Monday, 11 September 2017

Google Forms are Choice!

I am a big fan of using Google Forms in my practice.  It is a great way to capture voice, check for understanding and gain feedback on lessons.

However when I did my Level 2, I learned about how you can maximise the element of choice in your forms.  Prior to this, I had created forms that took learners through a series of questions from start to finish.  However now I can add sections to a form and have learners go to different parts based on responses that they give.

This has helped me support learners who may struggle with a concept so rather than just have them answer "no" or "I don't know" to a question, I can now take them to a different part of the form where I can ask specific questions to help me gain further understanding of what I might need to assist them in their learning.  I also learned how to add videos to help learners build their knowledge of concepts before answering questions.

I have updated a lot of the current Google Forms that I use with my groups and now really enjoy seeing how learners are making choices and decisions and then justifying these decisions.  Here are some examples of how I have updated these forms.


I have been getting the groups to evaluate their texts this year by rating it on a likert scale, however this term I chose to change it up and allow learners the chance to give a more definitive answer which is closely followed by the chance for them to justify their decision based on their response.


I am revisiting a lot of the Early Stage Five Addition and Subtraction strategies with my groups so have been giving them some activities and videos to help me gauge their understanding before moving onto the Stage Five equivalent strategy.  This helps me to structure the learning based on which learners are feeling about the current learning.


Similar with my numeracy groups, I am trying to do some refresher workshops with my writers on how we refine (edit) our writing.  This also gives me the chance to see what learners need assistance with their current skill sets or spot opportunities for future workshops or sessions.

To sum it up, I think my title of the blog post hits home - I do find using Google Forms a key part of my practice and am looking how I can continue to challenge my skills in this area.  Stay tuned for future updates!

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Impact Stories 2.0

This morning I, along with the rest of the Stonefields staff, presented our impact stories to each other.  These presentations are an update on our teaching as inquiries, however as a PRT, I had to present one of my term goals towards registration.

I chose to use Powtoon to make an animation detailing my inquiry - this goal links in with my dissertation focus with my group of writers.

While it was great to trial a new app for learning, I probably over invested time in getting this done.  Check it out and let me know if you have any thoughts on my progress so far!

Monday, 21 August 2017

Exploring New Ways for Publishing

This term, we have been exploring how to write information reports that links in our learning about the forest.  Most of the writers I work with have not had much exposure to report writing so I thought if we started with looking at the structure of a paragraph would be a great start.

An opportunity that I wanted to explore with the group was thinking about both the purpose of their writing as well as their audience.  We decided that we wanted to create information for visitors to our school and this got me thinking, how would we be able to share these with others as well as demonstrate our skill in writing paragraphs.

Looking at some of the senior hubs blogs, I noticed that they had been using an app called Thinglink that allows you to turn images into interactive graphics.  With this in mind, I chose to model an example first to see what the response from the kids were:

There was a buzz of excitement when I showed the kids this and lots of questions about where I had
chosen to place my paragraphs and then I noticed, that they were reading the paragraphs and giving me feedback.  With this goal in mind, everyone set off to create a Thinglink of their own.

When it came time to take their photos, I saw a great deal of care from the kids to make sure that the image not only suited their writing but also demonstrated empathy for their audience by considering what message they wanted to portray.  These are kids who normally can't wait to be finished with a piece of writing however they were analysing their photos and retaking after having conversations with one another.

Check out their finished pieces on our hub blog:

Thursday, 10 August 2017

The Power of Padlet!

I have used Padlet as an information collection tool in my practice - mainly for me to capture voice from the learners and use it as a visual brainstorm.

This week I went and observed one of my colleagues, Mel, who teaches in one of our Year 4/5/6 hubs. My observation focus was how she teaches Year 4 literacy as I now have learners who are accessing this area of the curriculum.  One thing I noticed and liked was how Mel used her modelling books as an interactive tool with her learners, enabling two way communication between herself and her learners.

Reflecting on this, I really wanted to see how I could try something similar with my literacy groups so I thought about how Padlet may allow now only me to see how the kids are engaging with their learning but also with each other.

This week, I reintroduced the idea of quad blogging to my reading groups as they seem now more interested in engaging with other blogs.  We discussed why we had a hub blog and I let the kids write their thoughts down on this padlet.

Made with Padlet

There was an instant buzz in the air as everyone started to write their ideas down however the really cool thing was when they noticed that they could read each others ideas.  Questions sprung up straight away to one another about why they would write that or noticed similarities or differences in their comments.

With this initial excitement, I have decided to incorporate Padlet into the Build Knowledge element of my reading programme where learners can write their predictions down in a Padlet and we will use this as the springboard into our guided reading sessions.  I was conscious that I may need to give the groups time to experiment more with Padlet so was glad to read this blog post from Troy on allowing sandpit time with new apps, with a focus on Padlet.

Looking forward to seeing how this encourages collaboration between learners!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

How to teach spelling like a pirate?

Roll on Term 3 and Hub Whenua are already into assessments with our mid year snapshot of learners spelling ability.

The learners who I am supporting with their writing have come such a long way with their spelling as detailed in this graph where I compared their result at the beginning of the year to what they were able to achieve this week.

This success has come from the learners being determined, fantastic support from whanau and the inclusion of spelling into my practice each week.  However while these results are fantastic, I am not seeing the transition of this confidence with vocabulary when the learners are crafting their writing.

This has got me thinking about how I can redefine the spelling component of my practice.  How can I turn something that has the potential to become 'boring' and 'repetitive' into something that learners want to engage with and can make links with while writing.

I am currently reading "Teach Like A Pirate" by Dave Burgess and one of the first areas of passion that he writes about is content.  While I consider myself to be a confident speller, I really need to up my game with knowledge to be able to confidently pass these skills onto learners.  I am fortunate to have worked with our PE specialist Rachel and she has introduced me to activities to help develop confidence with spelling but I feel that I need to continue to explore this area too so I have a kete of resources to use.

Stay tuned - this pirates spelling ship is just setting sail!  Always grateful for ideas or insight into others spelling programmes.

Friday, 21 July 2017

Term Two Reflection and Next Steps for Term Three

As I have already reflected on my practice in relation to the learning areas of reading, writing and numeracy - this reflection will look more at how I have been building relationships with the learners this term and outlining some small personal goals I have for the next term.

Our Term Two concept was "Being My Best Self" that linked with our schools vision for wellbeing but we also chose to expose learners to the concept of hauora where we explored and investigated the different realms of wellbeing.  This term I felt that we had more learners open up and discuss who they were as a whole person because we gave them the opportunity to both explore and express these facts.  Another great initiative we created in the hub is the daily affirmations at the end of the day where learners were able to share when they noticed someone else in the hub being their best self.  This experience showed me that this concept learning had heightened everyone's knowledge about one another so it was great to hear when a learner who historically may have been distracted in numeracy learning be nominated for being extra determined with their learning for the day.  We found that learners were not nominating their friends and the sheer look of joy or surprise when someone heard their name being called out meant that we were all leaving the day on a positive note.

I asked my Guardian Group for some feedback at the end of the term about how they had been enjoying our time as a group and here are the responses.  The fact that the majority of the group put down that they enjoy "Fun Day Friday" means that the time that we are spending as a group is well worth it - this is where the group have the challenge on Friday to make me laugh when we are doing the roll.  These are moments where I see learners that are usually reserved really open up and I have a few masters of the worm who like to bust it out.  While it was nice to get some affirmations in the "What would I like Mr Lewzey to know about me?" section, my eyes went more to the responses like "nothing" and I have massive respect for the learner who called me out on not pronoucing their name correct all the time.  So I still have a long way to go with some of my group, however while this survey was anonymous, I have a good idea about which ones I need to continue to build relationships with.

Here is when my Star Wars fanatics wanted to do the roll on May 4th:

However that is only 22 of the 70 learners in our hub that I interact with and there are still learners in the hub that while I feel I have a good understanding of, I need to keep on trying.  We have done some regrouping for Term Three so this means that I will be working with some learners that I have not had the opportunity to work with this year so far so I am looking forward to building those relationships.

In regards to relationships with all hub learners, we check in with the learners each term to see if they have a significant adult at school and more so in the hub.  Here are the results from when we asked the learners this term:

My eyes go direct to the nine learners who do not feel confident to talk to any of the teachers in the space, whether they have a problem or would like to share something.  Learners have the chance to acknowledge other teachers within the school, however looking at the data, these learners have indicated that they do not have anyone and coming into half way through the school year, this is something that we as a hub team need to address quickly so we have tagged ourselves to particular learners and will discuss with their families next term to see if we can get some more insight into this.

I still watch this video when I am feeling a bit down about my practice as it helps me remember a key component of my beliefs as a teacher: everyone needs somebody who believes in them.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Google Certified Educator - Level 2

Having done the Google Certified Educator - Level 1 last year, I had always thought about doing the second level.  I decided that I would try for it these holidays and I was able to pass.

I went into the experience, thinking that it was going to be about developing further skills in a number of the Google Apps for Education that I was already using, however I found that while doing this, the experience made me reflect on things that I was already doing in my practice as well as challenge my thinking in how to engage with the learners in different ways.

The training takes you through the following three sections:

  1. Engage in Professional Growth and Leadership;
  2. Increase Efficiency and Save Time; and
  3. Facilitate and Inspire Student Learning and Creativity
One of the great things I found out to maximise time is to create 'canned responses' in Gmail where you can build emails and have them be available as templates for you to populate rather than typing or copying and pasting previous emails.  

Another aspect that I wish to explore more is the 'HyperDoc' - this is something that we spent time exploring last year as part of the MDTA programme however this process made me reflect on how I could leverage this more in my practice to help learners both learn at their own pace but also encourage them to keep challenging themselves in their learning.