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Showing posts from 2017

Starting our 'Summer Smart Learning Journey'

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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

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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

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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

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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…

Presenting at the Manaiakalani Wananga

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On Thursday the 26th of October, I was privileged to attend the Manaiakalani Wananga held at Point England Primary.  The wananga was a chance for principals and school leaders from our wider outreach clusters and schools, to join our cluster to reflect on data and share ideas for the future.  During one of the sessions, I was invited to present my COL's inquiry alongside 5 of my colleagues, to show how we have been addressing our achievement challenges.  Although I was nervous to start of with, I felt happy with how the presentation went and received some good feedback afterwards.




Well done to our Year 9 October holiday bloggers!

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Over the holidays, I sent out a challenge to our year 9 students to write blog posts about different tasks that I'd set, related to topics that they had chosen.  Of the 9 tasks set, 4 students completed 4 or 5 of the tasks, with one student, Mateaki of 9RMz, completing them all!  That was a massive achievement!  At their year 9 assembly on Wednesday, I acknowledged their hard work and presented them with special prizes.  I hope that this would be an incentive to show the rest of the year 9 cohort that learning doesn't stop when their holidays start!


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…