Gisborne Girls' High School and Lytton High School
Beacon Practice Professional Support Facilitator Cliff Harwood working with Heather McIntyre and Wendy Webb on a joint project at Gisborne Girls' and Lytton Schools
(Photo: Gisborne Herald)
The Beacon Practice initiative in the Tairawhiti region involved three key Technology teachers from the two participating schools – cluster coordinator Heather McIntyre and Wendy Webb from Gisbourne Girls' High, and one from Lytton High. The schools have diverse student populations with a high proportion of Māori students and a significant number coming from small rural communities.
The project aimed to improve the confidence and capability of the three teachers in delivering technology education programmes by strengthening their knowledge and understanding of Technological Practice and their ability to support student progression through components of practice. Through smarter delivery of a broadening range of technology programmes,the aim was to increase student participation and overall technological literacy.
The project was supported by a range of outside facilitators, including Cliff Harwood working with the Beacon teachers on Components of Practice.
A major focus for 2005 was the examination of the practice of local technologists in relationship to components of practice and the nature of technology. Workshops using outside experts working with a small group of students were initiated in areas such as embroidery and herbology, using their newly refurbished technology area which includes a pod of computers with machine embroidery software all linked to the one machine in the classroom.
"When you think 'industry links', you normally think 'field trip' – quite gruelling and not the easiest things to organize," says Wendy. "An alternative strategy is to use newspaper articles in the classroom. For example, a Year 10 class examined an article on what Karen Walker was doing with Swandri industry and another about Swandri and how it developed. Then I got one of the students to email Swandri and ask them about planning tools."
Interviews were done with key technologists involved in local enterprises, which included bio-related technologies, control technologies, food-related technologies, materialdevelopment technologies, and structural and dynamic technologies. These interviews were videoed and edited for classroom use.
Outside teachers ran block programmes for a small number of students from both schools. There was additional help from Technology teachers with expertise in areas unfamiliar to the three lead teachers – including areas such as fabric dyeing, machine embroidery, moulding, working with different materials used in jewellery making, and natural cosmetics – so that both teachers and students could experience different approaches to technology education.
In 2006, the project focussed on guiding the practice of other technology teachers in the schools using the experience gained by the lead teachers.
At Lytton High School the emphasis was on incorporating Technology achievement standards into the assessment programme for senior Graphics courses. Lytton High teacher Anna Taumanu joined the cluster groupin 2007.
At Gisborne Girls' High School teacher Wendy focussed on developing skills in materials manipulation mainly at a senior school level but also in her junior technology classes.
"We took the components of practice and Indicators of Progression," says Heather, "and used the draft achievement objectives from the curriculum project to help us identify and monitor their progress. This helped us in terms of our planning – rather than putting an emphasis on the different experiences students have to have, we're using the components of practice as a way of focussing on progression. It also helped teachers to think about the teaching and learning that's going on in their classroom.
"We also put more emphasis on trailing experimenting and evaluating within the classroom, and to provide more opportunity for students to do meaningful practical work outside the classroom and at home. And we looked at how we reduced written work by using different alternatives for the recording, such as templates, digital cameras, video, smart boards and computer applications such as Inspiration."
A major focus for Heather in 2006 was also on enhancing the quality of the junior courses at Gisbourne Girls', incorporating aspects of the new 'Technological Knowledge' and 'The Nature of Technology' curriculum strands.
In 2007 teacher Sue Bristow joined the programme and the cluster experimented further with the restructuring the junior technology programme to improve the 'enjoyment factor' for students and so enhance the retention rate of students moving into the senior technology courses.
In 2007 Wendy Webb successfully completed a Bronze Crest Award with an extension textilegroup. The project was based around finding a method to successfully dye bleached possum fur on the pelt in the classroom. The students will submit their work in 2008 to the Technology and Science fair.
At the TENZ Conference in October 2007, Sue Bristow and Heather McIntyre presented a workshop on the cluster's Beacon Practice work. "This was an opportunity to take a leadership role – to provide something for other delegates and to reflect on current practice," says Heather.
In her final Beacon Practice report, Heather says that the teachers involvedare now much more confident in delivering quality technology programmes.
"There is a good understanding of Technological Practice and strategies are in place to ensure students are provided with quality learning opportunities. Assessment practices have been refined to best fit existing school systems and participants are able to make sound assessment judgements. The increased understanding of curriculum and assessment issues in a general sense have giving confidence to the teachers involved to contribute more to school-wide planning.
"Networks established through the involvement in the Beacon Practice project are invaluable. Cluster teachers now contact others on an informal basis to seek support, and other participants outside the cluster have been very willing to give of their time and expertise. There is also an increased awareness of the value of community links in supporting Technological Practice.
"Finally, the Beacon teachers have appreciated the support material provided. For example, the Techlink site has been used to update the Gisborne Girls' High School technology curriculum manual – material such as statements about technological literacy, programme design, pedagogical strategies, technology and values, and technology and key competencies, which are all presented in a straight-forward, meaningful and useful way on the site."