9 Oct 2015

Let them talk while I lecture! They are more interesting than me.

My First uLearn has just finished.  I went to the permission to play day as well so it ended up in a 4 day whirlwind of people, pedagogies, presenters, pirates, and potential professional development (and many more things that don't start with 'p'.

Let them talk while I lecture! They are more interesting than me...

This conference did challenge my thinking.  My default pedagogies are based in how I was taught at school where the teacher was in charge and they told me what to learn.  To break out of this is scary, it is risky, and it is out of my comfort zone.  However my background in Outdoor Education has shown me that often to get really deep learning we need to step out of what is comfortable and open up to the uncomfortable and get comfortable with that.

The sessions as uLearn that resonated the most with me ignited my passions.  The ones I found beneficial were able to spark my interest or creativity and then gave the space to be able to talk and develop or write and explore what it means to me and in my practice.  Creating unstructured space in a workshop was very important for me or else I would tune out and create it myself.

I really respected Marianne's approach of feel free to talk and follow your own learning path in the classroom if what I (the teacher) am talking about is not interesting you, based on the assumption that the learners will find what ignites their fire rather than have the teacher show them.

There are two areas that have been small sparks in my conscious practice that now, after uLearn, are blazing bush fires:

Student Driven Learning

I am going to be exploring how I can take this to the limit.  How can I create real learner agency, independence, and ownership.
My biggest question on this has always been how to maintain effective assessment and achievement outcomes while being authentically student driven? (keep reading for my answer)


The engagement and extrinsic motivation that the principles of gamification bring to the classroom are amazing.  

The Maze of the uLearn15 Breakout Sessions and where I went

  • Minecraft: Constructivist game for Student-driven learning
    • Marianne Malstrom - @knowclue
  • Alternate, augmented, and virtual reality: exploring the possibilities
  • Hackschooling - Bringing personalised learning into the classroom
    • Sarah Whiting
      • I experienced pivotal change in my thinking from this session around letting go of my own structure and stripping it down to the absolute essentials then building it back up with the students, individual or collective, as open as possible.  Setting a course or direction with them and then getting out of their way and removing as many barriers as possible.  Meeting the expectations and essentials in hindsight if needed.
  • Creating Space for Student Driven Learning
    • Marianne Malstrom - @knowclue
  • Gamestorming
    • Rachel Bolstad and Dan Milward
      • Wall o Games with a different game per post it note.
  • Hack your Classroom - Get started on changing teaching and learning
    • Pauline Henderson and Rowan Taigel

I Love Meeting New People Who Spark My Passion and Creativity

  • Marianne Malstrom
    • I have been inspired by Marianne's ability to walk her talk and the faith she has in her students to drive their own learning.
  • Stephen Lowe
    • I am really keen to develop my understanding of the principles of games and how they can be used in the classroom, this is what Stephen inspired me to do.
  • Dan Milward
    • As a game designer and not an educator, a potential wealth of gamification knowledge and exploration of the source - Games.
  • Rachel Bolstad
    • I am super keen to get involved in the research of games in education.  It is an area that I can see a lot of potential and it is just waiting to be explored. 

My Students Will Have FULL Autonomy in the Classroom

I teach Social Studies to Year 9 boys and I have got some ideas that are really exciting me now.  I intend to redesign my curriculum to include the minimum possible.  Only the must have outcomes, some sort of assessment, and some sort of evidence of learning.

I plan on not teaching my students, I plan to show them how to teach themselves.

Term one will be developing the competency and agency within the students so they can Hack their own schooling. Like Logan LePlante with the concept of Hackschooling.

I will show them how to be a hacker (not a cracker).  This slideshare explains the difference.
I will show them the key parts of being a Hacker
  1. Accept Challenges
  2. Blow away the Box
  3. Bring your Friends
Where non-hackers typically look at their classroom and learning environment and understand it in terms of “what does this environment do”, the hacker looks at the same environment and asks, “What can I make this space do?”
They can create their own pathway within a context such as Kotahitanga, Rangatiratanga, Whanaungatanga. 

To answer My Big Question about student driven learning from above all assessment will be self generated and completed.  So all my students will write their own rubrics and assess themselves.  I will be co-constructing and moderating their work but it will be driven by them.  And then they will be writing their own reports at mid and end of the year.

Here are some more ideas from Clair Amos's Blog on hacking the classroom.

And Finally A Virtual Reality Community Simulator

This is what I am excited about.  I have some ideas about gamification but yet to really work out what that will look like next year.  I am planning on using minecraft as a virtual reality community simulator.

My plan here is set the class up on a world all together and then join in as a member of the community and see what happens.  I am hoping and expecting to see things like self organisation of the group, roles and responsibility development, conflict and hopefully resolution, good behaviour and bad behaviour, all driven and managed by the class... somehow.

This blog gives some concrete examples of what I hope to achieve through the free play of minecraft

"I am not going to teach you, I will show you how to teach yourself"


  1. Awesome post bud! Really like how you've already started thinking about how you'll implement the learning you had at ULearn!

    Thanks for sharing the gamification and VR stuff. Am really interested in flattening my classroom so that my students can access the wider world around them. :) Looking forward to seeing your students continued success and developing progress. Can't wait to hear how your Minecraft simulation goes too!

  2. Great to see you thinking deeply about how to put into practice what you have learned. Remember to keep student learning at the front of everything. It's easy to forget that in the excitement of something new. Using an inquiry cycle would be a good way to keep track of this.

    1. I would be interested to talk to you about how i could use an inquiry cycle to keep track of this good idea!