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Showing posts from February, 2016

Becoming a Google Certified Educator

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After successfully completing a three hour exam, I am now a Google certified educator!

I had completed my Google fundamentals training throughout the school holidays, so I was a little worried about taking the exam more than a month after completing the training. Despite having to go back and do a little revision, completing the training before school started meant I was much better prepared to teach in a Manaiakalani school.

I found that still learnt a few things while taking the exam as it quite a large practical component. After completing some multi choice questions, you were given a temporary Google Apps for Education account and had to complete tasks using various Google tools. The tasks included assigning work in Google Classroom and working with student data in Google Sheets.

Despite being a little anxious I passed the exam and felt that I over thought a lot of the questions. The Fundamentals training prepared you well to pass the exam, despite being required to score above 80…

Collaboration: He Tangata

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At the start of our second MDTA day, Dorothy explained how Manaiakalani had started. Beginning with a collaboration between a few like-minded educators, an initiative to provide support to those learners who truly needed it was born. With hard work and determination, Manaiakalani eventually gained the backing of corporate giants like Google and Spark, and blossomed into a real force focused on providing forward-thinking education for children who might otherwise has missed out.

This story struck a cord with me. At university, my lecturers would often discuss the government's priority learners, but when it came to actually lifting achievement, there were very few real solutions offered.

I remember a lecture in my third year where a few of my peers questioned this, noting that the situation sounded almost hopeless. Being an optimist (and perhaps a little naive) I was sure that someone would be attempting to do something about the situation; that we hadn't all accepted the failure…

Enriching Science with Google Drawings

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When I first imagined a digital 1:1 classroom, I naively imagined that technology would replace all physical materials; that there would be no need for pencil and paper.

Yes,we do use Chromebooks in the place of pen and paper. The keyboard acts as the main vessel for writing and paper and reading materials are stored in the cloud. However, we do still conduct lessons using physical materials, pen and paper.


I taught a Science lesson this week regarding the part of the plant that our fruit and vegetables come from. I first provided my learners with some paper, pencils and various fruit and vegetables.  They started by drawing a picture of a plant on their paper, before discussing which part of the plant the items could come from.  There was a lot of rich discussion around this and with a little scaffolding the children were able to correctly place the items on their drawing.


From here they began to consider other fruit and vegetables that they ate and were asked to create a google draw…

Reflecting on Student Engagement

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I once read that teachers should aim to take one 'great' lesson a day, while the rest are 'routine' or follow the norm for the subject. This 'great' lesson might require extra planning, resources or an activity that is new and exciting for the learners. I believe that the idea was to ensure that children felt engaged at school and so that they had something to recount excitedly at the end of the day.

However, I have soon discovered that this method does not support reluctant learners, who are not engaged by the 'routine' lesson. I have found that some of my students have particular disdain for certain subjects and struggle to actively participate in these lessons. If I attempted to deliver a 'routine' lesson, I would lose their focus.

There is a myriad of reasons as to why these students are not engaged by "routine" lessons,  including the Tamaki Redevelopment. This development is very visible for our tamariki, who are confronted with …

Using Docs to Support Reluctant Writers

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Despite being at the beginning of my teaching career, I have seen my fair share of reluctant writers.  I have taught students who would flee the classroom at the start of writing lessons, or who would struggle to put any ideas to paper.

During my final practicum, I noticed how much more engaged the students were when they had the opportunity to work on a computer.  It became possible to motivate the students to edit and publish their work and much time was saved as the students did not need to copy their work onto a new sheet of paper for 'publishing'. 
Through the use of google docs, I can now check the revision history of my students work to view the changes that they have made during the editing phase of the writing process. I can make digital suggestions to my students work (which I have been doing while holding conferences with students where possible) and I can leave feedback in the form of comments. The comments function can also be used for peer feedback and students c…

Two heads are better than one: My first week

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Although I have always felt privileged to be part of the MDTA,  I felt particularly fortunate as the children started to fill the classroom on my first day.
I began to feel nervous and questioned what I had learnt over the last few years. Did I remember how to be a teacher?  Was there a school norm regarding the children's entrance to the classroom? I had spoken to other beginning teachers that morning, and found that they shared my anxiety. 
Yet I was not alone and I took comfort in my mentors confidence. She began the day by explaining that we would be co -teaching the class and introduced herself with a letter addressed to our learners. I followed suit and gained confidence as I read. I even received a round of applause at the end of my recital, which further put my mind at ease. The remainder of the day ran smoothly and I felt that we had a successful first week. I certainly feel far less stressed than my peers outside of the MDTA!
I also feel very fortunate to have a mentor …