Digital teaching tips & tricks, ideas, examples, and general thoughts and reflections. Follow my Inquiry.

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Scratch w/ DMIC style groups

Student coding applications (such as Scratch) involve large amounts of problem solving by nature. This means that many of the skills and communication strategies that we have been learning as part of the DMIC approach can cross over.

A problem instead, is that I myself don't have the content knowledge required to help them out. Many of my learners have extended themselves to the same level of proficiency as my myself, or in some cases further than I can go. At first, I thought it this was a barrier that meant I wouldn't be able to do a lot of Scratch until I was up-skilled.

Instead, I have been trying to use aspects of the DMIC approach, and learning alongside my class as one big collaborative Inquiry community.

Our lessons are very exploratory, and can look like peers, groups, or even 'expert-students' running workshops for others students.

The beautiful thing about Scratch in particular, is that it has been designed by Educators to be used for this very purpose, and in this exact way. There is already functions within the programme that let kids make tutorials and search for student made "help sheets" and "tips and tricks" within itself.

Once a new skill has been found or cracked by one our 'experts', it isn't long before the skill is picked up by the other 'experts', and eventually it will filter down throughout the class. Sometimes it's not even an expert who is the first to crack something new.

Although our lessons are not strictly 'DMIC' nor do they contain all the aspects of a 'DMIC lesson', the kids are using the same skills to collaboratively tackle a problem. I hear the talk moves being used across the class, and statements like "can show me how to do make gravity again, I keep getting confused with the y and x axis" are all too common.

Friday, 31 August 2018

Roald Dahl Box Set

Our class Library Shelf is continuing to be a success this term.

Out of all the books on the shelf, the most popular books by far had been the Roald Dahl novels. I think part of this enthusiasm can be attributed to me reading Matilda to the class, but to be honest I didn't care why Roald Dahl was the favourite, as long as they were queuing up to read his books!

From the Op shop I had found a few different books, but they seem to be the type of book that people hold onto rather than donate. I decided to try my luck, and ask the school if they thought buying some more Roald Dahl books (that I could then borrow for my class until the end of the year) would be possible...?

SUCCESS!

In fact the school bought us the whole box set! The kids were pumped. Almost every book was being read as soon as they were available.
What was really cool too, was the fact that now we had doubles of some of the stories. This meant kids could read the stories the same time as their friends.




Wednesday, 15 August 2018

Op Shop Books and our own class library!

My silent reading push has been working well.

There were some problems however, that I should have thought through. It's the Duffy Book choice problem, the Scholastic Books problem, the Library Books problem!
Kids choose dumb books with cool covers!

Too many of my students were picking dumb books, that were based on movies or comic book heroes, or simply covers with cool pictures. Their enthusiasm for the books would diminish within the first few pages, and often they wouldn't get past the first few chapters.
I tried helping the students choose their books and found some success with Paul Jennings novels, Morris Gleitzman, and a few random titles that I knew they would enjoy. It was a losing battle though, and too many were losing interest in silent reading time fast.

That's when I had the brilliant idea to use some of my class budget to start buying books for our own class library shelf! I started with just a few from the Op Shop. Some Roald Dahl,  Morris Gleitzman, Maurice Gee, some more Paul Jennings, as well as few novels that I thought would catch the eye of the Girls. I was explaining the situation to some of the staff here at school, when I was offered a box of new library books that hadn't been integrated into the library system yet.
I jumped at the chance, and soon we had our own little library shelf!

There was a sense of pride from the kids with all our books on display, and the more limited (yet handpicked) choice of books meant that kids began competing to read certain books (or authors). I still took the class to the library, but now less than half were keen to change their books each time. Many choosing to instead, read the ones from our own shelf.

Together we came up with a system for our library shelf that would stop our books from getting mixed up:

  • The Top shelf would be books that had been taking out of the school library.
  • The Middle shelf would be books from the Op Shop (or Mr Goodwin's collection)
  • The Bottom shelf would be the "Special Library books" (the books that hadn't been integrated into the school library yet)

Everyone would keep their bookmark in the book that they were reading.

Thursday, 2 August 2018

Library - Bookmarks


This term I've tried to give chapter books a really big push.
I felt like the 'love of reading' was missing in my class, and I wanted to change that.

I was about a third of the way into reading Matilda by Roald Dahl to my class when I began to notice and overhear how many times my class was referencing the book in their personal jokes and conversations.
"She went full Ms Trunchbull"
- Student when talking about how grumpy their Nan had got in the Weekend.
"Is she like Miss Honey Mr?"
- Student in response to when I was explaining how lovely the Kiwi Sport coach is.
They simply loved the book, and were loving the story. I reflected on my guided reading lessons, and how little the learners were engaging with the characters and the stories that we read.
I decided I wanted to therefore make a big push for chapter books and try and recreate that same excitement based on there own reading.

I started simply with a book mark. The idea being that if they had a bookmark, then they would want to have a book to use it in... Seems a bit lame but I remembered how excited I had got when I was a kid, when my Mum bought home a fancy metallic Harry Potter Bookmark from Australia. The first thing I did was grab the nearest book and start reading so that I could use it.
I created a template and let the kids design their bookmarks however they liked. No surprises when half the class made Fortnite themed bookmarks!
It didn't matter though, because as soon as I gave them their laminated bookmarks, the students began begging me to take them to the library. My plan was working!