Friday, 27 October 2017

Presenting at the Manaiakalani Wananga

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.

Thursday, 26 October 2017

Well done to our Year 9 October holiday bloggers!

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!

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Year 9 Holiday Blogging challenge!

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.


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 of interest to them which helped me with the next step.  


I designed a document that had lots of different topics chosen by the students.  I gave them the choice to either use the document to help them scaffold their writing or to just blog about it.  For each topic there was a document that had a scaffolded 'solo' type structure to help students with their writing for that topic.

During the first week of the holidays, I got 6 or 7 emails from really keen students signing up to do the challenge - one student stayed up until 2am on the first night to work on the tasks!  Although this was positive,  of the 28 students who completed the survey, only 5 students actually completed at least one blog.

This student shows the extended abstract SOLO image next to his writing

One of my students in the class I teach really surprised me by completing all of his documents and blog posts shared.  His e-asttle scores at the beginning of the year were at 2P, and as I read through his documents this past week to see how well he has written, I can see a huge improvement in how far he has come and I am hoping that he moves up a level (fingers crossed).


I want to find out why so few students completed the survey or blogged over the holidays.  I will meet with the 5 students who did try, as a focus group and get their feedback into why they decided to blog.  I also want to meet with other students who didn't blog and also get their feedback.  I also want to look at how other schools assign challenges like the one I did, and get ideas as to how to promote it better as I feel that I could have prepared the students better before the holidays for the challenge.

I then want to sit down with a team of students to design a plan as to how we can get their peers to blog over the Christmas holidays.  I am really interested in this idea of blogging over Christmas because I want to start thinking about addressing another challenge we have - the summer holiday slump. 

Monday, 16 October 2017

Spark M.I.T presentations at Ulearn 2017

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

Spark M.I.T team 2017

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 started small last year, with a small group of teachers, then branched out into a wider thematic approach around the Olympics.  I let her know that we found teachers struggled with shifting from the subject silos to integration because they feared the change and needed time and P.D to allow for the shift.  I also said that support from the top is really important and finding models of how other schools are doing it helps.  I also invited her to check out my blog or to email me if she wanted to talk more about the process.  

The second person was a very charismatic Vicky Jeffares who stopped by to share her excitement about being at our session.  I loved hearing about how she was inspired by our team and I insisted that she said it on a video as proof, with which I've included below.  She was awesome and really excited to hear about what we were up to.   I invited her to come and visit our schools to find out more and she said she will bring at least 14 staff!  Talk about making connections!

Overall, working on my inquiry alongside my SPARK M.I.T team has been such a rewarding experience and presenting at uLearn was like the pinnacle.  Although we are nearing the end of our inquiries, I feel that I have grown so much along this inquiry journey.  Thank you to the SPARK team,  Lynne LeGros, my SPARK buddy Raven Garcia and Manaiakalani for your support.

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