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

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Testing - Class OnAir

#ClassOnAir
Throughout the year I will be updating my Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir site with links to my planning, resources, reflections, videos of my teaching, and links to the learners work on their blogs. There are 7 Manaiakalani teachers from various schools and levels for you to check out. It's 21st century window into our classrooms. 
Check out the whole ClassOnAir site here.

Here's  a preview of my latest lesson.


Direct Instruction
The intention for this lesson was to provide interesting and engaging lessons/ activities that the learners can work on independently. During Term 4 there is always an increased amount of time that learners will need to be working independently while the teacher is busy testing. These lessons are intended to keep the learners engaged while working independent from the teacher.
See full episode here

Thursday, 16 November 2017

2017 Inquiry: Impact Story

What happened for the learners?
I have a group of learners working below the National Standard in maths. In particular I have noticed that their maths knowledge is low, and this was affecting their ability to solve higher level problems and use higher level strategies. We focussed mainly around number knowledge, and a big part of this was of course our times tables. Most of these learners were limited to mostly 2’s, 10’s and some 5’s, but now the majority of the group know most  “well a decent chunk” of their times tables, which is fantastic. They also have a more concrete understanding of their add/sub facts and fractions knowledge. By having these basic facts available for instant recall, they have been able to be more successful when attempting some higher level problems, and when using higher level strategies. More than this though, there has been a huge culture shift in the group in regards to maths time and problem solving learning.



What evidence do I have of this happening?
First and foremost my evidence has been from working with the group and observing the changes throughout the year. We have shifted from “eyes rolling into the back of our heads” at the mention of times tables, to confident and actively engaged problem solving sessions. Learning basic facts changed from something that was perceived as a pointless chore, to a purposeful and rewarding exercise.
In term 2 I started doing times table tests with the group. It was a selection of 20 multiplication and 20 division questions (1-10 table). In the beginning we were averaging about 30% on the times tables, and 10% on the division. By the end of the year our group average is more like 75% on times tables, and 40% on division, with some learners even reaching 100% on both.
On Gloss our results are mixed, however there has been a lift in Mult/ Div across the whole group which supports the shift I have seen in class. In some cases where they have not necessarily moved forwards on the test with regards to which stage they scored, they have still made progress towards that next stage i.e. a combination of multiplication facts, and skip counting to get the right answer. 5 x 5  = 25, 30, 35, 40, 45 etc.

The PAT results were at first a bit disappointing, I didn’t see the shift that I had expected and hoped to see, even from the learners who I felt had been most successful during the inquiry. It wasn’t until I broke the test down to the question level that I started to see some evidence of improvement. While their overall score had not significantly improved (or in some cases even gone backwards). There was a clear improvement amongst the lower level questions, specifically the questions At and Below standard. While that might not sound so impressive on it’s own, it tells me is that this group understood and solved more of the questions at their own level. So even though they actually answered less answers correct on the test, more of their correct answers were likely ones they “knew” rather than “guessed”.
If you read the multiple choice answers offered by the test, you can actually see where they have attempted some of the other higher level questions too. The test “meanly” offers answers in the multiple choice questions that would be the answer if you solved them using lower level strategies or with typical misconceptions.
So they realistically probably had more chance taking a 1-in-4 chance stab in the dark at getting the right answer.

What did I do to make this happen?
To make this shift I have done a number of things, and it’s taken me awhile to figure out what it was I needed to do. These are not kids who have historically made accelerated shift, and I knew from teaching the same group last year that much of the maths knowledge learning we had done, had not stuck.
I began first by offering more opportunities for basic facts learning, tightening up some routines, and giving them more resources to work on during non-group time learning. This didn’t seem to be making much of an impact, and so I started doing more reading into how kids obtain and remember basic facts. I read that kids often don’t value basic facts, when they don’t truly understand the purpose of them, and in some cases even what a “basic fact” is. We started spending group time discussing basic facts, and why they are important, we started making jokes such as “Basic facts are like cheat codes and shortcuts”. This created some value behind learning a basic fact set, and we started making some progress.
However it wasn’t until I started spending more teacher time actually specifically teaching the group how to acquire their times tables that I really started to see progress. The repetitive and deliberate acts of teaching, ended up a far superior and more successful than any digital resource I made or found online.. I had thought that the way I learned timetables at school was old fashioned and boring, however it is still considered by most experts to be the most effective. Check out a more detailed post about what I did in group sessions here.
I also began creating open ended tasks that allowed the learners to utilise their new knowledge in authentic experiences see here, here, here and here. Not just questions, but activities were having facts for instant recall were necessary for success.

Wonderings for what next?
While this inquiry was successful in many ways, there are other ways where I didn’t achieve everything that I hoped to. There was not the level of accelerated achievement I had hoped for, and although I learned a lot about teaching knowledge alongside strategy, it took me too long to get a good system in place. I also think that the new teaching strategies I put in place were not happening at the right frequency. Next year with my new cohort I see true value in continuing the work I have done for this inquiry, but to make what I have learned a more established and regular part of my maths routine. Consistency throughout the year I believe will be key to more successful outcomes for the learners.


Monday, 6 November 2017

Charmanders Story

This year I have been inquiring into maths. Specifically how focussing on knowledge can help to lift the achievement of my learners working "below" the national average.  This post is about one of those learners, and to maintain the anonymity of this learner I'll just call him Charmander (Charmander is a Pokemon character and has otherwise zero relevance to any of this).

Charmander was one of the boys in my target group. At the beginning of the year I noticed that this group in particular appeared to be attempting higher level strategies than what their maths knowledge would allow them to be successful with. Basically they didn't have the level of maths knowledge they needed to use higher level strategies and therefore I believed were underachieving in maths, according to the national standards.

Throughout the year I have been inquiring into how I can lift maths knowledge in the hope that by lifting their knowledge, that their achievement will follow.  I believe that within this inquiry Charmander has been successful. Here is quick snapshot of his maths data for the year:


What is obviously pleasing about this, is the movement in all 3 area's. What was specifically interesting to my inquiry was the huge lift in the "End Times Tables test 5 minute test".  Although Charmander had some of his Multiplication tables already, by the end of the year he scored 100% as well as 70% in finding the factor.

What I noticed in group work was a huge lift in confidence and enthusiasm towards basic facts. Charmander's eyes no longer glazed over when he saw a times table above the 2's, nor did he give up a the mention of division. Instead he became invested in learning his basic facts, and "knowing them" became a form of competition amongst the group.

His improvement is also evident on his blog, not just in the quality and and evidence of his thinking, but also by the number of posts he has been completing and sharing. The image below clearly shows that he has increased the level of thinking he is putting into his blog posts when sharing.

Well done Charmander.


Friday, 27 October 2017

PD Session w/ Jo Knox

Today we were very privileged to have Jo Knox spend some time with us focussing on how we can shift our learners who are stuck at a particular stage in Maths.

Our entire team of teachers were released from the classroom, and spent the whole morning with Jo. We selected groups of learners from our own classes who were working around the same stage in the area of maths we wanted Jo to demonstrate.

Seeing Jo working with our own learners was really really cool, and voided any of those feelings of "this wouldn't work with my learners" that can sometimes come with PD (forgiving of course the fact that there were 6 of their teachers watching over them and they were particularly well behaved haha).

Some big takeaways I took from this session was:

Smarter planning
Jo didn't just plan for what she wanted to teach, but thought through what were the key bits of knowledge that they would need for the learning, and the relevant connections they would need to make, to consolidate that learning.

Talking
Although I have done a lot of learning surrounding the importance of talk in maths (Talk moves, Bobby Hunter, etc), and feel like I do an 'okay' job at it. It really hit home again how important it is. Two things I can work on with this is setting up and reinforcing the routines within problem solving talk, and actually spending more time listening and allowing the students time to respond before I jump in. As an observer of the lesson I noticed which learners were responding and which were not responding, rather than only focussing on the two or three loud ones.

Whole class Problem solving
This isn't something that I have often done, however after discussing it with Jo I think I would like to give it a go. One concern I have had with this is around the floor and ceiling for a whole class problem. How to make sure I won't be excluding groups of learners by difficulty, and on the flip side not allowing room to grow in their learning.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

Holiday Blogging Success

In the January and July School Holidays, Woolf Fisher run a Holiday blogging programme called the Summer/ Winter Learning Journey,  led by Rachel Williams. This programme is designed to give our tamariki some positive and rich learning experiences in their holiday, while also interacting with teachers via their blogs online. It is also designed to tackle the massive Summer drop off that we see in student achievement. The most amazing thing about the Woolf Fisher SLJ is that it does not require classroom teachers to do anything at all, the entire programme is run from the outside.

As I followed my class up from Year 5 to Year 6 I was able to see just how successful this programme was over the Summer Holidays, and how it effected the readiness of my learners as they came back to school. Not to mention how this effected their data for the first lot of assessments. It was far too great to ignore, and therefore I decided to build on the success of the programme and create a small scale mini-learning journey over the April school holidays for our Team of 5 classes at Pt England School. This was a huge success and I was blown away by the amount of learners who interacted with it, and by the amount of blog posts they shared.

It was a no brainer therefore to follow on from the Winter Learning Journey in the July school holidays, and run another mini-blogging journey in the September Holidays. This time around I doubled the amount of blogging tasks that I created, and the learners reciprocated by doing double the amount of blogging! Here are some quick facts:
  • Almost 40% of our Year 6 learners* interacted with their blogs over the break (More of our Year 6 learners take their chrome books home than our Year 5s)
  • Almost 600 Blog posts or comments were shared over the 2 week break!
  • Not only were learners collaborating online, they were promoting and attributing each other as well.
  • Half of the learners who blogged, completed all or most of the 8 blogging teacher made tasks.
  • Some learners shared on their blog more than 40 times over the break.

This is an amazing result, and we as a team are over joyed by the quality learning, interaction, and collaboration that these learners engaged with over the holidays. Some things that really stood out this time around for me was the collaboration and interaction aspect of the programme. I had not specifically made this a focus to any degree and yet this was perhaps the highlight for many of the learners.
Example 1
Example 2
I particularly think its cool how they attribute each others work on the project, and encourage their audience to explore each others work via a URL link. Again, I have never asked them to do this but I think it could be a result of our Cybersmart lessons surrounding attributing work that isn't ours (specifically images but in this case their work), regardless it is really cool to see them having fun and interacting via their blogs.

We awarded 5 prizes for 5 different categories, and asked Dorothy Burt to award them today at our team assembly.

Our Top Blogger posted 49 times!!!!


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Focussed for Term 4

I'ts already Term 4 (how did that happen?!). This inquiry has been in motion for three terms so far. More importantly my learners are approaching their end of year testing, and I am going to find out just how successful this inquiry has been.

Some things I have learned:

  • A number of my learners who are working Below the national standard are low in maths knowledge. This is affecting their ability to use higher level strategies, and to solve higher level problems correctly or efficiently.
  • There are no short cuts when it comes to learning basic facts. To learn them means to memorise them, and you can only progress so far in maths without them.
  • Kids need to be taught specifically how to learn basic facts. You cannot simply provide time and resources for them and expect them to be successful. It is vital that a percentage of your teaching time is being used for knowledge learning.
  • Kids enjoy learning basic facts (well perhaps not the wrote learning part, but they love them once they know them), and it can be an area where they see success and therefore grow confidence.

With less than 2 weeks left before testing begins, there is little time to teach new knowledge or strategies. Instead I will be spending the remaining time before testing consolidating strategies and knowledge, in the hope that we have brought up their maths knowledge to a more even level with their strategy use.

After that, I will have to reflect on and analyse the data to first see how we went, but also to work out how to best fill holes before they move onto a new year level.

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Open Ended Tasks

I have been finding success with open ended tasks in my inquiry. Essentially its creating learning experiences where the learners can write and solve their own problems. Ideally a rich task with high engagement, however low level tasks work well also. I thought I would share some that I have been using.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Film Festival - Class OnAir

#ClassOnAir
Throughout the year I will be updating my Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir site with links to my planning, resources, reflections, videos of my teaching, and links to the learners work on their blogs. There are 7 Manaiakalani teachers from various schools and levels for you to check out. It's 21st century window into our classrooms. 
Check out the whole ClassOnAir site here.

Here's  a preview of my latest lesson.

Film Festival

Direct Instruction
This episode is about tips for making a class movie (for the Manaiakalani Film festival). Unlike regular Class OnAir episodes it is not a recorded teaching lesson, instead it is made up of various cut clips from my own 2017 film festival movie and contains a voice over talking about how you create a film festival movie.

Monday, 25 September 2017

Picture Book - Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir

#ClassOnAir
Throughout the year I will be updating my Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir site with links to my planning, resources, reflections, videos of my teaching, and links to the learners work on their blogs. There are 7 Manaiakalani teachers from various schools and levels for you to check out. It's 21st century window into our classrooms. 
Check out the whole ClassOnAir site here.

Here's  a preview of my latest lesson.

Picture Book - Oral Language



Direct Instruction 
The learning intention for this lesson was to practice reading aloud with expression for an audience. I first modelled how I would read to the younger audience and then gave them the opportunity to practice on each other in their reading groups. They each selected their 2 best readers from each group to represent them reading in the year 1 class. Finally they were given the opportunity to read their picture books to the Year 1 class.
Full Lesson Here

Friday, 22 September 2017

Google Certified Educator Level 2 exam

Today I sat my Google Certified Educator Level 2 exam and passed!

For the past Nine weeks I have assisted Dorothy Burt and Gerhard Vermeulen at leading the Digital Fluency Intensive programme with 13 wonderful educators.  Part of the programme was to prepare these educators to sit the Google Certified Educator exams.

As I didn't have mine, I decided to sit one as well!

Friday, 15 September 2017

Open ended problem solving tasks

I have been having some success with my learners around open ended up problem solving tasks.

Rather than coming up with all the problems myself, I have been coming up with open ended problems that the learners make up themselves. I had feared that the learners wouldn't take this seriously and it would be a waste of time.

However, they instead rose to the challenge and were excited about difficult problems, rather than rigging it to get easy ones like I thought.

To make sure that they were solving the problems correctly I encouraged them to use the calculator on their chromebooks. There was no threat to their learning as they were still required to show their working, which was not made easier by having the answer.

You can see two of the tasks I created on my Class OnAir page. Other problems were designed from using materials.

Wednesday, 13 September 2017

Maths - Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir

#ClassOnAir
Throughout the year I will be updating my Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir site with links to my planning, resources, reflections, videos of my teaching, and links to the learners work on their blogs. There are 7 Manaiakalani teachers from various schools and levels for you to check out. It's 21st century window into our classrooms. 
Check out the whole ClassOnAir site here.

Here's  a preview of my latest lesson.

Measurement and Decimals - Maths

Direct Instruction
The learning intention for this lesson was to use Multiplicative knowledge to solve Measurement themed problems. We built on our learning from a previous lesson and it used it to work out new problems. In this case we used the same method of solving measurement problems using multiplication and the length of our foot. Learners measured and calculated the length of objects in the classroom, but then calculated the length of those objects in a "giant universe" (3x larger).
See the full episode here

Friday, 25 August 2017

Manaiakalani Hui

Today I had the pleasure of being at the annual Manaiakalani Hui. It was a fantastic day and we were privileged to hear from student ambassadors from each of the Manaiakalani schools, as well as the Spark-MIT teachers, and the Woolf Fisher Research group.

At the end of the day, I had the opportunity to share my own inquiry via a display board. People at the Hui dropped by and were able to have a chat about where I was headed with my Inquiry.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Maths - Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir

#ClassOnAir
Throughout the year I will be updating my Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir site with links to my planning, resources, reflections, videos of my teaching, and links to the learners work on their blogs. There are 7 Manaiakalani teachers from various schools and levels for you to check out. It's 21st century window into our classrooms. 
Check out the whole ClassOnAir site here.

Here's  a preview of my latest lesson.

Measurement and Decimals - Maths


Direct Instruction
The learning intention for this lesson was to use Multiplicative knowledge to solve Measurement themed problems. Each learner measured the length of their feet, and then paced out the height of their partner. With the length of the feet, and the number of paces it took to pace out their partner, they were able to multiply the two numbers to equal the height. 
See the full episode here

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Is there a "best way" to rote learn times tables?

Seen's it looks like I'm going to be stuck teaching times tables by rote learning, I want to make sure I'm teaching it the best way that I can. So I google searched:


Most of the results I found weren't very helpful, however one did catch my eye. It promoted teaching and learning times tables in a very structured way, and contained a lot of the ideas that NZ Maths promote as well (See my post on Basic facts).

The article promoted teaching the drill in a very specific way, that provided visual, auditory, and kinesthetic cues for the students. However what I really liked was the three step structure.

1. Skip counting pattern
i.e. 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18...
By skip counting with the students first, you are learning to memorise the pattern and answers of the times table set before you begin. This will help the answers spring to mind when you later try to memorise the fact.

2. The table
i.e. 3x1= ?, 3x2=?, 3x3=?, 3x4=?
Starting at 3x1 and progressing down the list matches the skip counting and will continue to cement the pattern and answers.

3. The table backwards
i.e ?x3=3, ?x3=6, ?x3=9, ?x3=12
Again starting at 1x3=3 and moving down the list. The question is only re-written and shouldn't require as much brain power to answer as step 2, however it does require the learner to think of the question back to front. Again further cementing that fact into the brain.

Once finished the three steps you would simply repeat the process, but back to front. i.e. 36, 33, 30 etc. Then continue to do all the steps back to front, and eventually out of order.

The article suggests that how long you spend on this drill at one time, and how long you spend on each times table set would totally depend on you and your class.

I haven't tried this yet, but I think I will give it a go with my target group in the near future. Digital version though of course (screw writing all that on the whiteboard!!!)




Why my original hypothesis was wildly wrong

Well "wildly wrong" might be a tad too strong, however a crucial part of my hypothesis was indeed wrong, and this has led to failures on my part.

My original hypothesis stated that:
 "...my learners were struggling to acquire and retain their basic facts, and other maths knowledge." This is still true, and I still believe this is the problem.

However, the issue with this hypothesis was that first I had attributed the "struggle" to the learner's ability instead of my own (DERP!). It seems so obvious in retrospect, however at the time I had not considered that I myself might be the problem. It is possible of course that my learners have an issue acquiring and retaining basic facts, however a more realistic and far more likely situation is that the "struggle" I talked about, is really attributed to my ability to teach basic facts. 

My new hypothesis is the basic idea that if can teach basic facts better so that my learners acquire and retain them, then I will see a greater improvement in higher stages of maths.

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Can learning times tables be fun? ...Not really, but you can try to make them less boring!

Since realising that kids struggle to learn their time's tables all over the world and that this is not some rare phenomenon happening only in my class... That I don't have to be some kind of Super Teacher and solve this issue all by myself... I have been doing more and more reading online about how other people teach times tables, and the best ways to learn times tables.

In all the sources that I come across, they all seem to agree that learning basic facts (times tables) off by heart is essential to being a high achiever in maths. They also agree (sadly) that the best and most efficient way to memorise these facts off by heart is by rote learning them in some way.
- The Telegraph
- The School Run
- Mathmo Consulting

While all agree that boring old rote learning is best the way to memorise basic facts. They also suggest that fun and engaging times table games or activities will help provide incentive or motivation for learners, which should help counter the monotonous nature of the rote learning. See my post on Rob Wiseman's time's table rap for what I think is a great example of this.

Hesitant to play too many games such as 'Around the world' which I fear only helps the small number of high achievers grow in confidence, while detrimentally affecting the ones who could really use some motivation, I have looked at other types of "fun and engaging games" on the internet. I have come across a website called Math Playground. This is just one of 100's of websites claiming to be "maths games" however this is one of the better ones I have found, that has ACTUAL maths learning in the games.

Rather than give them a free-for-all access to the site, which I can imagine would naturally become a trolling session looking for the most entertaining game on the site. I have selected a game at the right level for each of my groups and restricted them to that game only for the week. I have explained to my class that these games are on trial basis and if we can't use them appropriately and do our other work as well, then I would remove them from our rotation.

For my target group, I found a times tables race car game. This game can be played against the computer or other real players (including each other) as they race their car around the track and to the finish. To propel your car forward you must answer the time's table questions on your screen. Get a question right and your car accelerates, get a question wrong and your car slows down. Rather than recalling the answers straight from their brain, the game gives you four answers to choose from, only one correct. This is a nice change from some of the other resources they use and helps them answer more rapidly (more fun!).


I have trialled the games this week, and they have been an absolute hit! However it is the first week back, and they are brand new, so I'm not getting my hopes up just yet. I think this is something I will bring back either every second week or something similar so that they don't lose their "cool factor" they have right now.

Monday, 17 July 2017

Times tables Rap - Learning from our own

Rob Wiseman is a teacher at Pt England School and has a Year 7 & 8 class.
Similarly to my Year 5 & 6 class his Year 7 & 8's are lacking in times tables knowledge, but not so similar to my Year 5 & 6 class Rob thought of an exciting, original, and creative way to help his learners learn their time's tables.

Rob got his class to write and record their own song or rap about a times table set. He showed them examples and then scaffolded them into creating their own.
Rob said that his learners were "visibly engaged in the activity and enjoyed the creative process", and what stood out for him was "seeing how enthusiastic the boys were about this activity. Boys who didn't often get excited about maths were visibly enjoying creating their song or rap". 
Rob did admit that he was a bit ambitious trying to have the task finished in one week, and that next time he would require them to learn the script off by heart instead of reading while they recorded it, as some learners "when quizzed on those times tables... struggled to respond accurately".

Rob recorded and shared his lesson and planning via his Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir site, and you can watch the whole thing here if you are interested.


I think this idea is a really fun and exciting way to make times tables fun. I don't think it is realistic to learn all times tables this way, but a great way as Rob said to engage learners who don't usually get excited about maths. This has challenged me to try and come up with more interesting ways of teaching time stables in my own class. It was also really nice to be able to have a look inside some one else's classroom, and their teaching.

Monday, 3 July 2017

Same problems different classes

This afternoon we met in our school inquiry groups. These are groups within the school that come together and share how our inquiries are going twice a term. As a school we are all focussing on maths this year, and our individual inquiries have come from targeting our own needs and the needs of our class under that umbrella.

What is really interesting (yet logical) is that throughout different year levels in the school, there is lots of cases of the same issues, low basic facts, place value confusion, and lack of consolidation being the most common.



Being Term 2 we have all tried a lot more in our classrooms, and instead of sharing and listening to each other's inquiries, we could actually engage in real discussion about how we are attempting to overcome some of these challenges. In many cases we have come to the same conclusions, and are attempting the similar changes to our practice. However other ideas were new to me, and gave me great ideas to try. It was just really nice to be able to problem solve and have those discussions with other people in the same boat.

I did reflect that if these are common problems in my own school, then they are probably common problems throughout the country, if not the world. I need to do some more research, as it is rather big headed of me to believe that I can solve the worlds problems on my own. 

There are WAY less times tables than you think there are!

Basic facts is still the bane of my inquiry. It's boring to teach, and progress is slow, however small successes must celebrated! So here's a quick anecdote:

Today I listened to one my girls tell me she couldn't solve the problem because she didn't know her 8 times tables, and she only knew her 1-5, 10, and 11's. I quizzed her to see if she was telling the truth, and to her credit she was right. She had her 1-5's down, as well as her 10's and 11's, right up to 11 x 12. For what ever reason though, she found the others tricky and intimidating.

I told her this was FANTASTIC because she would only have a handful left to learn now. She looked at me as if I was lying, and didn't believe me until I showed her on a grid. I reminded her that times tables reverse, so if you know one, you also know the other.


4 x 7 = 28 / 7 x 4 = 28

Once she understood this concept, and realised she only needed to learn the higher numbers from each of the time stables, she suddenly became confident and determined. For her it was a confidence issue, more than a memory issue. However the grid rule still works well for learners who know just their 1, 2, 5, an 10's as this still covers a huge number of times tables, and can be quite a confidence boost for the kids when they see it displayed like this.


The grid I showed the student in my class.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Maths - Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir

#ClassOnAir
Throughout the year I will be updating my Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir site with links to my planning, resources, reflections, videos of my teaching, and links to the learners work on their blogs. There are 7 Manaiakalani teachers from various schools and levels for you to check out. It's 21st century window into our classrooms. 
Check out the whole ClassOnAir site here.

Here's  a preview of my latest lesson.

1-1 Maths



Direct Instruction
The learning intention for this lesson was to use Multiplicative knowledge to solve Measurement themed problems. Each learner measured the length of their feet, and then paced out the height of their partner. With the length of the feet, and the number of paces it took to pace out their partner, they were able to multiply the two numbers to equal the height. 

See the full episode here

Friday, 23 June 2017

1 on 1 time + Whiteboard table tops!?

This year I have a big class, or at least by far the biggest I have ever taught. In my maths class there are 35 learners, and because of this my maths groups are much bigger than they have been in my previous years teaching.

I see this as a challenge, definitely not an excuse. I have actually found many benefits to having larger maths groups. A big one being the amount of discussion that you can generate by investigating everyones thinking, as there are almost always different methods for solving the same problem amongst the group. Exploring each persons solution, or misunderstandings is helping us form a more consolidated understanding of the maths problems.

One issue I have found however is finding the time to work with learners in smaller groups who need to consolidate learning, or fill in holes that the rest of the group has already mastered. So for the past few weeks while my student teacher has been in the class on full control, I have consciously been taking the time to work with these kids in small groups or 1 on 1.

Rather than work in the usual spot on the mat with the whiteboard, I have just been sitting down next to them at their table and working with them there. I only learned this recently but our table tops are all whiteboards!!!. So it's been absolutely perfect for this.

Once my student teacher leaves, I will no longer have as much time to do this. However, I am going to try and find the time, perhaps in the afternoons to do this more. As the confidence it is giving those learners in the next group session is easily noticeable. It is also helping me form a better picture of what those holes and misunderstandings are, in my learners.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Food Critic - Writing: Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir

#ClassOnAir
Throughout the year I will be updating my Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir site with links to my planning, resources, reflections, videos of my teaching, and links to the learners work on their blogs. There are 7 Manaiakalani teachers from various schools and levels for you to check out. It's a 21st-century window into our classrooms. 
Check out the whole ClassOnAir site here.

Here's  a preview of my latest lesson.

Food Critic - Writing



Direct Instruction
The learning intention for this lesson was to express our personal opinions and thoughts. I also wanted to make descriptive language a key focus. I modelled the taste observation sheet, and guided them through it while they ate their chocolate. I had hoped this would help them write what they were actually feeling at the time. 

See the full the episode here

Friday, 9 June 2017

Image mapping in HTML

If you have been using Google Draw to hyperlink multiple sections of an image on your site, you may be getting frustrated by the number of tabs you keep opening ........or at least your students definitely will be.

Image Mapping in HTML allows you to do the same thing. It is a little bit tricky, and far cleverer people than me have probably got better workarounds. If so please leave a comment I would love to learn.

However, here is a set of instructions I made to be able to use image mapping for your class sites etc



Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Gloss Results

Now that my target group is all tested for reports, it's quite interesting to see their Gloss test results. As you can see the results are quite varied. But there are some clues that suggest some things about my teaching and my learners.

Key:
Red: Negative Shift*
Black: No Shift
Green: Positive Shift

*I personally don't believe that it is possible for kids to go backwards in maths. More likely, when they achieved the stage last time they answered the question correctly, but still had some misunderstandings that lead to an incorrect answer this time. I see these students as only needed some consolidation to get back to the stage they were at.

Proportion/ Ratios
At first glance this looks like my leaners are strongest here, as there is only one student who has gone down a stage. To some degree I think this is accurate, and I believe this is partly due to the low level knowledge required for these questions. I also think that the E6 question on this test is slightly easier than other gloss tests, which if thats the case they probably aren't consolidated.
Example:


I also noted from this, that there is a clear ceiling. I wonder if I am giving enough opportunities to learn higher stages during class time.

Multiplication/ Division
No real surprises for me here. It just further confirmed for me what I already believe to be the problem. Majority of my learners who got stage 4, could answer the E5 question correctly, and confidently. However needed to rely on skip counting to get the answer. This was the case with some of my other students in the higher stages, right answer, wrong stage.

Addition Subtraction
The biggest learning for me from this was around Place Value. I need to revisit, and revisit, and revisit Place Value all the time.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Debate: Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir

#ClassOnAir
Throughout the year I will be updating my Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir site with links to my planning, resources, reflections, videos of my teaching, and links to the learners work on their blogs. There are 7 Manaiakalani teachers from various schools and levels for you to check out. It's a 21st-century window into our classrooms. 
Check out the whole ClassOnAir site here.

Here's  a preview of my latest lesson.

Debate

Direct Instruction
The learning intention for this lesson was to write from a position of argument. The video shows the learners on the second and final day of the lesson where they are having their debates. Each learner had to speak from the prepared notes, however, they could offer a rebuttal on the spot as well.  

See the full episode here

Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Basic Facts

I have been inquiring this year into accelerating the achievement of my learners in Mathematics, targeting specifically those working below the national standard.

I have been developing some hypotheses about how I can best do this,  and one theory has come to light after discovering some of my learners were struggling with their maths knowledge. I first noticed they were struggling with new strategies but soon realised it was their lack of knowledge that forced them to revert to lower stage strategies.

I have been doing lots of new Basic facts work in class, but it got me thinking about what basic facts actually are, and whether worksheet-esk activities were the best way to learn them (which is what I had been doing).

I found this great PD Resource for basic facts on the NZ Maths website. It has a really clear way of explaining basic facts, and ideas for helping learners both to understand them and value them.
Check it out here

Examples of Definitions

I really like the idea of explicitly teaching the inverse relationships of basic facts. i.e. if you know "this" then you know "that" sort of thinking. 

Credit @NZMaths

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Basic Facts Practice

I shared a post earlier on this blog about the types of basic facts practice I was doing with my learners. I received some really useful feedback here on my blog, and one of the ideas that was sent to me has worked out really well.



Prototec Basic Facts Practice - Link to website here
This is an online worksheet generator. It is aligned to the New Zealand standards, which means it can generate a worksheet at the right level instantly for your learners. It also has two times table options if that is your current focus.

When they complete the test they are given their scores instantly, as well as the correct answers. I think this is great because the children who want to challenge themselves again and again to get 100% can do so, and it allows them to instantly see 'where they went wrong' and learn from it.



There is another option that allows the learners to generate a certificate. This is less useful for me as the teacher, because it does not give me any of the information. i.e. Addition 100%, Subtraction 90% etc. However the 100% certificate has proven to be a great motivator for my learners, something to strive for.

While I think Prototec is a great resource, particularly a time saving one for me. It has limited use beyond quick practice, or a quick snapshot of where the learners are at with Basic Facts. However in the case of my inquiry it is perfect for doing just that.


Monday, 15 May 2017

Voyagers - Reading: Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir

#ClassOnAir
Throughout the year I will be updating my Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir site with links to my planning, resources, reflections, videos of my teaching, and links to the learners work on their blogs. There are 7 Manaiakalani teachers from various schools and levels for you to check out. It's a 21st-century window into our classrooms. 
Check out the whole ClassOnAir site here.

Here's  a preview of my latest lesson.

Voyagers - Reading
Direct Instruction
The learning intention for this lesson was to make connections as we read. I encouraged the learners to make connections between the previous texts we have read, as well as their own prior knowledge and/ or other texts. We read roughly a third of the text in this session.


See the full episode here

Monday, 8 May 2017

Castaway - Writing: Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir

#ClassOnAir
Throughout the year I will be updating my Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir site with links to my planning, resources, reflections, videos of my teaching, and links to the learners work on their blogs. There are 7 Manaiakalani teachers from various schools and levels for you to check out. It's 21st century window into our classrooms. 
Check out the whole ClassOnAir site here.

Here's  a preview of my latest lesson.

Writing Lesson - Castaway


Direct Instruction
The learning intention for this lesson was to write from the 1st person. I also wanted them to start thinking through design, materials, and outcomes for technology without seeming like they were doing so. The video shows the set up for the writing, and the second paragraph. They kids were asked to brainstorm and then write about what kinds of resources they could find on the island, and how they would use them to build some kind of shelter. 

Check out the whole episode here

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

April Holiday Blogging Challenge

Following on from the success of the Woolf Fisher Summer Blogging Journey in the Christmas holidays, I thought it would be cool to try and replicate the programme on a smaller scale for my learners over the April School Holidays.  I pitched it as a "Blogging Challenge" and said there would be prizes for the Top 5 bloggers over the holidays. There were prizes for various categories including Quality of posts, Most posts, Creativity, and Audience appeal.

They could post about anything they wanted, but were encouraged to post about activities they were doing in their holidays, or things that they had decided to research on their own. I also created a small number of learning tasks that the kids could work on and blog about if they chose to.



Results
Overall it was a great success and a huge number of our learners engaged with blogging over the holidays.  Kids were posting often twice a day, and about all sorts of things. We even saw kids teaming up and working collaboratively on blog posts, as well as promoting friends work on their own blogs.

Quick facts:

  • Top blogger posted 43 times over the holidays.
  • Top 10 bloggers combined posted 208 over the 2 week break.
  • Learners commented back and forth via blogger, 100+ comments were posted.
  • Learners worked collaboratively and communicated via email and chat.
  • Teacher created tasks were worked on completed by a number of students, others picked and chose which ones appealed.

What I learned from the experience was that hands on activities like the paper planes, and the floating/ sinking experience were more entertaining and engaging for the kids. I would try to think of more challenges like this in the future. Next holidays the Woolf Fisher Winter Learning Journey will kick off again, but I will definitely be running another blogging challenge in the Term 3 holidays.

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Strategy Vs Knowledge

As I identified in an earlier post I have come to understand just how important it is to my learners to be learning Knowledge and Strategy at the same time and level in maths. The more I read and engage with the Numeracy Development Project Books ("The Pink books"), the better I am understanding how to do this in my teaching.

The data I received from my learners out of their PAT maths test shows me that many of my learners who are working below the national standard have a noticeable gap between their knowledge, and their strategies. It also confirms for me what I have been seeing in group work, where their lack of knowledge is holding back the acquisition of new strategies, or using them successfully. So I continue to hypothesise that my learners are not acquiring or retaining maths knowledge.

Here are the test results from one of the Year 6 boys in my class, you can quite clearly see his gaps in Number knowledge. You can also see that he is capable of achieving higher level Strategy questions, which makes me think he could achieve more of these questions if his knowledge was keeping up.

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Hypothesis - Not retaining basic facts

In my inquiry, I have noticed that for a group of my learners there is an obvious gap between their strategy and their knowledge in maths. This is evident in both their test results, as well as the time that I see them during group learning.

I hypothesise that has to do with my learner's ability to acquire and retain basic facts. If I can help them learn more of their basic facts, and build their maths knowledge then this will free up energy and brain power helping them be more successful on higher level problems.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Practice makes perfect

Usually I teach maths through problem solving and discussion in small groups. You can see an example of this via my Manaiakalani Google Class OnAir site here. Naturally I use problem solving questions as part of the learners follow-up activities.

My learners are expected to unpack the problem, and figure out the equation. Solve the problem in their maths books, and then take a photo of their working using their webcam. They are then expected to rewrite their working in sentence form.

Here is an example

Previously I had believed that textbook style 'questions and answers' was old school, and dated.
However I have recently come to realise that good old fashioned practice questions serve a very important purpose in maths learning.... PRACTICE.
Without the opportunity to practice strategy, my learners have been getting confused sometimes when faced with problems. They have figured out the equation and know what they want to do, but are getting confused about how to do it, and therefore feel safer falling back on a previous strategy (usually lower stage).

Therefore I have started including "Book work" into their regularly weekly follow up activities which consists of a list of 10 problems they need to solve in their book. At the moment I have not required them to show proof that they had done it, i.e. I'm not marking it. I do provide the answers to the problems at the end of the week, and they can mark themselves. If I decide that I need to check them, I will ask them to capture it via their webcam.


I am very interested to see how this effects them during group time, and then testing. My theory is that if they are more confident using a strategy from practice then they will be more successful when solving problems during problem solving. I am hoping the pattern will work across all ability groupings.