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Thursday, 16 November 2017

Bursts and Bubbles - My Impact Burst


Tīhei mauri ora!

Nau mai haere mai ki taku rangitaki.  Ko ēnei aku whakaaro e pā ana ki tōku haerenga i tēnei tau.  E toru o ngā pātai matua hei tohu mō āku whakaaro.  Ko tōku tino tumanako i tēnei tau, ki te whakapakari te wairua me te hinengaro a mātou tamariki Māori kei roto i tōku kura tuatahi.  Ahakoa he huarahi roa, ngā piki me ngā heke... ehara ngā tamariki te wero - te maunga...ko te pūnaha kura te maunga!  Engari, ka piki tonu au ki tēnei maunga.

Mēna, he whākaaro tāu, he pātai rānei, nau mai āu whakaaro kei te pouaka kōrero kei raro.  Ngā mihi!

What happened for the learners?
  • The learnt some basic Te Reo Māori including karakia, pūrākau, significant signs and symbols and some basic sentence structures.
  • Whakaaro Māori was integrated across the curriculum.
  • Whakaaro Māori was talked about and discussed across the curriculum including history, policies, whakataukī, links to the natural world, Matariki, whānau, mauri and mana.
  • 'Ako' was practiced through mixed ability grouping and tuakana/teina and across classes.
  • Could clearly identify the 'whys' behind some of our most at risk students as they were all in one space - previously falling between cracks.
  • Learners learnt more about themselves and their cultures and perspectives of the past - they explored why things may have come to be nowadays and learnt that 'What is Māori' is different for all Māori.  
  • A strategic plan for all Māori in our school was put into place through my participation with the Change Team.
  • I was able to contribute to planning templates which now clearly include a place for Māori perspectives.

What evidence do I have for this?
  • Students using Te Reo without teacher prompting in class.
  • Students using Te Reo in blog posts without teacher prompting.
  • Students volunteering to teach other students across school levels, Te Reo and Māori games.
  • Students leading assemblies in Te Reo.
  • Increased reading ages, in particular, in evaluative questioning - or the 'going beyond' questions.
  • Ideas improved in writing - extending ideas to make connections with audience and wider world.
  • Behaviourally - at risk students from previous year were now leaders and successful contributors in the school community - 3 of these key students winning scholarships to Wesley College in 2018.
  • Year 8 students discussing study options for Year 9 including a pathway to Te Reo Māori classes in which they feel they will achieve success.  NB:  Building a positive sense of future self.

What did I do to make this happen?
  • Concentrated on Te Whare Tapa Whā - holistic well being.
  • Started with 'Who am I?' and kept this question the focus throughout the year.
  • Empowered students through the knowledge of who they are and why being Māori is awesome.
  • Encouraged critical thinking about the Māori world view.
  • Integrated a Māori context for learning in all learning areas.
  • Promoted Te Reo Māori as a gift that was special for the students.  
  • Shared Whakataukī weekly so students could gain a sense of understanding of beliefs from the past (hard working people are awesome, lazy people aren't), as well as develop metaphorical thinking (Māori spoke in mataphors!).
  • Made the mana and wairua of the students the main focus of my teaching time.
Wonderings about what next?
  • How can I strengthen this programme even more?
  • How can I now consolidate what I found worked well this year, with best practice from previous years that may have lost my focus?  E.g. visible learning.
  • How can I refine what I did this year in relation to assessment and National Standards?
  • What are other teachers doing around Aotearoa that is similar?  What challenges are they facing and how can we connect to learn, create and share together?
If you have been following this journey this year, thank you for your time and I hope there was something useful that came out of this for you to use in your classroom.  

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Ako in Action - Te Wiki o te Reo Māori

Room 10 were asked to share their reo expertise with the school as part of our Wiki o te Reo Māori celebrations and to put ako into action.

I put students into groups of 3-4 and then asked them to decide which year levels they would prefer to take responsibility for.  Luckily for me, I had a very even spread of boys and girls groups and an even spread of those wanting to work in the junior classes and those that wanted to work in the senior classes.

Next, we brainstormed ideas for possible lessons.  We brainstormed ways we enjoy learning.  We discussed Learn, Create, Share as a possible structure for our lessons.  Students were challenged to co-construct lesson plans using Google Slides in their groups.  The lessons had to be about an hour long and cater to the many different ages and skill sets of the students in our school.

I was amazed by their plans.  Students had many ideas.  What they needed support with was the 'theme' or 'thread' of the lesson.  E.g. if they had a slide with information about a tiki on it, what were they going to get students to create from that information?  Or, having slides with youtube videos were great, but how were they practically going to 'teach' the class the song they had chosen to embed?  Students had to think about what they find helpful when they are learning and what switches them off!  They said long stretches of talk could be broken up with games or songs.  A very common thread was ART activities.  Something I know my class love, so that was great for me to see as their teacher.  To see what they enjoy.

Here are the students' incredible lesson plans.  I am sharing these with you, because I will no doubt be using these in my future lessons with future classes!  They have basically created Te Reo lesson plans and resources!







Our regular learning timetable was put aside as we dedicated the week to planning, printing, practicing and teaching our lessons around the school.

Students were buzzing!  I had comments from teachers about confidence and students returning to class saying, "Miss, I want to be a teacher now!"  I definitely did not let them forget that this is what I have to do for Reading, Writing, Maths, Inquiry for four groups each Sunday night!  I think we had a shared appreciation.  Especially after their teaching time was done.  "Miss, they were a bit switched off, but I think it was because it was the afternoon."  YEP.  "Miss, they did that part really fast, so we played a game."  AMEN.




I am glad to have had the push for this from my principal!  Embrace the chaos.  Put classroom routines to the side and give students the opportunity to create and shine.  It has been a great week.  And it was ALL THEM!  Ka mau te wehi.


Friday, 25 August 2017

Confirming Hunches: Class Observation in Numeracy

Each term, we are observed by our team leaders to help inform next steps in our teaching and develop ideas related to our target students.  This week, Aireen came to observe Maths in my class.

One of the key comments in her feedback form to me was:

"...most students said if they are stuck on the task that they would ask a buddy for help - not from the same group. This shows that the Tuakana/Teina maths that you are doing in the class is working as students have the confidence to ask for help from their peers in another group..."

What makes me happy about this, is that the Maths Tuakana concept appears to be embedding in the classroom learning ethos.  Students are identifying those who they can turn to for support and the classroom environment supports collaboration and open learning conversations between students.

I am going to keep working on this, but it is always nice to have affirmation from other teachers, that they see what you think might be happening...or trying to achieve.


Thursday, 24 August 2017

Mixed Ability Grouping in Maths: Learning about Decimals

We enjoyed another morning of mixed ability Maths for the first hour session of the day.  We are focusing on decimals at the moment - particularly, place value of decimals up to the thousandths place.

I am a big fan of deci-pipes as a material to support students to visualise the decimal numbers.

Students were put into groups of four and numbered themselves off 1-4.

I would write a decimal number on the board and call a person to make that number using the deci-pipes.  The group were allowed to support them to make the number.

I saw great engagement, and students who are in my target group participating and using great maths language.  You can see more of this in action below (photos and video):


I will definitely play this game again as a warm up over the next few weeks.  The students said it was great fun and having four groups, we had the opportunity to repeat learning four times (repetition without boring!).  In particular, I saw one of my target students taking on a real leadership role, which I think is due to the safer environment of being in a 'team,' rather than having to answer anxiety inducing multiplication questions on his own.  This was a Year 8 student currently achieving at Stage 5, so this was exciting to see him being so enthusiastic when learning about decimals with his friends.

This photo illustrates the problem progression I followed.  Starting with:
  • Creating a decimal number inclusive of tenths and hundredths.
  • Adding decimals inclusive of tenths and hundredths
  • Adding decimal numbers inclusive of tenths, hundredths and thousandths.
  • Adding decimal numbers that required place value knowledge to 'roll over' groups of 10.


The last question was a big challenge, but I always like ending on a challenge so students have an idea of what to expect in the next lesson and a way forward.

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

Integrating Reading and Inquiry through Group work - Jigsaw Activity

This task is not a task I invented.  It is a tried and true jigsaw task learnt from my TESSOL diploma studies.

The reason I like it, is because it includes the 4 different modes of literacy:  Reading, Writing, Speaking and Listening.  I also like it because it promotes positive relationships in the class with students in mixed ability groups.  Another positive is that students are forced to become 'experts' in their own area so you generally get little behavioural issues or students relying on others for all the answers.

Because we now teach Maths for 2 hours in the mornings, I had to find a way to integrate literacy learning in the middle block.  I wondered how I might do this, and settled on trying to use inquiry as the context and using mixed ability grouping as a strategy.

First, I picked 5 texts - all based on hobbies:

  1. Just One Wheel (Year 4 : L2 May : 2015 : P2-11)
  2. The Man Who Makes Animals (Year 6 : Part 02 No. 4 : 1993 : Pgs 30-35)
  3. The GHB (Year 6 : Part 03 No. 02 : 2006 : 29-32)
  4. In Sync (Year 6 : Part 03 No. 02 : 2006 : 9-13)
  5. Half a Bit of Butterflies (Year 6 : Part 03 No. 1 : 2000 : Pgs 2-7)

Next I created this recording sheet with the key ideas along the top that I wanted students to think about as they were reading.

After that I asked students to choose their own groups of 5 - these become the 'home groups.'

In their home groups, students numbered themselves off 1-5.

I asked all the 1's to stand up (should be one person in each group)

They were given a recording sheet each and one text to read together.

This continued for numbers 2-5.

In number groups, students worked together to read the text and complete their boxes on the jigsaw sheet.

Students then returned to home groups to report back.

By the end of this session, all students should have a completed recording sheet - hence the name - jigsaw!


This could be done by hand or electronically, but I have found in the past, electronic versions lend themselves to cutting and pasting information rather than students listening to each other and taking notes.

The key lessons from this activity were:
  • Follow your passions
  • Hard work takes time
  • Hobbies can lead to careers
  • Hobbies can lead to new experiences
  • If you love it, do it
  • There is something for everyone
We are going to be pursuing our own hobbies and presenting information about our hobbies in week 10.  Watch this space!

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Reflection Post: Maths Tuakana, Whole Class Maths and Student Voice

After our data discussion at the end of last term (click link to view blog post re: T2 data), we reviewed our maths programmes and discussed ways we could change, improve, innovate on our programmes for greater student outcomes.  As a team, we decided on implementing a 'double period' of maths each morning (2 hours of maths) and to focus on basic facts as well as integrating strand and problem solving in this time.

I began this term structuring my 2 hours into two parts:  the first part, whole class approach and the second part, instructional groups.

As I have been inquiring into culturally responsive practice and increased cultural visibility across the curriculum, I have looked into mixed ability grouping, in particular, students choosing their own Maths Tuakana - and we use this term in both whole class and instructional group settings.

Having Year 7s and 8s I have tried to use whole class teaching as a transitional approach to what students might experience in Year 9 and have aimed lessons at Level 4.  In this way, I have found students are now recognising why I have been harping on about the importance of basic facts.  They now understand why it will be important to their learning in Year 9.  This has strengthened motivation for basic facts practice.

Today I constructed a student voice survey to see if the students themselves were enjoying this new approach to Maths.  This is a presentation of the data from the survey and the implication for myself.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Inquiry Lesson: Cultural visibility with a SOLO twist!


Currently, we are inquiring into hobbies - or how to fill our leisure time in positive ways.  We have made links to our past inquiries through Te Whare Tapa Whā, which gives all our learning purpose in building the best versions of ourselves.

This lesson was about hobbies from the past.  I wanted to make the point that the context we are in, can impact the decisions we make.

We looked at the context of people in the past and present.

The circle models you will see from slides 5-7 has been a big help to provide a visual aide for students learning what 'context' means.  Now, I can physically gesture, by making a circle in the air as I am asking students to describe contexts or tell me what context means.

I have used whakataukī again, to illustrate the values and beliefs of our tupuna...I find this is one of the easiest and accessible ways to bring depth to a lesson if you are trying to make links to whakaaro Māori.  We discussed that laziness was frowned upon, hard work was admired.  We talked about the development of technology and how that impacts on the way we can manage ourselves.  We discussed war past and - possibly present!  

The table on slide 12 was printed and completed collaboratively in groups of 2-3.  Students then turned their paper over to complete the last paragraph (assessment task) from slide 13.

The paragraph on slide 13 is based on the SOLO taxonomy to encourage higher order thinking in inquiry time.  I used this resource to help me select my sentence starters...

This lesson took about an hour and was done in the afternoon!  It was long, but worth it as students can now describe what context is, how it can impact on people's choices and understand hobbies past and present.