Sunday, 30 July 2017
One of my goals this year is to read educational blogs. Even though I have read lots of posts, I have not found the time to reflect on many of them. I stumbled across two articles on Twitter about teacher professional development (PD), which encouraged me to start thinking about the PD I am involved in. The articles were Craig Kemp's 4 ways to improve teacher professional learning, and Richard Wells' Why Teacher Professional Development has to be D.I.Y.
Recently, after attending the PENZ conference, I have been reflecting on the importance of regular, personalised PD. I love how the conference (like the Google Summit conference) offered a huge variety of sessions, which I could pick and choose between, rather than a set programme. This enabled me to develop where I feel I have gaps in my knowledge. Richard mentions that "changes are happening too quickly to expect institutions like schools to be able to organise enough one-size-fits-all training to keep all teachers up-to-date", which relates back to the importance of individualised, self-selected professional development, especially with the growth and demand of the use of technology within classrooms today.
Craig suggested four tips to improve professional learning for teachers;
1) Encourage Social Media Use for anywhere, anytime learning.
I feel I am ahead of many others, as I have been active on Twitter for one year now, and in that one year I have made many connections, found new resources and my thinking has been challenged. As a result, I have also been moderating a chat I created alongside a friend (Mal Bish). We presented at PENZ about our journey on Twitter and how we think that it is incredibly valuable for educators. So, I am 100% supportive of this tip!
2) Establish a Coaching Pedagogy
"You are never left on your own, but you are expected to take some steps to do things on your own, increase your skill set, and push yourself to be better". I feel this is so true. I am saddened there are many teachers who aren't continuing to learn, aren't continuing to push themselves, and so aren't increasing their skill sets. Every day I am wondering how I could be better, or how lessons could have gone better, or how I can increase my students enjoyment and engagement! This tip suggests you become responsible for your own learning.
3) Establish a Professional Learning Network (PLN)
This time last year I was encouraged to get on Twitter, but I was very hesitant, fearing it was 'just another social media'. However, I now know that it is incredibly valuable having people around the world, and around the country to support me, and give me tips/resources when needed.
Craig mentions how he can ask a question on Twitter and quickly he will get an array of responses from around the world, which I have experienced too. For example, last Sunday afternoon I tweeted asking for help to teach a new topic, and multiple people responded within an hour, with resource ideas or activity suggestions. Many of them I hadn't met before! So there is often someone out there to help.
Additionally, Richard's post discussed the reduced need for teaching about applications to use within classes, but an increased necessity to develop our PLNs. Like my tweet, Richard suggests a PLN can "directly tackle [teachers] most pressing professional needs". So when I have burning questions, using my digital PLN is incredibly helpful, at any time of the day and any day of the week!
Check out Sylvia Duckworth's sketchnote, which gives further reasons for the development of a PLN.
4) Make Learning Fun and Personalised (and provide TIME)
Although Senior Leadership need to create the overall strategies goals for the school, and think about how they can support the teachers to reach the goals, the teachers PD needs to have some freedom. Craig discusses the importance of teachers having the freedom to learn about what they feel is important for their development, and be provided with the facilities and time for that PD. This is evident in our PLGs at school and our priority learners. Regularly in our PLGs we have an icebreaker type activity, so our learning and reflections are fun/enjoyable. For example, alongside you can see my 'Avatar' I created of myself, which I then had to explain to my group.
The overall school goal is to improve student achievement in NCEA, and we have all been asked to have a priority learner or two. From there we needed to determine what to do to support our priority learners progress, therefore we had an umbrella expectation but could take the steps we felt necessary to support our priority learners to achieve more credits.
After reading and summarising these articles, I am left wondering where to next? I feel I am quite active about finding support when I need it, but I think I need to reflect more regularly on what my weaknesses or gaps in my learning are. From there can seek out the appropriate professional development. Not necessarily appropriate for everyone else, but appropriate for ME and my learning journey.
Thursday, 27 July 2017
Today I observed Karen Ferguson (her blog here) and her Years 7&8 in Design and Visual Communications (DVC) class. I chose to observe Karen because she is a COL leader, is our Google go-to at school and is currently part of Google Class On Air. Therefore, Karen has experience with visible teaching and learning, and the Learn, Create, Share process. I feel I am still developing my confidence to incorporate the learn, create, share pedagogy into my practice, so this was the focus of my observation.
I asked three students the steps of accessing their learning from when they walk in the door, and what they thought about it. These were their responses;
- We go onto the rotation sheet because that has our tasks. I like because everything is in one place. I don’t have to go lots of places to find my files.
- We go here to see what we have to do, and what we have to do next. I like this because if I don’t know what I am doing, I can just go here to see what I am doing and then ask for help if I don’t understand
- Miss gives us instructions and examples of what we need to do. We can also see the rotation sheet and this shows us where we need to go and what we need to do. I like it because it’s easy for the teacher and us to see our work, and the teacher can see our blogs too.
The rotation sheet the students mention, is the tracking sheet of tasks (see picture below). Students access this Sheet to see what they are expected to complete, where they are up to and where they are heading, which is great accountability, and tracking of their learning. I have been attempting to use tracking sheets in my practice this year, particularly in Y11 (see Sheet here). These tracking sheets allow for differentiation within the class, which was evident in Karen's class today. The students were all working at different levels, on different tasks, in different parts of the room - it was incredible!
Reflecting after the lesson, I feel I am heading this way with my students slowly in Year 11, but definitely need to refer to the tracking sheet more often in class. Like the class I observed today, I probably need to include the expectation to access the tracking sheet at the start and/or end of every lesson, to continue with their tasks. I suppose with the nature of PE, this is a little different though. I also realised all of the students' links are open for anyone to view, but in my classes most of the students' creations are only visible by myself and the student. The students in today's observation were using their peers creations to support their learning journey, which I thought was incredibly powerful. Moving forward, I would like to encourage students to share more of their work with their peers, so they can learn from one another, rather than always learning from me! I hope that this may engage and motivate more learners in the classroom too, particularly the students who rely on me helping them individually.
Finally, I asked students to give me an example of when they have completed the Learn, Create, Share process in DVC;
- We learn about an idea or something, then we design and make it and then we share it - usually with our peers like a presentation, sometimes on our blog.
- Miss gives us a template to write our ideas on, and then we create our own. After we have finished creating it, we have to put onto our blogs for evidence to show that we have done it.
- We learnt about different types of clocks, and then based off of the different types of clocks we had to make our own. Once we drew and made our own clocks, we shared on our blogs with a description of what we did and our creations
Although I am trying hard to include the L,C,S pedagogy, I do not feel my students could articulate how this is evident in their class like the students did today. This is an end goal for me for next year. To do so, I need to make the process more obvious to the students, by referring to the process more often. Our balance and stability lessons (see Autymn's blog, and Isiah's blog to see further), were a great example of the process. The students learnt about a biomechanical principle, participated in a practical, created a resource to represent their learning and then shared on their blogs a synopsis of the learning process. However, I don't think students could yet explain this as Learn, Create, Share. Something to work on.
Overall, I enjoyed the observation, and think that having a specific focus meant I took away much more than if I didn't have a focus.
Sunday, 23 July 2017
I cannot believe we start Term 3 tomorrow. I have completed 18 months of teaching! Time is flying by, so thought I would take some time to reflect on how I am tracking related to my 2017 goals.
1) More time for me
Throughout Term 2 I felt like I had barely any 'me time'. I felt very busy and incredibly stressed trying to juggle everything, especially with a bad back. However, since I started teaching, this has been the most social term I have had so far. I spent lots of time with my friends, rekindling friendships I hadn't spent much time developing last year, and strengthening my relationships with my closest friends. So although my taha hinengaro is a little down, my taha whanau is the strongest it has been for the past 18 months.
During the holidays I read a book about Matariki (see my reflection here), and this made me realise how much I love to read for pleasure. So throughout the coming term I need to spend more time reading and doing things I enjoy - that isn't work related!!
2) Read educational blogs
Due to my regular engagement with Twitter, I have found lots of blogposts to read, which I have really enjoyed. Some posts have made me reflect about my own practice, some have shared resources, and some have encouraged me to explore further. Throughout Term 2 I have tried to leave comments here and there, because I know how much I love when I have comments on my posts! Cheryl and Marc both started working at Tamaki this year, and have embraced blogging, so I regularly read, comment and share their posts within my own.
3) Experiment with more digital tools
Last holidays I attended the Google Summit, and one of my takeaways was Google Expeditions introduced to me by Angela. As part of the Y10 exploring substances unit (resources here), we completed an Expedition called Human Anatomy, Respiratory System - Smoking and Your Lungs. This enabled us to track down the trachea and into the lungs to look at the alveoli then explore what can happen to the lungs from smoking cigarettes (see the below pictures). The students were incredibly engaged and asked lots of questions about the lungs, oxygen intake, cigarettes and other effects on the body. So, this new digital tool was a great success, which I will definitely be including again next year! I am hoping to include a couple of others into my anatomy revision lessons with my Year 11s in the coming few weeks!
I have also tried to include educational games into the lessons, as I know many of our students love gaming. These include the alcohol clock game, a cyberbullying decision making game, Anatomy Arcade and Interland. I feel therefore, I am tracking well with this goal and look forward to learning and implementing more tools.
4) Attend more extra curricular activities
I have watched a girls rugby game and a girls basketball game during the term. I was able to make connections with some students who I have struggled to connect with in the classroom environment, and also see some students participate in another part of their lives, which was so great! Last year I enjoyed supporting the First XV, and hope to attend a game or two during Term 3.
Throughout Term 2 I leapt out of my comfort zone and started coaching the U17 boys basketball team. I played miniball when I was much younger, but never basketball, and I have certainly never coached it before! I have had lots of support and fun so far, it's been a great learning journey! I will reflect in a few weeks once the season has finished.
5) Include blogging into 11PE
This is part of my dissertation and inquiry process for 2017. I will be reflecting on this specifically in a couple of weeks, because our next PCT meeting is about inquiry, and so is our next #NZBTchat.
I feel overall though, that for most of the class blogging has improved their confidence and their writing. Others have struggled to post, who I will continue to work with throughout the next term. I have really enjoyed reading through the students posts, and seeing their portfolio building up!
Bring on another big term, with heaps of exciting things on the way including teaching sexuality education for the first time!
Saturday, 22 July 2017
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
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).
Other people who have been incredibly supportive of Mal and I, and the development of the chat are Rachael, Carl, Susie, Alex, Hayden, Myles, Hanchen, 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.
Sunday, 16 July 2017
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
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
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.