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Year 9 Holiday Blogging challenge!

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At the end of term 2, I wanted to test out whether year 9 students would blog during the holidays by setting up a holiday blogging challenge.  We know students may not think about school much over the two weeks holiday and I wanted to see what would happen if I gave them a challenge that would force them to.   I decided to do a few things to set this up.

1.  SURVEY THE YEAR 9 STUDENTS FOR IDEAS FOR TOPICS.

I shared with the entire year 9 cohort a short survey because I was interested in finding out who would blog during the holiday break.  Out of the 100 or so students in year 9, 28 from different tutor classes completed the survey.

I wanted to see if students would have internet access during the holidays and surprisingly, a number said they would not have access.  

Then I asked students,  if they were to blog in their holidays, to list 2 or 3 things that they would blog about.  There were lots of varied answers, but the majority said the holidays, family and other subjects that were…

Spark M.I.T presentations at Ulearn 2017

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On the Thursday 12th October, our SPARK M.I.T team presented at the annual uLearn conference for educators in Hamilton. 


We presented our inquiries through an ignite type session which was an interesting challenge as it made us refine our inquiries and not waste words.  When it came to my turn to present,  I was nervous at first but as I continued to speak, I felt a lot more at ease.  As I was presenting, I didn't realise that people were tweeting about what I was talking about - I've never been tweeted about before - what an honour!!


At the end of our presentations, the audience were given the opportunity to ask us questions which was positive.  Afterwards, we had time to sit down one to one with people who wanted to share their wonderings.
I had two people come and see me.  A teacher at a secondary school shared her frustrations about trying to implement an integrated junior programme at their school and asked for advice as to how to approach it.  I talked about how we start…

Using SOLO to support my year 12's exam preparations

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This week is senior exam week for our students and trying to get my year 12's ready for exams has been challenging at times, especially with the mixed levels of literacy in my class.  Students have to write an explanatory essay, and the context is the Israeli/Palestinian conflict.

Students were engaged with learning about the conflict but when it came to retaining some of the information and using it to write a structured essay, quite a few didn't know where to start.  
A few weeks ago, I taught some facts and issues around the conflict using the presentation below.  


The slide is quite content heavy, so I created a SOLO Hexagon activity to help them remember the key ideas and concepts.  I wanted them to connect ideas so they could show they were working to at least the relational stage of SOLO taxonomy.


At first, students were a bit hesitant to use the hexagons and had to refer to their notes.  But I persisted and every day for two weeks, I pulled out the hexagons and as I d…

How my Inquiry fits in with our Achievement Challenges.

The Achievement Challenge that I am inquiring into relates to achievement challenge number 2, which aims to:
Lift the achievement of boys' writing in Years 1 - 10.
The students I am focussing on are the year 9 students in my social studies class, with a focus on the writing achievements of the boys.  I want to look at effective writing tools that will engage my learners and raise achievement.

My aims are:
To increase engagement and motivation for writing"I want to write because I like to write"To improve and shift achievement in writing "I want to write because I know how to write"I had a hunch:  That transitioning from year 8 to year 9 can be pretty scary and sometimes overwhelming for our kids - lots of teachers, new students from other schools, new ways of being taught.  What can help with the transition?  What skills can they transfer over?  How can we better connect and track their writing from one year to the next?  These were the questions I had at the beg…

Year 9's writing across curriculum areas.

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After our local MP Simon O'Connor visited our students, I wanted to continue the momentum by getting my year 9 social studies class to 'SLOG' (SOLO + Blog) about his visit.  I had my year 9's period 5 on Friday afternoon and I felt they needed more time to develop their blog without feeling pressured or hurried.  I asked their English teacher Ms Latu, if they could work on completing their blogs during her class (which was after mine) and she was happy to let them work on them.  She offered to help them by checking spelling, punctuation and grammar which was really helpful.

At the start of the class, I reminded my students about the importance of 'slogging' and how they would be rewarded with dojo points if they worked well.  I then shared a document with them using the familiar 'summary strategy' that they had been using over the last copy of weeks and asked them to reflect about Simon's visit.  We firstly brainstormed as a class and I was surprise…

Our local MP drops in for a visit

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At the moment, our year 9's are learning all about our government.  There are a lot of systems and processes that they need to know to understand how it all works and sometimes our kids get disengaged and bored because it feels so far removed from their realities.  To try and get them to understand the importance of the up and coming elections, I invited our local MP Simon O'Connor to talk to some of our students about what it's like to be an MP at the moment.

He talked about the challenges he faces in his job and his passion in helping the people in our community.  At question time, our students asked what his inspirations were, whether he played sport when he was younger and where he saw himself in 6 years time.  Simon's mother and family were his main inspirations which resonated with many of our students.  He shared that he played soccer and cricket when he was younger and that his favourite past time at the moment was fencing.  He shared a story of when he went to …

SOLO + Blogging = SLOGGING!

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My SPARK M.I.T inquiry is looking at using effective blogging with my year 9 social studies class.  Part of my reason for choosing blogging relates to challenges that our year 9 students face have when they start high school and the need to shift and accelerate their achievement towards the national norm. With my focus being on writing, I found one of the biggest obstacles was transitions from year 8 to year 9.  A writing tool that students have been using throughout primary school are their blogs which showcase their learnings.  They also allow me an insight into how students write.

I have looked into writing frames that were being used in the primary schools so I could understand what their teachers were using to teach writing.  In finding a connection between years 8 and 9, I am also looking at balancing what students need to know by the end of year 10.  I felt it was important to acknowledge the need to prepare students for the how to write better, in the senior school and for NCE…