Thursday, 27 February 2020

TAI2020 WFRC Inquiry Question #1: An Inquiry Stocktake

How well do you reflect on your inquiry? 

I feel I do well.  Last year, I felt I started really well and was fully engaged, I just got a bit lost at the end with evaluation because I freaked out at the academic way to present it. 

What worked well in 2019

One of the strengths of my 2019 inquiry was my ability to profile the students,  monitor and tweak the approaches that I was using.  I enjoyed videoing my meetings with Dr Jannie and the students and could see the benefits in sharing that learning with all involved.  I kept a really good record of the stages of my inquiry except for the last stage.

I later realised that I wasn’t challenging my higher ability learners well.

My Challenges in 2019

I wish I knew how I was going to measure success in my inquiry from the start of the year.  I left it too late.

The Support I need in 2020

As above plus more COL meeting time with our team.  

What part of the inquiry process do you need support with?

Definitely the measuring and evaluating of student learning.

Friday, 14 February 2020

Focus Inquiry #1: My Focus for 2020

Welcome back to another year of my inquiry.  It has been such a busy term already and as a teacher, I often wonder where the time has gone and have I done enough to support my learners!.

The purpose of this post is to share my learnings about my inquiry so far.  This year, I knew that I wanted to continue to focus on a group or class in Year 9.  Although I enjoy teaching my senior classes, my heart has always been in helping the junior school.  To me, that's when we can set them up for life! This year, we have finally got a year 9 project based learning class off the ground and when Russell our Deputy Principal asked staff who would be interested in teaching them, I jumped at the chance.  

Background:  The class is called Akomanga Kaihanga, a name gifted by Whaea Georgie from Ruapotaka Marae.  It means 'a class of builders and inventors'.   Below is a blurb from the classes perspective.
At the end of 2019, the decision was made to invite students to join who came from a range of backgrounds and abilities.  They submitted an application form and 30 students were invited to join.  Earlier this year we held a powhiri for families in our school marae which gave us the opportunity to share the initiative with parents and for them to ask any questions.  It was a huge success!  This connection with our families provided a good base to kick off the Akomanga Kaihanga initiative.  That same week, the students had a 2 day Noho Marae where they worked closely with Karl Bailey, the project leader and community activator to get to know each other and become familiar with the kaupapa of the course.   This was done three days before the rest of the school started!

Akomanga Kaihanga 9KMe
Our planning group are a team of educators who are made up of myself, Russell our D.P of Curriculum, Jay our HOD Science, Whaea Kata our TIC Health and Christine our year 9 Maths teacher.  The project manager is Karl Bailey who also works with for ADHB. We met a number of times at the end of 2019 and to decide how the timetable would look.  The goal was to ensure that students had enough time to work on projects but at the same not miss on essential learning needed as a year 9 student.  It was decided that they would have 6x 50 minute periods a week (essentially their Social Studies time plus 2 extra periods) to work on their projects.  There was also allocated half day, whole day and workshop type programmes spread throughout the year.

The first week was spent with the students getting to know each other as well as us as their teachers.  For second week the students jumped straight into their projects.

The Challenges:  My observations of how students and staff connected, has led me to understand that there are challenges around collaboration.  These challenges are what will drive my inquiry.
  • The Staff Planning Group:  As a planning group, we worked through issues around timetable and allocating time for project based learning although we are still at the early stage of 'real' collaboration.  In the past I have supported and led integrated projects at our school namely the Junior olympic study in 2016 and the year Sustainability unit in 2018).  What I have learnt from these integrated projects was that teachers didn't really understand what real collaboration was.  I actually didn't really understand it either - I still don't.  So my wonderings are around whether we can come to a shared understanding of what collaboration or integration is and how can we support each other better.
  • The Student Project teams:  As students are working in their groups, I have noticed that the dynamics within the groups sometime are not reflective of real collaboration.  The assumption is that we think that they just know how to collaborate.  The reality is it's a learning process, one that I think needs to be explicitly taught.  I notice that in some groups, there are dominant members and in others a lack of engagement and Talanoa.  
So for now, my inquiry will ask:  Does project based collaborative ways of learning in a Talanoa environment make the difference in the learning journey of our kids? 

As an aside, I want see if we as educators can have a shared understanding of what collaboration and integration is and whether this understanding will impact on the achievement successes of our learners.

Thursday, 13 February 2020

9AK #2: Learning conversation and interviewing skills

As part of their projects, groups were given the challenge to find 3 people who they could share their aims and intentions of their projects with.  When they were first given this challenge a week ago, about two thirds of the class took it which was positive to see.  Sadly, the ones who did not engage with the task were the quiet and shy ones of the groups.  I wondered if they knew how to approach people and ask them questions.  I assumed when we put the challenge out, that students could just 'do it'.  I decided to put together a short presentation giving students clues as to how to introduce themselves to a new person and how to continue a conversation going.

I reminded the class of the challenge from the previous week.  I talked to the class about the importance of knowing the skills as it may not come natural to some students.
I modelled an example of good conversation skills with Karl and another student in the front of the class.  I got them to practice in pairs then some groups had the opportunity to practice with real people.
I then wanted students to write down how would draft an email as it was another way to communicate with people.  These instructions were written on the board.
Quite positive overall.  I observed 2 to 3 students in some groups still not fully participating and approached them quietly to see how they were.  I could tell that they found it difficult not because they didn't know what to do, but were afraid of not knowing what to say back to other people.  I need to think about strategies that will not be too overwhelming for the shy students but would hopefully support them better in approaching others when they need to.  On reflection, I feel I need to be more clear and definitive in what skills I want the kids to learn when it comes to interviewing.  I think I need to look specifically at the Talanoa as a tool that be more scaffolding and supportive of the kids and their learning.

The photo shows a few students in team DonkCorn presenting their project brainstorm.

The Importance of Making Connections through telling our own stories

Making connections with Pacific ideas in health education - an invitation to tell my own story. Our TIC of Health, Whaea Kata told me ...