Thursday, 22 March 2018

Modern Learners podcast on grades

After a panui from Andy (our Principal at Haeata) recommending the Modern Learners site, I joined up and read their White Paper which I really enjoyed and related to, then we had another panui about this podcast. I was so inspired and excited, I took notes and thought I would share them. I do recommend you listen to the whole thing though (51mins) and read through their site.
Competency based assessment rather than numbers or grades.

Scott Looney - headmaster in Hawken HS in Ihio for 12 years. Changed the systems and culture of what learning looks like in his school.
He is founder of
Making a network of schools trying to get rid of grades in high school

What is Mastery about?
Didn't start out to change grades, just wanted to create a second high school within his own school. Built a strand that was completely based on education research and ignoring every convention. If they had a blank slate for education what would it look like? "It's problem and project based, interdisciplinary, intergrade level (9th graders in with 12th graders) and all built on real world problems. The teacher assumes the role of master to the student apprentice."
Built a few courses on entrepreneurship. Grades and content of courses got in the road. Needed a non graded course - find one.
37000 HS in the USA. They said what you want doesn't exist. One school didn't have grades but found that they still had to make up a GPA! Had a great assessment knowledge but had to have the GPA for college.

Created their own prototype. Unique transcript - employers said if you have something different, I don't have time to look at it and work it out. But if lots of schools did it, then we'd have to learn how to read them. That's when Mastery consortium.... was born.
160 schools from 15 different countries.
The high school transcript aims to assess student progress and performance, but it is a broken instrument that underserves students, teachers or the world outside our school walls.
Most schools don't have the courage to change this.
How do you break this?
Not stupid for a school to say it's broken but what can I do? Dangerous to go your own way. What gives people courage is numbers.
How do colleges and employers know it is rigorous?

There is ZERO research in the world that supports letter grading. NONE.

It's never been legitimate. Designed to be a bell curve originally.
International Baccalaureate was one direction that schools took.
Mastery hasn't done either. Has done zero outreach. Very new - 2 full time employees. Not ready to take on the world yet.
IB seems to be possible for partnership as some philosophy is the same. 6-8 years away from getting the transcripts ready.

Public sector way ahead of schools with competency and efficiency based assessments. What they are trying to do is get students to persist to mastery not just move when teachers tell you to.

Pilot, will select some schools to pilot their transcript. not there yet, probably 6-12 months. 80 school districts have indicated they are keen.

NZ very well placed - would be surprised if they didn't show interest. Broadening their outlook. NZ at the top of the list. They are well ahead of any other country when it comes to mastery based assessment.

All the concepts at the moment are just examples (see one here). Designing 15-20 different visualisations to play with and eventually settle in on one. Mastery transcript format has to be the same for admissions. Needs to be consistent.

All about abilities and dispositions, not content knowledge. MTC agnostic on that question - Hawken just does skills and habits of mind, not content. Different schools may have Science. They won;t dictate. Will open up space on the transcript. Can get credit for public speaking. Has to write a mastery threshold and have a way of assessing. Will not be standardised across schools. Each school will make own credits but the transcript will be standardised.

We are so content and discipline driven in schools. Will Unis make that something that they want to see? Nothing on the transcript that does this. College presidents will be among biggest fans. Make this accessible for ALL students, including underpriviledged.

Colleges don't read files anymore on paper - why can't your transcript be a living document that has all that rich data attached.
Colleges have been asking for "creative, analytical, risk-taking kids who can solve real-world problems and work in groups for a year" and the system they use for selection at the moment gives them exactly the opposite of what they are asking for. Students now are not risk takers, they see the entry as a game you play, taking the right courses, working towards As and the world is your oyster. Valedictorians are not being chosen and are not the best students, often going to College with anxiety and stress disorders due to the pressure to get top marks.

He asks teachers to raise hand if they have seen a HS kid break into tears after getting an A- and every hand goes up. Is that OK? No.

More reading on testing:

Non college entrants - going to internships. Should kids do 13 years at school?
If you look at those that don't persist, so are life circumstance. Many leave because the system is against them. The biggest reason they quit is they come in with something that needs remediation and at the moment they get moved on based at the timing of the teacher, so if you happen to be bat the high end, you get bored, and if you are at the low end you are likely to quit.

System that allows kids to persist to mastery and allow them time to do that. Some can take a long time but once they master it they retain it. Didn't quite make 1st grade so now we'll start second grade and they get further behind. 3rd and 4th grade they work out school is not working for them.

No timestamp on mastery transcript - can take ages for some people. Only get judged when you ask to be
Teacher only job is to build a portfolio of evidence, feedback is that they are getting closer. Encourages them to persist and not give up.

Micro credentialling and badges
To employers - here's a link. Click on my leadership badge and you can see the testimonials from my team who talk about what a great leader I was. Need to take a large variety of digital inputs and outputs in their platform.

Can students design own credits? Up to sending school. School in charge of what credits they can provide. Mastery credits - foundational eg algebraic reasoning credit they must have before graduating at Hawken. Some others are advanced credits - 80 next to it means 80% of students have earned the credit. Rare credit may be 2% get a certain habit of mind skill. 
Socio-emotional growth being assessed.
School sets the mastery threshold. Can never master things, but mastery threshold in basic public speaking may be the basics, advanced threshold has to be set at a level that is available for all students to achieve but can be at a high level.

Some classes they can take all day every day for 3 weeks.
Bought an extension campus in the city. Take them there for 2 days, 4 days, go to different opportunities. 
Find your resources.
Get everybody on the same page. Hire talent. Then things will work.
If you don't like it all, go to different school. Don't be afraid to be specific to a core set of beliefs that you might expel some families. Can't be all to all. Either to faculty or parents.
Inspirational leadership!
2 ways to mobilise people - hope or fear. People get frustrated at first, some will start building, then bell curve will join in. Self generating now.

"Education in America is fundamentally broken"
This was an echo-location piece. Sounding people out. Wasn't designed to send out to the world, but wanted a sense of how ready people were to do the change. Told the Board about it and wanted to see what came back. Got most support from least likely. Current students least receptive. Triggered the dialogue.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Rock and Pop Forum

I attended a Rock and Pop forum today which was organised by Trinity College and held in their rooms in the lovely venue The Piano here in Christchurch.
There was a panel of 4, Tom Rainey, Mike Chunn, Jono Tressler and Isaac Williams, with Diana Burns as the facilitator asking the questions in bold. These are my notes of the discussion so they are not fully expanded but I felt there were some really interesting comments and discussion made around music education in general that was worth sharing.
My apologies for any mistakes in my transcribing - it was on my phone with Swype which has some interesting ideas of spelling and context sometimes!

How did you get into music?

Mike Chunn:
A Hard Day's Night. Mike wanted to be a Beatle. He said all those born 1952 their every move was to be a Beatle.
Choose instrument by some internal thing, bass players can't stand being alone and like being at the back.
Formerly learnt music in piano for 3 years but never sat an exam
"You play what you want to hear."

I wanted to play Yesterday and now I can play it backwards

Jono Tressler:
Pipe band on snare drum
Teach yourself progressive rock book. Influenced by being able to read the music and buying books to learn from.
Was encouraged to learn by ear but didn't get it by ear, needed the reading process.

Tom Rainey:
Nelson School of Music. Dad played stride piano.
Relative pitch taught from age of 3-4 as well as cadences and harmony, and singing in church
Parents didn't mind too much what the last two children did after the first two children. Pete and Rock Quest, Tom and music.
Jazz scene in Christchurch, big bands in the 80s. Started of with off classical degree then moved into jazz. Love of improvising. Always improvised on organ.

Isaac WIlliams:
Musical as a toddler. Uke when he was 3. Started guitar lessons age 6.
Comes from Waimate. Country music champs, sing and play. Once he began to do just guitar then he decided wanted to be a musician. Trinity started the rock and pop. Then really progressed quickly on guitar.
Found Trinity to be good for new technique and structure. Goal to aim towards.

How has music education changed?

Mike says almost nil. Depends what you want to be.
Phil Judd wrote great songs. To write songs that people wanted to listen to again and again is so hard
Strange than Fiction, parts of pieces came from listening to Rachmaninoff.
Love each other, play on a stage and know the unit by never speaking to each other. Like great rugby players.
Love to be 16 today. We would be recording, Noel Crombie would be doing videos.
Everything live is important.

How important is it to read music?

It depends on what they are going into
ARA Music Arts now not insisting they can read notes on the stave. Pulled back from that as an essential. Need to work out where that lies. It's a choice in music arts. Mike Storey says some of his bass students that not all read that well.

Jono moving away from contemporary to classical so more reading
Loves it when pianists  do percussion group. Total beginners with no reading or instrument skills is hard.
Drum kit, not forcing to read but have to count
But like Suzuki, this is what you are doing, then this is what it looks like

Could be tab, charts.
Ara and uni don't have time to teach basics

Online people just show you, but theory, you need that for tertiary. Some of the greatest performers know no theory, don't know the technical terms.

How have cultural influences changed?

What people are aspiring to now has changed.
Tom RnB influence. Heavily influenced by the Beatles
Many were influenced by a musician
Harmony has less meaning as more exposed to hip hop where harmony does not play a big part in that.
Dumbing down of harmony.
Is his role to promote harmony? There is still appetite for it.

Music lasts with deeper understanding

As a provocation, Western setting. What is the influence of ethnicity?
World is smaller, you can access so much more.
So much music now made on a computer. Need to know the theory behind it to make people want to listen to it.
Different sectors. Mike is in the band sector. Dave Dobbyn, Neil Finn you would never say 'here is a chart'.
Mike never had to play a cover

One of the elements apart from structure and harmony for Play it Strange, lyrics of the song are worth 50% of marks

Opportunities to combine this own culture and other western culture. As teachers we need to be open to that.

Why so few women?

NZ artists are about even, more female singer songwriters though.  70% female entries for Play it Strange
Male lyrics small breadth of emotions, rather than more range for females

Boys want to play drums. The girls that choose drums want to be more serious

Lorde effect on Play it Strange - lots more similar came through over that year.

Motivation to get into contemporary music not just to get on stage.
Contribute as a song writer.

Jazz standards you can use overseas -  easy to travel and meet up with others.
Jazz bit different.

Social aspect too! Social aspect of being a violinist in an orchestra and picking on the cellists can be a great thing.

Transition from classical to jazz. Isaac listened to old music from the 80s (written before he was born) thanks to his parents. Influenced with music he hadn't heard before.
Moving into jazz as more of an understanding comes in.

Study jazz and your rock and pop gets better.

No boundaries between styles.

"To have as many experiences as you can only makes you a better musician"

Mike: Listening to jazz is like watching a really good golfer. Quite a mystery.

50s you had to seek out the music, but now the music comes to them in so may ways.
Now students have a thousand songs in their play list.
They don't need to find people to listen to.

Stickability decreased for so many due to internet?

Isaac doesn't listen to the same stuff as any of his friends. To find a guitarist to get inspiration from there are lots. Back in the day there wasn't that option.
Having so much stuff does it deflate you or attract you? So many out there better than me so where do I fit. Used to be into one or two bands, now not obsessed with one player. None of them jump out.

What about the use of technology?

Mike doesn't like technology -  emphasis on song writing. If you are using logic to write songs, more a rhythm track than a song.
Mike only wrote with guitar or piano
Want to be a producer, engineer or arrange the tech is there. Remix remix remix sometimes too much.
People now are scared of writing a song and delivering in its rawest form.

Simplicity, those are the songs that stay.
Ed Sheeran on tour with only him. Only tech is him putting his songs out via YouTube.

Large range of genres. Can suit technology, you come up with a new sound and come up with some audio, playing it, others listening to it. Means of creating, recording, collaboration. Technology is essential.

If you've got the goods as a musician, the good people get heard. Lorde wouldn't have taken off without YouTube.

Isaac got first DAW at home. Garageband on an iPad
Technology is letting them share
Anyone can play anything now. Big positive, but traditional way of writing music is going slowly, writers put too much in with tech sometimes.

TrinityRock and Pop syllabus have new app to allow pieces to be transposed and to be slowed down
Spotify lots of originals of songs

Some teachers making a Spotify list of pieces they are learning at school

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

Concussion Part 4 - Almost there

I started writing this a couple of weeks ago - it has developed since then, but thought I would leave the previous week there as well.

I did a whole week at school this week. Meetings, students, the works. It's the first full week of work I have done in almost 9 months. Feels good.
It's not been the easiest though. I slept through my alarm this morning - something I never do, luckily the body clock woke me 15 minutes later, so I wasn't too out of routine, although my exercising got cut short.
It's great driving to work looking forward to what is happening for the day and knowing I'm actually going to work!
I have made a real effort to be early school each day to get to some wonderful mindfulness sessions run by one of our kaiako, Rudy. Even though there is often only the 2 of us, they make a big difference to my day. It's been interesting doing these, as there are such a wide range of different recordings and I have enjoyed some more than others.
The support of the staff at Haeata is amazing, everyone is there to do the best for our students and community and we have such a supportive collegial atmosphere. All the schools I have worked at have had this to an extent but I don't think I have ever felt it quite so much as at Haeata. It's an amazing place to work.
I am learning some more Te Reo. Another one of our kaiako, Melody, has offered some classes after school so I went along this week. It's something I started to do last year but in the busyness and chaos of our first term of opening, it fell by the way and then I hit my head.... I'm hoping I will continue to be able to attend these so I can learn more and feel more confident when speaking with our Māori students.
We are lucky to have such staff that are prepared to give their time and expertise and share their knowledge with others. It's what makes for a really collaborative environment.

So it's been a couple of weeks since I started this blog. I have felt the tiredness and the headache occasionally and have had to back up a little on the work I do outside of school. It has been a good learning curve but also hard on my ākonga who have not had the extra work that I would have done in the evenings with planning and sorting. I have noticed that I am still improving, but the rate of improvement has slowed a little as I have been doing more work. Some days I struggle with the after school meetings and have had to miss a couple to enable my head to catch up with the week. Eventually, I know, this will get better.

I'm loving being back at school - so good to feel I am part of things again and that I am there for the students.

Almost there....