Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Graduating from the MDTA

Last Thursday night the MDTA celebrated the end of our two year digital teaching and learning programme. Over the two years I have learnt a lot about myself, my practice and technology. I feel I am ahead of other beginning teachers, due to being included in the MDTA. I hope I never have to teach in a full paper school again!

I felt underprepared for technology in HPE after finishing my Bachelor of PE. We had a couple of courses including some e-learning tools, but I feel they only just scraped the surface. The MDTA increased my confidence with the integration of technology and I have developed skills which I believe will be useful for future classes I have. 

Our graduation was based in the Google Headquarters in the CBD, with wine flowing and a beautiful view. I enjoyed spending the time to thank my mentor, principal and the Manaiakalani Education Trust for my journey. Our cohort went out for dinner and watched the sunset as our final congrats and farewell to one another. Many are continuing in their current schools next year, some embarking on new journeys. I can't wait to see how we all further progress, and where we end up in the future.

Despite a lot of blood, sweat, and tears, I do think MDTA was effective for my development, and I am intrigued to follow future MDTA teachers! My blog is my pride, and without MDTA, I would not have my blog... so this is definitely what I am most thankful for!

Monday, 4 December 2017

Tracking Student Learning

Throughout 2016, some of my colleagues shared their use of tracking sheets within their classrooms. I decided to try and include tracking sheets within my practice this year, to see how students would respond. I hoped this would increase student motivation and empower them to take responsibility of their tasks. To see how the tracking sheets were used in a classroom, I visited Karen (DVC) in a Year 8 Tech class (see observation here), and read through Hinearu's reflections throughout the year (example 1 and example 2).

I started off using tracking sheets in Term 1 in my 10Health and 9Health classes, with student names down the left column and then the tasks students needed to complete (see right example). I found some students responded well to the tracking sheet, feeling motivated to try get ahead of others, and knowing exactly where they were up to. However, overall I reflected midway through Term 2, and decided they weren't working effectively in my Health classes. 

As I only teach Health one period per week for each class, and had 10 Health classes, it was really difficult to keep up with all students' progress. Students were sharing links to their tasks through a Google Form, which I then used to track student progress on the alongside Google Sheet. But, I couldn't keep up. With so little time with the students per week, it took a long time to develop 100% trust to give the students editing access to the Sheets, so they could link in their own tasks. But, giving students editing access to the Sheet definitely would've helped with my admin time. 

On the flip side I found the task tracking sheets to be more effective in my 11PE class. Not surprisingly, I think this is because I had 6 periods per week with the students, therefore closer relationships, and more time to follow up with students' tasks. As the screenshot shows, there were a couple of students who I struggled to motivate to complete their tasks. These students became my priority learners (read more here). I wondered whether having individual tracking sheets for each student would be effective for some of these students, as some have low self confidence. 

Next year I think I would like to try individual tracking sheets, which all have the same tasks, to reduce potential embarrassment or lack of confidence some students may have being visible to others. I will have to think further about how I could ensure there is a competitive element, for the students who responded well to competition, though. Possibly the inclusion of some gamification, or points system of some regard. Obviously this takes away tracking sheets as a tool for visible teaching and learning, but I didn't find the tracking sheets to be effective for this component of my practice.

In addition to using for student tasks, I used tracking sheets within my assessment of learning, specifically for my Year 11s. I created tracking sheets like the below as evidence of collection of student learning, and tracking their progress throughout a unit. When the tracking sheets were related to students' NCEA grades, like the interpersonal skills example, they were not visible. The second example below though, was publicly visible. I shared this link with staff and public on Google+ and Twitter, to seek authentic feedback and feedforward for students. I found this to be somewhat effective, but would have liked more comments left on students' blogs. As reflected in my post dissertation blogpost, I think one contributor to few comments was an uncertainty of how or why to leave effective comments for students on their blogs. Hence, this is something to address next year.

Overall, I think there is great potential for the inclusion of tracking sheets (in multiple ways), within teaching and learning. This year was a great taster for me, and I look forward to making small changes, to see how the tracking sheets can empower learners further, and possibly increase student achievement (as I don't think student achievement was effected directly from the tracking sheets this year).

Monday, 27 November 2017

Aquatics Unit, An Awesome Experience

Last year I queried why there wasn't an Aquatics programme at TC, especially as there is a pool 100m down the road. No one had taken the lead, so there hadn't been any opportunities for the students historically. So, I developed a water safety site and shared a short screencast showing what I had created. The purpose of the Y10 unit was to increase student confidence in, on and around the water, as opposed to a swimming unit. 

I worked alongside a representative called Mark from Drowning Prevention Auckland (formerly Water Safe Inc.) to create my programme and website. When it came time to delivering the unit late Term 3 this year, Nicky, another DPA representative supported myself and the other 10PE teacher. She was incredible. Very organised, very passionate, and really increased our confidence to teach water safety. She took the lead for the first couple of lessons, and then Doris and I took over once we felt more confident.

  • "This opportunity that you’ve provided them may make the difference between a bad decision around water and a safer decision as through the theory you’re getting them to think critically about their behaviours and attitudes around water."
  • "Your enthusiasm and dedication to get this programme going will make learning so much more authentic to those who did participate in the water but also those who were “non-participants” could still learn and also see that the lessons were less about ability but more about confidence and being safe in the water."
  • "Those who didn’t get in the water but were still there, some were still engaged and helpful and were good at answering questioning – think in reflection that will be a key thing, including them more with station cards or whatever it may be so they can take responsibility for some of the learning."

  • As this was the first time I was the Teacher in Charge of an EOTC activity, it was also the first time I created RAMS forms and was responsible for Health and Safety. I was blown away how much I needed to do and know, and how many people I needed to facilitate with. However, this was a great learning experience for me, and I look forward to more EOTC events!
  • The unit demonstrated having theoretical and practical lessons was effective for student learning. I was able to see the progression in confidence and knowledge when students were present in both students and reflected on their practical learning. Therefore, although we had some difficulties encouraging students to bring their togs and get involved in theory lessons, this unit was a great start.
  • Following on from this, the site I created was a great teaching and learning tool within the classroom. I found there weren't enough current articles on the site though, so I would like to add a page which I can continue to add news articles to. This would ensure the readings and clips are as up to date as possible. 


This Google Form was used at the start of the unit and the end of the unit. Students' answers were recorded in a Google Sheet, which I analysed to determine where students' confidence increased, and still potential gaps. My findings included;
  • 4/61 students at start of unit identified importance of water safety as keeping safe around water, prevention of drowning and to keep safe. This gave a good starting basis to build from, and encouraged an emphasis safety in on and around water, as New Zealand have high drowning statistics, especially for Māori and Pacific people.
  • 22/61 students were unsure what the red and yellow flags were at the beginning of the unit, which is also a place many of the students identified as a place they swim. So, there was an emphasis on beach safety in the second half of the unit. At the end, 8/30 students were still uncertain what the flags meant, therefore there needs to be more exploration and discussion about beach safety next year. I think this would be most effective if a day was facilitated with Surf Life Saving New Zealand as a beach day.
  • At the beginning, majority of students identified lifejackets as a flotation device but by the end other flotation aids were identified including noodles, the HELP position and floating on your back. These are important for students to know if they were underprepared for the water, or are bystanders for others in, on and around the water. Many students were surprised how much they could do as a bystander! 


The table alongside shows the increase in student confidence from the start of the unit to the end of the unit. Students were asked to rate their confidence from 1 to 5 (1 representing the least confident) before the unit, and again at the end. These percentages demonstrate a large increase in confidence. Of particular interest was no one rated themselves as 1 at the end, and only one person rated themselves as a 2. For future water safety programmes, I would like to aim for 75% of students to rate themselves as a 4 or 5, and the remaining 25% a 3 or higher, to have a greater impact on student safety and learning.

Some comments at the start of the unit to describe the rating they gave included;
1 - Last time when I was swimming (Probably a year ago) I almost drowned, I can only put my feet in the water now as Iam scared
2 - Because I'm confident in the pool but not the beach
3 - Because not pretty sure how to get out of rips & how to save others when in deep waters

Post unit, some of the descriptions for students' self ratings included;
3 - Because I'm confident to go in the water but then the people that make fun of others distract my confidence of the lesson.
4 - Because I now know if I was stuck in a water situation I would be able to know what to do.
4 - Because I am confident to help my self if I need help.

Therefore, the water safety unit was a great first step for a new initiative within the school. I hope the programme continues to grow, to increase student confidence further to support their safety in, on and around water. Most importantly, I hope future water safety programmes help to reduce the high statistics of drownings in New Zealand waters.