TE Aka Toitu schools were out on Monday as staff participated in a Google professional development day to enhance their digital fluency.
The seven schools involved, Tarawera High, Kawerau South, Kawerau Putauaki, Te Whata Tau o Putauaki, Te Kura Toitu o Te Whaiti-nui-a-toi, Te Kura Maori-A-Rohe o Waiohau, and Murupara, were granted a teacher-only day on Monday.
The professional development, organised by the Te Aka Toitu Trust, was attended by 130 teachers and staff from the schools involved.
Cyclone, a New Zealand company made up of digital learning specialists, provided the professional development workshops, which included topics such as differentiated learning, digital fluency, apps, blogging, Google and GSuite communication.
The digital learning specialists in attendance were Arnika Macphail, Kate Friedwald, Monique Simpson and Saunil Hagler.
Ms Macphail said the professional development involved helping teachers use Google apps for teaching and learning in the classroom.
“It was about putting it into context and offering support for staff being digitally fluent.
“The professional development is about not making it fit but making it work.”
Te Aka Toitu Trust’s overall mission is to provide students in decile one and two schools within the Kawerau and Whakatane districts an affordable device, affordable internet connectivity and quality digital teaching. The professional development day was the first major event with all schools together.
Trust project manager Sam Gibson said in today’s world access to the internet and a digital device at home were a must.
“If students don’t have the ability to learn outside the school gates they’re hugely disadvantaged, and unfortunately a big digital divide is opening up between high and low socio-economic areas.”
Mr Gibson said devices and Wi-Fi could be provided to the community but teachers needed to be digitally fluent to deliver appropriate lessons to enhance students’ learning.
Kawerau Putauaki School teacher Josh Te Aomarere said the professional development was informative and practical and useful for the year 5 and 6 students he taught.
Mr Aomarere said it was important for him to be digitally fluent and have the skills to be able to implement them in his classroom for his students to make the most of their devices.