Showing posts from 2016

My Learning Journey

During our final PLG of the year we created sites to display our learning this year. It was a great opportunity to reflect on our growth over the year and consider how fortunate we have been to have had this support.

I think learning (and creating) the digital component of the MDTA has been one of the most enjoyable aspects of the course, after teaching the children of course! We have had the opportunity to create several different sites, videos, to code and animate - things I may never had tried otherwise! Have a look at the site that I have created to see some examples of these creations.

Despite not having our Friday PLG's next year, I will still continue to make a conscious effort to develop my digital knowledge and to continue my learning journey.

Year One

It often isn't until you step back from a situation that you can truly examine it. After being given the opportunity to consider my first year during today's PLG, I realised how much my practice has altered since I began teaching.
I have gained a far greater understanding of the Manaiakalani pedagogy and have enacted it increasingly over the year. I have felt my create tasks become more purposeful and I feel confident using technology to enrich the students learning. My confidence has also grown throughout the year and I have become far more assertive. Although there are still many aspects of my practice that I would like to improve on, I can see that I have made a lot of progress and look forward to having my own class next year.
Check out the video I made discussing how I use learn, create, share in my classroom:

Danni Stone, MDTA from Danni Stone on Vimeo.

Manaiakalani Film Festival

Last Wednesday I spent the day as an Usher at Hoyts Sylvia Park. No, I haven't had a career change, instead I was helping out at the Manaiakalani Film Festival, where around a hundred student created movies were played in three theaters. 
This was really exciting for the students of the 12 schools who participated, and their teachers as it was the culmination of the hours of hard work that goes in to creating a movie. These movies varied greatly, with Pokemon, the Olympics and Poi E being some of the favorite themes. The movies also used claymation, animation, stop motion, puppets, green screens and other special effects.
Not only was it great to see the films at the cinema, but also wonderful to see all of the kids interacting and viewing the different movies through their blogs. 

I was really proud to see my class' movie play on the big screen. We had a real job attempting to film it as our script writers had created quite an ambitious story! It took a few days to complete a…

PCT Site

It can be a bit of a mission creating a PCT folder as a beginning teacher, but I have found my PCT Google Site far more efficient to use than an old ring binder! Once I set up my pages, I have found it fairly manageable to simply drop in digital reflections, observations, samples of student work and the like.

In todays MDTA PLG we were given time and support to develop this website. I have followed the Manaiakalani template quite closely to create this site and have attached all of my evidence pages which can be accessed through the top bar. I have a page for each of the professionally certified teacher criteria and for other evidence of my practice such as my meeting minutes, reflections and release logs.

Although the focus of this PLG was to ensure that this site was up to date, I found myself reflecting back on the year and considering some of the opportunities that we have been given. We discussed how much of our professional learning aligns with the criteria and I considered how …

Class on Air

I have written before about my admiration for the teachers who participate in Manaiakalani Google Class on Air.  At the beginning of the year I found it intimidating simply to publish my lessons online, so it seems incredibly brave to film a live lesson! However, this is what we have been planning in todays PLG (although ours won't be published on the Class OnAir site).

For my Class OnAir style lesson, I have decided to try a teaching strategy that I have been planning for some time. I have noticed that a few of my learners still need support in developing detailed ideas in writing and that working collaboratively has provided some support. I have also been looking at bringing gaming into my lessons as this is something that my learners are interested in. So, I introduced the idea of playing Dungeons and Dragons with them.

Unfortunately we experienced several technical issues when filming this video, so I have included the video for our introduction for the session and a screen ca…

Visible Learning

Are you teaching to accommodate you students learning preferences or simply teaching with your learning style in mind?

This was a point of discussion in todays Manaiakalani digital immersion PLD which focussed on the notion that visible teaching and learning enables accelerated shift. We looked at this in the context of creating visible learning through our class sites, which must be both behaviourally engaging or interesting, and cognitively engaging which could be achieved through multi-modal activities.

I believe that while my learners have learning preferences, they learn best when offered the opportunity to access information in a number of modes. While I have been successful at introducing topics in multiple modes and using a variety of multi-modal create activities, much of my teaching in reading has focussed on my learners first responding to a text orally and in written form.  However, our class site and 1:1 classroom environment allow me to go further than this and create so…

Taking The Stage

This afternoon I presented my first ever toolkit, alongside fellow MDTA Clarelle Davis This had been something I was a little nervous about, despite being so used to speaking in front of my class, I still find the prospect of speaking at assembly and in front of a group of adults a bit daunting!

However, as we had a small audience, I quickly got over my nerves and became quite comfortable discussing sketchnoting with our guests, as this was the topic of the toolkit. I think it definitely helped that we had planned out the toolkit in advance, and followed the structure of our slideshow throughout.
In the end we sat with the other teachers and we all created a Sketchnote regarding something we had taught that week. This provided us with a wonderful opportunity to connect with other educators and we discussed how sketchnoting could be used in different contexts and year levels. I now feel I have the confidence to take another toolkit in the future and enjoyed being able to introduce oth…

Hour of Code

If you asked me during my high school ICT classes if I saw myself coding in the future, I would have laughed.  I felt overwhelmed and slightly uninspired when I was given the task to write a few commands in Javascript.

However, when I encountered the Hour of Code last summer, I discovered coding in a new light and completed the 20 hour Accelerated Intro to CS course out of interest! I also realised that this would be valuable knowledge to possess as a teacher, as coding is a skill that could benefit my learners in the future.

In fact, thanks to their Computer Technology classes and previous teachers, many of my students are already competent coders. A proud moment for me this year was taking them to OMG Tech, and watching them create their own games through scratch, with little support from the facilitators.

As we discussed future focussed learning in our PLG today, I was reminded of the importance of this skill and will definitely consider using the and other programmes wit…

Ignite presentation!

Ignite presentations are efficient and ensure that the speaker uses their allocated five minutes wisely (and do not run over time). I had first experienced ignite talks at the Manaiakalani Hui, where teachers presented about their inquiries and found the concept impressive but daunting. The concept is simple, you have 20 slides which run for 15 seconds each,  adding up to a five minute presentation.

In our PLG, we were given the task of creating an ignite talk on a topic that we pulled out of a hat. In my case, I was given the reading "Policies of Distraction" by John Hattie.  We were given three hours to learn about our topic and create our slides. These presentations were created through Keynote, which meant that we would be able to animate and time or slides simply.

My topic was concerned with the policies that we create and follow, which do not accelerate learners. Hattie noted things like labelling children and keeping them at the same level for an extra year to be amon…

Stop Motion Through Keynote

After discussing the use of Garageband a few years ago, I have found a new appreciation for Apple software. This weeks PLG on Keynote only affirmed this feeling, as I discovered how effective it can be, despite being a real fan of Google slides.

Keynote contains more advanced features than I had experienced with Google Slides. It is possible to animate different elements of a slide (or the entirety of the slide if you were extra keen) and alter your images. Not only would these features be useful when creating interesting presentations, but they could be used to insert images into a movie or to create Stop Motion.

As you can also edit the settings of the slideshow - e.g. to loop it or to vary the length of the slides, it is a great tool to use when presenting Ignite talks.  It can also run straight off your device, which could save you a lot of stress if you were presenting with a dodgy internet connection!

I decided to manipulate my presentations to create a simple Stop Motion video.…

Video Band-Aids

As I have been focussing on movie making for the last few weeks (and struggling) I have had to become quite resourceful in fixing some of the problems that we have encountered. I have discovered a few tricks that can save you in an emergency!

A decent camera and tripod are essential for movie making, and having a microphone doesn't hurt either. As the teachers at my school shared one camera, I decided to use my one from home but I also experimented with my phone camera which I discovered could capture great video and audio. Shooting some test footage was really helpful as I uploaded it to iMovie to check the quality.

I didn't quite have the budget to afford a proper tripod, but found that a phone tripod fit both my phone and camera and worked effectively. I purchased both a table top and full length phone tripod which was really helpful and kept my footage steady. I purchased these on sale at Typo

It was really easy to focus on the action live rather than what t…

Filming Friday

One of the aspects of digital pedagogy that I have struggled with the most has been movie making. After a disastrous first attempt (our footage somehow missed most of the action) at the start of the year, I have slowly built up to create very simple films over the last few terms.

However, with the Manaiakalani film festival drawing closer, this week I have been facing my fears again. After being away for the majority of last week, I managed to film two scenes during my release on Friday after my students returned from technology. 
One of these scenes came out fairly well, although it was clear more footage was required for it to make sense. The other scene looked fabulous on camera, but when I watched it on my larger screen I noted several errors and again this needed to be re-shot. Fortunately, we were able to shoot this scene quite quickly yesterday afternoon.

My learning so far:
1. Try and prepare everything as much as possible in advance and don't take too much time between sh…

Manaiakalani Hui

Today I attended the 5th annual Manaiakalani Hui, which was a thoroughly enjoyable and informative experience.
One of the highlights of the day was watching a student representative from each school present a piece of their learning. These presentations illustrated the various ways in which Manaiakalani students learn, create and share. There were presentations on a variety of curriculum areas and topics, although I think watching one of my own learners was most special to me. I felt incredibly proud to watch my student represent our school and share his learning.

Using Twitter to share our learning #Manaiakalani
It was also a pleasure to hear about the research that the MIT's (Manaiakalani Innovative Teachers) are conducting. A few of these teachers are researching about student achievement in writing, which I really enjoyed as I have been looking into writing for my University study.

Research was presented from both Woolf Fisher and Rachel Williamson. Rachel discussed the Summer…

#Using Twitter to develop a PLN

I have been idle on twitter for a couple of years, but it is only now that I have fully explored Twitter as a means of building a professional learning network (PLN).

This morning we connected with James Hopkins via Google Hangout, who shared a presentation with us regarding his journey with Twitter. I loved the notion of using Twitter as free PD and connecting with other educators who have different perspectives and experiences.

It's interesting thinking about the different way people view change and technology in education, and how this is discussed through PLNS.

After being inspired by James, the MDTA's began our first twitter chat, using #MDTAchat. Anne posed a series of provocations which we responded to and conversed with one another. I found this really interesting, although it was a little stressful! I hadn't considered the learning that could occur from something like this before and will be engaging in other chats, such as EdchatNZ more often.

Break Out!

To start the term off with a bang,  Room 7 took part in a 'Breakout'. This meant that the students had to solve a series of clues in order to unlock a number of locks that were attached to a treasure chest.

I first found out about Breakout Edu at Sparkshop,  where Angela Lee facilitated a Breakout for the educators.  I thoroughly enjoyed this session and had been waiting to use this ever since. As Breakout can be used in any curricula area, I decided to use mine to recap some of our mathematics learning from term two.

I modified an established game; 'The Mathematicians Code' by Jeff Hennigar, so that it could be used by my whole class. I ended up using 6 locks on my main box and a smaller locked box which contained some clues.

To start off,  I presented the students with a picture frame that contained a picture of a Pythagorean tree. Some of the students realised that their had to be something more to this picture, and found a secret note hidden inside.

Hidden in the …

Getting Started with Garage Band

I have been neglecting a rather jazzy icon in my dock for some time, yet it could have been used on several occasions this year. While I have fond memories of Garageband from my youth, its latest update is far more complicated than the one I remember. Fortunately, Rob Wiseman facilitated a PLG today and guided us through some Garageband basics. We began at the very beginning...
Getting Started

Open a new "empty" project.Select the microphone icon to record sound through a microphone and to use the preset sound clips. The keyboard icon allows you to create your own tunes using the keyboard on your computer, while the drum icon acts as a drum machine and the guitar works as an amp. You are then ready to record or click on the loops icon (top right) to select the pre-made loops.
After we had a play around with the settings and basic features on Garage Band (there is a lot to it and things can get pretty technical if you would like them to) we created our own recordings. We first…

Share through Infographics

Today I attended a Manaiakalani PLG which focused on the share element of the Learn, Create, Share pedagogy.

We first discussed the benefit that sharing has for our learners and we looked specifically at blogging. We investigated the research that has been conducted regarding the benefit of blogging during the school holidays and I was amazed at the effect that it had on the students learning. I created the following sketchnote to illustrate the key findings of this research, although I found this quite difficult to create as the information was presented live!

We then discussed the way infographics can make data more accessible to viewers,  as our brains process images 60,000 times faster than text. If you are interested in using infographics, this website illustrates some of the infographics that are most commonly used.

Our task was then to create infographics that were related to blogging. I decided to make an infographic for my two bloggers of the month for July. I used Canva to c…


This morning I have been creating a Sketchnote in order to share my learning. Sketchnoting is a creative form of note taking that can be carried out in real time or after an event. It supports note taking as you are paring words and visuals in a structure that is easy to follow.

When experimenting today I made a Sketchnote that summarised a discussion about how our students share their learning in the Manaikalani cluster. As I was sketching I did regret not planning my Sketchnote in advance as some of it was a out of order. I also created the whole thing on a very tiny piece of paper, which added to the difficulty of the sketching. However, I thoroughly enjoyed the sketching session and felt that it cause me to think quite carefully about my topic.

 I can imagine myself using this when listening to lectures and completing academic readings. I can also see it engaging some of my learners and it would enable them to share and solidifying their learning in a creative manner. I can imagin…

Thinking Critically About Science

This week Room 7 have taken part in a couple of Science experiments with twists: the scientific concept that we were told that we were experiencing was not what was really happening. I conducted these as I wanted to encourage the students to think critically about the validity of references.

On Tuesday we conducted an experiment called "Light vs Sound" where we blew up balloons filled with icing sugar and popped them to see if we would see the balloon explode before we heard it, as light travels faster than sound. However, when we are so close to an event like this, our brains cannot perceive the difference . Some of the students were sure that they heard the balloon first, while others were unsure. They were all interested to learn that the experiment was flawed and couldn't believe it was published in a book. 

On Wednesday the students tried to see sound.  We created mini drums out of glass jars with balloons stretched over the top of them. We then placed sugar granules …

6 Months In

It doesn't seem that long ago that I was introducing myself to my class for the first time. I still remember how nervous I felt and how unreal it all seemed; I could barely believe that I was a real teacher. Now after six months of teaching it is surreal to look back and consider how much I have changed. I have learnt so much, become more confident and I have fallen more in love with teaching.

At our Manaiakalani PLG we shared a highlight of our term with one another. For me, the highlight has been in creating more engaging lessons and activities for my learners. I have taken some risks in the lessons that I have taught (we took a few trips to the kitchen!) but I have thoroughly enjoyed them.

Teaching procedural writing was my favourite unit this term as there were many opportunities for rich discussion and hands on activities. I introduced the topic by presenting my learners with some instructions to follow which required them to create electrical circuits. The students then dis…

Preparation for High School

As soon as we walked through the gates of Tamaki College, I was struck by the realization that I know very little about how New Zealand Colleges operate and how NCEA is structured. As someone who completed Cambridge exams, I need to develop my knowledge of NCEA and prepare my students for this as oppose to the high school that I attended.

Fortunately, we were given the opportunity to spend our PLG day looking at other schools in the cluster. I spent my morning with a year 9 literacy class (lead by Vaughan Spudle) and was really interested to see how the class was run. I was especially impressed with the accelerated reading program that they ran as I could see the benefits it would have with some of my learners.  In this program the students spend 20 minutes a day reading a book that is appropriate to their reading level. After completing books, they take a short comprehension quiz to determine whether they are ready to read a book at the next level. The students were all engaged with …

Finally Finished!

After many failed attempts (and a lot of learning), I have completed my MDTA interview.  It was certainly a challenge, but I feel far better prepared to film a video with my learners after creating this video and I have learnt a thing or two about filming.

1) Watch out when filming outside
I thought I had found a quiet spot when filming my first take of this video,  but my microphone still picked up an awful lot of ambient noise; I did not realise how distracting a slight breeze and a couple of birds could be! There was also issues with the sun and other people entering the shot. In the end we had to change location because removal trucks parked next to the field that we were in!

2)  Sort out your technology
 I had a number of technical issues; at one point I re-filmed the interview on a school camera only to discover that it had saved onto my computer without any sound and that the original footage was deleted.  In the end, I invested in a camera and tripod which meant that I could b…

Becoming Weather Presenters using Google Maps

At Glenbrae, maths is taught through problem solving and mathematical investigations. As my learners are looking at time and temperature at the moment, I thought a problem involving the weather would be very fitting.

After showing my learners a video of a weatherman, this was the problem that they were posed with:

They had to decode a number of clues to determine the temperature at various locations. These clues required the students to add and subtract positive and negative integers. To support this, we provided the children with number lines.

Once they had completed this, they entered the temperature at each destination on a Google my map so that it could be used for a weather . The learners made a copy of this map, entered their findings and were then tasked to video a short clip of themselves presenting the weather in part of their map. This would then be shared through their blogs.

I was really pleased with the level of engagement we had with this task. The children also collabor…

Camera Shy

I never thought that I would be camera shy, coming from a background in drama and the arts. In fact, I could not have secured my first job at 16 if I had not been able to act confidently in front of the camera. It seems that I had forgotten all of this when I stepped out to film my interview for the MDTA this Friday.

The aim of this session was to plan and film a response to a number of questions about our experiences with the MDTA. We were encouraged to think quite deeply about these questions and I spent some time deciding how I might respond.