A “5 Whys” reflection on 2015

The 5 Whys questioning technique was developed by Taiichi Ohno, the father of the Toyota Production system as an iterative interrogative technique.  It is used to explore the cause-and-effect relationships underlying a particular problem to determine the root cause.”  I use this technique a lot and thought I would pass my 2015 learning year through it.

1. Why was 2015 a successful learning year?

I challenged myself to blog more prolifically, speak at more conferences and was in my second year as Director of ICT & eLearning so felt more comfortable with the complexities of my role.

2. Why did I challenge myself to blog and speak more?

I wanted to become more comfortable with my own voice and to give back to the PLN that is so generous to me.  Last year I wrote 13 posts for the year and this year I wanted at least to double that.  Then along came the #youredustory challenge and I have added 48 posts for the year to this blog.  For those looking to develop your voice and to connect with amazing educators, join in the #youredustory challenge.  Thank you Jo-Ann Fox (@AppEducationFox), Bjorn Paige (@BjornPaige) and the other #youredustory crew for helping me to develop a clearer voice.  As a result, I developed our school blog (www.ivanhoelearn.com) and shared our school story.  The highlight was not being the only voice to share this story as eight other staff (blogging newbies as well) joined in to share our story with the world.  A big shout out also must go to Aaron Davis (@mrkrndvs), Richard Olsen (@richardolsen), Jon Andrews (@Obi_Jon_), Matt Esterman (@mesterman), Corinne Campbell (@corisel), Nick Jackson (@largerama), Ian Guest (@ianinsheffield) and the rest of my PLN for commenting, sharing, challenging, enlightening and enhancing my 2015 learning journey, it is so appreciated.

3. Why did I need to become more comfortable with my own voice?

Like all learners, self doubt is a skin I live with from time to time and really felt that I needed to increase my reflection opportunities to let the dust settle on my thinking.  I tried a myriad of approaches this year.  I wrote with a time limit, wrote in one sitting, built a post over a week, over a month and this was all to try and angle in on what I truly believed.  Sometimes the thoughts would just flow and other times I felt like I was typing with my feet.  I have also found Voxer chats with Aaron and Corinne to be of tremendous value and a new medium to shake up my learning.

4. Why did I need to let the dust settle on my thinking?

I really wanted to see my thinking from different angles so I read opposing viewpoints from educators and really tried to connect with their rationale.  I do have to say that I have found the online world a little abrasive and divisive at times but a post by @debsnet really assisted with that.  She talked about balance and about challenging with compassion and respect.  This post was one of my faves for the year and is well worth a read and retweet.

5. Why did I need to connect with opposing viewpoints?

To remove myself from an echo chamber and open my eyes and ears to other possibilities.  I learnt so much this year from reading blogs by people who I don’t necessarily always agree with but it helped provide clarity and to open my mind.  I implore all educators to read opposing viewpoints, whether it be books, blogs, etc…


1. Why was 2015 not a successful learning year?

I took on too many things, projects, opportunities, etc…  Another case of breadth and not depth.

2. Why did I take on too many things?

It is a combination of wanting to be a part of everything and a reluctance to say no.  I really wanted to establish my role this year and I was successful but upon reflection there are a few areas that should have waited or required more attention.  Looking forward, my plan is be more discerning with what takes up my time.

3. Why am I reluctant to say no?

I think that I can get the job done even with a tight timeline.  I am ever the optimist but I need to bring the realist back into the mix in 2016.

4. Why do I think I can get the job done on a tight timeline?

I know I will work and work till I get it done.  I have always worked hard.  My parents are two of the hardest working people I know and I pride myself on doing the same.  With that said, I need to work more efficiently, not harder in 2016.

5. Why do I need to work harder to get the job done?

Because I didn’t say no in the first place and have put myself (and my family) under pressure.  This has long been the root cause of my workload.  More discernment required for 2016.

Thank you to all who read, commented, retweeted and supported my blog this year.  It is greatly appreciated.

Is your pedagogy developing the learner you desire?

What learner are you working to develop?  I wonder if this is a question that we ask ourselves often…if not at all?  I wonder what the ideal form looks like to other teachers and schools.  At my school, we have spending a considerable amount of time and energy in fleshing out what the Primary, Middle Years and Senior Years learner looks like?  Our rationale?  It is us working with the end in the mind, the holistic end in mind.  Work on learner development has been done in separate silos unfortunately but it has brought three different perspectives to the table.  Personally I have been working with Richard Olsen (@richardolsen) on how to bring this all together.  For the redevelopment of our Multimedia curriculum, we were given carte blanche to completely reshape and reinvigorate the program.  There was huge crossover with the Visual Communication and Design course in the Middle Years but no real path for those students interested in media, technology or VCD.  Our first step was to define the learner we wanted at the end of Year 9.  We used Richard’s developmental profile tool on www.modernlearningcanvas.com to do this.  In a previous post, I explained the four categories he has highlighted as key.  The below image is where we landed.

Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 9.13.58 PM Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 9.14.15 PM Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 9.14.26 PM Screen Shot 2015-12-16 at 9.14.35 PM

Our plan is to rewrite the Year 7 curriculum first and continue to sharpen our direction and focus by failing small and fast and then roll the learnings out for Year 8 and 9.  Once we knew where we were heading, we then developed our proposed pedagogical model which I shared in my last post and have listed below.

Year 7 Multimedia
Year 7 Multimedia

Having spent time developing our ideal learner form, we had much more clarity around what we needed pedagogically.  We were able to validate the nine areas to see if they were assisting to develop the learners we desired.  We know that we are introducing the design thinking process to Year 7s so there needs to be large element of scaffolding, access to examples and trial and error.  Pedagogically we believe that scaffolding is essential to really understanding the process and thriving.  Our sequence of learning caters for this and the teacher role flips between an expert who leads and models to a facilitator who questions and prods.  The design thinking process enables the learner to iterate and reflect and to do this often.  To kick start the pedagogical change, our Head of VCD facilitated a staff workshop where the staff teaching the subject next year (myself included) went through the whole process as a learner.  This allows us to build empathy, flesh out poorly scaffolded areas and to lead as learners.  In my next post, I will talk about the next evolution of this process…the lean process of finding out.  Thanks for reading everyone.  As always, comments welcome.

Facilitating pedagogical conversations

As defined by the Oxford dictionary, pedagogy is the method and practice of teaching and I wonder how teachers discuss their craft.  How often do you have conversations about pedagogy with colleagues?  Is it a common occurrence?  What do you discuss about pedagogy?  How do you discuss pedagogy?  Personally I use the Modern Learning Canvas, a visual learning model developed by Richard Olsen. The Modern Learning Canvas breaks up the teaching and learning approach into nine essential components and allows you to view your teaching and learning holistically through each particular lens.

Screen Shot 2015-11-12 at 9.31.02 PM

The nine essential components are as follows:

Learner role – What decisions, voice and choice does a learner have in their learning?Strategies – What strategies do they use to learn?
Enablers – What enables these strategies to be effective?
Sequence – What is the order of the activities that they undertake?
Culture – What are the shared beliefs about what makes learning successful?
Policies – What are policies or rules that make learning successful?
Educator role – What value does the teacher bring to the learning?
Outcomes – What are the essential learning outcomes?
Pedagogical beliefs – What do we believe about teaching and learning?

These key questions are designed to provide conversation structure around teaching and learning practice and innovation. At the heart of the process is what you believe about teaching and learning, your pedagogical beliefs. Every element of your teaching and learning model should be validated against what you believe about pedagogy otherwise what’s the point. If you don’t believe in an element of your approach then why is it in there in the first place.  The Canvas can be a daunting framework upon first viewing but when created in a group, can really unlock a clear set of pedagogical beliefs.  Below are two examples that I co-created with colleagues.  The first is for a rewrite of our Year 7 Multimedia course and the second is an analysis of the Games Sense approach in Physical Education.

Year 7 Multimedia
Year 7 Multimedia
Screen Shot 2015-11-23 at 9.15.24 PM
Games Sense in Physical Education

The process of capturing pedagogy together is unbelievably powerful as it leads to great clarity and conversation.  You will also notice in the Games Sense canvas that there are green lights on each box.  This is a great feature of Richard’s website.  You can validate each component against your pedagogical beliefs.  The below image shows what this looks like on the site.

Validated against pedagogical beliefs
Validated against pedagogical beliefs

Although the Modern Learning Canvas is a powerful process on it’s own, it is actually a part of larger more complete process.  Richard calls this the IOI process or Inquiry Oriented Innovation.   To truly capture this, I’ll share in a series of posts.  To get you started with the Modern Learning Canvas, download a free printable copy here.  Have a go today and let me know how you go.  The more I use the Canvas as a tool, the more I start to view all elements of teaching and learning through theses nine lenses.  As always, thanks for reading and comments welcome.


PBL, CBL, Direct Instruction, Explicit instruction, ISP, ILP, PLP, Open plan learning, play based inquiry, discovery learning or thanks to the Edu Jargon generator, the following plays on edu jargon.

  • We will disintermediate subjective explicit direct instruction within the core curriculum.
  • We will enable flipped decision-making across cognitive and affective domains.
  • We will deliver holistic differentiated lessons in authentic, real-world scenarios.
  • We will unpack top-down higher-order thinking across content areas.
  • We will empower metacognitive best practices via self-reflection.
  • We will facilitate innovative content within the Zone of Proximity.

The list goes on….

How do educators keep up, let alone how do parents?  Jargon has it’s place but it really does require moderated definitions so that the meaning is shared.  When I was doing my Masters a few years back, I spent the first two weeks writing down an Edu dictionary just so I could actually mentally access the content.  I also remember the discussion forums had an ongoing Acronym list (ended up around 45 from memory) so that learners could follow along.  Is education hooked on jargon?  Are other industries that are as bad?  I have had parents at my school ask if the school can write an article outlining just exactly what they mean by 21st Century learning, Flipped learning, Blended learning or other such terms.  It really opened my eyes.  Why do we do it?  Is it because we rebadge old pedagogy and give it a new name to make it sound modern?  Is it because it is something new that requires difference?  I’m so guilty of speaking in edu tongue but I’m really trying to just speak plainly so that most people can understand what I am trying to convey.  The key to jargon is reciprocal meaning and this is the part that education needs to work on.

Thanks as always for reading.  Comments welcome.

The 3D printing landscape

The 3D printing landscape

On Saturday, Zara and I visited the 3D printing showcase at Melbourne Uni.  The showcase was held over two days (Friday and Saturday) and was a mix of exhibitions, hands on demos, guest speakers and student displays.  I went last year and the event was much smaller and so it was pretty amazing to think how quickly the landscape had developed in just one year.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Walking around the showcase with my four year old daughter, I started thinking about where the 3D printing world would be when she was older.  In the 2013 Horizon report, 3D printing was listed as four to five years away from large scale adoption in schools.  So looking at that timeline leaves us about half way.  The price is a huge limiting factor for schools but with the increase in demand and in suppliers comes the price war that will drive it down and make it more affordable for all.  At my school we have dipped our toes in the water and purchased the UP Mini and it has been extremely popular with all age groups.  Students download images from Thingiverse or use Google SketchUp to create and print their own ideas.   We now have a large collection of things.  Printed models that look nice and have a wow factor but the learning in my opinion is low tier at the moment.  For me, the purpose of each printed item is largely lacking.  I would like a spinning top so I print one.  I would like a dragon for my desk so I print one.  I’m looking for designed solutions.  Items that add value to society, solve a problem or enable high level creative originality.  The best examples of 3D printing use at my school have fallen into these categories.  One of our IT technicians didn’t have tweezers small enough to complete a particular task so he printed a pair.  One student had an original idea for an engine and so he designed it and printed the components (this kid will be famous one day, amazing learner!!).  3D printing in education is still an emerging technology and so we are still in the midst of just printing things.

How does it become mainstream?  How does it become embedded?  In my opinion, Purpose, Pedagogy and professional partnerships.  Designs need real purpose and not just gimmicky.  The pedagogy needs to rich and enable original design and thinking.  Schools needs to partner with professionals in the industry to tap into their knowledge, skillset and resources.  Understanding how it is used in industries such as engineering, medicine, etc… really can increase the potential for students.


Parenting towards a positive digital footprint

George Couros in many of his keynotes and blog posts has talked about students leaving school and owning their own domain name.  Owning this digital land is the first step to learners owning their online story.  George is also a big advocate for digital portfolios and using your digital presence to showcase your skills and capacities.  The first time I ever heard George mention this, I was completely inspired to do this for my kids. I was very excited to get the .com domain for both my kids so now http://www.zarabrophy.com and http://www.quinnbrophy.com are parked domains ready and waiting for my kids.  I will continue to pay for this parked domain until they are able to work and pay the upkeep themselves.

Lately my super inquisitive (i.e. default position for a four year old) daughter has been asking about what Daddy does on the computer. I once made a throwaway comment that I was on the internet.  She has continually peppered me with questions about this ever since. What is in the internet?  Why do we have the internet?  Where is it?  How do I get there?  Not bad questions for a four year old.  Mulling over these exceptional questions and reflecting on a conversation I’d had with an anxious parent from school about being fearful of her child being online led me to decide to show my daughter was is in the internet now.

Zara has her own style.  She has dressed herself for as long as I can remember and is absolutely headstrong about how things need to look.  So we are in the process of choosing a Wix template for her first website.  She will most definitely have the final say on how it will look.  We will discuss what we will share, what we can share and as I helped her take her first footsteps in life, I will do the same in the digital landscape.  I can guarantee you that her page will have loads of colour.  It will probably be about fairies but hey that’s her choice.  I also want to spend time archiving the different versions of this website to capture the evolution and to capture the increase in size of her digital footprint.

Whenever I use technology with Zara, I always look for the collaborative and creative applications.  Using technology is one activity that we do together and it always about making or figuring something about.  When we have our first iteration ready, I’ll share it out and I hope you can join me as we share the digital walk together.  I also encourage more parents to do the same.  Helping your child have a voice to tell their own story is a tremendous gift you can give.

Thanks for reading.

Whole Learning Challenge

For the past week or so, my wife and I have been participating in the Whole Life Challenge.

The Whole Life Challenge is an 8-week online, community-building, habit-changing game that challenges you and your friends to create happier, healthier lives by making small, daily changes.  Playing with your friends and family, you’ll score points every day, focusing on 7 key areas of health and well-being: Nutrition, Exercise, Mobility, Supplementation, Hydration, Lifestyle Practices, and Reflection.


This sort of thing is not something that usually floats my boat but my wife participated in the last one a few months back and it really helped to establish some good daily habits.  After seeing the great effect it had on her and her willingness to participate in the next one, I thought I would thumb along for the ride.  So what exactly is required?  Each day I need to do the following

  • 20 minutes of exercise
  • Eat the right foods (I’m on the Kickstarter game, food list here)
  • Drink at least 1.8L of water
  • Stretch for 10 minutes
  • Take a supplement (I’ve chosen Vitamin D)
  • Complete the weekly challenge (Week 1 was 10 minutes of meditation)
  • Write a daily reflection

At the end of the day, I submit my daily score online and complete my reflection.  The challenge is a group challenge and as it is a game, your score is recorded and ranked against everyone else in your team.

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 9.06.29 PM

Before the challenge, stretching and meditation were two things that did not feature in my life EVER.  As you can see from my scorecard, they have featured every day.  Now it is only early days in the challenge but the two areas that I thought I would struggle with are in fact the two areas I enjoy the most.  The daily mindfulness session with the Headspace app is an amazing way to start the day and the stretching at the end of the day really has helped with some old man niggles.  Looking at the structure of the challenge, I am left wondering why it is working for so many people (over 79,294 people).  Is it the game?  Is it because the time commitment for each component is small and achievable?  The key to the challenge is building good habits through daily practice.

I then started to think about how this structure could be applied to learners.  What if we could change our habits as learners or the habits of others as learners?  What would we change?  Why?  My first thoughts jumped to Professor Guy Claxton and Building Learning Power.  Could we build a daily learning habit challenge from the four Rs (Reciprocity, Resourcefulness, Resilience and Reflectiveness)?


It might look like the following:

  • Resilience: Managing distractions – Using the pomodoro technique to improve focus
  • Resourcefulness: Making links – Reading a blog post/reading/book and making links to current practice
  • Reflectiveness: Revising – A 30 second video diary at the end of your teaching day
  • Reciprocity: Collaboration – Participating in a Twitter chat

Maybe it could be based on the Thinking routines from Harvard’s Project Zero (Check out Cam Patterson’s great post on this here).

Screen Shot 2015-09-27 at 9.46.25 PMGreat initiatives like #vicpln (Check out the course here) are already assisting teachers to develop great personal learning networks but I’m wondering if there is anything out there that is assisting teacher learners to develop great learning habits.  I know that there are areas that I need to grow in.  Could these be improved by a shift in daily practice?  I’m seeing the results for themselves at the moment in regards to my personal health and wellbeing and I think that we could get something similar started to assist all learners to develop  great learning health.

Thanks for reading and as always, comments welcome!