My class blog- 2016

I am a class teacher for year four students and a team leader for the middle school. My class and I are also a part of the Manaiakalani ClassOnAir.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Introducing the Term 3 - Choice and Inquiry based Learning

Today I did my 'Big Reveal' for the Term.  The 'Big Reveal' at our school is about introducing the topic for unit studies for the Term. The topic for this term is ' Entertainment and Leisure'.
I wanted my students to get hooked on to the topic right from the beginning so I gave them time to think about what they were interested in. All they said was rugby, soccer, gymnastics and other sport activities. They had no idea about the things that they could pursue and could get interested in. I wanted our inquiry to be a platform of innovation where students would get motivated to inquire and create not because I have asked them to research on a topic but about something they themselves were eager to find out.
To get them thinking and foster this spirit of inquiry, I planned a little expo of hobbies. I created a display in my class when my students were away for 'Kiwi Can'. The display consisted of books about different hobbies. There was a big range of topics e.g.

Countries, Cultures and Travelling

Inventions, Aeroplanes and Motorbikes

Human body

Ancient civilisations and castles

Story telling, Arts and Crafts, Gardening, Cooking, Painting Kite making, Mask Making and Drawing

I am a firm believer of choice and inquiry based learning. It increases student engagement and achievement. 
The display proved to be electrifying for the students. They spent a whole hour reading books to find what caught their interest the most. I could see the pure passion in their eyes. Even the ones who are usually not very focussed in class had something to say about their hobbies.

I felt a very satisfied teacher and was happy about the way I had introduced the topic to my students for the Term. In the end we made list the hobbies that we were interested to pursue and explore deeper.

  • Cooking and Travelling
  • Aeroplanes
  • Robotics
  • Circuits
  • Farming
  • Ancient Civilisations
  • Kite making 
  • Painting
  • Counties and culture.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Target students - where to at the end of Term 2

Today we had a Data discussion day and each teacher was required to present their teaching and learning journey for their target students.  All my target students were Maori students. At the end of Term 2 they are all AT the standard for Maths. Have a little peek through my presentation about what worked for my students.

Monday, 26 June 2017

Creativity with Maths - Part 3

Last week we had a finale for our Maths creativity, when our parents came into our class and played fraction games with us. We had a Maths open day at school and we decided to showcase our fraction games which were all made by us.

Click here to view the Class on Air lesson on fractions.
Creativity empowers learning!

Friday, 16 June 2017

Creativity with Maths - Part 2

Last week was a very busy week with open day at our school and so could not update on what happened to the idea of fraction games in my class. The games that they came up with were -
Quarter King wheel

Material required- A spinner
Students had to find quarters of the number on which the pointer of the spinner landed. This is a game where two students could play and the person who had game the most answers was the winner.

Thundering thirds

Material required: A spinner
Two contenders were required to play this game. The contenders had to be very good with finding thirds of the number. The one who gave the most answers was the winner. Students working on this game needed to find their numbers that could be divided into thirds. 

Four fractions 

Material required - Each player needed 10 counters. Counters of the two players needed to be of different colours.
This was is the game where the players had to choose a question and then answer it. The questions that were laminated were like - What is a quarter of 24? What is the half of 30? If a player knew the correct answer, he/she got to put a counter on the square that has the answer.

Fraction Ladders
Material required : four counters and a dice. If the dice landed on an even number then the player got to play and had to find quarters and halves of the numbers on the ladder. each player needed to complete two ladders. The winner was the one who completed the half and a quarter ladder first.

Students enjoyed trialling these games and felt that they needed to make some amendments to the rules and the numbers printed on the board games. 
I will update you on it in my next post, next week.
To be continued...

Monday, 12 June 2017

Creativity with Maths - Part 1

In my last blog post I shared on how I had trained a group of students as experts, who then taught fractions to other students. The idea was to build a caring and inclusive learning environment where each student's contribution is valued. This has somehow sparked a lot of enthusiasm amongst students. Each student in my class now wishes to contribute in some way and make their mark by teaching others.

Today I started my Maths lesson with a revision on what we had done last week. As we talked and revised what we had learnt, some of the students said that they wanted to teach and help their buddy class all about fractions. Slowly every student got motivated. They said that it was too hard to teach Maths through problem solving and just declared that problem solving worked out well when it was taught by teachers. 
They wanted to make games like the one that I had made for them to learn their multiplication facts- The dart game! They said that they wanted to teach them fractions in a fun way!

It is said that creativity empowers learning! This is exactly what came to life in my Maths class today when the whole class got into groups and designed their own fraction games. They took charge and I just listened to them!

Their starting point was to explore the kind of games they could make?  What resources would they need to make those games?  What knowledge would buddy students need to know in order to play those games? Would they have to teach them halves of numbers before they taught them how to play their games?

As they took control, I stepped back and let go! Because it was driven by them, they came up with fantastic ideas about fraction games. They chose their material and resources, they designed their games and made rules for these games, tried those rules and then amended them. 

By the end of our Maths time we had the following games-

  • Fraction game which is a board game played by two students who have to work out the halves and quarters of numbers to win.
  • The cake shop - In this game students would have the opportunity to design their own cake using jelly beans. The catch is that jelly beans have to be evenly divided on each fraction of the cake. The cakes would be made of play dough.
  • A fidget spinner shop that has heavily reduced prices. Students buying fidget spinners will have to work out the combinations  they could afford to buy with the amount of money they have.
  • A fraction spinner - to win this game one needed to spin the spinner and then work out the halves and quarters of a number.
  • Students who were working on addition and subtraction of numbers using place values made place value games where students could pull out numbers from the hat and then add or subtract them using place value.
Tomorrow will be a very exciting day for us, as we will finish making our games and then invite our buddy class to play these games. 

I just cannot wait for tomorrow to come!

Friday, 2 June 2017

Class on Air - Demonstrating Ako

In one of my previous posts I shared a survey from my students where I asked my students if they felt confident about sharing their ideas with others. Click here to view their responses.
Most students said that they were shy to contribute, from the fear of saying something incorrect

In te ao Māori, the concept of ako means both to teach and to learn. It recognises the knowledge that both teachers and learners bring to learning interactions, and it acknowledges the way that new knowledge and understandings can grow out of shared learning experiences. This powerful concept has been supported by educational research showing that when teachers facilitate reciprocal teaching and learning roles in their classrooms, students’ achievement improves (Alton-Lee, 2003).

Making this principle as the core of my teaching, I decided to train a group of students as experts who would then be teaching fractions to another student. I wanted to build a caring and inclusive learning environment where each student’s contribution is valued. I wanted them to participate and build productive relationships where every student is empowered to learn with and from each other.
So what difference will it be, with me, not teaching and the peers teaching instead?

  • Students will become comfortable asking questions of each other about their learning.
  • They will be involved in more metacognitive discussions.
  • They will become more confident about sharing their learning with others.
  • Eventually, there will be a change in the classroom culture where they will become self regulated learners.

My Reflection

Did the lesson achieve it’s purpose?
This was a very different lesson to other lessons. It is based on the principle of Ako. As mentioned earlier, I wanted to empower every student by learning with and from each other. It also aligns with my inquiry where I want students to participate in learning discourses.
 Considering that it was our first attempt, I think we have achieved some success. In the beginning, students were shy to ask questions of each other, but overall it helped in shaping a positive collaborative culture in class.

How did it help the tutors?
The idea of having a tutor students working with another peer worked well as the tutors got motivated to share their understanding with their peers. It took them a bit of a practice to go through each step but in the end they did themselves proud as they were able to teach the concept well. The confidence that the tutors gained through these lessons was tremendous because they felt valued.

How did it help the tutees?
On the other hand, the students who were not so sure about their learning felt more comfortable asking questions of their peers. I gave them sentence prompts to ask questions. ( These are provided in the detailed plan) Once the ice  was broken, students became more comfortable with each other and eagerly helped one another with what they knew.

Next step
My next step is to keep encouraging students to work collegially and collaboratively in the pursuit to learn new things. For this to happen successfully, I will continue to emphasise the principle of Ako.

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Class on Air lesson on Reading

I just released my fifth lesson for this year on class on Air. 
The lesson was to support students with making connections to self - which was to help them relate with what they read to their own personal experiences. Kutai Fritters by Charlene Mataio was a great choice of text as children could make cultural connections with it too. Students could read the text fluently as they were already familiar with the difficult words and the phrases that they were to find in the text.  I had videos of tides and rock pools for students who did not have much experience about the sea. This helped them greatly in comprehending text and also kept the motivation to read alive till the very end.

The follow up task was to write a recount about 'The Best Day Ever'. I chose this because the text was a great exemplar for them to follow. We discussed what made the text so interesting and students tried to use all the features like the dialogue, descriptive language, detail, punctuation etc. in their stories.

All students gave feedback to each other at the end of their writing. This was very powerful as they could decide the next steps for their peers and this discussion will hopefully remind them about using features of a good recount when they write.

Watch me teach by clicking the link below

At the end of the lesson we made some fritters and enjoyed them on this wet winter afternoon.