Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Staff meeting - 'Enriching our literacy programme'

This afternoon we had the best staff meeting that I have probably ever been to. Instead of dealing with issues, or 3 hours of PD after a long hard day, we just shared one aspect of our literacy practice with our colleagues. We are lucky at TPS in that we have a few teachers who are TESSOL trained, so we had the opportunity to learn a few insider tricks.

We collated our resources on this doc (some links may not be publicly viewable).

My colleague Ottilie took amazing notes about what/how each person presented which can be read here.

At the end of the meeting I asked our SMT if we can do this again but for maths this time. It is so powerful to be able to see what other staff members have tried and tested and found to be successful.

Friday, 29 September 2017

End of Term 3 2017 - Student feedback!

Once again I got my students to complete an end of term survey to give me some idea of how they think their term went. 

Here are the full results.

I literally can't pull out any highlights because I love every single one of their responses.

I have had an amazing term, and think my students have learnt SOOO much (far more than they realise they have).
I genuinely am so excited for testing next term, as I know my students will have jumped up in their levels (especially in maths). I am looking forward to report writing, is that weird? I am just so proud of how far they have come and can't wait to show them off to their parents and whanau.

Why was this term so great?
Although there was always a lot going on, I felt so classroom-focused this term. The collaborative planning and teaching with Ottiie for maths made a huge difference to both myself and the kids, and we all became extra motivated to learn and work hard. Having no tesing to do througout the term always makes a difference as well, because you can spend the entire term focused on the learning, rather than spending two weeks testing endlessly.
Seeing the kids so motivated in everything we did then encouraged me to keep putting extra effort into the next thing, and the next thing, and it became this cycle of excitement.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

Paula's update - T3W7-9

My student Paula, who around 2 months ago turned up at school and couldn't really speak English at all, is doing amazing.
He is learning so fast and I am so proud of him.

Over the past few weeks he has done so many things that I thought he wouldn't be able to do till next year at least.

He presented in front of 50 people about penguins in English... (with support)

He has moved up levels in reading (already) and has learnt so many new words. He frequently makes connections to books he has read and I can tell by that he is absorbing the books and is thinking about them wether he realises it or not. For example, anytime somebody says they are hungry he talks about Greedy Cat being hungry. We visited the zoo, he saw a parrot and started talking to me about Jolly Roger the pirate and how parrots sit on your shoulder.

His writing has improved astronomically as well.
He started off writing this kind of stuff (with support) - unconnected sentences, repetitive structures about himself and what he knows. 

 We then moved on to trying to write stories... (with support)

And recounts about things he had done (with support)
For this example, he talked and I wrote it for him.
The words written in red were words I wanted him to use; knew he knew orally; but knew he wouldn't know how to write them. He was able to use them in his story by copying them.

We kept writing recounts (stories about things he had done), such as his swimming recount. 

And for the first time yesterday he wrote a made up story about a given prompt. This is very difference from a teaching sense, because they don't have direct experience knowledge to draw from. It is not a 'I' story, but has to have characters. This requires thinking from another persons point of view. He also had to think about the setting for himself, as he hadn't been there exactly.

I was amazed. 

Then he asked to write another story about a picture prompt some of the other students had.

These pieces of writing really struck me as a great example of how far he has come. 
  • Firstly, that he had the confidence to write more than one page in English by himself (I didn't write for him). 
  • The way he is using 'beautiful car, beautiful beach' in his first story showed me he was absorbing things from weeks ago when the whole class was trying to make stories better by adding in interesting words.
  • His stories have sequence, and this accurately reflects how he tells me the story aloud before writing it. Memory is working! 
  • In his giant story, he was able to look at the picture prompt and explain what the giant was doing (literal thinking), but then his story becomes very imaginative and creative. I helped him with the words and spelling, but all the ideas are his. Even the fact that he said the giant got tasered in the foot was incredible to me, because it showed he had thought about the size of the giant and that the solider wouldn't be able to reach anything else but the giants feet. Even though he laughs and plays, he was really thinking about the realities of his story. Also the fact that if the police can't kill the giant, then the soldiers come in to help, is logical in a real world sense. He must be watching a lot of action movies.
  • He is learning all the teachers names around the school and making an effort to greet them, and talk to them, to show them he knows them. 
  • He talks in class discussions now, instead of staring at me confused. He knows that nobody is going to laugh at him for saying something wrong, he knows he will be listened to. 
  • He comes and tells me when he needs help, and doesn't feel embarrassed for working with me 1:1. 
  • He is in my maths target group, and loves competing with the other students to see who can learn their times tables first. 
  • He has made more friends, and is more confident in moving from friend to friend, within and outside the classroom. 
The Paula I have in my class today, is a completely different kid to who turned up 2 months ago.

My reflection - why is he able to move so quickly?
I think what has allowed him to move so quickly is a combination of many things, many of them not anything to do with me and my teaching. 
Such as...
  • The rest of the class being so friendly and inclusive towards him from day 1 - they initially spoke to him in Tongan so he could understand what to do or what I wanted from him. Without the Tongan speaking students in my class, those first few weeks would have been a nightmare for me.  I literally wouldn't have been able to communicate with Paula at all.
  • The rest of the kids don't speak down to him - they speak at a normal speed, don't change their words and 'dumb down' what they say to him. This has made him learn a huge vocabulary, very quickly, just from talking to his friends. He then uses those words in his writing (e.g. bullrush, kick tennis).
  • As soon as I got him, I asked for help. I knew I would need it and wasn't afraid to admit it. This led to Luti helping me (especially with communicating with the family), Lucina helping me (to assess his reading level and plan for guided reading, also on how to get him to start writing because at first he wouldn't write anything), and Ottilie helping me (observing me with him and giving me feedback). I acknowledge I wouldn't have been able to help Paula so much without my friends and colleagues. Thank you team!
  • He is ready and able to learn. He has such an amazing attitude that anything I give him, he takes with open arms and runs with it. At the same time, he isn't scared to ask for help or say he doesn't know/understand. His own attitude towards learning makes a HUGE difference. 
  • The rest of my class is amazing, and doesn't begrudge that I spent a lot of 1:1 time with Paula (meaning they get less time with me, because I am spending time with Paula). They don't tease him for being dumb or anything like that, they understand is he smart but needs to learn English. They love helping him if I am busy and consider it normal classroom practice to do so.
  • Whatever he came with (learning wise), I accepted. For example, in New Zealand we have the numeracy project for maths, which teaches students to break apart numbers, understand why numbers are the way they are, be able to put them back together in lots of different ways etc. For Paula, he doesn't know any of that. He was taught the 'old fashioned' way, with rote learning (repetition) and algorithm. I accepted that that was what he knew, and kept encouraging him to do it that way. I thought if I tried to make him learn 50 other strategies to do what he can already do, it would be a waste of time for him. It also worked well that some of my class can do algorithm as well, so this made his way of thinking accepted and normal (and made him feel smart). 
  • I listen to him. This might sound stupid, but I honestly think it is a huge part of his success. As I have English as my first language, and don't speak another language fluently, I have no idea what it would be like to be immersed in a world you don't understand, have people expecting you to do things you've never done before and where you don't even know what people are saying to you. I imagine it is exhausting. So when he says he is tired, or he can't do it today, I listen and respect that. We try again the next day, and 9/10 times he is then ready for it.
  • My whole school team is on board to help him. No matter who I ask for him, or show his work to, or talk to about him, they are ready and willing to help me. That is an awesome feeling.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Animal presentations

For week 7 and 8 for reading/inquiry, we focused on animals as we had a trip to the zoo in week 8. 

Students worked in buddies (their choice) and started with a given text (here), then had to use Google to help answer any other questions they had. They had a lot of tasks to complete about their animals as well. 
I was surprised how engaged they were in these tasks, and how quickly they were able to get information from the non-fiction text (something they hated last term, but I have made them read all term so they can get better at it). 

All the groups completed the tasks. 
In week 8 I demonstrated a good presentation and set the expectation for the content and delivery of said presentation. They worked away at their presentations for only two days, including making a Kahoot for the first time.

Here are their presentations.

Note - the student I am helping has been in New Zealand for about 2 months and arrived with no English. I was amazed he had the confidence to read out loud, in English, in front of heaps of people. He has made huge progress.

I was so proud of all my students, as they got up and presented to a crowd (they didn't know they would have) in an order they didn't know ( I was calling them randomly) and not one person got scared, got stage fright etc. They were just amazing.

I was especially proud of my achieving learners who don't usually have the confidence to speak in front of the class, but this time they did, they used big voices and had informed presentations with detailed facts about their animals.

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Area/Perimeter - Critical Feedback

Today we launched our area/perimeter week. 
Last week I checked in with the students how much they knew/remembered about this topic, and they literally remembered nothing. 


I decided to mark out an array on my classroom floor, and use this to help them understand the difference between area and perimeter. 

I will acknowledge that we used "20 people" as an area measurement, which is not accurate. It should be 20cm2 or m2 etc. I said this to them as well, but regardless of the unit measurement, I think it definitely helped them understand the concept.

Before we began, I asked for prior knowledge. One of my top students (who said she did remember everything) told me that area is the outside, measured by plussing, and perimeter is the inside, measured by timsing. Er, not quite.

The array had 20 squares, and I have 20 students. 

My reflection
I think this lesson went really well. I liked how everybody had an opportunity to be involved which is quite rare. Even my very low students, were able to count the perimeter because they can count to 20.  Using their physical bodies kept them engaged, and the students who weren't actively counting etc were still able to participate by being part of the area. I really liked watching them work together and figure it out together, with little or no teacher direction. I only stepped in when they really got stuck, or if somebody had a genius thought I wanted to point out.
By the end of the lesson, all the students were able to understand which one I was talking about if I said 'make me a shape with a area/perimeter of'. They were able to tell me which was the inside and outside, and how to figure out each one.

I'd love some critical feedback on this lesson.
Please leave me a comment on something you think I did well, and something I can work on.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Jude Parkes - Writing inquiry sessions

What works in maths so far??
  1. Firm foundation of basic facts
  2. Talking about their learning
  3. Mini-workshops
  4. Identifying own goals - choice
  5. Using scaffolds 
  6. More time, more often
  7. Self and peer assessment (student voice)
What works for writing?
  1. Writing and reading links - reading examples of what we are writing

We need to look at
  1. LLPs - build our own content knowledge

Moving forward for writing
  1. set that firm foundation - do we as teachers know the LLPs (where students ARE working, as well as where they SHOULD be working). 
  2. Get the ELIP (English Language Intensive Programme) - online link
  3. Use SLLPs for ideas for planning units
  4. Use a variety of planning templates, be consistent with using them. Give them a plan and make them write a story, and the opposite.
  5. Gradual release of control model - not just me show and you do. What about the middle bit?
  6. Do we explicitly talk about the purpose of writing and who it is for (audience)?
  7. Ask students - what do you like about writing? What do you find tricky?
  8. Word detectives - investigations - root words, suffixes, prefixes, multiples, meanings, tenses, what kind of word is it, connections to phrases. E.g. centipede - pede means feet, thats where pedal comes from, centi means 100 thats where percent comes from.
  9. Use visual clues for writing 'check lists' - do I have full stops? How many ands do I have? Do I have each of the simple, compound and complex sentences?
  10. Are we utilising learning intentions and success criteria?
  11. Do we have 'what good writers' do? displayed in the classroom - take picture of the class and write 'we are all good writers, we...' with stuff around it.
  12. Do we have the writing process displayed? Is there consistency throughout the school about the terminology?

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

Manaiakalani Hui 2017

I was lucky enough to attend the Manaiakalani annual hui along with syndicate leaders and the DP from my school.

It was awesome to see the ambassadors present about their learning.

Later on during the day, Rebecca Jessen who does research on Manaiakalani presented her findings from the past year.

Here are some key points from her slideshow.

Todays site link

For me, this is not necessarily a negative graph. Having very little individual teaching is not a bad thing. Culturally responsive pedagogies encourage a lot of group work and interaction. All of my teaching (except for high needs students) is done in groups or whole class situations. 

As I am currently teaching year 5-6, I am looking at the green columns. 
In order of most time spent to least time spent, teachers of year 3-6 spend a lot of time conferencing with students, having Q&A time, using a L/model (lecture model where teacher stands at the front of the class and students receive information), explicitly instructing and finally roving (walking around checking students while they work). 
Rebecca pointed out that all of these different teaching activities are important, it is the balance that is important. 
I feel that there is a good balance in the year 3-6 category. 
I feel this is a fair representation of my teaching this year as well, although my teaching was not observed to collect this data. 

For schools built on collaboration, it was a bit shocking to see that the 'none' column had more data than three other columns. 
Are we doing less collaboration? If so, why? 
I know for my own teaching, my students mostly collaborate using 'My Work Discussion' and 'our work both using computer' models. They don't really comment on each others work unless explicitly told to do so. Is this because I haven't encouraged it? Do they like receiving feedback from each other? Do they even want feedback from peers such as a comment on a doc? 
It is a skill they should be able to do that will be useful later in life once they are in workplace environments. Taking positive and negative feedback from your peers as well as somebody superior to you (i.e. teacher, boss) is a hard thing to be able to do. I will think about how I can integrate this into my programme more.

Now I like to think that I give my students a lot of choice in their learning, and that they use that trust and responsibility wisely. I found it interesting that the biggest choice students (in this data set anyway) got, was who they worked with. As a teacher, honestly, that is the easiest choice to give them. Giving them choice over the topic, text, task and order of tasks, means a lot more work for you as the teacher. A lot more planning. A lot more time. I can see why these would be the least seen choices for students. Not saying this is right, but I understand why it is like that.
I am proud that Ottilie and I have been giving out students choice in maths (topic agency) at least. 

There is nothing on this slide that is not important. They are all important to do in the classroom.
It's about balance.

I completely understand this graph. We use APK to gather what they know, explicitly teach strategy and then practice the strategy. Makes sense.
What is interesting is the small amount of critical thinking that was happening. Interesting, this was occurring in year 3-6, less so in years 7-8, then not at all in year 9-13. Drive of assessment changing the way we teach and learn? The challenge of different subjects in high school resulting in more direct teaching and less 'wide and deep' learning.. I'm not sure.

These are all important things to reflect on about our own practice and consider moving forward into the next year. 
Things to take with me...
It's all about balance - no one teaching strategy will make a great teacher or great learning. 
Why has collaboration dropped off since last year? What is causing this? What do students think about this? 
How can I encourage more critical thinking, especially as students move into year 6 and beyond?

Friday, 18 August 2017

Maths reflection - T3W3/W4

Week 3
We moved into multiplication strategies this week, and I did a lot of stage 7 maths (above NS for all my students).

With my own class, we did factors and lowest common multiples. With mixed groups, we did splitting large numbers (e.g. 26x8) (note - they have to be able to solve in their heads, no calculators!), and division including long division and reminders. 

The factors and LCM's were reasonably easy, as most students knew their times tables or were able to skip count to figure it out. 
Most of them really struggled with division. They weren't as confident with division as they were with multiplication, although they did understand that they were related. 
Very few students understood the concept of remainders. 
And that's fine... this is hard stuff. 

Throughout the whole week, I repeated endlessly to the students. This is stage 7 work (which is really hard stuff aimed at year 7's that my year 5/6 are doing), but if you know your times tables, it's pretty easy. SO JUST LEARN YOUR TIMES TABLES ALREADY. 
I think they are getting the point by now..

I love collaborating with a colleague I know and trust. We are able to openly discuss the students, their strengths and weaknesses as well as our own. Although we seem to have taken a particular group each (i.e. I'm taking the higher kids), ALL the kids are learning and it is amazing to see. It brings me such joy to see my lower-ability students actually getting it, feeling confident and wanting to do maths instead of complaining when I force them to do it. Although I do feel I can bounce ideas off most of my colleagues, it's even better to work so closely with one colleague. I am getting to know the students from Room 8 better and better, and building relationships with them as well (which then makes the teaching/learning easier). I can't wait for when we both do our testing next term, and are surprised by what our kids can now do, that we didn't directly teach them.

Week 4
This week I really wanted to revise all the new concepts I had covered over the past few weeks. 
I thought that I was covering A LOT of content very quickly, and although most of the time the students kept up with me, I knew once was not enough (particularly and for students whose first time it was learning that concept). They needed to revisit the concepts to ensure they understood and remembered them. Hence, this week I am only revising content, not teaching new ones. 

I printed out word problems for the students, and gave them the options to try it themselves or if they needed help, they could do it with me. I had a group with me each day, and that is absolutely fine. 

Division word problems

Being able to read a word problem and understand what it is asking you is a very important skill to have. When we test students, we test them with word problems. 
Last year, we found that a lot of students couldn't answer the test questions, but it wasn't because they didn't have the knowledge or skill. They didn't understand what the question wanted them to do. 
We talk about maths language a lot, and I have a display on my classroom wall with synonyms for maths words (e.g. plus, add, count on, altogether, how much etc) and example questions. Students can refer to this to help them decipher the wording of questions, and hence help them figure out what the question wants them to do.

As part of our word problems, I asked students to write their own word problem, then pass it to a friend who had to solve it. Here are a few of their multiplication word problems. This was a test for me to see if they had enough grasp of the question frames and language to be able to use them without teacher explanation. 

They did great. 

I think it was really important to go over what we had covered in the previous few weeks and frame the skill in word problems as well.
I did barely any reteaching which was awesome. 
We just cemented what we had learnt.

I hope this will help the skill sink in a little more and that they remember it as well.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Paula's progress (pt 1 - T3W4)

Late last term, I had a student join my classroom. 
When he first arrived, he didn't speak English. Or wouldn't...

It was the end of the term, I was exhausted, and I really didn't know what to do with this kid.
I started this term knowing I would have to do more for Paula. 
But considering I couldn't even communicate with him, I was a bit lost...

Slowly, I began to build a relationship with Paula (albeit through a lot of sign language and translations from my other Tongan students). 

I came to realise this kid is very bright.
Yes, he might not understand what is going on sometimes and stare at me confused on a daily basis, but he knew a lot more than he let on. 
As he grew more comfortable in the classroom, he began singing (in English, with confidence), making friends with other boys, participating in games, even taking his turn to do maths on the whiteboard in front of everyone. 

He is very confident in maths, and has been taught how to use algorithm. 
I have decided to stick with that. It's not worth going back and teaching him a million number strategies when he doesn't have enough English to comprehend my explanations. He can just stick to algorithm. He is learning to skip count and memorising his times tables along with his maths group. He makes me laugh, as I ask him 2x8=?, and he skip counts in 2's in Tongan, then sits and thinks about what the English word for 16 is.  But.... he knows it. 

I've began teaching him some addition strategies (e.g. tidy numbers), but I think he will always prefer algorithm. 

For his reading and writing, I tried getting him to do both of these in Tongan with the help of Tongan speaking students. Typically, it is better to get get ELLs (English Language Learners) to use their first language as a base, then convert to English later on. It seemed that Paula wasn't confident in Tongan, for example he refused to read aloud in Tongan. If students are not strong in their first language, it is incredibly difficult to build onto it. So, I have started teaching him to read and write in English. 

He practices high frequency words with Bob almost everyday. 

Today, I took him to our resource room and started at the lowest level of books. 
Now, I have never taught below year 3 (7 years old). I have no idea how to teach somebody to read for the first time. I admit, I have no idea what I am doing.
Luckily for me, my friend and colleague Lucina was there as well, and helped me to decide what level to get Paula on, and she was able to recommend good books at his level. Thank you Lucina! 

She modelled how she introduces new books to her students (she teaches year 1 and 2, so actually uses this level of books and knows what she is talking about) which will be super helpful for me.

Tonight I made up this Google Drawing, with audio files linked to the books so he can listen to the stories as he reads them. 
I hope with time, I can help Paula to learn to read and write in English.
He is growing in confidence everyday, and I want him to feel safe enough to take risks. 
So far, nobody in my class has seen Paula as 'dumb' or anything similar, but recognise that he is smart in Tongan, but needs to learn to speak English. Hence, they are happy to help him or translate for me. 

Lucina and I have talked about me observing her further, and hopefully one day her observing me to give me feedback and feedforward.

Anne's observation (T3W4)

Today Anne visited me again to observe me, and it was great to catch up with her again. 

As always, Anne finds the good in any situation. I was pleased to see these comments in her feedback. 

"It was lovely to see child led learning in action, with you the ringmaster being able to check in with each group and reset or suggest ideas to help with the play. They were all involved and very excited by the play they were working on. Loved the littlest girl with her clipboard writing frantically like a director.


The second time you allowed them to remake the groups with whom you work well with. By the time you stop cutting the next task into strips they were to be in sensible groups or you would change them. Key Competencies of independence and self regulation evident with most of the students, in the way you give responsibility back to the students. Most of the students respond well to this but you do have some who you are doing a lot of work with. Good on you!"

"There is a real sense of teamwork and community in the room, which you have developed Ashley.  After all the hard work of the first 2 terms you are very relaxed with them and inclusive and aware of each individual in the class. "

"The room is an example of free form mobility, where spaces are created and recreated as needed, for whatever you are teaching. In this way you make the most of the limited space you have to full advantage. It was also great to see the enthusiasm evident as the students came in. "

To have a student-led, flexible classroom has been a focus of mine this term and I felt proud that it was so evident.

Anne also pointed out that I could have pushed my students further in their role plays, which is absolutely true and I will try to implement her feedback throughout this week and beyond, such as building up more background story for characters, trying out alternate endings, and pushing them to explain how adding depth to their play could add detail to their writing.

"It was evident for you that development of character and plot still needs working on from the unknown. It is always hard to work from the unknown without any background of experiences to draw from. So the building up of likely scenes, characters, plots, ideas and stories are ongoing. If there had been more time you would have also gone deeper into character and plot development and complex ideas."

"Don’t pass up opportunities to deepen the discourse and the effect the role plays had and what could make them stronger next time. How will the role plays help us to be more descriptive in our writing?"

I always look forward to Anne's visits, as no matter what you are doing she always finds something positive to say about it. Her feedforward is honest, realistic and fair.
She reminded me that I need to update my PTC documents, as one of the beginning teachers from my school will get audited for registration. I will definitely need to work on that!

Saturday, 12 August 2017

GEG Student Summit

Yesterday was the Google Educator Groups [GEG] Student Summit, held at Ormiston Primary School.

Essentially, it was an education conference, where students presented to students, and the adults were there as legal obligations. How cool is that? The power shifts, and students are the teachers. 

I had organised to take 20 students (and 2 other adults) to this event from my school. The tickets were free, and the total cost of transport was $40.


 The kids getting connected to Wi-Fi before the first keynote started.

A major highlight from the day was our students getting the opportunity to try out new technology (or otherwise, technology that we don't have at our school).
Such as Scratch, Makey-Makeys and IQube.


From a teachers perspective, it blew me away how much the presenters (students from various schools) could do, without any adult help.

This kid, from Ormiston Primary, managed 10+ people on his own, (note - all older/larger than himself) as well as lugging around 3x 20L containers of his technology, demonstrating it and ensuring nobody broke/stole anything. He was literally hip height on me. I was very impressed. He had no teacher with him. 

As it was our first time attending this conference, we had no idea what to expect. 
In one way. I was comforted in that we are doing some of the things that were being presented about (e.g. coding, using scratch). 

In other ways, it gave me some things to think about for our students.. 
What other kinds of experiences (both real and digital) could we organise for our students? 
Do they need all these things? Some of the tech, I couldn't see the educational purpose for it. Some were merely toys to me.
What other opportunities, such as attending this event, exist that we are not making the most of? 
How can I prepare the students to be presenters with such confidence, so they could present next time? (Which bless them, they have already asked to do).
If we go again, should we take less children? Only older students? (Based of observations of how many/the age of students attending from other schools). 

I have already asked the deputy principal and senior syndicate leader if I could organise a mini-conference sort of thing, where the students who attended the conference can teach the kids who didn't, about what they learnt. 
I'm thinking it could be a stepping stone, to a regular event. 
Students can teach other students, in the same way teachers do for toolkits, something they know. It could be keyboard shortcuts, how to bookmark internet pages, how to check your emails properly, how to use labels on blogs, how to use Google Forms to make a quiz, how to create Kahoots, how to edit movies on I-movie, the list goes on and on. 
Sometimes I forget how much my kids know and can do. When I write it like that, they seem like digital experts. 

I would love to do this as a stepping stone, to students presenting at this conference next year or whenever it is held next. It would help them gain confidence, respect for each other as leaders and learning leaders, and (hopefully) build empathy for how hard it is to get up and present. 
Maybe speeches in year 7/8 wouldn't be so scary...

I think it was definitely worth going on this event and worth all my organisation. 
I would absolutely do it again.

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

PD: Helping kids who have experienced trauma

This afternoon we had a voluntary staff meeting with a psychologist, Chris, who talked about how we can help students who have experienced severe trauma. Our school currently has a student who is working with Chris, and the school thought we could all learn a lot about how to deal with troubled children in the future.

Key facts..
More than 94% of people in prison have been abused/neglected/experienced trauma.
Approx 1 in 10 young people is currently suffering abuse/neglect/trauma.

How are personalities formed?
How do kids learn to trust and help themselves?
What is trauma?
How do traumatic experiences effect kids?
What can we do to help?
Image result for biopsychosocial model

All behaviour has meaning.

Nearly 60% of child abuse is neglect, but these children are not often picked up for CYFS etc because neglect is hard to prove.

Attachment stylesImage result for attachment styles

MOST children have secure attachments.

Avoidant attached - can happen when parents have mental illness, addiction problems or have their own stresses but have not developed ways to cope with these. Child learns that their needs will not always be met.

Children who have experienced trauma might think..

I am...
not worth keeping

Others are..
lying to me
better/smarter/cooler than me

The world is...
out to get me

What glasses is this kid wearing? How can I help change those glasses?
(How do they see the world, through a lense of poverty/guilty/fear/etc.)
Image result for healthy vs trauma brain scan


Monday, 7 August 2017

Maths reflection - T3W2

This week for maths, myself and my colleague and friend ran workshops between our two classes.

Students from my class, Room 7, and the other class, Room 8, could sign up to the workshops run by either of the teachers (not necessarily their own teacher).

Students signed up to workshops on this document and got to choose themselves which they wanted to attend. In my opinion, 99% of the students went to the one their teacher would have put them in anyway, as the workshop was what they needed to learn at their specific level.
To me, this showed that the students were able to reflect on what they knew, and what they needed to know in order to move up levels/move forwards. This is a huge achievement for our students.

The one child who wasn't where they should have been got moved anyway, and agreed immediately that they already knew how to do the work and should've signed up to the more difficult workshop in the first place.

My lessons were quite difficult, aimed at the higher end students (stage E6 and above). As we only did one hour sessions, I gave out homework to reinforce the ideas learnt throughout that lesson.

Mondays lesson was great.  I regret not videoing it.
I had about 5 of my own students who already learnt about decimals (but had chosen to come anyway, as they felt they had forgotten it) and the rest were from Room 8, and had never done decimals before. I started the lesson by saying 'I am going to go really fast, and if you're not listening you are going to miss it'. That was the only 'behavioury' thing I had to say in the whole hour. The kids were so engaged with using the decimats, showing decimal numbers (the same teaching concept as here), they began to use the language correctly and all was well. We even began adding decimals!

At the beginning of Tuesdays lesson, we marked Mondays homework which was a worksheet where students had to add two decimal numbers together. We marked this together, with students coming to write their answers up on the board to show the rest of the class. I found this way of marking more helpful, as I can watch their process and ask questions while they are working, instead of just giving them a red cross and them and I both not knowing where they went wrong. That was fine, and we moved onto subtracting decimals. We used materials again, as this really helps build the understanding of exchanging tenths and hundredths. I sent them away with a subtraction worksheet for homework, but also let the students from both classes use the materials to help them solve the worksheet. I find that teaching, and doing, subtraction in decimals is a lot harder than adding them.

Wednesday I taught my group how to convert between decimals, percentages and fractions. Again, this is a huge topic that I tried to cover in very little time. I acknowledge that each of these lessons will need revisiting regularly to ensure the kids understand it properly. A one off lesson is not enough. One thing I think was good about Wednesdays lesson was giving the kids 'tricks' and making them circle, highlight and draw arrows around these tricks.
By trick, I more mean the 'rule', but it seems more enticing to tell kids there is an easy trick to it.
For example, when converting between fractions and percentages, you need to make it so the denominator is 100, then the numerator will be the percent number.

7/10 is the fraction.  7x10   =70
                                 10x10=100   so the percent number is 70%.

The other trick/rule here is that what you do to the bottom you must to do the top, hence multiplying by the same number.

On Thursday we had lessons planned, but these didn't happen for various reasons. Which means I swapped Tuesday and Thursday's lessons, and never taught rounding decimals.

Fridays lesson went GREAT.
We stayed in our own classes, and presented our learning in student clinics (watch the first one for an example of what student clinics are if you are unfamiliar with them).

I was SOOO impressed with each of my kids. You can tell by what they choose to show, which workshops they attended. I was delighted to see my kids who went to the other teachers workshops had learnt so much, and had grasped concepts they had struggled with under my teaching.
There was a group of low-achieving boys who could do a strategy they were previously unable to do, I was so proud. They have learnt so much in one week.

Reflection and next steps
I definitely think the kids liked being able to choose what they wanted to learn about, and I liked them being able to choose as well. I found they were more engaged because they wanted to be there, instead of being forced to be there. Although I covered a lot in a short time, and will absolutely need to revisit those concepts, it was awesome exposure for those who were new to it and good practice who had learnt it previously. I was so proud of my kids when they presented their clinics, as they could ask helpful questions, they were patient and kind, didn't mock each other, and kept asking to do more/harder problems to show how much they had really learnt.

We will be doing maths this way again next week, focusing more on multiplication strategies. We have decided to only do one learning intention each teacher each session, as when we had two learning intentions in the same session, we smooshed them together anyway.

The students confidence grows immensely when they feel ownership over their learning (choice).
I also think that for my lower-ability students, it was beneficial for them to be with peers who are closer to their level, rather than being in a class where they know they are lower than everyone else. Then when those kids in particular presented their clinics, the 'smart' kids were really impressed that they could do 'hard stuff' now. (Forgive my use of kid speak).

Monday, 31 July 2017

PD: 3d printer training with RICOH

Monday 31st July 2017

What applications are there for 3d printing?
- making replacement parts for toys etc.
- human application: robotics and prosthetic

How does it work?
- what materials does it use? (we are using PLA)
- people are starting to use composite materials (PLA/iron, PLA/

- you can scan objects to get a digital image (different machine than we have...)
- get designs from online (thingyverse)
- design it yourself

When you have your STL file...
- go into Makerbot
- change settings - infill, resolution, shells, raft, support

Settings for makerbot + (the model we have)
build volume - 10.1Lx 12.6Wx 12.6H cm
Material - PLA
Spool size - 0.2kg
Smart extruder +
Connectivity - USB and Wi-Fi

Key vocabulary
- print in place
- STL (the format you save your digital format in) - stereolithography
- raft

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Kicking off Term 3!

I didn't get much of a break during the school holidays, so felt ill prepared to head back into school. I knew it would all be fine once I got back into things, and boy has it been fine. 

Our inquiry topic this term is 'leisure and entertainment', which is awesome. Its broad enough that you can take it where you/your class wants, and cool enough to keep the kids interested no matter where it goes. I was really excited about this topic. 

For the first couple weeks of school, I really wanted my students to do a history focus on the 'leisure and recreation'. I myself love learning about history, and wanted to pass this onto my kids. I wanted them to understand the bigger picture of leisure and entertainment 

Why do we even have leisure time? 
Have we always had it? 
What activities do people do? 
Does what we do for leisure activities change over time? 
What influences these changes? 
What activities have endured throughout history, and why have they been so successful? 
How can society shape what is considered fun?

Hence, we launched our inquiry on Monday morning by reading a non-fiction text about the beginning of the 'entertainment industries' in the 20th century. The text itself was a little repetitive, but the kids didn't seem to notice or care. 

Even with this one reading, we began exploring what the word century means, what BC/AD are (and how time goes backwards, what?!), the influence of laws on people and their work, how not having paid work leave affected people (i.e. they never took holidays because they couldn't afford it), what a normal 'working' week was considered to be and how this changed over time, when different entertainment tools (i.e. radio, TV, commercial flight for travel) were invented and how much they cost at the time and so much more. 

We had AMAZING discussions. 

I mentioned off-hand to them that TV was in black and white in those days, and they were dumb-founded. So I showed them clips of the famous Charlie Chaplin and explained why they had no audio, that they were called Silent-films, etc etc. I was so surprised, as my little Maori and Pasifika children in the middle of Panmure were cracking up at Charlie Chaplin getting stuck in a lions cage. 
At this point, I was dumbfounded. 
The kids spent the next 20 minutes independently researching, watching and laughing at silent films. WHAT? 

They were so into the topic and it made my heart soar. 
If a non-fiction text about a law change in 1939 could bring about all that, this term is going to go well. 

On Tuesday, I gave my kids a massive stack of non-fiction books I had gotten from our school library. Now for context, my kids really struggle with non-fiction texts, especially the lower-ability ones. 
I chose actual physical books on purpose, as I wanted them to see that they aren't scary, that they can read them and learn from them. (The internet isn't the only way to research). 

My instruction to them was pretty much - pick a book, read it, find something interesting and record it on the brainstorm. (We had a brainstorm for each civilisation). 
They literally filled them. 

One kid even said to me 'Miss this is so interesting can we keep doing this' as she left for morning tea. I almost cried. 

In the afternoon they chose a civilisation they were interested in, and began researching it in depth (and were allowed to use the internet if they wanted). 
Nobody fought. They were pretty even groups. I didn't have to force anyone to do Victorian England. They wanted to, they chose. 

That afternoon I had the BEST conversations with my kids. 

'Miss, why are they putting leeches on him?' - Victorian Era group
'Miss, what are the things in the containers by the mummies feet?' - Egyptian group
'Miss, why did Queen Victoria marry her cousin, thats gross' - Victorian Era group
'Miss, did they really worship cats?' - Egyptian group
'Miss, where is Greece?' - Ancient Greece group
'Miss, what does Scandinavia mean?' - Vikings group
'Miss, whats the difference between a country and a continent'? - multiple groups
'Miss, why did they bury stuff with the dead body?' - Egyptian group
'Miss, why didn't woman have the same rights as men?' - Roman Empire group
'Miss, what's a cock and why is it fighting?' - Victorian Era group


Today they continued working on their research. 
I noticed that throughout the hour, more and more of the library books got pulled out of the shelf and were being used to research from. It became a preference for them.. to read a real physical book, rather than use the internet. 
The rebirth of non-fiction books in my classroom. 

They even came and asked to read those instead of fiction for buddy reading time.
What is happening! 

I asked them today to go and comment on our class blog, but their comment had to be something they had learnt from that lesson. 
If you have a minute, read through the comments and see how much the kids learnt in a day. 
Again, I almost cried.

I am so happy with how the first few days of school have gone. I feel that launching this inquiry has gone very well as the kids are so excited about their learning, asking quality questions and starting deep discussions.