Sunday, 11 December 2016

Creating my Digital CV

For our last (ever!) digital immersion day we created an online CV.  It was a great opportunity to use our digital skills to showcase our learning journey, teaching pedagogies and digital capabilities.  

I had a look at my 'digital CV' I created last year when I applied for jobs and I couldn't help but cringe a little! I had just been introduced to Google sites and I created my first ever site as my Digital CV. I used the drop down menu function and choose a template.  It was a pretty good effort for a first timer, but it shows just how much I have learnt.  

My 2015 digital CV

My 2016 digital CV

For my 2016 digital CV I wanted everything to be on the same page.  I wanted it to look as simplistic as possible, so used HTML to create tables for each of aspects I wanted to include in my CV.  I  wanted to use more images and less text.  I used Google Draw to turn my images into links.

With the help of Dorothy, I created an album of photos to provide a snapshot of my teaching.  I did this by creating a Google Presentations and inserting photos onto each slide.  Also, on each slide I included left and right arrows, which were hyperlinked to the previous or next slide.  You need to publish it to the web and make sure the auto advance settings are on. Once you have created your Presentation, you add it as a Gadget on your Google site.  The Gadget you use is 'Slideshow Maker'.  Then you follow the steps to add in the slideshow and specify the height and width.

Make your site pretty

I use a few websites to help make my website look good.  I like to choose fonts that look interesting and compliment each other.  I will always use different fonts for titles and normal text.  It can be hard choosing from such a large range of fonts, so I always use 100daysoffonts to help me.  Note that this probably shouldn't be shared with students as some of the text used is not appropriate for kids.

I also like to choose colour schemes and use a few different sites to help me. Color-hex and coolors are my go to.  My favourite is coolors because a) you can adjust the shades b) you can save your colour palette by exporting it and c) you can upload an image and use the colour picker to find the hex-codes for the colours you want!

Friday, 25 November 2016

Reflecting on my First Year as a Beginning Teacher in the MDTA

It is crazy to think that I have almost completed my first year as a beginning teacher in the MDTA.  I have learnt heaps and grown a lot.  Here is my doco where I talk about my beliefs, the MDTA programme and how I use Manaiakalani's 'Learn Create Share' pedagogy. Thanks to Dorothy Burt, Anne Sinclair, Fiona Grant, the MDTA BTs and the team at Glen Innes Primary who have helped me on my journey!  I am looking forward putting my learning into practice into my own class next year.

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

Manaiakalani Film Festival

Today was the 9th annual Manaiakalani Film Festival.  Instead of our usual digital immersion days, the MDTA spent the day at Hoyts helping out and enjoying the awesome films our learners have created. 

It was a pretty awesome feeling to see my  film on the big screen!  I am so proud of my learners and the effort they put into the making of our film.  All the actors did an excellent job and helped come up with some awesome shots. I was also lucky to have an awesome director (Lauren) who took charge of the filming.  

Here is my first Manaiakalani Film Festival film, enjoy!

Let us know what you think! Feel free to leave a comment on our class blog.  You can also check out the films from all schools in the cluster by clicking here.

Tuesday, 8 November 2016

Class OnAir Episode: How-to-Haiku's

Here is my first Class OnAir episode!  Last week we learnt about Haiku poems.  On Tuesday, we learnt about the structure and features used in Haiku's.  Following this, the students found their own examples of a summer, autumn, winter and spring haiku.  Next, the students annotated the features they liked about the Haiku poems they had selected. 

On Wednesday the class worked collaboratively to use what they had learnt about the structure and features of a Haiku, to create a class Haiku.  This is what I chose to film.  Something to note is that we had an ERO visitor in the classroom during filming.  This is why they were much more quiet than what they usually are.  There is also a lot more teacher talk than what would usually happen during our lessons, as I needed to give the learners extra support and prompts to encourage them to share.  I think my learners did a great job under the unusual circumstances.

Overall I was pleased with how the lesson went.  The learners were engaged and it was a great oportunity to use a new digital tool - padlet.  I like to use clips from YouTube during my writing lesson as the learners can draw on what they see and hear to create descriptive pieces of writing. This is particularly beneficial for our struggling writers.

Click on the screenshot to have a look at my Class OnAir site. It is quite daunting putting myself out there and it feels a little odd to watch myself teach, but I can use this to figure out what I can do to improve my teaching. 

Monday, 7 November 2016

Updating my PRT site

Last Friday the MDTA were very fortunate to have a whole day to update our PRT sites.  We spent the day sharing how we could illustrate the Practicing Teaching Criteria. In order to gain full registration, all beginning teachers are required to maintain a documentation which demonstrates that they are capable and knowledgeable quality teachers.  Registered teachers also need to maintain documentation in order to renew their certification.

Creating an online PRT folder an easy way to keep a record of all the documentation needed. As we are a digital school who uses Google Apps for Education, it made sense to create a Google Site.

I had created mine when I had first learnt how to create a Google site, so it was looking a little sad.  I decided to give my site a re-vamp to make it better reflect my personality.  It was much easier this time as I have had plenty of experience with using HTML to create a Google Site.

Here is a little screencast of how my PRT site is looking at the moment.  An easy way to put content on your site is to embed folders from your Google Drive.  Instead of having to edit your site, all you need to do is to put your documents onto the embedded folder, and it will automatically update.

Sunday, 6 November 2016

Chelsea OnAir: Creating my First Class OnAir Episode

Last week we prepared ourselves for our first Class OnAir episode.  Class OnAir has been created in response to the question - how do we teach in a digital 1:1 learning environment?  This year Class OnAir follows five talented teachers from the Manaiakalani cluster of schools.  They film episodes which provides insight into how Manaiakalani teachers use technology in their every-day teaching.  Click on the link to learn more and watch the Class OnAir teacher's in action.

What's in a Class OnAir episode

  • Videos of the lesson
  • Overview of lesson
  • Link to detailed plan
  • Relfections and next steps
  • Links to learners activities and blog posts

A while ago we explored the Class OnAir site and provided feedback to the teachers involved. Now it is the MDTA BTs turn to have a go!  We had Matt Goodwin come in and give us some helpful tips for creating a class OnAir episode.

My first episode

I chose to create my OnAir episode about Haiku poetry.  Over the past four weeks my classroom has thoroughly enjoyed our unit on figurative language, so I thought this would be a great opportunity to see if they could use their learning in a new context - Haiku poetry.

I filmed my lesson this week.  The filming is the easy part.  To start with it is a little unusual to be filming myself as a teacher.  However myself and my learners did relax as time went on.  Editing is very time consuming - it is hard to decide which parts are valuable and which can be culled.  I have almost finished editing and my Class OnAir site is pretty much completed.  Stay tuned to see my very first Class OnAir episode!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Is your default the way you learn OR the way your learners learn?

Today we joined up with other Manaiakalani teachers for our Digital Immersion session.  The focus for this term is all about visible learning and its benefits for our students. Learners in our communities come to school below the expected standard for New Zealand students.  In order to get our learners up to standard by year 8, they need to make a 1.5 year accelerated shift. Visible learning enables such an accelerated shift.  

Each learner is different

We started the day with the question: how do your learners learn?  We chose three students and wrote down the ways in which they preferred to learn.  The answers were then collated and turned into a word cloud.  The results were interesting:

As you can see from the Tagul, there is a wide range of learning preferences.  Our learners learn differently.  This is important to remember when creating learning experiences. As teachers we need to make sure we are considering the learning preferences of all our learners, not just one in particular.   Following this, we watched a thought provoking clip of Chrissie Butler discussing UDL - Universal Design for Learning. Two key ideas resonated with me:

  • What engages one learners doesn't necessarily engage another learner
  • Is your default the way you learn or the way your learners learn?
So how can we ensure our students learning preferences are catered to in our lessons? Can we cater to  20+ students learning needs in one lesson? 

...Enter multi-modal learning!

Multi-modal learning is an approach which uses a range of modes to develop students understanding of a topic or an idea.  It is related to Gardener's theory of 'Multiple Intelligences'. The site uses a range of audio, visual and textual (paragraphs, bullet points and sentences) resources.  Students can synthesise their learning across multiple types of media to gain a better understanding.

As the MDTA already learnt about this earlier in the year (here and here), we were set with the challenge of extending our learners further.  We were set the task of encouraging our learners to select their own texts to help make sense of what they are learning.  

As my classroom has already had experience with using a range of multi-modal sites, I decided to challenge my students with a trickier topic and include self-selected texts.  Our inquiry topic for the term is weather, so I created my site to help my students learn about lightning and thunder.  I chose a range of texts (paragraphs, bullet points and sentences), videos and images (including GIFS).  As the science behind lightning is quite tricky, the texts range in reading difficulty.   I want my learners to engage with more challenging texts, so it is my hope that they will first use whichever mode they prefer to learn in, and then use the more challenging texts to deepen their understanding.

Click on the image to have a look at the site that I have created using HTML.  We have begun using this site today and will continue to use it throughout the week.

Friday, 14 October 2016

Learning to Code

Today we had a chance to learn how to code using's Hour of Code lessons.  In these lessons you learn 'computer science' by understanding how to code to create games.  You can learn more about and their aspirations here.

In Hour of Code, you can choose from a range of lessons based on popular games or movies (such as Flappy Bird, Starwars, MineCraft and Frozen).  This is great for learners as they can choose a game or movie that they are interested in.  There are two options for the lessons, blockly (for beginners) and Javascript (for advanced coders).  I chose MineCraft which uses blockly for my first attempt at Hour of Code. 

The lesson

Once you have choose your lesson and type of code, you watch a short YouTube clip that explains the coding suite and its functions.  You work through ten tasks before creating your own code.

My code

My verdict

I enjoyed completing the tasks and creating my own code.  The instructional videos helped make sense of coding.  I enjoyed the aspects of problem solving and trial and error which arose when trying to complete the tasks.  To start with I run my code after one or two blocks, however as I improved I began to create more code before checking to see if it worked.  This made me think carefully about what I was asking the game to do.

One thing that bothered me is that you always have to run your code from the start.  This gets a little frustrating when you have a lengthy code and only want to check the last few blocks. 

Aside from that, I think students would benefit from learning how to code. At this point I am not sure when/how I would fit coding into my timetable.  I may start this as an early finishers task or allocate 30 minutes of inquiry time to coding.

Friday, 23 September 2016

20 Slides in 5 Minutes - Ignite Talks

On the last day of term 3 the MDTA had a go at making and presenting our first ignite talk.  The first time I had seen one was during the Manaiakalani Annual Hui.  The MIT teachers presented their inquiries through 20 sleek but punchy slides.  I was impressed with how well they did, as it does not look easy!

Ignite talks are presentations which use 20 slides that are displayed for 15 seconds.  Therefore, it is really important to ensure the slides are simple, as the 15 seconds flies by.  It is also important to consider what you will say when each slide is displayed.  I have noticed that some people rush through because they had too much planned on each slide.  Basically, simplicity is key and it is important to keep words and content minimal.

I was absent during the presentation of the ignite talks, however Georgia's ignite talk is an excellent example.  Her slides are simple but effective, and she only covers one idea per slide. She also speaks slowly and clearly.

Friday, 16 September 2016

Creating Presentations Like a Pro - Keynote

Unfortunately I was absent when the MDTA learnt about Keynote, so I did some exploring on my own.  It can be a little daunting using a new tool with lots of different features, so I watched a few clips on the basics to get me started.  I found this YouTube clip to be the most helpful! 

Keynote is a very versatile app. It can be used to create banners, logos and animations, edit images as well as a creating slick presentations.  Keynote allows for more customisation.

To see an awesome example of an animation created on Keynote, check out Steph's blog post.  In the post she explains the steps she took to create the animation and shares the finished product.

I am looking forward to experimenting with Keynote when creating content for my 2017 class site.

Saturday, 10 September 2016

When the Learning Keeps Going: Ubiquitous Learning

The 'learn' component of this weeks digital immersion was all about ubiquitous learning. This is about ensuring that our students can access their learning anytime, anywhere and any place.  E-Learning and the use of Google Sites (that are open to anyone) allows for extended learning times. 

How learning is ubiquitous for my students

Class Site

As we are a part of the Manaiakalani cluster, all schools and classrooms are required to have a Google Site, which is accessible to all. In Manaiakalani schools the expectation is that learning is visible.  This means that every link needs to have the sharing permissions as "anyone with the link can view".  To make this easier we create a main folder in our Google drive that has the permission "anyone with the link".  This means that


I have recently created a Google site for reading and writing. To help ensure my students understand everything, I have included a range of screencasts.  The screencasts help to the explain tasks and reading comprehension strategies

Teaching DLOs 

I always ensure my teaching DLOs are linked into our class site.  These DLOs are quite comprehensive and cover everything I am planning to teach. This enables my learners to revisit the learning anytime they need.

'Modelling Books'

They are not quite modelling books, but they are my take on it.  Whenever we are learning something, I take photos of the students work.  This is then uploaded onto a shared folder onto Google drive, which the students have full access to.  A next step would be for me to add these folders to the site.

Friday, 9 September 2016

Editing day for the Manaiakalani Film Festival

Today we were able to put all our footage together and edit our films.  As I began filming I realised that I needed more footage to complete the film.  Luckily it was another sunny day so I was able to quickly head to school to get the extra footage.

We decided that we wanted our film to follow a storyline, from what the students do when they wake up to the end of the day.  The learners came up with some great ideas so I am glad that we had extra time to film. We also decided that we needed to include more sports in our film, and not just include training.  We added in netball and rugby.

The editing process was time consuming but addicting. Because the class decided to use a song to go with our movie, we had to make sure the film and time of each part matched up with the beat of the song.  This was a challenge but I am glad that I stuck with it. I also had to think carefully about our subtitles.  

Friday, 2 September 2016

Filming for Manaiakalani Film Festival

Today we got to spend the whole day in our schools filming for our Manaiakalani Film Festival movie.

In room 8, we are creating a movie based on our learning about the Olympic values.  The three olympic values are respect, friendship and excellence. We chose to create our film on excellence.

Leading up to our filming day the class collaboratively planned our movie. This was important as I wanted my learners to have ownership of the film.  We watched some inspirational movies to help us get started.  Then we worked on a Google Doc to record what we liked and disliked from the examples.  Then we brainstormed ways we could show excellence in our film.

Then came the filming.  Thank goodness the sun decided to come out! It was great to see a lot of my learners stepping up and taking charge of the day.  I had a great director/producer who helped guide the actors.  I am very proud of my learners and what they have achieved so far.  They came up with some great ways to show excellence and were very creative with their shots.

We still have a bit more filming to do but I am pleased with what we were able to accomplish in one day.  Stay tuned to find out more

Monday, 29 August 2016

My Takeaways from Manaiakalani's Annual Hui

On Friday the MDTA were very lucky to attend Manaiakalani's 5th annual Hui - a place where teachers and learners across Manaiakalani celebrate and share their accomplishments.  

This has ended up being a rather lengthy post, as I gained many new insights from the teachers, researchers and learners at the hui.

In the morning

First up we heard our Manaiakalani student ambassadors share their learning.  It was really interesting to hear from students how they learnt in their school.  What I like about Manaiakalani is that every school is different.  Although we are all following Manaiakalani's 'Learn, Create, Share' pedagogy, each school is able to put their own spin on it to reflect the community they are in.  There were plenty of ideas that I will borrow and repurpose in my classroom, like the use of a 'Goal Wall' to make goals visible to learners.  

Following this, the Manaiakalani Innovative Teacher's shared their inquiries with the insights they gained along the way. I came away feeling inspired to give my own teaching programme a shake up to ensure my lessons are engaging, motivating and using digital technologies as much as possible.  Whilst I do believe I use technology a lot in the classroom, these teachers had come up with ideas that I had not thought of before.  Check out my infographic to see my main takeaways from the MIT.

Next up

After morning tea we heard from Rachel Williams about her holiday intervention programmes 'Summer Learning Journey' and 'Winter Learning Journey'.  Rachel's aim is to help lesson the 'summer drop off', where learners achievement declines between T4 and T1 after the school holidays. Her results show that students who participated in the 'Summer Learning Journey' had less of a drop compared to students who did not participate in the intervention.  Rachel's data was very compelling and I am excited to encourage my learners to participate in 'Summer Learning Journey 2.0'.

Next Woolf Fisher researchers, Rebecca Jesson, Stuart McNaughton and Aaron Wilson shared their insights gathered from observing teachers, and challenged us to consider what we are doing to accelerate our learners achievement.


Dorothy, Russell and Pat Snedden spoke about where we are now and where to next for Manaiakalani.  Although we are doing a great job accelerating our student's achievement, we need to continue to reflect, refine and improve our teaching. We have a series of outreach clusters which are looking at us and using what we are doing to accelerate their learners achievement too.  Therefore, we need to be at the forefront of change and be constantly seeking ways to help our learners achieve.  Pat Snedden's talk was the most inspiring of the day.  He is so passionate about lifting our learners out of subsistence to capital builders.  I think Pat Snedden gave me the kick I needed to ensure that I am constantly doing my best and seeking ways to improve my teaching, because it is what my learners deserve.

I also used Twitter when I heard something which resonated with me.  Here is a collation of my tweets from the Hui.

Friday, 19 August 2016

Grow Your PLN with Twitter!

Today's learning was all about the affordances of Twitter an educator.  James Hopkins joined us via Google Hangouts to chat to us about his journey with Twitter.  James spoke about Twitter being the catalyst behind his 'year of change'.  He firmly believes that he learnt far more during his first 10 months of using Twitter, than he had during his 10 year teaching career. Check the presentation James shared via screensharing during our Google Hangout to find more information about James' journey and the affordances of Twitter.

Why use Twitter?

  • Find and share resources
  • Connect with like-minded people
  • Find 'critical friends' who will provide professional and honest feedback
  • Twitter is accessible anytime, anywhere, to suit your needs and preferences
  • Soundboard your ideas


Following James' thought provoking discussion, the MDTA participated in our first Twitter chat, using the hashtag #MDTAchat.  Anne gave us a series of provocations and questions, which we had to answer via Twitter under the hashtag #MDTAchat.  We also had to reply to each other's tweets to keep the conversation going.

Find me on Twitter!

Saturday, 13 August 2016

The Importance of Audio: GarageBand 101

Learning the Basics

Today for Digital Immersion we were lucky enough to have Point England teacher and GarageBand guru Rob Wiseman join us to take us through GarageBand.  We went through all the basics of GarageBand like cutting and editing audio recordings, GarageBand shortcuts and creating our own music.  I wrote some notes of the tidbits I found useful, which you can find here.

Creating in GarageBand

Our challenge was to create some music to use with a video we had captured during the week.  I chose to use a video I took of the Zirka Circus performers that came to GIS on Monday.  The quality of the video is a little poor and the music is a little odd, but I felt it matched with the performers actions and their costumes.  I might refine it a little more by using iMovie to cut and match the song to the movements of the performers, but for now this will do!

My takeaways from my experience with Garageband

Thursday, 11 August 2016

Infographics: a fun way to display data

Unfortunately I was absent during last Friday's Digital Immersion day, recovering from a procedure on my jaw. After looking at Dorothy's presentation and blog post,  and the blog posts from the rest of the MDTA team, I knew I missed out on an awesome learning opportunity!

Creating to share with infographics

The create aspect of the day was about creating to share using infographics. Infographics are a visual and fun way to present statistics.  It goes without saying that people respond better to visuals than a lengthy piece of writing.  The average human attention span is only 8 seconds, and our brains process visuals 60,000 times faster than text.  This makes me question who wouldn't want to use infographics to show data!

Having a go

I created an infographic to display the data from my professional blog. There were so many infographic creator sites online, but I chose to use Canva.  Instead of using a template I decided to create mine from scratch as I had an idea of how I wanted to lay out my infographic.  There were lots of icons, images, charts and shapes to choose from, but the only thing that bothered me was that the charts were not editable, I had wanted to use a Pie Graph to display the countries of my visitors, however I discovered it was a set image that could not be edited.  I had heard that Piktochart allows you to edit your charts, which I will keep in mind for the future.

Why use it in the classroom?

  • Fun way to display information which would normally be in the form of lengthy sentences.  
  • Infographics grabs readers attention through its use of images and colour and short pieces of writing. 
  • You don't have to be an artist or very creative to feel successful in your creation.
  • You can choose from a wide variety of templates to get you going and get some inspiration.

Student's perspective

I actually finished creating this infographic whilst supervising a group of GIS students at a chess tournament.  When they saw what I was creating they were all really interested in what I was creating.  They liked the way it looked and had said they would like to do something like this in their learning.  One of the students said an infographic about their blog posts would be a cool thing to create and have on their blogs and classroom. Such an activity could empower, excite and motivate my learners to continue to share their learning on their blog. I am looking forward to finding more ways to use infographics in the classroom.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Purposeful Doodling: The Art of Sketchnoting

What is it?

Sketchnoting is a way of recording information using images, diagrams, connectors and text.  An amazing sketchnoter to look at is Sylvia Duckworth. There are three important components of sketchnoting: text, images and structure. When using text, it is important to consider the hierarchy of your ideas and highlight the most important aspects.  This can be done through using a different font, size or boldness. It is said that pictures are worth a thousand words, and this is definitely believed by sketchnotes.  You can use images and symbols to visualise important and complex ideas. Lastly,  to help make the structure clear you should use containers and arrows.  These help organise the flow of your sketchnote. If you want to learn more, Dorothy's post about sketchnoting is where you need to go.

Why sketchnote?

Instead of me writing about the benefits, have a look at this sketchnote!
Photo by Tanmay Vora

Having a go at creating a sketchnote

Sylvia Duckworth's presentation helped me a lot when creating my sketchnote.  This presentation could also be adapted and used to help your students begin to sketchnote.

I found it fun but also infuriating at the same time.  As someone who thinks creatively but does not have nice handwriting or drawing skills, I found it hard to transfer my ideas onto paper.  Another challenge was figuring out where to start drawing/writing, as I wanted to space out my text and images evenly.  Sketchnoting takes a lot of time, but I found that as I was doing it, my understanding of what I was sketchnoting was reinforced.  I had to think carefully about how I could summarise and synthesize what I wanted to say, which helped my understanding and memory.

This is the third of my attempts at sketchnoting my thoughts on why learners should share their learning online:

My advice... 

Do a rough pencil sketch to map out the structure of your ideas (size and style of font, words/phrases, symbols etc) and then do your sketchnote free hand.  Using pencil is too tempting to erase your work, and you could also leave smudges and holes in your paper. 

Using sketchnotes in the classroom

I can see the benefits of sketchnoting, although it would need to be taught in some detail before trying to use it in the classroom.  You could use sketchnoting in reading as a way to summarize the story, or write character profiles.  You could use it as a way to show your understanding of a concept in social studies, or a strategy in mathematics.   Another way you could use sketchnotes is for your wall displays.  You could create sketchnote information posters, class treaties, class rules and quotes... the possibilities are endless.  

Monday, 25 July 2016

Six Month Reflection

It is hard to believe I am already halfway through my first year of teaching.  When I began in February I quickly realised that there was a lot for me to learn. University had left me feeling pretty under-prepared, as learning about something in a lecture room and actually putting it into practice are very different things.  This is one of the very reasons Manaiakalani created the MDTA, as it would better prepare beginning teachers for teaching in an innovative digital learning environment. I feel very privileged to be a part of the MDTA.  I have learnt so much from my mentor, post-graduate studies and digital immersion days.

Fast forward to July and I have come a long way from when I first day as a teacher in February. Here is a honest reflection of my first six months as a teacher.

Where have I come from?

  • I had a lack of content knowledge in mathematics and reading.  This came as quite a shock and had meant I spent much more time planning my LTPs as I had to get my head around the learning areas and what they entailed
  • For a while I lost my confidence in my teaching and my capabilities
  • I felt that as a BT I didn’t have anything to offer to my colleagues - what possibly could a BT know that an experienced teacher doesn’t?
  • I was always thoroughly planned, well in advance.
  • My lessons sought to use digital technologies to get my learners enthused about their learning
  • I didn’t have much of work/life balance.
  • I was also a massive worrier - What if this doesn’t work? How do I teach this? Am I actually helping my kids achieve? Am I making a difference?

Where am I now?

  • I have more confidence in myself, what I know, how I teach and what I can offer to my learners and colleagues
  • I feel I have more of a voice, and I know that I have a place in my school and that I can help contribute to the school.  
  • I know that I can make a difference and I am armed with so much knowledge about how to help engage learners.
  • I have the confidence to share my ideas with others.
  • I have seen the positives and negatives to a MLE.  It works for some learners, but not all.  
  • I have much better work/life balance - knowing how much work to do and where to draw the line.

Where to next?

  • Continue to find new ways to use technology to engage my learners and enhance my teaching,
  • Work more closely with my target learners.
  • Share my digital learning with my work colleagues on a more regular basis.
  • Find more ways to implement digital tools in my classroom.
  • Continue to build relationships with my learners and their whanau in my new school.
  • Reflect critically on my lessons and teaching on a more regular basis.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

MDTA 6 Month Reflection

And here it is!

 This is my reflection of my experiences as a BT in the MDTA so far. I had wanted to create a reflection which portrayed my personality and experiences honestly and accurately. I had decided to not use a script when filming, as I wanted it to appear genuine and more conversational rather than interview-like. However I had forgotten to mention a lot of things, so I had to film some more this weekend (which explains the change in camera angle and different background).  A big thanks to Juliana who helped me film.

I am thoroughly enjoying being in the MDTA and have learnt so many new things which I have been applying in my teaching.   I'm looking forward to continuing to learn how to use digital technologies to accelerate my learners and get them excited about learning.

Saturday, 2 July 2016

What I learnt at Tamaki College

Today the MDTA visited and observed each other's schools.  As an intermediate teacher, the wonder/concern of whether my learners will be prepared enough for college regularly plays in the back of my mind.  Therefore I thought observing a year nine english class would help answer my questions. I wanted to gain insight into what students do in year nine english, and to also see and hear first hand of the gaps the year nines have in their learning as they come into college.

Here are some of my thoughts...

Use of Kahoot!

Although I am familiar with Kahoot! and have used it and Socrative in my classroom, I have only used it as a form of summative assessment at the end of units. English teacher Vaughan Spurdle uses it in a variety of ways. Instead of merely playing the online quiz, Vaughan uses Kahoot! as a reference to further discuss and clarify their understandings. He makes the subsequent questions display time the maximum time and poses a question that asks whether the students understand what had been discussed.  Vaughan was constantly questioning his students and their responses, and guiding and supporting the learners in their understandings of punctuation. This was a really cool way to use Kahoot! that I hadn't thought of, so I will definitely be doing this in my classroom next .  He also spoke about using it at the beginning of a unit to identify prior knowledge and gaps in their learning.

Gaps in learners

Whilst in Vaughan's classroom I spoke to another teacher about the gaps that the learners come to college with.  The response I got was honest and quite worrying. A lot of students are coming into year nine English classes with little or no understanding of:

  • Structure of genres
  • Punctuation
  • Sentence types
  • Paragraphing  

This was alarming as these are the foundations of writing.  It really made me reflect on what I am doing in my classroom, and question whether I am doing enough to ensure my learners are understanding the basics of writing. 

Accelerated Reader

This is a program that has been recently implemented with year nine and ten learners at Tamaki College.  Learners choose a book, read it for 20 minutes each day, and take a quiz once they have completed the book. There is a wide selection of books, ranging from picture books to lengthy novels, and they are all levelled.  If a student gets more than 80% on their quiz, they are able to move up a level and read a more challenging text.  The Accelerated Reading programme has been very successful with the students. The kids now have a real interest and enthusiasm for learning.  Vaughan spoke about learners literally running to the library to get a new book after discovering they had moved up a level. Being able to move up levels has been really motivating for the learners who are both struggling and proficient readers.  The vast majority of learners are continuing to move up the levels, which indicates that the learners are becoming better readers and comprehenders.  Another point of difference of the program is the selection of books.  Instead of reading low interest texts, there is such a wide variety and they are books that teenagers typically enjoy reading anyway.  I saw the Harry Potter series, Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events, graphic novels and many more high-interest texts.

Whilst I may not be able to implement this programme in my own class and school (it does come with a price tag), I can definitely take some aspects of it.  It is quite obvious that the learners love seeing themselves improve their reading and move onto more challenging texts.  If such a program is so highly motivational, perhaps I could create a similar program to run in my classroom. I could also use a range high interest texts like wide selection of texts within the Accelerated Reader program, as it is apparent that these texts actually hook the students in.

My visit to Tamaki College was very insightful and I am hoping that what I have learnt will enable me to better prepare my learners for college.