Posted in Criterion 10, Criterion 3, Criterion 9, Standard 1, Teacher Registration

The Importance of Relationships – Whanaungatanga

Earlier this year I began my Masters in Educational Leadership and Management through Unitec. For the one paper, I was required to interview my principal about how he facilitated diversity at Whangaparaoa College. This is part one of the essay that I wrote about my key findings.

To begin, I thanked my principal for agreeing to help me with my assignment and then we began. As we progressed through the questions, I had to consciously stop myself from contributing and remember that it was an interview. This was a challenge at times as I wanted to share ideas. This was a drawback of interviewing someone from my school as I knew what he was talking about when he gave examples. Interviewing someone from another school may have eliminated this challenge. However, I am happy that I chose my principal as I left the interview with plenty to ponder and there were clear themes that arose from his answers.

The first key finding that arose from the interview with my principal was his focus on the importance of relationships. In particular, knowing and growing our learners which is one of our school goals. The school motto Together, Believe, Achieve also reflects the importance of relationships and learner achievement. When asked about strategies in place to lead a diverse population, he explained how important it was that every teacher knew their learners and appreciated their differences. He also explained how important it is to respect all learners and to lead by example. This is supported by Shields and Sayani (2005), who explain that “Dialogic interaction is the foundation of the educational leader’s ability to lead in a context of diversity. We must meet the other, in the fullness of his or her identity, experience, emotions, and actions, in order to develop the relationships that lead to sharing within diversity” (p. 388). My principal can often be seen chatting with learners, especially after school, as he likes to connect with them as they leave for the day. He will also chat with learners on his way around the school. In this way, he is able to develop relationships and understand some of the differences of our learners.

Some of the ways in which these differences are appreciated are through an International Food Festival where many different cultures set up food stalls to sell food from their culture. Staff are also encouraged to dress up in a costume that reflects their heritage. In June, the school celebrates Matariki with a concert in our wharenui. There is a variety of dance and music and anyone is welcome to participate. Also at Matariki time several ex-learners, who are of Māori/Pasifika origin, visit the school and join four to five Year Seven learners for an early morning dawn ceremony of acknowledging and celebrating Matariki by planting trees and sharing kai.

My principal also values talking and listening to learners to find out more about who they are and where they come from. In these ways, a sense of community is created that values and respects diversity and difference. As Shields and Sayani(2005) explain, “For school leaders, an understanding of dialogue as ontological and deeply relational, leading to meaningful communication and understanding, provides the focus for creating spaces and a sense of community in which all members of the school feel accepted, respected, and valued” (p. 389) Modeling communication and relationship with learners shows the staff how much our principal values members of the school and encourages us all to do the same. Building a positive and relaxed rapport with our learners is something that stood out to me when I first began teaching here last year. The learners feel accepted and acknowledged.

 The strategic plan of knowing your learners was emphasised several times in the interview. My principal explained the four Ns – Numbers, Names Needs, Next which is broken down into the following questions: Who are these kids? How are they doing? What do they need? He explained the importance of each Academic Counsellor and each subject teacher knowing something about their learners and the need for greater understanding of where the learners come from. Bishop, O’Sullivan, and Berryman (2010) found that “…teachers and leaders create learning relationships wherein learners’ culturally generated sense-making processes are used and developed so that they may successfully participate in problem-solving and decision-making interactions” (p. 98). Acknowledging difference and showing interest another’s culture builds trust and helps to develop a positive learning relationship where learners are able to achieve well. As Bishop, O’Sullivan, and Berryman (2010) also found that an effective leader will model and promote these strategies. In their summary of effective leadership, the element Leaders support the development and implementation of new pedagogic relationships and interactions in the classroom, an associated task is to “promote the cultural identity of learners as being fundamental to learning relations and interactions” (p. 110).

Whānau is the principle of extended family structure and whanaungatanga is the forming of groups that are treated as an extended family (Bishop, Ladwig, and Berryman, 2013, p. 189).  Bishop, Ladwig, and Berryman (2013) found that Māori learners attributed good quality relationships and interactions with their teachers as an influence on their educational achievement (p. 191). They also saw a supportive learning context as one where their teachers established caring relationships. “In effect, the context that Māori students saw as being supportive of their learning was one where teachers establish caring and learning classroom relationships that they described in terms of whānau-like relationships, whanaungatanga” (p.191). So there is plenty of research to support the importance of knowing your learners and growing whānau-like relationships with them to help them achieve well.

Hohepa and Robinson (2008) examined whether the conception of educational leadership was inclusive of Maori perspectives on leadership. They explain that relationships are built into all of the eight dimensions of leadership. “Relationships can play a significant part in developing knowledge of and respect for individual and cultural identities” (p. 34). It is important to know our learners and understand their experiences so that we can create a caring environment for them to learn well in.

Hine Waitere (2008) found that, “… leadership is not only a call to action but rather it is a call to relationship. A relationship with people, processes and principles embedded within the socio-political contexts that do indeed require foresight, courage and critical engagement” (p. 45). From the interview with my principal, I have learnt that he values relationships highly and sees them as the foundation for positive learning outcomes for our students. The valuing and promotion of positive relationships is part of creating a successful environment as explained by Robinson, Hohepa & Lloyd (2009): “Leadership can facilitate the achievement of important academic and social goals by creating an environment that is conducive to success” (p.42).

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Posted in Criterion 2, Criterion 6, Criterion 7, Criterion 8, Criterion 9, Standard 1, Standard 2, Standard 5, Teacher Registration, Teaching Standards

Can we truly personalise learning?

I have a dream! A vision of learners who are excited to come to school and learn because they have chosen what they will learn about and how they will do it. Their learning is totally personalised.

If I was at school today I would want to learn how to form a rock band, write and record songs, plan a tour and a marketing campaign. To do this I would choose music, English, business studies, design technology, fabrics (costumes are important!) and maths – eek!

How cool would it be to do subjects that you could see were totally relevant to what you wanted to do in life?! I realise that this is not an original dream or vision and that there are many schools already achieving this to some extent. But I feel like I can almost taste it, that it is just around the corner…but how do we get there?

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What is Personalised Learning?

Recently I decided to do some research into what personalised learning is and how it actually happens. According to The Glossary of Education Reform website:

The term personalized learning, or personalization, refers to a diverse variety of educational programs, learning experiences, instructional approaches, and academic-support strategies that are intended to address the distinct learning needs, interests, aspirations, or cultural backgrounds of individual students. 

A range of strategies and methods are employed to personalise the learning of each student. These strategies and methods include developing strong relationships with learners; mentoring; differentiated learning; creating learning portfolios; including student voice; passion projects; and inquiry based learning.

I was surprised to realise that many schools already offer a range of these strategies and methods. We are on the way to realising the grand vision!

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What do we already do?
In the English faculty at Whangaparaoa College, many of us use Project Based Learning as a teaching and learning style which gives our learners choice and voice. With our junior classes we add a Solo/Gardner’s learning matrix in which learners collaborate to choose activities and then present their learning in a visually appealing format of their choice. This could be a slide show, a video, or a website.

Many of us gamify our junior classes by using Class Dojo or Classcraft to provide competition and motivation. Some teachers also create podcasts that are used to flip the learning so that learners can choose when they engage with the information they need.

We have a Creative Writing group which is run at lunch time for those who enjoy writing. These learners can choose to complete the internally assessed writing standard at either level 1 or level 3 as these are not part of the English programme. We also have a choice of English course at level 2 and 3. At level 2 learners can choose either a literacy heavy reading and writing course or the viewing and presenting course which is focussed on visual texts and a speech. At level 3, learners can choose a literacy course to catch up on missed literacy credits or the mainstream English course offering the usual subjects.

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As a school, we offer Academic Counselling instead of form classes or tutor groups. Academic Counselling is focussed on goal setting and reflection, creating digital learner portfolios, and preparation for the Learner Led Conference held in the middle of the year. The Academic Counsellor mentors each learner in their group by offering support and guidance. They will contact home and the learners’ teachers when necessary to advocate for their learner.

The Social Science faculty offer social projects where learners identify a social issue and plan a campaign to help. Recently a couple of our learners were on television and interviewed by John Campbell about the issue they had chosen. Our PE department have a Sports Institute that learners apply to become involved in and this has proven to be very successful.

Cross disciplinary personalised learning opportunities?

We have made a solid start towards the dream but I wonder about the following:

1. How do we move from where we are now to a cross disciplinary approach?
2. How might we involve the community?
3. How might we incorporate and value diversity?

The Heads of Learning at Whangaparaoa College have begun to meet regularly and we discussed personalised learning recently. We have created a spreadsheet and each added a page detailing what topics our faculty will be covering each term. We then looked at each other’s pages and identified areas where we could work together. For example, when year 9 social studies are investigating political systems they could write a descriptive piece for English based on a dystopian setting. It’s only small steps but its a start.

To really achieve the dream of truly personalised learning it is going to take a massive disruption to schooling as we know it. Timetables will have to go; faculty silos will have to go; year levels will have to go and that’s just the beginning!

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I’m up for it, are you?

 

References

http://edglossary.org/personalized-learning/

 

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 Demonstrate commitment to bicultural partnership in Aotearoa New Zealand., Mindlab reflections, Respond effectively to the diverse language and cultural experiences, and the varied strengths, interests and needs of individuals and groups of ākonga., Work effectively within the bicultural context of Aotearoa New Zealand.

Indigenous knowledge and cultural responsiveness

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“…the most common positions taken by Maori students, their families and their school principals were those which identified classroom caring and learning relationships…” (Savage et al., 2011.)

The relationships we develop with learners and their families is important. On this foundation, we can have high expectations of our learners. They are more likely to listen to and act upon feedback if a positive relationship has been formed.

Showing interest in a learner is a great way of establishing a relationship. Greeting them each lesson and interacting with them demonstrates that you care. Once a relationship is built, we know more about their learning preferences and can develop appropriate activities.

A settled and well-managed learning environment, activities that encourage learner-led activities and social learning are also important so that learners can share and learn from each other. (Savage et al. 2011, p. 186)

Goals

Some of the strategic goals for Whangaparaoa College for 2014-16 are:

  1. To ensure learners achieve their potential
  2. Further  improve positive relationships with whanau/community

The specific objectives addressing these include:

Objective 1: challenge and support all learners to give of their best and achieve their best (tutuki) in their learning and the other areas that they pursue.

In the classroom, this is reflected by expecting our learners to aim for excellence. We support this by encouraging and giving feedback/feedforward. Scaffolding is provided for less able learners. In Academic Counselling time, goals are set and learning is reflected on to plan next steps.

Objective 7: Work with Maori, Pasifika, Special Needs and GATE learners and their whanau to help them achieve their potential

We regularly keep in contact with the whanau. At the beginning of the year whanau are contacted by the Academic Cousellor in an introduction capacity. During the year whanau are invited in for a meeting if there are issues. Learner led conferences are conducted throughout the year.

“Maori whanau, leaders and teachers meet regularly to strengthen bi-cultural partner ships.” (ERO report, Ministry of Education, 2013)

Objective 9: create a welcoming and inclusive environment; evidenced by cultural harmony, respect, and a positive two-way relationship with whanau/community

“The school ethos of learning together in a supportive, respectful environment is helping students to engage in learning and to achieve. Maori students express very positive attitudes to school and learning. They are well represented in school leadership roles.” (ERO report, Ministry of Education, 2013)

Even though our learners are supported and valued, there is room for improvement. ERO (2013) suggested that we, “strengthen and improve the planning and evaluation of initiatives.” We also need to develop a school wide plan for Maori success so that our efforts are coordinated. They have suggested that we use The Measurable Gains Framework,  Ka Hikitia: Managing for Success and Tataiako to further promote teachers’ cultural responsiveness.

Learning Activities

In the English Language department, year 11 learners research Matariki to identify similarities and differences with their own cultures. In English we study some texts that are written/directed by Kiwis. Our juniors research Matariki and create presentations to demonstrate understanding.

We need to teach more Maori and Pasifika texts in our department as none are taught at senior level and the junior texts we teach are short stories or poetry. This is something that will be addressed for next year. It was awesome to see Taika Waititi’s film, The Hunt for the Wilderpeople, it is a film that I know my year 9 classes will love.

References

1.Savage, C., Hindle, R., Meyer, L., Hynds, A., Penetito, W., Sleeter, C. (2011) Culturally responsive pedagogies in the classroom: indigenous student experiences across the curriculum. Asia-Pacific Journal of Teacher Education, 39(3), p.183 – 198

2. Ministry of Education. (2013). Whanagaparaoa College Education Review Report. Wellington, New Zealand: Author.

Posted in Criterion 10, Criterion 3, Criterion 9

Our bicultural heritage

I always feel a bit concerned when it comes to meeting the requirements for this part of the Practising Teacher requirements but when I have a think about it, there are a few different ways that I do this.

1. Every Monday morning at our staff meetings we begin by say the following karakia. At first we were very timid and out of time with each other but after several weeks we are finally sounding confident and in sync with each other. It is a lovely ritual and start to the day.

  

2. I love to play music in class after I have introduced the lesson for the period. My students really enjoy it too as it creates a warm and relaxed atmosphere. At the start of the year I put on the Top 40 playlist on Spotify but we all became a bit bored with hearing the same songs all the time. Recently I found a NZ playlist of roots, dub and reggae. It has some relaxing and chilled music on it which doesn’t hype anyone up! Some of the lyrics use Te Reo, an example of this is Tahuri Mai Ra by House of Shem. 

3. At the ADE Institute that I attended recently we split into Geo groups. The kiwis sung a waiata for the Aussies which was well recieved. We enjoyed being able to share our culture with them.

  

Posted in Criterion 2, Criterion 7, Criterion 8, Criterion 9, Personal TAI

Flicking the Switch

There has been a lot of research into the reasons why boys are not as motivated and don’t achieve as well as girls. Even though this research has taken place and advice has been offered, there does not seem to be much change. Is this because it is too hard for teachers to make the changes that they need? Is the change in progress but we have not heard the success stories? I can’t answer these questions in this blog post so I have decided to see what changes I can make with my own male learners. The TED video below explains some modern influences on boys and why it may be harder to enagage and motivate them.

What is important (and therefore worth spending time on), given where my students are at?
I would like to investigate strategies that will help engage and motivate my male learners. I would like to think that this will lead to better results.

What strategies (evidence based) are most likely to help my students learn this?
This article , from Teachthought, gave me some helpful information and also affirmed some of the strategies that I already employ. Many of the ideas are covered in Project Based Learning which I am a staunch advocate of and have been doing for the past couple of years. PBL results in an end product, allows boys to address unsolved problems or questions, can encourage competition and teamwork, and includes independent discovery and realisation. The strategies that I now need to try are including games and competition.

Teaching and Learning

Video Games

My year 10 class have just finished watching Little Miss Sunshine and I asked the class to create a sequence of events. I deliberately made the task quite general to allow for choice and creativity. I banned the use of Keynote/PowerPoint to encourage my learners to try a new app. Some used Pages and used the shapes to make their page more visually appealing, some used PicCollage, some used pen and paper. A group of 4 boys asked whether they could used Minecraft and I immediately said yes. All of them downloaded and signed into the same Minecraft game and were fully engaged. They talked excitedly about who would do what and I even overheard one say that it was fun. This is the result: https://jordyvitali.wordpress.com/2015/05/12/mine-craft-settings-video/

Games and Competition
My Level 1 Internal class had a class quiz on film techniques. The class split into teams and got 100 points per correct answer and lost 50 points for an incorrect answer. The class were engaged and seemed to enjoy the quiz. I also used it to manage behaviour by deducting points for a team that had their devices out when they weren’t supposed too – bonus!

Another competition that I run is a blog competition to encourage my students to take pride in their blogs.

  
What happened as a result of the teaching, and what are the implications for future teaching?

The result of incorporating video games and competition was higher engagement, motivation and enjoyment for my boys. However, it did take the boys a while to get into the blog competition because the girls seemed more motivated to make their blogs look pretty. I made it a boys only competition for one period and after this I have had more boys making an effort. These 3 activities were very successful and my goal is to continue to incorporate them into future learning opportunities. Any time that students say that learning is fun is always a good time for me as well as for them.

 

 Reading and Viewing

http://www.ascd.org/ascd-express/vol6/604-gurian.aspx

http://canadaam.ctvnews.ca/making-school-work-for-boys-book-offers-6-tips-to-better-engage-them-1.1417185

http://www.educationworld.com/a_issues/chat/chat170.shtml

http://www.schoolfamily.com/school-family-articles/article/854-how-boys-learn

http://www.journeytoexcellence.org.uk/resourcesandcpd/research/summaries/rsgenderineducation.asp

Posted in Criterion 12, Criterion 9

2 years down the BYOD Track

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This blog is a reflection on what I have done with my BYOD classes over the last 2 years and how I have done it. It also details what I hope to focus on in the near future.

Resources.
Where I’m at
Over the last 2 years I have realised that it is extremely important to have all my resources available on our LMS, the Ultranet. This means that I am prepared for every lesson because when a student has finished a unit of work they are able to begin the next unit regardless of whether the rest of the class are finished or not. It allows students to work at their own pace and allows for differentiation in the class.
Parents are also able to access these resources and help their child, if needed. I often have parents emailing me to say that their child will be away and asking what work they can do at home. I am able to point them to the Ultranet to access the work and let them know which slides of a PowerPoint that we are working on in the periods that their child will miss.
Students and parents are able to see a description of assignments and also when assignments are due with the Task Bar. The students really like the visual representation of the bar as it starts green and then nearer the time the work is due it turns red to warn them that time is nearly up.
Where to now?
I have heaps of resources on the Ultranet and some of my pages look like the ‘scroll of death’! My next plan will be to tidy up my pages and organise the information so it is easier to look at.

Learning Activities: SAMR
Where I’m at
At the beginning of our BYOD journey I was definitely in the Substitution phase of SAMR which was to be expected. I remember the first thing that I created for my year 9 class was a type on workbook for the study of the novel, The Cay by Theodore Taylor. I modified it slightly by including links to websites, and images that moved. Later on that year I moved into the Augmentation phase by having my class complete surveys on Survey Monkey. We also used Google Docs to collectively write an essay which was projected on the whiteboard so we could all see the essay being written. We have modified many tasks in our department, especially our Wide Reading tasks. Insteading of filling in a template, students can now use apps to create newspaper articles; use iMovie to make book or film trailers and digital essays. These are just a few of the activities and they are so much more engaging for them.
Project Based Learning and the use of 1:1devices has allowed Redefinition of tasks. My students now complete much more group work than I have ever encouraged before and they are developing 21st century skills such as collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity to name a few. The inclusion of a Driving Question gives a focus to the work that they are doing. Researching, creating a product, and presenting it to an audience has become seamless with the use of devices.This year I created an iBook for the study of The Cay for students to download and use as a textbook. They also completed an activity matrix based on Blooms taxonomy and Gardner’s intelligences.

Where to next?
I am enjoying teaching and learning the PBL way and I want to continue doing this and becoming more effective. I will continue to read relevant literature and trial different ideas. Of course I will also be reflecting on my journey via this blog also.

My role in the classroom.
Where I’m at
At the beginning of this year I ditched my desk because I wanted to become more of a roaming teacher. I felt that it was too easy when students were on task doing something for me to retreat behind my desk and get lost in the world of marking. It was quite a change and I found it took me a whole term to get used to, but I would not go back now. I still have times where I sit in my armchair and catch up on myself while my students are working but I do spend a lot more time interacting with my class. This has positive spin offs: I get to know my students better and build better relationships with them. As a result I have found that classroom management is not as big an issue as it has been in previous years. This is not just because I ditched the desk but also because the students are more engaged because of their devices.
I have never been that good at standing and delivering in front of the class for a long period of time so I am pleased that I am no longer expected to! I am much happier being the guide on the side so long may this philosophy continue to be fashionable! Having devices has enabled the students to be more creative and they now have the internet at their fingertips so I don’t have to be in charge of knowledge. Very liberating!

Where to from here?
I would love to have a go at team teaching. It would be great to knock out a wall in between 2 classrooms and have a sliding door that could be closed when appropriate. I would love to share the teaching of 2-3 classes to give the students the shared versatility and experience of 2 teachers. It would also be great to have funky chairs and tables, bean bags and ottomans to create a modern learning environment for our students. It would be interesting to see the impact on the students and ourselves as teachers.

Student Work
What sort of ‘artefacts’ are my students producing in their learning?
At the beginning of 2012 my students were producing typed essays and the ocassional Keynote to showcase their work. More recently my students have been creating their own books using Book Creator; films using iMovies; presentations using Keynote and have reflected on their learning using Blogs. They have created posters using Phoster or Piccollage; made Educreations presentations to teach an aspect of the work studied and created word clouds using, you guessed it, Wordcloud!
It is fantastic to have so many apps and websites to create and showcase work!

Differentiation
After attending a conference last year called Making it Mobile, I learnt about creating a Blooms/Gardners Matrix of activities for students to complete as part of the unit of work. This matrix is completed in small groups and each activity is assigned a point value with the highest points awarded to the higher level thinking activities. Students are given a due date and then are able to choose which activities to complete and they can work at their own pace as long as they complete a certain amount of points. On the matrix I added the apps or websites they could use to complete each activity. The work is then collated and presented via a choice of apps such as Keynote/PowerPoint, BookCreator or their blog.
I don’t have students completing matrices for every unit of work as this would be boring but I have included them in 2 units this year.

Student Collaboration.
I am an enthusiastic advocate for collaboration so my students collaborate in most units of work. This has the benefit of allowing them to share ideas and brainstorm together. They then learn valuable skills such as conflict resolution and working effectively with others. I often get them to reflect on how well their group is working together on their blogs so then I am able to find out if anyone is not pulling their weight and help the group to deal with it. Some students don’t like working in groups so they can work in a pair or by themselves. I think it is important to cater for those who like to work alone.

Learning Intentions and Success Criteria.
How are my students reflecting on their learning, level of thinking and setting goals when they are working independently?
As part of one matrix I created I included a link to the Edutopia website which had a quiz on learning styles. The students completed the quiz and then had to explain which of the learning styles best reflected them and explain why they believed that. The students really enjoyed finding this out.
I found some great reflection questions based on Bloom’s Taxonomy from Peter Pappas so 2-3 times during a unit of work I get my students to answer some of these questions on their blogs. This gives me an insight into how they are finding the work and where they are up to.

Term 4.
This term I plan to trial Genius Time. This idea originated at the Google headquarters where it was called 20% time. The employees are given 20% of their work time to research something that they are interested in. Many schools have adopted this idea and it is called a variety of things such as Passion Hour or Genius Hour. Because my students will be doing it for the last 2-3 weeks of school I have chosen to call it Genius Time.
The plan is to introduce the idea and show some examples and then have students choose something to research. They will present their research to the class at the end of the term and we will have a shared lunch to celebrate their work. The students can choose to present their work using Book Creator, their blog, iMovie or Keynote.

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Posted in Criterion 8, Criterion 9

So far, so good!

The PBL unit that I am facillitating with my year 12 class in our study of Brave New World is progressing very well. Each period I am experiencing extreme satisfaction and warm fuzzy feelings in my tummy because of what I am seeing.

The highlights so far include:
1. My weakest student is engaged and on task. He is creating a theme based wordfind and has recorded notes on at least 5 themes in the novel. Previously this year I have had to cajole him into doing any work. Now he is self motivated and enjoying what he is doing.
2. In depth analysis of the characters in the novel. I sat and read what some of my kids had written about the main characters and, compared to last year, it is far more detailed and includes insight into why each character behaves the way they do. Magic!
3. The students are enjoying what they are doing. I asked a group what they thought of PBL and they said they really liked being able to work independently at their own pace. They like the choice that they are given on what to do and when to do it.


There were a couple of negative comments: one was about not really understanding the novel and the other was about there being so much to write about in this novel that they didn’t know where to start!

I am really pleased with how this unit is going and believe that the risk I have taken is totally worth it.

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Posted in Criterion 7, Criterion 9

Mr T: an example of the iPad engaging a lost student.

 
A young man who is repeating year 9 appeared in my English class earlier this term. Mr T had been removed from his previous English class for various reasons. He usually wears his uniform in a scruffy manner and pretty much every lesson I have to ask him to remove the stretcher earing he persists in wearing. Last time the stretcher was part of a biro pen because all other earings have been confiscated!
Anyway, he came to my class not having achieved anything in year 9 last year or so far this year. Buying an iPad was a financial challenge for his family so the school agreed to lend him one.
The first topic he embarked on with our class was a profile of a famous person. Mr T engaged with this topic but worked very slowly. He did not hand in the work on the due date so I had to give him a Not Achieved. I was disappointed but looked at the progress that he had made and realised that we had to take baby steps. Mr T has seated himself with a student who was doing the same famous person which was helpful. The student he sits with is a bright young man who works at merit level, a positive influence on Mr T.
When it came to delivering a speech I did not expect too much and predicted that he would end up with another NA, however, I was pleasantly surprised! Mr T gave a good speech about his famous person which had plenty of detail, images of the person and he spoke in a clear, confident voice and made eye contact with the audience. He received an Achieved for his efforts. As his speech was based on the written profile, I can now change his profile grade to an Achieved. 
Mr T has not suddenly become a star student but he is doing well. Using an iPad has increased his level of engagement and interest.
 
Posted in Criterion 9

Emerging Differences

 


Several differences are emerging between the classes I teach where some students have 1:1 devices and the year 9 class where all students have devices. One of these differences is the attitude of the students towards their learning, 
My year 9 English class are encouraged to be responsible and independent learners. The tasks that we have created for them support this expectation. For example, we created a task where the students have to research several famous people and complete activities such as a fishbone diagram, an acrostic poem, and an imagined interview with one of their famous people. Once the task was explained and questions answered the class were quite happy to work on these tasks in groups. I wandered around the class offering help or explanation but was largely superfluous.
In contrast, my year 12 English class are studying the setting in Brave New World and were given a set of tasks one of which was to create a poster in pairs which listed 5 of the laws in the New World State. I explained the task, gave a chapter reference and wrote key words on the board. Plenty of help I thought. But still I had a couple of students who wanted to know exactly what to write on their poster. Their expectation was that I would spoon feed them.
I am finding that this is a common ocurrence and difference between the class with 1:1 devices and the classes without. The good news is that as the school becomes fully 1:1 we will be able to create and expect a culture of independent learning. Because of this we will be able to differentiate more easily and naturally. This is already happening with my year 9 class. I suppose that we will have to recognise the differences and work with them until this happens. I won’t be spoonfeeding my other classes but I will try not to get too frustrated with their pre 1:1 attitudes.