Friday, 30 May 2014

Yesterday's Reflections...

Had a glorious yet long day yesterday.

1. Built bookcases with my HTG

2. Sorted out the year planner and the plan for the term and next term by co-constructing with two of my onto it y13 seniors

3. Created a tonne of predictions for what will happen next in The Bone Tiki

4. Had duty with my hilarious and entertaining crew from K House and the Sails Whanau

5. Completely rearranged the seating plan from free for all to likeminded groups in my Y11 class. Huge resistance. But surprisingly alot of work done as a result. Except from the experiment table. Am expecting heaps from them if they can work together rather than talk about random and off topic things. Added a couple to my help table. Success.

6. Vocab skills with my Y9's. Dictionary and thesaurus work. Project planning. Found out that breakfast club didn't open early on the one day I didn't go.

7. Duty with crew and Sail kids. 

8. Helped out with 40 hr famine Social Studies social action kids doing their fundraiser for Malawi... sausage sizzle. 

9. Made them clean up and evaluate success and what they'd do differently next time.

10. Discussed Y13 plan with the one colleague who is doing same programme as me.

11. Nailed the #techthursday session with one of my duty crew members

12. Posted blog post.

13. Took dog for a walk. She's finally paying more attention and we were able to run a fair while 
without her pulling too many times. Success! A year and a half in the making!

14. Rotaract Meeting. Success. Am a fabulous secretary... just sayin'. ;) 

15. Early to bed for craziness tomorrow.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

#TechThursday - Integrating Technology

UPDATE - 7th May 2015: A year on from this post below - check out where we are heading now!

Have been slowly gaining more interest from others for #TechThursday where I help my colleagues develop or integrate technology into their practice.

For teachers who already do this and who are au fait with the process, it can be intimidating for others.

So far I've targeted specific people on staff who seem interested, willing and again... interested. At the moment I'm doing it on a very casual basis and hopefully in the future will create a specific PLC on it with a broader range of staff - not just the basics but also where to next. Kind of like an educamp or eduignite for school where they can leave somewhat overwhelmed but mostly inspired and keen to get started.

Have helped one colleague with her KAMAR printing and finding students.

Have just finished helping another who I do duty with (K House all day!) and we looked at a surprising number of things. I'd asked him what he'd like to learn more about originally and again today so that we could make his learning as relevant as possible.

  1.  Searched for mathematics resources - TKI for starters and the Maths community
  2. Figured out how to copy and paste using ctrl + C and ctrl + V
  3. Copied a table of information about area and measurement from Word to Powerpoint
  4. Created a hyperlink on PPT from a different url of a different website
  5. Copied the embed link from a video
  6. Inserted embed link into PPT to show Youtube Vid
  7. Created a Maths community on Google+
  8. Added links and videos onto the community page
HUGE lots of learning done. Proud as.

Hopefully he'll share that with the rest of his Maths dept now :) Yay! Success!! :)

Oh and this new link I just found:

Historical Photos - Deeper Analysis

There are a lot of loaded photos that I see .. that perhaps only someone who has the knowledge of that history and the issues around that event may see...

This one for starters...

From one of my favourite Twitter accounts I follow - History in Pictures @HistoryInPics:

Operation Babylift: In 1975, over 3300 Vietnamese orphans were evacuated and transported by airplanes to the US.

That they needed to be sent away.
That their whanau were killed.
That they were probably flown in American planes.
That their parents were probably killed by American planes.
That this, then that...
A beautiful, yet saddening image. 

Wednesday, 28 May 2014

Policies for Student Photography usage

At present our school doesn't have a clause in our enrolment forms that allows us to share and use photography of our students.

I found that out last week when looking for a model form as I was wanting to send pictures of our pacific island dance group to our local newspaper as a follow up from the competition.

What I've since been in the process of doing is looking for a form with our ICT DP's permission that will have all the necessary information and be adaptable enough so that we can make it apply to our school.

After much searching and wading through Netsafe's cybersafety and digital citizenship kit for schools - I was sent this document by Netsafe. 

It's a basic model form for photography use but it needs simplifying and also a few more clauses added in for our school.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

HUGE Opportunities - Presenting at the CLESOL and NZATE conferences.... Help Needed!

Wow. I got an email this morning asking if I would be interested in presenting a workshop at the NZATE (New Zealand Association of Teachers of English) in the Term 2 Holidays. About using Twitter.

Imagine my sheer excitement and horror. And the fact that I saw the title and a bit of the text from the email when I logged into my school email account just after my Y13's came into class and were all settled... There may have been a little bit of squealing with excitement... and me putting my head on my desk to breathe. Luckily the class is well accustomed to their nutty teacher.

I told them what I'd just read and they were happy for me - and told me to do it. I had and still have my reservations. HUGE opportunity. But surely there'd be someone better than me to do this?

Originally I asked the teachers organising the conference if they needed any help I'd be keen to help them. And then I got that email.


So - in the process of figuring out what I'm going to focus my workshop on - keeping in mind this is my first ever NZATE conference... as well... please fill in and pass on this form to as many twitter users as possible!

Also - have been asked to present at the CLESOL conference... though that one is only via Google Hangout.. but is one I was initially hugely freaking out about. Partly because of what I am planning on discussing. And also because I wouldn't be able to see who my audience is.. harder to gauge the feelings of the audience when you can't see them properly.

My CLESOL talk will be about teaching bilingually - from a Maori perspective. Partly from what Tapu and Tapu 3 stemmed from.

Thoughts and ideas are much appreciated!

Nga mihi nui ki a koutou in advance :)



Teaching Growth vs Fixed Mindsets

Showed these videos to my Year 11's today -

Nearly every student had a set idea on what their own mindsets were. What was becoming increasingly clear was the amount of students who had a fixed mindset - compared with those who have a growth mindset - also had some negative thoughts about themselves and their own learning - or ability/inability to learn.

What I found was that most students correlated their growth/fixed mindsets to how they saw themselves achieving in particular subjects. Students said that in specific classes they had a growth mindset because they enjoyed the subject. While others knew inherently the reason they had a fixed mindset was because they did not think they were 'good' at that subject for reason x.

What was slightly disturbing was that there were three students who I couldn't help in changing their thinking from a fixed to a growth mindset... because they were so stuck in their fixed mindset of feeling that they were incapable of achieving. Two of those students believed they would never be good at English for reason x.

One student said that her fixed mindset was in Maths. Like mine is. I talked with her about how I've since begun to develop my mindset into a growth one instead. I told her and a few others around her that the way to begin to change that mindset is by likening the subject to one that she did have a growth mindset in... for example history. Since she is in my house tutor group class I tend to spend more time helping her to change her views because I want her to be more open minded and confident about her ability at school (like I do with all my students - but her and another especially because they're in my HTG class).

I'm finding that with this class they're slowly becoming growth mindset because they're willingly risking new topics - SOLO, growth mindsets, essay writing - and more importantly the ones who originally had a fixed mindset are showing growth mindset characteristics - not giving up, being persistent, asking for help, wanting to learn and unlearn and relearn again.

What's cooler is that they're able to see that change in themselves when I give them that tiny bit of praise on the effort they have put into the subject recently.

I suppose this is part of the reason I haven't yet given them back their marks. When students get marks - it is a clear praising system - for intelligence, rather than effort. The effort may never be enough for some students who write 10 drafts - and only still achieve - rather than with Merit or Excellence. It's this level which is hard to navigate. I don't want to discourage them - and for some seeing an Achieved (although it's positive) is sometimes just not good enough...because of the effort they've put in (or the percieved effort) and as a result can end up with some very cranky and upset students.

When asked yesterday why we haven't got english credits up yet... I explained that the pieces haven't properly been talked about yet through a moderation meeting so I couldn't possible give out any grades, let alone put them up on KAMAR. When hearing that other students have already gotten their marks up - I said that I would personally rather spend more time on making sure that they got the grade they were working towards - through further editing and resubmissions - rather than have them merely accept the grade that has been given to them without trying harder to get a better grade.

It's hard to have a growth mindset when you're constantly told you're not 'good enough'. But as I showed my old Maths teacher.. I can do something with my life even though I'm probably not ever going to be the future Field's Medal for maths... I went to university. First member of my family too I might add. And what's more - I try not to put my students down. I awhi and tautoko them every step I can. And when I can't help them any further - I scaffold and make acronyms so that it's easier for my students when they have strategies to overcome their own weaknesses or issues with memory. And when my students ask for help - I don't deficit theorize thinking that they'll never be able to do it because of reason x. Jeez woman.

I'm proud of my students. I'm proud of myself! This 'Yes Year' is really paying off :)

This is some of their thinking...
 Student Response:
For every one negative comment it takes six - seven positive comments to get that person back to the same self-esteem before the negative comment.

Today's Teaching Thoughts

S: Can we watch a funny video? 
Me: No. 
S: But I thought you were a cool T? 
Me: I'm a T - I care about your learning. 
S:That's the definition of an uncool teacher. 

A kid about to start eating a packet of chips by opening it then and there in my house tutor group class - as I'm trying to read the notices...
Me: Russell. .... Russell? *stares blankly at the student*
Other Student: Who's Russell?
Me: *eyebrow flick towards student with chips*
Other student: Huh? That's J...
Me: Russell is rustling his chips...
A few students and me begin cracking up. 
Other student: So punny miss!

Monday, 26 May 2014

Student Blogging: te timatatanga

There's something fresh and beautiful about typing or writing on a blank sheet of paper. Something even more beautiful when teaching my students to appreciate writing for what it is and for what it can be used for.

Last week I tried to do some of the basics in researching... mainly focussing on formal language and why we use it. I'd like to teach my students how to research books via ISBN numbers or at the very least through keyword boolean searches. Then my students can use the school library effectively instead of lazily going to the school library first (without having tried to hunt for it themselves). My problem in doing this is that they can't actually practice because there isn't a computer dedicated to being a catalogue in our library... with the exception of asking the librarians.

This post is quickly turning into a research focussed one...

When I was little, my whanau - particularly my mum, nan and grandad - taught me to search for information and knowledge first before asking them. At times it would simply mean asking questions to one family member rather than another and then going back to the first to share what I'd learnt. I think that's why I've always had a love for researching... because it was a game, a quest for knowledge. Same thing that the encarta game was for me when I was 8 and my human resources were quickly running out of answers for the big world questions I was thinking about.

It's this kind of love of research I try to instill in my students. But during the teaching I forget why I love it mainly because of the extreme stress that goes with doing research with a group of sometimes unwilling, uninterested, and apathetic and quite often lacking in the research and computer skills students in front of me.

Usually with these research projects they are taught how to reference... mainly because it's one of my pet peeves when people don't reference in their work and also because it's good practice for later life and I suppose everyday life as a  digital citizen.

I attempt to teach them source identification early on mainly so that they have solid notes... because I've always been about the journey in finding information rather than the destination... so much so that I would take home easily 50+ books from the uni library for a 500 word essay merely because I couldn't choose between 10 books which seemed to have relevant information... which meant hunting and searching for the right books at home... turning out to only be that initial ten and not the rest. Albeit to say my essays were usually late because I found the research more fulfilling than the culmination and collaboration of it with my own ideas.. not that I didn't enjoy that too!

The skills I'm teaching this time round with my Year 9s:
- to identify a interest based project idea
- to identify the difference between formal and informal language
- to describe the appropriate usage of both types of language
- to explain their findings in a research log done through word
- to locate the source where they found the information (url, publishing info, author, title)
- to collate and compare and contrast information with their own knowledge
- to publicise and share their findings
- to evaluate their findings and their research hunt through their blog and talk about what they could do to improve or strengthen their skills
- to show others what they're interested in and give others constructive feedback and feedforward.

Now I know that this is a lot of skills. But really it's stuff they probably already know.. but over the last year has somehow fallen out of their heads... I really wish I had taken some human development classes... might just ask mum for the reason why Y9 is the age that it feels like a blank canvas in your brain and you've forgotten everything from before.. there's a term for what I just did then in ... Dr Webbo can remind me later.. stream of conciousness right?

Anyway.. this is what I plan to do. Though as I said earlier it's more difficult to research without a catalogue... because without one it becomes a neverending mess as books you'd expect to be in one part of the dewey decimal system are in another... argh.

So having to rely on research skills using the internet is the next problem... though I suppose it's even more important that they learn how to weed out the less important links that come up in a Google search. As a digital native myself.. I say that mainly because I taught myself these skills... it's difficult teaching them the right way when they know inherently what to do without knowing that typing in a full question into the search bar isn't always going to get you the best results. More likely it will come up with yahoo links where you are given opinions rather than actual facts. Though in essence a lot of the stuff on the internet is opinionated rather than factual... although there is a certain perceived factual basis for any opinion.

My big problem really though is the policies.. what I need to do is get a copy of all of my Y9 student enrolment forms and a copy of the part at the back where it says they agree to be complying to our cybersafety policy.

If they realise the agreement is a somewhat legally bound document then they surely would be more careful in searching online. Right?

Regardless of all of this... I realise that as a teacher the destination is just as important as the journey. I'm hoping that I can tutu with the COWs (Computers on Wheels) and despite the amount of moaning that goes with using them I've heard from others... we're incredibly lucky to have them. I say that because I haven't used them yet.. and am hoping I can tutu and magically make them all work like they're supposed to!

The destination - a student blog for each student where they can:
- evaluate their own learning
- create an audience to share with
- show off the amazing things they do in class
- write to their hearts content about what interests them and also take part in blogging challenges
- read other student's work
- give constructive feedback and feedforward to their peers
- dip their toes into becoming a digital citizen safely with guidance and support

I'm hoping I can start this this week. I'm going to send home some information but I think what I need to do first is get started teaching these skills. But really what I want to do is avoid the red tape somehow, tell the parents what I'm planning and then tell my principal once it's up and running. 

Though because of the person I am I know I'll do the policies first, talk to my HOD, check in with the principal for the OK, talk to parents and then talk to my students. Though because we have reading room today I know my students will ask if we're again on the computers doing their research.

There's so much to do... but my steps in getting this done are:
1. Find and copy student agreements... or at the least copy off a bunch of student cybersafety policies again so my students are reminded that they must abide by the rules in our class especially.
2. Show the principal my ideas and what I'm planning on doing.. I'm guessing others have done this before me so I'm hoping it won't hit too much resistance
3. Talk with parents.. maybe hold a teacher parent night where they come in to talk about what theyve been doing and what we're planning on doing... or at least ring every parent and then continue emailing from then on...
4. Answer all questions about safety and privacy and the need to build an audience safely although our audience will be ourselves for a while til we're up and running and confident
5. Talk to my students.. because they will be the ones who are my guinea pigs and who will take the most convincing to try with me to do this
6. Get student emails and get them to email me firstly before setting them up with blogs.
7. Create a different blog perhaps for students to get the task of what we're doing that lesson or just use this one..
8. Set up a google plus circle and community for us to collaborate and discuss in
9. Begin blogging... with set tasks in mind - introductions while being safe, discuss something they're learning in school- doesn't have to be just in english, develop their personal interests and show the work they've done in class, use book creator and storify to publish information
10. Share blogs with student agreement and permission with the principal, other teachers and parents
11. Continue blogging and see where we go...

Am hoping it will all be safe sailing.. but with students it is usually anything but. So with much trepidation and excitement I will attempt this long road to our destination through doing required research before letting my students know what I'm up to. Though I'm pretty sure they'd be keen it takes a lot of work to set up safety guidelines and parameters and boundaries so I know that they're safe, that I'm safe and that what we're doing will keep the school safe.

I intend on upholding my schools mana and reputation and making sure my students do as well. Each blog will be shared with our principal and heads of houses to ensure safety parameters are being followed. In the event a student is going against the guidelines I will suspend their account until further notice.. so that they know the seriousness of it. I will maintain student passwords for their blogs and uphold my students safety above all else by ensuring that they aren't targeted by others by making sure all comments are moderated and seen by me as an admin before allowed to be published.

My students should be allowed freedom to write but must make sure they are within our safety guidelines... to keep themselves, their parents and above all else our school safe. Why? Because I'd like to make this an integral part of my teaching and this class has the capabilities of brilliance. I just need to make sure it's a possibility.

Now that I'm starting to freak myself out I'm wondering why I never did this with my extension class or my Y10 class last year. But for all intents and purposes... student blogging ticks off so many requirements within the NZC. I will find a copy and show that here:

Until then... thanks to Myles and his class at Auroa School in particular Emily for being the inspiration.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

To Blog...or Not to Blog...

It's a funny thing this blogging. As I've said in previous posts - I've been blogging for a while now.

But what's most interesting is the result it has on a tired brain - perhaps mainly because when I'm tired I can be the most talkative person in the room... and sometimes it means that my brain is at it's best - like those early hour posts I seem to be getting into the habit of writing.

Right now I'm thinking about the need to use an e-portfolio app to control my collation of data. Though I don't know how much different it would be to using this as my data collector..

In essence, I use this blog mainly for reflections now and tend to use my journal for writing notes when at PD events. Before I used the journal for both which made it a bit messy and full of information that took a long time to collate and decipher - particularly in regards to the registered teacher's criteria.

When I'm less tired I'll look at these links in more depth...

Got home from #educampHB about four or five hours ago. Am ABSOLUTELY knackered now though. The HUGEST thankyou to @1MvdS and @Mrs_Hyde for letting me tag along! Met some wonderful people, met Twitter friends f2f and followed a lot of new people on Twitter too. Learnt so much. It was completely inspiring - particularly in the way that it was an 'unconference' - check this link out for more info on NZ Educamps.

Have a few docs I can share on Google docs if anyone is interested? Just let me know. I wrote quite a bit while in the presentations. Check out my earlier tweets on the Smackdown. :P

Definitely get involved!

Am looking forward to the 3rd week of June - 16th-17th am attending PPTA committees; 18th I'll be heading to the EduIgniteHamilton; 19th Connected Rotorua.

And then the following month is the English Conference! And am hoping I can find the money to get myself to ULearn14 as well. Will be an amazing opportunity.

This Yes Year has turned into it's own crazy thing now and am enjoying every minute. Thankyou to all those who read my blogs, tweets, statuses, posts or simply share and RT what I've said. I truly appreciate each and every one of you!

Nga mihi nui ki a koutou,

Alex :)

Friday, 23 May 2014

Student Blogging - Couple of Resources

Digital Literacy - Digital Citizenship

Thanks to Mrs Orman there was a link to Tom Whitby's blog post on Endemic

Have recently been working on creating a student photo use agreement form so that I'm able to send photos to the Daily Post as a follow up from the Pasifika Competition.

We went through our enrolment forms yesterday to check that there wasn't that type of clause in there so will definitely have to get some signatures in order to release the photos.

Earlier yesterday on Twitter I asked whether others had used a similar form and found these links from Netsafe and their kit for schools:

How to Use the Netsafe Kit - Including the Required Steps

Just got an email back from Netsafe with the form for using photography of students in schools - which I've saved into this Google Drive folder - Digital Citizenship. Will be updating it to work within our own school setting and think that it would be better having both parent and student signatures for permission rather than just the parents permission. 

Back to Tom's blog post though- really like the thinking around whether students being digital natives meant that they would instantly be seen as digitally aware or whether perhaps as a result were in essence unaware of the dangers and risks. 

Which is why teaching and becoming a digital citizenship is important.  

Found this blog on C21 Reading as well... Hoping to jump onto this bandwagon to help my students learn how to use formal language in a more 21st Century setting/focal point rather than the traditional way of teaching letters etc. Plus it will improve my students' reading if they are given deadlines for posting reviews on a chapter/book/author etc. Love that there are awesome initiatives already going that I can just get involved with :)

We talked last night on #edchatnz about teaching students how to problem-solve and also how to question our students. Was a great topic!! Check the hashtag out to see this conversation - unfortunately I had to leave the discussion by question six because my phone battery was dying out from taking too many pictures of the Rotaract Membership Drive at the same time. Knew I should have brought my charger!

Am hooking into the SOLO docs at the moment - they're awesome. 

Just trying to do everything at once but need a full week to get on top of everything or maybe longer. Would love to be all PLD'd up on how to use SOLO and PBL and how to incorporate digital citizenry into my classes but need to focus on one thing at a time. At the end of the day I need to remember my mantra - think smarter, not harder.

And... then of course I forgot I'd decided on heading with Rotorua teachers to go to Educamp in the Hawkes Bay back when I went to EduIgnite Rotovegas! So am now looking very much forward to the Educamp at Richmond School tomorrow :) Thanks to Annemarie Hyde for reminding me last night!

Love my #PLN. Love my school. Love that I'm starting to get my head around the increase to five classes I'm teaching and also that I'm starting to make way into making policies - or at the very beginning making a solid piece of agreement between the school and whanau in regards to using students photos in school and in media such as our local paper... and perhaps the Google Site I still need to find time to finish!


When I eventually get the courage to discuss the thoughts that have been circulating my head for a while about the need for a BYOD policy at our school with the board and,

When I finally make a policy in collaboration with the Board and Staff and SMT etc and,

When I finally get up the courage to speak in front of the staff with our team of highly effective and focussed members of staff who have been educated in digital citizenship with me

We will use this to help discuss with staff how we will teach digital citizenship:

Learn Guide Protect: Netsafe
Professional and Private Lives
Combat Cyberbullying
Playing and Staying Safe Online
Citizenship in Blogging

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

SOLO Resources - First Look and Excitement Post

Stoked. HUGE thankyou to my fabulous HOD.

Off to read and absorb and think. Yuss.

ALL five SOLO books by Pam Hook. Absolutely stoked. No other word.

Plus... found some solo SOLO mates on Twitter. Stoked again.

We've set up a Google Drive to share our SOLO stuff. Exciting!

Feeling slightly guilty for Mia.. had planned on taking her out for a massive run. Leaving school at 5pm. Poor puppy.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The Sapphires - Resources and Thoughts

This is the second year I've taught the film 'The Sapphires' which is directed by Wayne Blair and although I'm still figuring out the best way to teach it - I think I've taught it differently with this class mainly because we didn't do Jasper Jones to begin with... so in a way I didn't focus too much on the historicality of the film straight off as I did last year. Also - this class is different in the makeup of the personalities

'The Sapphires' deals with themes of entrenched racism, search for identity and above all else the fight for equality - although it isn't as obvious as some of the other themes. It is easily one of my top five films to teach in year 12 and is an easy link for students to make between the Yorta Yorta and Maori and the treatment of indigenous peoples.

This year - I've focussed on my students connecting with the characters first and foremost. The booklet I created last year with a selection of reviews, worksheets I'd found and made and background history and info from the play writers perspective as well as the original sisters.

At the moment we are watching 'The Sapphires' the second time through and they're collecting quotes for each character. Last year I didn't do that and we struggled as a class. We'd sorted out the film techniques and analysis and then tried to figure out quotes. This way this year will be easier.

For some reason the DVD isn't working - something about the region.. will have to get another copy.

Just finished showing them a segment from the Stolen Generations Testimonies website and hopefully they'll go on it tonight to get a deeper understanding about the lives the aboriginal peoples faced and as a result be able to connect and relate with the main themes of the movie.

When I figure out how to use the new printers our school has just rolled out this past week - I'll scan the booklet I've created and upload it here as a PDF so you can see it/use it if you'd like :)

Questions from my students today:
- What does Cummergunja mean?

For my students and anyone else interested...

A basic but in-depth overview of the Stolen Generations from Wikipedia
The issue of Miscengenation - Mixed Race - again from Wikipedia
Journal Article on the Stolen GenerationsRobert van Krieken with Robyn Arrowsmith, The stolen generations: implications for Australian civilization, citizenship and governance 
Journal Article on 'Whiteness' - Jan Larbalestier, White Over Black: Discourses of Whiteness in Australian Culture
Stolen Generation Testimony - Bruce Trevorrow
The use of Eucalyptus leaves by the Grandmother and Kay in the Cleansing Ceremony
Bring them Home - Oral Histories of Stolen Generation Testimonies
Bring them Home - Apology by the Australian Government 
Bring them Home - Stolen Children Report - 1997

A basic but in-depth overview of the Vietnamese War from Wikipedia

A basic but in-depth overview of the African-American Civil Rights Movement from Wikipedia

Further viewing:
Australia - directed by Baz Luhrmann (2008)
Rabbit Proof Fence - directed by Phillip Noyce (2002)
Walkabout - directed by Nicholas Roeg (1971)
First Australians (documentary) - produced by Blackfella Films (2008)
Ten Great Aboriginal Films - With Trailers!
A List of Aboriginal Films

Monday, 19 May 2014

SOLO: With Cupcakes

So after last week when I introduced SOLO to my Y10 class.. I came cupcake carrier in hand to class today. Still need to bake a cake for my class mainly because two of the boys got SOLO straight away because a previous teacher had taught them well!

Here are some pics from the last week with solo...

Early Morning Ideas

Even though I'm incredibly tired from the weekend supporting our Heights kids at Pasifika by Nature comp in Hamilton, the debate against Stevie Chadwick, the Bishop, Todd McClay and Tamati Coffey and the Smokefree Rockquest auditions for BOP regionals...

I woke up early now before school. My dreams are always impressive at this time in the morning.. so no wonder really that my ideas are just as big and impressively exciting... if I could get them implemented of course...

Here are a few:

Host a variety show to fundraise for our Pacific Island group where we invite RB and RG as well as other local school acts...

Create a PD blog for our school so we know what PD is out there that we can go to in the hols or after school etc

Get donations from local buisinesses for warm breakfasts for Breakfast Club

Have some sort of prize system for breakfast club eaters.. not necessarily the milo drinkers.

Find other teachers who are innovative in their class using tech etc and create a PLC for inspiring each other and keeping up morale

Try mysteryskype in my classes... just need to sort out timezones

Connect with other teachers teaching spoken word poetry in Rotorua and collaborate our resources and join forces to do a poetry slam and run workshops here

Create a spoken word poetry movement here in Rotorua

What I actually have to do:
Create a space in my unit plans to add in solo so I can show LOs more easily.

Plan out my week...

Mark my students creative writing now that PI is finished!

Plan my presentation for Clesol teachmeetnz .....

Gather assessment data and HackChat data to learn more about the learners in front of me... not neccessarily through letters I usually do - although I do love learning who they are - because I agree with Claire Amos it hasn't impacted the way I teach... so need to find another way..

Find a time to sleep.

Cook myself dinner

Tell the landlord to fix the stovetop knobs and get new elements... to fix the gaps in the door and windowframes and actually sort out a heatpump and maybe even insulation so I can stay warm and not get sick

Get some energy

Take the dog for a massive run

Make the dog not so scared of other dogs after drama at puppy day care

Clean the house and do the washing..

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Tapu: Resources

Cultural Intellectual Property explanation from a member of the First Nations.

Wednesday, 14 May 2014

SOLO Continued... Year 11's and V for Vendetta Essay Writing

SOLO means Student Observed Learning Outcomes.

What I've noticed in the last two lessons is that the students are slowly seeing the progression - and I'm teaching to it.

Yesterday I recapped the symbols and terms and we discussed and decided how we can link the taxonomy with what we have to do with writing essay paragraphs.

Prestructural: Choosing a question
Unistructural: Identifying the keywords from the question
MultiStructural: Listing three main points that will answer the question and its' keywords
Relational: Explain how the director impacted your thinking with regards to the keywords. Show by using specific examples that answer the questions and link to keywords.
Extended Abstract: Explain the directors intent, Explain your linking with society to what they question is asking of you, Explain how the specific analysed aspect of the question is related to the rest of your paragraph. Explain as a result - what you've learnt from the director.

We focussed on the SEXIST paragraph structure which was chosen to use by the students over the SEXY structure I normally use - because the SEXIST structure encapsulates the extended abstract level in a more attainable way - rather than my vague Your Response statements of SEXY - where I just expect them to be able to do the IST part.

Statement - a clear sentence that uses the keywords from the question and outlines your main point which you will be discussing
Example - specific examples from the film to help prove your point
Xplanation - explain your point in detail - making links with the keywords where you can and showing the importance of this example to prove your point
Intent - what the director intended - why did he use this specific example - what was he trying to teach us?
Societal - how can this be linked with the outside world? What is the real world connection here? What can you learn from real world examples and how has it changed/influenced/impacted you?
Theme - How can you link the theme/message of this event or aspect of the theme back to your main point? What is the relevance here? What have you learnt overall?

Thanks to Hillcrest High for the inspiration and sharing of your SEXIST structure for paragraph writing.. although this isn't poetry - it still works brilliantly well.

Yesterdays example of students who were using the taxonomy to develop their ideas -

Today the students drew the symbols and gave brief definitions on the board.

Then we talked about what they needed to do again today to practise their paragraph writing again. We focussed again on the theme question to show how they've been influenced. 

For those that knew what they were doing - they carried on - and the rest copied down my 3rd paragraph - mainly because I'm going to get them to do the 2nd on their own tomorrow - with my help of course. 

 Once that was done I checked on everyone - and saw that most had got the hang of solo and the structure for pgh writing. I sat with one group who asked if next time I can sit with them - this is the group of highly talkative boys who usually hold up the rest of the class as well as myself - and talked them through the structure again and had three out of the six engaged in our conversation.

This is the result -

 We had devised an easier scaffold - although this is my writing - this is entirely the verbal work of these three boys. So impressed. And each time I walk away from these kids they say - oh but miss that's easy.

SOLO works. Yuss!! :)

Why does it work though? This simple structure...

Here's my thinking:

  1. It scaffolds the learning
  2. Students can see the next level visibly
  3. Students are able to think about what they need to do next to achieve the next level
  4. Students have a clear guideline as how to get to that excellence level. 
Before SOLO... interesting... it's a bit climactic really... Before SOLO... kind of expect ethereal music in the background there...

But before SOLO... I had high expectations sure.. and I did try to explain how to get to the next level. But it was so much work from my part - where I'd mark to see where they were and trying to see if they'd hit that level or not. 

Whereas with using SOLO and the SEXIST paragraph structure in conjunction - there is a clear guideline and transition to get to extended abstract. 

I'm hoping that as time goes on I'll gain more confidence with using it in lots of different ways. I hope my students continue using it. I figure if I keep using it maybe three more times in consecutive lessons it will stick. 

We talked the other night on #edchatnz about one of the ways we had to combat losing the drive to #hackyrclass... and this is what I originally said... 

So true too!

Just need to get posters printed and laminated and then we should be all good to go :)

Also - check out this! :)

First Lesson doing PBL

Wow. It worked.

The reading room was having the pipes fixed in the to improve the heating in there.. So we went into the library non-fiction side - and the kids stuck to routine - putting their bags on or under the bag table - and sat at the computers.

This was the first time we had been on the computers - usual problems - slow computers, needing logins for the kids, some students having inappropriate behaviours on the computers and a couple not having basic computer skills. I took the chance to begin our Project Based Learning - to coincide with our research projects due at the end of the term.

Once I had their attention - a feat sometimes similar to a circus leader trying to tame a talkative crowd - I asked each of them to think of something that they're really passionate about - something they're really interested in. We had the usual suggestions - music and singers, hunting, driftbikes... but then there was the web design, what would happen if there was a WWIII, illusions and magic etc. My students are pretty amazing really.

So had them create a word doc with their title and a basic definition in their own words - what it is and also why they're interested in it.

They had to write three things they already knew about the topic they were studying and learning more about.

For some they could then just get started immersing themselves in the topic and collect relevant data, information and were required to copy the links for whatever they were finding.

For a few -  before they immersed themselves - I had them write a few hypotheses around the topic - what they thought they might find out -  as well as some research questions.

As I walked around and worked one on one - or with groups as I'd allowed them enough freedom to choose who they could work with... though surprisingly most chose to work individually - I noticed an engagement I hadn't seen with the entire class before. It was very cool.

One of my students asked if we would make something to do with their project - and I said .. Why not!? :) So we'll be heading towards makerspaces eventually as well with this class.

Am looking forward to seeing their research carry on and develop.

I was most impressed with one student - he is normally quite a quiet student and I hadn't yet developed a close connection with him - who was so far ahead with his web design research that he said to me - "Miss... I don't have to leave New Zealand anymore like I thought before. I can do web design here." Very cool.

Watch this space :) Makers and growth mindset students in action!

Google Apps for Education

Checking out and having a go and a bit of a tutu with GAFE. It's all pretty exciting really.

I eagerly watched and favourited many of the #GAFESummit tweets from those who were at the Google Apps for Education Summits recently in the holidays. I wish I had gone and that I had known earlier so I could have sorted out the fee for registration!

Luckily - our Twitter whanau/PLN is amazing. Sharing is a collaborative effort and what's more I've learnt to keep doing what I'm doing  - sharing with others and developing my thoughts. I've got a stronger appreciation for the people around me - my network on Twitter and FB as well as the one I've created at school and home.

So far.. I've learnt how to use a Google Site.. When it's finished - I will put a link up here.

I've tutu'd with Google Forms and know how Google docs works...but need to try out the other stuff.

If you have any examples in how you've used it so far - please let me know :)

Monday, 12 May 2014

First Lesson with SOLO Taxonomy

Wow. It worked.

SOLO actually works. They knew what level they were learning at and what they needed to do next.

So I did that beginning of the PBL project lesson from the last post where I talked about V for Vendetta themes with my Year 11s.

I messed up the beginning because I was having a mind freeze with how I had planned it on my blog. In the end I had the students brainstorm a theme from the four they wrote definitions and got real-world examples for last week. I'm not even worried that they may not have done their homework on the examples for homework because of the amazing work that was done just now.

That didn't work because I didn't scaffold it from the beginning. So I did my usual class go first and asked students for their examples of the theme of Accepting Diversity. One student was visually happy that we were starting off the class with this theme - because he had done it - and also because it is a theme most relative to him individually. We discussed as a class the different examples and got specific examples from the film as well.

I then realised that this would be the perfect time to bring in SOLO at the same time.

I had the students copy down the brainstorm we'd done as a class and then write down SOLO Taxonomy.

I drew the symbols and wrote the levels for each one on the board - just saying them as I drew them - without any explanation. I asked the students after uni-structural what comes next and someone said Multi-Structural. Someone else had taught SOLO at school! We went back through each one and I asked them and I tried to explain the levels using an analogy of a house.

  • Pre-Structural - Got the plans - kind of know what we have to do to build the house
  • Uni-Structural - Have an idea how to create the house - perhaps laid the foundation and have a wall beam up
  • Multi-Structural - Several ideas now on how build it - Have the walls up and the basic skeleton structure of the house built
  • Relational - know that we need to put insulation in to be warm and still need to put a roof up. 
  • Extended Abstract - Know that to be warm in the house we need to have heating and that might cost a bit for electricity if we have a heat pump and a wood fire - so would need to buy wood. A way to combat the cost would be to think about and place a solar panel on the roof and then - and then - and then...

I needed to make sure they got it - so worked with the first group and asked - they saw the differing levels and were having trouble with the phrasing - got them to think of the theme as prestructural - they know what they have to do. Finding out a definition to understand the theme and what it meant could be Uni-structural. Multi-Structural would be finding examples for that theme in the outside world. Relational would be making connections between the examples to gain a stronger understanding of the theme itself. Extended Abstract would be using this deeper understanding of the theme to make connections with V for Vendetta and the examples in the film that directly relate to those found in the outside world and also think about the impact that theme has on them as an individual and also how they now relate with the world around them.

I was stoked. This first group picked up the ideas relatively quickly and focussed on the levels and knew what they needed to do to get to the next level. We worked out each individuals themes and examples and most at that table were thinking multi-structurally straight away. One was stuck on pre-structural until I explained a bit further but then got it and will be working at multi-structural level by now - and hopefully extended by tonight when doing the homework. Another just needed reminding of the next level and was eager to carry on at his own pace.

After this group I went back to the class and explained the expected levels as I'd done clearer with the group before. Then carried on going around each group to check understanding and that they got the levels.

I managed to get around four out of the six groups of students. Two of the ones I didn't get to did overhear what I was explaining to another group and were interacting but I need to catch up with them and the other group first thing tomorrow. All four groups - while some students needed individual help - knew what level they were working at and what they needed to do next. They were using the symbols and phrases easily in their own books to remind them where to go next. One student even set out his page with differing levels so that he knew how much he thought he might need to write to get to the next level.

I was able to reference the levels and remind them - okay you've done this - now what do you have to do. Or You're at this level - what needs to be done before you can move onto the next level. It felt how teaching should be. With the students working and me assisting. Rather than me doing all the work and the students assisting me to help the rest of the class.

At least three students are consistently working at extended abstract level thinking - and one is able to but struggles to get there by completing the written stuff - but can verbalise it perfectly. Perhaps I need to be more lenient with her to allow her to verbalise her thoughts - but I see myself in her and she needs to get her thoughts down on paper before she loses them. Plus she's in my house tutor class so I have higher expectations with her because I know what she's capable of achieving.

A few students were stuck at pre-structural and that's okay - when I'd explained the next step they were still a bit unsure but were able to sort out their thinking enough to be able to complete the task for homework.

Before doing SOLO with my students I was always expecting my students to just BE at the relational level and the extended abstract level. I would get frustrated but of course try to help them get there. Now that I've seen how SOLO actually works I see that by having the different scaffolded levels - extended abstract thinking is actually possible - without too much interference from me.

I'm looking forward to using SOLO in class now that I know it works - and how quickly the students picked up on the various levels - and how they were constructed to form a deeper level thinking.

I just used HOT SOLO questioning with one Year 12 when he noticed that the colour pic at the end of 'The Sapphires' doesn't have them all the same colour as he said. I asked him what he meant and whether he meant that because they weren't all a dark shade of brown - did that make them not aboriginal etc etc etc - trying to put words into his mouth to make him realise he needs to be more clearer with what he says the first time - so that people don't misunderstand what he's trying to say... which was simply that the actual ladies were not as dark as the ladies portrayed in the film. Which is a very interesting observation and one in which we'll be picking up first thing tomorrow.

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Spoken Word Poetry and Short Stories: Junior Cultural Relevance Unit

Part of the programme I created for my bi-lingual Year 10 class in my first year of teaching included using poetry in a more relevant form.

I taught poems by Maya Angelou 'Still I Rise' and 'How a Caged Bird Sings' and Hone Tuwhare's 'Drunk' and 'Rain'. I showed spoken word YouTube videos by Taylor Mali 'What a Teacher Makes' and Sarah Kay's 'B - or - If I Should Have a Daughter'.

And then one of my students gave me an exit card that said Four words: Brown Brother. Watch it.

So I did.

It changed how I would teach the poetry unit even more than I already was and more than that - Joshua Iosefo's poem was culturally relevant not only to my Maori students but to my Pacific Island students as well. We discussed the relevance of this poem and the impact it had on them. We used it to analyse techniques and try to understand his purpose as a writer.

I found Glen Colquhoun's 'Bred in South Auckland' and showed it to my students. They got it pretty quickly. The point they learnt was to accept who they are... fully.

We also used rap and song lyrics to cement their knowledge and understanding of language techniques. We used these examples as a base to create our own.

During this time I found the poetry analysis technique - MAPIT = Message, Audience, Purpose, Impact, Techniques. My main focus with these guys was to teach them paragraph structure so that they'd be set up for the exam and the year after for Y11 NCEA English.

Along with our poetry unit - I found short stories that worked in conjunction with these poems.

Patricia Grace's - 'Going for the Bread', 'Butterflies' and 'It Used to Be Green Once', were used to show identity and perspective.

The two parallel short stories - Katherine Mansfield's 'How Pearl Button was Kidnapped' and Witi Ihimaera's response to it 'The Affectionate Kidnappers' - were used to show differences in perspectives and the importance of understanding that others have different upbringings and ways of understanding.

We had an impromptu court hearing to decide which character was guilty for Pearl Button being taken - whether it was the kuia taking her to the beach or the mother for neglect.

When I used Joshua Iosefa's spoken word poem in a mainstream class later that year - I had even more interesting results. We talked more about stereotypes and how we should be careful with what we say and how we say it. The non Maori/PI students seemed to be impacted even more strongly and wrote mindblowingly fantastic responses. One of the students in that class asked if there was one from a female perspective - and we found 'Brown Sister'.

We found more Sarah Kay poems and also learnt about Phil Kaye.

We read the other two parallel poems by Mansfield and Ihimaera - 'Her First Ball' and 'His First Ball'. We talked about the perspective of both Leila and Tuta and how they dealt with the world around them.

I use these poems at my new school - though I haven't used Maya Angelou as much as I used to. We've also continued to use the majority of the short stories I began using in that first year. I'm now nearly into my fourth year as a teacher and I'm slowly seeing the differences in classes and how some ways of teaching a topic work for them and wouldn't for another.

Teaching Shane Koyczan's 'To This Day' project last year was another moment where a student in my Year 9 class told me to watch it. I've used it ever since. I wish I'd had it during the Teenage Issues unit I used with my second Year 10 class in my first year.

I somehow even managed to teach iambic pentameter to an extension Year 9 class last year... one of my favourite moments. Mainly because at least three students wrote sonnets in their poetry booklet assignments.

We even had our own little slam last year where I found a future poet/playwright and possible slam artist. I wouldn't have had the confidence to do any of this without my naive experimentation and my wonderful bi-lingual class at the very beginning.

This year - I've spent more time developing understanding of techniques and giving my students more time to write their poetry. We've learnt about some of the same short stories - as well as using traditional Maori legends from our area to make our students feel more connected to our area and our school as a foundation programme.

At present my Year 10's are developing their poetry assessments - and my Year 9's are creating static images using the poetry we have used this year so far.

I've learnt to give more time and realise that intrinsic motivation comes from connection with the text rather than a forced assessment deadline.

At the moment - I'm trying to bring South Auckland Poetry Collective, Hamilton Slamdown and NZ Poetry Slam to Rotorua to create a poetry slam and provide slam workshops with our students.

Watch this space :)

Just found this - SEXIST Structure in Essay writing for poetry - HMMMMMMMM! :)

Saturday, 10 May 2014

SOLO Taxonomy and PBL - Interrelated Yet Again...

Still learning... but here's what I know already.

Pre-Structural - need to figure out what they want to learn
Unistructural - One idea
Multi Structural - A few ideas about what they're learning
Relational -  Making connections between ideas
Extended Abstract - making connections but then also asking what if... and thinking outside the box.

SOLO Taxonomy was created by Biggs and Collis in 1982. A wonderfully onto it woman called Pam Hook then developed the idea further and in particular it has wide reaching uses - not just for use here in New Zealand.

SOLO to me makes a lot more sense than Blooms Taxonomy. We were taught a little about Blooms during teacher training, but I still struggle with using and applying it successfully.

EDIT: Here comes a brain explosion.

Reading through a great Blog. New idea with PBL - excuse the messy thinking...

Year 11s. Studying V for Vendetta. Have just had them do a mini-project on a particular aspect from the film... though basically I've just made them put what we've already learnt in their own words. Yes most of them have developed our ideas even further, but I think some may have not got the point. And that's probably because I wanted them to engage deeper with the film but didn't explain to them why before they went on holdiday... so now I'm dealing with holding them accountable for completing it still.. mainly because I had about five kids in the holidays who DID do their work and did it amazingly well. So. new thought.

If I had done this differently, I would have instead got to the point where we are now... looking at the themes of V for Vendetta. We have come up with a plethora of ideas as a class... I have modelled how to link specific ideas to one another so that we only have 6 themes in total.

Next step. Have the students think about the real-life issues from the film within the themes.

For example - theme of Accepting Diversity. Students could list ideas such as gay rights, marriage equality, protests and spin propaganda - all of which happen in the film as well as in the real world... excepting marriage equality of course.

As they have six differing themes to choose from - and hopefully an even greater number of ideas for each within the real-life relational comparison - they would then be able to choose an issue that is important/interesting to them.

From there they could then develop a project. The project could include hosting their own breakfast to fundraise money or get awareness for the Malala fund or question why the Nigerian govt still hasn't found the girls. Or even why propaganda is still used in today's governments... and why we get spin coverage from some news shows/newpapers. The projects and questions of course would be lead by the students themselves..

I was thinking that the end assessment... merely from an assessment pov... would be their Formal Writing 1.3 assessment. This could be a report... so would need to teach report writing skills - though not that different from essay structure anyway. Their reports would be handed in individually? But all the research and finding out how to get their questions answered would be done in a group - if they so chose.

After reading D. Fawcett's blog - link here. I agree with him that PBL should work within and around SOLO... as SOLO is such a great tool to coincide with NCEA and how the assessment criteria is worded as well.

Prestructural - Not Achieved - Missed the Point - or Not Quite there Yet
Unistructural - Achieved - Understands what's happening and can explain an idea
Multistructural - Merit - Understands and can analyse the relevance of the ideas
Relational - High Merit/Low Excellence - Can make links between ideas and analyse significance of those ideas
Extended Abstract - True Excellence (IMHO) - Can make links, analyse but also relate it to ouside world, show impact on them and the world around them and why it's important - outside the box stuff

So the project would work around that... let's take... the theme of The Use and Abuse of Power - and the Nigerian girls who have yet to be rescued.
- Learning stage: Find out what's happening - immerse self in understanding.
- Planning Stage: Formulate questions for what you want to find out, how it relates to V4V
- Making a Connection: Comparing and contrasting the event with events in V4V and showing the similarities and differences - awareness by celebs for #bringbackourgirls and videos... no big news coverage yet though... how we're not told the real truths about our world.
- What we can do: Make serious plans in what we can do to take action, help or spread awareness to get more people to understand. Can't just stop at a report.... need to think BIG. Outside the box. Organise a mass awareness event or something. Mini-project inside a big one. Share ideas. Get feedback
- Evaluate project and self-assessment: what did you learn, what comparisons can you now make with the rest of the world and V4V, how successful were you in your project - What are some other ways that you could have done this differently -
- Report back on findings: Your experience, how this project impacted you and made you think differently, what you might do now - now that you know about this issue, how has it changed your thinking, in what ways can this project be continued on, ETC.

Because what I love is history - it's hard not to teach to it and I tend to do so from an English perspective.... so I think this could work. I suppose the only way to do it is to try.

I also like the idea of not grading for learning... discussed here... grading for assessment sure - but how can you successfully have equitable learning assessment rubrics. This person has learnt more so they get a cupcake. While this person has only learnt one only gets a star. Why not be intrinsically motivated to learn - for starters, and secondly who says what one person has learnt is more valuable than what someone else has? All people learn at different rates and success levels. And success is a moot point. We all succeed every day. What is my success may not be your success - vis a vis.

Thoughts, comments, suggestions and tweaks to my ideas are most welcome. :)

#GrowthMindset #HackyrClass

Also was listening to this as I was immersing myself in yet more SOLO docs. :)

Tapu: Part Four

Four. Wha. My favourite number. Fitting.

- Being proud as Maori is achievable

Learning Intention:
- Why we should have te reo Maori taught alongside English and make it compulsory so that all NZers can be bi-lingual

Ignoring recent debacles... Te Kohanga Reo - the language nest - was created to help revitalise the Maori Language. An entire generation has gone through this programme and already I'm seeing a surge in te reo maori speakers. Students choosing kura kaupapa and bi-lingual units over mainstream schooling. Students taking te reo Maori classes. Students who have te reo Maori as their first language.

This is awesome.

However it's not the norm.

Tapu: Part Three

- Why it is inappropriate to just bust out a haka because you think you feel the wehi and don't understand the significance behind what you're doing

Learning Intention:
- Being Proud as Maori

This is something we want our Maori students to be. We want them to be achieving as Maori. This is a difficult concept to grasp and in fact the only time I understood it in full was when I taught a beautiful bunch of bi-lingual students in my first year teaching.

Tapu: Part Two

Here's a brief overview of the points that will be covered in this post..  your learning intentions if you like...

Covered so far and therefore task Completed: 
- Why it's tapu for a girl to do a haka on a boat. And why whakapapa is tapu too. See previous post... here.

This pou (post/pole.. pun intended):
- Why doing the haka is not acceptable when you've been to NZ and seen someone else do it

I live in the tourist capital of NZ. Everyday I see bus loads of tourists being carted off to different Maori cultural experiences. While sharing our culture is great... sometimes I feel like we don't own it appropriately by making money off of it or by allowing others who don't know the significance behind it to perform it.

History and the meaning of Tapu

So recently I posted a long and indepth post about who I am and what I do. It's had quite a lot of hits through Twitter which is awesome, just sayin'. The only thing that's bothered me is perhaps the fallout of the Maori aspects to it.

Call this a second half of that post if you will or just a brief opinionated and somewhat biased overview of the Maori history and resurgence of our culture.

Firstly and importantly - while not a retraction it's definitely pertinent that I explain a few things. Doing a haka on an upturned boat as a girl aged five has a few problems.

Friday, 9 May 2014

Observations: ERO and Our Amazing Mentor

This week I've been lucky and fortunate enough to be observed twice - in quick succession. I say this because on the Wednesday I had ERO (Education Review Office) come see my teaching and my students' learning with my Year 9 class and on the Thursday I had my mentor come and observe my teaching and checking how I'm going with my Year 9 class.

I think my students were a bit over having other people in our class observing - but I actually really enjoy being observed. It reminds me to give my best - 100% of the time - and gives me seeds of reflection that at some point makes me sprout very long email posts to my mentor.

Since I figure you guys might get some value out of these reflections as well I'm writing here and then emailing the link for this post to my mentor.

ERO Visit

I didn't know I was going to be visited. Until Monday at Dept meeting. I was already worried about the fact that everyone else seemed to be freaking out... and was wondering whether I should be as well. I have a selection of docs on my harddrive, a miasma of visual evidence of student learning on my smartphone, a collection of resources I've been finding through my PLN and ideas for leadership and how to help my Dept and school. What I don't have is written evidence of their assessment.

That lesson was AMAZING. I had decided to carry on with our static images to get them finished before later on being able to move into experimenting with Project Based Learning (PBL) and integrating more SOLO taxonomy to my Year 9  English class. I'd explained the learning intentions and what was expected of them through the PPT slide and reiterated specific skills to the whole class when it became clear that quite a few were struggling with that step when they got there. As a result - the majority of the kids succeeded the criteria of drafting their image, identifying techniques and explaining their effect - and were able to get their drafts signed off by me and then began their good copies.

Working one on one with particular students and then with groups - I saw the success in action and watched my HoD observe how me and the students work together to produce learning magic! :) Before the ERO observer left she asked me whether I had any assessment data for that class and I'd told her that I gave more visual and verbal feedback/feedforward than we had done actual testing.

I'm still planning on using ASTTLE (reading comprehension testing) results to help group my students - particularly when we are in the reading room so that they can develop their reading levels at the right level - instead of allowing them all to read simplified - or difficult - books. I need to learn how to read the results though - and a colleague and I are going to buddy up to develop that as well as me helping her with Level 1 assessments for NCEA (National Certificate of Educational Achievement - Senior programme of learning in NZ).

At the meetup during interval break - the teachers who had been observed by ERO and our HoD - talked about the process and also what we needed to work on. She'd said she was focussing on assessment data, student/teacher relationships and whether students know WHAT they are learning. I was stoked because when I went around my class after the ERO observer had left, my students told me that she had asked them really specific questions - about the purpose of the lesson - and whether they knew what they were learning. I asked them if they knew what they were learning - and they said that they'd told her that they were learning about static image techniques and were putting them into use by creating their own. ... I was stoked. Total high five moment then with the boys. Stoked.

What's more is that the rest of the kids seemed to know too. So I must be doing something right!

The observer said that while focussing on what the kids were learning - and making sure they did know themselves - she had noticed we need to use more visual learning intentions. Which is one of the things I've been thinking about and integrating into my teaching more often since reading this in the holidays:

Y10 Learning Intentions today...

Differentiated learning is something else I've been focussing on more often. I know that I do it but I want to actually know I'm doing it... which I noticed today in my Year 10 class... which is why there is a range of LI's and two differing aims as well.. in fact there were three aims as another student walked in late having had done the poetry writing itself at home - so was ready to start drafting her poetry booklet cover for her static image assessment.

Anyway - back to the ERO visit - tried to show her examples on my phone of the evidence of student learning - and as a result the evidence I had assessed their understanding of the learning in class. But she said no - that she'd planted a seed... which she has. I need to be more onto it with writing down assessment data I do with the students - whether it's diagnostic or summative. And I need to keep integrating the LI's so that the kids CAN explain what they're learning... and know that there is a purpose to the lesson. Of course I know what the purpose is... and while that's great to be planned up and know what I'm doing and teaching - it's more important that the kids know what they're learning... and even more importantly - why. 

Observation from Mentor

We are lucky at our kura (school) to be able to have our mentor for not just the two year registration period of teaching but for three years. Now that I've finished my registration period - having him come and make sure I'm still on task is hugely beneficial because I'm able to double check myself and make sure I'm still pushing myself to be the best possible teacher I can be. Of course I can't be perfect. But I will damn well try to be as good as I can be. 

Being the second lesson consecutively for both me and my Y9 students being observed - the students were a little over it I think - but ultimately having an observation is awesome... so the kids tend to be a bit more onto it themselves and I feel like I'm being more clear and making sure I'm watching my students do the best they can and help the ones that need extra help... like I usually tend to do. :) 

Two of the questions he asked were  - how to engage the boys more AND what approach I use with this class.

At the moment I'm trying to plan out a unit using PBL and Magic. 

I've also made sure to use relevant spoken word poems for the poetry unit of which they most definitely related to Joshua Iosefa's poem Brown Brother.

I've also had the PB4L reinforced into our class early on which the boys bought into. They particularly like that I'm looking for postive behaviours in class in which I write positive behaviour 'pinkie' forms on them that then go to their heads of house to be read out at assembly. 

We've also decided to start nominating people to receive these positive pinkies at the end of the week for someone who has been working super hard to improve their learning and understanding. 

And somehow.. along this journey I've created  a class full of intrinsically motivated learners. 

Or at least in regards to their behaviours. 

I try to co construct much of my teaching and will be in particular with this class as experiments for PBL. 

Whats interesting is that yesterday I found out something about some kids from my class. They were doing something hugely against school rules and because I was so focussed after Ero had left I didnt see it. I asked kids today why they didnt tell me what was going on and they said thet didnt want to tell on their mate. Safety in class over loyalty though!