Saturday, October 7, 2017

TeachMeet NZ meets Kahui Ako - 2017

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I had attended a couple of PD sessions by Brian Annan and Mary Wootton from Infinity Learning Org. about Learning Maps with the purpose of launching awareness of Agency at my school as part of our ACCoS focus. I subsequently led a couple of presentations to our staff to introduce them to Learning Maps and their administration to our students.

Before administering the Learning Maps to all children in may class about learning in general, I decided to trial it with a small group of children on reading because my team was focusing in this area for the school SAM's (Student Achievement Monitoring). That is how the idea for my inquiry started.

Later on, at EduCampAKL 2017 I ran into Sonya Van Schaijik and she asked me if I would like to be part of an online presentation for TeachMeet NZ about my ACCoS inquiry. Initially I was flattered and excited about the idea, but as the day drew closer I thought I started having second thoughts! Especially when I saw the line out of presenters!

Sonya made the process very accessible and smooth.
She provided me with a template and clear tips for my presentation.

We had a couple of video conferencing practices to iron out equipment procedures we needed to use on the day of the presentation, such as: how to enter and display our details on our Google Hangout screen, check if the sound in our laptops was working okay and how to screen share our presentation. We also practiced how to mute our own mic and stop our own camera from casting to avoid interference with the presenter who was having her turn.

Then it mas announced to the world via Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and e-mail!

We had a dress rehearsal three days before the event and I had the opportunity to listen to feedback and feed forward about my presentation. I reduced the amount of writing in my slides and I cut down on my oral presentation to fit the allocated time.

The days following the dress rehearsal I worked on my slides furiously and I practice my oral presentation with a timer several times a day.

NOTE: I used the Presenter's Notes option in my Google slides for my practice. Earlier on the day it dawn on me that the notes will be broadcast as well, interfering with my slides... So I had to print my notes and read them from paper.
I am yet to find out how to have the notes on screen without broadcasting them!

The time came!
My mic wasn't working!
I heard Sonya's calm voice saying "Turn off your machine". I hesitated because I knew it would take a long time to start up my laptop. I did it and I was back just in time to introduce myself!

All the presentations were relevant, captivating and extremely informative!
I was excited to have been part of this amazing group of presenters.

The following is my video and presentation:

See all presenters in the following video:

Thanks all presenters and special thanks to Sonya!

Saturday, August 5, 2017

The Learning Pit

At the beginning of this year, in Term 1 2017, I decided to bring to my class the Learning Pit to compliment the use of Growth Mindset. James Nottingham created the Learning Challenge or Learning Pit to enhance challenge and inquiry based on the works of Butler and Edwards in Transformational Learning  who described the process of learning and transformation as going through a pit.

James Nottingham loved the pit analogy and named four different stages:
1.- Concept- The learning challenge begins with a concept which was found in the local news, in a book, a child brought in, a teacher suggested it. This stage is the equivalent to the Uni-Structural stage of the SOLO Taxonomy.
2.- Conflict- At this stage the students are brought 'into the pit' by creating a conflict in their minds. When the children are at the bottom of the pit, they can be encouraged to use Growth Mindset ideas and self talk to build up resilience and to get ready to climb out of the pit. This stage is equivalent to the Multi-Structural level of the SOLO Taxonomy.
3.- Construct- After students are in the pit for some time gathering information from peers and by quality teacher questioning, the students start to build new meaning which leads to a sense of 'I got it!' (labelled by Nottingham as 'Eureka'). At this stage children help peers come out of the pit. This is the equivalent of the Relational stage in the SOLO Taxonomy.
4.- Consider- Once the children are out of the pit, they reflect on the journey through the different stages of the pit (and the SOLO Taxonomy) and how they can apply this process to different concepts and / or contexts. This is the equivalent to the Extended Abstract Stage of the SOLO Taxonomy.

The Learning Pit A video exploring the concept of what a tourist is.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Growth Mindset

In 2016 I introduced Growth Mindset to my Year 2 class by talking about mistakes and asking children for their opinion about the roles of mistakes in their learning. I was lucky that a number of children already displayed a Growth Mindset by expressing the mistakes were okay, but no one was able to expand on what to do after we made a mistake. A few children were silent during the discussion - a couple of them happened to be ESOL children and one of them placed great importance on getting answers to questions right.
We had lessons on Growth Mindset every two weeks on a Friday morning. We had a session where children wrote their before views about What do we Use Our Brain for?  on Post-It notes and displayed in the classroom. After that we watched a video Video: How the Brain Works and we revisited our before views on the brain and added new information to the display.
In the following lesson I read the book 'Giraffes Can't Dance' to the children and explained to them about how we make use of self talk all day every day especially during important events. Using 'Think, Pair, Share' children talked about their thoughts during the race 'Run, Swim, Run'. Show children a set of sentences expressing Fixed and Growth Mindset thought and ask them to classify them accordingly.

I showed children the different Class Dojo videos on Growth Mindset where perseverance is mentioned Dojo Class Video and other videos about experiencing failure / making mistakes and learning from them Famous Failures which lead to the following activity.
I set up three tables where children had to write in Post-It notes activities they did. In Table 1 they had to mention an activity they did yearly and we displayed them hanging from a cotton thread. In Table 2, they had to mention an activity they did only on summer and we displayed them hanging from a piece of yarn. In Table 3 they had to mention an activity they did daily or weekly and we displayed them hanging from a piece of cord. We discussed the frequency of activities and the strength of the skills related to the activities and then I asked them why I chose different thickness of thread to display their activities and a couple of children hit the nail on the head by comparing the different threads to the different kind of connections in the brain and their relationship with the frequency we practice something.

To prepare for these lessons I read the following books:

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Action Research- Connecting Globally and Reluctant Writers


 What Impact have our Global Connections
had on Room 11's Reluctant Writers?
By Patricia Whitmore
To be read with presentation
Scanning: Reluctant Writers in Room 11- Year 2
Sam, Nicholas and Copper showed some of the traits described by Catriona Pene in her Slide Share (2013) on Reluctant Writers.
Teacher observation and the target children’s writing samples from February showed:
-          - Little enthusiasm towards writing.
-          - Difficulty coming up with ideas on what to write about.
-          - No real reason to write.
-          In Cooper’s case lack of vocabulary.
-          In Sam’s and Nicholas’ cases they used ‘sounding out’ strategy to write but the sounds they produced did not match the letters they wrote.

2.      Focusing: Motivation to write
To deal with some of the obstacles the Reluctant Writers were facing...
Target children's parents were contacted to find out what their children's interests were.
- Only two parents replied.
- Two parents suggested a topics that I had not included in my lessons.
- One parent went the extra mile and added photos of her child enjoying his interests.

I had a chat with Natalie Morfett about how she motivated her own students and she suggested to use real experiences (formerly known and Language Experiences).

I observed these children during writing sessions...
- Nicholas dragged his feet to his seat and then he used to rest on his forehead and dangle his arms on the sides.
- Sam would seat quietly and 'fly under the radar'.
- Cooper would engage others in lengthy conversations.

3.      Developing a Hunch
From my observation in class and analysis of these children’s work I was able to conclude that three areas needed attention:
-          Lack of children motivation to write.
-          Lack of purpose for their writing.
-          Poor reading skills – Sam had attended Remedial Reading sessions in Year 1 and Nicholas and Cooper are currently attending them.
I decided to focus only in Motivation and Purpose because these children’s reading skills were being already attended to via Remedial Reading sessions.

4.      Learning: Design of New Learning
Recently, in New Zealand the view of knowledge has change from getting to creating and from learning areas to vision, values and principles (R. Bolstad et al, 2012) to cater for 21st Century students and Global Citizens. Meanwhile ICT started enabling global connections and global collaboration through the use of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, Skype, Blogs, Wikis and online communities such as Classroom 2.0, and so on. Later on Google Apps have simplified connectedness and collaboration completely.
A 21st Century Student / Educator
A 21st Century learner is one who uses social media and Web 2.0 tools to create and co-create knowledge with the guidance of a connected educator. The roles of learners and educators are being redefined by moving away from the terms ‘teacher drive’ or ‘child centred’ (R. Bolstad et al, 2012).
See video in presentation.

Connected Educator-
Definition by Tom De Boor and Darren Cambridge.
See presentation.

Connected Educator Month (CEM)
It is an initiative created by the Department of Education of the USA to provide teachers with a platform to become and stay globally connected. It is an amazing range of events online that lasts a whole month (October). Sometimes countries like New Zealand runs a parallel program linked to CEM USA. It caters for beginners with a ‘how to become connected’ guide, to live discussions via Google Hangouts that one can join or see them later in You Tube or in the CEM webpage.

Why Connect Globally?
‘Greater “connectedness” between schools and other organisations, groups and individuals in the wider community is a key part of 21st century education’ ((R. Bolstad et al, 2012)’
See video in presentation.

The Connected Teacher Network
First Layer- It is called the Professional Learning Community (PLC). It is a traditional school based structure formed by the school where the educator works. It is all the personnel in the school, the children and the parents. The educator’s professional development or learning usually happens in a Top Down approach and in some schools the teachers choose to learn about issues related to the needs of his / her class or needs of his / her own professional learning. When professional learning, inquiry and reflection happens it gives the teachers a sense of empowerment, creates a climate of inquiry and generates change.
Second Layer- It is called Communities of Practice. They are groups of like-minded people who share an interest, a concern, a problem, passion, etc. who interact in an on-going basis and in this case they are on-line, global and diverse. Examples: Classroom 2.0, Virtual Learning Network (VLN NZ), Connected Educators Month, Pinterest, LinkedIn and so on. These communities work under the ideology that “None of us is as good as all of us”. Elienne Wegner (1998) these communities have three distinctive criteria:
a.      A Shared domain of interest.
b.      Collective competence among equals who are skilful and talented.
c.       A shared practice or common sense of purpose.
The purpose of these communities is to create relationships, construct knowledge, create meaning in authentic ways and innovate.
Third Layer- It is called Professional Learning Network (PLN) - Video. They are about individuals gathering information and sharing resources that enhance their personal and professional learning and growth. PLN’s are reciprocal learning systems where educators share learning and resources. It involves regular communication and it breaks down physical and geographical barriers through the use of digital tools. PLN’s revitalise an educator’s practice and they are the PD of the 21st century.

What other Schools are doing
Point England School, Glen Innes, AUCKLAND
- Globally and locally connected.
- To have a real audience and their feedback/feed-forward.
- To collaborate to learn.
- Through Google sites, Google Apps, Hapara Dashboard and blogs.
- Changes: * Lift in engagement both behaviourally and cognitively.
                    * Acceleration in writing- more than expected: over 1 year.
                    * Acceleration in reading - more than expected: 1.5 -2 year levels in one academic year.
  NOTE: Low decile school where children go into school up to 2 years below expectation.

Stonefields School, Mt Wellington, AUCKLAND
- Globally and locally connected.
- To create an opportunity for learning that involves them in the real world.
- To collaborate to learn.
- Through Twitter account and blogs.
- Changes: * More engaged and motivated due to authentic context and purpose.
                    * Enjoyment for learning in the 21st Century way.

5.      Taking Action: We Got Connected!
What do I want for my Reluctant Writers?
-          A purpose.
-          A real audience.
-          To experience success.
-          To be able to see and share their progress.
-          View themselves as writer, authors and publishers.
Catriona Pene (2013)

Taking Action:
   I reached out to my (small) PLN via Twitter and Google+ and I established a pen-pal experience between children in Room 11 and high school children in Greece and another group in France. ‘The 21st century learning literature argues that today’s students need to engage in knowledge-generating activities in authentic contexts’ (R. Bolstad et al, 2012).
   All the exchanges with our pen-pals and members of our immediate community were recorded in our class blog. We exchanged letters via Google Docs and Google Slides and we also exchanged videos. We did not Skype with our pen-pals due to International time differences, but instead we Skyped with members of our immediate community.
    After writing our first letters, children were to proof read their letters and add information they thought their pen-pals wanted to know. Sam, Nicholas and Cooper added a number of sentences to their existing letter, something they had not done before! As shown in their writing samples from March.
   Writing samples from the middle of August show that these reluctant writers are writing longer stories. The stories show a structure in the shape of complete sentences, well sequenced ideas, chapters and interesting verbs and adjectives. Nicholas, Sam and Cooper do not show a negative attitude towards writing anymore and they are able to choose a topic for writing with ease.
Nicholas created a series of books about Gruffalo for Book Week and at the end of August he created a video about Ninjago ninjas. He wrote the script, read it and his mum filmed it. 

6.      Checking: Have I made a difference?
   Their early February writing samples showed these children were writing one to two simple sentences in one writing session (60 minutes).
   Their late March samples showed that they were writing longer compositions, using a wider vocabulary with ease (because their compositions were letters about themselves), writing more sophisticated sentences and editing for meaning.
   Their mid-August writing samples show evidence of use of interesting adjectives and nouns, strong verbs and even use of chapters.
The three boys are not reluctant to write anymore, Nicholas is the only one who has developed a real love for writing. He is eager to conference with me, he creates books for family members and peers and he has created a video based on a script he wrote. During drama sessions he took the role of script writing for his group.

7.      Recommendations
What I Learned from the Experience
Please see presentation

-          The Connected Educator- Learning and Leading in a Digital Age. Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach and Lani Ritter Hall. Solution Tree Press USA, 2012.
-          Engaging Reluctant Writers Using e-Learning Tools. Catriona Pene. CORE Education Slide Share- Online Presentation. New Zealand, 2013.

-          Supporting future-oriented learning & teaching — a New Zealand perspective Report to the Ministry of Education. R. Bolstad & J. Gilbert with S. McDowall, A. Bull, S. Boyd & R. Hipkins New Zealand Council for Educational Research. New Zealand, 2012.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Modern Learning Environments / Innovative Learning Space

- From CORE Education


What we know about learning has increased dramatically over the last 20 years. MRI scanning that allows us to see inside the brain as learning occurs, and landmark studies such as John Hattie’s Visible Learning (Hattie, 2008) mean that we now have a much better idea of how learning occurs. As a result of these developments and others, we know that quality learning is a combination of the following elements:

● Personalised learning: no two individuals learn in the same way, nor do they bring the same prior knowledge to a learning experience. The way we learn is as unique as our fingerprint. 

● Socially constructed learning (Johnson, 1981): the collaboration, peer-tutoring and reciprocal teaching that occurs when students work together results in a deeper understanding of the material being covered. 

● Differentiated learning (Bloom, 1974): the prior knowledge we all bring to a task means individuals require different levels of challenge, pace, content and context. 

● Learning that is initiated by students themselves (Ramey & Ramey, 2004): typically when a student initiates a learning experience or exploration, they learn more. 

● Learning that is connected to the physical world and authentic contexts: children learn through interaction with others and the physical world (Malone & Tranter, 2003). Learning about pond ecosystems is more powerful if students visit a pond in addition to learning about them in a classroom or textbook. 

Most of New Zealand’s school buildings were built in a time when direct instruction was considered the only pedagogy that resulted in effective learning. “Factory-style’ learning (where all students learn the same things, at the same time, in lock-step fashion) has largely disappeared from our classes. However the actual classrooms largely remain as they were originally designed, and still retain the suggestion of factory-style learning. 

Features of modern learning environments Modern learning environments that align better with what we know about the brain and student learning can facilitate traditional pedagogies such as direct instruction if needed, but they typically offer students and teachers much more: 

● Flexibility: the ability to combine two classes into one for team-teaching, split a class into small groups and spread them over a wider area or combine different classes studying complementary learning areas.

● Openness: modern learning environments traditionally have fewer walls, more glass and often use the idea of a learning common (or hub) which is a central teaching and learning  space that can be shared by several classes. They provide opportunities to observe and learn from the teaching of others and be observed in return. They also provide access to what students in other learning areas and level are learning, so that teaching and learning can be complemented and enhanced. 

● Access to resources (including technology): typically a learning common is surrounded by breakout spaces allowing a range of different activities, such as reading, group work, project space, wet areas, reflection, and presenting. There is often a mixture of wireless and wired technology offering access as and when students need it, within the flow of their learning.

Kurt Soares and Kirsty Soames, from South New Brighton School, describe how they started team teaching and constructed a collaborative space from a traditional classroom with their students. Kurt comments, "It’s been an easy process and it’s certainly improved learning in my class."

Anne Kenneally: Student designed learning spaces from EDtalks on Vimeo.
Anne Kenneally (@annekenn) has been on a year long learning journey visiting classrooms around New Zealand. Anne has decided to create a radically different learning space for her learners from the one they are used to. We talk to Anne at the beginning of 2012 as she awaits the arrival of her students to start her trial of 'doing learning differently'.

Part 3 three of series revealing the transformation of a crowded classroom to a space that facilitates new and deeper ways of teaching and learning enabled by the physical changes.

Anne Kenneally: Creating learning spaces from EDtalks on Vimeo.
Anne Kenneally started the year looking at desks in rows and thought there just has got to be a better way. She has spent this year experimenting with student designed learning spaces, allowing the students to take the lead in deciding what spaces they need for different activities. In this EDtalk Anne explores the changes in her students and their learning environment.

What I have learnt:
- Link the pedagogy to the modern building.
- MLE cater for the environmental needs of the students to improve their learning: air flow, access to natural light, ergonomic furniture, flexible furniture, quiet spaces, open spaces that allow collaboration.
- MLE give the children more autonomy.