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St Josephs Catholic School

In 2015 St Joseph’s opened its first Innovative Learning Space. They decided to upgrade to the smaller touchscreen ActivStations (on wheels) as they fitted better with the new flexible learning spaces....

When Philomena O'Connell-Cooper got the job as Principal of St Joseph's Catholic School in Takapuna, she was thrilled to know there were some Activboards already installed at the school.

St Joseph's school got their first Activboard in 2007 and by the time Phil arrived they had four. The school had looked at other options but found Activboard the best fit for their needs based largely on the software.

“We met with several companies but Activboard just seemed best suited to what we needed and we loved the resources on Promethean Planet. Of course you sometimes need to modify for local curriculum purposes, but much of it worked as it was, and they were excellent quality and really effective”, says Gabrielle Bateman, Assistant Principal.

Last year St Joseph’s opened its first Innovative Learning Space. Six Home Learning Groups in Teams of 3, ( 2 groups of 3 on 2 floors and 1 group of 2 downstairs) was a significant change.

They decided to upgrade to the smaller touchscreen ActivStations (on wheels) as they fitted better with the new flexible learning spaces.

Each level also has one ActivPanel (on wheels) for when a larger screen is needed.

The kids love them as they find them much more at their height and free of a lot of the issues that bothered them before.

When asked, they all said they like the fact that the touch screen means no shadow, that there are no pen issues, and that it's similar to all their other devices like iPads and tablets. The inbuilt computers mean fewer cables and easy start up so there's much less fuss in general.

The teachers are thrilled with the new technology too. All Home Learning Groups have sets of iPads and Chromebooks, along with the BYOD option for Years 3-6.

This means all students have their own folders where they can store the Google docs which they create on personal devices or at home. If they want to use one child's work as an example it's easy to display it on the ActivStation.

"It fosters a real ability to give constructive feedback and collaborate in the learning," says Erika Bon, who teaches Yr 5 and 6 students "We often display one student or group's work on the ‘board’ and the others give feedback depending on the purpose for the learning. The students can give constructive feedback/forward based on the particular criteria e.g. 'Your sentence about bridge building included great technical language. I think perhaps you might need to think about the age of your audience.'

These are great skills to learn - both giving and receiving constructive critiquing - in preparation for life as an adult."

"Our aims have changed over time”, says Phil, “the end goal has always been integrated use of digital technology but it takes a long time to get to that point.

Initially there was a big focus on devices, and the adults learning how to use them, but I feel we're getting closer to a point where it's all about tools for learning as a whole and using them not just to present, but to learn and grow.

"It's an exciting time to be a student and the skills they are learning, both physical and social, at such a young age are truly inspiring. Our goals were student engagement, creative use of technology and purposeful learning in a collaborative environment and after a lot of settling in and modifications to hardware, training and professional development we are definitely getting there. We know we still have a way to go in terms of using what we have to its full potential, but it's all part of the journey."

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