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Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Manurewa Cluster SENCO Day 2018

Kia ora!

On the 14th of November I had the honour of being the opening speaker at the Manurewa RTLB Cluster SENCO Day.

It was such an interesting day where RTLB representatives shared their inquiries and celebrated the work they had done with teachers and whānau throughout the year.

Below is my Google Presentation.  It focussed on Cultural Visibility in a Digital Space.

I sometimes wonder if I am being too militant...  but I think our education system is ready to face these core issues and ready to reflect on our content, who is choosing the content and who it is serving...  So although I felt like I had the audience shook at the end, I have to believe in myself and my message and that I am speaking for the betterment of education in Aotearoa.

Sunday, 5 August 2018

Pasifika Early Literacy Project 2018

Kia ora!

Long time, no read.

I have recently had baby number two - Malachi, who is now 7 months old.  This time around I took on the challenge of being the stay at home parent for the year, as my partner Sam stayed home with Murdoch.  While I am enjoying this break out of the classroom - I am still dabbling in a few projects to keep myself up to date with what is going on in Education, to keep in touch with colleagues, and a bit of pocket money - it's a hard knock life these days!

My most recent work has been with the Pasifika Early Literacy Project, which aims to familiarise classroom teachers of Year 0-2 students with the dual language texts developed by an amazing team of people, including Rae Si'ilata - our project leader.

You may be familiar with me writing about Rae before, as I have also facilitated for the Pasifika Teacher Aides project - last year and this year.

If you have been following my teaching journey, you will know how passionate I am about culturally responsive practice, bilingualism and biliteracy and raising the achievement outcomes of Māori and Pasifika students in New Zealand.  Therefore, it was a no brainer that I would sign up to participate in the PELP project when Rae asked.

I got a bit of time in workshop two to show some of the theories and underlying principals of PELP in action.  Here is a slide featuring those videos.  It was actually a great task for me to do - to collate some of these videos into one space.

If some of the videos are not playing from here, try this link.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Bursts and Bubbles - My Impact Burst

Tīhei mauri ora!

Nau mai haere mai ki taku rangitaki.  Ko ēnei aku whakaaro e pā ana ki tōku haerenga i tēnei tau.  E toru o ngā pātai matua hei tohu mō āku whakaaro.  Ko tōku tino tumanako i tēnei tau, ki te whakapakari te wairua me te hinengaro a mātou tamariki Māori kei roto i tōku kura tuatahi.  Ahakoa he huarahi roa, ngā piki me ngā heke... ehara ngā tamariki te wero - te maunga...ko te pūnaha kura te maunga!  Engari, ka piki tonu au ki tēnei maunga.

Mēna, he whākaaro tāu, he pātai rānei, nau mai āu whakaaro kei te pouaka kōrero kei raro.  Ngā mihi!

What happened for the learners?
  • The learnt some basic Te Reo Māori including karakia, pūrākau, significant signs and symbols and some basic sentence structures.
  • Whakaaro Māori was integrated across the curriculum.
  • Whakaaro Māori was talked about and discussed across the curriculum including history, policies, whakataukī, links to the natural world, Matariki, whānau, mauri and mana.
  • 'Ako' was practiced through mixed ability grouping and tuakana/teina and across classes.
  • Could clearly identify the 'whys' behind some of our most at risk students as they were all in one space - previously falling between cracks.
  • Learners learnt more about themselves and their cultures and perspectives of the past - they explored why things may have come to be nowadays and learnt that 'What is Māori' is different for all Māori.  
  • A strategic plan for all Māori in our school was put into place through my participation with the Change Team.
  • I was able to contribute to planning templates which now clearly include a place for Māori perspectives.

What evidence do I have for this?
  • Students using Te Reo without teacher prompting in class.
  • Students using Te Reo in blog posts without teacher prompting.
  • Students volunteering to teach other students across school levels, Te Reo and Māori games.
  • Students leading assemblies in Te Reo.
  • Increased reading ages, in particular, in evaluative questioning - or the 'going beyond' questions.
  • Ideas improved in writing - extending ideas to make connections with audience and wider world.
  • Behaviourally - at risk students from previous year were now leaders and successful contributors in the school community - 3 of these key students winning scholarships to Wesley College in 2018.
  • Year 8 students discussing study options for Year 9 including a pathway to Te Reo Māori classes in which they feel they will achieve success.  NB:  Building a positive sense of future self.

What did I do to make this happen?
  • Concentrated on Te Whare Tapa Whā - holistic well being.
  • Started with 'Who am I?' and kept this question the focus throughout the year.
  • Empowered students through the knowledge of who they are and why being Māori is awesome.
  • Encouraged critical thinking about the Māori world view.
  • Integrated a Māori context for learning in all learning areas.
  • Promoted Te Reo Māori as a gift that was special for the students.  
  • Shared Whakataukī weekly so students could gain a sense of understanding of beliefs from the past (hard working people are awesome, lazy people aren't), as well as develop metaphorical thinking (Māori spoke in mataphors!).
  • Made the mana and wairua of the students the main focus of my teaching time.
Wonderings about what next?
  • How can I strengthen this programme even more?
  • How can I now consolidate what I found worked well this year, with best practice from previous years that may have lost my focus?  E.g. visible learning.
  • How can I refine what I did this year in relation to assessment and National Standards?
  • What are other teachers doing around Aotearoa that is similar?  What challenges are they facing and how can we connect to learn, create and share together?
If you have been following this journey this year, thank you for your time and I hope there was something useful that came out of this for you to use in your classroom.  

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Ako in Action - Te Wiki o te Reo Māori

Room 10 were asked to share their reo expertise with the school as part of our Wiki o te Reo Māori celebrations and to put ako into action.

I put students into groups of 3-4 and then asked them to decide which year levels they would prefer to take responsibility for.  Luckily for me, I had a very even spread of boys and girls groups and an even spread of those wanting to work in the junior classes and those that wanted to work in the senior classes.

Next, we brainstormed ideas for possible lessons.  We brainstormed ways we enjoy learning.  We discussed Learn, Create, Share as a possible structure for our lessons.  Students were challenged to co-construct lesson plans using Google Slides in their groups.  The lessons had to be about an hour long and cater to the many different ages and skill sets of the students in our school.

I was amazed by their plans.  Students had many ideas.  What they needed support with was the 'theme' or 'thread' of the lesson.  E.g. if they had a slide with information about a tiki on it, what were they going to get students to create from that information?  Or, having slides with youtube videos were great, but how were they practically going to 'teach' the class the song they had chosen to embed?  Students had to think about what they find helpful when they are learning and what switches them off!  They said long stretches of talk could be broken up with games or songs.  A very common thread was ART activities.  Something I know my class love, so that was great for me to see as their teacher.  To see what they enjoy.

Here are the students' incredible lesson plans.  I am sharing these with you, because I will no doubt be using these in my future lessons with future classes!  They have basically created Te Reo lesson plans and resources!

Our regular learning timetable was put aside as we dedicated the week to planning, printing, practicing and teaching our lessons around the school.

Students were buzzing!  I had comments from teachers about confidence and students returning to class saying, "Miss, I want to be a teacher now!"  I definitely did not let them forget that this is what I have to do for Reading, Writing, Maths, Inquiry for four groups each Sunday night!  I think we had a shared appreciation.  Especially after their teaching time was done.  "Miss, they were a bit switched off, but I think it was because it was the afternoon."  YEP.  "Miss, they did that part really fast, so we played a game."  AMEN.

I am glad to have had the push for this from my principal!  Embrace the chaos.  Put classroom routines to the side and give students the opportunity to create and shine.  It has been a great week.  And it was ALL THEM!  Ka mau te wehi.

Friday, 25 August 2017

Confirming Hunches: Class Observation in Numeracy

Each term, we are observed by our team leaders to help inform next steps in our teaching and develop ideas related to our target students.  This week, Aireen came to observe Maths in my class.

One of the key comments in her feedback form to me was:

"...most students said if they are stuck on the task that they would ask a buddy for help - not from the same group. This shows that the Tuakana/Teina maths that you are doing in the class is working as students have the confidence to ask for help from their peers in another group..."

What makes me happy about this, is that the Maths Tuakana concept appears to be embedding in the classroom learning ethos.  Students are identifying those who they can turn to for support and the classroom environment supports collaboration and open learning conversations between students.

I am going to keep working on this, but it is always nice to have affirmation from other teachers, that they see what you think might be happening...or trying to achieve.

Thursday, 24 August 2017

Mixed Ability Grouping in Maths: Learning about Decimals

We enjoyed another morning of mixed ability Maths for the first hour session of the day.  We are focusing on decimals at the moment - particularly, place value of decimals up to the thousandths place.

I am a big fan of deci-pipes as a material to support students to visualise the decimal numbers.

Students were put into groups of four and numbered themselves off 1-4.

I would write a decimal number on the board and call a person to make that number using the deci-pipes.  The group were allowed to support them to make the number.

I saw great engagement, and students who are in my target group participating and using great maths language.  You can see more of this in action below (photos and video):

I will definitely play this game again as a warm up over the next few weeks.  The students said it was great fun and having four groups, we had the opportunity to repeat learning four times (repetition without boring!).  In particular, I saw one of my target students taking on a real leadership role, which I think is due to the safer environment of being in a 'team,' rather than having to answer anxiety inducing multiplication questions on his own.  This was a Year 8 student currently achieving at Stage 5, so this was exciting to see him being so enthusiastic when learning about decimals with his friends.

This photo illustrates the problem progression I followed.  Starting with:
  • Creating a decimal number inclusive of tenths and hundredths.
  • Adding decimals inclusive of tenths and hundredths
  • Adding decimal numbers inclusive of tenths, hundredths and thousandths.
  • Adding decimal numbers that required place value knowledge to 'roll over' groups of 10.

The last question was a big challenge, but I always like ending on a challenge so students have an idea of what to expect in the next lesson and a way forward.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Integrating Reading and Inquiry through Group work - Jigsaw Activity

This task is not a task I invented.  It is a tried and true jigsaw task learnt from my TESSOL diploma studies.

The reason I like it, is because it includes the 4 different modes of literacy:  Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening.  I also like it because it promotes positive relationships in the class with students in mixed ability groups.  Another positive is that students are forced to become 'experts' in their own area so you generally get little behavioural issues or students relying on others for all the answers.

Because we now teach Maths for 2 hours in the mornings, I had to find a way to integrate literacy learning in the middle block.  I wondered how I might do this, and settled on trying to use inquiry as the context and using mixed ability grouping as a strategy.

First, I picked 5 texts - all based on hobbies:

  1. Just One Wheel (Year 4 : L2 May : 2015 : P2-11)
  2. The Man Who Makes Animals (Year 6 : Part 02 No. 4 : 1993 : Pgs 30-35)
  3. The GHB (Year 6 : Part 03 No. 02 : 2006 : 29-32)
  4. In Sync (Year 6 : Part 03 No. 02 : 2006 : 9-13)
  5. Half a Bit of Butterflies (Year 6 : Part 03 No. 1 : 2000 : Pgs 2-7)

Next I created this recording sheet with the key ideas along the top that I wanted students to think about as they were reading.

After that I asked students to choose their own groups of 5 - these become the 'home groups.'

In their home groups, students numbered themselves off 1-5.

I asked all the 1's to stand up (should be one person in each group)

They were given a recording sheet each and one text to read together.

This continued for numbers 2-5.

In number groups, students worked together to read the text and complete their boxes on the jigsaw sheet.

Students then returned to home groups to report back.

By the end of this session, all students should have a completed recording sheet - hence the name - jigsaw!

This could be done by hand or electronically, but I have found in the past, electronic versions lend themselves to cutting and pasting information rather than students listening to each other and taking notes.

The key lessons from this activity were:
  • Follow your passions
  • Hard work takes time
  • Hobbies can lead to careers
  • Hobbies can lead to new experiences
  • If you love it, do it
  • There is something for everyone
We are going to be pursuing our own hobbies and presenting information about our hobbies in week 10.  Watch this space!