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Tool Takeaways from Edtech Auckland

One of the best things about Edtech is picking up new sites, tools or tech tips that can be applied in the classroom. This is a list of some of the useful tools that I have learnt about throughout this summit:

The Most Dangerous Writing App
This is a cool idea for quick quickwrites. The site gives you a time limit to write and it does not allow you to stop - the second you stop typing, your text will disappear! A bit gimmicky and a red will come up and tell you that you've failed, but it could be fun once in a while.

iFake Text Messages
This is one of the best fake text messaging sites I've come across. They could be used to show a text conversation between characters or even for a Cybersmart lesson.

My Simple Show
This is a really cool website which allows you to make a slideshow with voiceover very quickly. It auto selects images for you based on the text, but you can choose your own from their library as well. It's not as creative as making one independently, with your own…

EdTech Auckland; Time to Wonder

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There are no new ideas. This was the idea that keynote speaker Lisa Highfill opened with at Aorere college this morning. She experienced this first hand as she watched her inventor father come up with new products, prepare to launch them only to find another company had already produced them.
This might sound a little defeatist, but she went on to explain that the value in an idea is putting it out there and sharing it. Instead of focussing on new ideas, Highfill suggested that we focus on sparking curiosity in our learners, so that they create, build on and share good ideas with one another.

We considered different ways to elicit student thinking, dreaming and wondering. This could be through engaging multimodal sites, stories, videos, google earth... But they must ask questions and discuss their thinking with one another. This aligns very closely with the Learn, Create, Share pedagogy of Manaiakalani, as we spark our students thinking through immersion assemblies, multimodal sites …

Quantities of Quality Text

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This afternoon we were visited by Dr Jannie Van Hees who came to talk to us about language acquisition. She first asked us to consider the literary understandings that our students come to use with and why we need quantities of quality text (both spoken and written). The more books that students engage with, the more concepts they learn about, the more knowledge and vocabulary they acquire. If the texts are too simple, the students will not not learn as much; they need to be challenged with challenging new words and ideas.

Children's language acquisition potential is astounding; they have amazing potential to learn. Thus, we must have high expectations of our learners - we need to keep pushing them, giving them learning in their ZPD or 'goldilocks' zone. However, learners need to do their part to; they can't simply listen or view the words, but they need to focus and notice. They must be metacognitive and be aware of their learning of the vocabulary.
Jannie's tips …

Inquiry Update

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This year I have been focussing on generating more discussion to support my students in literacy. I have been using reciprocal reading, argumentation boards, text analysis and language experiences to ensure that I am scaffolding my students with talk.

My class recently took part in Get New Zealand Writing, where they had to create poems formed out of first 40, then 18 rich words that are related to an item. Because vocabulary is something that they need to work on, this was an incredibly challenging experience for them and I had to scaffold some students far more than the programme suggested.


I also just finished marking my students first asTTle writing tests and once again found that they scored relatively low in vocabulary, using most 'everyday' or social vocabulary, despite writing explanations that are more suited to academic vocabulary and tone.

In response to this, I have decided to focus on vocabulary for another week in writing and look at short poems such as Haiku…

Top Tips for Regular Blogging!

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This year I feel I have really improved my ability to complete the Share component of the Learn, Create, Share cycle. This has lead to my class making more connections with other students and classes online. Check out my top tips for sharing below!


My top tips for regular blogging:

Adding quick opportunities for blogging throughout the week. I include this in my planning (to ensure that it happens). It could be that the students blog their introductions to a piece of writing, their initial response to a text or that you plan for share-worthy activities. For example, when focussing on vocabulary, learners could create a word cloud or word wall of the rich vocabulary they want to use in their writing.Having clear expectations around blogging. My students know that I expect at least three blog posts a week and that they are due by Friday. They also know what tasks I would like them to blog and some tasks have a set deadline. E.g. your vocabulary word cloud should be on your blog by the en…

Inquiry 2019

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This year I am going to be focussing on generating discussion in my classroom. In my previous inquiry I underestimated the power of discussion. I loved facilitating debate and getting my students to discuss their ideas before writing. This was a huge part of my literacy programme and I believe it really supported my students to achieve in writing.

I want to focus more on generating this discussion, with the intent of using more academic vocabulary and the language of learning. I found from my inquiry last year and the Woolf Fisher data that vocabulary and the language of learning are holding my students back in all subjects.


Essentially, I am looking at the problem from my past inquiry once again, but altering my approach to see if I can achieve greater results.

Transformative Progress

This afternoon teachers from the Manaiakalani cluster gathered in the hall at Tamaki College to receive feedback about our cluster data from Woolf Fisher.

The session started with an introduction from Pat Sneddon. He reminded us of the journey that we have taken; from an initiative that started in 12 schools, the Learn, Create, Share or Manaiakalani model is now live in 100 schools. What a huge achievement! He then delivered the news that the government has now committed to taking it into more low decile schools across the country, with crown funding!

It is always helpful to be reminded of where our learners are at as they enter our schools. They can identify and write far less words than the national average. Our new entrant teachers have a massive job helping these learners, and the data shows that their reading is moving relatively quickly, but they are still behind in writing.

Interestingly, in the higher year levels, students were making far more progress in writing than they wer…