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Showing posts from 2017

PLD blogging at Tamaki College

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Today we had an awesome session on blogging presented by Lenva Shearing.  It was really refreshing to see and hear how important blogging is for our staff and the students at our school as I can see it as a powerful teaching and learning tool.

As we followed the presentation, Lenva led us 'back to the future'. We were reminded of our links to the cluster and how everything is visible, which is a driver for the learn, create and share model (the presentation can be found here).

I liked understanding how blogging is rewindable and you can revisit a child's learning over time and see their journey as a progression of skills and ideas.

Here are my key takeouts from the session that I found could be useful for now and in the future:
Let's get an online newsletter for students, staff and parents which could link back to a students' blogsGet onto the Tamaki College facebook page and promote our blogsIn the classroom, get a group of students to become a 'committee…

What will the end result be? Refocusing my Spark M.I.T

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Today at our SPARK M.I.T day, we were asked 'in a perfect world, what will the vision look like in 6 months time?  What will the end result be with our inquiries?'.  When I was asked this question, I totally thought I knew what to say. When it came to my turn, I had decided that my focus would be on getting the teachers and systems in place and that all will be wonderful in the world - but noooo, I was totally on the wrong track!  Where were the learners in all of this??


I needed to check what my original inquiry was:  how could my year 9 social studies studies be engaged in their learning to improve literacy outcomes through the use of blogs?  I decided to write down some learning objectives.

By the end of the year, year 9 social studies students will be engaged in their learning to improve literacy outcomes.

Students will be able to:
Engage in blogging consistently and effectivelyProvide constructive feedback to their peers on their blogsRecognise, use and choose effective wri…

The Heart of Innovative Teaching - Unpacking the 'TPACK'

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Now that I have discovered which framework  suits my MIT Spark inquiry, the challenge is 'what does it look like in context?'.  As mentioned in a previous post, my scribing on paper has helped me formulate an idea that could be 'innovative' (let's see what my bosses say lol)!  I have attempted to apply a TPACK framework to a teaching and learning context that I am familiar with - social studies at Tamaki College.

I started with the PK (Pedagogical knowledge) and the CK (Content knowledge) circles because I felt confident with the them.  As a teacher, my PK are the practices and methods that I use for teaching and learning.  It's me knowing how students learn and using strategies that would suit their learning needs.  My CK is everything I know about my subject area alongside knowing what students need to know to achieve success.  When you combine the two, you get the PCK (Pedagogical Content Knowledge) is basically knowing how to teach the content effectively(a…

A visit to Panmure Bridge School

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After trialling a writing strategy with my year 9 social studies class, I still needed to explore whether I was applying the strategy correctly and how students could use a writing strategy within their learning independently.  During the last week of term 2, one of my COLs colleagues Robyn Anderson invited me to see her LS2 class in action.  I was really excited at the chance!
The context that the students had been working on was on the 'Tamaki Wrap'.  I observed students move into groups to identify and summarise the main points of their learning and as they did so, they shared their 'learning talk' so I could hear what they thinking and doing.

Firstly students wrote down freely the key ideas that they had learnt previously (they would normally do this online, but because it was easier for me to see the bigger picture and roam around to see each of the groups, it was done on big realms of A3 paper which I appreciated).  Once the students wrote their own key points …

Blogging resources for teachers

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One of the challenges that I have come across was that very few teachers at my school blogged.  I wanted to encourage more teachers to start so I thought I would find some interesting sites and readings that discussed how teachers and educators just like them, have dealt with blogging, in a hope that it would allow for a clearer understanding of how important it is, regardless of what subject they taught.
1. Tips for choosing a class blog: Wesley Fryer I like the image that is shared on this site.  It has all the components that we dream of providing our students when it comes to their learning.  Fryer analyses 6 different blogging domains that staff could find use dependant on their context and highlights the features of each of the domains that could be useful in a classroom.  
2.  Teaching with blogs strategy guide (Tracey Gardner)
This is a really helpful guide which describes the processes involved in composing blogs in the classroom, the process of writing regular posts that are …

Understanding my thought processes in unravelling a framework that works!

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I have been struggling to find ways to be more innovative with my chosen M.I.T inquiry.  My focus moved away from ensuring students at our school blogged innovatively, to getting the teachers on board and blogging.  I wanted to have a purpose for engaging students and staff in blogging, and essentially it was to help students improve their writing skills.  The connecting of all the aspects has proven more difficult then I envisioned, so I decided to brainstorm the old fashioned way - writing it down.  I will share my thought processes with you, to help understand how I got to a framework that I feel has hit the jackpot!!

I started by thinking about what I wanted to blog about and number 1 was to talk about some cool sites that teachers could use when trying to get them motivated and keen to blog.  Sites that were informative, helpful and interesting for staff but also basic and easy to understand.
This led me to thinking about blogging for students at number 2, which would be innovati…

Redefining, redirecting and re'doing' integration

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One of the challenges that I have is figuring out how to use the short amount of time I have with my year 9 social studies class to ensure they come away learning something that is meaningful and purposeful inevitably to achieve 'success'.  When I say short, I am talking 4 x 50 minute periods a week, and if we take away 20 minutes for AR reading, then it is actually 180 minutes or 3 hours a week!  And in the 3 hours, I am expected to cover the achievement objectives of the social studies curriculum, ensure students have conceptual understandings of key concepts key skills needed to interpret and understand resources and teach them to understand how 'societies work and how people can participate as critical, active, informed and responsible citizens' (Social Sciences in the New Zealand curriculum, Ministry of Education, 2007).


I am not alone in this feeling of frustration.  I know each subject area at high school feels that they don't have enough time. So why in the…

Using a writing strategy with my year 9 Sos class

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After reading examples of writing (like blogs and summary paragraphs) from my year 9 social studies class during their first unit on 'sustainability', I felt many of them lacked structure and did not allow me to understand where the gaps were in their learning.

For my inquiry into how to improve the writing of our year 9 boys, I wanted to trial a writing strategy that I had learnt from Robyn Anderson at Panmure Bridge.  This strategy would hopefully allow students to formulate a more structured summary from their learning.

The context that we had been learning about was the impact and effects of globalisation in the small country of Tokelau.  Students had been looking at the push and pull theories of migration and needed to describe reasons why Tokelauans had moved to New Zealand and the issues they'd had with moving.  I found a reading which I felt students could cope with and asked the question:

Write a summary explaining reasons why Tokelauans moved to New Zealand.
What …

Surveying our staff about 'blogging'

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At the beginning of the year,  I had set up class blogs for each of the classes in our year 9 cohort and expected my department to ensure students blogged regularly and they posted feedback and comments at the end of each week.  In theory, this seemed doable, but in reality we all struggled to keep on top of this and with the restrictions in our timetables (we see our year 9 classes for 3 hours in total a week) it seemed there just wasn't enough time!.

I wondered if TIME was a common barrier for the staff and teachers at our school.  I posed these questions in a recent survey that I sent out to our staff, in a hope to understand where they were 'at' with blogging and from it, try to figure out ways to best support them in their blogging journeys.  Here are the results:


This was interesting for me, as I expected that the majority of staff at our school would have some sort of blog but the results showed it was a little over 50%.   44.8% of our staff never blog, with 31% say…

Making connections across our schools to share strategies that work

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Part of the struggle that my students have is engaging in the texts that they are reading.  Too often what we give them to read is irrelevant or too hard or boring (a comment made by a year 9 student in my class just last week).  I was frustrated in trying to think of ways to address this issue and although we have a wealth of strategies that could use, I wasn't sure where to start or which strategies would work.  Then I read a blogpost by Robyn Anderson at Panmure Bridge, one of the primary schools in our Manaiakalani cluster and enjoyed reading about the learning that was happening in her classroom.

In her blog, Robyn shared a lesson that worked with her class who were looking at a text and trying to figure out the author's message.  She shared how surprised she was when students used strategies and scaffolds that they'd learnt before to breakdown the text and transfer this skill across to a text without even being told to.

Robyn's blogpost resonated with me.  How aw…

Understanding effective teaching through inquiry

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When reflecting on my inquiry, a challenge has been to ensure that it is purposeful not just for me, but for others in our teaching profession.  This week Professor Graeme Aitken led our school leaders in the cluster on a session about collaborative inquiry.  The session was based on the question 'How can we come together to integrate our expertise and our knowledge to collaborate?'.

Some of the key points that I noted from the session are below:

Inquiry learning was meant to be a way of thinking about teachingThe most important thing is working out what we want to achieveTeaching has 3 goals:  Enjoyment and interest (more interested in coming home buzzing), Confidence (kids leave us with a sense of being able to do it themselves) and Achievement (we want them to be successful).  Unfortunately we emphasis achievement to the detriment of enjoyment.  Effective teaching time is when all of these goals are intertwined. 


Basic characteristics of Inquiry: Taking stock (SCAN)- where are…

Collaborating with other COL's is cool!

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Sometimes when we get into the reality of everyday life back at our schools, I forget we are part of a big picture.

At our COLs meeting recently, we got into groups to share where we were with our inquiries.  It was really awesome to hear where everyone was at and it was refreshing to know that we could share our challenges without fear.

Our group was led by Anne who said we had 3 minutes to share a brief reflection about our focussing inquiries and what strategies and tools we used to figure out what our students have already learned and what we needed to learn next (scanning).

We had varying schools and varying struggles and achievements that we have chosen to take on and at first it seemed hard to find and 'synthesis' a common ground that linked us all.  But as I continued to hear everyone's stories, a common thread filtered through - that we were all had a hunch, scanned our learners and have come to the point where we were ready to ask what could WE change in our pra…

Getting my year 9's to write paragraphs

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When it comes to paragraph writing, a common phrase that my year 9 learners relay is 'I don't know how to start'.  I have wondered in the past at what this 'block' or 'bump' in the process was and when I talked to my kids about it, they say that they worry about getting it wrong.  With the affordances that the digital world offers (ie spell and grammar checks), I wondered if it was more of an intrinsic belief that caused them to stall rather than the lack of grammatical knowledge.

One of the ways that we will be looking at tackling this issue is to ensure that our students are supported in their learning through scaffolded teaching and learning tasks.  Marc Milford, our schools Student Achievement co-odinator has been coming to our department meetings and sharing strategies and writing templates that we could implement within our units.  He has been working with one of my level 3 students who is an ESOL student and has struggled with understanding basic ter…

How to structure writing - which is the best model?

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When it comes to writing, my department knows that preparing our students to write can be a daunting process.  As part of my inquiry, I wanted to find out what other departments at my school were using as their models for teaching and learning.  I emailed them to ask what they used in their teaching.

Our maths and P.E departments use the P.E.E chain which is reflected in the chart below:


The English department use T.E.E.P.E.E:
T = topic E = example/quote E = explanation P = purPose (author/director’s purpose) E = effect (also consider on whole text and reader) E = evaluation (make connections, comments outside the text)
And we along with our fellow scientists, we use S.E.X:

I wondered if it made sense to use a more common, cross-curricula framework so that kids didn't need to learn and relearn from class to class how to write a paragraph.
In my department meeting, I discussed with Marc Milford, our schools 'Student achievement co-ordinator' which structure he thought would be t…

The value of connected learning in our Manaiakalani cluster - Te Taiao o Tāmaki.

When posed with the question of 'what does future focused learning in a connected community' look like, the Manaiakalani cluster wide inquiry of Te Taiao o Tāmaki' set the foundation for our year 9 students to be 'connected' to their learning.

Te Taiao o Tāmaki allowed connections to be made between teachers and schools in our cluster.  At our meetings, ideas were shared and networks made.  Teachers selected students from their respective schools to quad blog with students from other schools, to gain an insight into each others worlds and see that they were not alone in their learning.  Teachers across the cluster also shared their teaching strategies to support each other to work towards the collective vision.

Te Taiao o Tāmaki allowed our year 9 students at Tamaki College to feel connected to the rest of the schools in the cluster.  Many of our year 9's had younger siblings in the primary schools and would share their learnings over conversations at the dinne…