Monday, 26 February 2018

Inquiring into Closures, Debriefs & Exit Strategies

As previously blogged about, Ako Orewa is striving for students to be able to identify and explain why they are learning what they're learning. For students to become advocates for their own learning, rather than the teacher. Last year, some feedback on observations I got, was the lack of exit strategies within my lessons. My previous HOD suggested to think about some ways I could debrief the lesson, or small strategies to determine whether students can explain the lesson objectives, and whether they met the learning intentions. Therefore, I have decided to focus on exit strategies for my teaching inquiry

I am teaching Year 12 Health for the first time this year, learning and teaching lots of new ideas and concepts. By integrating exit strategies, or closure tasks, at the end of some lessons, this would be great feedback for me to determine how the lessons are going, and where I may need to make alterations for future. The strategies may also support the growth of learner agency, as students may be able to identify and explain the learning intentions of the lesson, the pathway the learning is heading, and possibly encourage students to identify what they still need to learn.

From an initial Google Search, I have already found a few ideas online (e.g. 22 Powerful Closures, Entry & Exit Cards, and 10 Smart Tools for Digital Exit Slips). But, if you have any to share, please let me know, as I'm willing to give anything a go to see what works for my students! At this stage I will spend this week researching some different tools and reading some academic literature, then possibly start implementing them next week.

Monday, 19 February 2018

Learner Agency Take 1

Image result for learning goals eduwellsAfter our callback days earlier in the year, we selected one of the sessions we attended to be our PLG for 2018. I decided to have greater understanding of the school's pedagogy and philosophy, I would attend the Ako Orewa sessions. Ako Orewa is an initiative starting to be developed, to promote greater learner agency, with an aim to 'put the horse before the cart'.

For our first PLG session today, I spent the time to try and get my head around the concept of Ako Orewa. The purpose of the developing pedagogy is to increase students' ability to identify how they are learning, what they are learning and where they are going next. Overall, Ako Orewa is encouraging the shift from teachers teaching, towards teachers facilitating, and students taking the lead. By increasing students' confidence to take ownership of their learning, will prepare the students better for the 'real world', where they rarely have someone as a fountain of knowledge to rely on. 

The department goal directly aligns with Ako Orewa too. Our aim is to increase students' understanding of the learning process. This is something I am definitely still trying to get my head around myself in all honesty. As I am learning so much, I am feeling a little overwhelmed with everything, but know this learning process is important for students. Some key questions for students about the learning process, which I am aiming towards over the next few weeks are;

Why am I doing this?
How am I progressing?
What do I need to do next?
Who can support me for my next steps?

Image result for ako orewa
Although these seem like simple questions, I sadly admit many of my students are probably unable to answer some of these questions, particularly the why. To increase learner agency as an initial step for me, is to actively describe the bigger picture. I often ask myself this question when planning lessons, but don't share my thinking with the students. I need to make it a habit of mine to explain the purpose of the activities completed or resources used, so the students have greater holistic understanding, rather than being able to regurgitate their task instructions, as I feel many would currently if asked what they are doing and why.

I am looking forward to another year of learning in a PLG, and sharing my reflections in future posts!

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Waitangi Day - More Than A Day Off

Despite dozens of lessons about the Treaty of Waitangi throughout school, I woke up this morning feeling guilty I had forgotten so much about a historical moment of New Zealand's history. The Māori, and the British showing great mana. With some quick Googling and watching YouTube videos, I reminded myself of the key things that occurred on the 6th of February 1840, before Waitangi Day became a public holiday to commemorate the signing in 1960.
  • There were growing plans of British migrants to settle in New Zealand, acquiring land and setting up commercial operations
  • Violence and crime between the Māori and British became rife
  • Lieutenant-Governor William Hobson negotiated British sovereignty over New Zealand as a representative for the Queen, and set up a British colony
  • The Treaty was an agreement between the British Crown and Māori iwi (tribes) and hapu (subtribes), with a purpose to enable the British settlers and the Māori people to live together in New Zealand under a common set of laws or agreements
  • The Treaty was named after the location of signing, Waitangi, in the Bay of Islands 
    Image result for treaty of waitangi
Today's article in the New Zealand Herald What does Waitangi Day mean to you?, identified some scary statistics about inequity between Māori and non-Māori today, despite the Treaty. There continues to be differences in understanding, more than 2000 claims lodged by the tribunal and many settlements. This article really made me think about what Waitangi Day means to me, after reading others' thoughts. I was not surprised, but I was disappointed that many of the people in the article merely considered Waitangi as a day off in the sun, with no significance to our past. However, multiple expressed their frustrations about the ongoing discussions and debates about the Treaty.

Tonight I reflected and thought about where we are at now. We live in a multicultural community, and I wouldn't want it to be any different. Without this integral moment of history, it is unlikely we would have so much diversity in our country today. I feel sad for the Maori that their land became co-owned, but proud of the challenges and risks they took. We have a rich cultural background which should be celebrated, and a beautiful native language. Unfortunately though, the amount of people who can speak Te Reo is reducing rapidly, and I fear as a result, so is the Māori culture.

I am trying to include more Te Reo words and phrases into my classroom this year, to normalise the language. I would like to teach myself more about customs and practices, so that I can embed these into my teaching and learning also. I believe if we all contribute where and when we can to hold onto the Māori culture, irrespective of our background, then Waitangi Day will have greater significance, and our history will not be forgotten.

Today I started by wearing my taonga (greenstone from my previous school) at my new local moana!

Tuesday, 30 January 2018

The Inaugural Kahui Ako

Today was the first time Orewa College has collaborated with the local primary schools to learn about the COL leaders inquiries moving forward. Our day started with a Keynote presentation from Derek Wenmoth - Deep and Engaging Learning, followed by three self elected sessions.

What stuck with me was when Derek said "Unless we understand where we come from, it's difficult to determine where to go next". I feel I know very little about where education began, and how it has developed, even though I know it has considerably. Derek shed a little light on why some foundations that were created/theorised back in the day, which are still prevalent now, such as subjects. 

To deepen understanding, Derek suggested the 6 C's; Creativity, Critical Thinking, Communication, Character, Citizenship, Collaboration. He suggested that teachers and kids are becoming bored, and we need to get more excited about learning by shifting away from testing, standardisation and repetition, and put these 6 C's are the forefront of our teaching and learning.

For my first session I attended, we focused on the Key Competencies and how to use them to enrich learning in the classroom. The KC's are an integral component of the New Zealand Curriculum, but I still felt I needed to learn more about how to keep at the front of my mind when planning and teaching. 

I had previously seen Richard Wells' 5 tools for learning poster, which breaks down the KCs, and today's session built upon how I could relate to these in the classroom. The presenters had packs of cards which had the KCs on one side, and then a suggestion of how the KC may be covered in a lesson. Our task was to choose one of our unit plans, and explain how each of the five KCs were being developed during the unit, using the card prompts. I broke down my Exploring Substances unit, and found this a great task to deepen the unit plan, and ensure the KCs are deepening.  

Session two was an introduction to some ways to use visual media within the classroom. Although I had exposure to a lot of media tools during MDTA, I attended the session to learn about the sorts of things which happen here. My inquiry this year will be focused on literacy strategies, so I was interested how media can support digital/visual literacy, and in turn increase verbal and written literacy. 

Some of the suggestions for how to include visual media and imagery, which I could see possibilities for my classes included;

- to tell a story
- creation of storyboards
- breaking down feelings and other things that relate to the picture being taken
- further justification of the pictures being taken, what represents the story that you're trying to depict and why
- creation of movies to explain key words, or ideas that need to take away
- use of still shots can be stitched together to create a short film
- creating memes or GIFs

We had ten minutes to create a photo collage, I created the one alongside, which I thought may be a poster to put up in my classroom. I have seen lots of my friends and students use the app Pic Collage, so this was a perfect opportunity. Another suggested app was Clips for Apple.

The final session of the day introduced the first full cross curricula course at OC; Maths, English and PE. They explained how cross-curricular teaching is about crossing the boundaries we have, breaking the silos and disciplines. There was a strong emphasis on the need to prepare the students for the ever-changing future, which is not like our traditional schooling. 

I am excited by the concept of knocking down the walls between subjects, and learning becoming more wholesome, rather than fragments. There appears to be many positives about cross-curricular learning, for both teachers and students (e.g. greater relevance, relationships developed, greater higher order thinking and transferable skills). However, lots of time and planning is required. For this reason, I am going to keep cross-curricular teaching on the backfoot until next year. I would like to get on board with the team next year, once I know my learners and the school more!

Overall, it was a great day, clearly with lots of learning taking place. I met lots of new people, and became very excited for the learning that will take place in the coming months, for myself and my students!

Friday, 26 January 2018

The Beginning of Chapter 2

After two incredible years at Tamaki College, this week I have started the second chapter of my teaching journey. I had so many successes throughout my time at TC, and learnt a huge amount about myself, my teaching and my subjects. I feel I progressed well throughout the year, meeting my 2017 goals, completing my dissertation and Honours degree, graduated from the MDTA, presented at PENZ conference, was awarded Outstanding New Professional Award, and moderated a Twitter chat... all of this on top of my teaching! Last year really was a full on, rewarding year. I was very sad to farewell the TC staff and students.

Orewa College holds new challenges, new learning and most excitedly a new experience for me. Over the past few days we've had introductions to PLGs, and the PD opportunities that we will be offered throughout the year. The staff seem like lovely, hardworking, and dedicated people, especially those in my department. 

Looking ahead, I am most excited to be teaching Level 2 Health for the first time, and to be teaching classes from Years 9 through to 13! I can already feel myself asking lots of questions, thinking about where I want to go with my teaching, and wondering how to best connect with my learners. I am really looking forward to meeting them, and know I will be writing a post week 1 reflection!

As I don't know my learners or the school yet, I am unsure what my 2018 goals will be yet. I am going to spend time getting to know the new role, before thinking about where to go next. Watch this space, and wish me luck!