More Surprises

More reflection on my 2015 professional inquiry

At one point this year our teachers felt like they were in the pit and were struggling with some of our student’s  not managing themselves in this environment. As a team we thought that it would be time to define the different types of learners we had in our collaborative team. We decided we had three types and lined this up with the SOLO framework. The teachers also had discussions with the students and students identified where they belonged. Within this SOLO framework

Multi structural – Managed Learners

Relational – Self Managed Learners

Extended Abstract – Self Directed Learners.

The three are distinctively different and require a level of skill to work within. These skills need to be taught, modelled and practiced daily for them to become part of a daily routine. This is a work in progress.

The teachers identified our managed group as having all our target students and also complained that these students were disrupting the class by being noisy, off task, disorganised and often destructive of a breakout space we had available to the students.

I had a discussion with these students –  In a summary the target/managed students thought it was the rest of the class that was disrupting their learning by being noisy and off task, they wanted quiet spaces to go to and they wanted their teacher to be available more for them to talk to, they made reference to their teachers time always being taken up with the others students who were being, in their words, ‘naughty’. They also thought that they would be more comfortable with the teacher telling them what to do instead of having to write their own timetable. This surprised all of us and immediately things were put in place to support these learners – a managed timetable was created and time each morning was given to them to explain what the timetable was for the day and also gave them a chance to make decisions about their day with their teachers support. The teachers also ensure these students are listened to more consistently and were given them positive specific praise, praising them for the behaviours the students identified they needed to work on. When they get distracted they are to do what our group Expert, Harry, said he does

‘Ignore and focus on what I am Doing’

So even though we are aiming for student agency for our learners we know this will be at different levels for all of them.

Screen Shot 2016-02-04 at 2.31.09 PM

Advertisements

The End of My Day the, Beginning of a New Journey

IMG_3325

What if we had no one to talk to about our journeys and where we wish to head?

That question entered my head as I returned home from my day picked up my daft dog and headed to our beautiful lake.

I know where I would be. Still pondering the muddle in my head over what path my journey would take, this year, in my leadership role.

Thanks Nathaniel for listening to me and helping me put that muddle into some direction I can now act on.

New Beginnings

A change in my career has been something I have been searching for, for some time now and here I am. New job, new team, new students, new learning environment and a new office.

2014-08-08 11.42.36It has been a wonderful start to my new journey. With many bumps and potholes to navigate, I have never felt like I was on my own. Student achievement and engagement is at the core of the schools focus and planning and not just achievement but accelerated learning.  My only nagging thought is, we possibly need to put more energy into our school Vision of POWER with the students. They say it, know it but do they own it and use it?

I have always believed that our key competencies are at the core of achievement and learning and they are they elements which will drive student’s success not a stanine 9. Why don’t we focus on them more? Why do teachers think that writing in books and worksheets are measures of learning and success? Are passive learners the results of this thinking? How do we change this?

Ponderings on my learning program:

Things I will continue doing in my literacy class:

  • Word work – rainbow words, water words, dough words.
  • Planned reading group discussions (learner conversations)
  • Whole class structured writing focus (work on writing)
  • Daily teacher reading (listen to reading)
  • Independent reading (reading to self)
  • Focus on Key Competencies
  • Students teaching others how to create photo stories as a platform to publish writing.
  • Recording students writing as a form of publishing.

Things I would like to change/include:

  • Word work using digital technologies
  • Reading using digital technologies
  • More independent choice in writing and reading
  • Student driven reading and writing workshops
  • More reflection time on goals
  • More digital published writing

The lack of digital technologies in my teaching program this term has been down to lots of technical issues. We have fibre in our school ready to plug in but our infrastructure is not ready for it….mmmm…….. Yet another ponder chapter!

As a passionate user of digital technologies, I have introduced engaging students in the use of Microsoft photo story to publish their stories using their photographs and voice.

It was a real labour of love, with all the issues around technology that I was up against. It really surprised me that many of the students were not motivated by using technology except to play games or go on study ladder. Being creative wasn’t something they valued. As the term was coming to an end it soon became obvious that the power of technology was engaging more and more students as they saw and heard finished and unfinished projects. It was on the last day I remembered why I valued using eLearning so much. It engaged the learners in their own product in a unique way. They could hear their own voice, which, without a doubt will motivate better writing and engagement in the process. One student already reflected that her new writing goal would be ‘to write something I can be proud of’. The engagement of a new audience to the students writing was empowering.

Things that make you go mmmmm……..

Reflection, Thought and Action

Hi I am Melanie Matthews, Yr 5/6 Teacher, Deputy Principal, ICT Lead teacher of Broadlands School

I want to share with you  a part of my Journey using SOLO to engage my students in reflection,  to help them identify next learning steps.

What I am going to share today is a method I used to engage my students in raising their level of questioning around their own inquiries.using SOLO.

SOLO – Structure for Observed Learning Outcomes.

It is a simple structure for 3 different levels of understanding –

Surface

Deep

Conceptual

Just sharing stuff isn’t ok anymore because we can google everything! Google is an amazing tool that has loads of stuff. I wanted my students to use the stuff that interested them and think about their ideas in a new and different way. I was hoping their understanding of SOLO would help this.

I used SOLO to help them question above and beyond just stuff. To help them capture their audience within and beyond their classroom when they shared the results of their own inquiry. Our class mantra became ‘tell us something different’.

So we began a Mini inquiry –  which was technology based –   and embedded in this was the Concept of Inventions and Design. The students were already excited because they had researched local inventors  and invited a real inventor into their classroom.

So they began by writing their own questions on sticky notes and placed these where they thought they belonged within the SOLO framework. This is where some good conversations began about the types of questions they were writing.

We soon realised we needed to unpick the language within the thinking Maps, aligned with SOLO. In groups the students began to explore, define, describe,  and draw the different words associated with the thinking around the level e.g. compare and contrast, sequence, evaluate, predict, etc

Once the class had explored and shared their ideas around the language, they  were challenged to write questions using another level of  SOLO to guide this. To Raise their thinking and challenge their inquiry

This is where it became challenging for the students,as the questions were raising the level of thinking. So  the thinking maps were now being used and collaborative groups were formed naturally

At this point Students needed to be  encouraged  to give evidence for their thinking, for example predictions on Robots of the future needed to have supporting evidence for their thinking.

I was very pleased with the extended thinking that was developed within the students based on their new questioning skills. I now realise there is a need to facilitate more thinking around the relational and extended thinking maps, particularly with giving evidence for their thinking.

I believe SOLO is a great tool for many pedagogical reasons but in this story it helped my students to learn how to learn and think about their thinking.

New Start!

Kotahitanga

This is a post I wrote in February. I was waiting for permission from the artist of the illustration to include it in my blog. I received permission but neglected to post to my blog. Hope you enjoy it dated as it is!  

I approach the start of a new school year full of excitement and nerves at the anticipation of new students and new ideas. I often start the year with things I want to do different. This year was no exception.  I spent a lot of time in the holidays reading blog posts and books about digital learners  and listening to Ken Robinson on ‘Out of our Minds’.  It is a time of great change in our approach to pedagogy – the science of teaching – due to the needs of our learners. I approach it with a keen, green interest. 

My first week was WOW! This year I have been given the opportunity to work with 13 students in a year 5/6 group which is amazing because I normally start my year with 25 plus and last year I ended with 33 students.  Therefore the WOW!  

Our school wide theme for term one 2012 is Kotahitanga. This is about belonging, unity, harmony and oneness, a recipe for a great team of learners. We spent our first two days ‘Getting to know each other’ which is a key ingredient for Kotahitanga.  Our learning became all about creating our own personal narrative through a number of cooperative and learning buddy activities-

After reading a blog post from Allanah King    II thought ‘what my teacher needs to know about me’ would be a great way to get to know my new students so I set this task for home learning. The following morning after setting the task I was pottering around the class talking to the students when one of my boys asked if we could share our 5 things. When I asked had anyone else completed the task they all handed me their books.  The student’s ideas really struck a chord with me because it was evident that some of the ideas I had been reading about over the holidays was thriving in my students.  Check them out for yourselves

I wrote my own thoughts on what my teachers needed to know about me:

 1. Get to know me.

 2. Involve me.

 3. Share me with the world

 4. Give me time

 5. Encourage and support me to take risks. Mistakes and failures are my friends.

My keen, green ideas have led me to start my year with a project to base the learning tasks and activities around.

Project:

To design and create an ideal learning environment inside and outside the classroom that is inclusive of all individuals and groups.

This design will include a resource that can be used by the Broadlands and Global Communities to enable a better understanding of Kotahitanga in our world community.

I have made this change based on a few of the ideas I have been exposed to over the holidays. I don’t know if it is the correct thing to do but I am willing to challenge myself and find out what will work for my students.

 Our ingredient for Kotahitanga next week is going to be Managing Self. This, I believed fitted in well with the students becoming independent learners as they make choices about the tasks they are going to complete during independent learning time. I envisage the independent learning time becoming a big part of their day as they work through tasks, by choice, based on our project and those set by me, based on next learning steps and individual needs.

Is anyone else starting with fresh ideas and challenging themselves with how they approach the learning this year? I would love to hear from you. 

Photo by  Thomas Lauterbach

KOTAHITANGA means ‘coming together, be one’ .

A painting I did in the 90’s, when there was a desperate need for change in attitude in regards to race realations. But New Zealand since has come a long way as a country – and we have to accept, that we still have a long way to go. But race relations have improved – we are on our way to KOTAHITANGA.

naureira tenei te mihi ki a koutou, mihi mai – mihi mai – mihi mai