Monday, 7 December 2015
Monday, 30 November 2015
The two years since being accepted have been an incredible journey, with some of the many highlights being:
- attending and presenting at conferences (GAFE, U-Learn, BYOD)
- study towards an honours degree alongside my mentor teacher
- piloting 1:1 iPads in a junior classroom alongside my mentor teacher
- weekly digital learning sessions with the inspiring Dorothy Burt
- two movies submitted to the Manaiakalani Film Festival with both making the evening showcase screening
- working with nine other amazing MDTA beginning teachers
Monday, 23 November 2015
Wednesday, 11 November 2015
- All learners in the classroom were included in the movie
- The 'message' of the movie was applicable for my five year old learners
- The learners had a chance to experience being "real actors" - yes that mean't dressing up and doing things again and again - the same as real actors have to do!
Using You Tube clips which are age appropriate for my learners, I've created an inquiry topic board and once again used QR codes so learners are able to have some choice about which animals they are exploring.
In order to minimise the noise in the classroom, some learners were able to work outside.
Although I've used QR codes with my class throughout the year, this was to link to Tiny Tap activities I'd created and this was the first time they had some choice in the inquiry area. The learners were extremely engaged and keen to explore and share.
I'm now being constantly asked when we can have another lesson with the QR Codes! It's great that the learners are able to turn this enthusiasm into learning and I look forward to sharing some of that on my blog over the coming weeks!
Tuesday, 3 November 2015
This constraint, often bought about through not enough mileage in multiple contexts can inhibit their learning. As Jannie reminded us today, we need to provide experiences which are engaging for our learners and expand on their existing bank of oral language through gifting.
Some main points that I took away from today's session include:
- All children have a need for language encounters
- Focus on retell - lots & lots - vary the text being used
- Stories are more likely to end up with language acquisition than songs - recycling is extremely important
- To be great writers, learners need to be more fluent in what they can say - if you don't push for fullness, demonstrate, model, the oral language won't improve
- An inhibitor to discussion (and writing) can be what is known by the learner about the topic & what they can bring to the text
- Our learners need us to "bombard" them with oral language and rich pickings
- Language is only a tool for making meaning
- Use pictures and have a conversation about it - share ideas orally - we have to make it noticeable and retrievable - need to trigger their knowns
- As the teacher, I need to make it noticeable - repeat it - highlight it - reword it and most of all repeat it
Thursday, 22 October 2015
Tuesday, 20 October 2015
Some of the ideas that were contributed from the group include:My learners are struggling to remember blends (letter combinations which make a sound eg ch or st) are holding learners back in reading & writing. What sort of independent activities can I create on the iPad to assist learners with practicing these.
- Start off with shorter blends or ones most frequently used first
- Use sound bites that learners can press & hear what the blend/word is
- Chunk the blend and the remaining part of the word and have pictures so learners can put the whole word together (include sound bites)
- Break up words and re-create (with pictures and cues)
- Flash card type activity - beat the clock - repetitive
- Work on blend families eg play/plays/playing/played which also will work on word endings
- Use song - link to You Tube clips focusing on that blend
With these great ideas in mind, tonight I have created an Explain Everything project as a starting point focusing on the "st", "gr" and "ch" blends. Each project has a short video clip (song) about the blend and then activities using the above ideas. Some screen shots from the first project are included below. As always, the plan is to test this first project before creating others - watch this space.
|Title Slide - used as a visual on my reading rotation board|
|create "gr" words|
|create "st" words|
|Putting it all together - match the picture with the beginning sound|
Monday, 19 October 2015
Day 2 began with another thought provoking Keynote delivered by Ann Lieberman entitled "What do we know about Teaching Leadership, and what's to gain?" Ann told us that "we are great storytellers in teaching" and her story described the National Writing project she was involved in (in the United States). Ann described teaching leadership as:
- A way of organising learning
- A way of understanding connections between knowledge and practice
- A way of learning skills and abilities to nurture a community among peers
- A way of negotiating the tensions between privacy and community
- Classroom environment
- Teacher technique
- Listening skills
- The Power of Language
"Children who laugh more ... learn more." - Dr David Sousa
I particularly liked the way that Paula referred to camera angles with her class - snails view, possum view, birds view etc and intend to create visuals to support this with next years class. As Paula stated, having learners know how to take really good photos to document their learning early on, sets them up for success throughout their learning journey.
After a great "On the High Seas" ULearn dinner it was back for the final day of learning. Today's first session for me was the joint presentation by the "Manaiakalani Innovative Teachers (MIT)" allowing a small peak into the great innovations they've been developing this year. The inquiries of all the MIT teachers can be explored here.
Following the presentation of my second session, the final Keynote was Pat Sneddon, chairman of the Manaiakalani Trust. No matter how many times I hear Pat speak he's always totally inspiring and the entire audience was spellbound by his story. For those unfamiliar with the Manaiakalani story, this video, created by some Pt England learners was shown during Pat's keynote. This website also documents the Manaiakalani story.
Edit: Pat's full presentation is available to view here
Monday, 12 October 2015
Despite our session being scheduled at the venue furtherest from the Sky City, we had a great attendance and having two presenters enabled us to provide guidance as teachers explored the app. We'd created a presentation to quickly scaffold the tools and give specific examples to some of the activities we've created in our classrooms. Our presentation was supported by a Google Site (which includes our presentation) with resources for the session which is available publicly to be explored.
Thursday, 8 October 2015
As I reflect on Term 3 of my second year of teaching, I look back on the goals I had for this term and think about how far I've come with each of them:
- Complete my research dissertation - so close - just some formatting and a little tweaking to go - this mountain has definitely been conquered and I can definitely say the effort has been worth it - its been inspiring to research the practice of other teachers and I know my own practice has improved as I embrace the ideas of others - #collaboration
- Transition to using Class Dojo for class management - I found this was not as effective with my learners this year as it was last year. I feel the special needs learners I have in my class respond better to a more visual reward system of putting a sticker on their chart. I think perhaps the ability for them to always see at any time their progress has more influence?
- Continue to innovate with the iPads - this term I've focused on the use of sound bites more than ever as a way of allowing my learners to repeat or re-listen to my instructions. We still unpack the activity at the teaching table, but I find particularly on the bigger projects, learners will forget what an instruction is - the sound bites have definitely made a difference in the "what do I do on this slide Mrs Belt" visits to my teaching table!
- My Inquiry Journey - as part of our ongoing school wide professional development I've really enjoyed continually exploring my practice and sharing this with a group of like-minded individuals from my school. The end of term presentation feedback session was particularly inspiring and motivating and I found myself wanting to hear back from everyone (which of course time doesn't permit). I'm looking forward to continuing this journey next term.
- Sharing with others outside of Manaiakalani - I had two opportunities this term (the most recent being ULearn15) and I continue to be motivated by both blogging and these presentations - its great that others are interested in what I have to say and I hope what I share has value to other educators - I love my job and am so enthusiastic about working in a digital learning environment which embraces and allows innovation
- Explain Everything reading projects - I have been particularly pleased with how engaged my learners have been with the additional reading Explain Everything activities this term and how they allow each learner to revisit their text on a second day. I definitely feel this is more purposeful for learners on days when I'm unable to see them at the teaching table and plan to continue with this into Term 4
- My research dissertation - this has been an inspiring journey and I've grown as a teacher as a result of observing and analysing the practice of others. As I dot the final i's and cross the final t's before calling it complete I know at times completing it has been a hard road (particularly with balancing a family) but its definitely been a highlight of my year and I know its opened my eyes to even more possibilities.
- My Manaiakalani Film Festival movie - I can't say any more, but watch this space in mid November!
- The amazing team of teachers I work with - to be in such a collaborative, caring and sharing environment makes even the hardest challenges seem easier. I feel extremely lucky to be surrounded by experienced teachers who are happy to share ideas and resources so willingly. Having this amazing resource to ask advice of has made my journey so much easier and I'm extremely thankful for their willingness and collaborative nature!
- Behaviour management continues to be a challenge in the classroom, and just when I think I have made progress, more curve balls come along to tip the scales again. Thanks to some great ideas from teachers in my team I have some great new ideas to implement in Term 4 (star of the day, whole class reward) as a way to motivate some special learners in my class and assist me in managing their special behaviours.
- Time - it was interesting that during yesterday's ULearn Keynote "time" featured as the one thing most teachers wanted more of! Without the additional pressure of my Research Dissertation next term I'm hoping to have a little more 'downtime' and more time to spend creating and innovating (and some exercise too!)
Term Four is a busy term (I remember that from last year) but I still have some goals which are amazingly close to completion:
- Implement the ideas from colleagues for behaviour management with my learners to ensure a more settled learning environment and make the most of this term for accelerating learning
- Complete the requirements to become a Fully Registered Teacher
- Complete my Honours degree
Wednesday, 7 October 2015
I really enjoyed the opportunity to share my learning journey to date with conference participants at ULearn15. After being inspired earlier in the day with the opening Keynote and breakout sessions, I was glad of the time and effort I'd put into my own presentation. I still find it amazing that I get so much enjoyment out of sharing with others, and despite not being a fan of public speaking in the past have embraced the Learn, Create, SHARE mantel of Manaiakalani and continue to get immense satisfaction through sharing my journey.
— Marnel van der Spuy (@1MvdS) October 7, 2015
— Marnel van der Spuy (@1MvdS) October 7, 2015
- creative (student owned, knowledge creators)
- adaptive (collaborative)
- permeable (partnerships with the community, online, blended, regional, global)
- dynamic (messy, noisy, tailored, eg take it apart Tuesday)
- Fear and inertia - change cannot happen without taking risks
- Anchors - attaching us to ‘time, space and subject’ and "holding us to a world that no longer exists"
- Silos - standing in the way of connectivity
Tuesday, 15 September 2015
They took to the concept very quickly and they were able to complete the task and then record on their Explain Everything project to show their learning. This gave me visibility of what they were doing and I could quickly ascertain that one learner was stumbling in the "teens" even with the visual in front of her. Another learner was confident with the counting however "sixty" and "eighty" crept in rather than "sixteen" and "eighteen".
Monday, 14 September 2015
To this end, I am introducing a new slide to the Reading Activity project this week. I do try to introduce a new one each week and have a bank of 15 slides now that I can pick and choose from for different learners or groups. This also helps with variety and engagement with this activity. The new slide asks learners to copy/transcribe the words from one page of their book. To scaffold this for my learners I've created some laminated keyboard cards which shows the letters in lower case. I remember from last year that many learners struggled to find the letters on the Upper Case keyboard. One of the updates I'm most looking forward to is the introduction of the lower case keyboard for the iPad as this will negate this scaffolding.
As with any new activity I will introduce this to the learners as a whole class first on the Apple TV so they can see how to change the size of the text box and how to put a space between words. I fully expect to take this activity further and over the coming weeks learners will have the opportunity to type some of there responses as well as handwrite others - I think the combination will give them an opportunity to practice both their skills.
Sunday, 13 September 2015
Tomorrow we have our termly staff presentations on our inquiry journey and I've been putting my presentation together this afternoon - yes the blog post is already scheduled! I frequently use my blog as a way of looking back at what I've been doing over the term and in doing so today I noticed this number:
"Of course, achieving results like these doesn’t happen magically. Just giving devices to students and hoping it makes a difference is not a plan at all and is likely to result in nothing more than a waste of school funds.
Successful implementation of any large technology initiative requires effective planning and well designed professional development. It’s really just that simple. "
Monday, 31 August 2015
As part of our ongoing inquiry into our practice, this afternoon we are meeting to discuss where we are at, and giving feedback and support to those in our group. This term, I'm working with a new inquiry group. My group, and links to their inquiry blogs are:
Tuesday, 25 August 2015
Today I asked learners that were not working with me to take a photo of our 100s board in Explain Everything and skip count in tens. We uploaded their work to their Google Drive and tonight I was able to watch all the movies quickly from my laptop and hear immediately which learners needed assistance.
Once again I love the power of the voice, and hearing what the learners are doing. I plan to use this activity again tomorrow and have learners count to 20, again recording their voice. This will enable me to determine if there are any learners that are mixing the "teen" and "ty" as they count through their teen numbers.
Monday, 24 August 2015
Last week after reading Bubble Trouble, we talked about the language in the book and what happened to the bubbles which the two friends in the story were competing to create. This lead into our writing session and we wrote a story about bubbles being transparent - a word I gifted my learners. Our whole class story for the day was:
The learners were really engaged with book the book and the concept so I extended this into writing for a second day, with a plan to extend it into a third day and have the learners experience blowing bubbles and then free-write about the experience. This idea came from something that occurs in a colleagues classroom, with a story/idea being built on over the week and vocabulary gifted to the learners that they are able to find and use in their own stories during the free writing session. Our second day story was:
On the third day we went outside and had fun blowing bubbles. It was really interesting to see the learners using some of the gifted vocabulary to describe what was happening to the bubbles. Of course, what I was most interested in was what the learners would be able to write and what vocabulary they would choose to reuse. A selection of the stories created include:
"I like the bubbles. The bubbles went up in the sky."
"We blow the small bubbles and we blow the big bubbles. We blow the big bubbles and the bubbles float."
Tuesday, 18 August 2015
While I often ask follow up questions during my guided reading session, I am also keen to include comprehension questions in my follow up Explain Everything projects which the learners work on independently. I have done this in the past but found that learners can sometimes be tripped up by having to "read the questions." They understand the question if its given to them orally, but may not be able to read all the words used if they have to read it - and its not always possible to phrase it in a way that it uses words that I know they will be able to read and understand.
I've recently tried using sound bites to ask the comprehension questions as part of their project, which is proving extremely successful. The learner is able to listen to the question and then find the answer in their book and write it onto the page.
An example of this, for the book "The Duck with a Broken Wing" (this is one of six slides in the project for one group of learners who are reading this book later this week):
I've found using soundbites so successful that I am beginning to add them to many of the pages I create. This allows the learner to listen to the instructions again and prevents them having to return to my desk if they have forgotten what I said when I scaffolded the project. In most cases the sound bite is exactly the same as the text on the page so the learners are able to listen and follow along with the words.