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Monday, 31 August 2015

I started from scratch...

As part of our Practicing Peaceful Play, we have been designing and sharing games.  Up until this week, we have been making offline, face to face games.  This week, I wanted to venture into online gaming.  Of course, before I can teach it to the students, I had to have some idea of the process...What better way to bring in my learning from OMGTech!

I really look forward to seeing what the students come up with over the next two weeks.  Already I can see those who get frustrated easily and those who persevere to find and fix their programming instructions.  One thing that is common - they are all very engaged.

This is my very first complete game.  I created it all on Scratch - a free online game creating website!  Can you make it through the Monkey Maze?

Wednesday, 26 August 2015

Creating Maths Games for Writing Part 2

Today, I gave students the challenge of writing the instructions for their games they had created.  I asked them to complete this google presentation as a group:

Students were encouraged to anticipate what they thought other students playing their game might argue about and to put rules in place that would make their games enjoyable and flow well.  They were also encouraged to take photos to support their written instructions.

Again, I saw positive collaboration and cooperation between students and a great level of engagement.  I think, this is due to:
  • The games having a purpose - to help Room 9 get to Stage 6!
  • The games will be shared with the class - the students need to be able to teach each other their games!
  • The best games will be added to our class tumble - to be played during class time in the future.
  • They are proud of their games and WANT to share their games with others.
  • Their games are fun!
I will be sharing the games they play on this blog - in case you would like to give them a trial!  I have to say - some of them are actually very good!  

It takes me back to Robyn Anderson's presentation from the Manaiakalani Hui - teachers voice is never student voice - likewise - games we think are fun, might not actually be fun, and the best people to engage students - are students!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

MIT Update 11 - The Manaiakalani Hui 2015

Wow, so a lot of my work so far had lead me up to last Friday, where I spoke at the Panmure Yacht Club for the 2015 Manaiakalani Hui.

I had never been so nervous in my entire life.  I was shaking and hyperventilating.  Usually I am really comfortable in public speaking situations - but I realised it was because I was in a roomful of peers that I respect greatly and who I actually knew and whose opinions of my practice mattered to me hugely.

So in front of my nearest and dearest peers... I presented my inquiry up to date.  You can watch it here!


Next steps for me to work on before ULearn include:

  • Shortening my speaking time!  I took up 20 minutes at the hui, when I was meant to only speak for 10!  I have identified slides in my presentation that I can take out, and will work with peers to try and refine my explanations.  
  • Collect some whanau voice from the parents of my target group.
  • Continue to build on the existing resource bank of examples I have.
  • Continue to build expertise about this subject through professional readings and talking to others who are experts in this field.  I'd like to meet with Rae Si'ilata again before ULearn, to go through what I think is best practice VS. what she believes is best practice!
  • Collect data (this will happen at the end of the year!) on students to see if there has been academic shifts/accelerated shifts in their learning.
Overall, I was glad to share what I've been working on this year with others.  I still believe in my inquiry and still believe it is valuable and can contribute towards raising the literacy achievement of bilingual students in my class.

Monday, 24 August 2015

Creating Maths Games for Writing Part 1

This term, our inquiry topic is called 'Practicing Peaceful Play' in which our hopes as teachers, is that students discover how games develop our school values and hauora. Over the first half of the term, we've been learning about different types of games (online, offline, outdoor, indoor, grass, court, water, 2 player, single player, teams, equipment, no equipment etc etc.).

 This second half of the term, I really want to encourage students to begin creating their own games. Today I set a challenge for my class. I said that our need is that we need to get to Stage 6 by the end of the year. The only way to achieve that is if we do these things (pointed out our 'Striving for Stage 6' display, which is becoming more a part of our dialogue in Maths time in Room 9. One student pointed out that it was Writing time, not Maths time - but I said all would be revealed.

I asked students to pick one of these focuses from the display, and to work together to create a game that might help students to practice or learn this knowledge. The students thought it was exciting to be asked to make a game - I put very little rules in place. All I said was that it needed to have a purpose, and that students needed to be able to teach the game to someone else.

It was very interesting to me, to observe the students who found it exciting to have this opportunity and who, at first used some of the resources I had laid out (maths equipment),  but then thought they could do a better job coming up with their own rhyme/beat game to play.  I also observed students using traditional maths equipment, but coming up with fun and original games I had not seen before.  For example, one group chose the fake money and you were paid $10 for every 10x table question answered correctly, $5 for every 5x table, $3 for 3x table and $2 for 2x table questions.  Students were excitedly coming up to me telling me how much they'd earned.

Other students used traditional equipment and made up traditional games such as flash card type games.  That made me wonder if I had constrained their creative thinking by putting the equipment out.  But, I thought, at least those who found it challenging, had something to go on - maybe next time, they would use it differently, or add a little spice to their game.

Overall, I was so happy with the level of fun and engagement and teamwork during the lesson.  Students will be writing procedures for their games tomorrow (I get it now!  Writing!).  Then they will be practicing each others' games and voting on which game should be added to our maths tumble (if they're all awesome, we'll add them all!).

I did see just how important this type of learning is.  Early childhood teachers might just shake their heads and say, "We do that every day!"  This free flowing developmental play is so important for critical and creative thinking and I would definitely try this approach out again as this term continues.

I have given homework to my class also:  to make up a game at home and to come to school on Friday, ready to share.  I am really interested to see what they come up with, because I know as a child, I had the best fun with my siblings and cousins at home creating games.

Some students missed the netbooks and wanted to create online games - I think I will definitely give that a go too, but this was a really nice place to start our more creative part of the inquiry.

Thursday, 13 August 2015

MIT Update 10 - Example Lesson

This is a quick post about another example of translanguaging I have tried.  The setting was Reading.  Students needed to read a Tongan text and make connections to the text to infer what was happening in the pictures.

Students were required to complete a Venn diagram to compare after school life in New Zealand to that of rural Tonga.  We noticed some things that were similar and some things that were very different and the reasons behind these statements.  The Venn diagram was completed in English.

I have asked students to complete two more tasks related to this text, one being writing an imaginative recount in the shoes of one of these students.  I hope that when completing this, they use some of the key tongan language phrases that we learned/discussed while reading this today.

This text was very simple and prompted a lot of discussion.  I did not need any prior translating of the text before teaching, so this could be an ideal text for any teacher wanting to begin this journey, or a teacher who has a student new from Tonga and who needs support from texts written in their first language.