Friday, 19 February 2016

MindLab Week 12 - Robotics and Inquiry

I admit it - I've been slack with posting about MindLab. Sorry. I will eventually have to go back through each week and post later... anyway.


Totally enjoyed myself.

Was exactly the collaborative and practical session I thought each night would be. I love learning about the leadership styles and pedagogical info but until educational structures are changed it's hard to put those things in place as individual leaders.

We played with Robots!!!!!!! So so so so cool.

Vids to come -

We looked at inquiry for learning. Thinking about inquiry for teaching too. We looked at different inquiry models: ?

Collaboratively... with our group choosing 5 and suggesting it to everyone else - we began the process discussing the provocation.

Will Robots ... Need Teachers (find correct wording from last night)

(Insert pics here)

(Insert google doc here)

Some really cool things happening in the world today.

What was most interesting was the way that our group changed it's perspective. At the beginning most believed that robots wouldn't overtake teachers in the classroom as we didn't believe that they were capable of empathy and authentic teaching and learning by understanding social cues and behavioural issues.

At the end of our inquiry - we had found several robots who were actually doing this social and empathetic style of teaching. Our group connected with how robots were essentially distance learning teachers like with how we do video conferencing.

Next up was the robots. So so so so so so so cool. More info on that after school is finished. Passion ignited! Am ready to get back into building robots haha

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

9 Social Studies

Was just thinking about the lesson today. Last period. Wet, rainy, awful day. Most students knackered after a week of trips.

It took a bit of effort on my part to bolster the team and turn what essentially could be a boring task in the introductory booklet into a fun, sharing and collaborative experience.

I could tell from the get go that this lesson just wasn't going to be as smooth as it was yesterday with students completing task after task due to mere want to please me and make me proud. I've been deliberately pushing them to see just how far they can go/will go and they were nearing the limit this afternoon.

At the moment we're working our way through the Social Studies Heights Introductory booklets. It's been a cool experience so far but we're playing catch up as I only had them printed on Monday when most other classes had collected theirs from the dept last week. There wasn't any left when I went down so we did some cheat sheets in their books based on knowledge and info I had that would be in the booklets.

Anyway - we've looked at the Heights crest, the symbols and the whakaaro behind our school motto - Wisdom and Honour - and what it means to be a student at Heights. Today we were ready to move onto the goals section.

I'd gotten them to write down goals last week but this time we dug deeper. Dreamt bigger and more importantly thought about What Ifs.

I shared my own haerenga towards the summit of my maunga and how teaching has been the pinnacle to this day. Am still buzzing that they thought I was only 20. #Winning

I talked about how I knew when I was 12 that I wanted to be a teacher. That I wanted to get my license at 15 but didn't get my learners til I was 17. That I got my first car at 19 and went to uni at 18. That my Grandad passed away when I was 16 and how much that meant to me. They asked me how old I was when I graduated with my BA (21) and started teaching when I was 23. I showed them all of this on the board and a few more goals I have and then they got cracking on theirs.

A few circles around the class, helping some students and keeping others on task showed that they are good kids and they do want to try.

It frustrates me beyond belief when I hear other teachers pull down these kids. When they lay labels on them before they even meet them. When they discriminate and base their entire beings, behavioural, intelligence, emotional abilities on a labelled streamed class letter. I still remember the letter we were in high school. We were third from the bottom in the phrase they used to stream us and we knew we weren't the dumbest but we weren't the brightest either. To make students believe this from such a young age is not only detrimental to their studies but to their lives too as they get stuck thinking that they will only ever be as good as they are then and there.

So goal setting is important. So that they can see a future for themselves. So that they can push themselves towards a more positive direction. So that they stop thinking that it's enough to sit at home all day playing games and doing nothing.

I dreamt big. They can too.

Can't ever stop dreaming.

We played the social studies quiz afterwards for current events and I just remembered I forgot to ask who got the most correct.

We watched the Panda Cheese ads in the last few minutes before the bell went and maybe the humour is over their heads or its outgrown it's funniness but I still laugh when I hear the music or the smashing keyboard... lol

Love this class.

Blendspace and Trello - DigiTech Tools Group

For my next assignment with the Mindlab I've chosen to share two tools Blendspace and Trello to try and improve the collaboration and sharing of ideas.

I really wish I had recorded the session this afternoon but my phone had died by the end of the day and it's such a shame because there was some truly rich learning happening between my colleagues and I. It was such an awesome feeling having all of us around the circle table sharing the tool, how it works and more importantly how they might use it in their classroom.

A couple of thoughts so far:

- Was good to have a range of teachers there from different departments (Maths, Science, Art, Reo Maori, English and Performing Arts)
- I am always better working one on one however I really need to fine tune that one on one teaching in a group setting - particularly with teachers
- I am super excited to share new things but I rush too fast in the beginning. I need to gauge where they're at faster and ensure what help they may need. This will come with time as I get to know the group.
- Small learnings like adding Copy at the end of a Google Doc to force a copy of the document so you aren't worried a student may be deleting your original are big learnings for others
- Sometimes a small takeaway is better than sitting there for ages and not learning a thing
- I need to monitor and guide just as much with colleagues but also be extra mindful of the bubbles too so I don't fluster or embarrass them in any way
- Even the most traditional of departments (Maths) need to think outside the box in using tech and how to use it effectively
- Those that think they know everything don't want to give back and share... seemingly insecure or happy in their comfort zone and expertise area?
- Great learning happens by accident - eg making lists and spelling is wrong but sharing ideas on how to use it - developing perspectives and trying something new - totally awesome
- Moving towards using Trello for collaboration and maybe even co-construction of tasks??
- Thinking about what we know and what we might want to learn and how we can apply it in class
- Being constantly aware of the very many restrictions we face with tech use and the process towards the happy alternative will take time
- Being acknowledged by the new principal was pretty cool... :)

More thoughts to come tomorrow

Monday, 15 February 2016

First Monday of 2016

I still have a really good feeling about this year.

My students continue to work hard (yes I know it's still very early on!!) and students I taught last year have come up to me and updated me with how they're going. It makes me pretty proud that my students care what I think because beyond my frowns and disapproving stares  that they know they'll get after they tell me - at the end of the day they know I'll continue to try and support and guide them in the right direction.

Looking at this weeks full Year 9 induction programme - it's no surprise that at Heights we value whanau and that community feeling shows through. Year 9 students from Kowhai (the best house... just saying) went up Mt Ngongotaha for their Science trip today. I'm taking half of the Kowhai Y9s tomorrow to the Rotorua Museum for the Social Studies trip. Lastly, on Wednesday, Kowhai Y9s will be going out on the Waka trip at Lake Okareka.

Over the past three years at Heights - now in my fourth - I've seen these trips and their influence on our students. Only one more year and all of our students will have gone through the induction programme. The current Y13s didn't go on the Waka trip when they were Y9 and the Y12s never went on the cross-curricular trips but they still have been strong leaders in the sense that they were our juniors when we began the new house systems. They've made the transition possible.

We have yet to hear the results of the All in Day sports day last Friday (pretty sure Kowhai will have won it...) and the house chant. Kowhai definitely needs to up their game with ours but I like the direction our seniors were taking us... just needs more volume and focus. Waiporoporo's was pretty amazing if only for our new Head Boy and his stunning rendition of a very famous waiata.

As always - I hope for a good year. Focussed and motivated (scratch that... clearer growth mindsets) students who push themselves to achieve every goal that they set for themselves. Good results. More focus and organisation from me. Clearer deadlines and communication.

I really really look forward to the very obvious start with elearning this year - changed passwords, emails and passwords given out to students, emails to staff about setting up Google Classrooms. All things we've worked towards for so so so long. Many of you will know the true happiness that this brings me. Light at the end of the tunnel.

Last year was 2 steps forward, 5 or 6 back. But maybe all of that hard work we all put in actually made some clearer tracks and headway for this year. I truly truly hope so.

Can't wait for #EducampRotovegas on the 27th Feb!! Will be good to see all of the Connected Rotorua people again and the out of towners. Hopefully the Richmond team and the Ormiston team will come down. Will be getting some new swag from Class Dojo any time soon too!! Just need to find someone who will be at #EducampWelly to give half of the totes and stickers to. Any takers?

Lastly, my next MindLab assignment is on how we've implemented a change in our school. I'm going to focus on sharing Trello and Blendspace with a few early adopters and possibly some of the laggards to see if I can truly make a change in how we collaborate, share and dispense information with staff and students.

Plus - finally tackled the lawns and began the new vegie garden today :) Yay!!

Thursday, 11 February 2016

First Week Back 2016

I will be the first to say it... my five classes are absolutely fantastic this year. Am seriously blown away.

Am on the hamster wheel already with the Y10 English extension class and it's been a fantastic start. We've looked at the TPPA, articles, pros and cons and finding relevant information. They've begun writing their own NZHerald type articles where they have to show an unbiased perspective around the TPPA.

These kids are happy to please, hardworking and ready to learn. If only all students had this amount of motivation all the time! It's easy breezy teaching this kind of class because there is no need for classroom management - although a need to ensure everyone still gets a chance to speak and making sure all students are sharing their perspectives evenly and fairly.

My two year 12 classes are pretty cool too. Made my ENGL class laugh already and enjoyed how I got them to share their introductions and learning strategies and experiences with me.

Need to reflect in more depth about this!!

The ENGL class got straight into the work around the hunting assessment (blog post to come on this too) and discussion around hunting safety (or lack thereof in NZ). I really like this class' motivation and focus so early on.

The ENGA class was the first class I taught this week and they were ready to learn and ready to impress which was awesome. Still a few haututu kids who didn't do any of the basic intro tasks I set which is a pretty surefire indicator of motivation and output for the rest of the year. Need to change their mindsets quickly.

The 9 Social studies class is absolutely gorgeous. Incredibly happy to please and overwhelmingly new and excited about school. May it last for their next five years.

More to come about these guys too. So so awesome.

Recognition assembly today and All In Day tomorrow :)

Friday, 5 February 2016

Year 9s - KAL 2016

So our lovely new Year 9s came to school yesterday and what an absolutely delightful bunch they are! Standing up for us women as we walk past, opening doors, smiling and stepping up to opportunities without too much prodding.

I have four new Y9s in KAL this year. Most likely more to come when more enrolments come through. Only three were there yestersay and our fourth came today so didn't miss out on too much other than our sports afternoon.

The best part about how Heights initiates our newbie Y9s is the icebreakers throughout their first day.

We start off with our powhiri, with the Y13 Peer Supporters leading the haka powhiri as the students and parents enter the hall. Our new principal greeted and welcomed them and carried on the tradition of welcoming them in as family, new members of the Heights whanau.

We split off into house groups where the house tutor group teachers collected their students and peer support students (I'm lucky this year to have had three Y13s in KAL step up!!). The boys were needed to help with other initiates in Kowhai and so Kennedy and I showed them around the school as we walked back to E9 :)

Those first few moments are the scariest. For them and for me. It's so so important to hit the ground running, make them feel welcome, get to know them individually immediately. That's what I've done each year I've been at Heights and am lucky because I swear our HTG class is the best in the school. The seniors and juniors talk to each other, laugh at and with each other, help each other and generally enjoy each other's company. I've fostered a KAL whanau and we stick together. It's pretty cool.

These new Y9s... I have the best feeling about them. They were a little nervous but we broke through that pretty quickly with Kennedy laughing and being her normal hilarious self.

We have a new Chinese exchange student for two weeks who also started with the Y9s yesterday and her name is Rebecca (but her actual Chinese name is ..Xuan). I buddied her up with one of the other Y9s and she seems to be settling in quite nicely too.

Our house assemblies today and yesterday helped to create a sense of pride in how seriously awesome Kowhai is and the students had their first walk across the stage to collect their yellow ribbon to welcome them into the house officially. I must remember to give the new Y9 student who came today hers on Tuesday.

We worked on house chants and I taught them our one from last year. My voice is still a bit scratchy but it was awesome. I would have loved to share our video of them doing their chant as a full Y9 and Y10 cohort today. They were just honestly amazing. Hands down. Proud already to the ones that stepped up and for the rest that just got in there and worked together to make it the best collaboration I've seen in a while.

At the end of the day we had house sports where we did a range of different sport blocks for 15 mins. Multisport, volleyball, touch, soccer and tug o war. Volleyball and tugowar are easily my favourite because in Volley they get taught the basics on about five minutes. Each time I've watched our BOP and National champion coach, who happens to be our Kowhai Head of House, it makes me proud because the ease of teaching what was something seemingly difficult when I was growing up, becomes so fluid and the students learn so quick from him.

The best thing though is watching him watch the boys as they went through the paces with the Volleyball Peer Support students who awhi'd the boys. Our HOH  was watching for the players he could persuade to come onto the voleyball team haha. Love it. One boy hit a ball towards the Y13 student and our HOH yelled out to him about how great that pass was and the look on this year 9s face was absolutely beaming. Just need someone there doing the same thing with the girls now too.

Quite a few keen rugby girls too which will be an awesome thing this year. Sevens might be a better idea though... just need to see how they go.

Tugowar was hilarious. The teachers one against the Kowhai students and the girls won against the boys. The boys grumbled as they sat back down and the girls couldn't stop celebrating. Strength to the girls!

Today was a good lead into what high school is really like though with their first rotation of classes for 30 min blocks at the end of the day. I met my new Y10 students for English and they seem to be a pretty active, happy bunch with internet access at home!! Will be seeing just how much I can do with these students this year, push them to their highest potential. Even gave them homework on the first day hahaha. Pro and con perspectives of the TPPA. Hopefully they find something for Tuesday so we can analyse some articles.

Our Y10 students integrated nicely with the Y9s in KAL and they helped with a bit of tidying up in class. Shared work is always easier when it's together. The class is a lot more focussed towards how I've been wanting it to look now - just need to finish sorting out the back cupboard and sort out the files from last year's students.

I have two clean and tidy desks!! One for me and day to day stuff, one for marking and conferencing with students. Until the projector is on the roof it has its own posi right in the corner of the L shape of the two desks. Loving the setup finally. Making the room more mine has definitely helped.

Looking forward to having the Y11s, 12s and 13s back in KAL tomorrow :) Then it's back to school as per normal on Tuesday!!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

First Day Back - 2016 - Part Two

I chose not to add this part into the previous post because it was just so positive and happy... so let's leave 2015 where it was and move forward...

Regardless - still need to deal with a few things from last year, namely external results analysis.

I wrote a few things down today - the need to be more focused with time management, assess on time and mark work quickly. All things I try every year.

But this year will be different. Because we as a cohort in our dept will be working together to make sure we all hit the deadlines for assessments. This is what I've missed from MHS.

This level of clarity and strictness in the deadlines is what I personally need so that I can ensure I'm not being too lenient with students.

After all my thinking about needing to be MORE and better and all of that... I read this:

It seriously floored me. Exactly what I needed to hear and what I wish I had heard when I was a newbie teacher. Okay... maybe I heard it but I didn't really take it in. I've always tried to be the martyr, struggling and pushing myself and these students up hills they didn't know they could climb. But like I said a few posts ago... they have to have some motivation too.

Am finally feeling my eyes drooping. :) Looking forward to meeting our new Y9s tomorrow :)

First Day Back - 2016

I have a really good feeling about this year. The combination of those announcements at the start of the day, our new (but whanau to us) principal Jim Gemmell and a new DP from down the road who mentioned his down the road school a couple times broke the ice and there was a really positive buzz within the staffroom today at lunch. And it wasn't just because of the overwhelming sigh of relief from all of us that the mean kai hadn't stopped because our past principal Violet had left us.

It felt weird not having Ms Pelham there with us today. But I do look forward to seeing where this year takes us all.

My mind is still buzzing. Not sure whether it's just because the shower is dripping STILL after I gave Mia a flea bath, or elated that Mia didn't run away or escape (again like during the holidays when I was on holiday in Wellington), or that I finally finished my LDC1 assessment for the MindLab.

It's all quite exciting.

Was pondering before I gave up trying to stop pondering and grabbed my phone to write all this  - that this year I'll be 28. Every even year I seem to have a good year. Last year I feel like I wasn't myself. I wasn't pushing myself towards any goals and I wasn't really enjoying myself. In the last few days I've made a new kind of focus - just to enjoy and be happy. So that's what I'm going to do. In 2014 when I had the Yes Year it was seriously the best year of my life. I was focussed and motivated and interested in what was going on around me.

Last year was a constant battle of highs and lows and struggles to move millimeters towards seemingly large goals when in reality they're tiny in comparison to the true goals I have.

So... today I also kind of agreed to take part in the Ironman Maori 1/4 Marathon... 10 kms run. 1 km swim. 45km bike ride. I feel a little out of my depth. It's not til November but it's definitely something I can do for me and something I can work towards over a long period of time.

Here's to 2016 - the year of possibility, happiness and enjoying life.