Saturday, 23 April 2016

Jem and the Holograms: The Art of Being Tuturu

Long title.. but serious point.

Last night I watched 'Jem and the Holograms'. It was amazing. I was brought to tears. It was everything I ever could have dreamed in a remake of one of my favourite cartoons and yet there was just something even more special about it.

I managed to hold it together until the hologram of Jem/Jerrica's dad.

He talked about needing to be true to ourselves. Recognising our true identity and being true to our nature. Believing in the possibilities and being proud of our natural abilities. Never ever cowtowing to someone else or trying to be something that we aren't.

At this point in time... those words hit hard.

I've mentioned before about the rollercoaster that was 2015. I had thought that this year was going to be better. And it is. It's just that I'm impatient and I want to be where we just aren't yet.

I have to remember that good things take time. That life has a way of sorting things out when we're ready to take them. That every day comes with it's own set of joys to embrace and issues to overcome. That every second should be welcomed like a final kiss.

It's these things that I forgot.

To actually make the most of every day.

To be who I am - despite pressure to be something I'm just not.

To stand up for what is right - rather than allowing things to take over and letting them happen to me rather than as a result of my direct influence.

To be true to myself and be true to what I believe.

To always and forever be focussed on what is right for our students. These students and future ones too.

To never let anyone dull my shine.

I say these things to my students - it feels like everyday. Yet barely do I allow my words of help and advice to break into my own psyche. Because I guess I feel like I have to be mature or something. That being mature somehow means that you conform rather than be yourself.

So thanks again Jem. I found that niggling sense of self-doubt and extinguished it last night.

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Moving Forward with NPeW and Heights eLearning

Last night we had an amazing PLD session. We had the fabulous Sue Winters and Hancine Semyvelyan (need to check spelling) from Nga Pumanawa e Waru share the results of the interviews we conducted last year.

We had already gone over this data at our last elearning meeting with them where we had made our goals moving forward.

It was great to be able to take notes and share these with the staff. It's such an awesome initiative - I just really hope we can maintain momentum and keep pushing onwards.

After our NPeW presentation we broke off into our PLG's - Professional Learning Groups. I adore our group. So supportive, friendly, interested and collaborative. We all listen to each other and all share the learning.

Some awesome discussion around having to imagine what Heights will be like in 2029. And then 2020. And then what steps we need to take to get us to 2020.

This shared vision will be so cool when it's finalised and we can see the shared ideas within the staff.

There are certain groups which haven't been working as collaboratively or developing shared learning and I hope those in these groups are switched up so that they can reshake their thoughts around learning and teaching in the 21st century.

I think many teachers are scared about the next steps. Myself - I'm ecstatic. Everything I do is to get myself and my students ready for their new learning. Who knows what will happen in the next few years? Personally as long as I have a positive outlook and continue to enjoy working with students then I'll stay teaching.

The other day I began getting really cynical with my peers. I never ever want to be a cynical person. The million steps forward and billion steps back is breaking me down a bit though. We'll get there.

Already this year we've made some massive improvements! Our network is on the pathway to being injected with awesomeness, access points and routers, shared networks with depts, equity funds and many many other things too. We've been working on professional development and building staff capability. Those who were seen as laggards are pushing themselves across the line. It's awesome!

We still need to boost the confidence of so many more staff members but we'll get there. :) I just need to have faith and break down my six month elearning PLD plan more...

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Gamification and Y10 English

Despite my mobile data having had taken a beating yesterday, my students had an absolutely awesome learning session in class.

Using my mobile hotspot and a student generously allowing hers to be used also - we had a tutu with Quizlet's new Beta Live game.

Students were split into three teams once they'd all signed in. Questions about the Romeo and Juliet characters came up on their devices and students had to answer correctly and more importantly - work as a team.

They learnt quickly how it works - showing that this age level are way more quick to engage with this type of technology. Had we more time in the previous lesson - the Y12s may have hooked in to it more effectively. Might need to make their one more visual too.

Each team's names are around the questions - it lights up red or green based on the question answered by the team mate. Questions are switched between the teams so only one team can answer at a time.

On the projector was a scale for each team - counting from 0-12. The first team to get to 12 wins.

The issue being that if one of your team members gets a question wrong, then all of your points are pushed back down to 0.
As I was flitting around the room I saw students collaborating, students helping each other, supporting each other and succeeding with each other and also commiserating with each other.

One group figured the system out and realised to win they needed to be in one group - not spread out over the class so that they could discuss the answer first before answering - to avoid losing points with a wrong answer.

Another group - while working together were incredibly loud, excited and proud of each other's failures and success and kept pushing forward. A truly growth mindset group. These guys eventually won.

The next game we played was with Kahoot. Looking at a full test of 30 questions on Romeo and Juliet - this time some worked in pairs, others individually. Still the same collaboration and shared success was felt in the class.

The students quickly unlearnt their learning with the previous game and without any explanation from me - figured out how to play Kahoot. The music stopped at one point and one student asked where it was. Clearly, a multitasker and natural gamer :)

Playing Kahoot - with this class was a great way to see how much knowledge they had gained from the past few weeks, my weeny discussions and suggestions around understanding R&J.

When they read questions, answered them - it was in complete silence - then when they found the answer out there was either excited yelling as they won or sad gutted sounds if they lost. Others took a more competitive approach - worked together to discuss answer and answered quickly to gain the most points.

It was incredibly cool to see how much they actually did remember. Made me very proud. It was just such a shame that there were at least 8 students away who would have benefitted from this lesson.

Last game was to see how they'd fare with Language Techniques. As yet we've only brushed over a few and discussed iambic pentameter at length to help them understand the meter when speaking as  Shakespearean characters.

Not surprisingly - we had students guessing - but getting things right, using the lang techniques on the wall to help, and asking me or their peers for help. Sometimes I'd help - but learning for themselves is so much more powerful and I shouldn't have helped as much as I did.

Regardless - this lesson was awesome. Definitely need to do this again.

What I loved was the building up of growth mindsets, the gamer competitiveness and support, the focus on the right answer but also understanding the wrong answers helped for next time we do this.

One particular student who struggles with giving up has been working on actively building a growth mindset. Just a couple looks from me showed her to step it up and at one point in the game she was actually coming first to her great delight. Very cool moment. She was buzzing!! :)

Looking forward to seeing them again today and doing a quick evaluation with them about their understanding and learning.

Probably the one thing that frustrated me was that one of my students was using my phone so I had no way of taking photos of how awesome this class lesson was! The only proof I have is when I asked that student to take pics of the leaderboard at the end of the R&J and Lang Tech games.

Looking forward to the next time we do this and will try to implement this in my other classes and see if it is as successful with the seniors. It has been great in the past but this senior group is an interesting bunch. Could go either way.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Class Dojo and Y9 Social Studies

For a couple of weeks I aas wondering what had gone wrong in my class. They were beautiful and focussed and then something happened.

I think with the crazy behaviours from students I had gotten used to the level of crazy and hadn't brought it back down to normal. Well at least my normal level of crazy.

Over the weekend I had been pondering it and realised a little lately that I hadn't been using Class Dojo. Why? I'd just forgotten and worse - I'd been using it with the Y10 Extension class who don't actually need it. This Y9 class does.

We started powering it up. Just like I do with the clicker with Mia. I noticed as many positive behaviours as possible in a short amount of time. I didn't give poins to those who asked. I gave points to those they nominated. I focused on the good behaviours, ignored the bad. Focused on the quiet workers who had smiles on their faces.

Then when those who were showing bad behaviours more often than good began to show an interest, we discussed the behaviours we need to be looking for. We changed the behaviours as per what they suggested needed work on. I also added the KCs. I need to identify from the ones they've suggested which ones fit inside our School PB4L values. Usually I would write Heights, Wisdom, Honour and Success as behaviours - but for now it's nore powerful having student selected behaviours as they're more likely to pull each other up and notice when they're not being onto it.

I just had a thought that perhaps creating a poster of all positive behaviours I'm looking for in class might be helpful - however, it also might mean that they start playing the game in a bad sense - that they work the system rather than intrinsically want to try to change their behaviours to improve their learning.

Anyway. Day One after Dojo and I feel way less stressed about the class. They're actually doing some pretty cool work too. New Settlers to Aotearoa booklets and using their knowledge and info they're gaining from tablets and the internet :)

Growth Mindset - Reminder

Reminder - create new Growth Mindset posters for the classroom. Re-teach to those who need it and to others who may also.

Kanban Boards and Building Self-Management Skills

Quite a few weeks ago, we were taught at the Mindlab about Kanban and Flow. With any good project, you need to be self-reliant and more importantly have good time management skills.

With teenagers, the struggle to find balance with all things is massive. They feel pressured, lose track of time and will prioritise socialising above all else.

So I tried using Kanban with my Y12 (Pink) class. This class has been studying a novel for the last few weeks. Their novels were self chosen from a selection I provided with similar themes and issues for characters. Some students chose their own text and are still maintaining the mileage and focus around analysis needed. Without too much help from me, as all I did was read the blurbs, explain the books a bit and the characters, the students all found books that they wanted to read.

And read they have! This class is super happy to just spend the lesson reading. In fact, I think because I've allowed them this time in class, they've been able to get through more than possible due to the fact that they're just so busy at home to read.

There have been students in this class where reading was a real struggle. They've been able to conquer this and have nearly finished their books. The act of choosing their own novels may have helped this.

Back to Kanban.

A few weeks ago I created Y12 Lit Club. In order to continue using Literature Circles like last year, I knew I needed more focus, more structured analysis. As a base to this analysis I created Lit Club. 30-33 questions about their novels, characters, themes, settings, authors intention etc.

Using Lit club - students got into their choice of book groups, and single books in the singles group. Basic discussions ensued. Maybe more focussed group work needed here as there wasn't much discussion by some groups and more reading done (not that I'm knocking the students wanting to read!!).

The next day we began creating the Kanban boards. Using coloured paper, students drew up three columns like this:
(Insert google doc of kanban)

On the back of the Lit Club analysis - I created some Must Do's, Should Do's and Can Do suggestions for their Kanban boards. While only suggestions, I reminded my students that the things in the Must Do category actually did need to be done.

The rule about Kanban is that there is only ever four PostIts on the To Do pile. Four because it's manageable. You can have as many as you need in Doing - however I think working on three at once works better - and once the task is completed, they can then move it to the Done pile.

Having the tactile version is helpful as a beginner. I added a Trello board to the Kanban suggestion page too, but none have used it yet.

We've updated the Kanban boards a couple of times now - some have finished the book and are looking to work on analysis. I used the film study worksheets I made last year for the Walter Mitty and Gone Girl booklet and made a blank novel study booklet for students.

Am giving out these booklets today. Some students prefer tactile learning and some more digital. So options are there for them.

Hopefully these help to guide them further. They're only small booklets - about 9 pages long (double sided) and shouldn't take too long to fill in.

More importantly, I added the written text essay questions and an essay scaffold too at the back.

In the next two weeks we need to do more analysis, write a piece of creative writing and prep for essays for next term's exam. Time is slipping away. Am finding Google Classroom very useful. But the issue is that not all students have GC on their phones yet. To ensure ubiquitous learning is happening, I need to make it more fun and more interesting and worthwhile of their time. Maybe they can be in charge of the website redesign?

I began Kanban boards with my Y11s yesterday which went rather well. A few students not as focussed as the rest - and I don't think I explained Kanban as well as I did with the Y12s. Regardless, we got there in the end.

Same as the Y12s, the Y11s have self-chosen their texts. This year with less selection. Last year I offered five books. It was too crazy and not manageable. This year only three. There are clear groups of those who chose 'The Giver', 'Divergent' and 'The Knife of Never Letting Go'.

Last night I created a Y11 version of the Lit Club (same as the Y12 one...but with Y11 on it - just for those students yesterday who noticed the Y12 heading while using the lit club sheets) and looking at the Kanban board suggestions - began to identify areas that need working on.

I think because I started with Kanban first off this time, it may have a different path than the Y12s. Regardless, the journey will be similar. With the Y11s this next two weeks - we need to do analysis and static images too.

Last night I also found another (possibly better) version of Kanban which is done digitally. It was in the Chrome Web Store and called Kanban-chi. I'll add the direct link later.

On a side note - I've been forgetting to add Creative Commons licenses on what I'm creating for students. I fixed it up last night. I want to see if I can make it a default for all docs I make in Google Docs. Even though our school is not yet using Creative Commons as a whole, eventually we may - and by that time I'll have all my resources sorted.

Looking forward to tonight's elearning session. Will see who turns up and how we go.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

#digiday at Te Awanuiarangi - PLD

On Friday I woke up crazy early (6am - I'm definitely not a morning person!) and headed over to Whakatane. Beautiful drive, Adele singing, me belting out the words as I drove carefully around each corner and tight bend.

I'd been invited to present at and attend the EBOP #digiday at Te Awanuiarangi in Whakatane. Organised by Jeanette (Hinerangi) Murphy and Jude Cornelius-Nuku as part of REAP for the EBOP.

It felt really really really good to be there, doing things Maori and giving back to whanau and our local community. Making connections (whakawhanaungatanga) and creating new pathways and ideas with old friends.

Listening to Waaka Vercoe, the hariru, the korero with Waaka afterwards - him noticing my badge before I did (it had our WHHS logo on!!) and mentioning how his moko was in my class (HTG last year) and how he'd just gone to the school down the road (RBHS).

Making these connections reminds me just how close we all are as Maori, how my students have whanau everywhere and how close knit we all are - particularly in the BOP.  As my students' teacher I'm blessed to make these connections to not only build up the mana of our kura but also to continually and visibly assure the community we are doing great things by modelling and sharing and giving back.

I learnt a LOT from this hui. I would have loved to have gone to more breakouts and learnt from everyone. I really wish I had done a quick korero at the start though about using Twitter to the full room as there were only a handful of us tweeting the sessions. Hard to have visible learning when you don't know what was going on in other sessions.

Massive thanks to Stuart Hale (@stuartnz) and Steve Katene (@steve_katene) for their awesome insights and new learnings.

My main takeaways:

- devices while fragile, aren't really that fragile. They need to be untethered and mobile for most ubiquitous learning. Anytime. Anywhere.
- Because we need to be ubiquitous in our learning - desks are just not that important. We need to be 21st century - not stuck in 20th century frameworks, mindsets or spaces
- need to bust through the ceiling. Stop thinking that GAFE is the be all and end all. There is so much out there. Stop limiting ourselves. Tech can help us do so so much and we need to think about the way it can connect us, free us and ultimately improve and enhance the way we see the world and the way we Interact with it.
- 3 year olds are doing more collaborative, more experimental 21st century learning than I ever thought possible. So freaking amazing.
- Students need access. They need digital literacy skills. They need freedom to learn their way. To have responsive pedagogies. They need space to create their learning and more effective time structures.
- Developing new systems to connect directly with students is critical. There is always more that we can do.
- Why are secondary school teachers not interested in developing themselves and moving forward with what's happening in education? How can we provide faster, more effective PLD that caters to everyone's needs?
- I seriously want to work with Steve Katene in the future. Absolutely freaking amazing.

My workshop was good! Only three people came :( But I think it had the most effect. They were fully engaged. Didn't really need my updated slides, barely needed my help, just guidance and they asked ongoing questions which led to the next slides. Jude decided that I need to be doing this workshop at the start of the day to get everyone onto Twitter to enable that shared learning. Hopefully next year!

So impressed with Steve and the work that has gone on over at Richmond School in Napier. Wow. Awesome learning. Pushing kids like ours at Heights through the roof with their learning and then beyond.

My worry continues to be what will happen to those students when they go to high school. Their teachers aren't up at the same play. Their learning will spiral or they will take the skills they learnt at Richmond and apply them at high school. Luckily they'll be in the Matariki school cluster and hopefully will still have similar learning going on as Richmond are seen as leaders - which they most definitely are!!

Where are we currently? Where do we need to go? How will we do this? What will our learning look like for our students?

Need to keep reminding myself of the power of SAMR and Grant Lichtman's Stairway to Success model.

Storify here: (Insert embed code)

Hawaiki karakia korero at Te Awanuiarangi

A kaumatua told a story at Te Awanuiarangi on Friday at #digiday about how Maori are the only ones to retain the original karakia from Hawaiki out of all of the polynesian islands. He said how the missionaries taught the polynesians Christianity and made them put aside the old ways. Whereas Maori were happy to learn the ways around Christianity and to be taught many other things - but still held onto the old stories and karakia. As a result we still have the Hawaiki karakia.

He talked about two moments when he talked with his kaumatua and kuia about these karakia from Hawaiki - ones for travelling over water and for growing Maori Taro.

He saw two kuia doing karakia over the taro while they were sowing and growing them and asked them what the karakia meant. They said, "Kua ngaro nga kupu (meaning). Heoi ano, kei te pai." (We forget what it means but it's okay.)

When he and his company took over a dolphin watching business, he asked a kaumatua for the karakia from Hawaiki for safe passage over water. His uncle gave him 12 karakia. From these he made one based on the similar words and phrases in the karakia and translated it for the guide to use before going to dolphin watch. The guide said that when they got out to the water there were 20 dolphins waiting for them. She said to him that it had never happened before. The dolphins heard the karakia and knew to be there.

He realised then what the kuia meant by the words, "Kei te pai." Just because we may forget the meaning, it still means something to that which we do karakia over.

The same with the taro.

We may forget what the meanings are of our karakia but the intention is still felt.

The last thing he said was a moment from his own father who said, "Faith moves mountains... but bring a shovel just in case."

This koroua was none other but Waaka Vercoe. An absolutely beautiful storyteller, charmer and sharer of knowledge. :)