Archive | July, 2016

New Mantra

29 Jul

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The growth of any craft depends on shared practice and honest dialogue among the people who do it. We grow by private trial and error, to be sure — but our willingness to try, and fail, as individuals is severely limited when we are not supported by a community that encourages such risks.  The Courage to Teach; Palmer, 1998, p. 144

Experience is a truly remarkable thing. It’s a gift we in essence give ourselves each day. It’s a hard teacher, and often plans lessons we don’t want to learn. But it makes us look at things differently with each turn. Experience makes us evaluate where we have been, and what we are headed into next. It makes us collaborate with others on the journey too.

In order to experience, you need to take chances and live. It’s risky, it’s terrifying, it’s pretty awesome. If we don’t experience, we don’t grow. I have had the pleasure to work with some very talented teachers and leaders around the country, hey the world on my PLN.  in the last few years. They all have left me with that challenge.

This week I come across this quote on twitter. It will be my mantra this week as I reset to teach.

I see myself as the conductor of a symphony when I am engaged in teaching Maths. There are kids at different levels of engagement and understanding, different parts to be learnt; algebra, trigonometry, geometry. They all come together in a crescendo of understanding, of skills mastery. When it all comes together, there is that moment when the poetry of how we can make more sense of the world and the song of patterns becomes harmonic. 

Have a good term folks. What is your greatest challenge going to be?

 

Collaboration and Inquiry

26 Jul

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I view teaching as inquiry as the foundation of professional learning and development and we are emphasizing teachers engaging in a collaborative teacher inquiry alongside each other and their learners.

Learner involvement is a key ingredient, and something that through the research was not strongly documented. I believe that the best person to talk about their learning is the learner and their thinking about what would make them improve is vital in developing theories of improvement.

Inquiry is designed to happen on 2 levels; collaboration between teachers, and, collaboration between teachers and learners. Two publications have given supplementary weight to my thesis that a collaborative approach is a must. These are the ERO report Raising student achievement through targeted actions and Hattie’s What Works Best in Education: The Politics of Collaborative Expertise.

Our Language

23 Jul

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Lots to think about here this week. Here are the pātai for the Thursday 7 July #ldrchatnz . It was it useful to take a look at Tū Rangatira before the chat. It got me thinking about some other resources.

Treaty of Waitangi

  • Waitangi 175This TKI website has been set up with projects, teaching resources and links.
  • TREATY 2 Utells the story of New Zealand’s founding document: the Treaty of Waitangi.
  • Te Ara: The Encyclopaedia of New Zealand provides a good background and images on the treaty.
  • NZ Historyprovides information on the treaty, Waitangi Day and a timeline of events

Māori Online Resources

How to set up Māori macrons on your keyboard

Instructions to enable typing with Māori macrons on your computer for a range of operating systems are available at: Typing Māori easily / Te māmā hoki o te patopato  or for PC http://kupu.maori.nz/macrons/keyboard-setup

 

Changing your Teaching

18 Jul

 

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I was sitting having lunch during term two after a class and a discussion started. The teacher was saying they wanted “cutting edge technology” in their classrooms. They viewed the latest technology tools as a great cure that will finally transform their mundane teaching experience into a twenty-first century, state-of-the-art facility. Words are powerful and often dangerous. True, the computer is a tool and it can be “cutting edge?” But which edge is it cutting? Who and what is it changing? This staff member had forgotten the focus of our Professional Learning in 2016. It is not about the tool. It is about the pedagogy.

The notion of a tool assumes we have the ability to manoeuvre technology however we please and it will not change us in the process. The reality is that technology is always a double-edged sword. In being cutting edge, it often slashes through difficult tasks in hyper-speed and creates work that would once have seemed miraculous. We can connect instantly, but we are losing our ability to communicate. We look constantly, but we rarely see. We access information from millions of sources, but there is no transfer into wisdom. Anyone who follows my blog must realise I’m not anti-technology but I become sceptical when staff do not question why they are using tools.

 

Equality

14 Jul

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The Pastoral Care systems at our school are simply amazing. I can say this because I see the great care our teachers take with our students. I have been thinking do we at school support the whole child?  There are multiple ways to support the whole child.  Some schools design curriculum maps and the teachers work in professional learning teams to share instructional strategies.  Some schools post a mission statement.” As I approach the holidays I have been focusing on the whole child and factors that impact student understanding.

Wet and Cold

Recently, I drove to work in the dark and in the rain.  I arrive at school each day at 630am. Hey I don’t want a medal it is my job. But some days I have students arrive just behind me. Is this right? I turn on the heaters and let these students in. It got me thinking. What does your school do for students who wait in the rain to catch the bus or arrive ridiculously early?  Do you think it would be difficult to learn if you spent the first part of your day in soaking wet clothes or being at school since 7am two hours before the start time?

Tertiary Knowledge

Some families know how to support tertiary institution readiness.  There are several families who begin this process in primary school.  As an educator Charlotte and I often talk of next steps. Several students enter College without an end in mind.  They may receive counselling from a teacher or counsellor, but this varies from school to school.   Some schools have an advisor/advisee program where students learn how to search for a school, what majors are available, how to complete an application, financial aid options, and how to apply for scholarships.  Some people say that the path to tertiary institutions is a game.  Based on my observations, some students know how to play the game and some don’t. Is this right?

Reading

Most educators would agree that reading is the cornerstone of education.  Some students go home and they have three bookshelves, the newspaper, four laptops, and magazine subscriptions waiting in the mailbox.  Thousands of students go home with their textbook and the book they checked out of the school media centre.  How do we support students who do not go home to the equivalent of the “Teens” section at Whitcoulls?  This is a topic that needs to be addressed in every school.  Some schools have a library program in.  Students receive books that are at their level or high-interest books.   If reading is an essential life skill, then how are schools supporting students who don’t own books?

Access

I my classes with a flipped learning environment in mind but I always check which of my students have access. It must be uncomfortable going home knowing that you will not be able to access the Internet to complete your school assignments.   Some students are able to use Khan Academy to get academic support with their math assignment.  What do the students do when they can’t connect with Khan?  Not only is Khan offline is some homes, the student cannot text, FaceTime, Skype, or share a Doc with her peers.  As schools move to more 1:1 classroom, it will be important for teachers, to consider that students have a different opportunity to learn. What does your school do to support students and to equal the playing field when it comes to access?

 

Coffee at the end of the Term

10 Jul

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At the end of the term I caught up with a few friends, all of whom are teachers, and we talked of the top priorities for us as teachers. Specifically, classroom teachers. I quickly took out a pen, yes a pen, and wrote down some of these thoughts.

These five teachers agreed on these five important factors.

  • Student well-being (“taking care of kids comes first”)
  • Lesson planning (this is a must for classroom management and student engagement)
  • Parent contact when issues arise (within 24 hrs if possible)
  • Professional Development. Stuff that will change the way we teach and effect student achievement.
  • Accurate Marking (this was more about formative assessment).

 

This was an interesting conversation. What do you see as important?

Technology Rant

6 Jul

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For the purposes of schooling, the technology (the device) needs to support the pedagogy (teaching and learning methods), not the other way around. The device needs to support our intentions for our pedagogy to be more and more student-centred; that means, providing students with greater choice of subject matter and pace of study. It also requires teachers to involve students in more decision‐making processes which result in memorable experiences where students ‘learn by doing’ with relevance to the real world. Examples of this approach would see students:

  • CREATE podcasts, video documentaries and websites;
  • COLLABORATE via wikis, blogs and Google share documents; and,
  • CRTICALLY ANALYSE the work of their peers using chat options and online media.

My desire is for my students and staff to more and more engage in activities that result in them Creating, Collaborating and Critiquing. They collectively need to move away from pre‐occupation of computer work being just “Word and PowerPoint”; and it is great to see that some are already doing this! The Microsoft suite of applications is one option which supports “creating, collaborating and critiquing”. Watch this space.

The Transition for Students

2 Jul

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At present the body of my work is completing scholarship applications for school leavers and advising these school leavers on their next steps. It got me thinking that secondary school dies not prepare a student in any way for university. They are as different as Super Rugby and the Olympic Sevens. I think this for the following reasons.

  • The timetable. No university has any class meets every day; no university schedule requires a student to be in class every hour of the school day. Some classes meet for two or three hours at a time. And the choices, don’t get me started.
  • Online work. In most of today’s university courses, there is a significant online component to the course. It is up to the student to be proactive to use it. It is in most cases it is part of the assessment.
  • Reading. The expectation in all courses in the sciences, history, philosophy, and social sciences is that students will have to do some significant primary-source reading (and writing on it). The anticipation in all courses is that students know how to read analytically and critically.
  • Being organised. Professors will not seek you out if you are doing poorly. The expectation is that you will go for help, find study partners, seek assistance from tutors and special programs, etc. on your own.
  • Homework expectations. It is assumed in most universities, according to most calendars I have read, that for every hour in class a student is expected to work at least an hour outside of class on reading, writing, research – often more.

 

What do you think? Are we really preparing our student for the next stage well?

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