Friday, 30 September 2016

Decile - Just A Number

According to the Ministry of Education, deciles are defined as "a measure of the socio-economic position of a school’s student community relative to other schools throughout the country". The 10% of schools with the highest proportion of children from low socio-economic families are classified as a Decile 1. The 10% of schools with the highest proportion of children from high socio-economic families are therefore classified as a Decile 10.

The unfortunate reality I have been thinking about a lot recently, are the stereotypes associated with the decile of a school. I started to think about deciles more after reading a uni student's blogpost about being Maori (see Trinity's blog), and the recent article about students at our school. More often than not, higher decile schools are considered to be 'better schools' with greater academic results and more opportunities for students than those who attend schools that are lower decile. However, as Education Minister Hekia Parata expressed, "decile is not destiny".

As discussed throughout considerable research and media articles, including this piece above the decile divide, home background effects students success. I do not doubt this one bit; home life certainly effects student success at school, however not only students from low socio-economic backgrounds. Irrespective of decile, all students have backgrounds which influence on their academic achievement, which I think is something we are guilty of forgetting. 

Just because there different struggles in a low socio-economic home, this does not mean there aren't struggles in a high socio-economic home.

This graph (from NZ Herald) really bugged me. Yes, it may be true, and yes it is something our country is striving to change, but no it is not entirely about how much money the students families make (I must add here I do think this is a significant factor, but not the only factor impacting on a child's success). Because, as Kirsty Johnston comments "although their lives aren't like the kids from wealthy areas, it doesn't mean they won't succeed"

If we, New Zealand society, do not challenge the status quo, the norm, the stereotypes surrounding the decile system in our country, then I believe the statistics will remain unchanged. If we assume all Maori and Pasifika students and all low decile schools are incapable of high achievement, and Pakeha students and high decile schools are incapable of failure, we are the problem.

"Be responsible for what you say and be a part of the answer, not the problem." Trinity

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Keeping Up With The Teacher Load

After losing some work because of restarting my computer, and forgetting some ideas I had for future lessons - Dorothy suggested I download Google Keep. The next morning I was listening to Carl's podcasts and he recommended for all teachers to have Google Keep. To be suggested the same application within 24 hours sold it to me!

And now I cannot imagine being without it!

Google Keep was created as a note taking service, to capture your thoughts, ideas, images, websites in one place; such as recipes you would like make, lesson ideas you want to jot down without losing the piece of paper, to do lists to cross off, links to come back to without bookmarking... The options are endless, which has been so great for me trying to juggle so many balls in the air. 

There are several features I am yet to experiment with additional features of Keep including labels, colour-coding, sharing notes and using my phone to add notes. These features will be great once I have more on my Keep, in order to organise and easily access notes of similar themes/ideas.

I have found Keep to be a useful place to jot things down for my future studies especially. I am going to be writing my dissertation next year, which is going to be a huge task to tackle. Keep has afforded me to keep an ongoing list of ideas I have as soon as they come to my head, rather than trying to remember everything next year. Similarly, if I see cool lesson plans online for topics/units I am not currently teaching, I can save them in Keep to come back to in the future, rather than try find the link again later.

If you are interested to download Google Keep - check it out on iTunes! Highly recommend.

Friday, 23 September 2016

Burnt Out Take 3

I made it! Another milestone - three terms down. Oh my goodness this term has been full on! I feel more exhausted than I thought was possible... Probably attributed to about 5 hours sleep a night for the past fortnight!

Reflecting on the term, I know I have learnt a considerable amount, not only about my own teaching, but about my own learning, my students, time management, resiliency and balancing my wellbeing. I have managed to keep myself afloat throughout the jam-packed 9 weeks, but there have definitely been some struggles. I am so excited for a bit of a calmer term next term!

To conclude our digital immersion for Term 3, our focus today was ignite talks. After learning about Keynote last week, our challenge today was to present an ignite talk about a reading we were given at the beginning of the day, using Keynote.

Ignite talks are a series of 5 minute presentations with 20 slides each. Therefore, our task was to create 20 slides which lasted 15 seconds each, and have a speech alongside the slides. My reading, The World Is Our Interface: Design Beyond The Screen, discusses human interaction with interfaces through the ages. I then interpreted the information, wrote a presentation and then hurriedly prepared slides. With more time, I would have tidied up my Keynote, and made it more engaging, however I was limited on time - this is one of the challenges of an ignite talk. Check out what I produced!

I enjoy giving presentations, and foresee I will present more in the future - I am hoping to present at PENZ next year! So I will definitely consider Keynote and ignite talks.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Presentations On Point

Firstly, I apologise for the way my blog looks at the moment - I am battling with it!! Today we were introduced to the Apple application of Keynote, primarily designed as a presentation app.

One of the things we were shown how to do was to create pictures and drawings, which could then be saved as files and then uploaded onto our blogs. So, the picture I currently have is one I have been playing with for hours to try and make it work but I am calling it a day for now because it is a Friday evening and I am stressed and tired! Watch this space..

Keynote offers many cool features to make presentations engaging and exciting to watch, and I look forward to creating one in the future. Some include the ability to create and edit movies to then be exported onto Garageband and iMovie, creating stop motion movement between slides, building animations and layering pictures/text on top of pictures/text to create different affects. 

The application also affords users to interact with the presentation from their phone too, so they are afforded more time in front of their audience as opposed to in front of their screen changing slides. I would like this affordance, because I often use my phone in class when presenting and teaching. 

Next Friday our challenge is an 'ignite' presentation using Keynote; we are given a topic at the start of the day and then have to present about it at the end of the day! Looking forward to the challenge. One week until the holidays!!!

If you are interested to download Keynote, it will be on your App Store. Then check out this YouTube explanation of some of the basics to get you started!

Monday, 12 September 2016

Chaos Needing Organised

This afternoon I don't know what was going on, but I felt as if my class was a right disgrace. I was counting down the minutes until it was over! Usually I only teach my SOS class on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and Dot teaches them on Mondays without me. But, Dot is away this week so I offered to take them to not disrupt the flow of learning by having a reliever.

The Monday-itis other teachers often talk about became apparent very quickly! I don't know what it was but they were bouncing off the walls, crazy loud and ignoring many of my instructions. I don't think they were disrespecting me, they were just in weird headspaces and distracting and disrupting others, feeding off one another.

I left feeling a little lost as to what was going on, what went wrong and what needed to change in prep for future lessons. I went straight to the gym and sweated out my frustrations with how the lesson went. After reflecting a little I wondered what I was doing or not doing during the class. I have been trying hard recently to not blame the kids for bad behaviour, or lack of engagement in class, because at the end of the day it must be down to my instructions and/or classroom management.

Our PTC agenda after school was timely; classroom management. We had lots of discussion around planning for management, having a clear understanding of the school management model and having support people when you are really in trouble. One key thing I took away from the meeting was setting clear expectations at the beginning of the year, and sticking to them. For instance if headphones is a no no for someone in Term 1, headphones are a no no for everyone the whole year - this may reduce any "But Miss you said..." replies from students. 

I feel as if classroom management was something we never really discussed, experimented or explored during uni, it was something I was thrown into at the start of the year. Learning on the job so to speak. I do feel I have come a long way since the beginning of the year, but still have considerable room for improvement still!

Some simple management styles/techniques I have developed include; waiting for silence as opposed to talking over the students, relating to my high expectations of students often (especially when they aren't fulfilling these expectations), using countdowns with my fingers or my voice and saying "I will only give these instructions once". Although these techniques are not gold, and don't work all the time, they are things I come back to. I am open to any and all tips!

Friday, 9 September 2016

Film On The Way

Manaiakalani host a film festival annually at the local cinemas, to play short films created in the cluster by teachers and students. As aforementioned, we are making a film as part of MDTA. There is no theme or idea we need to follow, it is completely open. 

Today we spent the day editing our footage from last week, then sharing with one another for feedback and feedforward. Although I didn't have much time last week, and was a little rushed, I am pleased with what I have so far. I am still working with the audio and final background images, which I hope to finish over the weekend.
I have learnt lots about movie making along the way, but my previous knowledge was definitely helpful and saved time learning about iMovie. Unfortunately a lot of the footage was outside of the green screen, which means a lot of zooming in, and parts with the floor/walls in the frame. Even though it looks a little shabby, and I wish I could do it all again, I need to accept I am short on time and need to complete my university assignment!

I had no clue how to use a green screen, but some simple tips are to ensure the material does not have any creases, as this would interrupt the background image, and also be sure all footage is inside the green screen - I have had to cut out so many parts I would have loved to include but the kids weren't near the green screen!

If I am to create another film in the future, I would want to plan further in advance, with more planning prior and use a little bit of in class time so I can work out what needs to be filmed again or any potential shots that could have been better. To do this though, would mean I would have to make links to the content covering in class, to not take away learning time.

To learn more about the Film Festival, and see previous entries, click here! :)

Monday, 5 September 2016

Uike Lea-Faka Tonga 2016

Welcome to Tongan Language Week 2016!

This morning I was feeling quite lethargic, exhausted and not excited for the week ahead. The Latu family (2 are teachers at school) changed this after their beautiful singing. Check them out here!

We went through some of the basic words in Tongan and then the Latus and the Tongan teachers sung their national anthem. I felt much calmer, happier and blessed after this, it was a lovely start to the week.

Although I don't pronounce everything correctly, I am trying and students are appreciating this nevertheless. Once I am fluent with my sign language, I would like to learn some basic words and phrases from a variety of languages to use in the classroom.

Ma'u ha 'aho lelei!
(Have a good day!)

Friday, 2 September 2016

Film Festival Fun

Usually on Fridays we have our MDTA PLG, but this week we were given the day to film for our film festival. Annually, Manaiakalani schools gather together in a local cinema and display 3 minute films students across the cluster have created. One of our tasks for MDTA is to create one of these films to display on the big screen. 

Being in a secondary school has made this very difficult. We already have considerable time constraints, because we have a lot of content to get through in a short period of time and many of the students sometimes learn at a slow pace. My co-teachers and I really could not take time out of class to film, as we are far enough behind already, but I knew lunchtimes and/or after schools were unrealistic due to my own commitments, and the students' commitments. Therefore, I explained my idea to my 13PE class and said that Friday would be a whole day of filming unless their teachers requested them to be in class, and filming was completely optional - this was also so students did not feel obliged to participate if I filmed during PE. 

8 students agreed to take part initially, and they agreed to meet me at the start of Period 1, I hoped a couple more might show up. However, unfortunately no one came. I spent the first period ironing the green material which has been used as a green screen before, and then 2 boys arrived explaining most of the students needed to be in class until P3, and some of them were away. So I spent the morning pottering through my water safety unit. I was devastated when lunchtime came around the corner and I still hadn't had anyone. So I had no film. Nothing. Nada. I was heartbroken and stressed, which I expressed to one of the students who came in the morning briefly.

These four angels gave up two of their classes at the end of the day to film with me, and it was so much fun! They explained how they were grateful for what I do for them, and they understand how saddening and frustrating it is to fail or incomplete tasks. My heartbreaks disappeared and I was filled with joy. The kids continue to surprise me!

With limited time and resources, I decided the easiest and quickest idea I could work with is Dance Through The Ages. I know how much the kids love to dance, so I thought I would have more students interested, but nevertheless we smashed out my list of dances I wanted to get through.

I have now begun uploading the clips into iMovie, to start editing next week. Unfortunately, I am unsure how successful the green screen is going to be, because it wasn't as big as I imagined, the kids kept moving out of it, and the GoPro has a wide angle so I struggled to just have the green screen in the shot. But, with support from others, hopefully this works out! Watch this space...

I thanked the kids for coming and said I wanted to shout them lunch next week as remuneration and a thank you, and I received this email from one of them. I was blown away and tears came to my eyes. I am feeling super overwhelmed with the six million things I need to be doing, and this is just what I needed to get me through the next three weeks of term!

Thursday, 1 September 2016

Wrapping Up The Integration

For the past month, the Junior school have been learning through an integrated unit about the Olympics, which I previously discussed with reference to my Year 10 PE class. I also blogged about the sketchnotes the Year 9's were completing in SOS about the Olympic values. This week has been about bring the integrated unit to a close.

The students task, was to use all of their knowledge and skills they developed throughout the unit across all subjects to create a website. For some parameters around the site, students had headings to shape their ideas; society, anthem, kai, and an athlete from the country their group was recognised as, and also a description and evaluation of their game they created in PE.

Today the students presented the website they created and explored some of the key knowledge they had learnt throughout the creation of the site. I was interested to see how students collaborated with one another, and utilised their skills/knowledge across subjects, rather than keeping math in math for example. Unfortunately I was sick while the students created their sites, but I was thankful to see some of their presentations.

For future integrated units, I think the teachers need to begin to brainstorm, plan and create lessons much earlier. Possibly there could be overall aims of the unit - what we actually want the students to get out of it (not the final product they produce, but the major objectives), I think this integrated unit was possibly left a little too open, which many of us struggled with. We also need to be clear on whether we are teaching our own subjects, or whether we have daily objectives we all work towards, to create some collaboration and cohesion across subjects. 

Nevertheless, the students generally enjoyed being in the same room for the month, with teachers moving to them, and I learnt a lot along the way for sure. I like the possibly of another integrated unit next term, look forward to seeing how we manage this one!