Friday, 18 March 2016

Stonefields Learning Process and My Practice

I was fortunate enough to be invited along to the Manaiakalani School Leaders study tour where they went to Stonefields School.  It was an interesting twist for me to go and sit with externals to hear about the vision and learning that we are working together to achieve for our learners.  I was given the opportunity to go and teach for the morning but I decided that this would be a great chance to reflect on my term one PRT goal of growing my understanding of the Learning Process (LP) to engage with my learners.

Following an observation this week, I have been reflecting on how I can make the learning more visible to my learners so they can identify what part of the process our interactions might be aimed at.

To begin with, I structured my planning around the three areas of the LP so I can navigate both myself and the learners through the activities I am creating.  After discussion with my mentor, I have challenged myself to make the LP more visible for both the learners and myself while learning.  This was also feedback that Sarah Martin (our principal) had given all the new starters about having a physical copy of it on hand when we are in the hubs to refer to.

The other provocation that came from the presentations today was how I am in a collaborative space.  Our team had a conversation this week with Sarah this week after she asked about how we were using the space in the hub.  I have found myself getting into a routine of moving into a particular space for both my literacy and numeracy groups and "tuning out" the other zones in the hub.  Having little experience in an MLE space, I can see how I may be demonstrating behaviours which could resonate with being a teacher with my own classroom.  We are currently moving into our first concept for the year and with that comes the opportunity to co-teach with other teachers in my wider team.  I am very excited by this and I will be reflecting on my behaviours and how the skills I can bring will be able to complement the learning for the learners.

Such a great experience to have today and I was really proud to see all the learners engaging in their passions with Break Through.

Friday, 11 March 2016

Creating to Learn

While I do not consider myself overly creative, I have found myself looking for ways to inspire creativity in both my learners and the lessons that I am preparing.

I am really enjoying the connections that I am building with both my literacy and numeracy groups and to have them others that what we are doing in that space is "fun" and "interesting" inspires me to look for ways to challenge them as individual learners.

What I am finding is that the majority of the Hub are aware of the word "collaborate", they do not have an appreciation for the skills and/or behaviours that are required to actually work together to solve a problem.  We set up a provocation this week with a collaborative challenge to build a structure to support a weight.  There were some criteria that they had to meet however there was a lot of freedom in how they designed and built it.  Groups were randomly assigned and we let them to it with a time limit to complete the activity.

These photos are great observations of how groups collaborated to create their structures, however, when the timer went off, no groups had managed to complete the task.  Was this a failure?  Not in the slightest.  This result was a great springboard into some discussion about what behaviours they saw in groups that they perceived to be working well together and we were able to use some of these verbs to make connections to our Hub Treaty and the learner qualities.

This has made me think about how do I foster both creativity and collaboration with my literacy and numeracy plans.  How can I use the connections with my learners to support and grow these skills?  Definitely food for thought as I move through the year.

Friday, 4 March 2016

PLG - Multi-Modal Learning with Google Sites

If someone had told me that I would be creating web sites when I entered teaching, I would have definitely thought them to be slightly mad!  However this was the focus on today's session with a focus on how to build our own Google sites.

The first part of the day had the cohort really focusing on what does "learning" mean for us in our school environments.  The below graphic shows what Stonefields School work on and this resonated with me as I am currently building my knowledge in the learning process as a Term One Professional Goal - there will be a blog post to update you on this coming shortly!

We were also fortunate to have Caleb Allison from the first MDTA cohort come and present a provocation to us about building critical thinking in our learners.  This will form the basis for our first collaborative assignment as we work to build a tool to help him develop these skills within his Year 9 social studies classes with a focus on current events.  Sounds like an exciting challenge and again I can guarantee I will be blogging about that too.

The rest of the day was spent learning the basic skills of creating and designing Google Sites - we all created a "sandpit" site where we could experiment with the different features and get a better understanding of the tool.  This is a very important tool to understand as the majority of our schools use this format to share information with not only our learners and our colleagues but our families and communities.

In the afternoon, we had the opportunity to build a quick multi-modal site for students to explore popular fairy stories.  The concept of being multi-modal can be connected with Gardner's theory of Multiple Intelligences.  This recognises that our learners all learn in unique ways so we need to find ways to engage with them and by making the site multi-modal, this can allow learners to participate in various activities to generate interest and gain perspectives from various parties.

I chose "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" and was tasked with finding six various forms of resources to help to stretch learners to look at the story from various perspectives.  There were some modern takes on the story with the porridge being replaced with devices or phones and I even put in a link where learners could discuss whether or not they thought that the bears were actually living in a safe environment and if there was anything else they could do to prevent this happening again.  While there is a rich resource of material online in the forms of images and videos, we were reminded to not shy away from text as this will help build those fundamental literacy skills.

I walked away from the session absolutely shattered however also empowered to think about how I can use this resource to benefit the changing needs of my learners.

Tuesday, 1 March 2016

Teaching Inquiry - First Thoughts

As I begin to form my first teaching inquiry, I am thinking about how I can create shift with my Year 3 learners with their writing.

Literacy is my passion and I am constantly looking for ways that I can model both engagement and exciting with the writing process with my learners.  I feel it is important for me to be a role model for my learners with writing as this is the subject that I experience the most resistance from my groups and their voices represent that of mine when I was at school.

"I don't know what to write about!"
"I don't enjoy writing - it is boring!"
"I am not good at writing!"

This are snippets of conversations I have on a daily basis and while it does sadden me, I intend to use this as motivation to look for ways to win the small battles and chip away at the underlying issues.  I know this is a marathon, not a sprint so intend to use this to build the inquiry.

I know I am not alone in this - last night, Hub 1 and 2 ran a workshop for parents who were looking for ways to help build their children's confidence in writing and how to support what they are learning at school.  This is a great insight into how I can connect with families more and use these relationships to help tailor my planning to the individual needs of my learners.