Monday, 2 July 2018

Inquiry 2018

I am now six months into my inquiry about accelerating the literacy progress for students between years 7 and 10. I have been making the connection between reading and writing explicit to my students - check out my findings so far!

Tuesday, 22 May 2018

High Expectations Teaching - Christine Ruby-Davies

Nobody rises to low expectation - Calvin Lloyd

Are high expectations important? 

Educators who hold high expectations of their learners support their self-efficacy and belief. Whilst pushing their students to engage with challenging material, they are not only supporting higher achievement outcomes, but they are also demonstrating their belief in their learners, which in turn supports the students belief in themselves.

Monday, 21 May 2018

MIT Day 2

We, the Manaiakalani Innovative Teachers, met once again at KPMG today to discuss our inquiries and collaborate to extend our thinking. 
My inquiry is focussed on addressing the issue of decelerated achievement in literacy for students in year 7 and 8 who attend Manaiakalani Schools.

Tuesday, 24 April 2018

Plan for what's in front of you; James Hopkins

Are we using the opportunity to teach rich conceptual understandings or are we simply teaching factual information? James Hopkins challenges educators to teach the 'why' and cater it to the 'who', as opposed to focussing simply on the 'what', or teaching a series of facts.

For example, many educators 'cover' the Treaty of Waitangi, by encouraging students to learn the main facts of the event, as opposed to looking at it through a conceptual lense and posing deeper questions, such as how it is relevant in 2018, who benefited etc.

But we are still concerned with curriculum coverage, of covering content. When we plan we focus on our curriculum achievement objectives, but rarely do we visit the key competencies or values when we flick through the curriculum document. James asked us to highlight a piece of our planning indicating where we were teaching content, behaviour and skills. As a group, we noted the large amount of 'content' in our planning, as opposed to behaviour or skills. I found that my weekly planning incorporated far more 'skill' and 'behaviour' than our overviews, which I expected. This illustrates that we start with the curriculum and content, the 'what'.

James compared this to our 'Learn, Create, Share' cycle, as we understand that we can start at any stage of this, sometimes we create to learn, or start by sharing our prior knowledge. When we plan are we considering our school values or the key competencies? Do we plan to start at create or share? Do we plan for our learners, their experiences, their culture, their worlds? Are we deliberate enough when we make these plans? 

Overall, it was a very thought provoking and inspiring session that I will carry with me as I complete my planning next term.

Friday, 20 April 2018

Keynote 2: Once Upon Our Time

 Lindsay Wesner's keynote was about storytelling. She began with her own story, one not to disimilar to my own; a little girl who grew up with very little access to technology and who was greatly challenged when she was asked to use it a school. However, Lindsay began her teaching career at the blackboard using worksheets and exercise books. At the time this was the norm, she was respected by her colleagues and her students experienced success. Then she found herself lost in a 1:1 Macbook class.

This could have very easily been me; I learnt basic IT skills at high school, but I would have struggled in a 1:1 classroom had it not been for the professional development I gained from the Manaiakalani Digital Teaching Academy. It was great to hear Lindsay's story as it reminded me of how far I have come and how fortunate I am to be capable of presenting at such an event so early in my career. It also reminded me to slow down when presenting and to be considerate of those who are at the start of their journey with technology and education.

Lindsay described the discomfort she experienced as she adapted to the 1:1 classroom.  She tried one new thing each week to develop her understanding of technology and to make the change more manageable. Then she asked us to consider whether we are still taking risks and trying new things, or whether we have become complacent with where we are now; just as she was at her blackboard. This was a good reminder that we cannot stop learning and adapting our practice, we must continue our stories and question where we will reach our climax.

While time and the curriculum can be viewed as constraints, the real constraint is our mindsets. As educators we must find the time to be innovative, to challenge our current practice and to be committed to constantly adapting our practice. We cannot become complacent.

She then asked how often we ask our students to tell their stories. This again caused me to reflect on my practice, as I am a firm believer in sharing my stories with the children and I have attempted to solicit my students. However, I don't believe I am doing nearly enough of this, or in enough depth. Hearing some of the things that Lindsay has done with her students in the past inspired me to push further with this and to give more of a platform to my students to share their stories.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Session 1: Digital Tools for Student Voice

As someone who regularly sends out Google Forms to elicit student voice (generally regarding student engagement and learning), I was eager to attend Jan Marie Kellow's session 'Digital Tools for Student Voice'.

This session started by looking at the use of some of my favourite tools; Google Forms (which I use heavily), Answer Garden (which I tend to use to gather prior knowledge) or Padlet (which I use as a sharing tool).


We then looked at the use of Google Slides - which could be used similarly to Padlet, but with each child creating their own slide to respond to the prompt or question. While I do use Collaborative Google Slides, I had not thought of doing this before. At the same time, I use Google Draw pretty often, but I had not thought of using a collaborative draw in a similar manner to AnswerGarden. I quite like this idea as the students could easily save it to their drives and reflect on it in the future.

Some other ideas that I enjoyed were using My Maps as part of an introduction - identifying important places to the child and linking MyMaps to a Google Form. We also looked at Flipgrid - it is similar to Padlet in it's layout but it requires the student to record a short video response instead of text. Another free to use version of this is called 'Recap', which I am quite interested in investigating further.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Unconference: Hangarau Matihiko

This afternoon I elected to investigate Hangarau Matihiko or the Digital Curriculum. I went in feeling quite comfortable designing and developing digital outcomes, but feeling like I need some support to incorporate computational thinking into my teaching. I was also curious to see how this might look in Māori medium schools and what the reo behind this might be.

I was really excited to learn some kupu hou that involved technology - things like Netflix (Haoata), Google (Kūkara) and Meme (atakata). I thought that these would be wonderful to incorporate in my classroom as we so often use these kupu. It was really interesting to learn how these new words are created and approved.

We looked at some Māori contexts that could be used to teach computational thinking or te whakaaro rorohiko, such as placing mattresses in the Marae, setting a table, making Kai, flax weaving. The more relevant we can make that computational thinking, the more engaging it can be. It is all about identifying patterns and using algorithms. For more support, we looked at getting a Digital Passport, a site which takes you through the new digital curriculum.

We ended the session with an awesome vocab game called papaki, which was a bit like snap but with te reo. It was pretty fun and I can imagine my children would really enjoy it.