Saturday, 22 July 2017

Yes, I Got Catfished!



The focus for Year 9 Health throughout Term 2, was Cybersmart and Social Media. As we are part of the Manaiakalani cluster, we are to continue to develop cybersmart learners - learners who make sensible, informed decisions online.  The current generation is drowning in online interaction and expectations; Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat to name the most common platforms. Therefore, we decided it was appropriate to focus our curriculum on exploring some of these platforms a little further, and how to be 'smart' when using them. Check out our planning/resources here.


We started with discussing digital footprints, and students created their own. See Isacc's and Jolise's alongside. Some were really surprised to see how much time they had spent on social media sites, or gaming, and how little time was spent on school tasks, or off of their devices altogether. Creating these footprints started discussions about the importance of what we leave online, and how our reputation online could affect our futures. Not only were the students taken aback, but this also encouraged me to reflect on what people can find out about me if they Google or Facebook me, and what I could possibly tidy up! The students started to discuss privacy, and how really, nothing online is private. Check out Tane-Leo's blogpost, which breaks down his thinking a little further. The important message throughout the unit was to stop and think before you click!


Students then created their own 5 tips to help keep a positive digital footprint (see below Liz's Slides, and Quros' Drawing). Creating these tips ignited some awesome discussions, including about catfishing - which was a topic we explored later on in the unit (after cyberbullying). One of the tasks students were given at the end of the cyberbullying lessons (which included how to help as a bystander), was to create their own Digizen. These express the individuals values and wishes online. Check out Pote and Marilyn's blogs, to see their Digizens and posts.



Catfishing was a topic which had the students the most engaged I had ever seen them. Especially after telling my story of being catfished. From reading through the students end of term feedback to me, many students commented on enjoying being in Health because I am open and give real-life scenarios about myself or people I know. I think this was one of those topics. Students came forward to me throughout these lessons and expressed they had been catfished before, or that they had catfished others, which frightened me as these students are only 12 or 13 years old. However, it also affirmed to me the importance of having open conversations with the students about these sort of topics, and what to do if they find themselves in situations like the kids in the videos at the end of the below Slides.


I really hope after this unit the students have left thinking about what they share, comment, look up online, and make smart decisions while engaging on social media platforms. Reflecting on the unit now, I think for next year it would be good to have more students input into what they would like to learn about related to being a cybersmart learner, particularly related to social media. We briefly talked about Snapchat and Snapchat maps, and how they cause possible safety risks for students, but I feel there were probably so many more questions and things which could be explored. I am excited to review the unit and adapt for next year! To finish the unit, students enjoyed playing the Google game Interland, which I highly recommend!

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Giving Back to the PENZ Whānau


As previously posted, I attended a Health, PE, and Outdoor Ed conference last week. I stepped out of my comfort zone and decided to present twice this year! Before starting presentation prep, I realised that I had never created my pepeha, so this was my first step. A pepeha is how you introduce yourself, related to the community you identify as home and your ancestors, spoken in Māori.

I worked alongside Whaea Melba, our HOD of Māori to create my pepeha, which was an awesome learning journey. I found out a lot about the history of the land I grew up on and more about my whakapapa (genealogy), and became incredibly interested in my family connections to and with the land. Melba asked me to write out my pepeha on popsicle sticks, cut up each word and then match the words to practice putting my pepeha together. I enjoyed this task as I was physically moving the words into place and practising how to say the words at the same time. After a few weeks of practising, I was excited to finally present my pepeha at conference! 



My first presentation was with my friend and fellow HPE teacher, Mallory Bish. Mal and I moderate a Twitter chat (#NZBTchat) together, and have found Twitter to support our journeys as Beginning Teachers. See more about the chat here, and more about our BT journeys here. Unfortunately, our chats are very quiet currently, and we are struggling to recruit new BTs onto Twitter. So, we presented about the affordances of Twitter both professionally and personally in hope for newbies to join in. Please see our Google Slides presentation below, which also includes my pepeha. We also showed/taught the attendees two digital tools - Plickers (example here) and Lino-It (example here).




I really enjoyed creating this presentation and running the session with Mal, as we have grown as professionals as well as grown closer as friends (check out our costumes below for the conference dinner - the characters from the movie Up!). We were also incredibly blessed to have been awarded together the PENZ award for 'Outstanding New Professional'! I feel so proud of our achievement, and incredibly thankful. I was nominated for the award by Celia Fleck for sharing on my blog and Twitter alongside the moderation of #NZBTchat. Until last Sunday night, I had never actually met Celia before, we had just read each other's blogs and interacted via Twitter - again showing the power of Twitter! So I feel so blown away she nominated me for this award without even knowing me. Please see Celia's blog here.




Other people who have been incredibly supportive of Mal and I, and the development of the chat are Rachael, Carl, Susie, Alex, Hayden, MylesHanchen, Stuart, Andrew and Paul. These people have been there every step of the way, and without their help, challenges and critiques we would not have continued to moderate our chat, nor would we have presented at conference! All but one of these people we 'met' through Twitter!

My second presentation was more of a show and tell session of my visible teaching and learning, followed by a Q&A. I showed how my students access my site to see their learning resources, and how my planning is also available for teachers. I also demonstrated some ways to use GAFE applications within teaching and learning, and then answered questions the attendees had about anything I do and know. Finally, I showed how Blogger (and blogging generally) can be used for the learning journeys of teachers and students. Reflecting on the session really highlighted to me how much I do know, and how much I have learnt throughout the MDTA programme over the past 18 months! Shoutout to Dorothy for getting me to where I am today, and continuing to push me to have the greatest knowledge possible. I also found the GAFE conference last holidays to be incredibly useful for educators of any experience with Googley things.

I loved giving back to the HPE community, and hopefully the attendees took away something to reflect on, implement into their practice or experiment with!


Sunday, 16 July 2017

An Insight Into Matariki

Throughout the last week of Term 2, we celebrated Matariki with various house competitions for the students and a flag raising ceremony.

One of the activities the staff were given, was to represent one of the stars from Matariki as a visual (and we were only given 7 minutes!). I really enjoyed this activity, because it gave me greater insight into one of the stars from the cluster, and sparked an interest to learn more. I was asking myself what Matariki is actually all about and wondered why we were celebrating it.

I spent this afternoon in the sun reading Matariki: The Star of the Year by Dr Rangi Matamua. I found the history of Matariki incredibly interesting, specifically the in depth description of each of the stars, and how Matariki is understood different around the world.

The sentence I was left thinking about at the end of reading the book was "Māori derived all kind of omen, message and meaning from the heavens, and believed the stars foretold their fortune and future" (p. 2). The star cluster of Matariki (otherwise known as Pleiades), are considered in Aotearoa to be a mother and six daughters, each representing different parts of Māori culture and what the future holds (i.e. crops, weather, and deaths).

I have always been interested in astronomy, but have not had an opportunity yet to explore it a little further. The book really breaks down how Māori relied on the stars to tell their future stories, and has inspired me to read more! The Western world follows a solar calendar of 365 days per year, however the Māori follow a lunar calendar of 354 days per year, based off of the rising and setting of the sun and Matariki. For this reason, it is incredibly difficult to align the two calendars and know when to celebrate Matariki (the rising of the stars, and the beginning of the New Year). However, I was delighted to read that the rising of Matariki begins tomorrow and the period is 17-22 July! So, over the next few days I will be looking out for the stars and thinking about how bright they are (as this symbolises the fortune of the future).

Finally, I watched the film Moana recently, and this highlights how the elements were a fundamental component of living for our ancestors including growing of food and navigating the sea. I feel I know understand and appreciate a little more about Matariki, and look froward to reading, hearing, seeing the celebrations across the country over the next couple of weeks.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

PENZ hui - Past, Present & Future

This week I was blessed to be able to attend the national Health, PE and Outdoor Education conference in Papamoa. You can see my reflections from the 2016 conference here Day 1, Day 2, Day 3. The conference brings together educators from early childhood through to tertiary, with the aim to connect with others and learn from others too. Last year was a little more intense because there were more sessions across the three days, and I didn't present (this year I presented twice, post here). Therefore, I am able to summarise my key reflections into one post from this week (although a little long!).

The proverb for the conference was;
Hapaitia te ara tika pūmau ai te rangatiratanga mō ngā uri whakatipu
Foster the pathway of knowledge to strength, independence and growth for future generations.

This shaped the theme of the conference; Past, Present and Future. The essence of the theme, is to ensure the greatest future for our wharekura and tamariki, we need to reflect on the past and analyse the present.

Three presenters shaped the opening keynote of the three days; Professor Ian Culpan, Cameron Smith, and Helen Tuhoro. We were challenged to think about the shift from humanism to neoliberalism, the need to challenge the norm and to consider what our role as HPE educators are today. Even after all of the other sessions, these presentations were still my favourite.

Ian questioned whether we have really changed from military style, teacher directed teaching? Explored the 'norm' and wondered what we are doing to break down the norm? What stuck with me the most, was his exploration of biopiracy - if one complies to a particular view of normality, then one is rewarded (i.e. skinny, eats vegetables, exercises regularly). I have been left thinking about how to discuss/challenge these normalities with my students, without upsetting anyone. Something I need to think about further...

To further support Ian, Cam questioned what it actually means to be physically educated? He spoke of an 'old school' Junior PE curriculum and I felt waves of guilt rush over me as what he was describing reflected our curriculum in some respect. Moving forward, Cam suggested that students are to learn how to think critically about movement, rather than how to throw and catch a ball. I feel I am still only a beginning teacher, but hope to make some changes next year!

To conclude the keynote, Helen shared her journey creating a new school, in a low socio-economic community. I felt captivated by her story, and found myself relating to her on a small level. She blatantly stated that if students don't like what is happening in the classroom, then they won't come. I have seen this at my school on numerous occasions. It saddens me that there are teachers whom don't care if their students are present in their classes or not, and I fear there are students who don't want to be in my classroom! What can I do about it? Ask the kids. Ask what they do or don't like. Ask why they haven't attended, or have walked out of classes! Helen also quoted Theodore Roosevelt, because for many of her (and my) students, care is the foundation of an effective learning relationship and environment. She summarised by explaining the importance of putting the learner's into the drivers seat. As part of a PCT meeting last term, we discussed this article about learners in the drivers seat (see Cheryl's post reflecting on our discussion here).

I attended two sessions on cross-curricula learning and the inclusion of literacy into the PE curriculum. I have blogged before about the importance of including a variety of literacy strategies into our teaching and learning, but these sessions were great to show some specific examples to use within my subject. Carl's example of gathering letters relay style and then creating words related to a particular theme or idea was a stand out for me. This encouraged group work, key words within a theme and correct spelling. I can see this being a great activity to complete both in a practical sense in the gym and in the classroom. Other resource ideas, which I took away from Ormiston College (Brendan, Jefferson, & Simon - Literacy Coordinator), were a word jumble including conjunctions to create sentences, telephone whispers (groups of 4 to define, draw, define and identify a word), and concept circles.

Next term I will be beginning my first sexuality unit, which I am really excited about. As I have not taught before, I feel nervous about how to effectively teach/facilitate and how to include sooo much into only a short period of time (7 lessons). Lesley-Ann, a Family Planning representative, encouraged us to think critically about a variety of topics within sexuality education. Rather than standard strongly agree to strongly disagree, our continuum was four corners (strongly agree, agree, disagree and strongly disagree). The four corners encouraged us to really think about where we placed ourselves, because there was no middle or neutral. I love how in less than an hour, I felt like as a group we had covered so many difficult topics and had really been challenged, highlighting how much I can potentially explore with my 7 lessons. I also liked another alternative to continuums we were exposed to - step forward or step back for agree or disagree (and then asked to put ourselves into the other person's shoes and consider why they might think that way).

Recently I have been tackling some of life's challenges, and have been reflecting on my own resiliency. I have pondered whether I even understand what resilience is, therefore wondered how to include into my curriculum. The final session supported this thinking further. Pip Woodward explored the meaning of resiliency and suggested we cannot teach how to be resilient, but we can teach how to reflect on situations we have been through and what we have learnt from these situations. To grow resilience, we need to focus on our strengths, which can be harder than focusing on our weaknesses. This is something I need to consider for myself personally, as well as within my teaching. A growth mindset, rather than a fixed mindset. Thinking about the risks versus the rewards, without taking risks, how can we reap the rewards, as Chris Betcher explores. One resource Pip suggested was Dr Seuss' book Oh, The Places You'll Go! I have found this narrated video, which could be played while the students have the text in front of them and highlight/annotate the text (also another literacy strategy).

Overall, I have taken a lot away from the past three days, and cannot wait to head to Otago for conference next year! 

Monday, 3 July 2017

Know Thy Impact, You're A Leader

Our teacher only day today had two focuses; unit planning and restorative conversations.

Recently, the middle leaders have created a unit plan, which they would like to have consistent across the school. The house representation on the left were some of the many things taken into consideration when developing the unit plan template for teachers, as these are the key parts of our teaching and learning at Tamaki College. In addition, we were suggested that students reading and writing levels should be considered, inclusion of opportunities to increase literacy and numeracy and pastoral care logs may change how particular activities are managed.

Our deputy principal, Russel Dunn, spoke about the importance of lifelong learning, and how we might see it in the classroom. He discussed how students won't 'close their lid' at the end of the period (or earlier than!), because they want to continue learning, even after the bell goes. This really made me think about how so often I feel like my students do want to leave as soon as the bell goes, which really saddens me. This suggests they aren't engaged in learning and aren't interested to learn more, therefore I need to adapt my teaching so they don't feel tempted to close their lid. So, I will attempt to seek some feedback from students this week about the learning activities and lessons, in hope for some feedforward to increase engagement.

The key message I took from our discussion before heading into creating a unit plan, was to know thy impact - a message from John Hattie, the golden rules for educators.



Other reflective questions we were posed, which I am still reflecting on include;

What is success? Can the students explain what success looks like? What is expected of them?

Can students self regulate? Are they able to identify on their own strengths and weaknesses when they have met the expectation/success criteria of a task?

We spent a couple of hours throughout the day attempting to use the unit plan template to create one of our own units. We were also encouraged to use data as often as possible, in order to improve current unit plans.

Part 2 of the day was a restorative practice session, encouraging teachers to get into the learning pit. initially we were asked to think about low level behaviours in the classroom, and categorise the behaviours, then discuss how we would respond to the situation (see below photos).



We were then given the scenario of students gaming or on Gmail chat during a lesson, and then we needed to role play a restorative conversation using the acronym WARM. Please see my previous post about the structure of restorative conversations. This short clip also discusses restorative questions. As small groups we created short videos acting out a response to this scenario, which is a positive conversation, a restorative follow up. Please see below the example of Whaea Melba (HOD Māori) and Mrs Pamaka (principal), which I thought was a great example.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Student Opportunities To Respond

Recently in our RTLB sessions, we have been discussing OTRs: students opportunities to respond. OTRs are strategies teachers use in the classroom, to seek or prompt responses from students. Student responses provide opportunities for the teacher to gauge student understanding, and give specific feedback and feedforward.


We were provided with a short article (currently in draft from PB4L and about to be published) breaking down classroom engagement, specifically OTRs. The key points I took away from the reading are;


Students are engaged in activities that are new and exciting, and as a result difficult behaviour is likely to reduce. I am pleased, therefore, one of my goals this year is to learn about, and try to implement a variety of digital tools.


"Frequently, problem behaviours result from a mismatch between the environment and an individual's skills, strengths, or preferences (p. 23)" So, for instance, some of my students have low literacy skills/levels, which may be the cause of behavioural issues - a genuine lack of understanding. This relates back to a previous post about the importance of considering literacy strategies throughout teaching (irrespective of the subject).


Evidence has shown an increased student reading ability from the use of OTRs. Again, referencing the importance of literacy. See our literacy coordinator's blog here.

During our RTLB session today, we broke down some of the verbal and non-verbal responses used in our classes recently. Check out our ideas in the pictures above.

Verbal and non-verbal strategies were also discussed in depth in the reading, and provided me with some ideas to implement into the future. For example, we have mini-whiteboards in the department, which could be used in small groups to share ideas/opinions in class. Or, the use of response cards such as a traffic light system (red, orange and green cards to demonstrate understanding). A couple of tips the reading suggests when using response cards, is that there is a lively pace, specific feedback and a short time between questions.

Finally, I shared with the group some of the OTRs I use, or am learning about, that utilise technology (see Drawing with the links here). This was a great opportunity to share what I have picked up throughout the past 18 months on my MDTA journey! I am yet to try Nearpod and Mentimeter, and will be using Chelsea's blogposts (Nearpod, Mentimeter), to guide me. The others I have used in my practice and are continuing to develop.


I am looking forward to trying some of the OTR strategies I have learnt about in our RTLB sessions. One I am incredibly interested to learn about is peer teaching, as I think this could be very powerful in the classroom. I have discussed with Cheryl, our PCT facilitator the possibility of having a PCT session about peer teaching, and cannot wait to give it a go!

Friday, 23 June 2017

Teaching - The Realities


On Monday night, Mal Bish and I had the opportunity to share our experiences as Beginning Teachers to student HPE teachers. Hayden Viles follows us on Twitter and #NZBTchat, the chat we moderate. He tutors AUT student teachers, and wanted us to share some of the realities of being a BT - the questions unanswered at university. 

We felt so privileged to have this opportunity and to give back to the community! So we really gave everything we could think of, in the one hour time slot we were given. Although the presentation was not interactive at all, we felt successful walking away, as we were able to share many things we wish we knew about before getting our first jobs, 'tricks of the trade' Hayden suggested.

These are our presentation points, and we have also shared detailed descriptions and examples of the key points (i.e. our planning) with the student teachers.


Hayden gave us great feedback/feedforward in preparation for our PENZ conference presentation in two weeks time. Our presentation will be focused on our BT journey, as well as the affordance of Twitter for educators. Please see the main feedback points Hayden gave us in prep for our presentation in the infographic I created alongside.

Overall, we feel blessed to have this opportunity. We were encouraged to really reflect on our first 18 months of teaching and what we have struggled with. We wished we had of had the opportunity to have a Q&A session with 'real' BTs while we were at uni, as some of our lecturers had been out of teaching for a while. Finally, this presentation opportunity reinforced the power of Twitter, because we hadn't met Hayden until we showed up today! Please see Mal's blog reflection of our presentation!


Wednesday, 21 June 2017

Sporadically Seeking Student Voice

Today, as I was walking between periods, one of my students (Y10) randomly gave me some praise on my teaching. I had just finished teaching her and as I walked past her she said to me; 

"Miss, thanks for encouraging us to be our best. I like how you don't get angry quickly if someone is off task, and you try hard to get them to do their work. I feel like you really care about us". 

Obviously, this made me feel awesome! But realised I haven't randomly asked for student voice for a while, so endeavoured to get some throughout the day. As I'd had one Y10 give me positive feedback (who I teach for Health and PE), I asked two other students from the other year levels I teach. I asked the question - "What do you like about being in my class, or about my teaching?"

Y9 girl (Health): "You give real life examples of your own".

Y11 boy (PE): "Going around checking everyone and if they need help and asking questions if they need help".

I then asked three students (one from each year level), "What is something you would like me to change in my teaching?" the responses;

Y9 boy (Health): "More fun activities, and more talking about the videos".

Y10 boy (Health and PE): "Less instructions, tell us what to do, but don't carry on and talk".

Y11 girl (PE): "Not worry about the naughty people and worry about the people who want to learn".

So, reflecting on this feedback/feedforward some small things I can change are the length of instructions of given (make them short and sweet), the time spent managing behaviour (focus more on the students who are keen to learn), and increase the amount of reviews and discussions of activities in classes (so they make more sense and students feel they are doing something).

At the end of the term I will be asking for student voice about the teaching in learning in their Health/PE class in Term 2, and am looking forward to their responses to see how I can improve further!

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Prioritising our Priority Learners

Every second Tuesday we meet in Professional Learning Groups for full staff professional development. Our focus this term is based around our priority learners. These students are identified by the amount of credits they are yet to achieve. Tamaki College expect students to achieve a minimum of 20 credits towards their NCEA each term, so if students did not achieve 20+ credits during Term 1, they were identified as priority learners.

Within our PLG, we were asked to identify two priority learners, which we could help to 'get over the line'. As a group we brainstormed some plans of action or interventions we could put in place in order to help these learners. The ideas we discussed were:

  • Speak to previous teachers
  • Observe student in different subject (a subject where he/she has had some success)
  • Look to previous years results
  • Use a ViTaL/checkpoint approach
  • Move away from TKI instructions/education speak. Easy to understand success criteria
  • Whānau - might be siblings rather than just parents
  • Keep big picture clear as well as current assessment


Moving forward, we described the specific interventions we were going to put into place for our two priority learners, our plan of action. As the Doc includes many names about students and some personal information, see the two interventions I had planned in the screenshot to the right.

At the next PLG meeting, we reflected on what we had carried out as part of our intervention. Please see my previous post about observing one of my priority learners. I attempted to have one on one discussions with my other priority learner, however his attendance has been considerably low this term. You can see my PLG's overall reflections from our interventions in this Google Doc

Today we explored and broke down the 'Current Graduate Profile' of a student graduating from Tamaki College, alongside the Digital Age Learner Standards. This ignited many interesting conversations, which are summarised in the below Google Doc table.



After this discussion, we chose one of the graduate qualities and explained how/what we could do over the last few weeks of term to support our priority learner to develop the quality. See below my aim for my learner. I am already starting to see a increased motivation, he is asking more questions, and he is tracking well to achieve 10 credits in PE by the middle of next term! I am enjoying this learning process, and can't wait to hear how my colleagues are tracking with their learners.


Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Tackling New Vocabulary Strategies

Marc Milford is the Literacy Co-Ordinator (see his blog here) at Tamaki College, and yesterday presented some key strategies for teachers to help increase student's decoding skills of new words for our PCT meeting. We started by brainstorming the strategies we use, even as adults, to attack words we come across which we are unfamiliar of (see right). Marc quickly explained that students do not have these strategies, unless they are taught them, like we were. Therefore, even if we aren't English teachers, we need to be thinking about the texts we ask students to read, and how we are 'attacking' unfamiliar words with students.

See below Marc's presentation notes - we discussed some of the key problems/difficulties students have when attempting to make sense of a text and/or learn new words. One of the most common responses to new words I have seen in class, is giving up. Many of our students would rather give up, than try to break the word down, or to read around the word. As a result, their reading does not progress and they continue to struggle. Therefore, the mindset of a student towards their reading and vocabulary is incredibly important, as well as the strategies they are taught to attack words.



Throughout our discussion, I was thinking about how behind many of our students are, and the real need to accelerate our learners. Last year we spoke about the importance of talking, to be exposed to new words, that talking really does matter. Decile 1 students hear about 30 million less spoken words than their peers from other schools. Hence, the need to increase their vocabulary through reading, writing and discussions. The more students read, the more exposed they are to words, the more they recognise words and the more they put these words into practice. Our job is to help with this process.

As an addition to Marc's presentation and our discussion today, he provided us with the reading "8 Cs and a G" written by Dorothy Brown. Brown discusses her 9 strategies for teachers to support student vocabulary development, see my notes/thoughts about the reading here. I have reflected on the reading and today's session, and thought about how I could implement some of these strategies into my classes. I realised I am already doing many of them, but in different ways! See additional examples for English Language Leaners on TKI here.

Possible strategies moving forward:
- Use of clines for the affects of a drug on the body (short through to long term)
- Use of clines for responses to exercise (acute through to chronic)
- Collocations and clusters can be used to create webs/brainstorms of similar words to the new word, and to link the new word with common words. Could also weave in SOLO hexagons.
- Use of a thesaurus to teach students how synonyms can support with new vocabulary
- I need more 'creativity' - so providing students with multiple ways to learn/revise/apply their knowledge more often, such as Drawings, Slides, videos or essays.

A quote which I loved from the reading I keep pondering is "if the guess was wrong, still an effort was made and that in itself is better than being passive in the learning process" (p. 111). So, as teachers, irrespective of our subject, we need to help with decoding, breaking down and attacking new words to support's student vocabulary!

Sunday, 4 June 2017

Detecting Positive Pedagogies

Aside from one visit to Albany Senior High School last year, I hadn't observed any other teachers teaching. I felt because I was co-teaching, I was essentially observing another teacher's practice all the time, and did not spend free periods visiting other teachers. Until recently, I did not think again about observing another teacher. I now feel I have wasted ample opportunities to do so, and in turn better my practice! I have completed two observations this term and reflected on them, taking away different things from each class. 

I first went and observed a student in Science. This student is one of my priority students (students who have been identified as achieving below the expected number of credits). I chose to observe him in Science, because he had achieved credits in this subject, however I was struggling to motivate him to get engaged to complete his tasks in PE, let alone start assessments.

I was surprised by what I observed. Even though from the teacher's perspective he appeared to be daydreaming and off task, he was reading through additional material on the teacher's Science site, while listening to her instructions. When asked to complete his tasks, he did so promptly, especially when the instructions weren't complicated. If there were multiple steps to a task, his engagement reduced. 

I also observed the student asked for help one on one with the teacher, but not in front of his peers. When I asked what he found difficult about learning in Science, he said he is really judgmental of himself, so would rather not write anything, than write something and be wrong. The student suggested to me that he did not have a lack of motivation, but a lack of confidence in himself, and a fear of being wrong. This opened up a great discussion with the student about the importance of challenge, and in order to learn, there will be some hurdles to get over.

After this observation and conversation with the student, I have tried to have more one on one conversations with him, include more group activities (as he expressed this helps his learning and confidence), and give the student words of encouragement/praise when he attempts something new. I am starting to see a positive change in the student's mood and greater engagement in tasks in class! Fingers crossed in turn this will affect his achievement in PE.

Without the recognition of the student as a priority learner, and observing him in Science, I feel this student would still be slouching in his seat at the back of the room looking sad and unenthused about his tasks. So, I am excited to see how he progresses!

Following on from this observation, Cheryl (my PCT facilitator) suggested we complete a observation of an experienced teacher and then discuss our findings from the observation as our fortnightly PCT meeting. I have been having behaviour management difficulties with one of my Year 10 classes, so decided it was best to visit this class in another subject to see what strategies the teacher used. Some of my observations include; the importance of simple instructions, having revision activities, don't try to talk over students (or you will repeat yourself), break down words students may not be familiar with (see more about this in this post), and provide students with opportunities to peer teach.

Moving forward, the final point is what I am going to focus on - attempting to provide opportunities for students to share their knowledge and understanding with their peers. I hope by encouraging students who are more comfortable and confident to 'teach' their peers who are struggling, this supports all students learning. I also think this may help put some content/tasks into jargon which may make more sense for the students!

After these two observations, I have realised the benefit of observing teachers, students, classes, subjects different from my own. I would like to complete an observation of a beginning teacher (any subject), and an experienced teacher in my department next. I found the infographic on this site, which will help me with future observations!

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Student Voice & Planning - Under Construction

After reading Karen's post about feedback from her students at the end of a project, this encouraged me to reflect on my planning process and share how I too, am trying to include student voice in my planning.

Over the holidays I developed a brief unit outline for a Year 10 Exploring Substances unit, brainstorming the major topics I would like to teach . I teach six Year 10 Health classes, which are somewhat streamed, but I don't have time to develop six different units. I decided I would need to differentiate along the way with specific learning activities instead (such as adding in extension questions for the higher level learners, or changing word for the lower literacy learners). I also had designed the outline on my own, and really wanted the students current knowledge and interests to be included in the unit outline too.

Because I have around 140 students to cater for, I decided the easiest way to formatively assess students knowledge was through the use of a Google Form. As below, the Form asked a series of questions related to the topics I was interested to teach the students. From the students answers, collated into a Google Sheet, I could quickly see where the students had gaps in their knowledge (e.g. classes of drugs) and where students had greater knowledge (e.g. basic understanding of addiction). 




I then asked students to send me a personal email explaining what they would like to learn about during the exploring substances unit. I, like Karen, find it difficult to motivate students to share their thoughts honestly. Many of the students said 'anything' or 'whatever you want to teach', rather than taking this an an opportunity to have their say in their learning. This is something I am trying to change slowly.  I made the below Wordle to illustrate the most common words students used in their email requests, as majority of the students did flick me an email. 


After reading through student responses on the Google Sheet and reading each email, I used these to reshape my unit plan to suite my 140 learners in Year 10 currently. Although the unit is not individualised for every class, and definitely not for every student, the unit provides me with a skeleton to teach from, and is a great base for next year.

Similar to Karen, I will be sending out the same Google Form at the end of the term as a summative assessment of learning, and will also send students another Form to provide feedback about the unit. I am hoping by the end of the term (5 more lessons of Health), students will feel more comfortable to express what they would have changed/liked more of. Their feedback will support the Exploring Substances unit for next year, as well as their unit next term.

I feel it is super important for me to try and differentiate between classes and learners, but with so many classes this year my priority is trying to develop skeleton unit plans which can be built upon, with greater student voice in the future. As the unit plan is all over the place at the moment, I will share some of my skeleton units later in the term!