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).