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

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.

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.