Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Reflective Teacher - Days 25-30

So glad this blogging challenge is over... i have been incredibly useless in keeping up with doing this! Though I dont think I would be able to write an entire post on these subjects...

September 25- The ideal collaboration between students- what would it look like?

Humming. Learning. Sharing and understanding each other's points of view. Problem solving. Relating with others.

September 26- What are your 3 favorite go-to site for help/tips/resources in your teaching?


September 27- What role do holidays and weekends play in your teaching?

Omg. They're amazing. In the term 3 holiday break now. Feeling amazing. Refreshed and ready to teach again. It's only Tuesday. Think that it's important to take time out for yourself despite how often I am doing extra for my students. Implementing Google Drive has been awesome with my Y12s this year - and there is still the same amount of marking.. in fact I think I am being more efficient and more effective with my comments while using Drive too.

September 28- Your thoughts: Should Technology drive the curriculum or vice versa?

Technology is only a tool. And it's only good if you have a particular purpose and goal in using it. I'm still learning this. I think that by using tech students gain an added value to their learning and it's often more stickable and memorable - or at least rewindable.

September 29- How have you changed as an educator?

Since when? Over the past 4-5 years I have changed immensely - but then again I do slip up and revert to default mode where I make the same mistakes. I'm still learning. I think that's been the biggest change that I know that I will never know everything there is to know about teaching - and that's actually a good thing.

September 30- What would you do as an educator if you weren't afraid?

Let my students blog. Let them tweet. Play minecraft. Be agentic and keep ruffling feathers and helping teachers change and accept change. Learn more and do more.

PPTA Annual Conference

On the plane. Not late. With Emma, Kathy and Nathan. Was pretty weird seeing Nathan here this morning because he's from Chch but he was up for an engagement party in the Big O.

Am looking forward to conference. Even more so seeing my friends who I haven't seen since March - the majority of them anyway.

Had the fortunate luck to sit next to a fellow Rotarian from Putaruru and talked about conference, but more importantly our next big event for Rotaract - Quiz Night on the 30th October. Looking forward to making more connections as the year progresses for next year when I'm president too.

Policies that I'm most looking forward to debating:

- Behaviour Management and PB4L
- Resource Management
- EDUCANZ and Industrial Action
- Development for Schools around deciles and zoning

This is my first annual conference - I'm told that it can be quite crazy in terms of passing notes for people to speak as delegates or if you've given up your chance to speak..  like I think I did.

Anyway - this post may be longer - it may stay the same.

But I'll be tweeting to #pptaconf so keep up in the stream :) Though I'm sure that it won't be as full on as #ULearn14 will be. Super stoked! :)

Sunday, 28 September 2014

ULearn14 Breakouts - Booked!!

This post is dedicated to all of the incredibly amazing people who helped me get to this point where I can blog about the breakouts for ULearn14 that I have finally booked. You guys are amazing.
It's still a full week out from the craziness that I'm sure will ensue with the Twitter Dinner, Connected Educator Month and ULearn itself - however I figured it was timely to post up the breakouts that I've picked.

Reasonings for choosing these breakouts are at the very end :)
- Copied from the Core Education site :)

Alex Le Long's Breakouts
Registered for the following breakouts

Breakout One :: Raising Writing Performance in the 21st century classroom: tools, tips, and opportunities
Type: Presentation
Time: 08 Oct 2014 - 11:15 to 12:30
Delegates: 68 / 100
Lead Presenter: Dr Ian Hunter /Write that Essay
Venue: not yet assigned
As the demands of literacy spread across curriculum areas it is important that all teachers improve their ability to guide students in academic writing.
In this interactive presentation, best-selling author and educator Dr Ian Hunter will discuss the key barriers to student writing success and offer tools and techniques to overcome them.  He will demonstrate how digital writing tools can help students become better writers, and offer practical teaching strategies to assist reluctant writers; creative techniques for planning and idea generation; show how to fix overwriting and underwriting; how to demonstrate analysis and use evidence effectively, and strategies to raise school-wide writing performance in external examinations.

Breakout Two :: The BYOD Journey
Type: Workshop
Time: 08 Oct 2014 - 13:45 to 15:00
Delegates: 27 / 40
Lead Presenter: Kate Olliff /Wairakei School
Venue: not yet assigned
BYOD is among the favoured education topics of the year. Wairakei School has successfully embarked on an exciting BYOD 1to1 iPad journey through 2014.  Hear how the iPad programme was initiated, the trials and tribulations throughout the Journey and the integration with the flipped learning approach. 
See how the classroom teacher manages the devices and programme on a daily basis. Hapara Dashboard, Google Apps for Education and more… Discuss how parts of the programme could be incorporated into your own class or school, what are the learning benefits?
Work with other delegates on a plan fit for your needs.  How have the children and parents embraced the move into digital learning? How has it changed teacher planning and assessment? Delegates will require an internet capable device (laptop or tablet, windows or mac) for this workshop.

Breakout Three :: Turning the vision into reality
Type: Presentation
Time: 09 Oct 2014 - 11:15 to 12:30
Delegates: 4 / 18
Lead Presenter: Philippa Nicoll /Samuel Marsden Collegiate School
Extra Presenters:
Jacqui Brown /Samuel Marsden Collegiate School
Venue: not yet assigned
That it is necessary to shift our pedagogy in order to better meet the needs of our students as they move into a world of hyperchange, and that we can integrate technology into our teaching as one method of doing this, is not in question.
Increasingly, and rightly, the acknowledgement of the ‘why’ of technology is expressed in school’s vision documents. What sometimes seems to be missing from the discussion is the ‘how’.
How can a school, rooted in tradition, inspire change and take measurable, concrete steps to upskill staff in both pedagogy and technology tools?
This presentation shares one school’s experiences as they embark on precisely this journey; turning the vision into reality.

Breakout Four A :: Before collaboration teachers need to make connections
Type: Taster
Time: 09 Oct 2014 - 13:45 to 14:15
Delegates: 38 / 80
Lead Presenter: Sonya Van Schaijik /Newmarket School
Extra Presenters:
Wendy Kofoed /Newmarket School
Venue: not yet assigned
Hattie states that it is teachers who account for about 30% of the variance in student achievement. An aspect of this variance is likely to include what teachers know, do, and care about, as these are powerful aspects of the learning equation.
Before teachers and their classes can collaborate and share their learning, teachers need to connect with the students that they teach, connect with their student’s families and connect with each other. The following questions will be addressed in the session:
How do teachers make connections with their students and families? How do teachers share learning? How do teachers work collaboratively? How do teachers know that they are making a difference to learning?
At Newmarket School teachers make connections, share learning, collaborate in a variety of ways. In class and across the school teachers use Google Docs and Sites to collaborate with each other. Some teachers are involved with the Mutukaroa project to build learning partnerships with families. Some teachers use KidBlog to share their children’s learning. Some teachers share their learning at conferences or via a reflective blog. Some teachers use twitter as a professional learning tool to build their professional learning network. Some teachers use the Virtual Learning Network to collaborate across schools and POND to curate resources. Some teachers have knowledge and skills to create digital products with their students using a variety of multimodal tools. Some teachers support children in their leadership inquiries while other teachers mentor and coach other teachers in the school and in other schools. Some teachers work closely with the local community on a variety of school projects.
However,  at Newmarket school all teachers undertake inquiry into their own practice. Inquiry is a powerful strategy that has been shown to have an effect in accelerating achievement or in supporting students learning progress.  Teachers identify problems of practice, develop action plans for researching the problem and work with a coach or colleagues to trial strategies that makes a difference to their students learning.
These learning practices are changing the way Newmarket School operates. Learning has been re-configured as teachers share their changing practices in visible ways. Because of the transparency involved in the inquiry into teaching, much is learnt from each other, with each other, and with the children that they teach.

Breakout Four B :: Enhance learning - Chrome apps and extensions
Type: Taster
Time: 09 Oct 2014 - 14:30 to 15:00
Delegates: 43 / 50
Lead Presenter: Angela Lee /Rowandale School
Venue: not yet assigned
Have a go at making your internet browser work for you.  In this workshop delegates will discover the wonderful world of Chrome extensions.  A quick whistle stop tour of some great extensions that will do things you never thought possible with your browser.
Some of the extension we will look at are:
Pinterest, Drive, Diigo, Chromecast, Sreencastify, Evernote, Hootsuite, Adblock, Google dictionary, Google Plus, Snagit.
Some of the Chrome apps we will look at are: Pixlr, Wevideo, movnote, Powtoon.
Delegates will receive access to notes that include links and how to information for each extension. Where possible these notes will also include classroom applications for the extension. Delegates will be invited to add to these notes to create a shared presentation resource for all to use.

Breakout Five :: Engagement: The key to learning success
Type: Presentation
Time: 10 Oct 2014 - 09:00 to 10:15
Delegates: 111 / 120
Lead Presenter: Mike Scaddon /Brain Stems Ltd
Venue: not yet assigned
Teachers spend a large amount of time planning and then actively trying to motivate students to learn. However, direct motivation is not our job. It actually increases the gap between the student and their learning. Rather, our job is to create an engaging state where student want to motivate themselves.
This requires teachers helping students to understand their strengths and gaps and providing opportunities for this to happen.
This practical and absorbing workshop looks at the role of the emotional brain, how we can use this to advantage in the classroom, why risk is crucial to learning, the significance of interruptions and more. Not to be missed.

Breakout Six :: Coaching conversations for educational leaders
Type: Presentation
Time: 10 Oct 2014 - 11:15 to 12:30
Delegates: 50 / 50
Lead Presenter: Mary-Anne Murphy /CORE Education
Venue: not yet assigned
Are you in a position of leadership within your school and want to refine your ability to coach people towards realising their full potential? Are you dealing with resistance and want a way of working forward in co-operative relationships? Are you wanting to take your skills to a deeper level? YES? Well this session is for you!

Reasoning behind choosing each Breakout:
1. A look into how literacy is within every subject and how digital tools can effectively improve student outcomes with literacy and their overall success as a result. Am interested in seeing some different apps that can be used effectively with my students to improve their literacy - particularly with my lower and higher ability students.
2. A BYOD journey towards 1:1. Looking forward to hearing the struggles and many successes for advice in helping our Rotorua schools move forward towards 1:1 in the coming years. Particularly interested in seeing how Hapara is being used at their kura.
3. Incredibly looking forward to Philippa's breakout on integrating technology into a traditional school - particularly how to go about phrasing school vision documents to ensure that the why and the how is covered.
4 a. Building on collaboration and networking skills. Interested in seeing how Newmarket school effectively implements the inquiry process because I want to get better at defining my own inquiries and developing them as I go. Great chance to see Sonya and Wendy in action presenting like this! :) Looking forward to meeting with other like minded teachers who also want to connect and share their ideas.
4 b. A good chance to brush up on my Chrome skills - in an interactive workshop having a tutu. Who wouldn't want to do this one? Am looking forward to seeing how different apps are implemented into classroom teaching and how effective they can be given the right purpose.
5. I really enjoy learning about the brain and how it works - this breakout looked incredibly interesting and was the first one I chose. Hopefully I'll learn some new strategies to motivate my students - including my Y13 students.
6. Chose this because I want to learn how to have effective conversations and learn how to teach and help my colleagues more effectively - particularly in integrating technology into their classrooms.
I am very much looking forward to ULEARN14 and am so incredibly thankful to you all. Nga mihi nunui ki a koutou katoa. He arohanui ki a koutou katoa. So looking forward to seeing you all again in person. You'll be getting a massive hug that's for sure. :)

EduBook List and other Reading :)

I don't often read during the year. I usually read in the summer holidays. This is coming from the biggest bookworm ... ever. At present I have two massive boxes of books still unpacked in the garage because my house is too small for another bookshelf.

With the @EduBookChatNZ discussion that's been going for a while now since before the edchatnz conference and the conversation happening with my EngChatNZ mates right now... I decided it was about time that I write my reading list.

1. Key Competencies for the Future
2. Divergent by Veronica Roth
3. The Fault in our Stars
4. The next book in the 'Aotearoa' series by David Hair
5. Tuesday's with Morrie
6. The Art of War
7. The Maze Runner
8. The Long Way Round
9. The Falconer by David Lichtman
10. #EdJourney by David Lichtman
11. Digital Leadership by Eric Sheninger
12. The Book Whisperer
13. The Perks of Being a Wallflower
14. Mortal Instruments by Cassie Claire
15. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
16. The Great Gatsby
17. Moby Dick
18. And Tango Makes Three
19. Gossip Girl
20. TTYL
21. The Golden Compass
22. Make it Stick - The Science of Successful Learning
23. I am Rebecca by Fleur Beale
24. I am Esther by Fleur Beale
25. Roskill by Neil Coleman
26. The Book Thief
27. The Luminaries
28. 1984
29. The Life of Pi
30. Catch 22
31. The Bone People
32. We Need to Talk about Kevin
33. Eat Pray Love
34. Minecraft Collection
35. The Art of Asking by Amanda Palmer (my new number 1 to read...sorry bout KCs for the Future)
36. Rushing Woman's Syndrome
37. The Freedom Writer's Diary
38. Soar - How Boys learn to succeed and Develop Character
39. 365 Things to Make you go Hmmm
40. Building a Better Teacher
41. Crash Course by Kim Bearden
42. The Gigantic Book of Teacher's Wisdom by Erin Gruwell
43. Teach like your Hair's on fire
44. Teach like A Pirate
45. Teacher by Sylvia Ashton-Warner (NZ book - teaching Maori students to read)
46. Culture Counts (need to read it again)
47. The Accidental Teacher by Eric Mandel
48. Motivating Students who Don't Care
49. Creating Innovators by Tony Wagner
50. The Courage to Teach by Parker Palmer
51. Never work harder than your students by Robyn Jackson
52. What Great Teachers do Differently by Todd Whittaker
53. Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire
54. Why are all the Black kids sitting together in the cafeteria by Beverly Daniel Tatum
55. Perfect ICT Every Lesson by Mark Anderson (@ICTEvangelist)

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Reflective Teacher - Days 13-24

This is going to be a LONG post...

September 13- Name the top tech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom and rank them in order of their effectiveness, in your opinion.
  1. Photos - of student work, whiteboard writing, 
  2. Google Drive
  3. Kamar
  4. Gmail
  5. Google
  6. Twitter - because I use it sometimes when students ask questions
  7. Class Dojo

September 14- What is feedback for learning and how well do you give it as an educator?
Feedback for learning is often verbal feedback for me unless I am giving feedback on a full set of essays or pieces of writing. During speeches we give positive feedback and positive criticism 
 for feedforward as a class. My belief is that you can't have feedback if you don't also give feedforward.

September 15- Name 5 strengths you have as an educator.
- relational teacher (create strong relationships with your students to enable success)
- ability to laugh and be flexible
- creating lessons that allow for individualised learning and more importantly that are relevant to my learners in my classroom
- innovation in finding new ways and often easier ways to do things
- a growth mindset

September 16- If you had 1 superpower to use in the classroom, what would it be and how would it help?
- to know what is wrong with a student when they walk in so that I know how to deal with their behaviours and attitude to learning straight away. 

September 17- What do you think is the most challenging issue in education today?
Most challenging would be that there are many teachers who are resistant to change in a very quickly changing world. 

September 18- Create an analogy/simile/metaphor that describes your teaching.
Growth Mindset - I am firmly rooted in my culture and traditions. I move and sway with the changing winds and breezes daily. I embrace change and new initiatives as long as they help develop me as an educator and as long as the support for the initiatives are given often - what's life without water? I open my palms to what lay ahead and also open my eyes for the next issues that may come that need dealing with. I reach to the sky in hopes of achieving the best possible learning for myself and as a result the best possible learning for my students.

September 19- Name 3 powerful ways that students can reflect on their learning. Discuss the one you use the most
- Twitter
- Reflections to the teacher
- Student voice for feedback and feedforward for the teacher and their classmates. (This is the one we use most often)

September 20- How do you or your students curate student work?
In their books to begin with - then on Google Drive - hopefully eventually move toward blogging :)
I need to put students work on the wall more often. I have past students' work on the walls but not my current students.

September 21- Do you have other hobbies/interests that you bring into your classroom teaching? 
- Politics
- Human Rights
- Equity in all Things
- Improving and closing the gap between rich and poor
- Being open to a changing world around us
- Rotaract and Interact
- Blogging
- Dog training 

September 22- What does your PLN look like? What does it do for you teaching?
My PLN is AMAZING. If awhi's me and makes me feel like I know what I'm doing. They talk to me daily about life and teaching. They share my troubles and give advice, ideas, innovative thinking and suggest my next steps. Without it I would have had the hugest issues with teaching - because as a new teacher you often feel alone and isolated.

September 23- Write about 1 way that you "meaningfully" involve the community in your classroom. If not, write about 1 way you would like to bring that into your curriculum.
- I would like to have my community be more involved - perhaps by having guest speakers come in, and share their ideas and knowledge. I always have plans to do this but then there is all of the paperwork that goes into sorting that out.... 

September 24- What learning trend captures your attention the most and why?
Digital Citizenship. This is what the world will be about. How to live and breathe appropriately and effectively online. 

The Importance of Dealing with Overloading and Effective Stress Management Strategies

Regardless of anything and everything that you've ever dealt with - you have a personal level of tolerance. Your level is different to mine and mine is different to yours and so on. Unfortunately, this means that everyone also has a different way of dealing with a level of tolerance and everyone tolerates different things differently.

Does that make sense?

In the last few days I've realised just how invested I was in the campaign, in the vision to Vote Positive, in the overwhelming mission we had in changing our society. I still believe it is possible - however it is not as simple as it once seemed. Heoi ano, there is now three more years to make that vision stronger, and hopefully.. the public will truly see this time.

I have thought about my future as a teacher and the fact that I've been getting stressed by the lack of motivation of some of my senior students. I have also thought about what teacher I want to be and whether I can be one of those teachers who do the same thing day after day. The honest answer is no. I want to be agentic. I am an agent of change and whether I like it or whether other people like it is again regardless because this is who I am. I have been a protestor since a very young age and will fight for the underdog, for those who are mistreated and for those who are not listened to. As a teacher this means that I am student centred. I do what matters for my students and the impact it has on their learning.

I am not the tidiest person. At all. However - when I have processes and strategies in place I am able to organise myself more effectively and efficiently. Unfortunately - I am also a hoarder. I worry that if I chuck out this piece of paper will I need it later on in the future. With the development of computers, floppy disks, memory sticks, CD's and now Drive, I continue to be at paper's mercy because at present that is what I'm forced to leave... a somewhat never ending paper trail.

When I get stressed I tend to have a few triggers - that don't show themselves until much later.
- I get quieter. I choose rather to bottle up the anger and frustration rather than to broadcast it to the world. My students get nervous because they see how quiet I am. Sometimes this is a good thing because eventually someone makes me laugh and I calm down.
- my desk becomes cluttered with paper.
- i have a growing list of things to do that never seems to end
- My car becomes a mess with pieces of clothing chucked everywhere - usually jackets and shoes.
- my dishes pile up.
- I don't cook properly.
- I don't make myself lunch.
- I sleep in too long.
- I snap at the smallest things.
- I say yes to more things so my plate gets even fuller.
- I sleep at weird hours (though nana naps are awesome)
- my washing pile piles up (blaming the weather but it's my laziness instead...)
- my planbook gets messy
- I don't write often in my blog and I misplace my purple journal.
- I stay away from Twitter where my support network is...
- I keep quiet at school so no-one knows I'm having issues
- I'd rather stay in my class to try to get on top of things rather than go to the staffroom and watch people eat their food because I forgot to make mine haha

To solve this - I have a few strategies that normally always work:
- laughter. The key to my soul. Seriously. My students find this out early on and as a result make use of it often - to stop the 'blinding and burning eyes' as they call my stares, or the frustration on my face... and to win an argument... So my students place well timed comments and sometimes out of the blue comments... like today... where is Morrinsville? Is that in France? ...
- telling random stories about myself and my life. Tends to buy students some relax time too.
- cleaning my desk.
- highlighting my different classes in my plan book. and then filling it in.
- tidying up the ever growing piles of paper.
- driving.
- baking.
- writing.
- playing with Mia (though this can actually make me more frustrated sometimes).
- cooking and experimenting with food
- blogging and singing
- eating chocolate
- talking about my issues
- having my besties mock me. Seriously. Nine times out of ten this works.
- having a massive cry.

The problem is because I am so quiet when I get stressed out, no-one actually knows I am stressed. I keep off of Twitter and I don't eat or sleep properly - I get increasingly irritable and then eventually - I snap. And this usually involves a lot... and I mean a lot of crying to release all the tension and the anger and the frustration. Have only cried at school 4 times in my life. Twice as a teacher. I was close to it again the other day with my year 13 students - but I somehow held it together. That was a horrible Monday. Stupid democratic process.

As a result of the triggers - it builds and builds to a point where I can't even see through the fog - to put it the way my mentor and buddy teacher told me yesterday. Talking with her was cathartic too. When I finally can release it all - my brain clears, logic returns and I am back to being me.

This doesn't happen often. Because usually I am able to blog or write it out and release that pent up energy. But when it does - it's because I've not dealt with the issues at hand.

The issues this time:
- Students not motivated.
- Students bored (because I'd gotten so weighed down I reverted to boring teacher and couldn't see that they needed something different and then have the flexibility to go back to the previous assessment)
-Students want credits and I needed to just add them up to Kamar because they had been moderated.
- Many things to do.
- The campaign.
- Not feeling good enough... this is a recurring one though...
- Not feeling like I was getting acknowledged for all of the good things I already was doing... and then more being added...
- Feeling at a loss to do anything effectively
- Needing time to flesh out a plan effectively

And this... is why it is important to be reflective... so that you are able to look up and see that it is actually a beautiful day despite the stink feels in your head and heart.

Smile. Breathe. Another day is just beginning somewhere in the world and you are a small part of a big beautiful journey.

And this - for mere interest:

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Election Day ... My Longest Day

This will be a long post.

I have spent the last 72 hours working towards a Labour government. Prior to that - four months of electioneering, door knocking, phone canvassing, discussions, sign waving, debating, putting my heart and soul out on the line.

Yet... all of it wasnt enough.

1 Million people didn't vote.

Sure we were able to get more people to vote. But that overwhelming figure of that many people feeling disenfranchised, not interested in politics, how our government and country is run, the many insights and horrible new awakenings into the dirty politics... still stopped people from voting.

I have spent the entire day today at a complete loss. In between tears of anger, sadness, frustration and loss - I have tried to think what else I could have done. How much more we could have done. How much harder we could have worked.

From the beginning before we had the Labour Lounge and were phone callling from the First Union Building. From when I first met Tamati and Tim at the Kuirau Park Markets and offered my support in helping to build Young Labour in Rotorua.
From when there was still so much time to go...

And now. We're here.

I talked with my fellow Team Tamati volunteer members last night and we all felt that same loss. The hard work foiled by the stupidity of a nation that can't see past immediate return. The hard work messed up by a nation that is unwilling to engage in a healthy discussion of politics in order to help turn our country around.

It worries me to no end that National are once more back in power. Power is a mighty thing and any who holds it should be careful how they wield it. Unfortunately - we know how power can become corrupt. As a history teacher at my very depths of my soul - I see it. I can feel it encrouching upon this very blog post. This may sound like pure paranoia - but it is ignorance to think we are not being watched.

Everything I post is always written so that I maintain my own integrity and that of my students, their families, our school and our community. However when something as catastrophic as this happens - it is incredibly difficult to stand aside and let it happen.

I keep thinking about Gordon Dietrich in V for Vendetta under the Sutler government. How soon until power becomes absolute and we no longer have a say. Not long I believe.

Regardless, I think it's time I make some decisions around what I teach and how. Our students need to be aware of what is going on around them. Only so much reminders about the importance of being involved by reading the news and reading between the lines in news stories will actually work. I keep hearing people say we need to teach civics in schools. As far as I know - we do.

Hearing cynicsm at school around politics isn't good either - it breeds room for inequality and the thinking that their vote doesn't actually matter.

Our students need to see what fires us up. They need to know what is our absolute bottom line. They need to know that everyone has their own opinion and what's more - that it's our right to speak out.

They also need to know that when we do have differing opinions we still need to find a way to work together.

And this - this is what I'm struggling to remind myself. Because there is no way that he represents me as PM. None.

And I am struggling to see how he would be chosen once again to 'lead' our country.

I struggle to think how exactly I am to show face at school after saying to colleagues that I would "lose my s***" if his team got back in. And I still feel like that. Yet - I feel the passion in my heart depleting and know that I am going to be walking around without that fire and wairua in my step tomorrow. Because we have another three years ahead of us to fight again.

As I said on Twitter last night:
Every good warrior needs a defeat before they can fight even harder the next time.

Unfortunately - this is my first true defeat as a member of the fight.

And seeing the tears in friends eyes last night - particularly of those who do not show emotion often... is even harder. Knowing that we gave it our everything and it still wasn't enough.

The words " It's all wrong..." continue to run through my head.

Because it is. And three more years is only going to increase the gap between rich and poor, increase the digital divide, continue to ruin our education and health systems... Immediate return may look good for now, but I for one am worried for the next coming generations who will have to deal with what we have left for them. I really do hope that they will not be as greedy and selfish as an apparent 'majority' of NZers were as results came through last night.

We need to fight again. But for now... continued rest and relaxation. It will be a long fight this time and won that we will undoubtedly win.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Improving our City :)

This is what I wrote to the council to help in their idea banking for our city :)

"We have such an amazing city and we need to make better use of it.

This is what I'd like to see by 2016:
- more events in Rotorua (moving from Auckland at the beginning of last year had been difficult because I miss the nightlife, the arts and culture... particularly the free events like Silo park)
- a stronger focus on entertaining and inspiring our youth - keep them off the streets, give them motivation and help them succeed - more youth concerts perhaps? Our school don't hold discos or socials and I know that if the kids had something like this more often it'd be great, motivational speakers, more careers expos, etc
- more variety at markets on the weekend - I miss the farmers markets in Auckland... particularly the different cheeses and breads on sale
- the night market is amazing just wish it wasn't always on Thursday nights because I have Rotaract meetings
- more connection with the local community - the council could be using social media more effectively (forgive me if you do and I just haven't liked your page yet!). I really like how the Police here use Facebook and it would be cool for you guys to teach the young generation (myself included!) what the council actually does and how we can be involved. I wouldn't have even known I could have a say on that parking review if Tania Tapsell hadn't shared it on her profile page.
- Would be good to see the empty shops used for something creative. Could the council buy some and donate time in the shops to local charities or non-profit organisations like Community Kai or Maori Women's Welfare League to continue doing their amazing work? 
- Free access to wifi in town. Maybe limited to half an hour or 50mb each? Would be crazy expensive but it would be good to see people go on a QR code scavenger hunt throughout the city - where they have to buy certain things and take pics and put them up on twitter or fb with a hashtag.. just something I'm planning for school but thought I'd share with you as well.
- music :)
- Local radio playing - local bands performing and local information playing for the community to hear
- more opportunities to voice our ideas like this!

By 2030 - there's a lot of things that could be done by then... the lake being clean to swim in and drink out of... a bustling metropolis with a whanau feel. Strong economy and strong people who aren't in poverty. Manaakitanga, whakawhanaungatanga and mana tangata."

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

The Pressure of Exams

I had an exam supervision this morning. After the first 15 minutes - three kids had put their heads to the desk, four looked at me at least once and two were sniffling/coughing. The rest were busy writing. Then a student walked in late. Another student came over with a colleague to complete an exam she missed last week.

One student had his head on the table the majority of the time.

My questions and wonderings during this exam supervision:
1) Why do students give up so easily?
2) What can we do to teach them how to deal with exams properly?
3) What do they feel so sleepy in the morning? (I do too so I get that one...)
4) What skills do students need to effectively share their knowledge in an exam setting?

There are two types of pressure when it comes to exams.

Pressure of Teachers
  • Marking load in finishing marking in time
  • Marking load of assessments to finish before the exams
  • Stressing out about students' revision plans
  • Completing everything that they need to do before the exams begin 
  • Preparing students in time for exams
  • Making sure that they have everything that the need before their exams
  • Making sure they have all of their assessments completed prior to going on study leave and if they haven't - then organising students to not have study leave so they can do assessments... or another time afterschool or at lunch to get it done
  • Making sure all of the marking is absolutely perfect so that students get feedback and feedforward
  • Being aware of student's individual learning needs and whether they need special asssessment conditions.

Pressure of Students
  • Dealing with revising at home in environments that may not be conducive
  • The short amount of time in which to sit all of their exams
  • Learning how to prioritise certain subjects according to their ability, awareness of the subject, importance of subject in their futute and also their overall interest in that subject
  • Learning how to manage time effectively and prioritise studying above everything else - particularly before exam time.
  • Knowing when their exams are
  • Making sure they turn up on time
  • Studying not using time to earn more money at work
  • Dealing with pressure from bosses to take extra hours over study break
  • Dealing with pressure from families to take up extra responsibilities during study and exam break
  • Being taken on holiday during exam breaks or during crucial learning time

Having a discussion in the staffroom with our Establishing Teachers :)

I asked them why students seem to mess up in their exams.. some of the things they said:
  • The world revolves around them
  • No motivation or goals set so they don't try for fear of failing or just don't see how the exams are relevant to their future
  • Kids freak out when it comes towards exams
    • It gets built up into something bigger than what it is
    • Seems like a major thing
    • internals you can ask for help
    • pressure of that subject
    • they don't like that subject
    • because of the importance of the exam - if it's not for uni or in life then they don't bother with it
  • They don't realise the importance - or they do and they just give up
  • They have a set idea of themselves (fixed mindset) and need to learn how to push themselves and keep trying (growth mindset).
So what can we as teachers do with them to make sure they have the best possible chance to succeed with their exams?

- Believe in your students
- Revise with them and co-construct revision timetable
- Teach them to be self-regulated learners so that they push themselves to succeed
- Realise that they need to motivate themselves and that all we can do is support them to do the best that they can
- Create resources that are reflective, engaging and relevant to improve their understanding. 
- Make sure we as teachers are making every learning opportunity throughout the year effective and worthwhile.
- Lastly, and yes it's repeated - believe in them. Because if they don't believe in themselves and even if they do - they have someone backing them to keep doing better and achieve to the best of their ability.

That's all from us right now. Love writing blog posts with my colleagues. Usually it's just me and my thoughts. Might need to.do this more often. :) Thanks guys!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Formative Assessment and Learning Intentions

Despite being quite a bit of a procrastinator... and that it's currently lunch time and I was going to use this time to print out bits and pieces for my Y10s on the Freedom Writers... I'll write up some quick questions for printing in a minute for their next session of their second viewing of the film...

Was sent this video by my current mentor Phil about formative assessment. We were asked to watch it in regards to our inquiry and what kind of links it makes. Am interested in your thoughts here as well - please comment about your understanding of formative assessment too.

I actually find the term formative assessment quite difficult to navigate - merely for the fact that it is so scientific. Despite knowing that pedagogy is the art and science of education - the terminology puts me off. Same with summative assessment. It took me a long time to get my head around it after training college and am still trying to find a better phrase that makes sense to me.

Formative assessment is any piece of work that has been assessed to see where the student is at - basically it's prior knowledge stuff - for the teacher to see what they know already - before they start a topic perhaps. That's how I see it anyway.

Summative assessment on the other hand is assessment that is done after the learning. It is where you give the most feedback and feedforward. I see summative assessment as the most helpful as with formative assessment it is ongoing so for me there is a lot more verbal and visual feedback and feedforward and some written feedback.

Please correct me if I'm wrong :)

In regards to the above video - I think that it's important to be aware that every student comes into the classroom with their own knowledge, their own experiences, their own mindsets and understandings. These of course will be different to everyone else and as such they need to be listened to equally and have the opportunity to share their personalised understandings individually and within a group setting as well.

I was just discussing with Feray, another establishing teacher at my kura, about the video Phil sent us and what formative and summative assessment meant for me. She agreed so I think I'm on the right track.

In regards to inquiry and learning intentions - Dylon Wiliam says that it's better to have a question on the board rather than a specific learning. This prompts the students to give their own ideas and perspectives straight away where as having a learning intention (often for me - long winded and needs explanation), takes extra time to write down and I suppose it's often meaningless busy work to start the day.

My best lessons are when we begin at one place with a question, discuss it as a class, develop our ideas, improve and debate our thinking - because that's when true learning is happening. Everyone is giving their ideas and everyone is sharing. That's assuming that you are making sure your introverted and quiet students have an opportunity to speak or share as well.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Searching for Inspiration - Quotes and Thoughts

When I was growing up I would have books upon books filled up with quotes that were relevant to me at the time... even if it was merely, "Got Milk?"

I just found this quote below and thought I should continue developing my collection of quotes. If you have any suggestions - let me know in the comments below.

My aim is to agitate and disturb people. I’m not selling bread, I’m selling yeast.
-Miguel de Unamuno, writer and philosopher (1864-1936)

"Leaders create Leaders." - said to me by Steve Mouldey at the #edchatnz Conference earlier this year in 2014. Originally from Mark Osborne I believe :)

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Coursera - Professional Development Learning Online

Just wanted to write a quick post about the course I've just signed up to on Coursera.

Digital Storytelling for Education.

Link here for the course: https://www.coursera.org/course/digitalstorytelling

And the original site here: http://digitalstorytelling.coe.uh.edu

Am planning on using this to teach Pecha Kucha better next year as well as teaching myself how to flip my classroom more effectively than just lecturing.

I love the format of Coursera. Love that I can learn in my own time, at my own pace and that more importantly I can do it wherever. Right now I'm keeping warm in bed haha.

More info from the course:

Course Syllabus
"Over the course of five weeks, we will cover the following topics:

Week 1: Choosing a topic and purpose
Week 1 introduces you to the basics of digital storytelling. You will learn to identify the fundamental elements of a good digital story and review examples used by educators across a varied curriculum. By the end of week 1, you will be able to choose a topic and define the purpose of the story you want to create for your classroom.

Week 2: Writing an effective script and creating a storyboard
Week 2 will focus on scriptwriting as you learn the steps in developing and writing a script for a digital story. You will explore the basic elements of a script, such as introduction, character development, tension and resolution that are necessary in developing a useful script. By the end of this week, you will begin to understand the important steps and elements of scriptwriting. You will also learn to recognize the importance of selecting appropriate images and the value of creating a storyboard.

During Week 2, you will also explore several useful ways to choose images for your digital story, including taking your own photos with a digital camera, using software applications to create charts, graphs and other images, and finding and downloading images from the web based on size, quality, type and usage rights. A step-by-step approach will be used to illustrate how these images will be used to support your script as a part of creating a digital story. By the end of this week you will be able to envision your story's script in a visually interesting and useful storyboard.

Week 3: Recording audio narration
In week 3, you will learn to record audio narration using digital devices so that your voice can be added to the digital story you will create. You will gain hands-on experience using some of the most common features of audio recording software to create high quality audio narration. In addition, you will explore ways to improve your audio recording with basic editing tools. You will also learn how to find and download appropriate music for your digital story that is in the public domain or is free of copyright restrictions.

Week 4: Using technology to build a digital story
In week 4, you will learn to use WeVideo, a free online video editing application to assemble all of the elements (text, images, narration, music) to create the full  version of your digital story. In addition, you will learn to use basic editing techniques to improve your digital story so that all of the components of your story fit together and look and sound good.

Week 5: Revising, publishing and sharing the final digital story for use in the classroom
In week 5, you will revise the final version of your digital story, publish it online and discuss how it might be used in the classroom to support teaching and learning. You will also have an opportunity to reflect on the digital storytelling process and discuss the challenges you faced, how you dealt with these challenges, the most significant things you learned during the course and how you think you might use digital storytelling in your classroom."

Am halfway through the first week. I just need to think of my first project. Ideas?

Friday, 12 September 2014

Reflective Teacher - Days 7-12

I am terrible at keeping up with this...

September 7 –Who was or is your most inspirational colleague and why?
Easily H. He made me feel like I could do anything. P does that too. Both of these mentors made me feel like I could be a good teacher. They always gave fabulous advice. So did V, J, A and a heap of my old colleagues from my last school. J and G always give me fabulous advice and enable me to laugh at myself which has always been the way for my friends to pop my ego since I was a teenager. These gentlemen might not see my arrogance but they know how to deal with it properly which is good. And even if they might come across as sexist sometimes.. hahah Just kidding! :P They're awesome. A five minute discussion with any one of these people reminds me that I can achieve anything and they remind me that I can't have control over everything..

September 8- What’s in your desk drawer and what can you infer from those contents?
A mess of paper and broken stationary. I need to clean my drawers again. Although the bottom contents are still tidy from when one of my students tidied it up for me :) So that's good! A solid foundation and messy perspective at the top.. Although I can still find what I need... so messy organisation?

September 9- Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about.
The two students who I am currently doing an inquiry into - have been working crazy hard this term. They are working for themselves now I think... not just for me :) Seriously the coolest thing.

September 10- Share 5 random facts about yourself, 4 things from your bucket list, 3 things you hope for this year as an educator, 2 things that made you laugh or cry as an educator, 1 think you wish more people knew about you.

Five random facts...
1) I sometimes snort when I laugh..
2) I actually like my curly hair despite how much I moan about how much it takes to look after it
3) I used to push start my Mum's mini when I was growing up..
4) I recently made accidental fudge and everyone who tasted it said it was delicious :)
5) I have to be in the right mood to clean, mark and dance.

Four things from my Bucket List...
1) Eat a pain au chocolat under the Eiffel Tower
2) Visit my whanau in Jersey and Guernsey
3) Save enough money to buy a house by myself with no-ones help (other than the bank..)
4) Become a tour guide..

September 11- What is your favorite part of the school day and why?
When my students FINALLY get what I've been trying to teach them for the hour. When I see those lightbulb moments in their eyes and in their behaviour.. when I see they have confidence in their abilities :) Because that's what I live for as a teacher :)

September 12-How do you envision your teaching changing in 5 years?
Becoming more confident and believing in myself to accomplish whatever I set my mind on doing. Continuing to be agentic and making sure that I don't ever fall into the trap of becoming a deficit theoriser. Continuing to help agitate change and be a changemaker for positive results for our students.

Ambition and Succession - A discussion on Processes, Reflections on the way I learn and the importance of goal setting..

This has been circulating my head for a wee while now... and I think I have some solid thoughts and questions to discuss...

I have always been a goal setter. Each year I would set new goals for myself and feel really accomplished when I'd succeeded. The times in my life that were the most traumatic and heart-wrenching usually occurred because I couldn't see any way out of the situation as I didn't have goals set out.. I was trying to let my heart lead me and my heart can be a stupid thing. My brain gets clouded too of course, but the majority of the time it is my heart's fault.. says the brain..


What I'm getting at is that when I set goals I have direction in my life and I know where I'm headed and what I want to achieve. This is important for me because if I don't have anything to work towards, then I am coasting and I am not getting the best out of myself. I am not pushing myself when I have no goals and I certainly don't enjoy my job or life when I don't have goals.

Recently - I've had the feeling like I've been coasting.

I could do way better than what I'm doing.

Sometimes I get used to the everyday cycle - which is the same kind of thing - get up tired, go to school... teach... mark.. go home.... be annoyed by the puppy.. try to engage her and teach her better manners when I'm not so tired.. try to pay attention to the cat.. get too tired to cook properly.. watch tv or be on social media too long.. go to bed... repeat cycle...

This is problematic because I try to be as inspirational as possible in class, and I usually get a lot out of my students - particularly my Y9's and 10's at the moment who are grasping content and wider context analyses in so much depth that it reminds me that I am doing something right..

But at the end of the day - I need inspiration and goals to continue being the person I want to be.

I am and always have been about processes and strategies - I've been thinking about this more and more often lately. When I don't have procedures to follow - with clear guidelines, deadlines and expectations, I fall flat and don't do anything properly... because I coast.

I could be doing everything way better.

I thought about the differences between how I did things at my last school compared with my current school - particularly in regards to marking and moderation. I still try to get second opinions and make sure I'm marking properly - one day I hope that I will just KNOW that I'm marking properly... and looking at the marking schedule is all well and good but sometimes you really do need that second (or third or fourth) opinion to make sure you are on track.

However, the processes we use at my current school frustrate me because I was taught a different way - a way that worked for me, and it has been hard to break from it to do it the way we do it at my current kura. The problem is that I need to be marking with people, to quickly gauge where I'm at with my marking and we don't do that very often unless we seek out people who would like to mark together.

At my last kura we would spend hours after school during moderation together in massive marking panels and then discuss our marks afterwards. From this I learnt how to mark properly as the assistant HOD sat with me as a newbie teacher and worked through each piece and we debated our marks to decide on whether it fit the standard correctly and on which level we would place it. We would pass entire classes worth of writing to another teacher and so that meant that all of our work needed to be in on time. We had more access to computers to publish work - although at the time it didn't feel like it. However we were all booked into the computer suite at differing times for a week or so at end in order to complete pieces of work. This was effective.

It would be just as effective using Google Drive and Google Docs and Classroom to be able to do this. And thereby not have to use so much paper... we could do all the marking through docs, have each piece as a new version - so you could see the changes - and then the final copy could be dropped into Classroom with a clear deadline. It would ensure all pieces were done on time as well.

There is a bit of a problem with equity and access at home - also issues with authenticity if doing work at home - however - I think there have been discussions on the TKI English Forum about this. I just need to research this some more to understand how to deal with this more appropriately. At present I can see when students do work - and it's usually during class time... with the exception when I'm checking over a piece at home and they're reading my comments and we're conferencing their work online.

Still side-tracked...

Goal setting is important for me - because I have clear guidelines, deadlines and a wero that I have set myself to achieve. In a lot of cases these goals tend to be my own but they seem to be crossing over more often into the goals I set for my students.

I've been thinking about life after teaching recently as well. What do I want to do for my life? I am only 26. I have a lifetime (I hope) in front of me and I think it's important to future-plan... if a little bit. I used to try to plan every damn thing out but have learnt to leave a little up to that beautiful woman we call Fate.

Goal Setting

For the rest of 2014:

  • go to ULearn and PPTA Annual conference and get better at networking
  • Meet my favourite Twitter mates at ULearn!
  • Have a break.. somehow.. 
  • Reports... gah
  • Marking... gah.... 
  • Planning for next year :)
  • Cramming for my students and creating more notes and specific evidence
  • Finish up assessments and load all the credits up...
  • Finish marking these exams
  • Keep blogging
  • Keep up with #EngChatNZ
  • Be open to new opportunities...
  • Don't be scared to try new things... and new opportunities... #GrowthMindset
  • Create more goals... :)

For next year:

  • To teach history and social studies, as well as English
  • Get more involved within the PPTA
  • Get more involved within Rotaract.. possibly become president..
  • Get more involved within the school management - help somehow, somewhere...
  • Learn more about LWDT skills - develop my own... be a leader somehow..
  • Allow myself to make changes to my own practice and continue becoming an awesome teacher..
  • Develop my awareness of what leadership means and how I can become an even better one... 

For the next five years:

  • travel
  • buy my first home
  • become a mentor to a pre-service teacher
  • create more goals..

In ten years time... I hope to have:

  • Travelled extensively
  • bought a home (with a study to hide away from the dog and possible children...)
  • more confidence in myself as a teacher, as a person, as a daughter, aunty, cousin and sister...
  • a stronger awareness of my own presence - and how to use it effectively...
  • a solid ability to speak my mind and not fear the repurcussions
  • a strong opinion of my ability, intelligence and self confidence holistically
  • finished my Honours.. jeez. Only my dissertation to go... Gah. 
  • Completed a Masters...in education and History..
  • moved schools a couple of times to keep myself fresh and used to change
  • create more goals...

When it all comes down to it... it's the same old imposter thinking... when will enough be enough?

So many of you believe in me. My students believe in me. To an extent I believe in me. I can be pretty arrogant and think that I know everything which I don't... but I do know certain things, and I know that regardless of all of that I'm still learning. I want to be a better teacher, a better leader, to inspire others and myself to keep succeeding and reaching the heights consistently and achieving more than I could ever have possibly have thought was possible..

I allow my victimised personality and sceptical paranoia to take hold too often.. and perhaps my ego allows my thinking that people are talking negatively about me all the time.. but maybe they are? I do my best. But I know that I'm coasting and that I can do even better. I just need to set my sights high and go hard. Or go home :)

Stream of consciousness...

Which maybe is where I may end up... though I don't really want to go back to Morrinsville.. though I've been pretty impressed with the amazing things that Morrcoll have been doing recently. Some fabulous changes are in store. I just have to keep my options open and let the doors keep opening.

This yes year has really been paying off. Try it. :)

Stalin really did have a good idea with his five year plans... shame he had to use them to commit mass genocide, poverty, inequality of wealth distribution...

I miss teaching History :(

This book 'Work Smarter Not Harder' was bought at the start of the year when the old bookshop was closing down... and it has been my mantra this year... except that I never got around to reading it... and am only now starting to implement some of it's ideals and thinking...

Law of attraction... what you put out will come back. This year I've been putting out lots of positive energy and been getting a lot back. I've screwed up a few times but ultimately tried to make up for those times when I messed up. Am pretty sure I found SB's piece of writing today in the folder I created at the start of the year... having looked EVERYWHERE and feeling incredibly guilty for having lost it... but it was there the whole time...

Mia is obsessed with the smell and scraps of chocolate. I bought her those dog choc drops... which are working.. but she's such a damn tutu... gah.

Night! Off to watch 'Lucy' with my Rotaract mates :)

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Reflective Teaching - Days 4-6

September 4- The thing that you love the most about teaching.

I love that I can enable students to begin to change their opinions of themselves, and allow them to see a beautiful future ahead of them.

September 5- Post a picture of your classroom. What do you see? What is one thing that you don't see but would like to?

A blank Yellow wall. A new space for my students in my house tutor group class - KAL. For all of Kowhai house students to be proud of. Me and H put up a length of yellow fabric on the wall on Thursday. It beckons. I will be printing off photos of my HTG and other pics that show success :) Of course with the subliminal reminder that Kowhai=Success! ;)

September 6- What does a good mentor "do"?

Awhi's you. Makes sure you feel confident in teaching, asssessing and has those difficult conversations before they become an issue. Being aware of the dreams and aspirations you have so that you can achieve them by showing you possible routes in getting there. Challenging you to do better, but scaffolds that challenge until they can take away the step ladder.

Helps you to identify key areas to work on and has an open discussion forum where you can continue to improve your practice as an educator.

Enables you to feel part of something bigger and lets you in on their visions too so you can see where we're going as a collective.

Some Takeaways for my Students...

We talk about the takeaways we have when we go to conferences and professional learning - and was just thinking about the kinds of takeaways I hope that my students take away from my class and being one of my students.

1. The Ability to be honest, feel listened to and appreciated
2. The sense of appreciation of self that they can achieve anything if they set their mind to it
3. The appreciation of others having differing perspectives than themselves
4. The awareness that there are more positive alternatives in solving an argument
5. Becoming used to environments changing around you
6. Accepting change in all of it's many faces
7. Ackowledging verbal feedback and feedforward as just as important as written feedback and feedforward
8. The awareness and understanding that a simple grade is not what makes them who they are
9. Having patience - and the resilience to deal with other personalities in the classroom
10. Having the strength to recognise a difficult situation for what it is and contemplating the different ways to go around it in order to gain the best results and outcome
11. Having trust and reliance in others to know they'll stand by you and awhi you when you need it
12. Being secure in the knowledge that you have learnt and being comfortable in getting more guidance to continue being a life-long learner
13. The importance of asking for help when you need it
14. Recognising your own limits and what is acceptable and not acceptable for you to discuss, deal with or be around
15. Recognising that your values change as you grow as a person, and realising that others may not change as fast as you or at all
16. Accepting that others do not change their opinions even when you try explaining to them your point of view
17. Acknowledging our own faults and working around them to continue to strive for our very best
18. Recognising other peoples ignorance and arrogance and knowing how to deal with it in a more relaxed manner
19. Feeling free to laugh however you want without feeling you are being laughed at.. and if you are being laughed at - taking it as them laughing with you because laughter is contagious and it is beautiful and you choose your own attitude
20. Feeling safe to explore all of these opportunities and more.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Power of the PLN and CrowdFunding

Listening to Amanda Palmer and Justine Driver made me believe that Crowd Funding really was possible. I never believed it could happen. I put it out there... hopeful that it might. Kind of bracing myself for the eventual probability that I wouldn't be able to go to ULearn. Then I woke up this morning to a handful of tweets sharing my Pledge Me account once more, and again some more pledges... I seriously cannot believe that you all believe in me this much. 

This morning before I left for school the pledges sat at $680. I was incredibly stoked. Proud of myself for asking for help - but more so proud of my amazing PLN. It is absolutely crazy that something like this could happen. 

Nathaniel Louwrens was tweeting with me this morning about there only being $70 to go to reach the target. As I walked out the door I was filled with a huge sense of pride and honour. Completely humble and appreciative that my PLN would do this for me. 

This connectivity has the power to enhance and multiply any professional development I could ever go to because the simple fact that you believe in me and my vision is more than enough - wow. Seriously. Thank you. 

There will never be enough ways to say thank you. Ever. Because partly I am in shock right now.. I am also completely stunned that there are people out there who would be willing to help some young teacher in some part of the country to get to a professional development conference.

In sharing my PledgeMe with a Deputy Principal I was just trying to share my pride and excitement that I was that close... $680! I searched my PledgeMe account again to show her - and moved the page to the pledges... wow. You guys hit the target... and then some. 

It's now sitting at $770. The target was $750. 

I am in disbelief that the target has been reached. With ten days to go. 

I keep staring at the page. No need to refresh it any more. But I do so anyway. Because I still can't believe it.

There truly is power in a strong professional learning network. 

Thank you all SO much. 

Crowd Funding works. 

Nga mihi nunui ki a koutou katoa. 

Ehara taku toa, he takitahi, he toa takitini
My success should not be bestowed onto me alone, 
as it was not individual success but success of a collective

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Reflective Teaching - Days 1-3

Because I am always about pressuring myself in getting things done - and am usually an early adopter, but take a while to get started because I am the biggest procrastinator out... here are days 1-3 of this Blogging Challenge!

September 1- Write your goals for the school year.
Since the year has already started - in fact more closer to the end now (I see the light at the end of the tunnel.. distant as it is...) - I will instead write the goals for the rest of the year.

1. Organise paperwork. (No small feat...)
2. Re-hash old kura's moderation sheets
3. Ensure my students are ready for their upcoming prelims and end of year exams.
4. Make myself available as often as possible for tutorials at lunch and afterschool.
5. Sort out admin stuff (notes and PB4L stuff) - more paperwork to file!! After actioning of course! :)
6. Create a to-do list for next year.
7. Revise vision board.
8. Implement Maurie's ideas and thoughts from our TOD with other like-minded teachers.
9. Encourage more teachers to use Twitter.
10. Get some time for myself. And enjoy it. Get a life. Perhaps one outside of school and Rotaract and other service committees.

September 2- Write about 1 piece of technology that you would like to try to incorporate this year into your curriculum.

One piece of tech I would like to use... there are a few. I've talked a lot about G DRIVE... but I'd like to use Classroom. Just need to get students their own school emails and then that's all go.

Another tech I would like to use is Socrative. But need BYOD for that.

September 3- Mention 1 "observation" area that you would like to improve on for your teacher evaluation.

Making my learning intentions more visual. I can verbalise what I want but it needs to be more visual. Maybe go back to using TRUMP? Or create better visual aids to remember to do so each time.

Also -I want to know the curriculum and my learning area inside and out and figure out how to teach within it effectively for the best possible results with my students.

Reflective Teacher Month - 30 Day Blogging Challenge - TeachThought

Have decided to have a go with the 30Day Challenge for Reflective Teacher Month. The wero was put out by Teach Thought. I rate them pretty highly so will take it up and see where it takes me - hopefully ki te maunga teitei.

Here is the website for more info: http://teachthoughtonlinecommunity.wikispaces.com/BLOGGING+CHALLENGE+-+SEPTEMBER+30.+REFLECTIVE+TEACHER+MONTH

These are the prompts:

September 1- Write your goals for the school year.
September 2- Write about 1 piece of technology that you would like to try to incorporate this year into your curriculum.
September 3- Mention 1 "observation" area that you would like to improve on for your teacher evaluation.
September 4- The thing that you love the most about teaching.
September 5- Post a picture of your classroom. What do you see? What is one thing that you don't see but would like to?
September 6- What does a good mentor "do"?
September 7 –Who was or is your most inspirational colleague and why?
September 8- What’s in your desk drawer and what can you infer from those contents?
September 9- Write about one of your biggest accomplishments in your teaching that no one knows about.
September 10- Share 5 random facts about yourself, 4 things from your bucket list, 3 things you hope for this year as an educator, 2 things that made you laugh or cry as an educator, 1 think you wish more people knew about you.
September 11- What is your favorite part of the school day and why?
September 12-How do you envision your teaching changing in 5 years?
September 13- Name the top tech tools that you use on a consistent basis in the classroom and rank them in order of their effectiveness, in your opinion.
September 14- What is feedback for learning and how well do you give is as an educator?
September 15- Name 5 strengths you have as an educator.

You are halfway there. Keep it up!

September 16- If you had 1 superpower to use in the classroom, what would it be and how would it help?
September 17- What do you think is the most challenging issue in education today?
September 18- Create an analogy/simile/metaphor that describes your teaching.
September 19- Name 3 powerful ways that students can reflect on their learning. Discuss the one you use the most
September 20- How do you or your students curate student work?
September 21- Do you have other hobbies/nterests that you bring into your classroom teaching? Explain.
September 22- What does your PLN look like? What does it do for you teaching?
September 23- Write about 1 way that you "meaningfully" involve the community in your classroom. If not, write about 1 way you would like to bring that into your curriculum.
September 24- What learning trend captures your attention the most and why?
September 25- The ideal collaboration between students- what would it look like?
September 26- What are your 3 favorite go-to site for help/tips/resources in your teaching?
September 27- What role do holidays and weekends play in your teaching?
September 28- Your thoughts: Should Technology drive the curriculum or vice versa?
September 29- How have you changed as an educator?
September 30- What would you do as an educator if you weren't afraid?

You have finished the Teach Thought Reflective Teacher blogging challenge!

Monday, 1 September 2014

Freedom and Writers

Last week I had my students discuss what freedom meant to them. What it felt like not having freedom and countries where there isn't any freedom for their people.

As they've been studying human rights, corruption and segregation etc in social studies at the moment - teaching 'The Freedom Writers' was the perfect film.

I'd originally planned on teaching it but had a chat with a couple of my colleagues in the social sciences and found out what they'd been studying - which luckily and fortunately worked within what we've been doing in class.

Started watching it today...

Began with a recap of last weeks freedom lesson and discussed the theme - tried getting them to guess what it was. Only one student had figured it out since the beginning of the term when I first started giving out clues. And I kept looking at her to make sure she wasn't giving anything away. One student guessed correctly but I didn't say anything until after we'd started.

Once we'd started, they were all hooked. The film connects so easily. The point is made relatively quickly in the first half an hour and sets up the rest of the story too.

Our class has gotten really good at predicting what will happen next in the stories they read. They began making predictions without any prodding today which was awesome.

Started crying when Eva was talking about hating on sight. And when Erin Gruwell mentioned the holocaust and the biggest gang in history.

When it got to the Line Game I remembered doing it with my students at Massey. They needed it, like Erin's students. The students I have now are alot more supportive, collaborative of each other. I was thinking about not doing the line game with them - purely for that reason. But one student asked for it today - so we'll have a go with it tomorrow to start our lesson.

Am looking forward to my students' responses with this film. They're getting it already. They're an incredibly well-grounded group of kids and the depth that they will be able to connect with the characters, themes and events will be awesome. Hopefully it will be enough inspiration to begin their speeches. :)

At the start of the year I bought this class 1B5's for journals. Am pretty sure they've been used up now - but will grab another set this week. Important for them to be writing as they're watching the film. Will see whether they're able to make those deeper links in their responses while they're relating and connecting with the film through their journals.

Update: (6th Sept)
Did the Line Game yesterday. They loved it. I need to find more resources now. On the hunt.

#AussieED - Be More Dog - Professional Networking

The Be More Dog video is here: http://youtu.be/iMzgl0nFj3s

Appraisal Connector: Interlead

Here is my appraisal report for this term.

This turned into a mini-inquiry ... here is the process to get to embedding a pdf on Blogger. There probably was an easier way - but this works. :)

 .... Still trying to figure out how to upload it as a PDF. Gah. Should just upload it to GDrive and then have it as a link...

Went to Youtube - watched two videos - one to do it through docstoc and another through Scribd.

Here is the video -

Went to Scribd.com and created a free account to put this on here. Will be good in the future to do this with other links and docs.

#EducampTheTron - 31st August 2014

It was such an awesome day - here is the Storify :)

More of an update to come.