Friday, 15 December 2017

2017 Teaching Reflection

My Reflections on 2017

The year started more chaotically than I would have liked. Not only was I starting teaching at a new school, but I had gotten married 3 days before the start of Term 1. 😲 There was a lot to get my head around in Term 1 (as there always is when starting at a new school,) so this put me at a slight disadvantage in terms of how I would like to begin the schooling year. The first few weeks with a new class are incredibly important and I felt that I would have done a lot better job with forming my classroom culture and systems if I wasn't learning the ropes myself. That said I got great assistance and managed to have my class operating as I would like by halfway through the Term.

I had a challenging but rewarding group of learners in 2017 who required a lot of targeted attention both in terms of learning and behavior. Once I had a full understanding of their background and needs I felt I rose to the challenge. I managed to form a positive learning environment and good relationships with all my students and their Whanau. There are things I would definitely do differently next year but generally I was happy with my approach as a teacher and how it reflected on my learners. PB4L was a huge part of my teaching approach and was the integral reason why many of my students were able to flourish. My students loved being in Room 5 and I know they found it a fun and safe learning environment.

The Learn/Create/Share model of teaching and learning was something I struggled to stay on top of this year. I felt that having to learn all this during the course of the year meant I got off to bad start and I regretted how I had designed things like my class site as the year went on. I also found it challenging having a class who were so young and inexperienced digitally when there is such a focus of online content. I know that this area of my teaching will be much better next year as I have learnt a great deal in terms of systems and will start the year much better when I redesign my class site.
Testing and reports became more manageable as the year went on but I do want to become more organised in this area next year.

Overall I really enjoyed teaching at Tamaki Primary in 2017. My class and colleagues were all lovely and I feel like I am in the right environment to flourish as a teacher. 

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

One of my most rewarding teaching experiences yet.

Our Film entry for the Manaiakalani Film Festival
'A Place Called Home.'

As a new teacher I think my most challenging yet rewarding teaching focus yet would have to be the making our class film for the annual Manaiakalani Film Festival and our study that went with it. It was challenging not only because I had not made a film before but also because of the delicate nature of the topic we chose. I really wanted to make a film that was focusing on issues that are relevant to my learners. I also wanted to touch on something that was linked to current events. So I narrowed my possible topics down to ones that were being focused on in the 2017 General Election that was happening at the time. I thought the election was an important thing to touch on as a learning focus for them regardless and in reflection it was an excellent springboard  to choosing the focus for our short film.

After explaining to the class what an election was and the importance of voting in general, I focused more specifically on four major issues in the election. These were; education, health, immigration and housing. I touched on the various reasons why these were big election issues. Then I gave the students some basic facts and statistics about how New Zealand compared in these areas with the rest of the world. Having done this I then looked at how these different issues might affect them both now and in the future. All this time the class was aware that we were going to vote to choose one of these issues to make our short film about. After looking into each the class unanimously voted for 'The Housing Crisis,' as our topic to make our film on. It was clear through our carefully navigated class discussion that many of the class were affected personally by this issue.

We looked more in-depth into the housing crisis issue and watched some news articles about it which gave the class a lot of empathy for those affected by it. They were very eager to make a film on this topic and wanted to give our leaders a strong message that they need to help those who are suffering. After giving them some guidance as to what sort of stories would be logistically possible for us to make a film about in class we settled on a story-line that they were all excited about. The story was going to be about a child in their class who was homeless and having to sleep in their car and how this affected there daily life at school. From there I set about scripting their ideas.

Having never done this before I made numerous mistakes and so adapted things a lot as I went along. I learnt very quickly that my students were too young to manage large amounts of scripted dialogue and also that the sound quality was hard to get consistently good. Very quickly I realised that the story would be more powerful without dialogue and so made the decision to have a music soundtrack instead of dialogue. The lack of dialogue helped my class to act more natural for the camera and I was really happy with the finished result. When I played it to my class for the first time many of them found it so moving they cried. This was an experience I will never forget as we were all so proud of what we had achieved. Our film got chosen to be one of the ones that played at the Manaiakalani Film Festival screening at Hoyts Cinemas in Sylvia Park. Initially I was quite tentative about tackling such big social issues with my class but I was pleased I did it and know that it was really beneficial and engaging for my students.

Wednesday, 27 September 2017

Using More 'Talk Moves' in my Maths lessons

How can using 'Talk Moves' improve my teaching of Maths?

Specific Teaching Focus Term 3: How can the use of  'Talk Moves' in my teaching of Maths help students deepen their understanding and accelerate their learning?

Why I chose this focus: I realised that although my students knew how to solve certain problems, they had difficulty explaining their methods to their teacher or peers. I also feel it is important that students are able to understand how they came to a solution as it informs their next steps and gives them confidence in being able to express their learning. I tend to use a lot of Talk Moves in other areas of my teaching but have been hesitant to use it for some reason when teaching Maths.

How we used it in class: When problem solving as a class we explored different methods that students had used to reach an answer and discussed each method in depth. During this I employed talk moves myself to introduce children to the language and encouraged the children to use it themselves. 
For example: How did you reach that answer? 
We would then discuss the benefits of the different methods used to achieve their results. I used talk moves such as: 
Did anyone else use a different method?
How does this compare to the previous method?
Which method did you find easier and why?
I also encouraged the use of ‘Talk Moves,’ in their groups and in paired/buddy work and rewarded them for using talk moves. As another approach I paired stronger students with my target students to to see if this would assist them in their learning.

My Reflection: I found that using Talk Moves did assist my students in gaining more confidence in Maths and was especially great for reaffirming their learning. The downside of using more Talk Moves was that we covered a lot less work overall as discussion takes time. One benefit was that they forgot a lot less of their previous learning and became more aware of how the different areas of Maths overlap. Talk Moves are a great teaching tool but take careful planning to keep the students on target. I found that it was important as a teacher to take notes throughout the lesson and to reaffirm what had been learnt each day by my students from any discussion. 
Overall I did not see any staggering improvements from using more Talk Moves in my Maths classes but I definitely think that students gained a deeper knowledge of what they learnt and that they grew in confidence when it came to sharing their thinking with me or the rest of the class. 

Friday, 8 September 2017

Visibility Enables Accelerated Shift in Learners.

My Learning from Today's PLG with Fiona Grant

Our Learning Theme Today: Visibility enables accelerated shift in learners.

Goal: Support teachers to utilise the  technologies to accelerate learning outcomes through visible teaching and learning.

Focuses: Differentiating Cybersmart Learning. Identifying strategies that we are currently applying to achieve an accelerated shift.

I found today's PLG really helpful. We unpacked the Manaiakalani Kaupapa and explored in depth how to accelerate progress in students' learning. The underlying elements of connected learners, ubiquity, creativity and visibility all actually stem from and build on Maniakalani's Learn/ Create/ Share. I felt that breaking it down in this way gave me a real insight into what I am currently doing for my learners and helped in identifying future goals for myself.

Some of the areas I can look to improve in visibility are:

  • A more visible learning hub where the learning is accessible anywhere, anytime, at any pace
  • Rewindable learning supported through work and lessons being uploaded to class site.
  • Personalising learning via multiple opportunities to access content and the learning process.
  • Visible planning and teaching.
  • Hub of information about events, groupings and progressions for both learners and parents.
  • Weekly overviews and timetables.

The area I most need to improve on is with the structure and setup of my class site. This will be my major focus at the start of next year as it effects everything else in regards to my digital teaching.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Celebrating the Cook Island Language and Culture

Celebrating the Cook Island
Language and Culture

Room 5 Performing a Cook Island 
Drum Dance during Assembly

Thanks Mariana for all the help!

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Hobbies Taster


Hobbies Taster Slideshow

Tamaki Makaurau has so much to offer! My kids were thrilled to find out about some of the activities below and were even more excited to learn that they were all for free. This meant that all they needed to do was convince their parents and whanau to accompany them there so they could enjoy it together.
16 Fantastic FREE Things To Do In Auckland

Monday, 7 August 2017

Digital Fluency Intensive Week 2

Digital Fluency Intensive Week 2

Week 2 had lots of practical tools that I found superb. Here are some of the focuses/tools that I will definitely keep using:

These were all great for use in my work.

Some of this can be used with my learners now but are mostly for older year groups.  

I can even see myself using this one in my personal life. Or is that overkill? 😂
Google Sheets 

Below is the map we created of our ideal holiday destinations- Fun!

Friday, 4 August 2017

Parts Of Speech Poem

I found this poem really helpful....

The Parts of Speech. A Grammatical Poem By Mary Morel.
Every name is called a noun as field and fountain, street and town.
In place of a noun the pronoun stands as he and she clap their hands.
The adjective describes a thing, as magic wand or bridal ring.
The verb means action, something done, to read and write to jump and run.
How things are done the adverbs tells us as quickly, slowly, badly or well.
Preposition shows relation as in the street or at the station.
Conjunction joins in many ways, sentences, words or phrase and phrase.
The interjection cries out hark! I need an exclamation mark!

I saw this poem and loved it. I wish I had been encouraged to learn it as a child. Most children struggle to remember the different parts of speech regardless of how many times they are taught. What kids do find easy though is to learn a rhyme or a song so this is a great way for them to remember the different parts of speech. Although the children in my class are working towards learning it by heart and aren't currently able to fully comprehend all aspects of the poem, we have it on a poster in the class and have read it out loud as a group. We also did an exercise where my students provided alternative examples for each part of speech. This is a work in progress and we set the time during our writing sessions throughout the week to revisit the poem to specifically focus on each area.

We also watched this video.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Digital Fluency Intensive Week 1

Digital Fluency Intensive 

An intense but very beneficial first week!

Digital Fluency Intensive Week 1: 28th July

A great first session with Dorothy Burt at the digital intensive workshop. I learnt a huge amount. This is definitely an area where I have plenty to learn. Here is some of what we focused on in week 1.

The Origins of Manaiakalani:

I loved getting to know a bit more about Manaiakalani. Here are a few things that I learnt about the origins of Manaiakalani:
  • The name Manaiakalani is taken from the name given to Maui's fish hook - the tool used for the biggest fishing project ever. It is therefore a very apt name for such an ambitious teaching project.
  • The main focuses were on empowering learners, improving their schooling experience and results and embracing the digital age.
  • I didn't know my principal was one of the original founders.
  • I did not know that if a child was enrolled in a Manaiakalani school over a period of 3 years that their rate of progress in Writing was twice that of what was expected nationally. This means that these students on average made an extra year’s progress above the expected rate per year.
    Here are some of the cluster's aims in more detail.
  • Motivate our learners  to engage with the curriculum
  • Provide a model for 21st century teaching and learning
  • Work with learners to establish an authentic audience for their learning
  • Empower our learners with an evidence-based belief that their personal voice is valuable and powerful
  • Raise achievement outcomes
Google Tools:

We also learnt about some new Google tools. Some of the best Google tools that we worked with throughout today were:
  • Google basics - Google files/sites saving. I had knowledge of some of the processes already but some of it taught me that I had been doing things the hard/ long way for quite some time.
  • 'Google Saves', 'Google Drive', 'Google Docs', 'Add Ons' and 'Blogger'. This gave me a greater insight into specific Google tools and offered a lot of clarification for me. I'm hoping that my confidence will build quickly from here.
  • Also got a lot through designing the poster.
I have already taught my students some of the tools that I was taught in week 1....

These 3 links are well worth a watch and each for very different reasons too.......

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

Food Tasting Night Term 2

Food Tasting Evening

Tamaki Primary hosted a food tasting evening at the end of Term 2. It was a great night.
Here is Room 5's Menu & displays.

Pumpkin, Date & Almond Loaf

Both the children & parents loved our food tasting night.
Great dishes made by all the classes and some lovely informative displays as well.
 Our Pumpkin, Date & Almond Loaf was a popular dish on the night.

Banana & Mango Smoothie

Saturday, 10 June 2017

Fuelled For Life

Fuelled For Life

What a brilliant Inquiry focus this was! Below are some helpful links to lesson plans that I came across. I found aspects of each to be really beneficial for my own teaching which I integrated into my planning and tailored them to meet the needs of my students. Feel free to watch Room 5's video of all their best moments during 'Fuelled for Life'.

Food Facts

Looking at the various health benefits of different foods.

Guidelines and tips for diet and exercise.  

 How to make compost.

Different forms of maths in our daily diet.

Friday, 19 May 2017


The ANZAC Ceremony

 ANZAC Research

Explore the resources below to learn about A.N.Z.A.C day.

When finished create a DLO that answers the following questions.

  • What does ANZAC stand for?
  • When do we have the ANZAC ceremony?
  • Why do we celebrate ANZAC?
  • What started WW1?
  • How do we hold a commemoration on ANZAC day today?
  • Why are poppies a symbol for ANZAC day?

The room 5 students absolutely loved all the research we did in and around the history of the ANZACS and the two World Wars. It was the first time I had approached teaching a topic like this to a class this young. The students had absolutely no knowledge about anything to start with but we gradually built quite a broad understanding over a 2 week period. 

Students were also asked to interview members of their family to see if any of their relatives were ever involved in a war. They also chose either a soldier or a medic each to research and then write a biography on. To finish off the topic we had one further discussion as a class where I used a lot of 'Talk Moves,' to allow them to dig deeper into what life must have been like for soldiers and their families during the war. We then discussed how their lives would be affected if another war was to occur now. 
A great inquiry topic which the students handled with surprising maturity and were very invested in their learning.