Thursday, 28 July 2016

Kahoot, Plickers, MindLab and Heights

Yesterday at interval one of my colleagues was sharing his experience of  using Kahoot during his extended House Tutor Group session.

The other colleague in his dept was talking about a PLD conference they went to and referenced Plickers.

Our other colleagues were asking questions and learning about these tools.

I really liked Adam's use of Kahoot and how he'd used it to get the students to learn more about each other as a digital scavenger hunt. Specific details about his students was loaded in as questions like ' Who is in the Pasifika group?' etc

When helping Manu understand how and why you'd use Kahoot, he said it would be cool to use it for students to figure out exemplars of work - Achieved, Merit and Excellence - and the right answer being the mark he'd give the piece. I loved this suggestion because it was something I hadn't thought about before. Even though Manu would be using it for art pieces, Adam thought about how he could use it for compositions and pieces of music and I thought about how it could be used for writing or static images.

I liked that Ryan was sharing his learning about Plickers as we often talk about the fact that not all of our students had devices which made it difficult to do some of the cooler learning. Plickers, as Ryan explained to us, was great because the cards acted like QR codes and were corresponding to student's answers. If the students used the same numbered plickers cards, then you'd have a really good set of results and data to use. I definitely need to investigate Plickers in more depth.

Jiji was asking me about his MindLab assignment. As part of the July intake, he is just starting his first assessment. We've had a couple really short sessions on his assessment and tools he could use. I showed Emma how to use Screencastify on Sunday for a few hours along with some other tools and she'd shared her learning with others this week at Mindlab which is awesome!

A student mentioned the new APs and the awesome WIFI signal we have yesterday and said "It's all thanks to you, Miss".

Exactly what I needed to hear after a stressful few days after recieving an unwelcome letter from an old friend.

It was just so cool being part of that korero yesterday. It reminds me that there are people at school interested, and like Manu mentioned about wanting to do that kind of thing more often, it's the lack of time to experiment with new ideas and the need to share that is most important.

When I really open my eyes - there is heaps of collaboration going on at Heights. Love that. :)

Byte Sized PLD - The Beginning

On Tuesday I started something I've been meaning to do for a long time. I mentioned it briefly in the last post but thought I'd elaborate on it now.

Over the past two years I've been experimenting with different styles of PLD: Wide focus with all staff, small groups, workshops and one-on-one sessions.

What I've found is that for those in the early majority and late majority - the wide focus sessions work fine. The late majority tend to ask the most questions and stop the flow of the learning but at least they're getting involved and trying to learn. The laggards sit there doing next to nothing, often refusing to participate or watching others participate and sometimes giving very negative responses.
The early adopters and innovators get frustrated with this style of learning as often they aready know the majority of this kind of PLD - and if not, they pick it up fast and go and do their own research at home or during the session... the early adopters are often relied on to answer the questions of the late majority and are the ones who try and inspire the early majority to activate them into becoming early adopters.

During the small group sessions, most people are engaged as they've come to the session prepared with questions and ideas for what they want to learn more about.

During the workshops and one-on-one sessions, colleagues are supported with facilitation and direct help and support when needed. Colleagues have found these the most effective and often use the learning from the sessions in their own classes much faster than compared with the wide focus sessions.

Because our eLearning PLD has been few and far between and the issues around organising a space and time to organise PLD for staff... although it could easily be done through using GForms (for staff to choose their sessions) and GDocs (for us to create and collaborate on ideas) and GSlides (to create the sessions and share the learning with all of the staff)... I decided it was time to implement 'Byte Sized PLD'.

The main reason for Byte Sized PLD is because there is a lack of time to learn new things. If I deliver a short and sweet weekly email with links, ideas and shared examples of new use of tech in class by colleagues then perhaps our staff will feel more empowered, confident and ready to engage with new learning when they need it or have time for it.

On Tuesday I sent the first one out with links to some of the learning I did in the break at the PPTA Māori Teacher's conference and at Connect Day in Hamilton. I think I'll also share these Byte Sized PLD emails as posts on here too. Could become a really cool way of sharing and acknowledging the awesome work our staff at Heights are doing.

Just hoping I keep up with the weekly emails!!

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

MTC and Connect Day: Update

Sometimes I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle trying to get people to find that passion to learn something new. I decided yesterday to implement an idea I've had for a year called ByteSized - a quick and simple edtech update for staff. I am absolutely aware of the time constraints we all have as teachers - but a weekly emailed update could be a simple and effective way of getting people involved with upskilling, in their own time without too much input and direction from me.

Judging by the 20 minutes after yesterday's email and looking at Kate's awesome Slides on Google Apps and Extensions - shows that perhaps this method of bite sized chunks might work because there were lots of anonymous alligators, moose, koalas and so forth popping up to have a look at it.
What I'd like to see next is getting staff to make the same goal setting journey as we ask of our students.
To improve my own PLD - I look for free, cheap and simple ways to learn about things that are interesting for me. I have no qualms travelling wherever I need to. No ties, no dependants... makes it a whole heap easier. I have big goals for myself individually, as a teacher and personally. Always have - but sometimes I get lost in the process of the journey and forget my next step.
After the Māori Teacher's Conference and the pivotal keynote at Connect Day - I feel more purpose in what I'm doing. Being recognised around the country for what I do for other teachers and to improve the quality of reo Māori being shared online in a public space... Marcus Akuhata-Brown's korero absolutely had me in awe. I wish someone had videoed it so I could replay it every morning to wake me up and get me ready for the day.
I'm still thinking about my experience at these two conferences and a better update will come soon.
Big goals:
Attend GAFE summit
Get Google Certified
Get Confidence to ask THAT question I keep putting off....
Figure out what's going on with why I'm feeling increasingly more stupid when I talk. Stuttering, losing train of thought, ideas not connecting.
Investigate Masters study...

Update: Class Dojo, Google Extensions, Twitter as a Teacher

More to come!!!!

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

Byte Sized PLD - Google Apps and Extensions, Upcoming Conferences and Resources

Morena Koutou,

I was thinking it might be good to share some of the new things I learnt during the holiday break while I was presenting at the PPTA Māori Teacher's conference and the Connected conference in Hamilton. 

I'll write up everything in a bit more detail on my blog later on but here are a few bite sized chunks for you. 

  • Google Apps and Extensions: awesome presentation using Google slides by Kate Norton - check that out here
  • PLD opportunities: 
    • #EducampAKL: free professional development run by teachers for teachers - 30th July (this Sat) from 10-2 at Aorere College. More info here - check out the Smackdown slides here if you can't make it
    • EdChatNZ conference: $30 - hosted by the new school Rototuna Junior High School in Hamilton. 12th-13th August. AWESOME learning. AWESOME presenters. More info here
  • Using Twitter as a Teacher: presentation slides I shared at the PPTA Māori Teacher's conference - found here

NZ resources:
  • Ako Panuku: free resources - teachers can register to receive printed resources and all resources are available to download on the site - more info here
  • POND: awesome site for sharing resources and finding relevant resources for our NZ students - more info here

Hope you all have a great week,


Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Spoken Word with my Y10 English Class

Reflecting on the fantastic series of lessons we've had...

The last few weeks we've been looking at different poems and yesterday I started the lesson where we were going to start creating our own poems.

I grabbed one of the metal stools and placed it in front of the class. Explaining that we were going to start creating these poems and using the poems we've studied as models... I started off with a simple Origin story, asking one of my students who was being a tutu to come sit beside me on another stool and present an on the spot story similar to that of Sarah and Phil Kay/Kaye.

It wasn't the best but we got the idea across. I allowed my student to go back to his seat and began an alternative.

I seriously wish I had recorded it. I can't recall the words I said but I remember how I said it. I envoked Sarah Kay and Maya Angelou and found my voice again as a spoken word poet. To say you could hear a pin drop would have been an understatement.

I might try to write it below... but for now I just need to think about the effect and impact on my students.

After the remainder of the lesson where students wrote their own Origin stories, some using the age sections like I did or using a structure more like Joshua Iosefo or Shane Koyczan, I saw again the most beautiful cohesion. A majority of students writing and sharing and collaborating naturally.

A small minorty who weren't focussed but continued their work today.

I went around and asked them all for their first lines. It was a good strategy to get them all started and the timed writing sessions helped too.

Going back around I saw a few of my students starting to hit full steam with their writing. I checked in a bit more and carried on.

Two of my top students finished pretty early. I asked them to share their work together. They did. With a little bit of nerves. And shaking hands.

I forgot how powerful your first session of spoken word poetry was. That nervousness around sharing truly personal stuff. The need to share but the fear of the judgements from others as a result.

I asked the two to give each other some feedback once they'd read it. So proud of them.

As my students left yesterday they were buzzing. Buzzing! Why had I not done this earlier?? Wow.

Today... today hit a mark where I was in absolute awe of my students. I cried. Was proud. And absolutely in awe. So awesome.

Today they were given more time to write. Those that had written most of their Origin stories yesterday were asked to go through and identify areas where they would use pace, pauses or differing intonations.

Sitting with students and reading their stuff... impressed to say the least.

Students who had been having a tricky time with me opening up and sharing their work with me (Re: Broken Relationship post!!) and other students wanting feedback or a cautionary first glance at my facial expressions as I read their work to see if their words had the desired effect as I read quietly.

Throughout the period I signalled time-limits and the need to share their work. They were already doing this collaboratively previously but I had asked them to bring their noise levels down (when did I become that kind of English teacher...?) and then wanted them to share again in their groups when they were ready. I need to do less prodding and more encouraging.

Towards the end of the lesson, I asked one f the mighty duo to sit on the stool as I did yesterday and share her story. I had read hers fully today. I had asked her to edit it a little by adding future plans to it to help balance it out. Beautifully done too might I add.

I had been getting her ready for it throughout the period but she was still very nervous. Shaking and asking me again whether she had to. That kind of questioning which showed she did want to, was nervous about the reaction of others and possibly the fallout as a result of sharing her work... she believed in me and held absolute trust in me. Beautiful. I had told her that it would be good for her to share her work and become more used to growing her confidence levels. After a little bit more prodding she had shared her work with me and I then understood why she felt uncomfortable. Adding the future part did help anchor all of what she'd said previously.

Those moments are rare in class. Seeing student's talent evolve and grow. Students recognising when the teacher is moved emotionally by someone's work and when students trust you to guide them on their pathway towards their bright futures...

When she sat on the seat the room went quiet. They knew of her prowess as a Shakespearian speaker when we did Romeo and Juliet. They were ready. But... before they heard it I asked them to listen. To be respectful. That we don't video spoken word poems as they're personal. That if poems were ever to be shared in that way then it would be up to the poet to create the video.

She started speaking. Not well practiced, but practiced enough that she used her book merely as a guide. A natural speaker. Her intonation was on point. Pauses and emphasis in the right spots. She held us all in her grasp as she read, baring her soul. Absolutely courageous.

The class burst into loud clapping for her as she ended. A few of us around the room were wiping away at tears. I began modelling appropriate feedback. Sharing with her and the class what I liked about her poem, how she'd added the second part and how she should be proud of herself and believe in those of us that believe in her. I asked other students to give their feedback also. They did. Beautifully. Finally nailed that discussion skill in our class.

Next up I asked the other of the mighty duo to share his poem. I hadn't prepped him but I was sitting in front of him so had whispered quickly before I announced it was his turn next. Luckily, like the first speaker, he'd shown me his work and likewise had been given feedback to even it out at the end - to talk about the differences that he would make in his life compared to events in his past.

Before he spoke, knowing what he was about to speak about, I reminded the class that what is said in class, stays in class, no gossipping or judging. These spoken word poems are powerful!! They need to be given full respect.

He sat on the stool stoically. As always. The fangirls were pumping him up and then the room went deathly quiet.

He spoke fast. Faster over the more difficult parts. Slower intonation on certain areas - particularly when he said "I think Dr. ______  ______ sounds cool." And then his ending, which I hadn't read yet - was beautiful. Was everything I had hoped for and more. He shared about how he was going to be better than the example he'd been set while growing up. So honoured to work with such amazing students.

The feedback again was well done and then we were onto the next student. I'd read her work, amazed at her willingly sharing her work with me! (Second time in two days!) And knew what she'd be talking about.

When she sat on the stool, the class weren't quite ready but she explained to them all that her poem was a bit different. That it wasn't following the same style as the previous ones.

She spoke. Naturally as well. Stunning. Using humour as her go to technique, use of sound and well timed sung lyrics to anchor her poem sections.

The bell rang on her last sentence. The class stayed patiently as she finished and then they left.

She even said goodbye as she left today. Maybe the advice you all gave me actually did work.   :)

Looking forward to seeing how many more are now willing to share tomorrow. So proud of them all. :)

Friday, 1 July 2016

Update: Term Two - Week 9

This will be a long one...

Y9 Social Studies:
At the moment we've been looking at the concept of leadership. What it takes to be a leader and more importantly the difference between leaders and the decisions they make.

We've been looking at Te Whitu o Rongomai and Tohu Kākahi with the events of Parihaka. Today though we began our new class project where students have picked their own leader, created questions to find more information about them and where they showed their own prior knowledge about that person.

It was the first time in ages where this class were focussed and interested. When they did their last assessment they were the same. They're happy to do their classwork when it's relevant to them. For some reason I forgot this year to focus on my students and rather than teach things that I think might interest them (even though Parihaka did interest them for a few lessons... I think we went too long on it...).

Work where it relates to their own interests creates more relevance and self-management.

Y10 English:
We've been looking at spoken word poetry and traditional poems too. Focussing on overcoming obstacles and stereotypes. This past week we looked at To This Day and learnt how to annotate and identified language techniques. We looked at Sarah Kay's 'If I should have a daughter' and K Love's 'Million Dollar Melanin'.

With all my focus on trying to connect with that one student I forgot to connect with the rest of my amazing students who were all incredibly engaged and being moved by the poetry. I missed so many beautiful moments where students were in awe of the messages and I missed so many teachable moments too which I regret now. Hopefully I can fix them and connect them next week when we start writing our own stuff. We're going to try to do some blackout poetry...

Y11 English:

Finally got through the plot sumarry of 'V for Vendetta' and began the plot structure from exposition to inciting incident to rising action and agreed on the climax point. Everything after that was going t be done today except that we had our Y11 assembly today where students were talked to about the gap between Maori and Non-Maori in regards to achievement and the work teachers are doing with Kia Eke Panuku to improve this.

Y12 English (Yellow):

Trying to smash through all of the assessments before the end of next week. Combination of catching people up with their reading assessment for literacy requirements, working on their creative writing pieces for their writing portfolio, Party in the Car assessment and their visual verbal assessments. So much to do! But we're slowly smashing through them all. The credit sticker chart is getting way more colourful :)

Y12 English (Pink):

This class is nearly finished their visual verbal assessments. The problem with this particular assessment is that we need a lot of time to dabble with the technology needed to do it well, especially if you aren't particularly talented with art or that creative. So... dabble we will next week while on the computers I've booked in the library.

This classes sticker chart even has two Excellence stickers so far!!! :)

Looking forward to both Y12s film studies next term. But I just realised that once the film study is over they have their next exams and then it's Term 4 and then end of year exams and then end of year! And my Y12s who were once my Y9s will be Y13s next year... gosh. Time flies.