Friday, 24 June 2016

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Meaningful maths learning

Today we focused on maths, as both myself and Archana were in class together (the only day this week). Archana modelled taking a small group using materials, focusing on place value. The students were asked to solve a word problem based around 72x9. They really struggled with this, so Archana bought it back down to 9x7. The aim was for them to use bundles of ice cream sticks (bundles of 10) to get a tidy number, then take away one from each bundle (to get 9). This strategy would allow students to use multiplicative thinking with larger numbers.

Both groups of students we tried this with really struggled, and it became evident that the students did not have a good understanding of their place value. They could say this is tens, this is hundreds, this is thousands (etc), they could not use that knowledge in practice. 

So, we began a whole class place value session using different materials. 
We had cubes, popsicle sticks and round beads to use. The class was split into groups, each group using a different materials. 

We started with showing the number 94. 
Students had to make 9 groups/bundles of 10, then 4 ones (not that we told them that).

Then we moved into hundreds - students had to make 133. This meant they had to make 10 groups/bundles of 10, group those together to make 1 bundle/group of 100, then make 3 groups/bundles of 10, and leave 3 ones out as well (not that we told them that).

We continued on using bigger numbers, once students showed they had some understanding of 10x10=100, groups of ten etc. 

In the end, we got students to show the number 1028, using materials. We had three groups doing this, so we had to beg, borrow and steal materials from other teachers so each group had enough 'things' to make 1028. We used everything we could, and still had one group using felt tips to make one group of 100 as well. 

Making lots of one hundred.

Students in the process of making their 1028 - starting with making bundles of ten, then putting ten lots of ten together to make a lot of one hundred.  
Here is two lots of one hundred (the cubes), four lots of one hundred (in bundles of sticks), three lots of ten and 8 ones. Total number 638.

After each group showed their number, the rest of the class came over and saw what the group had done. We counted the bundles together, and checked they had the right number of each one, hence the right number shown.

Checking how many bundles of 100 this group made. The discussion then went into how many bundles of hundreds would there be in 2,000, 3,000, 4,000 etc.

1028 - 10 bundles of 100, 2 bundles of 10, 8 ones.
Here are ten lots of one hundred, two rows of ten and eight single blocks. Total number 1028.

The students were engaged, motivated and learning for over an hour and a half! It was an awesome lesson, which laid the ground work for the next few weeks of place value based learning. It got them to have some understanding of place value in practice; how many hundreds are in thousands etc.

A major part of this lesson was students trying it for themselves - neither teacher modelled or explained how to make bundles of ten, or that 10 bundles of 10 made 100, or how to lay them out in order from hundreds-tens-ones to make it easier to count them up. They did it themselves, and we facilitated them through the process by leading them with larger numbers. By giving students a chance to try their own thinking, and to learn from each other, they held the power over their learning. When they succeeded, it was to their credit, not because they copied the teachers example. 

And hence, their learning was more meaningful and they will remember it more than if it was very teacher-dictated.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Integration success!

Today Anne Sinclair from Manaiakalani came to observe Archana and I. 
We chose to do an integrated literacy and numeracy lesson around fruit kebabs.

First students watched a video about how to make a fruit kebab. 
Then they had to tell us (the teachers) how to make the fruit kebab - the aim was to speak in full sentences, use text connectives like 'next, first, then, after', and use specific verbs. 
It was hilarious! The kids loved having the control over us and telling us what to do. They started off with things like 'pick it up', 'put it on', etc. So we played along and were silly with them, doing the wrong things, in the wrong order etc. Then Archana and I role played being on the phone to each other, and explaining the process to each other. We used the phone example because students would understand that we can't see each other and can't physically help each other, you can only use words, so you have to be careful and specific about what you say. We followed on with a sequencing activity, then introduced our maths focus, where students had to find out how many pieces of each type of fruit we would need, for the whole class to make a kebab each. 
After Anne left, we also then made real kebabs!

Here is Anne's feedback - 

The class are really responsive to both of you as co-teachers and you have set a really inclusive atmosphere. It is a happy and comfortable classroom, where there is evidence of respect and wanting to learn. After the roll the learners went quickly to their tables and listened/viewed the video through headphones and their chromebooks (as data projector broken). You are very relaxed Ashley and it shows in the way you interact with the learners. You know them well and you and Archana are working as a pair, so they are getting two sets of ideas, two sets of instructions, two sets of explanations, two sets of directions and two sets of feedback and support. I like the way you made the create real and then did a role play with the learners, pretending you did not know how to make a fruit kebab. The pretend conversation on the phone was such a good motivation to make them think more deeply on giving instructions. They were so excited to give you the directions.

Getting them to talk to each other and run through the steps with a partner also consolidated the learning for them and when they explained to you it was fun making the connections with real descriptive words - stab the fruit, grab a stick, what kind of stick, stick on the pointy top, poke it on the pointy top. After the class tried giving the instructions you then gave the class a role play by you and Archana giving an example of using clear instructions. You used a recipe and followed the steps. The children were interested in your role play and they took notice of the process.  

The follow up of the instructions were clear and easy to understand. By asking the class to repeat the steps and adding to their knowledge base in a way that they could both hear and see what it would look like, was helpful to their learning. It was great to see you using drama to reinforce and interest the learners in so many skills and to integrate literacy and maths in such a creative way. I could see how engaged the learners were, but there was one small boy who looked lost so wondered what was going on with him.

Introducing the next task was quickly achieved and you were very well organised and planned so the children could get started.  Setting up the task to involve them immediately in understanding the steps was novel and engaging. They all became involved and really enjoyed the competitive nature of the task.  Ashley by moving around the class and checking in with them you were able to evaluate where the learners were in their understanding and those who were struggling. The learners work well together and by setting time limits you are getting through lot more teaching and learning. It is important to keep the pace and energy of the lesson up, as I noticed a lot of post weekend tired learners (who may also have been hungry, as they were looking at the food longingly).  Mixing the lesson up constantly and trying different approaches also helps with the management of the learning and behaviour and gives urgency in the learning.

When they came back to the mat for the next instruction they were very excited, so be clear as to what you wanted them to do and how to respond. If you give a general instruction you will get a general response so be very explicit in your instructions. Taking the lesson into maths was a great extension and it was real and authentic in the context. Some of the learners had trouble visualising what the numbers were and it took a while to elicit the answer from the whole class.  Good to split the class into smaller groups to do the discussion and this worked well. By getting them to calculate the quantities by drawing or using words or numbers of how many of the ingredients the whole class will need to make the kebabs for each person gave them permission to try different strategies. I liked the way you gave them choice as to the strategies the learners would use to work this out.  It was interesting to watch the thinking and to see the prompts you and Archana used to trigger ideas.

The learners then explained their strategy and it was great to see such in-depth thinking happening, where they had to justify their thinking. I liked the way they were struggling, but keeping on as they came up with new ideas from new information. Giving them the locus of control was an important part of your teaching and the learners responded really well to having the ‘power’. With 2 of you in the class you were able to get through so much more and connect with all the learners, so they experienced success. The different approaches also gave rise to discussion after and the chance for the learners to see more than one way of solving a problem. I like the way you and Archana do reflection-in-action and decide on teaching strategies on the ‘fly’ . So  - perhaps, maybe, shall we, is common language between the 2 of you as you co-teach. Talking aloud helps the students to see it is ok to talk about their learning.

Thank you both for giving me such an interesting morning with authentic use of integration, motivation, ‘create’, role play, instruction, direction, reflection, problem solving, teaching and learning! Kite pai!

Anne Sinclair (Professional Supervisor MDTA)
June 20th, 2016

Friday, 17 June 2016

Digital Immersion - day #17

Today we discussed interviewing ourselves as a reflection on the first 6 months being an MDTA.
We were given prompts to consider - 

  • Introduce yourself and your teaching context
  • Who are you as a teacher? (Brief description of your beliefs as an educator)
  • Why did you apply for the MDTA programme?
  • Describe the opportunities that have contributed to your learning so far e.g. enablers, digital immersion, university study, co-teaching, school, being part of a wider community of learning, growing your PLN.
  • How are you approaching challenges? (strategies, recommendations, support, collaboration)
  • Wrap up with a personal anecdote from your experiences so far this year and what you are looking forward to/next steps

I videoed my interview myself, and began editing the video, but needed footage from my school and of my students.
Whilst filming, I kept getting distracted, annoyed at myself, forgetting what I was saying, stuttering etc, which made editing very annoying! It was a lot harder than I thought it would be to interview yourself. Even writing the script, so I had some rough idea of where I was going, was conflicting and took over an hour.

Here is a bloopers real I made to show just how hard this process was..

Observation Reflections - literacy term 2

Each term we are observed by our Professional Development leaders, one each for maths and literacy. My observation in literacy this term went really well, much better than my term 1 observation.
Here is my feedback -

Things I had improved on from the term 1 observation -
-LI unpacked and referred back to throughout the lesson
-Explaining the purpose of the lesson - why is this important? (Students need to understand this and know it for themselves)
-use of modelling books/student held resources
-less teacher talk, more student 'doing'
-using terminology that students are familiar with (powerful words instead of 'adjectives')
Next steps
-teacher modelling of the writing
-scaffolding through new picture
-Co constructing SC with students
-Different types of planning format for different aims

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

The harsh realities

As part of our writing programme this term, we get students to write about their lives everyday - we call it "recording a bit of our lives everyday."
The aim for this is for students to realise their own potential, that they can be an author, that what they have to say does matter, their life matters, and that somebody is listening to what they have to say.

Today I asked students to write about their house. 
Firstly, I wrote about mine (with some exaggerations, for effect), and read it to them. I asked them to close their eyes, and picture in their heads what my house looked like (trying to stress the descriptive language). 

After reading, I asked the students to open their eyes and tell me what they saw. Hands flew up. They told me about the pink flowers outside, the shoes by the door, the red couch, the picture of my niece and nephew on the fridge, the pile of clothes on the floor. They got the point of it. They got to mentally walk through the house and see what I saw.

So, it was my turn to see what they see. 
The students went off and began writing about their houses. 

Of course, I knew that they all live in state houses. Of course, I knew that only a small group of my students have their own bedroom. Of course, I knew that only some of them have internet access at home. Of course, I knew that most of their home lives, aren't glamorous, to say the least. 

But the writing they produced got to me a little.. 

"As i walk though the door i could see my blue and green seats.I walk up the stairs and i can see little things on the stairs.I walk im my bedroom and i can see my new shoes under the bed and they were i thought i could clean the house."

"As i walk up the 3 steps i find a big pile of shoes in the front of the door. I walk inside my house and i go into the kitchen and i see lots and lots of dishes on the bench. When i go  through the hallway i see 5 rooms and when i go past them i see 2 messy rooms and i see  2 clean rooms i one really big giant room that is clean. I go into my room and i take my bag off and put it on the floor. I go into the kitchen again and i go to get a drink  from the fridge. Then my sister comes home from college then i my parents come home then when they are here we relax." - i.e. she goes home alone and waits for her family to turn up

They mentioned over and over having 'broken' something, having a 'dirty' something, and hardly anyone mentioned coming home and doing homework or doing anything with their siblings and parents. They talked about the rooms in their houses - mostly a lot of rooms, to represent the lots of people that live in the one house. I knew what their homes must be like, but to hear it from them was a lot harder to hear than I thought it would be.

What got to me, was how normal that all was. They talked to each other, compared stories, gave each other ideas (as they have been to each others houses before) and didn't seem to be concerned that they didn't have a bedroom, or that there was ten people living in two or three bedrooms, or that on a weekly basis someone in the class doesn't have lunch because all their families money went on rent that week.

It was a quick and harsh reminder of the home lives my students come from, their normal. 
We talk endlessly of national standards for reading, writing and maths. The students are below the 'norm', we have to push them and put in all these special programmes to get them to 'norm', but the 'norm' is bullshit. 

Monday, 13 June 2016

Archana's site #part 2

Today I sat with Archana and we worked on her site. She had gone away and created a google drawing of what she wanted her homepage to look like. We embedded the drawing, then I showed her three different ways to hyperlink her pages to her buttons. 
1. hyperlinking the text e.g. read my reflective blog
2. hyperlinking the image itself 
3. inserting a text box with no border over top of what you want to hyperlink, and linking to that. 

To do this, we had to also create each page - maths/writing/reading/science. This is also included in the video.

The next things we are going to put into her site are 
-an automatic slideshow above the page buttons
-creating the 'pretty' heading (Archana's teaching titbits)

As you can also see, Archana is getting much more confident using Quicktime to create screencasts. We are both using them as evidence of our professional teaching and learning. 

Friday, 10 June 2016

Digital Immersion - day #16

Today we made screencasts explaining how students access their learning through our class sites. This is a demonstration of Manaiakalani pedagogy and principles. My video shows the 'learn, create and share' pedagogy, and as the site is a public site, all learning is visible to anyone anywhere. 

Click here to explore my syndicate site.

It was a lot harder than I thought it would be, to try and explain everything necessary, without waffling about nothing, without it taking more than 3 minutes (optimum attention span time). I also had to record it four times, as my audio kept dropping out for no reason. 

Thursday, 9 June 2016

Responding to critical literacy

This afternoon I attended a presentation run by our deputy principal Michelle, who is currently on study leave. She presented her ideas, thoughts and reflection on a critical literacy paper she has been working on. 

Here is her summary

What got me thinking was the conversations she asked us to have..
a simple question like

"what is culture?"

Other teachers who I was discussing with, who I thought I knew well, were very quick to say "ethnicity". This very quickly showed differences in teaching pedagogies that otherwise wouldn't have been so evident. I personally believe that cultures are the ideas, customs, traditions of a particular group of people in a particular place. You can have an ethnic culture; for example the 'Kiwi' culture, a group of norms held by a group of people. You can have your home culture, school culture, team culture, family culture, ethnic culture etc. Each of those groups may hold slightly different ideas, traditions and customs, hence making it its own culture.

Another thing that got me thinking was this image Michelle showed us

This diagram says that when we normally think of 'culture', we think of the things above water. These are the 'culture is ethnicity' type things - dance, language, art, games, food etc. Very basic level, obvious physical signs that explain or represent that culture. When really, culture involves all the things below the water line as well. And the more I thought about it, the more I realised that the 'below the water' things underpin the 'above the water' things. Notions of modesty, concepts of beauty, ideals governing child raising, courtship practices, and notions of adolescence all underpin the way children dress in their various cultures. This becomes clear as they have 'church' clothes, 'school' clothes and 'home' clothes. And they don't need to be told which clothes to wear to each place. Even as children, they have a very clear understanding of what is acceptable to wear at different locations, wether they realise consciously or not. 

I'm curious.. what does culture mean to you?

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

Toolkit - Teacher Dashboard

After school today I went to a digital toolkit, organised by Manaiakalani. I chose to go to the one about teacher Dashboard, as I am new to it and don't know the in's and out's of it just yet, only basic functions. 

The main purpose of the toolkit was to learn how to create groups within a learning area, then send that group of students a particular piece of work.

I created a screencast video to explain the process.

The guy running the toolkit explained to me that it worked best for teachers whose students had Ipads, and didn't work on Google Drive (mostly students under 8). This is because most Chromebook classes also use Google Sites, so students are able to go to the site to access the learning, and make copies of any relevant documents they might need. Although that is true, and it might seem like double-dipping information, I will find this useful as some of my learners, particularly in the lower reading group, find it difficult to navigate the syndicate site and find what they are required to find. They don't quite understand the mechanics of Google Drive enough to understand what effect their actions have. These students usually end up with 5 different versions of the document, as all they know is 'file make a copy', but they make so many copies they get confused and don't know which one they are actually working on.

I think I will try this method with that particular group, and see if it helps them be able to find their learning tasks easier (as it is already in their drive, they don't need to go and find it). 

Teacher Only Day

Today is teacher only day and we spent the morning doing school-wide writing moderation. 
Firstly we discussed why moderation is important, and looked up what the MoE says about it as well. 

We then went through the E-asttle marking rubric and conversion charts so establish where we are marking FROM. 

In groups, we went through a few writing samples from different year/age students and marked them. This was very helpful as you had to discuss WHY you think that child deserves that level in that particular area, and having to justify why made me think more critically about the judgements I was making. 

After lunch we talked about our PB4L goals for this term, and planned lessons we could do to explicitly teach students the behaviour we want from them. 
(Rather than telling them what NOT to do, we are going to SHOW them what to do!)

This was a helpful reminder of what the school-wide expectations are for our students. As a school, we also discussed how some of these things need to explicitly explained. We need to call the spade a spade, and just get over it. The main example of this is teaching students what appropriate behaviour is when using the toilets. Some of our younger students for example, do not know they have to lift up the toilet seat to pee, or how to wash their hands properly, or even why they should wash their hands. For older students, this same principle then includes using the toilet products in the right way - not peeing in the sink, putting sanitary products inside the bins provided and not flushing them, using toilet paper to wipe with, and not throwing it around or wetting it and getting it stuck to the ceiling. It was an interesting conversation to have, as I hadn't really thought we would NEED to explicitly teach these things, but apparently we do.
Over the next 4 weeks we should complete three lessons based on the image above - teaching students how to act in the corridor, toilets and office spaces. 

Friday, 3 June 2016

Culturally responsive pedagogies (pt 4)

As part of our culturally responsive classroom, we tried to celebrate every language week that came along, including learning a song or dance from that culture which we could preform at assembly to share our learning with the school. Here are what we learnt!

For Samoan Language week

For Maori Language week in May

Some of our girls preforming a traditional Tongan dance at a staff members farewell assembly.

We will also learnt something for Tongan language week. As we have a student who is from Afghanistan, but there is no Afghani language week, at some point in time we will learn something from his culture as well so he feels included.

Digital Immersion - day #15

Today we had a special guest Matt Goodwin, who was part of the MDTA in the first cohort. He is now a third year teacher, and part of the Manaiakalani on Air programme. This is a programme where certain teachers make their teaching and learning more visible than ever - they upload their planning, video their teaching, and post links to what follow up the students are doing related to that lesson. It is designed to be an example of what that teachers teaching really looks like - not a put on display or a 'how to' session. 

We reviewed Matt's most recent lesson, where he took a reading lesson. 
We also gave Matt and Anne some feedback about the site that this programme lays on - layout, functionality etc. As it is a new programme, and only really viewed by other teachers, it was useful for them to get an outside perspective on their site. 

After lunch, we had Meredith Bean from Apple NZ in to teach us more about the Mac operating system that we all use as teachers, and answer any questions we may have had. It was very good to see the background settings of my Mac, as this is my first time using a Mac so I didn't know about all those extra features before. 

We went through how to change screen savers and set up hot corners, how to change your dock size and set up the genie effect, how to add or change languages, how to set up dictation/voice typing and much more. We talked a lot about how these things can make learning more accessible for learners; being able to change font size, colour, highlight colour, physical commands (e.g. two finger click, swiping to change screens etc). Although my learners use Chromebooks not Mac computers, so not all these features will be there, some are and so I can use some of them to make learning more accessible and specified for my learners.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Syndicate crafts (cycle 1)

As part of our arts curriculum, my syndicate created a crafts rotation. Each teacher got to chose a craft they wanted to do, and they would have 3 sessions with each group of students to complete them.

This week the first cycle finished - and so did my bath bombs!

I am so happy with how they turned out. The students enjoyed doing something different, having a relaxed environment and having independent tasks to work on that were different from their norm. It was awesome for me as well, to meet and work with students who I normally don't see, and get to do something apart from reading, writing and maths like we do every single day.


One of the students even wanted to try out their bath bomb...

You can read the students blog posts by clicking their name below -

Timeus      LJ
Hamish     Soane
Amelia     Alyssa     Irys

The feels

This morning I was browsing through the 'shared with me' file on my Drive. I hardly ever look at this folder, as there a million and one things in there that I don't actually have to look at or know about, as everything that gets put onto the shared syndicate server goes there. 

I saw one really long piece of writing that one of my students had sent me, so decided to read it just out of curiosity.
Then my heart waned..

It was written by the newest student in my class, who only started school here two weeks ago. She was writing about her two best friends. 
As I scrolled down, I saw the comments on the side.

The comments are from her friend (one who she had written about), giving her feedback about her writing. 

"grace, you have to spell your words correctly. ask someone if they could help you spell your words correctly."
"grace you need to do capital letters at the beginning from when you do a full stop"
"you need to do spaces before you put the capital letter at the beginning of the full stop"

We have never done this in our class. I never showed the students how to share their work with each other. We have given each other feedback before, but not in this way. Nobody asked S to give her friend feedback. They just did it.. All on their own.. 
And they gave constructive feedback related to their writing goals - not talking about what they had for lunch or what tv shows they liked. 

These kids make me so proud.