Friday, 26 February 2016

Pat Snedden's Inspiring Visit

Our day began with an inspiring talk with Pat Snedden, chair of the Manaiakalani Education Trust. He spoke about civil rights, racism and his connections to Ngati Whatua and Manaiakalani.  Pat also spoke about the significance of Manaiakalani and its impact on learners in the Tamaki region.

What resonated with me?

Pat Snedden’s talk was powerful and inspiring.  We and the people before us in Manaiakalani have the power to challenge deficit thinking, inequities and racism.  We have the ability to empower our learners.  We can make a difference.  What we are doing is for the children, and we must not forget that - how far they’ve come and how we can continue to help making a difference.

Friday, 19 February 2016

Digital Immersion: Day Two

Our second Digital Immersion day started with a little learning about the origins of Manaiakalani.  Dorothy talked us through Manaiakalani's conception,  beginning days and where the cluster is at now.  Once again I was reminded of how lucky I am to be a part of an innovative cluster that is making a real difference to the lives of our learners. 

Today's digital learning was about Google Forms and Google Sheets.  Again this week I was surprised at how little I knew about these apps.  Dorothy talked us through the Self-Paced Check with Dave Winter. Dave's Google Sheet was really useful as we could go through the YouTube clips at our own pace (as the name suggests) and fill in any knowledge gaps we had about Google Spreadsheets.

Next up we learnt about Google Forms. We learnt by doing as Dorothy guided us through the process of creating our own Google Form. I created mine on Sentence Structures, as this is a lesson which I enjoy and am passionate about teaching. We also learnt about the Google Sheet's add-on Flubaroo. This add-on enables you to transfer your responses from your Google Form onto a Google Spreadsheet. You can then grade your responses. Here is a Google Draw I created about my learning:

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Elements of an Engaging Lesson

On  Wednesday I observed my Mentor take a 'statistical inquiry' lesson. I wanted to observe and record how Robyn creates an engaging lesson on statistics.  What I witnessed was inspiring!  Robyn places great importance on creating student 'buy in', as it leads to engagement in learning.  She achieves this through:

  • Sparking student interest
  • Promoting student agency
  • Making connections between the learning and the learners

How it was done

In the statistical inquiry, students were given the open task of 'finding out about LS2'.  Robyn encouraged the students to think outside the box, and away from typical questions such as 'what is your favourite colour?' and come up with something they wanted to know about their classmates. Getting our learners to form their own questions sparked a lot of enthusiasm and engagement, which draws attention to the importance of student agency in the classroom.  It was apparent that learners were eager to begin their statistical inquiry as they were following their own lines of interest. It is also important to note that our learners were engaged during the entire lesson.  I feel that if our learners had been given a set question the level of enthusiasm and engagement would not have been the same.  

What I also noticed during the lesson was how seamlessly academic language was woven into what the students were learning.  Robyn made sure to make connections between the academic language and the learners, by unpacking the terms in 'learner speak'. Repetition was also key here.  After each step in the statical inquiry, Robyn went back over the inquiry process, reminding the learners what they had been doing -  in both academic language and learner speak.  

What I will take from this

  • Student agency + effective teaching = engaged learners.
  • Giving learners freedom of choice is an effective way to generate student interest/enthusiasm towards tasks.
  • Unpacking academic language into 'learner speak' allows for learners to make connections to the learning, thus deepening their understandings of tasks.
  • Repetition, repetition, repetition!

Friday, 12 February 2016

Digital Immersion: Day One

Today marked the beginning of my MDTA Digital Immersion days in the MDTA.  These professional meetings are a chance for the MDTA BTs to share their experiences, as well as immerse ourselves in the digital world so we can use technology effectively in the classroom.  

The day started off with a discussion on how the MDTA BTs are settling into our classrooms. It is very reassuring to know that the MDTA BTs and Leaders are all in this journey together.  I feel very lucky to be a part of a Professional Learning Group (PLG) that shares their experiences, as it allows us to learn with and from each other.

Our digital learning of today was about Google Docs.  One thing I learnt was to use the 'Styles' section to create headings and subheadings.  Gone are the days of creating headings by changing the font!  This is very useful as you can then create a Table of Contents so you can click on a heading and find it instantly.  We also explored Add-ons for Google Docs and shared them in a Google Presentation.  I chose to share Lucidchart, as it is a great way to organise your thinking in a visual form. 

Our last task was to create a Digital Learning Object (DLO) to show what has resonated with us today.  Here is my Google Draw:

I am looking forward to continuing to learn, create and share my learning on this blog.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Setting Up Expectations for a Collaborative Classroom

I am currently sitting in my classroom at lunch, taking in the unusual sound of silence.  Robyn and I have spent the first days of the term setting up routines and expectations for our classroom.  As said by a student in Robyn's class last year:

"We learn best when we learn with and from each other." 

 ... And I couldn't have said it any better myself! Robyn and I believe that collaboration is an extremely effective way for our students to learn.  Therefore our lessons have been carefully considered and created, as we want collaboration to be the key element.

At first this was a challenge, as some of the students came from classes which didn't do a lot of collaborative work.  It takes a lot of encouragement and repetition of the expectations so the learners can begin to work collaboratively.  Our learners also need to feel safe in their groups so they can share their ideas.  It is therefore important to stress the importance of including everyone and being respectful of their ideas.

 Looking around the room during block two Robyn and I were quite pleased.  Learning conversations, co-operation and collaboration was happening before our eyes!  Our collaborative classroom is definitely underway.

Saturday, 6 February 2016

SOLO PD with Pam Hook

Friday marked my first Professional Development course as a BT in the MDTA.  All I can say was WOW!  Pam Hook took us on an interesting learning journey through SOLO Taxonomy.  With Pam's analogies, simple explanations and wicked sense of humour I was hooked the entire time!  It was great that we took part in hands-on activities as it allowed us to see how we can use SOLO in our lessons.  Using SOLO will help our learners make deeper connections to their learning.  

SOLO is an extremely useful taxonomy to implement in Learning Space Two as it scaffolds learners from thinking at a surface level to a deeper level.  This is what Pam calls 'constructive alignment'.   Another benefit to SOLO is that it does not label our learners, as the focus is on the learning outcomes and objectives, rather than the students themselves.  Thus children's mindset of learning will shift from a 'fixed' mindset, to 'I can achieve when I combine strategy, effort and persistence'.

Robyn and I had a fabulous time with Pam Hook and have already planned to use some of her ideas next week.

Here is a link to my notes from the PD session.