Wednesday, 21 August 2019

One Key Strategy: Reading and Maths

Image result for 3fer

As part of our CoL discussions this year, we have been hearing about the data being collected and interpreted by Russell Burt, the principal of Pt England School and the Convenor or Manaiakalani, about obtaining a "threefer."  Russell is inquiring into how we can obtain accelerated achievement across all three core learning areas: Reading, Writing and Maths.
We were previously asked to consider what we do in our classrooms and across our cluster to make that accelerated shift happen in writing. After considering that information, we have been asked as CoL teachers to consider a key strategy from our own teaching that enables our students to achieve.

During our daily morning team meeting, we had a few extra minutes so we spent some time reflecting about what we do as a team of Year 7/8 teachers that we feel are our key strategies.

This is what we came up with:

  • Difficult/challenging text when in guided reading session with teacher (deep diving the "Jannie Way")
  • Testing more often. At least once a term, especially our priority learners and those we feel have made progress. Not waiting til the end of year so that we are consistently teaching at the right instructional level. 
  • Having a consistent strand focus-teaching number knowledge through strand
  • Explicit school wide/cluster wide overview (2 year maths strand rotation) 
  • Pitch focus problems/instruction at year level then differentiate by pushing kids up or bringing them out. 

Friday, 16 August 2019

Digital Fluency Intensive #9

Today was our final Digital Fluency Intensive, and while I am excited to get back to being in my classroom on Fridays, I am going to miss learning new things each week. I always find it beneficial to spend time with my colleagues discussing our kaupapa and learning new things from one another.  Hopefully, in the future, there will be more opportunities for me to participate in other PLGs such as this and possibly help out with future DFI cohorts.

Manaiakalani: Ubiquitous Learning
Anytime. Anywhere. Any pace. From Anyone. Ubiquitous learning makes learning different from the way it “used to be”. Learning is no longer constrained by time, place, people or pace. Children today no longer needs to take place only in school.  This is so amazing for the learning of our students who generally are exposed to 30,000,000 less words than students living in higher decile areas. The summer learning journey has proven that our students are supported ubiquitously through technology and they have made exceptional growth in their learning in many areas.

If we as teachers, make a practice of rewindable learning and make sure that they are available digitally, then we are ensuring that all of our students have the tools they need to be successful. The students who need to see something more than once will potentially allow them greater understanding.

If it’s worth Teaching, it’s worth capturing.  
If it’s worth Learning, it’s worth capturing.

Google Classroom
It was great to get a quick crash course on Google Classroom before we began our Level 1 Certification Exams. It was extremely helpful considering this is a Google App for Education that we do not use in Manaiakalani as it does not directly follow our kaupapa.

Current classes will be shown, but to create a new classroom use the plus (+) button and you can join or create a class. Create class box comes us (Name, subject, Room Number, etc)  The front page for the class becomes like a message stream showing all communication in a feed. Classwork: create assignment, quiz, question, etc and then you can attach the task from your drive. google calendar will take you out to the calendar.  To add a student, click on People. To directly add: start typing the student’s name and they will appear Google Style to add them into the database.  To have a whole class log in, the teacher can send out a code to their class.

Google Level 1 Certification

Phew!  My hands were sweaty as I pressed submit, but I finished the exam with relative ease in just about 2 hours.  However, I took another 20 minutes to review my questions, and it paid off!  It's nice to know that hard work does pay off. So thankful for the opportunity to be part of the 2019 Auckland DFI Cohort #2, and I look forward to working towards my Level 2 certification.

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

What Evidence?

Describe how you will collect information about the implementation of your changed practices/intervention (so it is clear what you doing differently). (WFRC 10)

Describe how you will keep a record of each of the above in a manageable way. (WFRC 11)

We were challenged by the Wolfe Fisher team during our last CoL meeting, to spend some time thinking about how we have been recording how WE as the TEACHER have changed our own practice.

When we began the journey earlier this year, my initial focus for my inquiry was, "Using dialogic discussions to expand vocabulary usage, while strengthening reading comprehension." In order to make this happen, I have been working very hard to change my teaching practice in a few specific, yet meaningful ways:

1. Very specific purpose to our oral reading sessions. In my lesson plans (DATs), I try to specifically think about what I want to do with/focus on with each reading group prior to reading, while reading and after reading. In doing this, I am able to clearly know (and remain on task) with the literary elements/vocabulary that I am trying to work on with that group of students.

2. I have been providing student led methods of discovery for vocabulary acquisition (Deep Diving). I have been strategically spending time working through what a new word means instead of simply having students take one random guess while reading and then telling the group the true definition or modelling how to conduct a "define:" smart search.  
I now grab a piece of paper (or on the whiteboard) and write the word in a bubble before turning the pen/marker over to the group to add what they think they know about the word.  Students then asked to continue adding to the word cloud to build their understanding of the word as they continue their reading or watch the assigned video.  Students then create a digital model of the deep dive to post on their blog and link to my spreadsheet. There are also been times, when we have simply stapled the paper copy on the classroom wall. 

3. After working with the DMIC mentors, one of the things that I have been trying to pull into my teaching this year is strategically talking less while encouraging the students to talk more. I do this generally by providing them with the topic (video, paragraph, question, etc) for discussion and then providing them with 30-60 seconds of "prepare" time to formulate what they are going to share. They then have 30-90 seconds to "share" their information with a partner before we come back together and "report" back to the whole group/class.  Keeping an accurate record of this is something that I have not actually considered until this past week.

So far, as the reporting back has occurred I have created a mind map/brainstorm/note taking model for the students to use when completing future learning tasks. The notes that I put on the board are often added to or modified as more students share.  The whole class notes are photographed and put in a folder in our class Google drive.

After our PD session with Aaron and Hanna, I am now thinking that perhaps I should set up a video camera more often during my class discussions simply to capture student interactions, voice, and sharing.


Friday, 9 August 2019

Digital Fluency Intensive #8

Manaiakalani: Cybersmart
The concept of being cybersmart brings together all four areas of our kaupapa and learn, create, share. Our students have not known life without the internet. It is up to us to make sure that our students are at home in a digital environment. Our cybersmart curriculum is full of specific language that reflects how to positively set up for digital success and not the list of the negative things you should not be doing.

Our Manaiakalani Cybersmart curriculum has 10 categories that teachers work throughout every year.  In the early days, it was decided that we were not creating a cyber safety course, but a cyberSMART curriculum. Google and ISTE have also decided to now go down the path of being awesome and proactive in the cyberworld.

Manaiakalani uses the blogger platform to share student learning for many reasons. Students have agency to write their own posts, but they are only set up as an author on the blog. The direct classroom teacher is the Administrator, along with a school administrator/overseer.  Students are taught from a young age to explore the learning of others and leave comments on the posts they read in a  positive, helpful, and thoughtful manner.

Hapara Teacher Dashboard: Making Learning Visible

Hapara was developed in Manaiakalani in Manaiakalani schools that has now grown into a global company.  Hapara allows teachers to focus on the teaching, not the technology. 

One of the most powerful things you can do, is popping a dashboard screen onto your television screen without even saying anything and simply carry on teaching. The students will immediately begin jumping back into the correct place in their learning.  

The Manaiakalani 1:1 Journey
There has been a lot of careful thought and planning behind the rollout of our devices.  The discussions have been driven by the treaty (Partnership, Protection, and Participation).  Partnership is seen that we work with the family and wider community in decision making and device ownership. Manaiakalani also has partnership with a wide range of stakeholders that are key to what we are doing on a daily basis. Participation enables an environment for every student to participate in their learning, teachers are supported to be digitally fluent when all devices are the same, and engagement through device ownership. Protection happens behind the scenes, especially with our partnership with Hapara and Linewize for filtering.

We want to be sure that every learner has the best possible device at their fingertips. It was great fun having some time to explore Explain Everything on the ipad and use Chromebooks for learning/creating purposes today.

Using Screencastify
We were asked to spend some time exploring the Manaiakalani Cybersmart curriculum and using a Chromebook create a Screencastify video explaining the lesson we chose. 

Thursday, 8 August 2019

Agility with Sound: Betsy Sewell

We had the opportunity to once again spend some time listening to Betsy Sewell at a session advertised through our RTLB office. After spending time at a session we had at our school earlier this year, (blog post here) I knew I immediately wanted to attend this session as well to refresh some of the things that were shares, and I took along a few more members of my school team. Wow! Was I amazed! Betsy is such a wealth of knowledge, and I found myself typing away the whole time a completely different set of amazing information. I was also excited to hear that Betsy's assessment tools were free to use on the agility with sound website and I look forward to giving it a go with some of my students soon.

Agility with Sound
Betsy Sewell
Reading has traditionally been taught using a constructionist model, using multiple cues to figure out the word. Unfortunately, this is no longer working for a lot of our kids. There is nothing instinctive about learning to read. In order to accommodate reading, the brain has to adapt. 

When looking at Chinese characters they are units of meaning. Many struggling students also think this way. For example, they look at the shape of a word to help determine its meaning.  However, the way English works, our students often struggle due to the changes in pronunciation over the centuries, the number of language origins that make up the language, the sheer size of the language (four times larger than French) and an alphabetical language which represents the way a word sounds.  If you start writing rules for the language, you end up writing endless exceptions to the rules. 

Good readers learn in 4 stages:
1. Pre-alphabetic: the look of words
2. Partial alphabetic: uses some letters mostly consonants (reading 6-6.5 when 10)
A c*t
Students reading at this level do not read the endings or the letters in the middle of the word (thinking visually)
3. Full alphabetic: process of all letters
4. Consolidated: recognise and process chunks

Image result for brain scan dyslexia

Competent and struggling readers behave differently. Competent readers overwhelming process words as speech, using S&L areas of the brain. Struggling readers overwhelmingly process words as shapes, with limited activity in the S&L areas of the brain. Good readers and writers process words differently.  This applies to all struggling kids, whether they are or are not dyslexic, and many of these students are well behind by the time they reach years 5/6.

A sight word is a word that is instantly recognised as a spelling pattern. It is stored in language areas of the brain. Spelling pattern, pronunciation and meaning are linked: one instantly relates to the others. Mapping. Children who read like this can decode and encode unconsciously. 

How a student spells and writes is a function of how s/he reads.

Competent, fluent readers:
  1. Give their full attention to comprehension
  2. Notice the structure and spelling patterns of words as they encounter them
  3. Hear the rhythm and flow of a good sentence
  4. Notice how punctuation instructs the reader
  5. Notice how writers structure text
  6. Are constantly encountering and absorbing new vocabulary

In order to work with students who are struggling, we need to teach them how to think how good readers think. For many of these students, they need to learn how to think differently than they have previously.

There are 7 different decoding skills that these students need to think about differently.  Most students are able to get to the point that they can achieve skills 1-5. Skills 6 and 7 are a bit more difficult to achieve.
  1. Identify, and think in the compound sounds (how do the sounds feel)
  2. Distinguish between the sounds
  3. Recognise how those sounds are represented in print
  4. Recognise the repeating chunks and patterns of language
  5. Hold those chunks in memory
  6. Substitute phonemes within chunks or whole chunks within words
  7. Blend those sounds or chunks of sound rapidly and unconsciously

When looking at letter sounds, exaggerate them so kids can hear the difference and then slowly bring them back to the sound of normal speech.  This is great for recognising letters and blends that are confused as the same thing (ie, p/b and ch/sh).

Struggling students need explicit, structured and cumulative instruction in how words work. Students also needs to work from simple to complex, common to uncommon beginning with what the child already knows. The overall aim is to build the thinking skills of competent readers. 

Struggling kids must have 80-100 hours of practice thinking of the sounds of words, blending strategies, and practice...lots of it. They also need reading material they can read and want to read, that meets their learning needs, and explicit vocabulary, comprehension and writing instruction. These students do not require anything else in order to be successful in reading.  When working with them it is best to use text without illustrations, and possibly have the students add the illustrations themselves to show what they understand that page is about. 

Saturday, 3 August 2019

Hour of Code Success!

Certificate for Completion of One Hour of Code
During Digital Fluency on Friday, we began the Minecraft Hour of Code to help teach us some basics with coding. I persevered and finished my whole lesson and felt the need to share my amazing accomplishments. Well done me! 👍

Friday, 2 August 2019

Digital Fluency Intensive #7

Manaiakalani: Empowered (Agency)
Our digital devices are NOT just a tool! Technology in Manaiakalani is used to help transform the lives of students and their whanau.

 “...when it transforms the way we learn, offers us new uncharted experiences and opportunities…”
-Dean Shareski.

Pat Snedden (MET) often states that ‘by empowering our students, we are advancing Rangatiratanga; taking back control of their own lives.’

The power of the learning is in giving the power back to the students by making the learning visible/rewindable. The empowerment of our whanau and young people are interdependent of our kaupapa words. Ultimately, this allows for change to occur in our communities.

You can’t be truly empowered without leading a visible, connection and ubiquitous life. 

Technology is going to change the way we do everything. However, the only certain thing that we know about the future of life with technology is that technology will change, and as a result things around us will continue to change. 

After playing a computational thinking game mapped out on the floor, we spent some time exploring robots, like Big Dog and Sophia. We also explored various apps that provide opportunities for empowerment.  Zephyr’s Cora is currently being tested in NZ after being created by the USA affiliate. 

Looking at the Digital Technology Curriculum: 
The technology curriculum has been around for many years. The Digital Technology Curriculum is a new piece of a pre-existing document.  It has two parts: Computational Thinking (algorithms, programming, algorithmic thinking skills) and Designing and Developing Digital Outcomes (creating and understanding; the skills needed to create a product).  It is split into progress outcomes, which are not directly lined up with curriculum levels. 

We also spent some time exploring the “Hour of Code” from  It is a self-led series of activities that allow users to be self-taught in the area of coding.  

We specifically worked through the Minecraft tutorial as it directly relates to Scratch, which also uses blockly to write the actual code message. 

Kodable: students the chance to code using symbols (arrows) to complete the series of tasks. This is great for younger students because you don’t have to know how to read in order to complete the tasks. 

Code Combat: Great for older students because it is a bit more involved. There is more animation/storyline and students are required to actually type in the code.

Toxic Code: Is actually reading code to complete a series of tasks

Scratch: This session was very informative since we spent so much time using Scratch last term in our classrooms. It was also fun to have some time to have a quick play and explore some of the more involved blocks.  

We also explored creating and playing a simple Maze Games. During this time, we explored adding details/costumes to our characters and various sounds to our coded game. Advanced users were tasked with writing their own code to the game and recreating their own background maze to navigate through.

Converting decimals to binary numbers: It was very interesting to go through this Level 3 topic of the learning outcomes. We also spent some time exploring the hexadecimal number system found in the colour selector on Google (using numbers 0-9 and letters A-H).

Hello Ruby:  Using Algorithms with younger kids. Students are given opportunities to discover the differences between what a human is capable of and what a computer is able to do in the same amount of time using shapes to create algorithms. 

Book Creator: Dorothy shared this Chrome App and I am really interested in checking it out and seeing if/how I could use it in my classroom during the next term or two.