Posted in Criterion 12, Criterion 4, Criterion 5, Standard 3, Teacher Registration

Leadership evaluation

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Do I ask my faculty to evaluate my leadership or not? This question niggled at me for a week or two before I did anything about it. My reasons for doing included getting some feedback on areas that I was unaware that I needed to work on. I also wanted confirmation that I was doing okay and on the right track but I was a bit scared about the negative feedback that I might receive. However,  I was not expecting that everyone would think that I’m wonderful. So it took a bit of courage for me to finally ask the faculty for their feedback.

I did some research online to find a leadership evaluation that I could adapt. I found the Team Leader Evaluation Survey and adapted the questions into this Google Form. My evaluation consisted of 30 statements which were responded to using multiple choice or a linear scale. Respondents could strongly agree, agree, disagree, or strongly disagree. I avoided having a middle option so that people could not sit on the fence. One member of the department commented that she thought the responses were too black and white so this could have been a weakness in my survey. Perhaps I could have made 3 options to respond to by including ‘slightly agree’ and ‘slightly disagree’.

7 people completed the evaluation and the results were largely positive with people either agreeing or strongly agreeing for the majority of the statements. Some of the questions only one person disagreed so I don’t see those as areas to work on. Two people disagreed with the following statements so I have identified them as areas to improve:

  • Creates a positive team environment
  • Builds trusting relationships
  • Is tactful, helpful and compassionate towards others

Ouch! Ouch! Ouch! These are areas that I thought I was doing okay in! Ah well, I did ask.

Creating a positive team environment

According to www.Good.co, there are 12 ways to create a positive work environment. I got some good ideas from this and also recognised a few things that already happen in our department such as a motivational quote that one member puts up each week and birthday celebrations. Some ideas that I will adopt include sharing something positive that someone is doing at the beginning of our faculty meetings and giving positive reinforcement such as:

  • I appreciate the way you…
  • I’m impressed with…
  • I really enjoy working with you because…
  • Your team couldn’t be successful without your…
  • I admire the way you take the time to…
  • You’re really good at…

99302-positive-work-environment-quotes

Building trusting relationships

This is something that is very important to me and something that I focussed on a lot last year. I think the people who disagreed with this statement are the ones that I need to further develop relationships with. According to the MindTools website:

Good working relationships give us several other benefits: our work is more enjoyable when we have good relationships with those around us. Also, people are more likely to go along with changes that we want to implement, and we’re more innovative and creative.

This website has a lot of good information with links to quizzes to help work out emotional intelligence strengths, manage boundaries, and assess your people skills. It also has great ideas about developing relationships. One tip that stood out to me was to avoid gossiping. This is a challenge and something that I know most people deal with. After a few Friday after work drinks with colleagues the conversation can often turn to workplace gossip.

Another tip when dealing with a difficult relationship was to “..try not to be too guarded. Ask them about their background, interests and past successes.” This can be difficult as sometimes I don’t even want to engage with my more difficult people! However, I do need to get over this to develop the trust needed.

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Being tactful, helpful and compassionate

I believe that I am usually pretty tactful but sometimes I do say things without thinking and can come across as a bit rude. If I am tired or emotional this is more likely to happen. I do believe that I am helpful and compassionate so I will be aware of the disagreement on this but I don’t see it as an area to work on at this stage.

Once again the MindTools website had some good advice on being tactful. The tips that stood out to me were:

  1. Create the right environment and think before you speak. Listening before speaking and responding with empathy can help to connect with people and see things from their perspective.
  2. Never react emotionally. Understanding and recognising the triggers which make you react emotionally will help to control emotions.

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So I have a few things to work on and have researched and discovered some helpful tips to get me started. Even though I was nervous about asking my faculty to complete the evaluation, I am pleased that I did as it has given me a lot to think about. I am also pleased that, overall, I am doing okay.

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Posted in Criterion 10, Criterion 11, Criterion 3, Criterion 4, Criterion 6, Criterion 7, Criterion 8, Criterion 9, Standard 1, Standard 3, Standard 4, Teacher Registration

Year 9 Priority Learner Progress

Have I seen any improvement in the learning/behaviour of my PLs so far this year?

I have 9 priority learners in my year 9 English class, there were 11 but 2 have been moved to a different class. They comprise of a mixture of Maori, Pasifika and Pakeha learners whose curriculum level ability range from level 2 to 4. I have definitely seen an improvement in the behaviour of this group this year. One of my learners was very disrespectful at the beginning of the year and now we have a positive relationship. They are all completing their learning and four out of nine have passed their first common assessment test. Four did not submit the test and one failed.

Explain the possible reasons for this. What did I do that worked/didn’t work?

I am happy that four learners passed their assessment and I attribute this to the task they were given which was well scaffolded and easy to understand. I have also developed positive relationships with these learners and have given regular feedback/feedforward on their learning. Using Google Classroom has been effective as it means that I can check on what learners are doing by looking at their document in the Classroom folder in Google Drive.

I am disappointed that so many learners did not submit their assessment even though they had completed some of it and I had seen it. I sent a letter home to these learners and did receive some supportive replies from parents who said that their child would complete the assessment and send it to me but only one of these did this. The learner that did submit their learning achieved well.

Where to next?

I have been doing some reading about how to help Maori/Pasifika learners to achieve and, as these strategies will work for all learners, I will apply some of these principles. I will focus on teaching until my learners understand as I sometimes can get impatient and not do this.

 

 

Posted in Criterion 11, Criterion 4, Professional Development, Standard 2, Teacher Registration, Teaching Standards

Using asTTle in the English Classroom

The Call to Action

Today I attended Tania Linley-Richardson’s comprehensive and useful workshop: “Using asTTle in the English Classroom’. For a while now I have needed professional development on using asTTle but the opportunity has never arisen. As a Head of Learning, I have felt behind the 8 ball and a bit out of my depth when it comes to asTTle so when I received an email about this workshop earlier this year, I knew that it was time to take action!

CALL to action

Reading and Interpreting Data

What I liked about this course was that we started with the basics such as what the sub-levels of each level are; what curriculum levels you would expect learners to be at each year; and the skills that asTTle tests. Tania also advised us on the best skills that we should test based on her experience. She also shared ideas of how other schools were using data such as the Core Group model where core subject teachers meet and strategise how to use data for a year group.

Our first focus was the reading test and we looked at the different types of report that could be generated and how to read each one. This was explained to us and then we practised identifying key trends and discussing reasons for each.

We were given resources to use with our learners to unpack the next steps for them. This could be done with either the Academic Counsellor or English teacher. I think it would be a great reflection tool for our learners to look at after their 2nd asTTle test to see if they have progressed or not. Tania recommended that we test mid-year as well as at the beginning and end. I know that Tim Rea is keen to do this which would be helpful for our department so that we can share the workload. However, the lady I was sitting next to said they she had done this and the learners got ‘test fatigue’ and didn’t take it seriously. Something to consider…

After this we looked at and discussed the reports generated from the writing test. I’m not sure about doing the writing test, I worry about the marking load that doing this test would create. However, I did get the contact details of a retired teacher who is looking for work and is happy to mark the writing. Having one person mark would help maintain consistency and I would need support from the SLT in doing this as payment would have to be budgeted for.

data knowledge action

Creating an Adaptive Reading Test and Target Setting

Adaptive tests are on-screen only and adjust to each learner after they have answered a set of questions. According to Tania, this is the most accurate test and it can even work out when kids are guessing and make adjustments! The other bonuses include instantly generated reports and no marking. I had a go at creating one of these and it took less than 5 minutes – I was sold!

We were then shown how to set targets for our learners which was also easy. This would need to be discussed with each learner so that they are aware of the target and how to hit it. Another useful Academic Counselling discussion, perhaps after discussion with an English teacher to work out specifically what to do.

We were shown the Starpath Toolkit which has heaps of free resources to support the use of asTTle and also support Academic Counselling. One of these resources was a spreadsheet to enter data into which then produced charts of varying types to show different types of data.

Target setting

Strategies for Developing Reading Processes

“When students have difficulty reading and understanding subject area texts, they hit a “literacy ceiling” that limits what they can achieve both in the classroom and in their lives outside of school.”

Reading for Understanding p.5

After very nice lunch we spent the last 90 minutes on literacy activities that could be used to help develop reading and writing skills. These included identifying roadblocks to reading and strategies to overcome these; the 3 level reading guide; and creating vocab toolboxes.

I enjoyed learning about these ideas and will create some posters of reading and writing strategies for us to put in our classrooms. I also plan to create a resource that can be used with all the ideas I have heard today. Our year 9 and 10 classes are split so these activities could be used by the teacher who sees the class once a week.

Concluding Thoughts

The day was well worth it and has resulted in feeling confident and up to speed with using asTTle. I now know how to create a test, interpret data and have strategies for adding value to our learners.

I'm happy now

Posted in Criterion 11, Criterion 4, Criterion 5, Standard 2, Teacher Registration, Teaching Standards

2017 Goals

After a very steep learning curve last year, I am feeling much more relaxed about my role as HOL. I now know what is expected and how to complete each task. I am enjoying connecting with the people in my Faculty and helping them to realise their goals.

My goals for this year are:

  • To develop and grow as a leader.
  • To deliver PD and help others grow.
  • To learn how to use assessment information more effectively.
  1. Develop and grow as a leader

I have begun a Master of Educational Leadership and Management to help me to meet this goal. It will take me 3-4 years to complete this but I am looking forward to learning how to become a great leader.

The workshops for this course are in the holidays and over the term there are readings and essays to write. I went to a taster course for this programme at the end of last year and was very inspired. One of the first things we learn is what sort of leader we are before learning about how to connect with others effectively. Good skills to know!

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2. Deliver PD and help others grow

Since joining Whangaparaoa College I have been involved in delivering PD on the SAMR model and using WordPress to reflect on teaching and learning. Blogging is a great way to record evidence by linking to the Practising Teacher Criteria for performance management; this is strongly encouraged at Whangaparaoa.

I will continue to help with PD delivery this year as many teachers still need help setting up their blogs.

Find-your-blogging-voice

3. Learn how to use assessment information more effectively

For several years now when asked what PD I would like, I have asked for help with AsTTle. Unfortunately, this never happened but, to be fair, I could have been more proactive.

A few weeks ago I received an email about some E-asTTle PD so I immediately signed up. As an HOL it is important that I understand how to use this assessment tool effectively so that I can guide others in the department. I’m looking forward to learning what I can do.

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I’m excited about the year ahead and all the great learning I will be doing. 2017 is going to be awesome!

Posted in Criterion 4, Professional Development, Teacher Registration

The uLearn 2016 Experience

Powhiri

After checking into our Rotorua motel, Lisa, Christine and I attended a powhiri at a local marae. It was a special way to begin our uLearn experience and lovely to be welcomed in a meaningful manner.


Keynotes

Larry Rosenstock

Rosenstock set up High Tech High in 2000 with the common principles of personalisation, real-world connection, and common intellectual mission. His background is in law and carpentry and he told of how local kids would come to him after school to learn how to make stuff. He explained how the enjoyment of this inspired him to set up a school where learning was all about doing and having a real world purpose.  Forbes magazine profiled Rosenstock in 2004, check it out for more info. 

John Couch
John Couch is the Apple Education executive who began by discussing the difference between education and learning. He explained the vision that Apple has for education. Apple believe that every learner is unique and deserves to be educated with this in mind. This article pretty much sums up his story. As educators we were encouraged to “unleash creativity!” Apple have developed CBL, or challenge based learning, which is something that I came across at the ADE conference last year. 



Michael Fullan

Michael Fullan explained that we are all wired to connect and that relationships are super important. Helping humanity is important to Millennials so we should tap into this value and use it to motivate and engage our learners. Fullan’s version of inquiry based learning is New Pedagogies for Deep Learning  and he has utilised the “C”skills to frame deep learning.  











Karen Spencer
This was by far the most engaging keynote although we were reminded that it was only 72 hours until Term 4 began! Karen encouraged us to ‘see the story behind the data’ and to ’embrace discomfort’. She discussed encouraging diverse thinking and views in our learners and ourselves. A very worthwhile keynote.

Workshops

Preparing for the future: Graeme Muller

Graeme discussed all the amazing new develoments in technology that we would have dreamed of as kids. He then got us to discuss what our world may look like in 2028. We discussed different changes that may occur in the home and in teaching. We also talked about what skills we would need to teach to prepare our learners for a future where many jobs will be automated. I really enjoyed these discussions and the conclusions that we drew. We realised that ethics and morality would be important to discuss and teach with our learners. I got a revelation that I would need to start this now! It was a very thought provoking workshop.

Creative Commons: Paula Eskett

Paula discussed the different types of creative commons that could be applied to created content. We thought about whether a school policy should be made available for schools as a few people had created content but could not sell it as their school owned the IP. I found this interesting as I had experienced this issue myself with creating an iBook to sell to our learners as a textbook but then being told that I could not sell it as there was no school creative commons policy. 

Someone also asked if there was a video that explained plagiarism and its consequences that we could show our learners. Paula thought that this was a cool idea and said she would look into it. Christine and I were very interested in this as a resource as we have had a few incidents of plagiarism this year. I can’t help thinking that maybe we should create this resource ourselves.

It does make you think about the content we use that is not attributed. I feel challenged to create more of my own images and also to acknowledge more of the images that I steal!



Transforming Middle Leaders: Jo Robson and Martin Bassett

This workshop was about using a UDL approach to create a flexible and collaborative online course for middle leaders: “Leaders building leaders.”

This workshop took us on a whirlwind tour of a new course that is being developed for middle leaders by Jo and Martin. As a new HOL I found this very interesting and enjoyed thinking about and discussing my personal stengths, the culture and vision of my department and planning where to next. It is a course that I would really love to do.

Some of the things that I would like to do next as a result of this workshop are to read more leadership articles and books, and work with my department to create a vision for next year.

New School or Old School: Marcus Freke, Tony Grey, Richard Jenkins
This workshop was about starting up a new school and some of the ideas behind it which included:

  • Build a culture and be clear about the vision and values.
  • Rituals – how do they effect whats really important?
  • What is powerful learning?
  • What is powerful to learn?
  • “The quo has lost its status”
  • Knowing your learner is super important in helping learners do well. Having year groups is an anachronism.
  • Leadership styles – be there to help teachers make the changes.
  • Building the team: be explicit about how teaching and learning will happen.
  • Consider EQ over IQ
  • Shared understanding over vision, signature practices and culture.
  • Remember that new teachers bring knowledge and valuable experience.

GAFE apps: Lynne Silcock

Lynne shared apps and examples of how they could be used to support literacy. This was really interesting as I immediately thought of a few learners who would benefit from these apps. Many learners do not realise that their writing doesn’t make sense so having an app read their writing aloud to them would really help.

The Gala Dinner

The dinner had a Kiwiana theme and many people had dressed up and looked amazing. There was a prize for the best costume which went to a dude who looked like a sheep but who was supposed to be Aotearoa (Land of the long white cloud)! He kept getting mistaken for a sheep because he was hanging out with a chick dressed as a farmer!

The meal was quite acceptable and the band were awesome! As soon as they started playing people got on the dance floor for a boogie. It was a great atmosphere with everyone in a celebratory mood.


Overall, it was a fantastic few days of learning and inspiration that I would fully recommend to anyone thinking of attending in the future.


References
1. http://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-apple-wants-to-remake-the-classroom/

2. https://www.cpcc.edu/millennial

Posted in Criterion 1, Criterion 4, Criterion 5

Transformers! Teachers in disguise!

This year, my friend and colleague, Christine Emery, and I presented at uLearn 2016. Our presentation was about how we have helped to begin the transformation of our department’s use of technology.

Christine and I began teaching at Whangaparaoa College this year and had both come from schools that have been BYOD for the past 4-5 years. We have both completed the Mindlab Postgrad certificate in Applied Technology and are fluent in using technology to enable our pedagogy. While completing Mindlab, we discovered the Transformational Leadership style as explained by Bass and Avolio (1990). We were keen to share our knowledge and skills with our department.

Our department is made up of teachers who are at different places with the use of technology. Some have been using it confidently for years and some are not confident at all. Our mission was to transform our department with our 12 Step Programme.


During the year in department meetings we have discussed the SAMR model and how it can be incorporated into teaching practice. We have shared apps and websites and also PBL. Every member of the department has tried something new. I was super surprised when, after sharing this blog, everyone said that they were keen to try blogging themselves. I explained that I used blogging to record reflections and evidence of the PTC for registration purposes and they could see the value in this. During the year we planned what we would do as our department TAI and some reflections have been posted on people’s blogs also.


The transformational leadership style has been useful in promoting change in a non-threatening and encouraging manner. The department have seen 4 different Heads of Learning in the last 4 years so did not need change thrust upon them in an aggressive manner.

Christine and I have made ourselves available to help when needed and have consciously been supportive. Our plan was to meet people where they were at and see what they needed help with. At a staff meeting Carol Dweck‘s growth mindset was discussed and this has been something that the school has been learning about over the past year or two. Knowing that we could refer to this and everyone would know what we meant has been helpful in encouraging persistence.


We have also shared our stories of success with apps/websites such as Classcraft, Class Dojo, Kahoot, Google Classroom, Google sites and WordPress. As a PBL fan girl, I shared resources with people and a few have adopted this learning style also. Other members of the department have had turns at sharing apps and websites that they have discovered also. It has been valuable to learn how these technologies are being used to transform learning.

Many of our department now regularly use Kahoot and Google Classroom and the more adventurous have tried Classcraft and Google Sites with their learners. These have been used by learners also as ways of showcasing their learning.

Christine and I are conscious of our roles as leaders in this area and our responsibility to be positive role models. Our goal is to motivate and inspire while being encouraging coaches and mentors. Our department is a work in progress and so are we! We are well on the way to realising our department vision.

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 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.

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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 4, Criterion 5, Criterion 7

New, new, new!

This year I started a new role as Head of Learning in a new school (Whangaparaoa College) and the learning curve has been pretty steep. I also got a new car so that accounts for the third new in the title!

Some things that I have learnt:

1. Ordering and books and stationery can be quite a drawn out process with lots of opportunity for mistakes to be made. Apparently this is not normal, according to another HOL. I did end up with a present from the stationery company to apologise though so it’s not all bad!

2. Confidence in yourself is key. My previous principal told me this and she was not wrong, when you feel unsure keep acting as though you know exactly what you’re doing. Fake it until you make it.

3. The legacy left by a previous HOL can be a blessing and a curse. One teacher’s timetable was arranged to include facilitating a weekly online reading programme from an American company for 3 other teachers’ year 9 classes. Because of this we were obliged to sign up and complete professional development with this company. It has not been a positive experience and we are locked in for the rest of the year.


Challenging Things I have had to deal with:
1. Death of a respected and admired friend and colleague.

2. Okaying attendance to a conference for 2 members of the department and then being told by senior management that it would eat up most of my PD budget so they couldn’t go. Then I had to break the bad news!

3. Dealing with conflicting opinions and advice on extensions and submission processes. I also had to adapt to a different philosophy surrounding this which goes against what I believe and is different to what I was used to.

4. Having pre-teaching meetings for assessments and agreeing on how the assessment would be delivered and then some teachers doing something different. People will be people.

New tasks as an HOL:

1. Checking that each course is correctly loaded onto the SMS (Kamar). This is still a work in progress as we adapt and change to better suit our learners’ needs.

2.  Reflecting on the previous year’s results. Fortunately, I was not expected to write a report about this but instead had a discussion with my principal about my impressions so far.

3. Connecting with department members regularly, listening and empathising, supporting them with difficult learners.

4. Facilitating Curriculum meetings. I have previously always dreaded these meetings (sorry Meryl 🤓) but I have really enjoyed them this year. It has been great to watch other teachers share apps and websites and how they are using them with their learners. I also like being in charge so I can be the one to move things along, if needed.

5. Analysing data and drawing conclusions – Asttle and  senior assessment results. This always used to give me cold shivers down my spine but over the last few years I have begun to appreciate the significance of data and how it can inform better practice.

6. Ordering books and stationery. Enough said on that one!

Help and support:

1. Meeting on a weekly basis with DP. This has been really helpful as I can ask stupid questions and get plenty of ideas on how to answer them. Another relatively new HOL meets with us too so it is good to have another perspective.

2. My colleagues in the English department. Everyone has been super supportive and encouraging. They are a great bunch of people who I’m looking forward to getting to know better.

3. The staff councillor. This lovely lady took me out for a coffee when she could see that I was struggling and helped me to see what I was doing well. This really helped my confidence.

4. Friends and family praying for me. Knowing that people are rooting for me and have my back is a great support.

Fun things:
1. Using Facebook to source some free furniture for our foyer area and then going on a mission to pick it up. The foyer in our department was looking a bit bare so we put the word out on Facebook and had offers of free furniture within 24 hours. 4 of us got into the school van with a trailer in tow and cruised around and picked it all up after school one day. Such fun!

2. Having a shared morning tea every Friday. This makes Fridays bearable, having a big feed of cheese and crackers gets you through the day.

3. Singing a note of opera. This came about because I was helping one of my learners one day and I told him of he needed some more help just to sing a note of opera. He looked at me questioningly so I demonstrated what I meant. He thought I was a bit mad! I told the department at lunch one day and it became a thing.

So, it has been a steep learning curve this term and I know I’m only part way up the mountain. But I’m having fun and enjoying the climb.