Saturday, 19 September 2015

Update on ELearning, blogging, exams and junior classes... it's a long one!

Kia ora ano,

As per usual I needed to be in the right frame of mind to get my thinking down on... screen? Haha. Some really cool things have been happening in my classes and personal professional development.


Overall am crazy happy with how my students did. The majority of them have used the TAKO, SEXIST and TAKO+IST structure for essays and it was awesome again going back through the Y11 and Y12 marking criteria to remind myself that I've been telling the truth with my students that if they want to move their essay marks to M and E they MUST talk about the author/directors intent or purpose in creating the text and the effect on the audience as well as making connections with society.

What I did notice while marking (have still to go over my own students essays and give them feedforward comments) was that a majority in Y11 Visual text (film) did not use film techniques in their analysis. They can barely get to A3 without techniques - partucularly if they don't mention the effect or explain how it is important to the audience's understanding. More frustrating was the sheer amount of students who just barely gave it a go. Perhaps it's the lack of a growth mindset or not enough preparation - I don't know but I'd like to see them developing more of a self-directed learning focus.

The Y12 written text (novel) essays were marginally better but quite a few didn't answer the second part of the question - which isn't there anymore for Y12s. They MUST discuss the intent of the author if they have any hope of progressing past A4 towards Merit. I'd like to sit and talk with each student that I marked essays for but because that's entirely unpossible - I made the effort to write extensive feedforward comments for each student.

Feedforward comments are imperative for students to not only know what they need to work on but so that they actually know their efforts have been noticed. I and my students were incredibly upset and frustrated by the lack of positive and feedforward comments on their essays. I've brought the issue up with my HOD and discussed it with my students and our teacher aides. I've told my students that I will go through their essays and make a quick comment about what they've missed. I think more importantly though - if I print out copies of the marking criteria - with the breakdown of the scale - they'll be more likely to understand the reasoning behind their marks - especially if they don't have a comment on their essays.

EdBlogNZ and ULearn:

I've mentioned previously about how cool it is that I've been given the opportunity to help out with EdBlogNZ and building the blog roll on the RSS feeder. I'm super excited about the upcoming Blogging for Beginners session with Nathaniel at ULearn and hope that we can encourage every single member in our workshop (which is now currently full!) to create their own blogs.

I'm looking forward to seeing my Twitter whanau again and connecting with new kaiako too. It's such an awesome space and think when it's back in Rotorua we need to get as many kaiako there as possible from Heights.

Looking forward also to sharing Class Dojo and seeing how many teachers are using it now! :) Really loved learning from Julian Reid at EducampWHK about how they use CD at Tarawera High School. Am hopefully going to organise a time to go and observe their classes.

Commenting challenge:

I've given weros out to people before about pushing themselves and realised that I haven't been taking my own advice. So I've got back on one of my many bandwagons and started commenting on blog posts again. It's so important to help develop a constructively supportive blogging community and one way of doing this is not only to read posts but also to comment on them. If you've gotten this far on this post, comment below something you've been interested in this post, something I could think of doing differently, a feedforward comment or something you'd like to say - and if you do comment - you'll find something chocolatey in your pigeonhole! ;) I'd love to see Heights commenting more on each others posts and discuss their personal inquiries in more depth too :)


Mary has already mentioned our awesome elearning meeting with the folks from Ngā Pūmanawa e Waru and Excel Rotorua but it deserves another mention. How seriously cool was it to be sitting in a room with 30+ people discussing the positive role that elearning can have in our school. I was absolutely buzzing after that meeting. So much so that I went ahead and started drafting ideas for our elearning strategic plan. Having had read quite a few from the research that Donella and our elearning team have been doing - it wasn't too difficult to create something.

If you're interested in having a look through some of my ideas for the next six months - check this out:

When I shared the pencil version with Donella she was impressed and even more so when I'd completed the typed version. I love our working relationship! I get so much inspiration and perspective from her. It's so easy to bounce ideas around with her too. :)

I'm incredibly stoked to have been given the opportunity to get involved with the NPeW's MindLab PostGrad Cert in Applied Practices (Digital Collaboration) which will start in November. I've already applied through Unitec and am just waiting on the next email and meeting at RGHS. Feels crazy weird to be a 'uni student' again but really looking forward to the new learning. Hopefully pushes me forward further.

Should also mention the awesome educamp last weekend at Whakatane at Apanui school. Was really cool to get back to grassroots learning and sharing with the first EducampWHK. Loved it so much my passion must have shown through because I won a ChromeCast for inspiring the audience. Was awesome to go with AnneMarie Hyde from Mokoia Intermediate because she always supports and inspires me to be better, more focussed and believes in building leaders to be positive and forward thinking. She truly is inspiring which is probably why we were both up for the same prize in the same category but am glad she won her own ChromeCast too in the Twitter draw. We can learn how to use it in class together! :)

Student inquiries:

As for my students - while the seniors were away it was awesome because we got quite a lot of work done. Worked on essay structure with my English class and continued learning about Migration and began the Suitcase assessment too with my Social Studies class. Love how they are so open to sharing their thoughts and ideas in our class and loved our debate after some students staged that silly protest on Makeup because it was really interesting to hear their views and also use it as a teachable moment to discuss the issue around personal attacks, perspectives and relating to others - a key competency. I particularly liked that Nikki stayed to listen after she'd come looking for a student. She had some great perspectives to share while on the No side of the debate. I really think that these kinds of issues should be heard but perhaps in a more appropriate forum - like a student council - not out in the school grounds causing inappropriate distrubances. Sad that some students used the forum to negatively affect other students and I've had quite a few discussions around the issue with them because they need to realise that they're beautiful, handsome, courageous, strong and independant without needing to put a mask on. Even if that mask is hair wax, hairless legs, makeup, branded sportsbags, the latest smartphone.... confidence is a beautiful thing but it comes from inside. Maybe we need to look into this in our health curriculum and put it across the school with positive images about what real confidence is.

We began our books for kids programme with my English class and I floated the idea of the programme my friend Donna Howells-Skoludek is running in Huntly to build literacy in the town with her 50,000 pages read project. We decided we'd have a go at reading 10,000 pages as a class. Perhaps we should start smaller but a big goal hopefully will entice them to read more.

I'd love to see all of my students with growth mindsets but there are some thst retain those fixed ones and it genuinely upsets me because I know how much they could be doing if they only believed in themselves.


Longest post I've written exclusively on Interlead. Have reposted this onto my own blog. Really hope they make Interlead an app so it's easier to type and follow each others posts.

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