Learning 'Language' at our first COL meeting

The kaupapa of our Manaiakalani COL team focuses on “Recognising and spreading sophisticated pedagogical practice across our community so that students learn in better and more powerful ways...”.

As an Across Schools COL teacher this year,  I have the opportunity to 'recognise' and 'spread' pedagogical practice not just within my own school, but across the cluster.  I am looking forward to the challenge and acknowledge that it is a big role to undertake.

At our first COL meeting, we discussed our big idea for the year 'Language in Abundance' and we were fortunate enough to hear from Dr Jannie van Hees.  Dr van Hees is an expert in 'Language' and has studied why talking matters related to 5 - 6 year olds at school.  We were given an example of how a child would feel, if they were told instructions on how to make a kite.  Through each of the stages, I thought a lot about assumptions and when I am teaching students, do they really understand the language …

When the Context drives the Learning...looking at the 'Big Picture'.

Over the past few years, I have been working with Jacquie Bay from the Liggins Institute to develop and implement a context embedded curriculum for our year 9's.  A recent study published by Jacquie and the team, trialled a context embedded science based curriculum within a number of different schools, including our own. "Adolescents as agents of healthful change through scientific literacy development: A school-university partnership program in New Zealand" found that when students learnt about what they were eating, they made changes in their attitudes towards food habits. This in
turn had the potential to 'improve long-term health outcomes for adolescents'(1).

'Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are the leading cause of preventable ill health, related disability and premature death in the world today(2)'.   Part of the Liggins kaupapa is to support schools like ours, to educate our young people on this epidermic, through a context embedded curriculum.  …

The Inquiry continues...2018

A wise woman once said to me "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results" (little did I know Albert Einstein had said the same thing and look where it got him!).

My inquiry for 2017 looked at addressing our 'Achievement Challenge number 4: Raising the achievement of boys writing and specifically using effective & engaging strategies to lift the achievement of boys’ writing. As I reflect on my inquiry in 2017, I felt I had learnt a lot about my capabilities as a COLs teacher and realised that  I only knew what I knew because I was comfortable and felt safe in the knowing of it.  I knew how to motivate my class to write by offering exciting things to learn, but when it came to outputs and actually writing for achievement, sadly their results were well below my expectations.

This year, I want to continue addressing this challenge, because I felt I didn't do enough, nor did I challenge myself to do the best that I could'…

Starting our 'Summer Smart Learning Journey'

Over the past week, we have been promoting an initiative that we've called the 'Summer Smart Learning Journey' with our year 9 and 10 students.  Research has shown that when students leave school for the holidays, on their return from their holidays, most face a 'slump' in their results when tested on their reading and writing.

In 2015, Woolf Fisher started a 'Summer Learning Journey' (SLJ) which involved students in years 4 to 8 from our Manaiakalani cluster who took part in a programme which involved them blogging throughout their holidays.  When tested at the beginning of the next school year, they tested higher then students who didn't take part in the learning journey.

At the end of 2016, Rachel Williamson came to our school and talked to our year 9 cohort about taking part in the journey.  Although students appeared enthusiastic at the meeting, only about 3 students regularly took part in the SLJ and they were rewarded for their efforts at the end…

Reflecting on my year as a SPARK Innovative teacher

This year, I have had the privilege of being part of the SPARK Manaiakalani Innovative Teacher programme that has allowed me the opportunity to inquire into an aspect of teaching and learning to create better outcomes for my learners.  I started the year with a goal to basically change the world but in reality, the changes haven't panned out the way that I'd expected.

There were 3 areas of my inquiry:
Better student engagementImplementing effective writing strategiesMaking 'blogging normal' for students and staff I guess with student engagement, it's hard to put a definite measure on it.  My kids looked happy and said they loved being in my class but does it come down to what and how they were learning, or was it because I am a chilled, cool teacher??  My thoughts are then deeper, it's about how we approach teaching and pedagogy.

I wanted to create an integrated cross-curricula unit for our year 9's to help them be engaged because I thought that that is what…

Reviewing our school goal number 4

At our annual middle leaders planning day, our first session was a review of our school goals for 2017.  Part of my inquiry this year has been focussed on implementing school goal number 4:

To work across departments in Year 9 on an integrated unit of work with a community focus or context. At the end of 2016, we decided to implement links to the 4 To remind staff about the lead up to the unit, I discussed the staff PLD around what that would like and decided on our term 1 unit to focus on 'Sustainability'. As a staff we developed 6 areas of focus, each designed to give students a choice as to which issue they wanted to focus on.
From there, department were shared a document to show how they could support the teaching and learning of the topic as followed: English Maths Science Technology From there, an initial plan for the Middle Leaders was designed whereby HOD's were assigned to support a class on their blogs. A draft Unit plan and a student site were developed and this wa…

The Impact of my COL's inquiry, 2017

My COL's inquiry this year has focussed on: Using effective & engaging strategies to lift the achievement of boys’ writing.
My learners this year have been the boys in my year 9 social studies class.

My aims were: 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"
The ways I have addressed my aims are evident in the presentation below:

For the remainder of this blog, I will explore the current outcomes of my inquiry.
1. What happened for the learners and how did I make this happen?
There are 9 boys in my year 9 social studies who I have tracked throughout the year.  They began the year with the class and have been members right until the end of the year.
With regards to engagement, I found that for the majority of the boys, have responded positively to the integrated cross-curricular teaching and learning programme that I organised in our…