Friday, 21 April 2017

Google, Google and More Google!

For the past two days I have been cramming lots of new information, tools and resources into my brain at the EdTechTeam Google Apps for Education Summit at Aorere College. The conference included 8 sessions, 2 keynotes, a demo slam session and ignite talks, all based around Google in some shape or form! I have left with lots of new ideas, and feeling mentally exhausted as the two days were jam packed. Overall I really enjoyed, and was thankful for the opportunity to attend - this post outlines the highlights for me across the two days.

As I have blogged about before, I think Twitter is so valuable as an educator. Throughout the conference we were tweeting regularly using the hashtag #edtechteam (this is used globally so will continue to grow). I have followed and been inspired by the work of Richard Wells and Stuart Kelly since joining Twitter, and I was really excited to have the opportunity to meet the two of them (see pictures). In addition to Twitter, the summit was a great opportunity to network, meet new people and put some faces to names. I feel I am always in my HPE world, so I liked stepping into the wider GAFE community.

My top session takeaways;

Kimberley Hall shared her A-Z list of Googley things. This session was incredibly fast paced, going through dozens of extensions and websites useful for educators. I left feeling bombarded, but have lots of new things to try out! My favourites include the Boomerang extension for gmail (allows you to resend and schedule emails to send), Autodraw (you draw pictures and it offers ready made pictures which look like yours), and Q&A in Slides (useful for when there is a need to 'chalk and talk' or when presenting - allows the audience to ask questions directly to you within the Google Slides).

Jeffery Heil discussed why educators should teach about failure, drawing on the work of Carol Dweck's growth vs fixed mindset. He explored the need for discussions in the classroom about how 'failure' should be recognised as positive for steps towards success. Jeffery also discussed the need for rubrics to encourage students to aim for mastery, not provide opportunities for students to aim achievement lower than needed/failure. This really made me think about the importance of having high expectations for my students, encouraging all to aim for Excellence. Unfortunately, many of my students have the 'Achieved will do' attitude he talked about, which is something I am hoping to change.

Angela Lee's session explored some Virtual Realities which can be used in the classroom, including Google Expedition. I am excited to try and use some of the VRs throughout the anatomy unit particularly, so students are able to 'look inside' the body'. Expeditions investigate multiple systems within the body such as the respiratory system (which could also be used in Health, as it discusses the impact smoking has on the lungs). Because anatomy involves a lot of rote learning, I am keen to include new and exciting ways to learn about the body, that isn't memory based. Some of the apps Angela suggested specifically related to the body include Anatomyou and Anatomy 4D (Augmented Reality). Very excited to have a play!

Following on from my interest in enhancing my culturally responsive pedagogy, including the need to increase my use of reo in the classroom, I attended Te Mihinga Komene's session. She suggested some ways of getting to know where we, and our students come from. We used Māori Maps to research our local maraes and find out further information. I feel there is so much more I need to know about myself and more about my students after this session. I love how she shared some ways to 'pimp our pepeha's' - because I am going to write mine this term! The HOD of Māori at school and I are going to create a digital version of my pepeha, because my students create them too. Throughout, I am likely to learn more of the language to include into my teaching and learning.

To conclude, however, many of the sessions I did not attend, and some I did attend, really highlighted how much I do know. Even though I am only second year, so have very little experience, I forget how far I have come since the beginning of 2016. The conference showed me that I know so much more than I thought I did, so maybe I could present something next year! I highly recommend the conference for educators from all fields and of any ability/confidence level.

I am excited to try out all of my new things, and possibly get my Level 2 if I find time...

Sunday, 9 April 2017

An Attempt to Breakdown Culturally Responsive Pedagogy

Culturally Responsive Pedagogy (or Practice) is something I have wanted to explore for a while. I felt that I didn't really understand what it actually was, and whether or not I demonstrated a culturally responsive practice. 

I thought this would be insightful, for my 100th blogpost!

After our Teacher Only Day on the 27th of Feb, a couple of readings and additional support and discussions I now feel a little more comfortable with CRP.

Steven Rowe facilitated our discussion about Culturally Responsive Pedagogy for our Teacher Only Day, and shaped most of the session around The Guiding Principles of Ka Hikitia. These five principles (Treaty of Waitangi, Māori potential approach, Ako, Identity, language and cultures count, and Productive partnerships) encompass key aspects of teaching and learning with Māori students. Essentially, these are foundations of CRP, so can be applied to teaching and learning with all cultures. 

Some of the key things from the principles which helped me to understand CRP are;
  • The importance of caring for the learners, their backgrounds and stories
  • The need for high expectations of our students, irrespective of their culture (additionally breaking down any possible stereotypes)
  • Learning is a two-way street, therefore there is no position of power in the classroom because the teachers are learning from the students too
  • Exploring words/terms in other languages can help make sense of the English terms
  • Teaching and learning needs to extend into whānau/the wider community
We also discussed a research article/personal account written by Annie Siope (2013). Siope explores her thoughts and experiences as a Pacific person in education, positioned around her understanding of CRP. I found this article incredibly interesting, complementing the guiding principles, and you can see my take-aways from the article here.

Steven also showed us this clip, as food for thought...



An additional article, Te Tiriti o Waitangi - living the values, discusses how we are all including The Treaty of Waitangi into our practice due to the 'three P's', which also align with the guiding principles and Siope's findings; 

Partnership: Working together with Māori whānau/communities at all levels of education, such as feedback from students to improve teaching and learning, or students co-constructing units/lessons with their teachers.

Protection: Actively demonstrating a commitment to the protection of Māori culture and cultural values, such as the normalisation of Te Reo within the school.

Participation: An emphasis on positive involvement of Māori within the school, such as strengthening the home-school partnership.

I have also been privileged to have had presentations from a Māori teacher, and a Tongan teacher about their experiences, as part of my Provisionally Certified Teachers support meeting. As part of the Twitter chat I co-moderate, we attempted to discuss what CRP too (see our discussion here). Therefore, there are considerable resources to help shape our understanding of culturally responsive pedagogy and how we can demonstrate within our practice. 

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Success Should Be Justified

A couple of weeks ago I attended a Sunday afternoon PD organised by PENZ. The session was geared towards beginning teachers in the Health and PE field, focused around common struggles BTs have. I was unfortunately unable to attend last year, but thought the schedule looked valuable.

Even though I now have one year experience, it was a great reminder of some things I often do not take the time to stop and think about. We explored a variety of topics including keeping ourselves safe, marking and moderation, culturally responsive pedagogy and gathering evidence for our registration. 

One key takeaway for me was the reminder of the importance of checking assessment specifications and clarification notes for NCEA assessments, something I did not do last year because I was co-teaching with an experienced teacher. In hindsight, I fear I may have put too much trust into my co-teacher when it came to creating, marking and moderating assessments. I should have regularly checked and critiqued the assessments we were using and asked questions when I wasn't sure or felt something was a little off. At the end of the day, I want my students to be successful and achieve as many credits they can, but I want it to be reliable/accurate.

This year our department is giving 110% to ensure the assessments we create are correct and enable success, and our marking and moderation is accurate. Today's session encouraged me to reflect on what I need to do this year with my Year 11s to make sure they are achieving to their best potential and are graded correctly. My students first assessment of the year is due tonight, today I have started to feel more comfortable  about marking, particularly how to distinguish the difference between a Merit and an Excellence.

A huge thank you to Amy Tipene, Katie Spraggon and Ashlee Ross for running the workshop, I will be suggesting the 2018 first years to attend!