Monday, 20 February 2017


I have the privilege of being a member of the SPARK MIT group in 2017. My initial proposed inquiry was: How to improve problem solving and critical thinking skills through use of coding and robotics?’

Today we met for the first time as a group at SPARK Headquarters in Auckland City. We also met with Lynne Le Gros (SPARK Foundation) and her team. Our first task was to identify and share what our problem was regarding our inquiries. Then we brainstormed lots of different hypotheses for why the problem was occurring and shared these with the group.

After quite a bit of thinking and discussion around our inquiries I have decided to alter my inquiry proposal to: ‘How to improve critical thinking skills through the use of code and deep dialogic discussions?’

After looking at some of the recent PAT and STAR data from the Year 7 & 8 Extension group, I have found that the majority of our extension students are not achieving above the national norm in literacy. Most are achieving at the national standard (between stanines 4 - 6), but these are our brightest students in their cohort who should be striving to achieve well above the national mean.

The following is a list of hypotheses:

  • The majority of our extension students are not achieving above the norm in literacy (PATs and STAR) because they need to develop critical thinking skills
  • Students need to be encouraged/pushed to grapple with harder concepts to extend their thinking
  • Need to be exposed to a range of texts - multi-modal/wider and deeper
  • Need to learn to question/argue/challenge/build on thinking and expressing of ideas
  • Need to close the gap in knowledge and experience between students who know how to code and those who don’t
  • Must make sure that learning is visible, and that students have access to resources and exemplars
  • Students need to be taught how to use thinking tools more effectively e.g. SOLO
  • Students need to know what next level looks like - expectations
  • Students need more support from home to extend learning at home
  • Students need to have access to their own data - to reflect, set next learning goals
  • More student ownership/empowerment of learning is needed
  • We need to find ways to raise the ceiling in student achievement at school

I am looking forward to another year with the SPARK MIT group.

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