Sunday, 29 June 2014

Twitter - Speech and Ideas for Workshop


  • Educate colleagues and share my experiences with using Twitter as a teacher
  • Be aware that of course not everyone will get on the bandwagon
  • Use knowledge from the room to help push others to thinking it's a good idea? Or at the very least gauge audiences experiences with Twitter - whether they've ever used it or whether they've been asked to join - possibly reasons why they don't want to get involved...?
  • Explain the benefits of using Twitter and how powerful it is as a professional learning tool
  • Talk about upcoming #edchatnz conference
  • Suggest people they can follow
  • Suggest reasons I was initially not keen on Twitter
  • Entice them enough to have a go themselves

Why is Twitter Fantastic?
  1. Great source of professional development
  2. Connect with awesome educators within NZ and around the world
  3. Breaks down hierarchical barriers usually precedent in school settings
  4. Your voice is valued and listened to (particularly good for new teachers feeling isolated)
  5. Questions and help is answered and found very quickly
  6. Advice and Support is freely given - no strings attached


  • Professional Learning Network (PLN) Empowerment (created by me)
    • Draw yourself as a stick figure - put your name at the top. 
    • Now draw a circle around you - and inside the circle, write all the names of the people you can think of that you talk to on a given day about teaching, reflecting, issues you have with kids - These names will be the ones that give you the most support and keep you going
    • Do the same again - this time write down all the names of the people you wished gave you more support in school and possibly at home- This circle will most likely be fuller than the previous one. 
    • The next circle - write down the names of those who you don't talk to often, but you know they do support you, give advice when needed and overall have your back in some way - this circle will most likely be filled with family members, best friends/close friends, old teaching colleagues, old students etc
    • Imagine if all of these people were multiplied by at least ten. Preferably the first circle. Imagine that you had them around you 24/7 and they pepped you up and gave you support and advice, answered your questions whenever you needed, appreciated your sharing and collaborative nature and respected you for your thoughts and ideas
    • You will always have that second circle that won't be there as much as they should be - and the third circle you can count on as your support crew to always be there. 
    • This first circle can be increased as much as you wish it to be - it's up to you to start the discussion and open your mind to the possibility of having a PLN that works for you.
  • Paper Tweet
    • Write a tweet using 140 characters or less about today's topic
  • Dr Seuss as Twitter 

  • Have one or more attendees create a Twitter account
  • Do a few paper tweets
  • Have attendees who have a twitter account give their own experiences
  • Set up a hashtag for the event? Though I'd assume that most would be using #MythandMagic14
  • Have attendees discuss what they would like from their PLN when they create it: interests, like-minded individuals, areas where they'd like support or advice on, areas in which they want to learn more about
  • Discuss the advantages and disadvantages of Twitter
  • How to use it in class
  • How to use it to locate relevant PERSONAL professional learning development
  • How to use it to create a PLN that works for you


Copyright and Creative Commons

This cool video: Just wish he didn't say 'Kiri' like that...

Using Twitter as Teachers - Preparation for #NZATE Conference Workshop

Since I'm probably one of the biggest procrastinators out there... I thought it would be a good idea to get these presentations sorted... WELL before the due date. I want to test out this Twitter one to my fellow English dept and possibly my school staff as well - for anyone that is interested.

The #NZATE (New Zealand Association of Teachers of English) conference is from the 9th-11th of July 2014. My workshop is on using Twitter as a Teacher and the uses of having your personal Twittersphere and developing your PLN.

I'm not one to synthesise before I'm ready to present - so I will have a series of bits and pieces here for notes and information that I might end up using/not using or just use as a basis for what I need to say. Basically this will be my research notes post - so read on if you like :)

The workshop itself will hopefully be tweeted on the day and I will add up my slides prior/after the workshop as well.

When I originally planned on making this post as a resource for myself (and possibly all of you) this morning, I didn't factor in the sheer amount of information, infographics, posts etc that I would find. I was going to leave it as a basic crazy mess of research... even though I did all the links as I went and added in pics - I think it's quite a bit chaotic still. In fact - too chaotic for even me to sift through.

So... Below is a much more organised selection. From the stuff I will probably use in my workshop and/or want to show first as being more important (from NZ or relevant to this kaupapa) and the less relevant at the moment. However - everything I've got here is relevant to me and someone at some point - which is why it's still on the page.

Oh... and to find all this stuff I searched far and wide on Twitter - and then created a Storify: 


- A

Thursday, 26 June 2014

A Post about More Posts

Some posts I should make if I ever need inspiration:

Thoughts while I do my Interlead Appraisal - Self-Appraisal.

  • A post on student voice... with links to my other blog posts using student voice, but specifically reflecting on student voice (eg exit cards/tickets etc)
  • Reflection on how I predict for student errors in lessons
  • How I take advantage of student's having trouble and change them into 'teachable moments' in class
  • How do I make contingency plans on students differing levels... does this just mean differentiation
  • Need to update my planning - year levels in particular
  • Registered Teachers Criteria
  • Showing my evidence of rtcs
  • A post on importance on referring cases to counsellors

Asttle Writing Tests

In our department at the moment we are conducting ASTTLE writing testing.

Reflections so far with my Year 9 class:

1) We need to do more creative writing. 
  • At the moment the majority of my students are working well but I see that there are a lot who are struggling. Why? Because we don't do enough writing in class. Why? Because we tend to do more increasing of vocabulary and learning new skills around research and grammar. 
  • We need to practise these skills by writing so that we can keep working on improving our writing.
  • By practising, we will be able to improve, use stronger vocabulary and also develop our grammar and language techniques. 
2) Using prompts like the ones they have in their asttle test right now is something I used to do all the time in classes last year and the year before. 
  • Kinda feel like I've been trying to lift some of my sudents, possibly to the detriment of others. 
  • I need to be developing stronger assessments and tests in class and consistently marking my students work to push them to improve their literacy levels
3) We need to imagine more in class so that my students have more ideas

4) My students need to read more at home to develop their imaginations and so that they can have quicker and more developed responses and ideas. 

5) My students need to have more practise at being quiet so that they will be able to sit through a 2 hour exam at the end of the year and be focussed, rather than tutu and talk to each other. 

6) I need to teach my students exam skills: being quiet, focussing, not talking, worrying about themselves rather than what someone else is doing

7) My students need to bring a drink bottle to school!!!!!

8) My students seem like they are capable and they have brilliant ideas so - that's not the problem.

9) There are a few students who aren't listening. 

10) I need to teach my students about Growth Mindsets.

I will be choosing five to mark... I have to copy two of them ten times and marking them to those ten different assessment criteria.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Statistics are actually pretty cool...

Throughout my own schooling, mathematics have never been one of my strong points. One particular maths teacher once told me that because I didn't show that I could do it then I would never achieve anything in life. Now while it's great to live your subject and think that its an important aspect to daily life... I would never tell a kid in my class that because they couldn't do x in English.. they wouldn't succeed in life.

Interestingly enough, my passion to show her I could do life better was portrayed in every other subject than hers. When I got my degree I remember feeling this old anger reflame and felt the need to show off to her that I had succeeded despite not being 'good' at maths.  And despite the fact that she wasn't anywhere near my graduation... I still felt the need to say in my head.. "See.. I can achieve."

Isn't it more interesting then that one of the best observations I've ever done was watching a maths class. I saw how a more positive teacher encouraged her students and how she related everything they were learning to her students. There wasn't any random trains or lollies eaten by a mammoth kid and not shared with her friends. Instead she taught them volume by getting her students out of the classroom and measuring the shed that needed to house the rugby posts so that they could be re-painted. She taught them area this way as well.

My favourite aspects of Maths were always the ones other kids didn't enjoy.. like algebra and triganometry. I liked to do estimations and predictions and testing out my theories. I liked that one where you test on how many times the dice will roll a four. And liked learning about different travel times and time zones and roman numerals because they had an impact on travelling. Because the majority of the kids didn't enjoy it or that they took a while to get it, they'd be spoonfed the formulas and we'd move onto the next topic.

One of my worst moments in schooling was that when I got my tonsils out I didn't go back to school for ages. I don't know why now though. But from that massive gap in my learning... might have only been 2 weeks but to an 8 year old it seems like a lifetime from her favourite teacher.. I missed out on learning how to tell the difference between analogue and digital time. The other part is not ever getting the chance to relearn the timestables as I was always too shame to show that weakness.

So since then.. I made it an effort to never tell people I sucked at maths, and instead focussed on making others appreciate what I was good at. In a way I had a very fixed mindset about my ability in maths.

Eventually I got proud of my failure in maths and would laugh it off. Particularly when put into the 'cabbage' maths class for remedial maths.

Because I had already switched off to learning in maths, I have no idea whether my later maths teachers tried to reengage me or use more relative means to teach me better.

If they had asked me how many potatoes would I need to peel to feed my family for dinner or asked what size chicken would suit a couple or one person, or asked the different quantities it took in order to make a cake or scones.. all of which were ways my Nana was teaching me about maths through baking and cooking.

Or if they had said what kind of hook would you need and what density of fishing line and what style of rod you would need in order to make sure that ever elusive kingfish would not break the hook, line or rod... or asked what size sinker you'd need to avoid getting caught in the weeds at the bottom of the ocean when trying to catch multiples of pipers for bait.. or if they had asked how long it would take to drain a car of oil during a oil change.. things I learnt from my mum and Grandad.

Perhaps I would have a better understanding of maths.

Regardless to all of that. This post was merely to talk about how cool the statistics were on the Blogger dashboard around the many hits my blog gets. It shows where you guys are when reading this (just the country) and also the links you use in order to get here to read it. And it also shows the different browsers you guys use... not surprisingly a larger number of Chrome users out there!

There had been a huge surge in the past four months of people reading my blog and I've loved watching the graphs showing the amount of you reading it and the logs of which blog was read more.

My next job is to have a good look at these stats and figure out what kind of posts you guys like the most.. by learning how to analyse the data I'll be able to not only see the style of writing that appeals to most but it might also show the kind of things I talk about that shows my passion and I wonder whether this has made an impact on my readers.

So a huge thanks to all of you. Would love your comments and your G+'s and adding me to your circles... or even a continued added hit to the site makes me happy as it shows me that you guys are reading. And that what I have to say is readable, important or even worth looking at. And that means alot. Thankyou :)

Saturday, 21 June 2014

Thinking about a revolution.. harder than starting one...

In the last week I've felt increasingly like I'm unfocussed, unsure of myself and not sure of what I want.


I spent a fantastic two days in Wellington.

I met with MPs and talked Educational policies.

I discussed some of the big issues we are dealing with in schools.

I met with an author and discussed my great uncles achievements and our whakapapa.

I got excited about the premiere and release of 'What we do in the Shadows' and got some good resources of the film from a Wellington cafe for my class.

I engaged with school PD on reflective practice.

I took one of our PRT's with me to an #eduignite evening in Hamilton and caught up on the #edchatnz feed when I got home via a friend's fantastic Storify.

So what's the problem?

I feel behind in everything I'm doing. My classes are going well and I'm teaching well I think but I am not following the course outline enough. I don't know where everyone else is up to. I don't know if I'm marking right. I don't know whether I'm helping or making it worse.

I feel the consistent pile of things to do slowly crushing me.

I feel the inspiration ebbing out of me. Others say I inspire them but it makes me feel weird.. because I want to inspire others but want inspiration too. I want more time to become inspired and need time to create more interesting lessons.

Despite starting a new blog this week for my creative writing, I don't have the time to get it started properly.

I want to continue doing all of the extra-curricular stuff I'm doing but feel like it's pulling me down.

I want to go to as many conferences as possible and I'm going to three in the next holidays - PPTA Maori Teachers conf, NZATE English Teachers conf and lastly presenting at the CLESOL one  in Wellington via webcam so am counting that one as another.

I'm also going to the #edchatnz conf in August and am definitely excited about it.
I want to go to ULearn14 and have been thinking about crowdsourcing my application fee. I think I should show my principal my proposal even though it wasn't accepted by the DP in charge of PD. It is crazy expensive and I doubt I can save the money in time so may have to go to the bank or worse somewhere else to get it funded. It's an amazing opportunity and I see it as an investment in myself.

I feel like I've lost my way a little and know that in a couple of days I'll look back at this post and this week and laugh. Because the reality is.. it is so much to do with workload and stress and feeling like I've given my all and it's still not 'enough'.

It's stressful knowing that there is only one real teaching term left. I worry that my classes aren't ready. That I'm not ready. That I have somewhere, somehow lost my edge.

I am so thankful to my colleagues on Thursday afternoon for snapping me out of my little hole I'd created for myself. I'm thankful for the opportunity to share ideas at last night's Connected Rotorua session. I'm thankful for the fact that my students are overwhelmingly amazing and my PLN too. I'm thankful that the dog still nudges me for hugs despite the long hours I put in at school and thankful to the cat who purrs in my arms rather than ignoring me for my attention of the crazy dog rather than him. I'm thankful to my friends who put up with the long distances and lengths between catching up. Same too with my family who wait patiently til I come home and see them. I'm thankful to those who came before me and those who are still to come.

Mostly though.. I'm thankful that tomorrow is another day and hopefully after today's rest and relaxation I will feel a hell of a lot better and will be back to myself.

And above all else. I must realise I can't change everything and that patience is the key to virtue. I need to stop getting frustrated and just accept things for how they are and continue what I'm doing to continue the process of change regardless of whether there is any percieved uptake. I am making a difference. I am changing things. I hope it is helpful and I hope that it is kind. I hope I'm able to inspire myself to stop feeling useless. I hope that this post was useful.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

PPTA Opportunities

In the past year since being a part of PPtA... I have learnt so much. I learnt about who I am, what I stand for and more importantly why I fight for our collective rights.

For those who read my blog outside of NZ or are not aware of what the PPTA is.. it's a collective of teachers who are involved within the teacher's union.

When I was at teacher's college I signed up. It could be part of the way I was brought up but I see being part of the union as a safeguard for myself and an investment in my own future.

When I was at my first school my HOD at the time took me along to a meeting. Stoked I went because I caught that bug.

Since March I've been to Wellington for PPTA meetings and conferences and I've learnt so much. I have seen how meetings are meant to be run and how people from other branches (schools) deal with similar issues we deal with. Not only is it good for strategic management, but it's great PD.

This year has been my Yes Year. I have said yes to lots of fabulous opportunities and at times felt a little overwhelmed with all of the expectations but again, I've learnt lots. I am a strong believer in making your own chances and think that even if you believe that you have a pre-destined future.. you still have the opportunity to make the most of your lives.

Right now I'm on my way back to Rotorua airport and know that I'm leaving having had left my mark yet again in Wellington. This opportunity is huge. Mainly because I've taken advantage of a possibility and made the most of a suggestion to get more involved.

Within PPTA at my branch, I am the Network of Establishing Teachers (NET) Representative.

I am the regional representative for the NETs for our region.

As a result of the Issues and Organising conference back in March I was nominated and chosen to be a part of the Establishing Teachers Committee as well as the Establishing Teachers Conference Organising Committee. The conference is next year from the 8th-10th of April 2015. 

Yesterday we worked on organising the upcoming ET's conference and it was an incredibly productive day. Today we had the opportunity as the ETC to talk with a bunch of MP's and ask them about their education policies. Members from Green and NZ First. We also talked about the IES and EDUCANZ. Loads of acronyms in teaching and especially in the PPTA.

Overall I absolutely adored the opportunity and am incredibly grateful to those who nominated and then believed in my ability to continue with this nationally. Am looling forward to the next ET Conference meeting in August.  Also looking forward to the Annual PPTA conferene later in the year where we vote on policies and help make them more indepth.

Watch this space for more info.

Links about PPTA:

Want to join but don't know how?

Why should you join?

Bulletin coming out soon. :)

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Making and Creating and Continuing to Create More Inquiries...

An inquiry is defined in teaching as:
For me, an inquiry means that I am learning about something in particular that I want to change about my practice, something I want to learn how to do better, or maybe something I want to find out - perhaps about how I use data and evidence to understand my students better.
Over the past three or so years... really since I began life to be honest.. I've been inquiring about a lot of things.
- How to maintain 'control' through classroom 'management'  by maintaining professional boundaries as well as maintaining professional relationships?
- How to develop those professional relationships while staying safe professionally?
- How to avoid pitfalls in my teaching career?
- How to navigate workplace bullying and micro-managing?
- How to develop stronger professional relationships to create a more relaxed environment as part of my classroom management strategies?
- How to continue being a positive person/teacher/educator despite the deficit theorisers in my midst?
- How to continue professionally developing myself as a teacher without causing too much stress or difference of opinions by others?
- How to enforce consequences within punitive styles of behaviour management?
- How to use positive behaviour for learning strategies in my classroom to emphasise the kinds of attitudes I want to see from my students?
- How to successfully create a positive environment where students tell each other off for having fixed-mindsets and for using negative behaviours and attitudes?
- How to successfully encourage and inspire students to read more - for intrinsic reward rather than extrinsic?
- How to improve students' learning by making them feel confident about their progress despite the rising levels of where they're meant to be 'AT'?
- How to create meaningful discussions?
- How to help my quieter students talk more in class?
- How to engage the unruliest of students?
- How to teach students I just do NOT get along with despite all of my own behaviour management strategies and my own relaxing techniques?
- How to maintain professionalism without losing respect for other educators for their actions rather than what they say?
- How to continue being myself and avoid becoming 'jaded'?
The reality is that reflecting is different for everyone and everyone's reflections are as valuable as the next person's. They're valuable because they're personal and most of all... they're valuable because they're reflective. We can learn from them as a result.
I had a heap more here.. but blogger on my phone putted out from the flight to getting back onto the tarmac. So oh well.
That will do. Just get out there and do it. Question yourself and your teaching style and how you interact with your students. Figure out whether what you are doing is working and if it is... great! If not.. what else can you do?

On time for my flight... YUSS

When you're an hour early you can be a little smug.

A huge comparison to my thoughts and anxieties last time I was here and I'd missed my plane.

My nan always would be at least an hour early to everything. That includes dropping me off to school in the morning from when I was 16. Not exactly the cool thing to do. But at least I was on time. And I could have walked anyway. So... option one was always first choice despite being a relative loner for the first half an hour at least in the morning. Eventually I'd muck around in the morning to avoid being THAT early. I got smart.

Or... as I've learnt as I've grown up... stupid.

Mucking around only makes you later. And makes it look like you were meaning to WAG rather than just being a little late so it looked 'cool'. And then you get into trouble and get one of those 'reputations'.

Reputations at high school are really difficult to get rid of.

For example my reputation for hanging out with the stoner kids, and the Christian kids, and the delinquent kids and the weird witchy girls and the girls who had their own kind of reputation.

It just so happened that since the age of five years old I've been increasingly a social butterfly that likes to make new friends through new connections and then like to web them all together... so more of a social butterfly spider... but a beautiful and harmless one :P

Perhaps that's why I tend to create a huge range of people around me and have a multitude of friends and people who I know - and then a closer circle of friends who I know really well... and then about 5 or so incredibly close mates who are more like sisters/brothers.

I don't quite know why this post went from being on time for my flight to talking about the kinds of friends I have... but there it is.

Yuss. Stoked I'm early. Looking forward to a day of organising the Network of Establishing Teachers Conference for next year :) And then tomorrow... discussing some more issues around NET stuff. Love Wellington. Hopefully it won't be toooooo rainy or windy. And looking forward to catching up with my cousin - who isn't really my cousin - but her granddad is my granddad's sisters husband. And really my cousin is my little sister's best friend. But we act like we're sisters. It's weird. She's weird. Probably why it works :)

Anyway... thinking that's enough of this post for now. Mhmmmmm. :)

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Student Blogging: te timatanga 2

I wanted to create a blog post that had a list of all of the posts I've written and those that others have written as well - about student blogging. The risks, gains and possible safety issues and concerns. Thought it would be a good idea to start collecting a list of all of the research I've done - just for me - in the hopes that I can start to help implement digital citizenship at our school.

So here they are - most recent blog posts first:
Student Blogging: Te Timatanga - my thoughts on safety issues and gains :)
Student Blogging - Resources
Kidblog Journey: The Beginning - The use of as a starter - bulk user creation = easy!
Policy for Student Photography Usage - cybersafety and digital citizenship awareness
Digital Literacy: Digital Citizenship - Where my thinking began truly...Read this one first!!
First Lesson Doing PBL - Hopes to use blogging to allow my Y9's deeper level thinking and a way to portray their investigations to their peers, whanau and outside world possibly - Currently just using Word - will be transferring to Google Docs soon though!

Here is an extra list for some of the research I have done in the process towards this:
Digital Citizenship in NZ Schools - PDF Overview - Great Resource!
Netsafe Kit for Schools - Transitioning to Cyber Safety and then to Digital Citizenship
How to Use the Netsafe Kit - Must Read!
How do we teach Digital Literacy to Digital Natives - Thanks to Edudemic and Tom Whitby
Help Kids Start a Blog: Get them reading, writing, thinking, creating - From +amy mascott
Staff Discussion Points: Learn Guide Protect - From Netsafe
Combating Cyber Bullying: LGP - From Netsafe
Citizenship in Blogging - Using Paper: LGP  - From Netsafe
Playing and Staying Safe Online: LGP - From Netsafe
Exploring 21C Literacy - Thanks to Michelle Budge
Global Digital Citizen 
Cartoon Videos Describing Internet Safety - Thanks to GDC
12 Timeless PBL Resources - Great links for Project Based Learning
Do's of Student Blogging - Thanks to Doug Peterson
Using Photos in your blog under the Creative Commons Licencing
Blogbooker - How to create your own book from your blog posts!
Peer Editing - Some resources for students editing their own and others' work
Digi Natives and DigiCit - Teaching Respect and Responsibility

I have collated all of this for future reference - and also so that I can share my ideas with colleagues, BOT, my own whanau, students and their families as well.

Oral History Interviewing...Real Life

One of the best parts of my honours was learning about oral histories and conducting our own oral history interviews. I've been thinking a lot about the elderly woman I interviewed back then - partly because I still feel guilty for not following through with the ethics side of the interview (giving the interview to the University to hold for five years - of which it's now past that time...) and also because having moved from Hamilton three years ago - I've lost contact with her.

Oral histories are conducted to get true accounts from people who witnessed events in their lives, or may simply have their own story to tell. It's amazing what you learn from someone when you take the time to listen. The other aspect to oral history interviews is the fact that you get a real perspective of life and what it was like in their generation. It's an honour being a part of an oral history interview - because even though you are the researcher there are lots of parts to it where you are guiding the questions but also allowing them to branch off and let them take control of what they want to tell as well. Eventually that process in which they tell their story becomes yours as well.

I've recently been thinking about historical events in my own life and whether someone in the future may ask me these questions about how I related to events overseas and what my thoughts were regarding them etc.

I wonder mainly because there are lots of events which I actually don't pay that much attention to. And also because I have asked similar questions to my own grandmothers and grandfather about events in history - and if I took the time to ask them things that they wanted to tell me instead - I might get a more developed response rather than the one I try to get out of them.

This kind of open questioning and interviewing process is something that I've always been interested in - in fact it's something I wanted to do for my dissertation (part of my honours in history). I wanted to interview and use diaries from men and women involved with the Vietnam war and discuss with them their reactions and feelings upon coming home after the war - to the opinions and perspectives of those who stayed behind. The lecturer who was meant to support me in that process pulled out as he was too busy at the time - and I had to quickly find someone else who would be willing.

Unfortunately I had to change tack and chose another topic with one of my favourite lecturers as my supervisor - which was around the comparisons between what Mary Wollstonecraft thought about education and women's rights and how her own feminist critcs believed that she didn't do 'enough' for women...back then. It's a great topic and if I'd had more time (was doing my own teacher training and practicums at the same time as trying to research...) I could have created something awesome.

My third idea and the one which I'm still leaning towards (despite being told it's more of a Masters thesis) is a mix between education and history. The changes we've made to our teaching styles particularly in regards to the introduction of the Native Schools Act of _____ compared with Te Kotahitanga and the implementation of that matauranga and way of teaching. It's an important piece of of research, close to my heart and more importantly something relevant to my own inquiries as a new teacher.

Within that idea I'd like to do some research around how Maori were taught and how they are being taught and whether with the implementation of Te Kotahitanga there have been 'enough' of a shift to encourage our Maori students to strive harder and have more of a growth mindset about themselves.

Yes - I know it sounds huge. And it is.

But there has to be a way that I can narrow the field a little and focus perhaps just on the Native Schools Act and do some sort of analysis on legislation and primary sources - particularly letters and newspaper articles, perhaps diaries if there are any around still. I know that the NZ Collection whanau at the Library of Waikato University would be able to help - and I know it's only a phone call away... but then there is also my own teaching to do... all the extra stuff I do... and of course finding a supervisor who is used to my way of thinking... or searching for a lecturer that could help narrow my thinking, and widen it at the same time. Who knows... this could already have been done.

I feel out of the loop of historical thinking, analyses and historiography... It frustrates me because it used to be such a huge part of my life. Now that I'm not properly teaching history it makes it even harder - because as an English teacher  - though I try to teach within the context of history as much as possible... it's just not the same.

I also think that by getting my courage back - namely my own self-belief that my intelligence is connected with my historical understanding and awareness - and if I have my honours all finished (just my dissertation to go) and if I attempt to figure out a Masters thesis... then perhaps I could teach history at my school. I love the school I teach at. Love it to bits. But I miss teaching history. I miss the discussions and the indepth critical thinking. I miss university life too where I can get lost in a conversation for three + hours and be okay with it.

Ultimately... I just want to get my dissertation done so that I can have closure on that part of my life and know that I am smart... regardless of possibly getting 50th grade honours for it being so late.

It'd be nice to hear that praise again. That I know what I'm talking about. Even though I know that.. sometimes it's just nice hearing it from others. That recognition and the appreciation. If you've gotten to the bottom of this post... thanks :) If I lost you ages ago - that's cool too!

Naku noa,


Saturday, 14 June 2014

Y13 Taika Waititi Film Study

This year I've been teaching Year 13's (ages 17-18 aka 7th form) for the first time in my teaching career.

At the start of the year I had upwards of 50 students enrolled in my class. After some quick interviewing of my students to assess who actually:
a) wanted to do Y13 English Alternative
b) should be there (credits from last year) or in the generic English course
c) didn't want to do English/didn't need Level 3 English for the beginning of their careers next year

Once I had significantly dropped the numbers with the help of my amazing colleagues who found better places for them - I was down to about 45 students I think.

During this time I somehow managed to get them all reading and analysing the epic short story 'The Signalman' by Charles Dickens and later on - the two equally fantastic New Zealand short stories 'Her First Ball' by Katherine Mansfield and 'His First Ball' by Witi Ihimaera.

Eventually the class was split into two alternative level classes - and my amazing colleague TC is now working with me to continue this course.

Now that I had about 23 students - we could breathe a little easier and actually get some work done! :)

In walks the first assessment: US 3491 -  Write a report.  (3 credits)

At first glance, it looks like an easy assessment. It's a unit standard and all the students need to do is compare and contrast two texts and share their findings.

When we started teaching it and figuring it all out - it was a bit more indepth.

Films studied:

'Boy' and 'Tama Tu'

The analysis was easy and hard going at the same time. The report writing itself was and continues to be (some still have not handed it in....- cut off date is end of the term!!) Partly because of the structure I'd created for their report paragraphs - but mostly because it was a higher level of thinking and writing than they possibly had done before in their last years class. Y13 is a huge step up - even for the alternative course.

The assessment asked for the students to show their understanding of the director's purpose, how effective he was in portraying this through the key aspects and lastly evaluate his effectiveness in regards to how they related with it.

So this is how I asked my students to structure the paragraphs:

Topic Statement
Examples of key aspect
Explanations of key aspect and how they have impacted you/audience
Purpose (what the director was meaning and the purpose in creating the text)
Evaluation of effectiveness in portraying a key aspect in the film
Response - what you thought about what the director did - why it had an impact on you/audience

I've had four good reports handed in - about three that are in the near end stages and a few that still need more guidance and they are expected to go to the homework centre to get it done.

The next 'assessment' needs a bit of explanation... 

Mainly because it's a three part assessment.

AS 91480 - Close reading of visual texts (3 Credits)
US - Contribute as a team or group towards an objective
AS - Create a coherent oral text

The end product is an oral text where they present their findings and show their understanding of what the director did, why and how. Of course also how they related to it and the effectiveness etc. The best part about this is that there are loads of ways they can do this part - as a seminar, lesson, workshop, video, etc etc etc etc

Before this can happen though -  they have to collate information and techniques and analyses on two short excerpts - or in our case - two short films. And analyse their findings and think about how they relate to them and how they've been impacted in some way as the audience and why the director did it and what the director made them think etc.

Films studied: 

'Tama Tu' and '2 Cars, 1 Night'

Best part of this series of assessments is that they have basically done most of the groundwork about the background of Tama Tu in the last assessment and can solely focus on the technical aspects of diegetic sounds, shots, cinematography, mis en scene etc

The other best part so far - is while watching 'Two Cars, 1 Night' - my students were discussing aspects of the film with technical terms as they watched it, questioning it, and discussing the backgrounds of the characters and already started to think about why Taika Waititi used these characters, how he used them etc.

This is awesome because it showed me that they get it... and that they can do it. And most of all.. that when they get stressed out and say they can't - I can remind them back to the first time we watched it... and every other time since.

At the moment - they are collating the data and evidence of the film.

We've started to analyse our own information using the below questions:

Before we can attack the questions - which are rather wordy for that reason - I've decided they need to unpack each one to know what they've actually got to answer. We've already done a bit of this - with the first question:

On Monday we'll continue with this - perhaps unpack the rest of the questions - because the next two lessons I'll be in Wellington for PPTA meetings - and so they'll continue working on their answers and paragraphs... why? because it's an easy way for them to cut and paste info into a speech transcript for their speeches later. Smart aye :)

To do the collating of the information - they're working in teams or groups - and hopefully will stay in those groups for the presentation side of the close reading assessment. I love how interconnected these assessments are. Really the only way to do it too. :)

I'm hoping that my Y13's have their collated information ready by the end of the term (three weeks to go!!) and then come next term we can teach our Y13's the techniques of good presenting and give them some more ideas in how to do the presenting side. Hopefully make it less scary as each student has to speak for six minutes each.

Where I see us going next....

The next assessments are the Visual and Verbal assessment as well as the extended text teaching and learning - for their final exam in English at the end of the year.

Well be using one film for the next two assessments - though I'm pretty sure my colleague will agree that we'll let out students choose any of the films or texts we've studied this year for their visual verbal text creation.

I've bought the two copies of the film we will be doing - and in case my students find this post I will update the film later. But if you know Taika Waititi's works well - you'll know the one we're doing :)

Also - am stoked that 'What we do in the Shadows' comes out this week and that I'll be in Wellington during the hype and that there have been HEAPS of interviews done by Waititi and Jemaine Clement (Flight of the Conchords) - in character might I add.

Links for 'What we do in the Shadows' here:
Trailer for WWDITS - thanks to Youtube and DeliciousNecks
Film Website
WWDITS on IMBD - Thanks to IMDB
Werewolves not Swearwolves - Trailer
Viral Marketing at its best - Thanks to NZ Herald and David Farrier
The WWDITS Facebook Page 
#DeliciousNecks - Twitter

Links for 'Boy':
Boy on IMDB - Thanks to IMDB
Trailer for BOY - Thanks to Youtube and EastCoastCrazyHorses
The Film Website

Links for 'Tama Tu':
The Entire Film Here - Thanks to NZ On Screen
The Film Website
28th Maori Battalion Website

Links for 'Two Cars, One Night':
The Entire Film Here - Thanks to NZ On Screen
TCON on IMDB - Thanks to IMDB
The Film Website

Links for last Waititi film: 
To come later :)

Links on Taika Waititi:
TedXDoha - The Art of Creativity - AMAZING. - Thanks to TedXTalks and Youtube
Taika Waititi Fansite

Links on Visual Techniques:
Mis En Scene - Makes total sense - Good for students to take notes.

Te Kotahitanga Series: The idea of being "too soft" and also having high expectations

Eventually all of my ideas and thinking around using and implementing Te Kotahitanga will be in one blog - but for now... here is a small... but potentially huge idea that I had on my drive home from the supermarket.

Recently my Y10's and I have been reading the novel 'The Bone Tiki' by David Hair. It is easily one of my favourite New Zealand historical novels.

I say its an HN mainly because it delves deep into our Maori culture and plays with a lot of traditional and relevant themes around culture, the idea of being Maori and what it takes to BE Maori and also the many elements of Maoritanga and Maoridom. It offers historical events and helps show to a relatively young audience some of their own history in their own words - with likable and relevant main characters.

Anyway - last week I set my students a couple of chapter summary and homework tasks. Simple enough - just needed maybe 10 minutes of their time at home. However, they didn't do it.

We spent the next English lesson going through most of the first one - of which it was an absolutely fabulous lesson. Loads of kupu hou (new words) and they seem to now have the linguistic bug of looking for new words by searching in the dictionary for definitions and through the thesaurus for synonyms.

A few lessons later once we'd managed to get through the next chapter (issues around that...will get to that in a minute..) - I gave out the next chapter summary. We did the cloze activity together as a class at the end of the lesson and the rest they were expected to do for homework.

They didn't do that either.

Following lesson I asked a colleague whether I was being too.. where she interrupted me and said the words "too soft." I continued, "too lenient."

For me there are a couple of issues - well more than a couple:

- access to dictionaries at home
- completing homework - when there possibly just isn't time. Extra curricular activities, family expectations, church, community tasks etc.
- access to the internet or someone who can help them (maori kupu)
- remembering what happened in the book
- not having the book to reference at home

Because - it's not that they can't do it. They do it quickly and efficiently in class. They are eager for my appreciation of them completing the task to the best of their abilities and they often suggest new words to add to the already humoungous pile of kupu hou we are collecting.

It's slightly frustrating with the access to internet, dictionaries etc - even more so that I'm STILL on the hunt for the lost 30 or so books that have seemingly dissappeared into thin air - despite emails, questions at staff meetings, surveying and asking staff I see, and asking students to be on the lookout as well. And... despite the Google Docs Booking sheet I created... and there was only one other booking made (on the whiteboard...old booking system) and my colleague that booked the previous way didn't look on the online booking sheet. So - am forced to only have 9 books in a class of 23. Slightly difficult. I will find the rest eventually. Preferably BEFORE we finish the book.

But the students can do this. Me being "soft" isn't a factor to them being able to complete the tasks.

In any matter - I don't think I'm being "soft" though I can understand where my colleague was coming from. It harks back to my Tapu series. Everything does.

I have high expectations for my students to do their work. I try to make it as interesting and as relevant as possible. Perhaps I am a bit too lenient in regards to homework being completed in class rather than having meant to be done at home.

After that quick conversation - I did dicsuss with the students about my expectations - they completed the set work from the last chapter and we moved on with reading the next chapter. I marked their work and they all did well.

What is the problem then?

That being understanding of a students' situation or even the knowledge that they have so many other things going on in their lives, that sometimes setting homework is just irrelevant and doesn't get done - can be construed as being 'soft'.

In NZ - the word 'soft' comes across as not being 'hard' enough.

'Soft' means a plethora of different words in NZ. Being 'hard' has similar connotations - of course in the opposite direction.

The real problem is that 'soft' has a particular negative connotation that I'm too nice.

I am a compassionate person, and often try to see the situation from the students perspective before anyone elses. When you have 33 students all complaining that they don't have time to complete homework at home - you have to listen and change what you're doing.

And sometimes you do need to be 'hard'.

I have high expectations - I don't allow my students to use the word 'gay' as a negative connotation and I expect my students to act positively towards and with others. I expect students to have an open mind and be interested in learning. At times I often have too high an expectation. Not to say I should lower it or make my expectations more easier.. I just have to reassess the situation and co-construct with my students - and that's okay.

But in a world where some students only get hardness - sometimes they need to see the other side to it so that they can choose who they want to be and how they want to act and react towards others.

And that is all. :)

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Kidblog Journey...The Beginning...

So - Thanks to a PLN colleague on the VLN - I found out about

It's a pretty sweet little blog site - for school anyway. Easy to create a whole class set of blogs. Will continue to tutu for a bit before I get too carried away.

I am in the process of pushing through a letter home to my students as I won't be here next week for parent teacher interviews - will be in Wellington for PPTA meetings instead.

In the Google Form (that I am printing out as well as giving the link in the letter...) I've asked for permission for parents so I can set up and start these blogs. Will be sending out more information about that later once I create some sort of policy around this - it comes back to digital citizenship though... Just want to cover my behind and also make sure my students are safe as well.

This blogsite looks pretty cool though - particularly because I was able to create a bulk set of users in one swoop... and made some pretty awesome passwords for my Year 9's that relate to their personality... and since we are doing lots of vocabulary work at the moment - they'll love that their personality (from my perspective anyway) can be shown in a word. One of my students today chose the word inquisitive in his spelling words - we discussed what it meant and the synonyms for it. Was an impressive 20 minutes where he talked me through the words he'd chosen (that I wrote down as he'd hurt his arm yesterday) and gave me synonyms for each. The word inquisitive is definitely him. He continues to ask questions and is so polite, helpful and conscientious of the class and his own learning. Love it. He's truly started to get the values of our school and is showing them. Impressed.

Anyway... it's a start.

Still so much to do. At least I only have three more pieces of writing to mark and enter and then the seniors are done. Then just to do the junior report comments and add in their marks. :) They're not due til next week but since I'm away I want to get it done now...... so feeling the pressure still. But sitting at my desk with the music blasting and seeing the mess on my desk is not helping. I should just move away to one of the other desks and keep marking........ but then my belly is rumbling... brain remembers I got paid last night... and I wonder ... couldn't I just get this marking done somewhere warm... and more importantly while I'm eating? Hmmmmm. Stream of consciousness for the win.

And... a very tentative first posting as me - but teacher me :) Miss L's Year 9 English Class 2014

Tuesday, 10 June 2014


Marking to do.

Relief to create for next week.

Reports to write.

Results to enter before tomorrow.

Students haven't handed everything in.

Students not focussed.

Quickly getting frustrated.

Losing own focus.

Feeling the frustrated tears feels.

Still have classes to teach as well.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

Why I agreed to do a workshop on Twitter at #NZATE...

Twitter is probably the best way to connect with other teachers.

It has revolutionised aspects of my own teaching style.

I have met other passionate teachers and have even met some face to face.

Now of course, this isn't to say that my real life colleagues haven't made an impact. Because they have. And on a daily basis. I'm so greatful for the people I have in my life and the colleagues I work with are absolutely fantastic.

What Im getting at is that Twitter is powerful. It crosses boundaries like water and countries and cities and school boundary zones.... even school departments.

If you're already a bit of a social butterfly, like myself, Twitter becomes an extension of what you already do.

For me, Twitter has taught me lots of new things and Im so thankful to the people in my Professional Learning Network to continue to allow this to happen.

Sometimes... scratch that... as teachers we are nearly always too busy to add something else extra onto our already full plates/bags/boxes of things to do.

Twitter is that little oomph I need at the end of a stressful day. With other passionate teachers to remind you to pick your load up and continue flying.

A few months ago I redecorated my house... sure it wasn't anything crazy like painting.. it was merely blu tacking pictures, inspirational quotes etc around my house. Some pics of these are on the #whoiamwhatido post. In particular is this one:

Every day when I get a drink of water, wash the dishes, fill the dog's water bowl, refill the hot water bottle... I read this again. Maybe only a small section but it reminds me to fly in formation.

Often in teaching we feel that we're isolated.

I know for certain as a new teacher I felt this way. So much so I chose to stay in my isolated prefab room to ensure others wouldn't mock my teaching or tell me I was doing x wrong. My thought processes hadnt moved far yet from a victimized psychology and I was constantly worried that what I was doing was wrong and felt that I didnt know what I was doing.

Part of this is of course the falsities I created as truths while growing up, and some events that stuck in my head while going through teachers college and doing practicums... at that time still very fresh in my memory.

Interestedly enough I never felt isolated while studying my BA in history and english... perhaps because there was a stronger sense of collaboration in those faculties.

But surely... we as teachers should be even more collaboarative. We should be encouraging others because thats what we do with our students.

Why then do so many student teachers come out of teaching college feeling incapable? Is it the weight of having all tjose futures in your hands? Surely part of it...

From personal experience.. I think it has a lot to do with teaching student teachers about the fact that they're on their own. Like my first mentor H said, "It's the only job in the world where they leave you in a room and let you 'get on with it'."

Why is this?

In a day and age where we have information at the tips of our fingers we were taught by past teachers who hadn't been in the classroom for over 10 years. We learnt the value of curriculum and what pedagogy was... we even had a few token sessions on Te Kotahitanga. Now I love my university that I went to. I rave about it to whoever asks. But I learnt more about teaching on practicum than I ever did while at teachers college.

I learnt that there were a huge structure of school politics bubbling behind the face of a school, and that to lead change - you had to be prepared for the firing squad... sometimes literally.. and of course metaphorically.  I learnt that not every teacher had good practice nor 'best practice'. What's more is that I found it increasingly difficult to be given an associate teacher I got along with. I'm not too horrible a person... but in teaching, especially as a student teacher (IMO) alot of the success and failure you recieve comes down to how well you get on with the Associate Teacher you are paired up with.

Teaching is a personable sport. You have to get along with others to make it work. If you don't have that personality style then you better have fantastic classroom management.

Those are things I learnt while on practicum. And thats just from the teachers. I of course learnt much more from the students.

While on practicum.. I can count on two hands the teachers who made a positive impact on me. They had a relaxed and calm manner with their students and they related to them. They made everything they were doing somehow new and interesting.

What teachers forget is that they dont need to be isolated. They shouldn't fear being observed by others. They shouldn't fear getting criticised or giving students the power in their lessons. Above all else... teachers shouldn't fear collaboration.

Because teachers are so busy.. they forget what it was like to be a new teacher.. that for a new teacher every lesson is a mindfield.. and as you get better you learn how to set up routines and how to improve behaviours and set expectations etc. Because teachers are so busy they forget that they can ask others for help. That an answer is at the end of the hallway or at a response of an email.

Because teachers are so busy they forget to keep up with the latest in teaching pedagogies and curriculum. Teachers get stuck in the way they were taught and how they've been teaching for x number of years. Because teachers are so busy they forget that they dont need to isolate themselves from others.

That's why Twitter is awesome.

Create an account. Search some famous people and follow them. Then what? Perhaps I'll search new teachers... Ooh, I found #ntchat. New Teacher Chat.. but the time differences will make it hard for me to get to view and add to the discussion.. 

Go back to teaching. Forget about Twitter.. wonder why there isn't a NT chat for NZ teachers. Attempt to make a hashtag. Fail. Go back to teaching. Wonder if there are other communities for teaching. Find some radio broadcasts by the Teachers Lounge. Get an oomph.

Go back to teaching. Find out about TED talks. Wow. Find out about spoken word poetry. WOW. Find out about Freedom Writers blog online. Find out about #edchat. Find out about issues that relate to my students. Find out about #edchatnz. WOW!!! So busy though...

Change school. Start fresh. Focus on teaching. Make new friends. Go back to teaching. Focus. Extra - curricular activities.

New year. YES YEAR. Nominated for PPTA.  Go to Wellington. Meet other passionate teachers. Re-introduced to Twitter. #edchatnz #edtech #educamp #eduignite #techrev BYOD. PB4L. Busy. Teaching and collaborating. Learning. Teaching and learning. Sharing. Learning. Focus. Passion. Fresh. Be asked to do a workshop on Twitter. Know that you don't know everything. But going to do it anyway.

Create a google form. Ask others to tell you why they like Twitter as an educator. Write blog posts... alot of blog posts. Think about why you like Twitter.

And now I'm here. Join the Twitterverse. The Twitter Staffroom.

Get relevant PD. For you.

When you want it.

Try. Fail.

Try again. Succeed. :)

Tuesday, 3 June 2014

The Bone TIki

Monday, 2 June 2014

Proposal for ULearn 14, Conferences and Presenting

The proposal for ULearn14... 

I've said everything I needed to say. I need to add a bit of bolding on the fees section perhaps, but I've added info on current research and policies - including the Min of Ed's recent Future Focussed policy/report from Friday just gone.

Regardless of whether I will be able to have the registration fee partially funded or not - I'll still go. I'll just have to be really onto it with saving money - rather than putting it all onto bills straight away.

Finished writing my proposal last night... not sure what else I need to put into it. Have attached the SPANZ report and the basic 10 Ministry of Education guidelines for future-focussed learning.

At the moment I'm thinking about trying to sort out both ideas for presentations next month.

CLESOL Conference - 10-13th July (I'm presenting via webcam with Sonya Van Schijiks on the 12th)
- My experiences teaching bi-lingual students

NZATE Conference - 9-11th  July
- Workshop on Twitter and use as a teacher/educator

Both presentations can only come from my own experiences, and from what I've learnt from others in the process.

I'm worried that my experiences, brief and therefore in my opinion, inconsistent as a strong proof for evidence and clarity, will not be valued. Worried too that there will be possible backlash. This worry is what has since prevented me from making any surefire ideas about what exactly I'll say at the CLESOL presentation.

I feel like the Twitter one will be an easier - though in a lot of ways also more difficult mainly because I see the reactions and can gauge how my workshop attendees are feeling and how it's all going.

A difficult part for both is that I don't even know how long I need to talk for.

I suppose another difficult part is this is the first time I've been given the chance to show what I know in the world of teaching.

Up until being given the opportunity, I've been 'gun-ho' in sharing my thoughts. I'm quite a shy person when I'm put in the spotlight.. until I get to know people then it's hard for me to stop talking.

I'm also a competitive person, and with these opportunities, I'm really only competing against myself.

Queen's Bday Weekend - Monday

Had a great talk with a colleague today at school while meant to be marking.. at least I managed to get my planbook sussed and thought through the next few stages of a few assessments and differing classes. The stage challenge crew are looking fantastic! Can't wait til the actual competition!!

Despite being encouraged by lots of people (twitter and school colleagues, mentors and whanau) -  there is still that self-doubt niggling at the back of my mind.. but to be honest... I can do this. I can. I just need to get organised... and possibly get another sleep under my belt.

Positivity is key.