Friday, 27 March 2020

Distance Learning: Friday Spelling Test

One of the things that we are trying to do for our students is keep things as normal as possible but from home. On a normal Friday, we have a schoolwide assembly and generally after we have a Teamwide spelling test that is administered over the PA system by our amazing office staff.

So, today we decided it would be fun to have our own Distance Learning team assembly complete with karakia, mihi and waiata as we would any other day of the school term. It was great to see so many students hop on and join us this morning, especially since it was at 9am! 

NOTE: Names have been blocked out because it is not Cybersmart to post last names online!
It was fun seeing some faces that I don't see in my general literacy and maths classes as we spent about 30 minutes together. Mrs. Flavelle from our office staff joined us and administered our spelling test. The students completed the test using a Google Form, which allowed their answers to be submitted right away. As always, the students with a perfect score will be entered into a drawing to win a special treat once we are back at school.

We are learning as we go along, and one of the coolest things we have learnt is to download the Chrome Extension "Google Meet Grid View" This is a great tool when you are meeting with more than 4 students so that you are able to see everyone in one view. 

Thursday, 26 March 2020

Distance Team Meetings

That's right! We are also meeting together as the team of teachers from our intermediate block using Google Meet. It is important that we keep in contact with each other in order to continually make what we are doing better and to ensure the our own well-being is looked after.

We are our own community of learners as we branch out into this new way of teaching for us, and we are our best supporters. Especially, as we are now learning not only how to run a distance learning classroom with intermediate students but how to do it from home while juggling our own families and flat mates who are also all home and wanting our attention.

As we branch into our new normal, I am so thankful to be doing it with the lovely ladies of Team 5 at PES. 

Wednesday, 25 March 2020

Online Distance Teaching - Covid 19

The past few weeks the world has seen dramatic change in our everyday lives. As a result of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, the teachers on Team 5 at Pt. England School spent time speculating about what it would look like if we had to teach our students from home. We then spent many hours planning, and developing what we felt would be the best way to do this while keeping in mind the daily structure and routine that our students are already accustomed to.

After receiving some advice and tips from our Manaiakalani support near the end of Week 7, we thought we had a plan to run with. We decided to change our regular team site to our distance learning plan for Week 8 so that students would be used to seeing it and working from it. We were waiting for the go ahead to introduce our students to Google Meet/Hangouts, that we thought would come after our school wide staff meeting scheduled for Monday after school before demonstrating for students what distance learning would look like the next morning (Tuesday of Week 8).

Our first Google Meet on 24/3/20 at 9am
Little did we know, life in New Zealand was about to be drastically changed after a news conference that began halfway through our lunch hour on Monday afternoon. It was announced that our nation was moving to a level 3 for 48 hours before a final isolation lock down of Level 4 for four weeks. This meant that we were no longer going to have the chance for a run through of Google Hangouts/Meet with our students before they were at home.

Our students were sent home Tuesday with a newsletter stating that school would be closed to students for the next four weeks and to staff after Wednesday. We now had 48 hours to ensure that all students had what they needed to continue learning from home.

It also meant that at 9am Tuesday morning the six teachers of Team 5 went live with our students using Google Meet.  We decided that this week would just consist of checking in with our kids twice a day checking that they were well, answering any assignment related questions, and ensuring that they understood the importance of staying at home. We are also keeping in contact with our students using Hapara Dashboard to comment on student's work and blog posts, as well as answering student questions through email.

Tools to Gain an Accurate Learner Profile

Describe the tools/measures/approaches you plan to use to get a more detailed and accurate profile of students’ learning in relation to that challenge. Justify why you chose these approaches and tools. (WFRC? #4)

When thinking of my inquiry this year, I have considered the tools/measures/approaches that I plan to use to get a more detailed and accurate profile of my students learning. These tools are:

1. Student Learning Survey: I plan to create a survey to help gain some student voice about their own understanding of their mathematical abilities. I'm interested to know what they like/dislike about maths, and their own understanding about their mathematical ability.

2. PAT Scores: This is a great way to obtain baseline and end of the year data across my class, team and our cluster.

3. Easstle Scores: As a team, we have decided to administer e-asstle pre- and post-tests to our students at the beginning and the end of each designated topic of the curriculum.

4. Teacher observations: During our small group interactions, I am able to monitor student understanding, which allows me to identify individual gaps in student understanding and provides time to help fill in those gaps. I am also able to see how far I can stretch student understanding and raise the roof on their mathematical ability.

5. GLOSS tests: I intend to administer the Gloss test to help gain a deeper understanding of where my students are. I would like to do this (especially for my focus group) just before our Term 2 report and our Term 4 report.

6. IKANN: This is another great tool that I would like to use during terms 2, 3, and 4 to provide students with a clearer understanding of their mathematical ability and growth

Thursday, 19 March 2020

School Collaboration and Focus for 2020

Collaborate with your senior leadership team and colleagues
to identify areas where your inquiry will make a powerful
contribution to wider school and cluster goals. 

Explain why you judge this to be the most important and catalytic issue of learning for this group of learners this year(WFRC #3)

This year, during our before school Professional Development the teachers at Pt England had a discussion with our Senior Management team about our focus as a school for 2020. It had been decided (based on the data from the Wolfe Fisher Research team) that as a school we will be focusing on teaching Maths for the year, and teaching Reading for the second half of the year in our Professional Development sessions. Therefore, we were asked to select our Inquiry focus around those two learning areas.

As a result of this discussion, I decided that I wanted to change my focus this year to maths as I have been focusing on Reading the past three years and I want to try to obtain accelerated yearly progress across the two subject areas this year (and possibly in writing as well).

I had a meeting with one of our Associate Principals about my Inquiry focus and he really challenged me to take a step back and determine what I felt my class needed to be stretched as we refocus on our PES style of Maths best practise.

Then, we had our first school wide Inquiry group meetings and my group for this term is led by our school Principal, which was great because I really felt flustered at that meeting not really knowing where my Inquiry focus was going to be directed to at that point in time.  Sometimes, it takes being knocked down in your thinking to put you back to the beginning in order obtain a fresh look at your end goal and gain a new perspective.

Thankfully, I now have a new perspective. I have since decided that we have spent many years looking at reading through the lens of vocabulary acquisition and reading wider and deeper in order to promote self efficacy in students to participate in dialogic conversations. So, why couldn't I try to do change my maths teaching style to do something similar with my Teaching as Inquiry this year?

Thursday, 12 March 2020

Inquiry Stocktake

Using the ‘inquiry stocktake’ doc reflect on and write about what you aim to learn about inquiry this year. (WFRC #1)

As part of the February Manaiakalani Kahui Ako meeting, we spent some time listening to a report from the Wolfe Fisher Research Centre about how we did as CoL teachers during 2019. We then discussed what went well in 2019, what our challenges are for 2020, and where we need help while conducting our 2020 Inquiry.

2019 Reflection of what went well:

I really enjoyed the ongoing support from the Wolfe Fisher team. It was so helpful to receive comments on my blog posts and emails providing feedback. The way that our posts were directed gave us a format for conducting our Inquiry that made it relevant to our colleagues in our schools and across the CoL. It also provided us with a common vocabulary to use when discussing the Inquiry process with other teachers in our schools. It was also very valuable to have regular discussions with Dr. Jannie van Hees, both during our CoL sessions and during our Team discussions.

2019 Was Faced with some Challenges:

One of the challenges I faced was finding the correct literacy for the topic that I was inquiring into. I really needed to tap into the WFRC team a bit more to obtain information to help formulate my action steps. Another challenge (that become a hidden blessing), was the incorporating of the Genomics project into our schedule last year. In order to give the program justice we had to shorten our literacy time each week which sometimes meant that we had to alter our timing and find a new normal for our literacy rotations.

2020 Support Needed:

This year, as I work on my Inquiry I would love some support with knowing whether or not I am on the right page with my blog posts/WFRC Inquiry Questions on a more regular basis. The help I received last year was so beneficial. I would also love to reach out to the Wolfe Fisher team to obtain more direction with where to look for literary research to read or online access to literary resources. I feel that this is something that I did not take advantage of last year. I would also love to have a conversation with Dr. van Hees (or check into her book a little more) to hear her suggestions for increasing maths vocabulary. Wondering if you would take the same approach as a deep dive or do something different.

Friday, 6 March 2020

2020 Manaiakalani Class On Air

This year, I decided to try something new in my teaching career, and I am a Manaiakalani Class On Air teacher. This means, that I (along with colleagues from across New Zealand) will be sharing various lessons during the year as a video. The lessons will also include a detailed lesson plan, reflection and examples of student work.

Here is a video I made telling you a little bit more about Manaiakalani Class On Air in Room 1 at Pt England School.

If you are interested in checking out my Manaiakalani Class on Air episodes, or those of my colleagues (past and present), please check out the Class on Air site.