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Thursday, 30 April 2015

Scaffolding Pourquoi Writing - Post 2

After seeing the success of the repetition without boring strategies used in week 1, I decided to continue on with having one focus for the entire week, but presenting it in different ways.  I wanted the students to write their own pourquoi story, but how would I achieve this?

I decided to go back to a strategy I had tried before and really enjoyed.  We made links to a book we had been reading as part of 'teacher read' each day and we created a whole class pourquoi story explaining why Maungarei (Mount Wellington, our local mountain) came to be.

The students were in small discussion groups which would report back ideas e.g. the first thing I asked students to do in their groups, was to create a sentence starter.  They discussed the sentence starters they had seen in last week's movies/stories and then reported back their own.  As a class, we chose the best one and that was the sentence we put on our plan.  This process continued until the story was finished.  Here was our completed plan...

I heard one student say "Woah, look at all our writing!"  Which showed me they were proud of the story took ownership of those ideas.  Here is the written story...

From this story, I created a Skills Flow task.  A skills flow task is a great task to practice the literacy modes of listening, speaking, writing and reading.  Here is the task I designed:

A skills flow goes as follows:

The teacher reads the story while students put their pictures in order.

Students retell the story in their own words using the pictures (which we have checked as a class, are in the right order) to help prompt their thinking.

Students are then asked to work in pairs (this can be done individually - we had groups of three) to rewrite their stories in their own words.  They have a bit more freedom e.g. one group decided to turn the seeds into rubies, another group decided to turn the brothers into ANZAC soldiers (fresh from ANZAC weekend!).  

Students asked to read their stories to the class and share their stories with others.

Here are some photos of the process today...

Highlights for me, were that this REALLY engaged the boys in my class.  I know it's often a goal for teachers of how to engage male writers.  I had one boy ask "Can we read this to the class?!"  Which NEVER happens.  I have another boy who is often distracted, totally engaged because he could turn brothers into ANZACS - the power of the author!  Another key highlight was that one boy who is on the Autism spectrum, was completely tunnel visioned in ordering his pictures and writing furiously and then picking up another picture and saying the words out loud and then furiously writing again.  That NEVER happens either!!!

I will definitely be keeping the visual strategy for next week.  The repetition without boring.  The power of the students owning that story and then rewriting it again.  We might make this story into a movie....hmm... let's see!

Scaffolding Pourquoi Writing - Post 1

This term, our topic is Myths and Legends.  As part of this study, we have been looking at Pourquoi stories.  Pourquoi is the french word for 'why' - so students were reading, retelling, writing and rewriting stories explaining why things are the way they are today.

In week one, the students were grouped into small groups, and given a story to read and summarise.  One student was 'first,' one was 'then,' one was 'after that,' and the last student was 'And that is why...'  Students found this challenging, which indicated to me a need for more summarising activities and identifying the main idea activities.  Students presented their summarised stories to the class orally while I typed the words they said.  Stories were about 4+ sentences long.

The next day, the students were asked to illustrate their sentence.  Their picture had to match the words they said.  Once the pictures were complete, the students put them in order and "reread" their stories to another group.  While they were practicing, I took quick photos of the pictures using my phone and uploaded them into imovie.  I then asked groups to take turns at recording their voice overs and we eventually turned them into mini movies.

Here were the final products.  Five pourquoi stories, retold by Room 9 students:

Monday, 27 April 2015

OMGTech! at Tamaki Primary

On ANZAC day, when others were driving home from Dawn Ceremonies, I was driving back into school to open the gates for Zoe and Rab of OMGTech!  We were about to hold one of their amazing day sessions at Tamaki Primary.

What is OMGTech!?...I hate getting things wrong or missing key details, so this is straight from their site...

"OMG Tech! was born out of the minds of one of our most successful tech entrepreneurs, Vaughan Rowsell. He shared his vision with Michelle Dickinson (AKA Nanogirl) and Rab Heath and OMG Tech! was born.

They understand that kids get technology. Kids love to explore and play and invent and innovate. It is just part of being a kid, being curious and not knowing any boundaries to imagination.They know we live in a world now where technology is everywhere, and it is poised to enable us to make all those crazy dreams of hover boards, spray on shoes, robots and wearable technology all come true, finally!

However, the really really big ideas that will shape the future are in the heads of our kids and the technology that will enable them to make these dreams reality is still inaccessible to most. We at OMG Tech! are all about enabling all kids to get access to that future technology today. It is vitally important that there are no barriers for any kid in accessing any future technology.

Robots, nanobots, biotech, wearable tech, rockets, programming, mind control! OK perhaps not the mind control.

Through a series of initiatives, Starting with the Tech Rangers events, OMG Tech! plans to open up the world of future tech to every Kiwi kid."

I first met Zoe, when attending the first OMGTech!  Event in Auckland last year.  I took along three students who had the best time.  So when approached by Zoe again to hold an event at our school - the answer was a definite YES.  All students and adults had a fun day of creating and investigating.  I would recommend that other schools take the most of this opportunity to open up the world of technology to not only students - but teachers, who are becoming increasingly responsible for delivering this type of programme as we move into STEM and BYOD and 21st Century Learning.

Here are some photos from the day - I learned how to use Scratch (although I'm very much still at beginner level!),  made some great future contacts who are passionate about learners and their future, and have imagined up lots of ideas for me to take into the classroom.  

THANK YOU Zoe and Rab and all the amazing volunteers at OMGTech!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Reading Log: Demon Dentist by David Walliams

My blog has been filled with MIT15 posts lately - despite the fact that I have done some AMAZING professional learning this term.  It has just been the busiest term of my life and blogging has kind of fallen to the bottom of my things to do list.  A shame, as it's a great way to record and consolidate learning!  Heads up - there may be a flood of 'throw back' posts these holidays...

Anyway, a simple post to brighten up all this academic thinking, is to update my reading log.  I haven't been listening to audio books lately, but this book I read as part of my daily 'teacher read' in class.  I found it during the Christmas holidays, perusing the book shelves in Whitcoulls, Royal Oak and came across the Children's Top 50.  This was in the Top 5 at the time, I think.  I bought it as I had heard that this particular author was 'the next Roald Dahl' - I love Roald Dahl.

Yes the dark humour is there and yes, there is a rhythm to the story telling.  My 10 year old nephew, who saw my shopping bag later that day said "My teacher read us that book!  It was really funny!"  And yes, it was!  Overall, an enjoyable and disgusting and awesome book.  Some parts overly drawn out (the moped chase around the school was about three chapters or more long), but, the epic ending made everything worth it.

A worthy place holder in the Whitcoulls' Children's Top 50.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

MIT Update 3 - Speaking helps to consolidate new learning

Tomorrow I am speaking in a class for Rae Si'ilata, as part of her Grad Dip TESSOL programme.  Three weeks ago, I met with Rae, in search of some guidance with my MIT project.  She suggested gathering some video evidence and student voice with regards to this approach of teaching.  I created this video in hopes of capturing how I am putting digital pedagogies and translanguaging theories together and into practice in my classroom.  

My purpose and ideology remain strong - I hope to raise student achievement through the use of these dual approaches, while contributing to building students who have a strong sense of self and identity and sense of worth to this modern world.

A colleague of mine, Robyn Anderson, forwarded this article to me earlier in the holidays.  It helped to keep me motivated and put me in the right frame of mind for my discussion in Rae's class tomorrow.  It is a very short article, which raises the question - how are you preparing your students for a world and a digital, globalised, multi cultural, multi lingual, world?

I am so excited for tomorrow - as the blog title suggests, the more I can talk about this inquiry, the clearer it will become in my head.  My ultimate goals are to:
  • See student achievement!
  • Give monolingual teachers like me some concrete lesson ideas.
  • Refine my teacher practice using digital pedagogies and bilingual pedagogies.