Digital teaching tips & tricks, ideas, examples, and general thoughts and reflections. Could be useful to anyone teaching in a digital learning environment.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

The Number Framework

Last night we enjoyed some Maths PD by Jo Knox from Maths Development. Enjoyed definitely being the operative word. PD is often interesting and valuable, but rarely will the the staff leave the staffroom energetic and and buzzing after an after-school meeting. Regardless of the amount of maths expertise or teaching experience, every member of our staff appeared to get a lot out of the session. The focus for the PD was to:

  • Understand the progressive stages of development in number.
  • Understand how strategy and knowledge are interrelated.
  • Identify clear links between the Number Framework with National Curriculum levels and National Standards.

Now if I'm being honest, when I read these key points at the beginning of the meeting, my enthusiasm was not at its highest, and I was expecting to leave the staffroom at 5pm in a more typical 'post staff-meeting fashion'. However, once we got started, I realised that these were in fact the exact points I have been working to understand better in my own inquiry into maths. For my own head I translated the points of focus to:

  • What do learners need to understand at each stage.
  • Where, When and How do strategy and knowledge relate.
  • How do the Pink books connect to the curriculum.

A selection of slides from Jo's presentation

A key point that I took away from the PD was that learners who are stuck at a lower stage of maths in their knowledge, will have a hard time (or be unable to) use a strategy from a higher stage. I suddenly thought about my boys who seem to be stuck at stage 5, and realised this is part of where I have been going wrong. They are still battling with grouping and place value, and this is preventing them from moving onto new strategies for solving trickier problems.

I feel more confident in targeting their specific needs now going forward in their lessons.

Sunday, 26 February 2017

2017 Inquiry - Maths

By the end of my first year in teaching I would have said that Maths was my best subject. However, as I have inquired into my practice throughout the years, I have worked very hard at upping my game in both reading and writing:

  • An Honours dissertation with the University of Auckland in Reading 
  • And a Spark-MIT inquiry into Writing

Because of this, I believe both reading and writing are overtaking my maths teaching, and so we have come FULL CIRCLE! Therefore this year I am going to be inquiring into my maths programme!

One area I think I can target for improvement is the rewind ability of my teaching, and therefore the usefulness of my maths follow-up.  However, I don't want follow-up to be the main focus as I have looked into this before. To begin with I want to use an app called Educreations  and record my maths teaching so that my learners can access my teaching after their group lesson has ended.
I also want to try and create cross domain understanding by making connections with past/current learning i.e. Add/sub to decimals, and mult/div to frac/prop/ratio.

Our whole school is focussing on Maths as an inquiry this year, which means we will be doing extra PD in maths as a whole staff. I'm really excited to be able to learn from and inquire alongside my colleagues throughout the year.

Final Reflection: Spark-MIT

Last year I had the privilege of working on a professional inquiry with the support of Spark and Manaiakalani, as part of the Spark-MIT programme. My focus was on lifting the motivation and overall engagement of our boys in writing. I learned a lot over the year, and am already putting much of what I learned into practice this year.

I am starting a new inquiry this year in Maths, however this does not mean my inquiry into writing is by any means over. This year we will be doing more recount writing (rather than a narrative focus as per last year), which will surely have its own challenges.

The new cohort of Spark - Manaiakalani Innovative Teachers had their first session at Spark-HQ this week, and I have to admit I was very jealous as I saw the troop leaving in the car park on Monday morning. Best of luck to them, and another BIG thank you to both Spark and Manaiakalani for the opportunity last year.

Friday, 10 February 2017

Summer Learning Journey

This year I have followed the majority of my class up into Year-6 from Year-5, and as a classroom teacher who witnessed the Summer drop off every year, all I can say to the Summer Learning Journey (SLJ) team is,


Over the Summer holidays a total of 52 learners from Pt England School interacted with the SLJ, organised and run by Rachel Williamson and her team.  Over the 6 weeks holiday Rachel created blogging tasks for our learners to work on from home.
 Link to the Summer Learning Journey site here

The blogging activities offered engaging and meaningful tasks that required critical thinking and research skills. Every blog post was commented on by at least 1 adult, but Rachel's team more than often engaged in meaningful back and forth dialogic conversations with the learners, via their blogs.

The craziest part of the whole Summer Learning Journey was that I as the classroom teacher, didn't have to do a thing! The kids interacted with the content, and with SLJ team completely independently. In fact while all this was going on, my laptop sat gathering dust at home while I travelled the beautiful country of Thailand. Every time that I did log into my emails from my phone, I was bombarded with hundreds of Blog-post and comment notifications from my learners, which was unreal (I also felt very guilty!).

This year, 7 of the learners in my literacy class engaged with the SLJ content, and two of them actually placed 2nd, and 3rd in the points challenge (out of the whole school). This year now that my class is majority Year-6 I am hoping that more of my learners will be able to take their chromebooks home and engage with the SLJ in the holidays.

Although it is only the second week back, I have already noticed a difference in the readiness and focus for learning between my learners who blogged in the holidays, and those that didn't. I eagerly await their PAT and running record results after testing week.