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Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Reflection Post: Maths Tuakana, Whole Class Maths and Student Voice

After our data discussion at the end of last term (click link to view blog post re: T2 data), we reviewed our maths programmes and discussed ways we could change, improve, innovate on our programmes for greater student outcomes.  As a team, we decided on implementing a 'double period' of maths each morning (2 hours of maths) and to focus on basic facts as well as integrating strand and problem solving in this time.

I began this term structuring my 2 hours into two parts:  the first part, whole class approach and the second part, instructional groups.

As I have been inquiring into culturally responsive practice and increased cultural visibility across the curriculum, I have looked into mixed ability grouping, in particular, students choosing their own Maths Tuakana - and we use this term in both whole class and instructional group settings.

Having Year 7s and 8s I have tried to use whole class teaching as a transitional approach to what students might experience in Year 9 and have aimed lessons at Level 4.  In this way, I have found students are now recognising why I have been harping on about the importance of basic facts.  They now understand why it will be important to their learning in Year 9.  This has strengthened motivation for basic facts practice.

Today I constructed a student voice survey to see if the students themselves were enjoying this new approach to Maths.  This is a presentation of the data from the survey and the implication for myself.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Inquiry Lesson: Cultural visibility with a SOLO twist!

Currently, we are inquiring into hobbies - or how to fill our leisure time in positive ways.  We have made links to our past inquiries through Te Whare Tapa Whā, which gives all our learning purpose in building the best versions of ourselves.

This lesson was about hobbies from the past.  I wanted to make the point that the context we are in, can impact the decisions we make.

We looked at the context of people in the past and present.

The circle models you will see from slides 5-7 has been a big help to provide a visual aide for students learning what 'context' means.  Now, I can physically gesture, by making a circle in the air as I am asking students to describe contexts or tell me what context means.

I have used whakataukī again, to illustrate the values and beliefs of our tupuna...I find this is one of the easiest and accessible ways to bring depth to a lesson if you are trying to make links to whakaaro Māori.  We discussed that laziness was frowned upon, hard work was admired.  We talked about the development of technology and how that impacts on the way we can manage ourselves.  We discussed war past and - possibly present!  

The table on slide 12 was printed and completed collaboratively in groups of 2-3.  Students then turned their paper over to complete the last paragraph (assessment task) from slide 13.

The paragraph on slide 13 is based on the SOLO taxonomy to encourage higher order thinking in inquiry time.  I used this resource to help me select my sentence starters...

This lesson took about an hour and was done in the afternoon!  It was long, but worth it as students can now describe what context is, how it can impact on people's choices and understand hobbies past and present.  

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

Going Beyond the Hemi Part 3: Cultural Visibility in Maths

One area of the curriculum that I am trying to rethink in terms of cultural visibility, is Maths.  This is a reflection on one very small manageable thing I have started to do to work towards achieving this in a way that isn't token, but captures principals of Ka Hikitia, whakaaro Māori and wairua Māori.

Numbers are universal, so how do I reflect the lives of experiences of students through Algebra?  Geometry?  Multiplicative thinking?  One thing we see time and time again, is changing names in number problems to Māori names, and calling it a day.  "Hemi had 5 oranges, he ate another 3 oranges, how many oranges did he eat all together?"  Or maybe, if you're feeling extra cultural, "Hemi had 5 kūmara, he peeled another 3, how many kūmara did he peel all together?"

So there was my challenge - how do I go beyond the Hemi in Maths?  Something that should be quite straight forward?  Formulaic?  Black and white?

At Tāmaki, our Maths data is looking a bit sad in comparison to our Reading and Writing.  In the syndicate I work in, we've decided to do double period maths and how we organise that 2 hour block, has been left up to us.  I've decided to teach whole class in the first hour, and then break up into differentiated groups for the second hour.  In the first, students are allowed to choose who they work with to solve the whole class problems.

So what did I try today?

We've started using the term:  MATHS TUAKANA and I have asked the question today, WHO IS YOUR MATHS TUAKANA?

On, Tuakana means:  1. (noun) elder brothers (of a male), elder sisters (of a female), cousins (of the same gender from a more senior branch of the family).

At Tāmaki, we have Tuakana (older)/Teina (younger) classes, in which senior and junior classes are matched up and work together throughout the term.  Buddy reading might be a traditional example you have heard of.   We do art with our little ones and my class also helps our 'teina' class with bike riding.

Tuakana/Teina, captures the idea of the expert helping the less expert.

When working with my instructional group today, a student said, "Miss, [Student] should be in the group up, because he's getting this faster than us."  I replied with, "Maybe [Student] can be your Maths Tuakana..."  The boys smiled at each other, and [Student] took his role seriously, even saying to me towards the end of their dice game, "Yep, Miss, they've got it now."

This supports our school value of AKO, in which all learners are expected to be both learners AND teachers.  I like it because ANYONE can be a tuakana in a given situation.

I think this is a simple thing to change and include - but sometimes, it's all about teacher dialogue in the class.  MATHS TUAKANA is something I want to continue to use, say, practice and celebrate throughout this term.  Perhaps I would extend it to, "How were you a Maths Tuakana today?"  Or, "Who was your Maths Tuakana and what did they help you to achieve?"

Who was your maths tuakana was growing up?  Mine was my older sister.  My literal tuakana!

Sunday, 30 July 2017

CoL Checkpoint - My Inquiry Summary as at 27th July

At our last CoL meeting, we were asked to complete this analysis of our inquiry.  It was a great opportunity to step back and simplify the whole process up until this point.

I wanted to blog this as an inquiry summary for anyone interested in reading a quick overview of my inquiry so far...before deciding if the rest of my blog might be worth trawling through!

So here it is!

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

End of T2 Data - Setting T3 Goals - CoL checkpoint T3

Last term, we had a great data discussion as a syndicate to analyse the T2 June data, compare it to that of 2016 and identify target students.  As I am working towards Manaiakalani Goal 1:

"Raise Māori student achievement through the development of cultural visibility and responsive practices across the pathway as measured against National Standards and agreed targets for reading Years 1-10 and NCEA years 11-13"

And my whole class is made up of Māori learners, it is a gift and curse I get to analyse the data of an entire class and set goals for all of my students!  Although the Manaiakalani goal I am working towards focuses on Reading, I am focusing on all learning areas this year with my targeted class of Māori learners.  From this data, we identified who had made no shift from June to June, who had dropped back and who has made shifts up the National Standard levels.

From this data we were able to find focus in our teaching and it was the catalyst for some new activity ideas.

One major change has been to move Maths time to the morning block - meaning we would have 2 hours of Maths (like a double period?).  Literacy would be integrated across the curriculum for the remainder of the day through inquiry, reading, writing, science, art, etc.

The Kia Manawanui teacher aide, Kelly and I have worked closely to develop set times for target students so they're almost getting double teacher time, which is also very exciting.

It's great to be in a team that is flexible and bold enough to make these changes mid year.  So far (day 2!) students are enjoying the changes.  This is why Term 3 is my favourite!  We get to just get stuck in and do the teaching and learning!

Here is a screencast where I talk through a bit of my data and describe some things we are putting in place...enjoy!

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Matariki - The best context for learning!

It's Matariki!  I've basically integrated the whole curriculum at the moment and am finding it really enjoyable to teach.  I think the students are finding it enjoyable to learn about because in true Year 7 and 8 style, they love learning anything about themselves, reflecting on themselves, paying tribute to their own whānau and just making everything about themselves, basically!

I am going to share a few key resources I have used so far in the last couple of weeks and ways we have integrated learning about Matariki into our bicultural learning space...


  • Many school journals have stories or articles about Matariki.  Use the Journal surf search website to find them!
  • I have just used 'The Seven Stars of Matariki' article from this pack that I bought off teachers-pay-teachers. 
  • We participated in a community planting day.  Here is a movie about our experience.
    • This could be followed up with many activities:  recount writing, 5 senses poetry, description writing.
    • We followed it up with this reflection task based on the SOLO taxonomy.
  • Learning songs:
    • A song I wrote myself on my course last year - I will post a video!
    • The Matariki Macarena song.
    • Atua Māori waiata - which is also a karakia.
  • This goal setting task with connections to the natural world.
  • Students are currently writing their own Matariki creation narrative legends.
  • Kūmara chips:
    • We baked kūmara chips as part of our healthy eating inquiry and a mini Matariki feast, and then students completed this follow up task.
  • Another Reading task with links to a journal story and follow up questions.  It also encourages students to visit the Matariki events website (to find out what's going on around Tāmaki Makaurau!) and then students were encouraged to plan our own Matariki celebration week (which I will actually use in my planning next term because their ideas were pretty good!).
Feel free to use anything that I have created and linked in this blog post.  I will post up more as I complete the tasks!

Sometimes you can find things easily online, sometimes you have to adapt and sometimes you have to create from scratch!  BUT there will not be enough digital content if we don't make it.

Hari Matariki, koutou!  Kia pai tō tau hou!

Monday, 12 June 2017

Food for thought going into the new week...

Found this video on Twitter.  

Bio: Steve Evans teaches in a unique Aboriginal focused program of choice located in Lil'wat Territory (Mt. Currie, B.C.). The program offers an inclusive learning environment that integrates academic learning with experiential and cultural education. Social- emotional support is a key component of the program as they strive to build connections within and between themselves.

Key ideas for me:
  • Social-emotional environment important to shape a safe learning environment.
  • Integrating cultural education with mainstream education should be a priority for our supposed priority learners.
  • All experiences can be literacy experiences.
  • Be aware of the system you are in, the students you serve and the ways you can serve them better.
  • Be aware of your own ego, schema, cultural norms, priorities - they may differ from the students in front of you.