Tuesday, 31 May 2016
Friday, 27 May 2016
Tuesday, 24 May 2016
My first thoughts are the trends set out by Core Education and the development of them over the years. Some of the main trends include gamification, collaborative learning environments/innovative learning environments/modern learning environments, learner agency, equitable access etc
Below are the Ten Trends collated by Core found here: http://www.core-ed.org/thought-leadership/ten-trends
Wilson (2012) says that an issues "point to unresolved concern, questions and tensions that arouse...."
- The development of spaces inside classrooms that provide the ability for students to use design thinking, imagination and maker skills to create something new and consistently evolving.
- The need to create more student centred spaces that allow students to feel comfortable, engaged, interested and flexibility to make choices as to where they sit and learn best.
- The mindset of modern learning environment/innovative learning environments whereby kaiako are developing stronger awareness around their pedagogy and the changes needed to ensure stronger perspectives around ....?
Issues in NZ:
- The need for more open perspectives within how we assess for our students.
- The need to be more aware of the inequity in NZ with students and their access of digital tools to enhance their learning.
There are HEAPS of really cool blogs out there - check out the NZ educator blogroll on www.edblognz.blogpost.co.nz
Thursday, 19 May 2016
Back when I was at Massey High in my first two years of teaching, we were in Professional Learning Communities where we chose the learning area we wanted to focus on as a collective. The five of us English teachers decided we wanted to focus on seeing whether a change in classroom environment could affect student engagement and attention in class.
We planned a little about needing fabric to cover the bare walls and creating cool posters for our students to reference for their learning. Rushing off to Spotlight with my mentor and buddy teachers was easily one of my best memories as a first year teacher. Am definitely a fabric geek. Haha.
We found heaps of cool stuff there, including a roll of black fabric with shiny silver stars. I still have the remains in my back cupboard now.
So we worked in each others classrooms, helping each other fix and make better our environments we worked in each day. True collaboration and what I loved about my colleagues at MHS.
By the time we got to my class - we were knackered but we managed to get quite a bit done and created strips of the black and silver starred fabric for one part of my wall. Sometime later I created my 'Dreams are Free' wall letters. I still have these too, they're on top of a pile of resources which are constantly waiting to be put up around the room.
Under that phrase I got students to make shapes where the wrote their goals and hopes for their lives. Each class did that and stapled them on the wall - it was a beautiful way to create student ownership in the space. It helped to motivate them too with little help from myself.
In that room there was a lino floor. It was awesome for kids on a wet day to slide on.... lol but more importantly I loved the click of my high heels on it. I wear flats now... The lino floor was great because we could move the desks out of the way easily, change the environment for different modes of learning quickly and did heaps of debates, role playing from the novels we read and dramatic readings of poems students wrote.
I was hardly ever sitting at my desk. You could barely see my desk at the time... I was still figuring out my organisational system...
Which is my next focus.
As my fifth year of teaching concludes and I move into my sixth - it feels good to have finally controlled or lets say begun to tame the monster that is paper at high school.
On my desk after the day you might find piles of student work, a bit of rubbish or student texts to read. But it's a quick five minute tidy now as I finally have things organised - not just so that I'm the only one who can find anything... haha
On my desk lays my teachers planner, my laptop, stationary, timetable and a bowl for my keys. On the table beside mine sits the projector. I've resigned myself finally to the fact that it remains a stationary object and probably won't get put on the roof as my class is one of the classes that could be pulled down if the MOE declare we have too many buildings.
On my left is a 8 box bookcase laying on its side. On top sits two purple tray organisers (three really because I needed six trays) - that are labelled for each class and my HTG. In these trays go my student's unfinished work.
In the eight boxes of the bookcase sit students folders for portfolios or workbooks after marking. In one of the boxes I have teaching resources and another for my readings to do and learn about.
Behind me is the whiteboard and the back cupboard. It is an awesome space but needs an absolute overhaul. When I had to move from my previous class I moved everything out, made it absolutely tidy for the new person to move in and chucked the stuff from 1980... When I moved into my current class - it was an absolute mess. I couldn't put my stuff anywhere so I ended up smushing it in with everything else and even after a small tidy a couple months ago to fit the PI drums in and organise the beanbags - it is still a massive mess. I would love to use that space more effectively but I need a bit of time to sort it.
The bookshelf in the corner by the cupboard door is probably my favourite item in the class. I found it on Neighbourly last year - a neighbour was giving it away. It's beyond cool. Towers over me but has been organised in such a way that all of my students have a space for their assessments to be held, extra shelving for who knows what just yet and above on the top shelf sits photos and other knickknacks brought in to brighten the class up, engage students like the lightbox or the Class Dojo 'Mojo' toy.
Last but not least is the bookcase at the back of the class. I spent a solid hour yesterday, with the help of one of my students, fixing it up and resorting it so that it looked better. Much more organised and hopefully students might stop putting their rubbish in there... :( In the bookshelf are a lot of books, novels, poetry, autobiographies - things I've picked up over the year at book sales and when our school library does a run through any texts that they don't want or haven't been read in a while. They're all labeled for my class library and organised beautifully - at the moment.
The one thing I guess I haven't mentioned yet is that my class is bare at the moment - excepting some QR codes and the back wall noticeboard half covered in blackboard paint and the other side covered in black paper. One more Cambridge exam and then I can put some things back up. But not everything - because it's too much of a mission pulling everything down again for exams three times a year.
At MHS they used our classes for exams too so it's not that I'm not used to it - but at MHS I had the fabric on the walls so could just pull the fabric off and everything came down.
A man came into class the other day - and he had a measuring beam tool that he placed in two spots in class to gauge the space. I straight away thought it was for the routers - why I don't know. But he said he was there to do the composite. The carpet on the wall. Yay! Because then I can put things on the wall! And pull them down easily!! :)
I just need to make sure that they take the beautiful mural in class down first before they do any carpeting over it. :)
My students didn't really get why I was so excited about carpet on the wall. But it will seriously (hopefully) brighten the place up. Which it definitely needs.
The tables - I think I've written before about the tables in our class. They're the old metal frames with new tops on. They're the kind of desks I had in primary school. I tried making them marginally better last year by putting whiteboard film on them. Which the students actually really liked because we could learn in ways they hadn't been able to do so previously. Brainstorming, planning, writing, drawing etc etc etc.
I took it all off before end of year and Cambridge exams last year. I need to buy some more. It was a really cool tool and I have to thank Alyx Gillet for the idea. :)
The issue with the tables is that they're bulky and difficult to organise into groups. They don't smoothly move around the class either but are easy enough to lift and shift and pack away.
I have some awesome trapezoidal shaped tables though. Just need one or three more to make a proper shape. Or series of shaped tables. Then I could get rid of the tables. But then they're needed for the exams. Hmm.
That's where the beanbags come in though. Beautiful for students to find their own space, outside, inside, to do their work.
I need more student input to make the class better. More time to fix it up. More funds saved to go and do so. :) All in good time.
Tuesday, 17 May 2016
Monday, 16 May 2016
Last week was messy - we had students away on PE camp up in the Kauaeranga Valley - two trips meaning some were here when we looked at videos, some were here when we looked at techniques, some were here when we played the Film Technique game on Quizlet Live. Despite students coming and going, I felt truly positive about the direction we were all going in.
Until this morning. When I had the full class back. Today was messy. But... it worked. Somehow.
I started them all off with the Introduction I'd written on Google Classroom last night, got those who weren't here to play a couple games to learn Film Techniques on Quizlet Live, and the remainder who were here to continue with developing their brainstorms, filling in their introductions and thinking about the techniques and how they were used to 'effectively change the behaviour of (target audience) in and around cars'.
Homework today was simply to finish their brainstorms so that we could get started writing paragraphs on Wednesday. Hopefully they will do so and not write anything further so that we can use their reports for their writing portfolio assessment too.
My Y12 EngA (Yellow) class started this assessment last term but only just finishing up their reports now. They've also had the gamification aspect of Quizlet. They actually chose for the Pink class which one worked better for them out of Quizlet and Kahoot.
It's interesting that juniors seem to love Kahoot and seniors like Quizlet better.
Today I felt like I was doing blended learning right. Students were accessing their devices for the benefit of their learning and gaining knowledge on a just in time basis whereas previous to this the devices were used in a more structured way where I told them where to go and what to do. Seeing the students accessing the information needed, when they needed it was VERY VERY cool.
What did I actually do to make this work??
* I set up Quizlet a LOT faster than previously by telling students to get onto quizlet.live while I was opening Quizlet myself - students were waiting and asking for the passcode before I had it up on the projector.
* I had the introduction example on Classroom up on the projector in another tab.
* The game went faster than previous times as there were a smaller number of participants. They were able to play a couple of games and then got into what everyone else was doing
* I had the NZTA playlist from my channel as a link on Google Classroom which students were accessing as needed or using YouTube from their phones/devices
* I'd added the digital version of the film techniques on Classroom as well in a Resources post- which students were accessing as needed too
* Constant monitoring, helping, guiding, supporting and suggesting possible techniques for their chosen ads
* Printed copies of the report scaffold available for students
What might have helped to make this lesson smoother?
* Students checking Google Classroom prior to coming to class
* More teaching around using Google Classroom as a tool to find information
* Printed copies of all resources available for students
* Re-work the screenshots resource I made for the Yellow class?
* Re-work the Party in the Car resource booklet with clearer steps?
Overall thoughts -
This is one of my most favourite assessments in the Y12 programme and easily the best section of learning we do in the year. Because we discuss prior knowledge, learn together and from each other, collaborate and learn from shared experiences and discuss how target audiences are manipulated by Public Service Announcements like driving ads by the NZTA to change behaviours.
Moe mai ra e tama. Fly high. Rest easy e tama. We all miss you. Watch over the rest of us.
At first when Kerri and her NZRA crew brought this programme to life last year within the primary school, I was hopeful it would evolve towards the junior school in High School too. This year is the first year we've been doing NZRA for Y9 and 10 students and although I can only speak for this term - it's been collaborative, challenging and overwhelmingly engaging.
Last term with my Y10 English class we studied Romeo and Juliet. They absolutely NAILED the Shakespearean verse. I was so so proud of them all. We didn't read the entire thing but we managed to cover some of the more important scenes - the balcony scene, deaths of Mercutio, Paris, Romeo and Juliet etc. Some of my students were even able to go up to Auckland for the Shakespeare in Schools programme at the Pop Up Globe. When I went on the last day of the school holidays - I left feeling touched by Shakespeare - in all senses of the word. I honestly feel that the Pop-Up Globe brought Shakespeare to life the way it was meant to and I wish that all of my students could have been able to feel that wairua the same way I did. I swear I cried through most of it - to my 15 year old sisters embarrassment and equally shared happiness.
I digress - the point I suppose of sharing the success of our study of the Bard is to say that I just KNEW that my Y10 class would absolutely smash out the novel despite not having read it yet myself. And they're doing remarkably well. We as a collective (NZRA) are currently into Week 3 of 'Speed Freak' and the students that didn't quite connect with Shakespeare or the poetic phrases have settled easily into this style of prose.
This week I've written up the tasks for 'Speed Freak' and I felt the biggest amount of responsibility I've ever had in teaching (excluding EOTC trips!!) because I was in charge of setting up the learning for a LOT of students. My own students are used to my relaxed nature and flexibility when it comes to our learning based on their needs or wants in each lesson - but to be in charge of the next week of lessons for a range of amazing colleagues - that's serious responsibility. I hope that the students enjoy it this week. A fair bit of analysis of relationships - some deeper discussions around the issues in the novel might be needed but I left those up to the discretion of the teacher.
Chapters 14-18 - probably the most vertical part of the novel so far in terms of rising action where the novel's characters develop, learn more about each other and make some pretty serious decisions.
I await the discussion of their learning on Edmodo in their small groups.
My students will need to push themselves through the next few lessons as we've been having to catch up on chapters each reading room session - and have only three lessons more to read five chapters.
We'll see how we go. We might have to rejig the reading and chapters a little or figure out pacing a bit better. At least the chapters are all only a few pages each so it's not too strenuous but allowing time for all students to have a go at reading, monitoring their progress and improved reading over time does take up extra time. The tasks are well structured - the last two weeks it has been a series of different ones each chapter which I've chosen a couple from that have been really effective.
Working in this way, collaborating with other teachers across the country shows me just how much effort goes into true collaboration - sure it's a bit challenging - but overall it's incredibly rewarding and has improved my practice in terms of more focussed literacy tasks and developed my thinking and perspectives around collaborative teaching and learning.
This aspect of blended learning - using traditional and digital tools to enhance and evolve the students learning has been really cool to be a part of. Thanks to Karen Wilson for her ongoing support and commitment to this NZRA programme and for getting us this far :) Looking forward to the next few weeks!!
Tuesday, 10 May 2016
For those of you new to blogging and new to my blog - nau mai haere mai! We would LOVE for you all to keep blogging about your learning as teachers and share your perspectives over time. A really cool place to share your learning after you've created a post is on Twitter and edblognz.blogspot.co.nz
To define my practice:
What is my practice?
A seemingly simple question... however if I were to truly answer this I would say my entire teaching practice is focussed around building student relationships in order to make significant changes to developing improved student achievement. Also, a main focus continues to be the way in which I teach: relaxed, supportive, encouraging and overwhelmingly full of laughter and humour.
Developing more of a focus around what it means to be culturally responsive and ensuring that all students in my class feel safe, comfortable, engaged and interested in the learning and the environment.
Motivating myself to be more efficient with paperwork, more organised with student resources - both paper and digital, more targeted with student academic tracking and ensuring that I'm keeping a consistent record of these.
What is my professional context?
I am an English and Social Sciences teacher at a local Rotorua High School.
Who are my Community of Practice?
Essentially that is the edblognz, edchatnz, EngChatNZ whanau and the many many members within my PLN that I follow on Twitter or discuss issues with online in differing modes (English List Serve, emails, community groups etc). Also, my CoP includes those kaiako in my departments who support me to be the best teacher I can be. Along with this are the Establishing Teachers Committee and ICT Advisory Group within the PPTA that help guide me forward to where I'd like to be in a few more years time. Added to this list now include the fantastic members of the November Intake of the Mind Lab :)
What is the purpose and function of my practice?
The purpose of my practice is to be the best teacher I can be to my students. In order to do this, I have to function well within the modes of more traditional systems which often restrict me from enabling myself to be the teacher I want to be, for the benefits of my students.
In what ways do I contribute to the community of my practice?
I contribute daily to my community practice through social media, communication (email and face to face), in class and outside it. I share and portray good practice. I learn from others about what best practice looks like. I learn from and teach other colleagues about the importance of finding relevant professional development.
What are the core values that underpin my profession?
The core values that underpin my profession are:
* Good Communication
In regards to my own practice, I think that I exhibit these values well in my classroom with students, with my colleagues and within the community. I'm considerably loyal to my students, my principal and my colleagues and particularly our school. Our school holds a lot of mana in the community and I'm very proud of being a teacher here at Heights. Whenever I'm out in the community there is always an ex-student, family member or current member of the Heights whanau that has a conversation with me about Heights - it's changed reputation from previous years and how it's now known as 'The School of Choice' with a rapidly growing roll.
I'm an incredibly trusting person - I will usually believe a student from the get go - causing some issues as I'm also very gullible haha - but will try to find positive solutions for students that allow them to feel safe, respected and cared for in my classroom. I try to be as wise as possible but acknowledge that I'm not the only person in the room with the information and we try to share our knowledge as much as possible in class. I don't ever want to be the sage on the stage or do chalk and talk. I want to be the teacher that students can turn to for advice, get help with assessments, trust in and will be honest with. In order to do that I need to create a classroom environment where students feel safe to do that - a space where power is shared in the classroom is the ultimate way to do this.
Lastly, the main value is good communication. These last six months or so I've noticed more stuttering and an inability to get my words out clearly. I think them clearly but for some reason just can't get them out clearly. I don't know why. But I will find out. Though I suppose the good thing about this is that I'm able to reword things several times which helps students understand the message in multiple differing ways. Also - being able to be aware of this, knowing that I have no control over it - helps me control it - if that makes sense as I have a bit of power over the issue rather than becoming more agitated because I can't get my words out as clearly as I need to. I've always said that my written language is better than my oral language. Heoi ano....
I was thinking about some of the 21st century values that we need in the profession:
21st Century Values:
* Adaptive Confidence
*Clear and Responsive Communication
* Innovative Learning Experiences
* Real World Learning Opportunities
What is my specialist area of practice?
Technically - I have my Bachelor of Arts (dissertation to finish for my Hons) with a double major in History and English. I have my PostGrad Diploma in Secondary Teaching (with the ability to teach English (Y7-13) and Social Studies (Y7-10) and History (11-13). I also have my Te Ara Reo Maori Level 5 Diploma in Te Reo Maori.
Currently - I teach English (Y10, 11 and two Y12 classes) and Social Studies (Y10).
Though I suppose my specialist area of practice centres around the needs of my students and I will try and bring in as many different areas to engage them if need be. Was just thinking about the other day when we were talking about doing a Coverflip in English and I brought up that another student was thinking about doing 'The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas' and how it would be cool to do a series of Coverflips for different audiences. The group of students who were getting help with this particular assessment asked me a few questions which snowballed into a mini history lesson around WW2 and the Nazi use and abuse of the rights of the Jewish people.
How does my specialist area of practice relate to the broader professional context?
My specialist areas of practice relate to the broader professional context through the ongoing development and evolution that is English and Social Sciences. There are constantly new forms of media and learning and historical artefacts being created and found on a daily basis.
The broader professional context therefore, is connected with my specialist areas of practice as teaching continues to change and develop. We are ever changing, evolving as teachers, professionals and we need to ensure that we are keeping up with the ever changing world around us. We can do this by being connected, feeling the pulse of the education world and changing along with it, rather than staying stagnant and refusing to change or improve professional practice.
What are the key theories that underpin my practice?
Key theories that underpin my practice:
*Cultural responsive and relational pedagogy
* Growth mindset and the impact of self-belief and motivation on our lives
* Reflective practice
* Teaching as Inquiry