Point England School

September 25th, 2013 at 7:00 am by David Farrar

The Canadian Globe & Mail writes:

One reason students phone in their school assignments – and only halfheartedly copy edit and research them – is that they’re keenly aware that there’s no “authentic audience.” Only the teacher is reading it. In contrast, academic studies have found that whenever students write for other actual, live people, they throw their back into the work – producing stuff with better organization and content, and nearly 40 per cent longer than when they write for just their instructor.

Smart teachers have begun to realize they can bring this magic into the classroom. In Point England, New Zealand – a low-income area with high illiteracy rates – the educators had long struggled to get students writing more than a few sentences. So they set up blogs, had the students post there and, crucially, invited far-flung family and friends to comment. At first, the students grumbled. But once they started getting comments from Germany and New York, they snapped to attention.

“They realized they were writing for a global audience,” one of the educators, Colleen Gleeson, told me. They began closely critiquing each other’s writing, finessing it for the folks abroad, such as pondering which local references a foreigner would not understand. By the second year, this explosion of writing was evident in their test scores, some of the schools that had adopted the blogging experiment – schools that had long lagged behind the country – were making advances 10 to 13 times larger than the national average, and some had risen all way to the average.

Good to see the great advances being made by Point England getting global attention. And really smart to use blogs as a way to get feedback for students and involve extended family.

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18 Responses to “Point England School”

  1. flipper (3,575 comments) says:

    But this cannot be true.

    Surely the PPTA sees it as a threat to them? Just think about it. We could pioneer the virtual classroom and enable the PPTA/NZEI to spend all their (ours, actually) time thinking up ways of preventing that, and refining idiotic reasons to sustain their lengthy paid holidays and other bennies.

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  2. Keeping Stock (10,108 comments) says:

    This is the school that received a generous donation from singer/rapper Will.I.Am. earlier in the year; from memory, $100k, to be spent on technology. It sounds as though the donation is going to bear significant fruit; well done to all involved.

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  3. All_on_Red (1,383 comments) says:

    Give those teachers a pay rise! Oh wait , we can’t .
    Thanks PPTA….

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  4. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    I shouldn’t think this is a unique experiment. Lots of schools are using blogs to improve engagement of families with what their kids are doing.

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  5. itstricky (1,578 comments) says:

    reasons to sustain their lengthy paid holiday

    Yawn. Even a good news story can not keep the teacher bashers away. Bal blah blah if it is such a good deal why don’t you become a teacher flipper blah blah blah

    KS i don’t think they need 100k just to start a couple of blogs BUT you are not trying to say that sums of money spent on targeted programs in the traditional school system actually makes a difference, are you?

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  6. Duxton (581 comments) says:

    This is a good news story. Well done to all involved.

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  7. flipper (3,575 comments) says:

    itstricky (527) Says:
    September 25th, 2013 at 7:58 am
    reasons to sustain their lengthy paid holiday

    Yawn. Even a good news story can not keep the teacher bashers away. Bal blah blah if it is such a good deal why don’t you become a teacher

    *****

    Well it is obvious, stricky, that throughout the western world the single greatest impediment to improved education is the domination (political interference) of teacher unions. Eliminate all the special bennies and provide just four weeks annual leave, no terms holidays, no teacher only days, no paid union meeting days, no sabbaticals, sick leave as for the rest of the work force….. and no tax breaks or loans for further education. That would place them on a more equitable footing, would it not?

    All that apart, every reform designed to improve education has been opposed by those cradle to grave inhabitants of academia who, with very few exceptions, have no real world work experience.. Surely something as smart as a virtual classroom is worthy of their opposition. :)

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  8. scrubone (3,048 comments) says:

    Yawn. Even a good news story can not keep the teacher bashers away. Bal blah blah if it is such a good deal why don’t you become a teacher flipper blah blah blah

    A lot of people *do* homeschool these days. I’ve seen vastly improved results after the replacement of a “professional” teacher with a motivated parent.

    In fact I was in a conversation the other day with a guy who’d also observed a lot of kids moving into homeschooling and he made the comment that it was like taking the brakes off their learning.

    That’s not to say there’s no place for schools and professional teachers, there are many good ones out there. The problem is that we are not allowed to identify the best ones and reward them, while identifying the bad ones and doing something about them.

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  9. doggone7 (705 comments) says:

    itstricky

    Like me you will be confused.

    Teachers who worked out that any work written has to have an audience to give the work authenticity and should be read by kids, preferably to other kids, were union members. You will be confused that the teachers subject of this good news are probably union members.
    You will be confused to know that the teachers “going the extra mile” to do something different for the kids of people who read these messages are probably union members.
    You will be confused to know that the brilliant, logical, knowledgeable, reasonable minds who write in here were helped to those higher states by teachers who were invariably union members.

    Are you confused that the genius of some contributors is consistently proven to be “virtual brilliance?”

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  10. scrubone (3,048 comments) says:

    Teachers who worked out that any work written has to have an audience to give the work authenticity and should be read by kids, preferably to other kids, were union members. You will be confused that the teachers subject of this good news are probably union members.

    It *is* odd that good teachers join a union, who’s sole purpose seems to be to protect the bad ones.

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  11. Andrew Pirie (2 comments) says:

    Point England School is one of the founding schools within the Manaiakalani Education Trust scheme in east Tamaki, Auckland, that is driving breakthrough results in digital education. This involves much, much more than just having kids blog … the entire educational pedagogy has been transformed: each pupil has their own notebook (bought in bulk by the Trust to save $$$, paid for by parents at $3.50 a week for 3 years) and 24/7 connectivity via a closed wireless network linking the school with the community. All this in an area where the average household income is just $19K pa. Shows what can be done with a concerted effort involving inspirational and dedicated leaders (e.g. Russell Burt – principal; Pat Snedden – Trust chairman); corporate partner support (including ASB Foundation, Telecom Foundation, Google); and a community of parents who believe in how education will create a better future for their kids. Telecom now working with Manaiakalani to see how we can extend this concept elsewhere in the country.

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  12. doggone7 (705 comments) says:

    scrubone

    (I like the reasonable tone.) If you knew people in a teacher union and what they’re involved in, you would know more about their purposes. You would know there is not a sole purpose. You would know there is is no aim to protect ‘bad ones.’

    Most of the commonly voiced stuff about teacher unions (from my non-union-member perspective) is a combination of myth, traditional anti-union bias and anti-teacher feeling. Rounded up with touches of partisan party politics, hysteria and other fleeting personal and social factors and debates there is a great target set up to shoot at.

    Stand outside your local area teacher union meeting as they come out. Reflect on the usual descriptions of the rabid-red-leftist-dogs-communist-teachers and all you see is all these white middle age, middle class women!

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  13. scrubone (3,048 comments) says:

    You would know there is not a sole purpose. You would know there is is no aim to protect ‘bad ones.’

    I said “seems to be”. Of course there is more to a union than protecting bad employees. And it’s perfectly possible that protecting bad employees is a side-effect of what they are actually trying to do. But the fact remains that bad employees are too often protected by unions (a quick google search reveals that overseas, they’ve even protected sex offenders). In education, unions consistently oppose attempts to reward teachers.

    Stand outside your local area teacher union meeting as they come out. Reflect on the usual descriptions of the rabid-red-leftist-dogs-communist-teachers and all you see is all these white middle age, middle class women!

    That is a problem in itself of course.

    But the problems with unions is not the membership, it’s the leadership which too often is quite radical and non-representative of the members. I recall one fellow who was leading a certain bus strike who turned out to have given a speech to a business group to tell them he’d like them all strung up and their wealth confiscated (or something along those lines).

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  14. doggone7 (705 comments) says:

    scrubone

    I recognised the “seems to be” as an observation of a perception. If there is a problem in the demographic walking out of teacher union meetings maybe that can be fixed by all those with bright young children and relations encouraging them to take the job up.

    Undoubtedly many have witnessed union leaders they have considered over the top, inflammatory and intransigent. Some too would have been exposed to employers with similar attributes.

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  15. SupportKids (1 comment) says:

    This whole stream was sparked by something that probably never happened! Don’t know where those Canadians got this stuff from, but as a school parent I can tell you that the person named as a educator at Pt England never was one. It’s hard to hide in a small primary school! Who makes this stuff up?
    Those results are also invented. We are proud of what is happening at our school, but no-one has ever claimed our kids are “making advances 10 to 13 times larger than the national average”.
    And I have a suspicion that some of the lines quoted are referring to a podcast on iTunes, not a blog.

    So to the Canada Globe and Mail I quote:
    “Let nothing stand between the media and the story they want to tell!”

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  16. itstricky (1,578 comments) says:

    And it’s perfectly possible that protecting bad employees is a side-effect of what they are actually trying to do.

    Of course. Affordable legal representation is a large part of it. So yes you get bad eggs but in the majority of cases you only hear about the ‘bad’ ones and in those cases even you never hear the full story. None as black and white as they are reported in the media. So if the perception is ‘protecting the bad ones’ that perception applies equally to any lawyer on the street. Unless of course they are an environmental lawyer saving whales.

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  17. itstricky (1,578 comments) says:

    Good comments doggone7. Anyways sounds like a good common sense outcome (if it is true I don’t know what that last comment was all about but that guy should get in touch with Andrew)

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  18. mikenmild (10,766 comments) says:

    Nice to see SupportKids informing us of the real story. Perhaps New Zealand bloggers shouldn’t go to Canadian newspapers for stories about New Zealand schools.

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