff etc.

  • Very individualised pathways based on gifted and talented education programs

  • Interactions between staff members encouraged to develop a positive culture within the school and to create greater connections between staff and students.

  • They are currently developing the way in which they monitor and track assessment and teaching.

  • Looking to develop an online distance program for students.

Apple briefing


So we got to visit the old mothership. Nothing like the first time but very informative and interesting. Things are really changing at Apple! Their aim is to continue to raise the bar - visual, text to speech, switch control, guided access are improvements in the the coming release on the iPad. Apple have lifted their expectation of what a person's basic skills are and they acknowledge that this has expanded.


Apple acknowledge that our students need to:


1 - solve unstructured problems

2 - be effective communicator - which includes which medium is best for what situation.


Some key points from the speech:


Creating - creating with purpose - who is the audience, what problem are you trying to solve and is this the best medium to be communicating this?


When kids create for the world they make it good, when they make it for the teacher it is good enough.


Don't try and predict what the what opportunities are we missing out on today, rather to help learn the skills that means they don't have to worry about what tomorrow brings.

are you comfortable with ambiguity?

are you ok with failure?

Identify gaps that exist and turn them into opportunities.


(The above reinforced my belief in teaching students soft skills!)


So where do Apple see us right now?


Basic skills

  • Reading Writing Maths

  • Communication - Flows on from basic skills

  • Global citizenship, media literacy, coding, multifaceted collaboration, creativity, digital agility, critical thinking, dynamic communication.

  • Teaching students to use apps like reminder and calendar to help them to organise their time, manage inquiries and set goals etc.

  • Can link these calendars to teachers so that they can have catch up sessions with them during the process of inquiry. (Developing student agency and developing time-management skills in students.)

  • Lynch pin - Making yourself indispensable.



  • Multi-touch books

  • 3D design and production

  • Green screen video

  • Media-rich spreadsheets

  • Mobile apps

  • Digital stories

  • Data visualisation

  • Streaming media

  • 3D design and production

  • School radio station

  • Community garden

  • Shared schedules app

  • Sit up with us app

  • Memory loss app


Hillbrook School


Wow wee, it was great to be back at the school that had one of the biggest influences on my career. Again it was great to see the development since my last trip. The new DP was an absolute clued up cookie. Clued up people get clued up results. This is the tahi and a focus for our school and something we are developing. One thing that was resosonating while here was Nuevas “person specification” for teachers.


Everything this school now does is based on research and evidence! Full stop. I love this concept


These teachers aim is to inspire students to achieve their dreams and reach beyond their worlds.


The development of the curriculum is to Ask - Start - Collaborate - Show,. Fundamentally this must have is Student choice and engagement at the centre of all learning


What will a computer lab look like now?

  • A space for teachers and classes to use for whatever they want. Designed in a way to allow flexibility and fluidity

  • Taking cues away from a preset environment. No teacher specific furniture. Displays are mobile.

  • What is it about? I want to build an iLab in my classroom.

  • Four key concepts: Student Choice, provide opportunities for student movement, ownership shared environment ownership of the space encourages greater output in learning, inclusion of all types of people (providing balance in the classroom to make it more comfortable for all learners.)

  • Wiggle stool  generated more ideas than sitting in regular chairs.

  • Co-teaching

  • intentional use of technology and digital citizenship.

  • More about what it means to reach beyond ourselves. How do you reach beyond? What does this look like?


Great range of play based equipment in Yr ½ space! Reggio was pumping I need to do more research. Authentic play. I really should have followed my gut following on from Frasertown. BUUUUTTTTTTT, how does this fit into our context? Soft skill influence?


Teacher support is important to the school and is based around PD for teachers, they have choice to be involved and run their own through request, it has to be a proposal, always sending someone from the team to ensure collaboration.


Older students become iPad doctors, use the power of the students who learn these things quickly.   1 hour of PD isn't enough for teachers to have the confidence to be able to run a session in front of a class, the teacher ipad doctors helps remove some of those barriers.  We want teachers taking risks and using the experts in the room.


Teacher has made a website that has my ipad fix outlining the steps you can take….doesn't work, they have a google form which goes to the ipad doctors and lead teacher, if the kids can help, they do!


Coffee time with parents, which has 5 minutes of slides that outline the use of iPads and things that students can use, and how they use devices at school, start with a positive showcasing work completed by the students


Presentation around big picture: Inspire students to achieve their dreams


Point of difference - Design of teaching and learning across the school


Student choice is their fundamental question. Reach beyond (a week that happens each year) -  off campus , reaching outside our own comfort and known environment


Outdoor classrooms where then developed as a result of research and observations, including inside the classrooms.  Teachers then went about identifying what they wanted backed up from data, evidence and research.


  1. Control the space and how it is set up for purpose

  2. Learners were free to move around the space, not concentrating on meeting behaviour norms, they can stand, sit and move around to help cognitive development

  3. Ownership - didn't belong to any one

  4. Inclusion  - for the high movement, people who need their own space, gives everyone the chance to learn in the way it works, but also about adding your own skills and talent into a group


Notes from meeting in Library with 2 teachers sharing project:


Serving a very privileged population, try to open up the world around their learners to ensure they have balance of perception


Reach Beyond Week - it's about solving problems and trying to help, they have found the limit of this programme so they have gone about changing that - skill sets and mindset


10 choices of the activities that were on offer, they ranked from 1-10 to find what they wanted to be involved in.  It created a different feel amongst the students, they felt they choose to be and therefore felt more connected.


Example of Fashion's impact on the world - through the it was girl heavy but the impact was on one of the boys who wanted to be a fashion designer, the teachers didn’t realize this until he emailed for help.


Committing everyday over 2 weeks to help solve a problem.


Co-designed amongst the staff, they used the question….What matters to you? - put aside the logistics until everything was sorted


What is happening in our world right now that’s new/interesting and important? What trends do you follow?


Groups were about 20-25 learners with around 3 staff members, they were able to look at different places in LA and looking at companies that use ethical approach to their work.


Started the week with “story-listening” a tedX approach, they wanted students and teachers to understand that students/teachers can be both a storyteller and story listener, it's not always the teacher telling the story.


Students were reflecting by writing down their own experience and to get down their own ideas.


9 local experiences, one international in China…all the rest were in California


8am - 3pm, getting the students to navigate new environment while implementing the school values.


$10 shopping experience to find out where things were made and how it ended up at that shop.  It highlighted how different the shopping experience was for these students compared to their normal experience.


Social entirrupal - businesses doing good for humanity.  They used their space to help facilitate the learners feeling like it was for real, they took it seriously as they felt it mattered.


A student tracked throughout the experience a video to capture the experience while taking down facts to share…distances, time it took, miles covered, interactions had.  Included interviews with entipipenal shop owners


Art Teacher - theme for all final projects that were part of an art show through the medium of sound, a self portrait through sound.


#Mindblown #neklevel


Monte Vista Christian School


The Crown Jewel of my tour. I was brought to earth quite quickly. My idol had left as principal! What I got this time was a no bullshit approach instead of the flash stuff. These are our scabs. Pick them apart and off. I realised this was going to be very different to my last visit.


The school is developing transparency of how MVS want students to use devices. By thoughtfully scaffolding and planning how to use devices and apps. Cyber safety focus in being aware of what students are exposed to and how they use it. Devices are owned by the parent not the student to create the idea that what is on the device is not private and that students need to be aware that appropriate use of devices and positive digital citizenship is essential in our growing digital world.


Primary purpose of devices at school is not to entertain but to be used as an active tool for learning.


Active listening (modelling this process with students) and asking driving questions before inquiry to help students direct their learning.


iPads and other devices are face planted to help encourage active listening when a teacher and other students are presenting to them.




  • clear memorable, powerful and measurable values for their school.

  • Student owned and delivered values with students.

  • Creating student buy in.

  • “We’re going to tell on each other not to get someone in trouble but to get them out of trouble, because if they have to cheat or do something wrong they are already in trouble by their poor choices.” - student voice


Curriculum design - voice and choice

  • If you eliminated project based learning what would you do?

  • How do you grow voice and show you value it? What was before developing student voice?

    • Collecting student voice through google forms.

    • Are we listening to students? What questions are we asking?

    • Student council is a small portion of the school and is not necessarily true student voice.

    • The voice of the student in the design of the curriculum.

    • PBL is the vehicle of including student voice into the development of curriculum.


Providing the right playground/environment in which students can explore their understanding of concepts, skills and processes.

  • Developing authentic learning situations for students.

  • Passion approach.

  • Global skills - what does context matter? Passion and process. What are the Global skills and understanding we need.

  • Developing global soft skills. - What are these soft skills? How do you develop theses?


Create a Goal don’t go into specifics until you know what you want for your school.


  • Futuristic goal, portable computer (raspberry pie). Think about plug in spaces. Different options about how to display things.

  • The teacher is not the most intelligent or educated person in the classroom anymore, it's important to be able to help students and guide students to develop skills to access information and practise skills for finding.

  • Process of developing a vision based on research

  • Critical friends -


Model for developing professional development

  • Moodle course

  • More capabilities than Google classroom,

  • Induction into school through a Moodle course expectations that teachers know about this before school starts


“Foxy, it’s not about the flash. You were shown a show. Get into it and make sure you remember what’s important for your students. Serve your community as you did at Frasertown and Sherwood. Be yourself and keep alive.”


This professional development has hit home some significant directions for our Mayfair boat to potentially sail as long as the direction is where the board want us to get. I realised that my success at Sherwood and Frasertown is the precipice Im looking at at Mayfair. I am ready to jump. I just needed a push and for people to question my integrity, leadership, knowledge and purpose. For too long I have been looking inward to what we do in Hawkes Bay, but I have realised that our success lies in Mayfair and outwards to the world. I have spent 3 years with the team fixing all the issues and worrying about the past. Now is the time for us to move in our direction as a team of governors, a community and a staff. It is exciting and new.


In the words of a famous pirate and smuggler; “The longing you seek is is not behind you, it is in front of you.”

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