Monday, 1 July 2019

Planning Trips - Not Yet My Cup of Tea

Last year I attended a play called Yes, Yes, Yes. This play followed the two stories of two couples, addressing issues around consent, or lack of. There was lots of student voice included within the performance around their relationships and things they wish they knew about. I thought that this would be a great learning opportunity for my Senior Health students, to start discussions. So immediately I started planning!

This was the first trip I had planned before. Up until now I had helped supervise on trips, but never actually needed to complete the paperwork before. To be completely honest, I can see why many people are put off - there was soooo much admin! Between permission letters, trip approval, booking buses, budgeting, risk management forms, medical reports, play tickets, relief and chasing up kids it was certainly a learning curve. I learnt a lot along the way though, and thankfully I had months to get everything sorted. 

On June 18th I took 22 students to see the play, hosted by Auckland Live in Aotea Centre. I was very nervous I had forgotten something or that something was going to go wrong - but I was literally getting on a bus, going into a theatre and then bussing back, so of course there was little chance of anything happening (I am trying to be less  less paranoid!). The kids were actually incredible, so well behaved and really respectful towards me and members of the public, which made the day smooth sailing.

We were stoked to get front row seats, which also meant we were super close to the stage! During the show, there were a few opportunities for students to stand up and speak one of the character's parts. I was really proud when two OC students volunteered first out of the 100 odd people there, and they represented us so well!

There were two 'pauses' during the show. These pauses were an opportunity for members of the audience to share how they were feeling, what they were thinking about and any questions or concerns that may be running through their minds. This was such a great way for the students to reflect on what they had seen so far, and a simple yet effective way to demonstrate that many of the audience members were feeling and thinking similar things.

Once we got back to school I debriefed with students and we had rich discussion about some of the messages that came from the play. The overall consensus was that the play was fantastic to accomodate the learning and discussions we are having in class around consent, pornography, pressure, sexuality and gender, highlighting some of the issues but being very careful and inclusive in the process. Please see alongside some of the comments the students made.

Despite the lengthy admin trail to get the students there, I am so glad that I did. It was certainly an experience some of the students have never had before and the learning they took away from the day was worth everything to get them there. Assuming the play is performed again next year, I have put into our course outline a course cost so that the play is included in the course, rather than an optional trip, so more students can have the opportunity and experience.

I look forward to finding more cool opportunities for the students, not only for their learning but also mine about trip planning!

Sunday, 16 June 2019

We Like to Move It, Move It!

As we are adapting our Junior courses into an integrated curriculum next year, we also need to consider how we are going to adapt our methods of assessment. Rather than giving students grades that are inconsistent across departments and within departments based off of Achieved, Merit or Excellence (which can be subjective even with a marking criteria), another major shift next year will be assessing students based off of levels of the New Zealand Curriculum. This is going to be a challenge for us, and for the students, especially when we are going to need to design the rubrics for these levels for each of our integrated units!

As practice for this method of assessment, this term we utilised the NZC levels to assess our Year 9 Movement Education unit. The purpose of this unit is to encourage students to step out of their comfort zones and to learn some new skills for dance, gymnastics and parkour. This new method of assessment the students are unfamiliar with, hence we started by co-constructing what these levels actually looked like in action, see pictures below. 

Once we had discussed these levels and the purpose of the unit, I asked my students to select one emoji to represent them throughout the term. We regularly had mini discussions about what level the students thought they had been demonstrating throughout the lessons and why. In addition, students moved their emoji to the self assessed level. See alongside the progressions from the beginning of the unit to the end of the unit - it's interesting to see how many students fluctuated, but also great to see so many students sitting at or above the expected level of a Year 9 student!

This method of assessment definitely required some more prep, and a more conscious effort to embed within the teaching and learning, but I think was a great way to have more consistency of grading and also students had more understanding of the why and how. I enjoyed discussing with students why they were moving (or not) their emoji, because most of them were able to give detailed responses related to their demonstrations, with examples. 

Some stand out comments from some of my students about the overall unit include the following;

"I think it is a very good thing to do it has definitely helped my confidence and it was heaps of fun once I got into it."

"I learnt a lot of new skills and things I couldn't do and I learnt that if you commit to something you can most likely do it."

"The dancing impacted me because it pushed me out of my own comfort zone to try something new and kind of scary. I don't enjoying doing dances in front of other people but it wasn't that bad once I was doing it with my friends."

"My main challenges were in the parkour where I was not getting too involved in the whole thing only one part of it but I thought I should give it a go so I could get up a level and try to enjoy it more and doing that helped a lot."

Moving forward into our next unit which will also use this method of assessment, I would like to have more discussions with students throughout the lessons, rather than just at the end when they are moving their emojis. I found this time I was only able to talk to each student once or twice throughout the unit, and obviously the more often, the greater students can demonstrate their understanding. I think that this is important, as next year we will have 75 students to assess against the NZC levels, rather than about 25. Additionally, I have previously learnt that gamification is a tool which many students positively react to - so I think I need to refer to moving up levels more often as a challenge for students to reach (as the last student voice has suggested).