Thursday, 19 October 2017

Fractions and Decimals with Jo Knox


Today Team 5 had the opportunity to watch Jo Knox in action with two different Maths groups (one at Stage 6 and one at Stage 7). The aim was to see her teach students to convert fractions into decimals.

DIAGNOSTIC TESTING Jo asked a series of quick questions to gauge the groups understanding of fractions and decimals based on examples from the Numeracy  Development Project (NPD) resources or ‘Pink books’.

MATERIALS - Decipipes are a really effective tool to help support students to understand the basics of fractions and decimals. They are also easy for students to manipulate, able to break/build up both representations of both fraction and decimal numbers. 

STRATEGY MODEL Start students off using materials then progressing to Imaging and then Materials as students show greater fluency in their use of a given strategy - see NPD Book 3 p5 

 - Number equations were recorded 
in a modelling book in plain view of all students. A handy reference point for the teacher to guide students in their thinking and to record in themselves (see next note).
STUDENT THINKING - Jo regularly asked students to explain their answers. The focus was on how they got an answer, helped to highlight can be more than one ‘correct’ solution; extended this to give specific roles to members of the group - split group into three - one group explained their answer, while a second group modelled the answer using materials (decipipes) and a third group recorded answer in modelling book - this approach ensure all students were fully engaged!

PLENARY - at the end of each group’s session, Jo asked the students to reflect on what they had learned and together they co-constructed the WALT for the lesson in kid’s language - she feels that sharing the WALT at start of lesson isl ike giving away the punchline of a joke upfront

Example 1: WALT Convert fractions and decimals by turning them into tenths, hundredths and thousandths

Example 2: WALT by add numbers by taking one off one number and adding to another to make a whole number

So many golden nuggets from this session! I would like to try out co-constructing WALTs with my students - it will be interesting to see if what I had planned to teach matches up with what students feel they have learnt.

Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Inquiry Update: Rich Learning Activities

In Term 3, my priority students changed and I revamped my inquiry focus question to investigate the extent to which the format of maths problems will influence the problem solving abilities of my target students.

My latest hunch was that the format of the questions I gave to the students was impacting on their ability to be successful in problem solving.

A PD session with Jo Knox highlighted the benefits of using open ended, rich learning tasks (like the 'Giant's Hand' activity to the right) as a way to engage and challenge students. She explained a resource bank is available on the nzmaths site. 
I chose rich learning activities that matched the term topic of Geometry & Measurement. To explore the concept of perimeter further, I chose the Parking Cars task for my priority group. Students needed to work out a new car park layout for a specific number of vehicles.

First we unpacked the problem in our group session and clarified key details e.g the dimensions of the parking lot and the required car spaces. I was explicit in telling them that there may be more than one possible result. Despite some initial hesitation to this 'new' kind of problem after the discussion, the students were all super keen to head off and be the first to work out a possible solution. Working with a buddy or on their own, some made a screencastify recording to explain their 'solution'.
Samples of student work are below:

Click here for Junior's full blog post

Click here for Kerstein's full blog post

The open ended and real-life nature of the rich tasks totally engaged the students and without any prompting from me. They willingly took longer to work through different options and were less focused on finding the 'right' answer. Their end solutions highlighted how students had interpreted (or misinterpreted) a problem and so provided me with a useful starting point for a discussion to find out more about their thinking process.

I was really pleased with the students' positive response to the 'rich' task and would like to use them with all the groups. The challenge will be to find tasks that are appropriate - not too hard or not too easy - and linked to the given maths topic being reviewed.

As Term 4 kicks off, the next hunch I would like to explore is how modelling books can be used to effectively scaffold my priority students in problem solving strategies.

Monday, 16 October 2017

Google Exam - Success at last!

Google Exam Post Script: After a disappointing first effort, I was keen to take another shot at the Level 1 Google Exam.

I lined up a test date with others from the course on the second week of the holidays but unfortunately, a slight hiccup with the retake process from Google foiled my retake  plans! Not to be defeated, I finally resat the test on the last weekend of the holidays - no pressure.
Well, I am pleased to say the wait was worth it - I passed! This success has really made me appreciate just how much I learnt on the DFI course last term - again a huge thank you to Dorothy, Gerhard and Matt! Hmmm, is it time to think about Level 2? Watch this space...

Friday, 22 September 2017

Final Digital Fluency Intensive - Week 9 - Opportunities Galore!

Today marks the end of our 9 week Digital Fluency Intensive (DFI). Alongside a great bunch of educators, I've enjoyed meeting up once a week to learn more about the Manaiakalani pedagogy and have the time to upskill myself in different GOOGLE apps. It has made my life easier both inside and outside of the classroom. A huge thank you to Dorothy, Gerhard, Matt and all the guest speakers!

Thankfully for all of us, the learning doesn't stop here because there lots of other opportunities available to teachers in Manaiakalani to help keep our practise sharp including TOOLKITs,  the Manaiakalani GOOGLE + Community, the EdTech Summit  and being part of Class On Air.

To end up this last session, 11 of us sat the GOOGLE Certified Educator Level 1 exam. 3 hours, 20 multi-choice questions and 11 scenarios later, we needed 80% to pass. Unfortunately a few of us didn't quite make the cut (I got 78%!) but despite the disappointing result we are determined to give it another go in the holidays. We all want to ace it and have a GOOGLE badge to show for our efforts!

Friday, 15 September 2017

Digital Fluency Intensive 8: Empowerment, New GOOGLE Sites

Hard to believe that we are already at Week 8 of the DFI sessions - so much learning has taken place!  Today James Hopkins from CORE EDUCATION shared his thoughts on EMPOWERMENT in the Manaiakalani pedagogy: if learning is not VISIBLE, CONNECTED and UBIQUITOUS, students will not be able to take charge of and progress in their learning.
He also shared with us how to use moderation mode in Padlet - a great way to avoid any curly comments from students being made public to the whole class!

Next up Gerhard guided us through a session on the NEW GOOGLE Sites. It is much quicker to create a site in this new version, using a range of preset options. However you are limited in how you can customise your site so despite all the time saving shortcuts NEW sites offers, I think I would prefer have more control over how my site/pages will look and 'work' . The original GOOGLE sites has my vote! I got to try out the NEW sites by creating a landing page for all the different sites and blogs that we have been working on for the past few weeks. It also includes links to the individual class/team sites for each of the other DFI participants. Click here or the image below to view the site page in full.

Next week, our DFI group will take the  GOOGLE EDUCATOR LEVEL 1 exam - let's see how much we really know!

Friday, 8 September 2017

Digital Fluency Intensive 7: CONNECT, more on GOOGLE sites

Being CONNECTED is another key element of the Manaiakalani kaupapa and links back to last week's kaupapa word - connections are only possible if teaching and learning is visible.

As educators, we can build connections face to face but also through social media platforms such as Twitter and Google + communities 
to stay in the loop and to upskill ourselves. Within Manaiakalani, we can join colleagues for toolkit sessions and get online technical support from Tania Coutts.

Blogs are probably the most common ways to create and maintain online connections between students, teachers and whanau. Programmes such as Tuhi mai, tuhi atu and Quad blogging have been successful at linking students who are at different schools or parts of the country.

My biggest insight for this session was to think critically around how to use sites to make connections AND lead learning. We all were challenged to take an honest look at our own sites - is the content relevant? is the layout visually appealing and engaging? is it functional and accessible for students, whanau, and teaching colleagues?

A few of us were asked to share our learning sites and got feedback from other DFIers on their impressions and possible 'next steps' for improvements. I shared the landing page for the site I use every day with Year 7 & 8 students at Pt England School. I am one of five teachers who use this learning site designed by one of our team, Rob Wiseman.

Feedback for the landing page of was really positive from the others:
- the overall page has a simple, clean layout with lots of white space
- all the A+ (key) content can be seen in one go (no extra scrolling)
- includes student artwork - the lower part of the page has teacher photos (not emojis) and name details making it easy for whanau to find the right person

Possible improvements were to link the names of teacher to their class and/or professional blogs and to get rid of page labels at the top of each page

I enjoyed having part of the session to get help to tweak my literacy and maths groups pages. Updating the page settings to remove extra text from the top of each page turned out to be quite straightforward and definitely improved the 'look' of each page.

However, the real game changer was fixing the 'term' headings. Putting them in a logical sequence, only showing the current term in white font and linking each one correctly to previous term's site pages has given much needed functionality to each page - a big THANK YOU to our trainers!



Looking forward to week 8 and finding out more about NEW Google Sites.

Friday, 1 September 2017

Digital Fluency Intensive 6: Being VISIBLE, GOOGLE Sites, New Teaching Code

In today's session, we got to grips with the VISIBLE aspect of the Manaiakalani kaupapa - the need to make our teaching and learning open and available for students, whanau and other educators.  Online platforms like BLOGGER and GOOGLE SITES are powerful tools to increase the reach and profile of learning beyond the classroom.

Dorothy's presentation raised some challenging points. With the switch from pencil and paper to using devices, do parents have the same visibility - are they able to check their child's learning via blog posts as easily as they could flicking through an exercise book? What is an appropriate level of visibility? How do we balance the desire to showcase aspects of students learning journeys (e.g. test results) versus the need to maintain student confidentiality?

Putting theory into practice, we had a session on GOOGLE SITES. The aim was to create a Professional Learning site using the newly released  'Standards'  from the Education Council to capture evidence for six new standards: Te Tiriti o Waitangi partnership, Professional Learning, Professional Relationships, Learning-focused Culture, Design for Learning, and Teaching.

We each started with a sandpit site - a safe space in which to 'play' with HTML coding and figure out how to change up the layout of site pages using different table formats to merge columns or rows. We then split into three groups to create our own sites. I joined Matt's group to try out Image mapping.

We used pixlr to help define co-ordinates within sections of our chosen image. We added these sets of numbers into the HTML coding - this mapped specific sections of the image to another site page. It took a while to sort out the various co-ordinates and if one set of numbers was not quite right, it created a weird zig-zag shape!

I am happy with the end result. My new site looks professional - the landing page is simple and uncluttered, AND even better it works (!) - a single click on each heading, leads to a different teaching standard. The hard part will be keeping the pages up to date.

Image Mapping is time consuming but well worth it to achieve a site page that is clean, slick and functional.  Feel free to test out my new standards site for yourself by clicking here or on the circle image above.

Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Digital Fluency Intensive 5: Google Sites, Blogger Gagdets

Kia ora from Week 5 of the Digital Fluency Intensive!

We started our session this week with an overview of the SHARE part of the Manaiakalani pedagogy. Traditionally, students have shared their 'best work' in class, with the principal, in assembly, or in a school newsletter. The advent of the internet and introduction of online blogging allows students to showcase their learning to a much wider audience, one that is no longer confined to a specific classroom or school.  Encouraging students to share their work and make real connections with others about their learning leads to better engagement and improved achievement outcomes.

On a practical level, Dorothy presented us with the challenge of building a page from scratch in GOOGLE SITES. Using the children's story 'The Lion and The Mouse' was our inspiration, and we had to use a multi modal approach and use different modes e.g. videos, photos/images, news articles, blog, audio recording, podcasts, animations, or gifs to 'hook' students and help them access content.

To the left is my effort to create a page for Year 7/8s taking a Social Studies tack linked to the impact of decisions groups make in regards to Animal Rights. Click on the image to go to the full sized page.
To end the session we learned how to update our professional blogs using the BLOGGER gadget, BLOG LIST to add in links to the blogs of each of my fellow DFI participants.

I really enjoyed trying my hand at building my own page and am looking forward to getting more practise on GOOGLE SITES. I now have a much greater appreciation for how much work has gone into making our Team 5 site! I will use the BLOG LIST gadget and link my class blog to my professional blog. I also want to update my class blog with links to my home class students and help to expand their potential audience a nudge more.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Digital Fluency Intensive 4: Videos: Explain Everything, Screencastify

This week we heard about the CYBERSMART programme from Fiona Grant. Developed in 2012, the emphasis is on learners being able to make smart decisions when working online. The aim is to focus on the positive side of being online as they engage in authentic learning opportunities rather than just the need to 'be safe’. Modules on Smart Learners, Smart Footprint and Smart Relationships form the foundation of the programme. 

Khismira Lal guided the group on how to use the Explain Everything app on iPads. We got to try out a range of tasks that students would be given in literacy and maths. I completed one set of reading activities using the text, Billy can count and in the video below, recorded my thoughts on how I might use Explain Everything when teaching my own students.


We also had the chance to prepare a short video using SCREENCASTIFY on how to make quality blog comments using tips directly from the Cybersmart programme. My video advice is below:


I like how the CYBERSMART programme encourages students to work responsibly online rather than adopt on a fear mongering approach around being hypervigilant and safe. It makes better sense to provide students with the tools and sensibility they need to be savvy as they make positive contributions online. 

I am looking forward to using the SCREENCASTIFY tool with my students - it will offer a way to share their learning and understanding that caters for those that may struggle to share their thoughts in writing and those who are camera shy as they just record their voice without worrying about coming up with a written sentence or the stress of having their face on screen!

Friday, 11 August 2017

Digital Fluency Intensive 3 - Getting Creative, Google Hangouts

Week 3 of our DF Intensive series of workshops is almost over with more great - today we have learned how to fine tune settings in GOOGLE Mail and GOOGLE Calendar which will make organising emails and events/schedules so much easier.

Our main learning was on GOOGLE Hangouts - a tool that allows you to remotely connect with others for discussions and share online. To demonstrate this tool in a real world context, Dorothy joined us from Adelaide with Matt, Gerhard and Kelsey Morgan (Education Programme Leader visiting from Christchurch) to guide our group from the Manaiakalani Trust training room in Glen Innes, Auckland.  Despite a couple of technical glitches, we got to share our favourite restaurants and streetview images from GOOGLE Maps.

Today's task was to create a GOOGLE Hangout and discuss the creative content of blog post of student learning. Together with Jocelyn and Kelsey, we used three questions to guide our conversation.

What learner empowerment is demonstrated? Do you detect signs of learner agency post? Did they have any room to make choices?

2. What supports / scaffolds might the teacher have set up to get this creative activity to occur? e.g. scaffolds, rubrics, templates etc etc

3. Explain/reflect/demonstrate learning, through creation - How has creation given more opportunities for deep learning and cognitive engagement?

Check out our GOOGLE Hangout  below.  Looking forward to Week 4!

Friday, 4 August 2017

Digital Fluency Intensive 2 - Collecting and Analysing Information

Session 2 of our Digital Fluency Intensive brought a better understanding of the LEARN component of the Manaiakalani pedagogy. It was sobering to hear of how many students from the Tamaki community were leaving high school in the 1990s with no qualifications. This dire situation became a huge driver for change as continued underachieving was unacceptable. 

Research shows that students in Decile 1 'land' at school, well behind their peers in higher decile schools. To interrupt this cycle of underperforming, schools started to challenge existing teaching methodologies. From humble beginnings, a handful of teachers rose to the challenge and the starting point was knock convention on the head by using podcasting to target improvements in literacy.

Our trainers also shared with us how to work with GOOGLE FORMS  and GOOGLE SHEETS.   FORMS is a great tool for gathering information using a variety of question options and it automatically collates the data on a separate sheet - genuis! SHEETS are a tool to record, analyse and format information.

The illustration above was produced using FORMS (specific location of favourite holiday destinations) and SHEETS (collated information to merge into map).

I am looking forward to putting my newly acquired SHEET skills to smarten up the content and appearance of my existing spreadsheets for Turn in Sheets and Assessment data.

Thanks for another informative day Dorothy, Gerhard and Matt!

Friday, 28 July 2017

Digital Fluency Intensive 1 - Living local, learning global

The first day of the Digital Fluency (DF) Intensive for Term 3 has been jammed pack full of useful content. Our group of 11 teachers from 6 different schools across the Manaiakalani cluster have spent the day learning practical tips including how to better organise our GOOGLE Drive and exploring different formatting options within GOOGLE Docs.

We also had an opportunity to put our new found skills to the test with a poster based on the Manaiakalani kaupapa. Looking forward to spending each Friday for the next 8 weeks at DF sessions to learn more from our expert trainers and the other participants.

Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Inquiry Update: Term 2 Round up

Taking stock of Term 1, I have come to really appreciate just how fluid the inquiry process and that it unfolds in a non-linear way, prompting a changes that initially were not on the radar.
Term 2 started with a clear goal - I needed to collect and analyse more data for my target students and continue on my inquiry journey. I had expected to do a round of IKAN and GLoSS testing and be on my way.

In the real world, however, my inquiry process stalled for a couple of reasons. Firstly, completing the testing was incredibly time consuming. Secondly, the results brought an unexpected outcome - four of my original group of 6 students tested at “well below”  i.e. 2+ years behind their required level. The immediate implication of this was that I needed to choose a new priority group at the 'below' level. The logic, as outlined in a previous post, being that it is easier to shift students at the ‘below ‘ (i.e 1 year behind their required level) than those who are under performing  at ‘well below’.

Looking head to Term 3, I will use the recent data to identify a new group of 'below' students. I can then proceed to test out my revamped focus question - the extent to which the format of maths problems will influence the problem solving abilities of my target students.

Friday, 30 June 2017

I can do IKAN differently!

I tried out modified IKAN testing approach suggested by Jo Knox and then implemented by my mentor teacher & Team Leader (TL) Andrea Tele'a.

My target students performed better in the new test context. They got to sit the test two times before marking their results. I noticed that students were a lot less flustered using this new format, as their was far less pressure to keep up with the quick flow of questions. If they missed a question, they knew they could catch it again in the second run through. This took the pressure off them to get the 'right answer' immediately.

Students were able to review their answers independently with an answer sheet and make a call and choose 2-3 'silly' mistakes they had made in the heat of the moment as well as and one question/domain to focus on. 

I think this approach was successful because it shifted the emphasis from passing/failing a test that would normally deliver a quick fire succession of questions to student's having time to work out answers and then making an honest self-assessment of their number knowledge.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Inquiry Update: Reset Focus

My initial inquiry was to investigate if the use of materials would assist my target students to improve their abilities in Algebra. Now, as Term 1 draws to a close, factors arose that suggest I need to reset my inquiry focus going forward.

1) Target group: Working with students across four groups I found that the students who needed and wanted support from physical materials were not my target group - they were students sitting at ‘well below'.

2) Types of materials - A variety of 'hands on' physical resources were made available to all students. It would have been useful to have alternative, potentially more appealing/engaging materials that could be used on online or were in some way device 'friendly'.

3) Change of content Due to the results of the initial IKAN testing in Feb 2017, the results for the target students showed there was gap in Place Value. This highlighted that Algebra, my original inquiry topic was not an urgent need for the group.

Students in the target group were tested in twice in Term 1 - February and April 2017. The results for Place Value show that 50% of the group improved by one stage i.e. moved from Stage 3 to Stage 4 and 25% of the group did not change their level (no drop or increase). NOTE: 2 students were only present for one test so no comparisons could be made.

Looking forward to Term 2, the focus for Team 5 will be Number and Statistics. A first step for resetting my inquiry, is to make better use of test data to help me identify the learning gaps for my priority learners in this part of the maths curriculum.

With a full set of data for my target students on their Number and Statistics levels, a possible new inquiry focus could be to investigate the nature of maths problems used with students - number or word problems?, real world examples? With these factors in mind, it will be interesting to find out to what extent the format of maths problems will influence the problem solving abilities of my target students.

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Using Materials to Improve Understanding

As a first year Beginning Teacher, I am new to the process of Teaching as Inquiry. I am looking forward to reflecting on my teaching practice in a systematic way and am keen to find out what is (or is not!) working to cause learning amongst my students and make changes where needed.

In deciding the focus for my Maths teaching inquiry this year, I am aware that some students have struggled to make sense of basic algebra problems. I am wondering whether the introduction of materials would be effective in helping students improve their understanding of the concepts of algebraic patterns. The nature of the materials used could include 'traditional' physical objects as well as tasks that include items that can be manipulated using a mouse or keyboard.

My first instinct is to focus on the most ‘at risk’students i.e. those sitting at ‘Well Below’. However, it has been suggested that it will be more beneficial to work with students who are ‘Below’ because there is less of a gap to progress them towards the ‘At’ benchmark. With all this in mind, the inquiry question I will have come up with is:  To what extent will the use of materials with my priority learners, improve their understanding of concepts/patterns in Algebra?

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

Teaching as Inquiry - Manaiakalani framework

“Recognising and spreading sophisticated pedagogical practice across our community so that students learn in better and more powerful ways...”

The Manaiakalani Community of Learning is working together on this task using the expertise existing in of our community of learning.

The teaching as inquiry framework I will be using in 2017 has been specifically co-constructed for Manaiakalani schools using our familiar Learn Create Share structure. The elements in this framework share close similarities with other models New Zealand teachers use.

I will be labelling my posts as I update my inquiry throughout the year to make the content easy to access as follows:

LEARN - LEvidence, LScan, LTrend, LHypothesise, LResearch, LReflect
CREATE - CPlan, CTry, CInnovate, CImplement, CReflect,
SHARE - SPublish, SCoteach, SModel, SGuide, SFback, SReflect

Label Key:
Learn - Gather Evidence
Create - Make a plan
Share - Publish
Learn - Scan
Create - Try new things
Share - Co-teach
Learn - Identify Trends
Create - Innovate
Share - Model
Learn - Hypothesise
Create - Implement
Share - Guide
Learn - Research
Create - Reflect
Share - Feedback
Learn - Reflect

Share - Reflect