Posted in Criterion 2, Criterion 4, Criterion 5, Criterion 7, Mindlab reflections

Changes in my practice

Completing the Mindlab course has been an amazing journey and I have learnt about and been challenged by many new ideas. This has led to some changes in my teaching practice, some of which are the inclusion of gamification and the adoption of transformational leadership.

Classcraft
Although I found writing the literature review very challenging, it further developed an interest that I had in gamification and game based learning. On Google+ I came across a post about Classcraft and decided to investigate. I have since implemented the use of Classcraft with my year 9 class and this has helped to improve their motivation and engagement enormously. Their behaviour is also much better and they are developing 21st Century skills as a result. This reflects Criterion 8 which includes the ability to, 

Encourage ākonga/learners to take responsibility for their own learning and behaviour.

Because my learners know that they will earn points for positive behaviours and skills they come into class wanting to help hand out books and get started on their learning. We have been using Classcraft all this term and lately I have tried one or two lessons where we don’t use it to see if the behaviour and motivation is different. I am pleased to report that it is not! Rewarding these skills has helped to make them a consistent and usual way of behaving. Thanks Classcraft!



Transformational Leadership

I have also enjoyed learning about Leadership theory and styles. This has been particularly helpful for me as this is my first year being the head of a department. I identified mostly with the transformational leadership style and have consciously used this style when leading my department. I believe that one of the reasons that I was employed is because of my skills in incorporating technology to enable my pedagogy. I have lots of ideas for changes that I would like to see in my department but am aware that not everyone is as tech savvy as I am and could see a rash of hastily made changes as a challenge. For this reason I have not made huge changes but have discussed ideas for the future and sought opinions on those changes. Some things will be non negotiable such as submitting year 11 moderation digitally next year and adding each year level in subsequent years. But many ideas will be a choice. I am encouraged by the positive attitudes of my people though. I showed them my blog and explained that I used it to record reflections on teaching and learning which were then linked to the PTC and they all are very keen to do this also. So we have begun that journey together. This reflects Criterion 5, the Enabling eLearning website comments:

Effective leadership is crucial for the successful implementation of ICT.

Utilising the transformational leadership style is a non threatening way of leading my department in the adoption of ICT for their own use which will help them become more confident in leading their learners to do the same. As my departments’s confidence in me as a leader increases, more changes will be made but I believe that it is important to first build relationships and earn respect.

The Future…

I would like to keep learning and growing as a leader. I see my department as being leaders in the school in the area of technology enabled pedagogy in the future. To make this happen I would like to develop into a leader that has “the capacity to translate this vision into reality.” (Warren Bennis) I would also like to complete the Masters of Applied Practice offered by Mindlab so that I can continue to learn and think about new ideas and technologies and how they can be applied in teaching and learning.

References

1. Enabling e-Learning, Professional Learning. Retrieved from: http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/Practising-Teacher-Criteria-and-e-learning/Criteria-8

2. Enabling e-Learning, Professional Learning. Retrieved from: http://elearning.tki.org.nz/Professional-learning/Practising-Teacher-Criteria-and-e-learning/Criteria-5

Posted in Criterion 1, Criterion 2, Criterion 4, Criterion 5, Mindlab reflections, Teacher Registration

Interdisciplinary Connections

The interdisciplinary approach is a team-taught enhancement of student performance, an integration of methodology and pedagogy, and a much needed lifelong learning skill. Interdisciplinary approach (2009).

Goals

At Whangaparaoa College each curriculum area has had its own paragraph structure acronym, these have included PEEL, SEXY, and TIE, to name a few. It was decided that we needed a common structure. Heads of learning from 6 curriculum areas met over the course of a term to decide which structure would work best overall. We settled on SEEL: Statement, Explanation, Example, Link. To achieve this goal we shared examples of what it would look like for each of us and then spent time creating resources. We have now introduced the chosen structure to our departments and have also begun using it. Posters are being printed so that the SEEL structure will be displayed around the school. It is hoped that by the end of the year all teachers and learners will have adopted it.

TALL (Teaching and Learning Leaders) is a group representing all curriculum areas that meet twice a term to brainstorm ideas, conduct research, and eat lollies!  A goal of the group is to create short lesson plans and accompanying resources for the staff to easily pick up and use. These lessons can be used in more than one curriculum area. We want staff to be comfortable trying new ideas without having to spend a lot of time planning. These lesson plans consider the SAMR model and aim to encourage more engagement and motivation. Currently I am working with a social science teacher to create a paragraph writing unit which includes a ‘how to’ video resource and a Kahoot to quiz the learners.

Challenges

Although the paragraph group have only focussed on one skill in an interdisciplinary manner we found that the paragraph structure needed to be general and not specific or it would not fit all curriculum areas. In English, the SEEL structure will be fine for our junior classes but we will need to add to it for our seniors so that learners record all the information needed. Other curriculum areas will do the same.

Benefits

The benefit of the interdisciplinary approach is huge for learners. They are able to apply principles across curriculum areas which makes them easier to remember and understand. This also cuts down on the time spent in teaching these principles so more time is available to help wih understanding specific content.

“Their cognitive development allows them to see relationships among content areas and understand principles that cross curricular lines. Interdisciplinary approach (2009).

According to Mathison,S.. & Freeman, M.(1997), there are many other benefits including increased engagement and motivation, more ability in critical thinking, synthesis and making decisions, and also in the promotion of collaborative learning. Basing learning on a theme across curriculum areas and incorporating project based learning could make school a very cool place to come to. For teachers, it would promote “…better collegiality and support between teachers and wider comprehension of the connections between disciplines.” (Mathison and Freeman, 1997).

Our paragraph structure group and the TALL group are only small steps in the journey of interdisciplinary learning. I would love to take larger, bolder steps in this area and truly become interdisciplinary in our school. I found the video below very inspiring.

References

1. Jones, C.(2009). Interdisciplinary approach – Advantages, disadvantages, and the future benefits of interdisciplinary studies. ESSAI, 7(26), 76-81. Retrieved from http://dc.cod.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1121&context=essai

2. Mathison,S.. & Freeman, M.(1997). The logic of interdisciplinary studies. Presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Educational Research Association, Chicago, 1997. Retrieved from http://www.albany.edu/cela/reports/mathisonlogic12004.pd

3. Lacoe Edu (2014, Oct 24) Interdisciplinary Learning . Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cA564RIlhME

 

 

 


Posted in Demonstrate commitment to promote the well-being of all ākonga, Mindlab reflections, Professional Development, Show leadership that contributes to effective teaching and learning., Teacher Registration

Blogging for Professional Development


The social media platform that best supports my engagement with professional development is WordPress. Blogging is beneficial to me as it allows regular reflection on teaching and learning. Many posts discuss challenges and solutions based upon discussion with colleagues. This is a great way of being a reflective practitioner and processing information and thoughts.

The act of regularly expressing your thoughts in written form can help sharpen your intellect, organize your ideas and prep you to lead lessons in the classroom more effectively. (Teach.com, 2015)

The Reader on WordPress is a stream of bloggers that I follow and is an interesting way of staying up to date other educators with similar interests.

Putting your ideas into the world is a great way to attract like-minded people to argue with, network with, or get advice from. As we’ve learned from other discussions on personal learning networks (PLN), talking with other educators is a wonderful way to learn and grow as a teacher. (Teach.com, 2015)

I like WordPress because I can include photos, video, slideshows, and hyperlinks. It is a visually interesting digital portfolio that can be commented on and modified when needed. Many posts create a discussion which gives me other things to think about.

Positive or negative, getting reactions from other people in your community is a great way to test out your ideas. It can also be a great motivational tool. (Teach.com, 2015)

I use WordPress to enhance my professional development to record reflections and evidence linked to the Practising Teacher Criteria. Categories for each criterion can be created and each post linked to the relevant criteria. Before my last re-registration interview with my principal, I emailed her my blog address. At the interview we discussed a selection of blog posts. As I had been writing posts for the 3 years leading up to re-registration I did not need to write a lot to make sure that I had provided evidence for all of the criteria.

Many employers these days will check out a prospective employer’s online prescence to find out about who they are as a person and how they represent themselves. A blog will help an employer to understand the values and attitudes of a teacher. It will also give insight into how they teach and reflect on their pedagogy.

A media-rich teaching portfolio will give employers a deeper insight into your teaching practices while signaling that you’re a 21st century teacher. Having a teaching portfolio can be a decisive element at the interview stage of the hiring process (Mosely, 2005).

At my new school we are beginning to investigate blogging for the same purpose and many teachers have already begun to set up their blogs. It is preferable to filling in lots of paperwork. I have also been involved in facillitating professional development in both schools to help people set up their blogs. Blogging to reflect on teaching and learning naturally links to many of the PTC so one blog post can cover many areas.

I have enjoyed blogging about my experiences and journey of teaching and learning over the last few years. It is interesting to look at older posts to see how I have grown and developed as an educator. Sharing this journey with other educators from around the world has given me new perspectives on issues and I have learnt a great deal. Blogging is a great social media tool that is also valuable for our learners to use, but that’s a story for another post.


References
1. 10 Reasons to Blog as Professional Development (2015). Retrieved from http://teach.com/teach100-mentor/blogging-as-pd

2. Do I need a digital teaching portfolio?(2014).  Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/digital-teaching-portfolio-edwige-simon

Posted in Criterion 2, Criterion 7, Mindlab reflections

The importance of Netiquette

Blogging and Twitter

When I was teaching at Orewa College we introduced Twitter and blogging to our learners. I began using Twitter with the intention of it being a back channel to ask questions in class. However, my learners were a little immature and were soon making silly comments about each other so I had to press pause and reflect on how to proceed. I put a stop to the in class use of Twitter as I was concerned about it getting out of hand and becoming a cyber-bullying issue. Blogging was introduced soon after and we realised that it would be a great way of publishing learning that could be shared with families, both local and overseas.  An integral part of blogging is commenting on blog posts so our learners needed guidance on how to do this positively. Often learners are not aware that they are cyber-bullying as they think that ‘everyone does it’. It was important to teach them that this was not normal or responsible behaviour.

The Code of Ethics for Certified Teachers explains that we should:

Teach and model those positive values which are widely accepted in society and encourage learners to apply them and critically appreciate their significance.

I realised that my learners would not be prepared for participating in a mature manner online if I did not teach them how to behave appropriately. I used the following slide show to teach them Netiquette. By explicitly teaching netiquette we were able to teach positive values that are good, not only for blogging, but for life in general.

     As a teacher, my responsibilities at Orewa College included:

     Maintaining a high standard of behaviour in the class, so that all students can access the Internet and use their devices safely and to the best advantage educationally.

    After teaching Netiquette, I saw an improvement in the online behaviour of my learners. Their interaction on twitter became more positive and the comments on their classmates’ blogs were in the form of a ‘compliment sandwich’. My learners enjoyed giving and receiving comments and the conversations created.

    Blogging and the whanau

    Some parents questioned the use of social media and we were able to explain the value of publishing learning on line. Our learners made more effort in creating quality posts when they knew they would possibly have a global audience. Reflecting on their learning was another valuable reason to blog and being able to comment positively and give feedback on each others’ blogs was also a positive. Many parents did not realise how social media could be used to enhance learning.

    We explained that Netiquette was taught as we were aware of our responsibility to “teach and model positive values” and to “maintain a high standard of behaviour in the class…” It was important to have the conversation with parents and to explain our reasons for doing this as they often did not understand the value of this style of social learning. Once they heard our reasons and saw their child’s blog they were mostly happy about it.

    When we had our parent evenings I was able to ask the parents whether they had seen their child’s blog or not. Most of the time they hadn’t so I was able to show them and then explain what learning had taken place. Every parent I spoke to loved seeing their child’s blog and was very positive about it.

    References
    1. Code of ethics for certified teachers (n.d.) Retrieved from https://educationcouncil.org.nz/content/code-of-ethics-certificated-teachers-0

    2. Responsible Use (2011) Retieved from http://www.orewa.school.nz/uploaded/file/downloads/Responsible%20Use%20ICT%20Devices1.pdf

    Posted in Analyse and appropriately use assessment information, which has been gathered formally and informally., Demonstrate commitment to promote the well-being of all ākonga, Mindlab reflections, Student Achievement Analysis, Use critical inquiry and problem-solving effectively in their professional practice.

    Contemporary Trends and Issues


    Big Data

    “‘Big Data’ and the use of analytics can provide insights into some of the gnarly challenges associated with improving equity and excellence.”(Data-driven organisations, 2016)

    According to Core Education, the use of Big data and analytics is a contemporary trend that is influencing education in New Zealand and internationally. This can be seen with the use of Fitbits to measure and monitor health and fitness in PE; monitoring progress in gamification; and tracking academic progress. The reason for gathering this data is also to inform ‘next steps’. One of the assumptions associated with data use is that tracking numeracy and literacy and planning next steps will ensure success for the learner. However, the NZ curriculum states that a successful learner is a “confident, connected, actively involved, lifelong learner.” Therefore as educators we need to consider monitoring more than literacy and numeracy to ensure that our next steps to help our learners are inclusive of other aspects of education such as a sense of belonging.

     “One collaboration found that the most powerful predictor of student success in College remedial mathematics courses is students’ sense of belonging to their mathematics class. The teachers have now been trialling different ways to improve students’ sense of belonging.” (Data-driven organisations, 2016)

    The data that is currently most relevant to my practice is its use in the academic tracking of our priority learners. At every HOL meeting this year we have analysed data and evaluated the results. We have looked for patterns and reasons for low achievement. The data we have looked at is from year 7-10 E-Asttle testing in maths and reading. We have also analysed assessment related data for years 11-13.  Recently we also looked at other data related to extra curricular activities and attendance to see whether there were any patterns.

    In our curriculum meetings I have presented this data to my department and asked each staff member to identify their priority learners and think about how they would help them. We then each completed a table to record our ideas. In our most recent meeting we collaborated on a Padlet to brainstorm specific ways that we could help our learners.

     

    Collaborative Learning Approaches
    According to the NMC Horizon Report (2015) collaborative learning approaches are increasing. This is not only between learners but between teachers, also. These approaches, which involve inquiry-based learning, gaming and global blogging, are proving successful, especially for less able learners.

    Collaborative learning models are proving successful in improving student engagement and achievement, especially for disadvantaged students. (p. 12)

    Combined with mobile devices and access to the internet, collaborative learning becomes possible anytime and anywhere. Teachers can encourage global sharing and learning also with Skype and quad-blogging. Many teachers worldwide are embracing collaboration between learners and also between themselves on social media platforms such as Twitter.

    Bryan Bruce in his investigation, World Class? Inside New Zealand Education: A special report (2016) found that lower decile  schools that employed a collaborative approach to learning improved the results of their learners. He also found that Inquiry-based learning was instrumental in engaging and motivating learners to take ownership of their learning. However, even though this approach has proven successful, governments are still not mandating it as a preferred model for teaching and learning. This approach to learning has been outlined as something that will be happening in 2025! I find this a bit ridiculous as many teachers are doing it now, so why is the expectation set so far in the future?

    Collaborative learning is relevant in my practice as I utilise inquiry-based learning regularly. I encourage my learners to collaborate in this way and also with teams in Classcraft, an online game which promotes 21st century skills. I also use shared Google docs to gather ideas and information for different projects in our department. Google Classroom is also used to share resources and discuss ideas.

    Even though collaborative learning approaches are not mandated by our government, many in my department use this approach and we also share ideas of best practice, informally. In the various groups that I am involved in, collaboration is always encouraged.

     


    References

    1. Johnson, L., Adams Becker, S., Estrada, V., and Freeman, A. (2015). NMC Horizon Report: 2015 K-12 Edition. Austin, Texas: The New Media Consortium. Retrieved from http://www.nmc.org/publication/nmc-horizon-report-2015-k-12-edition/

    2. Data- driven organisations. (2016). Retrieved from http://www.core-ed.org/thought-leadership/ten-trends/ten-trends-2016/data-driven-organisations

    3. Bruce, Bryan (2016). World Class Inside New Zealand Education A special report (2016)  May 23rd TV 3. Retrieved from http://www.newshub.co.nz/nznews/should-we-be-worried-about-nzs-education-system-2016052317#axzz49c1lscAk

    4. New Zealand Education in 2025: Lifelong learners in a connected world.

    Posted in Criterion 1, Criterion 2, Criterion 5, Criterion 7, Mindlab reflections

    Current Issues in my Professional Context

    Organisational Culture

    Whangaparaoa College caters for years 7-13 and has been in operation for 10 years. As part of their job application, our principals completed a Myers-Briggs personality test to ensure there was a balance of personality styles and skills. Recommendations from the Curriculum Stocktake (2002) were also considered, in particular, the review and refining of outcomes in essential learning areas. The principal at the time told everyone planning the curriculum to ‘chuck everything in the bin,’ metaphorically, and then plan based around themes. Once all the curriculum skills were chosen, they then asked what was crucial that was missing, added it in and ditched the rest.

    Hattie’s research was influential in the planning of the school. His identification of the teacher as one of the most important factors in successful learning guided the teacher selection. However, many did not want to teach junior classes only so it was a challenge to find the right staff.

    Academic Counselling is a key value. Learners spend one hour on a Wednesday with their Academic Counsellor. The focus for Term 1 was goal setting and in Term 2 the focus has been planning for the Learner Led Conferences happening in Week 10. Learners are asked to reflect on each subject with the guidance of the AC. They are then coached on how they will present this information to their family.

    The school motto Together, Believe, Achieve reflects the importance of relationships and learner achievement. Our principal, James Thomas, believes in encouraging an Atmosphere of expectation. Boundaries are important: the teacher/coach sets firm boundaries but is not an authoritarian, or a teacher with a laissez-faire style. Communication is valued in the sense that a message is not truly communicated until it has been received. Hattie (2003) found that principals “…who create a climate of psychological safety to learn, who create a focus of discussion on student learning have the influence.”

     

    My goal is to foster a positive, professional environment by role modelling the ABC and encouraging others to do the same. As I am a new HOL and new to the school, my priority is to build positive relationships with my department members. I have a vision for my department to be the leaders of the school in technology-enabled pedagogy but I am mindful of earning trust before mandating too much change.

    Changes in the Profession

    In the last few years Whangaparaoa College has been introducing BYOD to successive year levels. This has encouraged many teachers to reflect on their pedagogy and think about how they might incorporate the use of technology. The Teaching And Lead Learning group has been formed to address this challenge. I joined the TALL group this year and we have interviewed learners to find out what teachers are doing well and what could be improved. The results were then shared with staff by the learners. We are currently working collaboratively to create resources that will help teachers incorporate technology into their teaching practice.

    In the English department and we are addressing these changes by sharing ideas. Each meeting, someone will share an app or website and show how they have been using it. We have learnt about School A to Z, Zaption, Google Sites, LitCharts, WordPress and MindMups. My department members seem to be enjoying this and we have all tried something new this year.



    References

    1. Hattie, J., 2003. Teachers Make a Difference: What is the research evidence? Retrieved from http://www.educationalleaders.govt.nz/content/download/501/3926/john_hattie.pdf

    2. Recommendations from the curriculum stocktake. Retrieved from http://nzcurriculum.tki.org.nz/Archives/Curriculum-project-archives/Developing-the-draft/Recommendations-from-the-curriculum-stocktake

    3. What Is Laissez-Faire Leadership? Retrieved from https://www.verywell.com/what-is-laissez-faire-leadership-2795316

    4. Thanks to James Thomas, Lisa White and Jason Pocock for answering my questions and providing useful information for this post.

    Posted in Criterion 1, Criterion 2, Criterion 5, Criterion 7, Mindlab reflections, Professional Development

    My Community of Practice

    “Communities of practice,” a term coined by Etienne Wenger, is explained as: “groups of people who share a concern or a passion or about a topic, and who deepen their knowledge and expertise in this area by interaction on an ongoing basis” (Wenger, McDermott & Snyder, 2002, p.4).

    Communities of practice interact and learn together.

    My COP is the English department at Whangaparaoa College. The purpose of my practice is to assist our learners to achieve. As a department, we regularly meet and discuss how we can help our learners by using E-Asttle and Kamar data to inform our discussion. We are also learning how to use technology effectively to enable our pedagogy. I contribute to my COP by facilitating workshops and discussions and encouraging others to share their ideas and experiences.

    The core values of Whangaparaoa College are:

    1. The high importance of learning
    2. Valuing the individual
    3. Challenging ourselves
    4. Giving of our best
    5. Respecting oneself, others, and the environment
    6. Being a safe and well managed school
    7.  The importance of strong and appropriate relationships
    8. The vital partnership of home and school

    Our learners are encouraged to value their learning by reflecting on each curriculum area regularly with their Academic Counsellor. Goals are set and plans are made and the AC encourages, guides and gives feedback. Each individual is valued and helped to achieve. Learners and staff are challenged to consider whether they are showing grit and working towards having a growth mindset. These ideas are discussed in Teacher Meetings and we discuss them with our learners.


    Being the best you can be and living your best life are ideas that I believe contribute to a successful life and I try to be a positive role model for my learners and my department. Respecting yourself by completing the tasks expected of you and encouraging others to do the same, is part of respecting others and the environment you are a part of. When learners and staff do this, the school is well on the way to becoming a safe and well managed environment and community.

    Positive relationships between staff and with learners is a key to success in learning.  As a new Head of Learning I am enjoying building these relationships. The relationships that I build with my learners is important as it helps to motivate reluctant learners. Relationships are integral for a partnership between home and school. Contact is made with home when a learner needs encouragement to complete their learning. Parents and caregivers are encouraged to attend the Learner Led Conferences.

    My specialist area of practice is as the HOL in the English department. The broader professional context is to facilitate the learning of our akonga. My role is to help the members of my team to do this to the best of their ability. One of the key theories that underpins this is being a reflective practitioner. One of the reflection tools that our principal encourages us to use is Rolfe’s iterative reflection: What? So what? Now what? This is a simple way of looking at a situation and deciding what needs to be done about it.

    Another reflection tool is the RISE model which asks a practitioner to Reflect, Inquire, Suggest and Evaluate. These models are both valuable in evaluating how we are meeting the Practising Teacher Criteria and also everyday situations. I am a regular reflective practitioner and I aim to encourage the members of my department to regularly reflect.

    References

    1. Wenger, E. Introduction to communities of practise. Retrieved from http://wenger-trayner.com/introduction-to-communities-of-practice/

    2. http://www.wgpcollege.school.nz/ABOUT+USTe+K257reti+o+Whangaparaoa/Vision++Values.html

    3. Dawson, P. Reflective Practice. Retrieved from http://youtu.be/r1aYWbLj0U8

    4. Wray, E. The RISE model for self evaluation. Retrieved from http://www.risemodel.com

    Posted in Criterion 10, Criterion 11, Criterion 12, Criterion 2, Criterion 3, Criterion 4, Criterion 6, Criterion 7, Criterion 8, Professional Development, Teaching As Inquiry

    Gamification and Assessment

    RESEARCH TOPIC AREA

    The research topic area that will be addressed is the impact of gamification on assessment results. In the reading that I have completed there is much evidence of improved engagement and motivation when game based learning and gamification are utilised in the classroom. “On the one side, experiment qualitative analysis suggests that gamification can have a great emotional and social impact on students, as reward systems and competitive social mechanisms seem to be motivating for them…” (Dominguez et al., 2013, p. 391). However, there is not much evidence to prove that these strategies improve higher order thinking. “…On the other hand, researchers have indicated that merely accessing learning content via playing games might not be sufficient to engage students in higher order thinking, such as analysis, evaluation, organization and creation.” (Hwang, G. J., Hung, C. M., & Chen, N. S., 2014, p. 130).

    I have a very weak year 9 English class who have written essays that have not gained many marks higher than Not Achieved or Achieved. Higher order thinking is necessary for higher grades. I am hoping that the use of the game, Classcraft, will help provide motivation to improve engagement and the effort required to improve essay results. Classcraft is a gamification website in which learners complete their learning in groups that are set up by the teacher. Each learner can set up their own profile and choose to be a Mage, a Healer or a Warrior.

    Points are rewarded based on the behaviours that the teacher wants to encourage. I have created a list based on the Key Competences and 21st Century skills.  In a study of the use of 1:1 devices to improve maths achievement it was found that, “…the use of 1:1 mobile devices showed promise to assist students in 21st-century learning skills…“ (Carr, 2011, p. 278).  One way of encouraging these skills is through gamification and rewarding their use with points. Points can be deducted for being late to class, not handing in an assignment and disrupting the class. Essentially Classcraft is a behaviour modification tool which extrinsically motivates learners to engage, work collaboratively and be motivated to learn. If getting a better result is about engagement, motivation and more effort then the use of Classcraft will be worthwhile. However, I have read that gamification is not successful for all learners, so it will be interesting to see whether it does lead to consistent engagement for all. “These good results don’t happen for everyone though… In some cases the system was even discouraging, as some students don’t find it fun to compete with their classmates for a rank in the leaderboard.” (Dominguez et al., 2013, p. 391).

    21st century skills graphic

    RESEARCH QUESTIONS

    • How might the use of Classcraft increase engagement, motivation and lead to improved essay writing results?
    • How might extrinsic motivation lead to consistent engagement and improve the results of less motivated learners?

     KAUPAPA MAORI and TE NOHO KOTAHITANGA

    • Tino Rangatiratanga: The Principle of Self Determination

    The skills rewarded in Classcraft that relate to this principle are persistence, managing self, and participating and contributing. These are the skills that are needed for self-determination and independence. Points will be rewarded for using initiative and learning independently.

    • Whanau: The Principle of Extended Family Structure

    Classcraft encourages family involvement by providing a parent code for each learner so that the whanau can see how well their young person is doing. The data and evidence will also be shared with the whanau and they will be invited to respond and share any feedback they may have.

    • Ata: The Principle of Growing Respectful Relationships

    Learners will play Classcraft in teams which will require respect, effort and energy, and discipline. Points will be rewarded for interacting positively with others and collaborating effectively.

    • Mahi Kotahitanga: Co-operation

    Learners will co-operate and consider each other as they learn and play. Points will be rewarded for participating and contributing, interacting positively with others and collaborating effectively.

    • Ngakau Mahaki: Respect

    This is a core value of Whangaparaoa College where learners are expected to respect themselves, each other and the environment. Points will be rewarded for respecting and understanding cultural diversity.

    ENGAGEMENT WITH COMMUNITIES

    The communities that I will be engaging with in this project are my Year 9 learners, the staff in my department, and the whanau.   It is hoped that my Year 9 learners will see this as fun and therefore want to put in more effort to gain points and level up. They are mostly quite weak learners whom I have had difficulty engaging and motivating, especially with using their devices. They have mostly preferred to use pen and paper and a few learners did not bring their devices to school until they could see that many of their classmates were enjoying making websites to showcase their learning. From previous experience at Orewa College, I know that using devices is a key to better quality writing, especially among less able learners as they do not see it as such a chore and happily write 500 words in an essay where previously they struggled to write 200 words on pen and paper.  It is hoped that by teaching these learners to become more confident in using their devices effectively by participating in Classcraft,  that this will lead to better quality writing.

    Secondly, I will also keep the staff in my department informed about what we are doing in the hope that if this is successful they may adopt Classcraft as a strategy to help their learners.  Many of my department have had limited experience with using technology to enable their pedagogy but they are mostly interested in how to do this. Showing improved results and the results of a Learner Attitude survey at a Curriculum meeting will help to prove the validity of gamification to those members of the department that are sceptical. I will invite those that are interested to come and watch how I use Classcraft with my learners.

    Thirdly, Classcraft has a parent code for each participant so those parents who are interested will be able to see the progress of their son/daughter and encourage them in the game. This will enable parents to see firsthand what we are doing in class so that they don’t think we are playing games that don’t add value to learning.

    COLLECTING EVIDENCE FROM COMMUNITY MEMBERS

    I have data from the essays that were written in Term 1 which I will compare with the results from the essays written in Term 2. This data will show whether there has been improvement or not. I will observe my class and their interactions with the each other to see if they are talking about their learning, gaining points and taking steps to gain those points. During the term I will ask my class to complete a Google Form which surveys their attitudes to Classcraft and their learning in this manner.

    FEEDBACK

    I discussed this project with Lisa White, one of our Deputy Principals, and explained it to her and then asked for her opinion. Check out the video of her response:


    One of the things Lisa suggested was to have points rewarded for progress along the way and the final product at the end so I have added in 3 new categories for receiving points. I think this is a good idea and I have made the point value quite high so that my less motivated learners will think that the task is worthwhile.

    Lisa also suggested asking a group of learners their opinion on my plan. I haven’t done this as I had already started the game before our discussion but this is something that I will do in the future. However, I will ask them about the kinds of rewards and prizes they would like though as I do value their voice and would like them to take ownership with me.

    I asked Lisa whether she thought other teachers might be interested in implementing Classcraft and she offered some useful ideas on how to share what I will do. Sharing what I am doing and the results from it will be the best strategy as having some examples and proof of effectiveness would be more convincing than just saying that learners are engaged.

    The issue of learners doing the bare minimum to get points and not necessarily doing the required learning was something that I had not thought about so having this feedback from Lisa helped me think about ways to prevent this. Her idea of rewarding milestones along the way is one that I will implement.

    POTENTIAL IMPACT

    The potential impact of the inclusion of Classcraft with my Year 9 class is that their essay writing results will improve through the extrinsic motivation of gamification because they will be rewarded for skills such as TRUMP, collaboration, problem solving, innovation, adaptability and other 21st Century skills. This will hopefully ingrain these skills into their mode of operating and will be carried over into all aspects of their learning in other curriculum areas. I believe that TRUMP and 21st Skills are essential skills for a successful career and life.

    Screen Shot 2016-04-29 at 1.38.16 PM

    I am excited about this because I have been looking for a away to reward these skills for some time now and Classcraft seems to be a great vehicle for this. If the use of Classcraft is successful with my Year 9 learners then I will consider using it in my other classes. I’m not sure whether it will be as effective with senior classes as it seems to be aimed at younger learners but I could try it and see.

    If this inquiry is successful it could be used by many other teachers to encourage and reward TRUMP and 21st century skills which are important for our learners’ futures as many report that the jobs our learners will do haven’t been created yet. Therefore, having these skills and being able to adapt to future environments is of utmost importance.

    STAGES FOR ENGAGEMENT WITH THE COMMUNITY

    • Assessing the relevance of my project

    To assess the relevance of my project I will discuss it with Lisa White, one of our Deputy Principals, to gain feedback on what she thinks will benefit our learners and what other aspects I need to consider. I will also discuss it with members of my department to explain what I am doing and to get their feedback on how they think it will work.

    • Gathering the data/evidence

    I will record the results from 2 essays that will be written in Term 2. These results will be compared with the Term 1 results to see whether improvement has been made. A survey of learner attitudes to using Classcraft will be completed using a Google Form and I will used the chart making part of this app to collate the data. I want to find out whether my learners found Classcraft enjoyable, helpful and motivating. This should show me whether there were any learners who did not find it engaging and motivating and the reasons why.

    • Sharing the data/evidence with relevant parties

    Once my Year 9’s have completed 2 essays I will compare the results to the Term 1 essay results and then share this data with my class. The purpose of this will be to show them their improved results and explain how Classcraft was instrumental in helping them to gain these improved results. I will explain that TRUMP and 21st century skills are essential for success and tell them that these are the skills they were rewarded for. Because they demonstrated these skills, their results were improved.

    The results and the data from the learner survey will also be shared with my department and Lisa White so that they are able to see the success of Classcraft in improving learner engagement, motivation and essay writing results. This may inspire them to try Classcraft with their own learners. Results and data could also be shared with parents in an email which would explain the whole inquiry. I would invite their feedback to reflect upon and consider for future use of Classcraft.

    REFERENCES

    1. Smith, G.H. (1990) Principles of Kaupapa Maori. Retrieved from www.rangahau.co.nz
    2. Te Noho Kotahitanga (n.d.) Retreived from www.livingcurriculum.wikispaces.com
    3. Carr, J. M. (2011). Does Math Achievement. Journal of Information Technology Education: Research, 11, 269–286. Retrieved from http://eric.ed.gov/?id=EJ990470
    4. Dominguez, A., Saenz-De-Navarrete, J., De-Marcos, L., Fernandez-Sanz, L., Pages, C., & Martinez-Herraiz, J. J. (2013). Gamifying learning experiences: Practical implications and outcomes. Computers and Education, 63, 380–392. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.compedu.2012.12.020
    5. Hwang, G. J., Hung, C. M., & Chen, N. S. (2014). Improving learning achievements, motivations and problem-solving skills through a peer assessment-based game development approach. Educational Technology Research and Development, 62(2), 129–145. http://doi.org/10.1007/s11423-013-9320-7
    6. VG Business (2010) Amazing Statistics. Retrieved from: https://youtu.be/oGGYIw_pIj8
    Posted in Criterion 11, Criterion 2, Criterion 7

    Engaging with variety

    Yesterday we had a teacher only day at Whangaparaoa College where we had guest speakers Steve Kent and Danielle McKenzie,  Olympians who talked candidly about goal setting and their experiences of achieving and failing. It was good to hear that these amazing achievers had experienced failure but had learnt from these experiences. They talked about setting smaller goals which they could achieve in a smaller time frame. They also explained that if they failed it was important to evaluate what had worked, what didn’t and then set another goal. I enjoyed hearing about what they had learnt and how they had moved on from failure.

    Our learners also presented, in a variety of ways, some research that had been done within the school about what teachers were doing well and what did not work for learners. They presented this in 2 role plays which were very entertaining and  challenging as well. One role play showed a class sitting in groups with a teacher who began the class with a video, and then explained an activity for the class to do. While learners were completing the activity, she roamed around the class chatting with learners and answering questions and checking what they were doing.

    The other role play saw the learners seated in rows and the class begin with a teacher droning on and on (very funny). He then sat behind his desk to read a book while the class worked from textbooks. Before long, a couple of learners began fighting so he yelled at them and sent them off to the Deans.


    Another way of presenting information was through the use of a Powtoon video and a video of interviews with several learners. I really enjoyed the variety of presentations which brought to life the data that had been gathered in a fun and entertaining way.

    It got me thinking, what I learnt was that our young people enjoy variety in the classroom. They prefer a range of activities and ways of presenting information. It was the learners who had brainstormed how they were going to present the data we had and it showed us all the ways that many of them like to learn or be engaged.

    crayons

    What I am going to try is starting class with a video of something that is relevant to the learning. This could be a My Talking Avatar presentation to introduce a unit of learning, a director speaking about a film we are studying or a news item about an issue in a text. After a class discussion on what we have seen, I will explain the activity for the lesson and then let my learners get started. I’ll roam the class and answer questions etc. In the last 10 minutes of the lesson, we can play a game or do a quiz that is relevant to the activity.

    I know that this won’t always work for every lesson but it is something that I want to try to see if it is a successful formula. My goal is to engage and motivate as many learners as I can through this structure. I feel nervous saying this because formulas don’t always work in teaching but it is important to set the goal and see whether it is achievable. If not, I will have learnt some important lessons and I can evaluate what worked and what didn’t and make another goal.

    Anyone-who-has-never-made

     

    Posted in Criterion 2, Criterion 4, Criterion 7, Personal TAI, Professional Development

    Fun with Furnware

    2 years ago I was fortunate enough to be able to choose some Furnware for my classroom. I chose green and orange tables, a white board table, a ‘hairdresser’ chair and 6 red, yellow and green splats. I arranged the furniture to reflect Thornburg’s theory of watering holes, caves and campfires to investigate how this theory would work in my class.
    The first time that I let a class into the room I was nervous that they would fight over the splats or the whiteboard table and considered implementing a seating plan. After discussion with colleagues I decided to just see what would happen and was pleasantly surprised. My students walked in and after a few “Wows!” and “This is cool”‘s, they found their preferred seating and sat.

      

    Strengths

    I found that my year 10 classes couldn’t wait for the watering hole part of the lesson to finish so that they could work in groups or by themselves. I had a couple of students who regularly used the cave area to work quietly by themselves. Most of the class loved working in campfire groups and enjoyed all of the different types of furniture. Quite a few also lay on the carpeted floor and worked. The relaxed environment did not adversely affect their engagement but enhanced it.

    The result of having new furniture has been happier students who sometimes rush into the class so that can get the seat that they want. The colours and styles of furniture have created a positive atmosphere which is a great platform for any lesson. I have found that colour and variety play a big part in encouraging motivation and creativity. 

      

    Weaknesses

    For students using pen and paper the splats, beanbags and couches were not so helpful.  My year 13 class, who were not expected to have a device, chose to sit at the tables instead of on the couches and splats. I asked them why they did this and one student summed up most of their responses by saying that it was easier to use pen and paper, if they had devices they would probably sit in the more relaxed seating. With a smaller class this is not a problem as there is enough table space.

    I also found that it was difficult to check the work of students in the cave area as they backed themselves into the corner of the room which made it a challenge to sit with them or behind them and comment on their work.

      
     

    Opportunities

    When I first got the furniture I had several incidents where students who were walking past my class poked their heads in and commented on how cool the furniture was and asked why other classes weren’t the same. It is clear to me that students love the colours and the variety of furniture. One student said that the colours made her feel happy!  I found a great article about how colours can affect learning; orange helps stimulate critical thinking and memory, green is relaxing, yellow in small amounts can make us feel happy and red can improve performance and focus. Furnware have also conducted their own research which is well worth a read.

      


    Threats

    Having a class of Furnware means that the class can no longer be used for examinations or formal tests as the environment is too informal and cannot be arranged into exam formation. So if the whole school were to get Furnware there would be a few logistical problems but maybe exams will look different by that stage.

    References