St Teresa’s School pupils Willow Harcourt, Mexi Sargent and Brayden Cuff using technology to learn. St Teresa’s was part of a group of institutions to benefit from a Ministry of Education teacher innovation grant. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

MARCUS ANSELM
marcus.anselm@age.co.nz

South Wairarapa schools have received a $80,000 boost to fund innovation in digital technology teaching.

The windfall came from a successful application by a group of schools to the Ministry of Education’s Teacher-led Innovation Fund.

Teachers from St Teresa’s in Featherston, Carterton School, Tuturumuri School, Greytown School, Kuranui College and Meta Riddiford Kindergarten will benefit from increased time for research into digital learning.

The ministry describes the fund as “a putea of $18 million over five years, administered by the ministry for groups of teachers to develop innovative practices in order to improve learning outcomes”.

The money will help the region’s schools implement the new digital technologies curriculum next year.

St Teresa’s principal Jennifer Muth said, “the money is being used for releasing teachers so they have the time to talk together and think about what will make a difference in children’s learning.

“So teachers can investigate good practice, so they have the release time to learn something, put it in place, look at other schools and, as a group, meet together and ask ‘this worked, this didn’t, what can we do next to be effective’?”

Funding for the software and hardware will need to come from different funding applications.

Classroom examples of getting pupils working together to solve maths problems using digital hardware such as robots have shown the benefits technology can offer – not in itself, but more the teaching opportunities it creates.

“The lesson isn’t really around how to use the equipment, it’s ‘let’s think of a problem in our world and how can technology help us solve that problem’,” Muth said. “It’s using technology for a real genuine purpose.

“The talk and discussion that got the answer. That’s the thing that we want to encourage. When the children talk about it, you start to understand what they’re thinking.”

Muth said the group will attend October’s ULearn conference in Rotorua dedicated to digital learning, and the ministry has asked for a report on their findings in June 2020.

“There’s a very tight turnaround to write the report and show your findings.”