Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Science Week - HUMAN BODY! (Wednesday)

Today we kept reading and learning about the human body. 
As the kids were begging to learn about kidneys yesterday (I know right?!), we started with kidneys and the bladder. 

Archana and I took a group each to read through with and discuss. As it randomly happened, Archana's group was all boys and mine all girls. 
With my group, we discussed how the kidneys produce urine which then goes into the bladder, which then comes out the vagina (yes, we used that word!). Not one of the kids laughed or even smirked at the word vagina or the idea of peeing, they were so mature about all, it was so surprising. Archana told me later in the day she had a similar in-depth conversation with the boys about their privates and how they pee and were equally mature about it. It's stuff like this that makes me forget they are only 7 or 8 years old! I have the best kids!

Again, they went away and documented the new words and the function of each organ. 

Over the next couple hours, both Archana and I took small groups and taught them about the lungs and the liver as well. The kids worked throughout the day to record their learning.

We learnt soooo many new words again today - check out our running total!

The other thing we did today was begin colouring in our organs. Our last two goals for the week were to build a model of the body, and use it to explain the organs' functions. To do this, we needed to colour in organs, laminate them, cut them, write the organs function on them and then arrange them on a body. Lots of work to do!

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Science Week - THE HUMAN BODY! (Tuesday)

Today we began digging deep into our scientific information! 

We read a text about the brain - e.g.

Then we discussed the new words we learnt, and used the text to help us figure out what those words meant. This reinforces our decoding focus from the first two terms, and the comprehension focus for this term. 

Next, I recorded these 'new words' on the whiteboard but did not record their meaning. I didn't want to give students the answers.. more like, help them along, but then make them do the actual thinking/finding of information. 

Next, I modelled for students how to record my thinking in the template I had given them. A few students helped me co-construct this. 

Then, students went off and recorded their own thinking in their own words...

I loved that they started to put pictures in their presentations to help explain what they were talking about, I didn't model this, they just did it on their own! As students finished with their recording, we started reading about the next organ in small groups. This was about the stomach. We followed the same model - read, discuss, record new words, students independently record thinking in their own words. 

After lunch, the kids wanted to keep going, requesting 'can we do kidneys next?', 'can we do lungs?' which I thought was amazing! They already had learnt so much and were so eager to learn more. 
After lunch, we read about the heart. 

While we were learning about the heart, I showed the students (in small groups) what the heart looks like when it really beats.  

This is an app called Anatomy 4D which I downloaded onto my phone (which was shared with me by Paula Were, our schools literacy PD lady). The app allows you to scan the picture of a heart and it brings up an animation on your screen (in a similar style to Snapchat filters or Pokemon Go). It shows the different parts of the heart, and you can turn on/off different parts (that blue circle in the corner of the screen) to highlight a particular feature. 

These are some screenshots I took off my phone - I emphasised the blue and red arteries, which indicate which way the blood is flowing (into or out of the heart) which was something our reading taught us about. 

The students LOVED being able to really see it beat in real life (well, almost). Some of them even counted their pulse on their wrists (something I taught them to do yesterday) and said if their heartbeat was faster or slower than the one on the screen. Amazing! 

We had such RICH CONVERSATIONS about the three body parts we had learnt about, and made so many connections to the systems we talked about yesterday as well. It was an amazing day!


When Archana came in during lunch, the kids were almost fighting to explain to her what borborygmi was! 

It was an awesome second day of our human body unit. It is so encouraging to see all the students so engaged with their learning and so eager to share it and learn even more! 

Monday, 29 August 2016

Science Week - THE HUMAN BODY! (Monday)

As there an endless amount of things to learn, and only so much time to learn them in, teachers are often forced to teach the subjects that are assessed most (reading, writing, maths) and other subjects such as science and the arts, get left behind. 

Myself and Archana didn't want to leave those subjects behind. They are still an important part of our students learning. At our students age (8/9 years old), they are old enough to start understanding more complex scientific ideas and should be challenged in this way.

Last term we had two weeks where we learnt about plants - we read stories about plants, wrote about plants, did experiments with plants. At the end of the term I asked the students (in a digital survey) what 'science' topic they wanted to learn about next, and they chose the human body! 

Today I introduced the unit. 
We discussed our goals..

I talked a lot about how we are not going to use words like "tummy", we are going to challenge ourselves to use the proper scientific words. If we don't know them, we are going to learn them!

Then we watched this video...

As we watched, I would pause the video and ask questions to clarify understandings and check for connections made. It was awesome! For example, I paused at 1.00, and asked students what were some bones in their body? They all said and pointed to their spine, anklebone, skull, shoulder blade etc. Having a video kept them interested and broke up the conversation as we could watch, discuss, watch, discuss, watch, discuss, instead of me lecturing them for half an hour.

As our first goal was to 'name at least 3 systems of the body', we aimed to complete this goal after watching this video. Here are some student blog posts explaining 3 systems of the body in their own words.

Hiria - 
Digestive system-when you eat it go down your body and the nutrients go away and the one you don't need you poop it out.
muscular system-the function is that the muscular make you talk,run,walk,move and everything.
nervous system- your bairn make you stand up and it send you a messege to make you move.

Isaia - 
digestive systems function the food takes out the nutrients go to the blood then the rest that  the food tears into poop.
 muscular systems is your muscles one of your muscle is your bicep brachii.

Dziah - 
the function is  your stomach and your intestines 
the function  is your  muscles and where you get strong
the  function is your lungs and where your heart is on the other side on your left.

So with varying degrees of success and accurately, but we continue non-the less. They will get the chance to revisit this learning throughout the week and make connections as learn about the various organs which are involved with different bodily systems.

Even if they didn't quite understand what each system did, they at least got exposed to some of the scientific language we will be learning throughout the week!

Friday, 26 August 2016

Digital Immersion/Annual Hui (Term 3, Week 5)

Today the MDTA's were invited to the Manaiakalani Annual Hui, held at the Panmure Yacht & Boating Club. It was a great day, with lots of different speakers having their bit, all coming together to share the message of the work Manaiakalani has done over the past year. 

First up were the student ambassadors from each of the 12 schools. They each shared part of their learning which demonstrated use of digital affordance, the learn create share pedagogy, amazing teacher creativity or student creativity with their blogs. 

Next up were the Manaiakalani Innovative Teachers, sponsored by the SPARK Foundation. They each shared about the research they have been conducting this year. I created this sketch-note to help myself remember key things that different people presented that I thought were awesome/inspirational;/thought-provoking. 

After morning tea was the team from the Woolf Fisher Research Centre presenting data collected from the 12 Manaiakalani schools and introducing the next set of ideas and goals to work on. Again, I created a sketch-note to record my thought process while they talked.

After this, Russell Burt, prinicipal of Point England School, put things very simply. We know how to move the 'bottom' students to the 'middle', and only some of us are doing that, and now the team from Woolf Fisher had just told us how to get the 'middle' students to the 'top'. Russell's message - JUST DO IT! It is for the benefit of your students. You as a teacher choosing not to do the things we know will work because you don't like them, agree with them, whatever, is to the detriment of your students, so get over it, and do it for your kids.

After lunch, Dorothy talked the crowd through the Manaiakalani Outreach clusters. These are groups of schools around the country which want 'our recipe' for success with low decile low achieving students. Although it is not that simple, these outreach clusters are now on a fast-tracked 3 year programme modelled from the Tamaki cluster so they can accelerate their students as well. 
I created another sketch-note the record snippets of the discussion as it went along.

Overall, it was an awesome day at the annual hui. I learnt a lot about Manaiakalani (when I thought I knew everything... ha!) and definitely got some food for thought to reflect on for my own practice. 
Kia kaha Manaiakalani!

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Modelling book magic

One thing I have noticed about myself when teaching is that I often forget to record what the students and I are doing, hence have no evidence of it for either of us to refer back to.

Today during reading I set myself two goals
-1, to read with every student in my class, and 
-2, use the modelling book to record what my students did during this guided reading lesson

For context, we read another story about chess. Last week (some) of these students read a fictional story about two sisters learning to play chess and participating in a tournament in their school. Today,  (some) of us read this story which talks about one school who have chess experts and the people who helped get them there. A different type of writing, a different context and setting about the same theme. 

Using our modelling books..

Before we read, I drew a balloon and students wrote in their predictions based on pictures and the title. This is something we did a lot last term, so we don't want them to forget!

With a couple of my groups, we focused on their reading goal which is "ask questions about the text I have read". This goal is based on their need to really comprehend what they are reading, and being able to ask questions is a good way to show you have understood what you have read and that you have thought about it, not just read it and forgotten it straight away. 

So we had a box where the students wrote questions they had about the text, which they freely wrote independently as we read each page as a group. At the end of each page, we would stop and answer all the questions they had written and ticked them off as we answered them. The students answered each others questions, with me stepping in when they got really stuck.

We also had a 'new words' balloon, where myself or students recorded new words we came across in the text. At the end of each page, we discussed these as well and looked up the definitions.

Overall, each group had a page that roughly looked like this...

It was awesome to have the students so engrossed in their stories, thinking of heaps of questions which led to rich discussion around the text, learning new words and making connections to these. I think I definitely needed to start using modelling books again, as it gives more opportunity for students to share their thinking without the social pressure of interrupting the groups reading to ask a question or define a new word. It provided such rich discussion and we were able to make deep connections (e.g. the characters chess club was called Eastern Knights because a knight is a chess piece, and they lived on the East Coast. Whats the East Coast? *looks up then draws NZ map*...).

After the group meeting, I gave students the chance to go and practice playing a game of chess, which MOST of them were stoked to do! And again (see previous post), they loved having an abstract follow up.

We didn't have enough chess sets for the whole class to use at the same time, so some students started playing online (note - they discovered this themselves, I didn't instruct them to do this!). 

I really enjoyed using modelling books again today during reading and getting such rich results out of my time with the students. When they went off, they were still engrossed in the topic and used the new vocabulary they had just learnt to discuss their strategies as well.
Kia kaha kids!

Monday, 22 August 2016

Protecting Students

This afternoon we had a staff meeting about CYFs and how it relates to us at school, mostly about procedures we should follow and what to do if one of our students reports abuse to us.

First of all, it is a huge deal for a child to speak up about abuse they might be enduring. For many children in these situations, they grow up with the abuse so see it as normal, hence they don't understand what they experience on an everyday basis is not acceptable, and that they even should tell somebody. They don't tell, because they don't know any better.

If they do disclose abuse to us, as teachers, our role is then to gather information. Asking open-ended questions is good, and asking statement questions such as who was there, when did this happen are also good. What is not helpful to anybody involved, is when you use questions like did you see uncle hit mum? That kind of questioning puts ideas into the childs' head and then their answers cannot be trusted completely. We need to ask blank question so what they say is truly their own words. 

Next, we talked about what the procedures are IF a child does disclose abuse. I made a flow chart to help organise my thinking.

The lady taking the meeting also talked us through the changes that are happening to the Ministry, mainly the rebranding to the Ministry for vulnerable children (In April 2017) and changes to the Vulnerable Children Act. 

The meeting was very helpful and informative. One thing that I personally reflected on was how much effort and planning goes into a childs case before CYFs or the Police even get involved. With my experience with my parents being foster parents, it always seems to be such a quick process, with children being uplifted from their homes and delivered into foster care within 12 hours. But really, there are weeks or even months of work that goes on behind the scene - gathering data, confirming stories, working with various agencies, meeting with parents and extended whanau, etc etc etc. 

One thing my principal Rhonda Kelly was pushing on us, was the importance of discussion. If a child says something to their teacher, record it absolutely, but talk to the siblings teachers, to this childs teacher from last year, to the SWIS worker, the nurse, etc. All these people can add to, or negate something a child has said. What could seem like nothing actually could turn out to be huge, or something that could seem huge could actually turn out to be a misunderstanding. 
Discussion is so important! We need to band together around these children we love so much and work together to protect them. 

Friday, 19 August 2016

Digital Immersion (Term 3, Week 4)

Today we are discussing developing our own PLN (Professional Learning Network).
As we are digital teachers in a digital world, so it makes sense to connect digitally through a PLN.

We had a Google Hangout with James Hopkins, who is an educator in one of the Manaiakalani outreach clusters. He talked us through how he got involved in Twitter, its benefits etc etc.
One of the main ideas he put across was...

"You need to be who you are going to be, regardless of the platform you are on" - James Hopkins

Meaning.. regardless if you keep your Facebook private and your Twitter professional, you are the same person on both so need to have some consistencies. Having an actual picture of yourself is also a very important thing to have on all your social platforms, as it makes you 'real' and people can actually connect with the real you, rather than a picture of a beach or your newborn baby.

Then we had a Twitter chat #MDTAchat for almost two hours. We were given questions by Anne and we had to respond to these. 

You can read the thread here. 
(Note the Q1, Q2, Q3, Q4 at the beginning of the Tweets to see which ones we are responding to)

As I am very new to the Twittersphere, and keep my Facebook private (free of kids parents, etc), I think I have made a good start to building my PLN. I share my blog posts onto Google+, and now on Twitter. One thing I need to work on in the future is making more of an effort to comment/repost/retweet other people to build up those relationships. 

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Reading fleuntly

This term Archana and I are really trying to accelerate our students in all learning areas. In our class, we have a group, of about 8 students, who are very low in their reading abilities (level 15-ish, for year 4's). We have really been pushing these students to read fluently, read everyday, multiple books a way. We have modelled to reading fluently with shared books and had other students read fluently to the class as well, to show that kids can do it too!

Some of these students have made HUUUUUGE progress in the past month alone. They not only can read more fluently, but they have a better attitude towards reading and learning in general.

Check 'em out!

Cordez and Denzel reading 'Storytellers' together. You can hear that Cordez still hesitates and copies/repeats from Denzel a bit, but for him to even be comfortable to read aloud at this level is awesome!

Kordell reading 'Two Homes'. You can see and hear that he is still unfamiliar with some of the words, even after reading this book several times. What I was impressed with was how when he got caught on a new word, he (mostly) would start the sentence again to try and clear his head and get the word right a second time. Another thing I noticed about his reading (and this is a new thing as well!), is that he is looking at the pictures for clues. In one part, he doesn't know the words 'hot chocolate', but looks at the picture of them drinking from mugs in the cafe, so he says 'cups of tea'. Although not the right word, its a strategy he can use to help him figure out hard words! Kordell has shown a massive shift in his attitude towards reading. All year whenever he is asked to read, he instantly shut down and would say "but I can't read". He has slowly been changing this mindset.. Go boy go!

This is Lopiseni reading about seals. He stumbles every so often, but for him to be reading this fluently from a LEVEL 2 SCHOOL JOURNAL blows my socks off. Everytime he read with either Archana or myself, he would try his very best. He wanted to get better. He loves to read with his friends in a group, as he is shy to read aloud, but look at him go!

The biggest shift has been in Wikitoria. Here she reads sooo fluently from a level 2 school journal. This girl was reading level 14 books a month ago, with too many pauses and hesitations and misread words than you could count.
She has worked incredibly hard!

Archana and I are so proud of out students, and we will keep pushing them to read more fluently and at harder levels as well. With this much progress in one month's targeted teaching, imagine how far they can go with another 5 weeks of the term left!

Monday, 15 August 2016

Our own class on air!

Today Archana and I were talking about the film festival, and I suggested we should get Ipad Tripods to film with, and how they would be awesome for filming ourselves for PD as well in the long-run. You can just set it up and leave it, rather than having to have a cameraman or woman give their time to film for you. This allows you to record yourself much more often, and more spontaneously as well. 

Since Anne's last visit, Archana and I have been talking about Manaiakalani Class-on-Air, and especially how Archana would love to participate in that programme next year (I would too, but it is only available to teachers with at least 2 years experience, and next year I will only have 1 years experience so I can't yet apply). 

So we decided, we would do our own filming, our own class-on-air type thing thing year. It is a great combination of digital skills and growing pedagogy. 

This afternoon, I decided to get filmed with a small group of my students! 
Warning - the footage is kind of messy. The first few shots were filmed by Archana, and are beautiful, and the rest by one of my 8 year old students.. And bless him, he got a lot of unflattering close ups and weird angles which I have cropped out. I made sure to leave in all the actual learning, so there may be periods where what you are looking at doesn't change, but the conversation was important so I left that part in.. if that makes sense :)

WALT/Big maths ideas: find regions of a number
Question: Grandpa has 24 chocolates. His jacket has three pockets. He put quarter of the chocolates in one pocket, and half of them in the second pocket. How many chocolates were in the third pocket?
Goal: to use talk moves and some materials in a problem solving approach
Context: Mixed-ability group of year 4 students (Stages 3-E5) in the problem solving approach

After the filming stopped, we kept discussing how we got our answers, eventually getting to the fact that half of a half is quarter.
(Cover half of the fraction frame with your hand)

(Keep the half covered, now cover half of the other half - what is left showing.. one quarter)


As this is me putting myself out there, please no harsh bullying! It is scary to post this.. but, we as teachers should always be sharing our knowledge and seeking to improve our own pedagogy. 

If anyone has any feedforward and constructive criticism, please leave in comments below.  (We at TPS are using the problem solving approach and talk moves). I'd love to have your ideas on what I need to work on.

Things I have thought of myself are..
-where I was sitting was good, as I could see all the students working out without any obstruction
-I went back to the question lots of time and reread it with the students to emphasise this point! (good mathematicians always reread the question!)
-these kids needed a warm up to remind them about halves and quarters before launching into the problem. They did not have the solid understanding I was depending on for this problem. I also could have broken down the number 24 before we launched the problem - what do we know about 24? 
-I gave students the choice of paper/pen/counters to try and solve it with, but did not have fraction frames out ready for them to use. 
-I only used talk moves well in a few places