Tuesday, 31 March 2015
With the poetry challenge coming to a close tomorrow I figure it's about time to reflect on the assessment and the learning.
Being about the fourth time I've taught the poetry unit - it's gotten to a point where I've gottem more flexible in which poems I share with my students.
I don't go through every structure any more either - I allow my students to explore and find structures that fit with them.
Poem selection is always difficult with a new group of kids because you're still getting to know them but it's a good difficult because once you've made that connection through poetry and see how they tick - everything else just falls into place.
Now before I carry on any further I just have to say how incredibly impressed I am with one of my students. Going into this challenge he was stand-offish and didn't think he could do it. Without teaching him Mindsets - he adopted a growth mindset, read tonnes and tonnes of poetry - particularly Wordsworth, Coleridge, Tuwhare and Yeats and his poetry lives and breathes in those men's style. My student is seriously one to look out for.
He made me cry yesterday because he was just so incredibly awesome. Actually awe some.
Add tweet here.
After finishing his selection with days to spare he sat across from me and talked about how he'd been inspired by those poets and how it wasn't that big a deal because it was just the way he thought - things he thought about alot - like hunting and fishing. He spouted off new lines to another student in offers of help and showed just how much he has seriously learnt. The student getting the help was just as gobsmacked as I was.
I really cannot wait to see what my Little Bard does next. He's already so excited about our next Creativd Writing assessment. So so so so cool.
Thursday, 26 March 2015
Moderated my first #dojochatANZ chat on Maximizing Student Engagement. Was a pretty cool session with some incredibly inspiring teachers.
So so stoked that Jenna offered this opportunity to me. Loving it. :)
Knackered now though after the chat and our Rotaract event too where we fundraised for Love Soup Rotorua and the homeless (aka 'Streeties') in our community. Loads of aroha and time for our people.
Stoked. Thanks to everyone who came along to both events today. You guys seriously sustain me :)
When it all comes down to it - it's about you and your teaching practice. Your individual teaching style is connected so much with your personality and as such - if you have a personality that is hard working, determined to succeed, works on weaknesses to build them into strengths, you're more likely to have a growth mindset. If you have a personality that puts things in the 'too hard' basket and give up easily when a challenge faces you or if you feel threatened by others and the inadequacies you believe you have - you're more likely to have a fixed mindset.
I think the important thing really is acknowledging that at differing times and moments of our lives we can be fixed or growth depending on our emotional state and wellbeing.
I choose to have a growth mindset because I've grown up having a fixed mindset and know that nothing good comes from it. Always feeling not good enough or that you need to work harder and just know you'll never achieve to where you want to be. It's a sad and lonely place that - so I choose growth mindset. Because with a growth mindset I can accomplish amazing feats. I can tick item after item off of my bucket list and I can become the best possible version of myself.
A fixed mindset thought bubbled inside me today when despairing about the fact that one of Y12 classes just do not discuss as a class. I find a class that doesn't talk and learn with discussion disconcerting and I felt flustered. Because for the life of me at that moment I couldn't see what else I could actually do. We don't have ready access to the COWs anymore. I use them a lot still though... but even then - it's not the same because the amount of set up time and developing skills takes ages. So using backchannels like TodaysMeet.com or Exit ticket or Kahoot are impossible because we need access.
So... once I had a little rant to myself and a bit of a breather - I let them continue with their analysis and instead worked with groups. I found that they are more likely to talk in their small groups and ask questions in front of their immediate peers rather than in front of the whole class.
While this group comfort is a good thing and will be my new strategy in the meantime - building them up to be able to work effectively in a class discussion is of utmost importance. We need to find common ground - not the easiest thing to do with two assessments in the first tern.
On top of this of course is figuring out how to change their mindsets also.
Because at the end of the day - I can be on my own buzz but my students may not be anywhere where I want them to be. I have to remember thst we're catering for our ss' needs and wants rather than my own... even though we could do so much if mine were catered for!! Classroom, ability to do Pinkies on my phone, etc
Tuesday, 24 March 2015
Saturday, 21 March 2015
I gave myself most of Term One for teaching the Holocaust. However... I've spent all of this term doing it.
I need to remind myself I'm still learning how to teach from a social studies mindset (again). And I'm incredibly blessed and lucky that I'm able to. I've missed it so so much. I like the balance of four English classes and my one Social Studies class. I need to be better though - so this is the aim of this particular post.
My original breakdown for the term:
Weeks for Holocaust Unit: 6
My current breakdown:
Weeks for Holocaust Unit: 9
Knowledge creation through listening, thinking abd visual skills
Visual skills - analysis of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, analysis of Schindlers List, analysis of maps and Holocaust videos
Listening Skills - dictation skills, developing discussion skills and the importance of respecting other peoples opinions and thoughts
Thinking Skills - use of SOLO hexagons and the process to move forward, how it affects others and themselves and the world around them
Research Basics - searching, referencing, keywords, focus questions, changing focus questions, analysis of research
Essay writing basics - how to write effective social studies essays
When I look at all of these skills - and the knowledge that they have probably learnt more than I give myself credit for... it makes me happy.
Rise of Hitler
Systemic and bureaucratic extermination
Use of Quizlet for concept analysis and development, use of society experiment and accountability
At the end of the day there is just so so much to discuss about the Holocaust.
The next time I'd teach it - I'd be more focussed around certain elements - and I wouldn't let the research drag on so long. Though really - a thirty minute session (when you factor in setup, logging on/off, tech problems, troubleshooting, questions and plenary times) is not enough each day to truly do effective research. In essence though - I can't let myself get pulled into the 'everything must be assessed' thinking because then the research won't be as effective. Sure their essay can be assessed - but when it comes down to it - it's more about the process of what they've learnt that's more important.
So... that's what I've been thinking about. Need to get back into social sciences essay styles too. Maybe if I wrote an essay on some of the things that I've learnt maybe then I can show my students and see if they see how it's structured.... and co-construct assesment guidelines as to what a good social science essay should look like. Except for the fact that I haven't done real research in years... hours and days and weeks of researching for a 500 word essay. Because it's always been about the learning and the process for me - rather than the actual assessment. :)
Yesterday I opened the session for the first time. Was pretty cool actually.
It was even cooler to see real collaboration happening in real time. People were sharing, learning and teaching each other skills and concepts within areas they wanted to focus on.
For me, I helped Vicki Needham start up her blog: vickisteachingreflections.blogspot.co.nz and helped to redesign, change the layout, add widgets etc.
I think the best thing about last night's session is that we were able to have a play and have some time to ourselves to try new things, create and collaborate - which we don't often have the time to do.
I added and continued to update my Badges page on my digital portfolio. There is just so much more to do with both it and my class page that I actually have accepted the fact that it is constantly going to be a working document. It can't be completely finished or perfect because then it wouldn't show my learning and understanding as time progresses. Sure it will become better as time goes on - but there will just always be something else to add. Eventually my portfolio will have a huge selection of my years and years of teaching practice on it.
What I'd like to do is spend time adding RTCs to my blog as tags and as a page with links to my blog posts on my portfolio site.
What I actually need to do this weekend is different - watch my mate and our Heights students participate in the Longest Day where they essentially have their longest day and pull a fire engine down the length of Fenton street. I also would like to spend some time at school marking and finalising changes and adaptations to my classroom and making more resources and stapling short stories etc. I'd also like to go back to Morrinville and spend some time with my nan too - looking at the range of possible housing choices in Rotorua for her.
Am so happy we had such a good session last night. I wonder though whether we can begin learning new things ourselves too rather than being the teachers and supporters to everyone else. I think the discussion we had last night around the need to bring everyone up to where we are and move together is important. However, doing those side courses on GAFE has been helping hone my understanding. Perhaps my next step is to push myself into doing GTA (Google Teacher Academy)... I need a serious amount of time to get to where I want to be with my digital skillset.
I need to carve some more time out... somewhere.
Maybe if we had a day doing it rather than a few hours it would be less stressed and more focussed? Though I'd probably end up procrastinating anyway.... like right now when I could be doing that stuff!
Keeping my blog up to date is important... but I wonder where all these site hits are coming from... 200 yesterday? Where from? And at what posts? Blogger analytics aren't specific enough to show the details for what I think I want to see and analyse. Maybe it's just not important? Maybe the writing is.
Anyway - thanks again to everyone who came last night and hope you all come again with more people too :) Spread the word!! :) #ConnectedRotorua
Ngā mihi mahana ki a koutou katoa
Thursday, 19 March 2015
Just learnt how to create a drop-down menu on my Digital Portfolio website. Stoked.
Website here: https://sites.google.com/site/alexrlelong
Though really I should have a way to link back to it on my blog...
Wednesday, 18 March 2015
One of my students asked me the other day who I blog to. Pretty good question from a Year 10 student actually about who my audience is.
I showed him my stats on blogger as well as my most read posts and the map which shows the areas my readers are in.
The only real response I had to him was, "Well, the world..."
In essence that's all I really know because - 14,000 hits on my blog can't be just from click farms or from bots... right?
So - if you read, have read or will read this - please comment below!
Have tried this before but didn't get much of a response.
We've talked about the need to comment more regularly - on our blogs not just on our Twitter accounts or Google Plus - because it's good to engage and relate to each others' blog posts.
Anyway - hope you write something! :)
Monday, 16 March 2015
- Still stuck on 1970s style of road safety
- Only way you achieve adulthood is getting their drivers license. Perception around the car as bbeing the thing that marks you as an adult.
- Parent as the taxi. Push to get them to get their licences – inadvertently push them there.
- Drivers test should be cheaper –
- School rules –
- Change the continuum labels to – “My rights” vs “Responsibility to others”
- All of our students will be bringing their own mental models. They will have very personal experiences.
- If the students bring with them quite self centered starting points – our challenge is to challenge them to push towards the responsibilities to society aspect – moving towards front section of the curriculum – Principles.
Moving away from crash and death to empowering people
Transmission, skills-based teaching
Actively contributing to a safe network
Shock factor, fear and nothing really changes. Lots of schools are still in this area
Chalk and talk, strategies and skills learnt
Talking about the issue and actively becoming involved in changing the situation
- Culture - local
- help schools navigate conflicting influences?
- help senior leaders of school understand value of linking curriculum?
- help encourage cross-curricular links (MLE, BYOD)
- make the NZTA work visible
- co-ordinate the different levels and subject areas? Juniors particularly - not limited by assessment.
- target teacher trainees?
- involve student voice?
- grow community passion and local schools in the area?
Here are a a few videos from the NZTA Ref Day
- Year 10 English - Currently working on their Poetry Wero (challenge). They have to find five poems and use MAPIT to analyse them. Then they also need to write five of their own poems - no analysis needed. Hopefully they will choose the right medium to do their selection. Some have chosen Minecraft, PPT, booklets etc
- Year 10 Social Studies - Been working on the Holocaust this term. I think our focus will turn into Human Rights throughout the year actually because the other topics and units will merge into the same kind of perspective... human rights and sustainability... human rights and migration... human rights and etc :) They're currently working on their individual inquiries. They did a pretty cool big brainstorming session last week. Hopefully they appreciate seeing their work on the wall today. Need to also talk about my SOLO work with them too...
- Year 11 English - Finished their drafts of Creative Writing - Now and Then... and now reading their selected novels. We're doing literature circles. Need to figure out how to make this manageable and also worth mine and their time. Worksheets are all well and good but I feel I will end up flipping my class sooner than later as I need to talk individually to the students and having re-watchable videos will hopefully help.
- Year 12 English (Pink) - Have finished their EAP assessment on hunting and are working on their Party in the Car assessment at the moment. I gave them their choice of novel last Friday too - All John Green novels - 'Papertowns', 'Fault in our Stars' and 'Looking for Alaska'. Same thing - lit circles and also needed a range as we originally had a class of 39/40+ but since class has been split... best to still give range as students have read the novels or watched the Fault in Our Stars film... Have really enjoyed seeing their analysis begin to come together. Though I think we did the Party in the Car assessment better last year - mainly because we'd done it after our Film analysis so there wasn't a need to do so much scaffolding to be able to do the assessment. Also - there is a range of abilities within the class in regards to the film techniques and analysis. And... the lack of curtains and reliable projector has made the teacher scaffolding and analysis side more difficult. I've tended to work individually with each group and help analyse by picking out a couple of things as they've been choosing their videos and discuss certain techniques in relation to impact on audience.
- Year 12 English (Yellow) - This class has also finished their EAP's.. though they may need to fully complete/fix up a few more bits and pieces within their assessment. There is also a range of Year 13 students in this class who are fixing up their literacy requirements from last year. Differentiated learning is basically the only way I teach this class. We are currently working on the two short stories - 'His First Ball' by Witi Ihimaera and 'Her First Ball' by Katherine Mansfield.
- I've also got to catch up on posts on getting #EngChatNZ back up and running, my latest PLD session with NZTA which I'm travelling via airplane through Cyclone Pam today to Wellington... and also on my plans with Class Dojo this year and #DojoChatANZ, and the journey we're currently having at Heights with GAFE and the PLD I've been doing to upskill to help my school move forward.
Saturday, 14 March 2015
This week has been undeniably difficult. I didn't want to write this post. At all. Mainly because writing it would make it all the more true and I'd actually have to deal with what's happened.
Yesterday our school was truly in a state of mourning.
On Wednesday we were told that one of my ex House Tutor Group students' father had passed away. He was an old boy of our school himself and well known in our community.
On Thursday morning we were told about our colleague Louise Jull who went missing the night before on the Kaituna River. At this stage no names had been released as the whanau were still to be contacted. Of course we had to maintain complete confidentiality - this also meaning keeping it from our students. Our students could tell something was wrong though and it didn't take long til rumours were started. At about 1pm her name was released, as was the information that she had been found.
Yesterday, our teacher only day was truly a blessing. We were able to grieve in our own Heights way with karakia and himene. No students and only ourselves to deal with. I'm so incredibly lucky that we have such a supportive whanau at Heights. All sticking together and dealing with these two losses of our whanau as best we could.
Going to my student's fathers tangi at Awahou Marae yesterday was heartbreaking. Seeing my student strong, stoic and supportive of his whanau. I'm glad I went but it brought back the memories of when I was 16 going through the same pain that he is feeling right now.
It just all feels so surreal. Yesterday I was walking around listless, still in shock. I still expect her to come into school on Monday and for everything to be okay. But it won't be. I'm glad that the students weren't there yesterday but I do not envy their return to school on Monday to grieve as a full school. Nor do I envy my colleagues and our need to be strong for the students and each other.
As we were told on Thursday, it's the second worst thing that can happen - a colleague passing, compared with a students passing. Just as bad I think.
All I can think about is the fact that we all grieve so differently. I still haven't completely let it out. I was still getting to know her. It just doesn't feel real. Looking at her blog yesterday felt good - to see the good times and amazing times, and the pictures of the amazing feats she accomplished every time she was on the water. To see her smiling face just does not feel right but it does too - because she was happy.
She unfortunately passed doing something she loved and for that tiny relief - I suppose it's something we can be happy for. But even so - it's not easy.
She had so much to live for still. So many dreams and hopes. All gone. She was so incredibly skilled, world renowned even.
I feel for one of my best mates at school and know that we all need to keep watch out for each other as this process contines to carry on.
Moe mai ra e hine. Moe mai.
Wednesday, 11 March 2015
Again... I don't quite know how it worked but... it did. Perhaps it was the scaffolding or the flexibility or the one on one group work, checking up on everyone and getting everyone involved.
Was really really easy to see the two students disruptinf their own learning... and actually - none of the other kids were put off because they were all in their own little poetry ecosystems. So so cool.
Really need to figure out how to recreate this. I feel like it's a mixture of the 'right kinda kids' and also perseverance.
To have kids choose to write their own poems over beginning the decorating side or for those who want to start the decorating side and think while they're doing it. Or having one student working on Minecraft creating billboard signs with poetry on them or another creating a PowerPoint on my laptop and looking up Hone Tuwhare poems for more inspiration. Or the student who has consistently been on point, choosing poems by Coleridge and Wordsworth for his selection. Or the student reading out of the poetry book I lent her last week to the disruptive students beside her - trying to help them get on task - but then ignoring them while still sitting beside them - doing her work. Or the students at the back immersed in their music, using it to create a collaborative song. Or the student so immersed in his own poetry that he was finding it hard to get it out "right".
Somehow... I helped create this.
And it's simply wonderful.
After last year and being so incredibly drained by the immature behaviour and consistent setbacks with changing class dynamics and constant stops during the lessons - it is so so nice to finally see them involved, participating and getting into it.
At one point I stopped them for a bit to talk about a Class Dojo point goal - 50 points by the end of the term. And one student said, "Miss, this is not helping. I'm in the zone." Or something to that effect. He just wanted to get back into his poetry and honestly... that is the coolest thing hearing that from him.
Of course... it could also be the cupcakes that I gave out at the start of the lesson in recognition of two boys' birthdays over the weekend, promised rewards from last year that I owed and just because they've really been working so damn well.
Inquiry: I want to know how to more effectively extend my students -esp in terms of extended abstract thinking!
Then I realised there was more than just one. And.... that I wanted to achieve them all.
So I wrote them all out on Google Docs, shared it in the Heights PLD folder I created and am now posting it up here too...
- Develop stronger understanding and use of literature circles
- Read articles, blogs and ask questions from those who do it effectively
- Develop stronger awareness and use of Google Drive with students
- Teach workshops and take PLD sessions to further develop my own knowledge
- Find courses that will help to develop these skills
- Ask for help from Google Educators and Trainers
- Invite others from our community to teach our staff
- Create breakout sessions to develop ability to individualise own learning
- Implement a strong reading programme for students
- Adapt the reading programmes used last year and allocate point system from Reading Fitness programme (Text Rating) and ensure students are bringing logs in to be checked
- Implement a strong PB4L focus in all classes
- Use ClassDojo app and in browser to continue pushing the PB4L in class and enable students to do their best work possible
- Print out ClassDojo parent slips
- Continue developing Growth Mindset programme for classes
- Go to Carol Dweck’s conference!!!!! (SAVE SAVE SAVE!!)
- Share students successes last year. Invite past students in to talk with current classes
- Develop a strong social studies programme
- Learn how to break things down! Don’t need to teach EVERY aspect.
- Remember how to write a social sciences essay!
- Get the SocSci brain back
- Develop the ability to say NO to things that are outside of these inquiry choices
- Don’t say yes to everything.
- Be aware of opportunities that come your way and be open to them and also assess risk (to myself, to students, to school) in terms of overcommitment
- Build a stronger PLD focus for myself that is personalised around my inquiry choices
- Maintain #educamp, #ConnectedRotorua, conferences, edchats and other PLD sessions to build network and maintain connections.
- Upskill and share own knowledge with edu peers
- Be ambitious - but remember the power of the shoulder tap!!!
- Be consistent.
- Do what works and try new things too.
- Enable students to succeed and enable myself to feel successful also.
- My successes and also my failures. Learn from both.
- Read and comment on other peoples’ blogs
- Update and use Google Site for students
- Create a permalink for the Site for students and families to access
- Develop classroom environment so that it is a welcoming and inviting place, and also to enable students to learn effectively
- Keep class and resources tidy
- Organise class configuration according to lesson aims
- Attempt to fix and solve any classroom issues myself and ask Wini and the caretakers to help
- Ask for help for more important issues - curtains and projector (and bracket)
- Improve #EngChatNZ
- Build a team of helpers and supporters
- Promote the chat
- Build on last year’s efforts and successes!