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.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Understanding Ratios- Lesson on Manaiakalani Google Class On Air

Last week I taught ratios to my class for the first time. My students had no idea of what ratios were and so I started by teaching them simple concepts to make them understand what was meant by ratios.
Click here to view my introductory presentation.

I gave them an example of beats in music and we also learnt the language associated with ratios like 2:3 is said as two is to three'. I also invited Mr. Caleb Strickland our music teacher to teach ratios. This was just awesome as students could make connections to how ratios are used in other areas like music. Then we moved on to problem solving.
It was a great lesson as all students in class understood ratios and have begun to look for examples of ratios in everyday life.

Click here to view my complete lesson

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Introducing the Term 3 - Choice and Inquiry based Learning

Last week 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.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Staff Meeting - AFL and self regulated learner

Just finished running a series of Staff meetings with Michelle (DP) this week.
The meetings were based on Assessment for Learning and the importance of planning rich tasks that will encourage students to be self - regulated learner.
The feedback that we got was very encouraging as teachers found the meetings extremely engaging.
They participated very enthusiastically and both Michelle and I could not agree less on the fact that encouraging a discourse to clarify teachers understandings helps all teachers to move forward with their teaching.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Promoting Ako in class

At the beginning of the Term I asked my students what they needed to do to be smart confident learners. Most of the students were very hesitant to answer this questions in front of everyone. So I made a google form to find out their honest answers.

Their answers matched my hunch as most students were very shy to ask questions about their learning.

Have a look at what they had to say...

Write your nameAm I a confident learner? What is it that stops me from learning?How can I overcome my shortcomings?What will I practice doing this term
LUYessometimes I am scared to ask question by not be shy when I ask question to ask more questions
MFnoscared to share my work because i think its always wrong and not learning from my mistakes I will try to share my work and don't be shy to talk about my learning share my work and get feedback on my work
HMsometimes yesScared to share my work in front of the class.Share my opinion and ignore people who laugh at me Be confident and get feedback from my Teacher or my buddies
DRSometimes yesI am shy when I read my story in front of the hole classBy doing my best and not being shy in front of thew hole class becoming a good writer and read heaps of books and spell words and share my stories
DPsometimes yesI am shy to tell my answers sometimesBy learning from my mistakes share my work to others and get feedback from them
LFsometimes YesI am scared to ask questions in front of the classI will ask questions to Clarify my understanding I will ask more questions if I get stuck
KANoscared to ask Question if something comes to my head I will try and share itget feedback from my teacher and my mates on my work
LLPNogetting distracted and not focussing on learningby people laughing at me when I show my work i will ignore people laughing at and i will carry on with my learningShare my work with my friend and I will ask for help when I get stuck
MLno.I am shyI will try getting feedback
from others
get feedback to my teacher and from my classmates
SLnowhen i am shyI will try and shore my work showing my work
RBNoI am scared to talk in front of people By getting feedback and learning my mistakes.ask question when I get stuck
JWSometimessometimes i'm scared to share my workBy learning my mistacksShare my work with others and get feedback
HTNoSometimes By learning from my mistakeBy asking questions when I get stuck
MVYesscared to ask questions
TDI am not sureI play up when other people play upby not being scaredI will do what ever I learned at from school and learn from others
MMYesspellingI will try to learn my spelling I will practice my spelling and ask my mates to test me on my spelling words
MTNOscared to ask questions By asking questions my friends when I get stuckI will not be scared to ask questions
MTNoI do not ask questions when I do my workI am scared to share my opinions but will tryTo ask more questions
MRsometimesi am scared when i share my work I will try to share my ideas I will share my work
GNnopi dont no i jast like to play gameredingNo sure

So how will I support my learners to be confident learners?
I will encourage them to participate more in class discourses to clarify their understanding about their learning. I will focus more on 'Ako' so that students feel encouraged when teaching/helping each other with their learning. I will also model and show them that I am a learner too who learns from them or from my co- teachers.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Self Regulated Learning

One of the things that I want my students to do was to write well. Most of the students in my class write a simple story that needs detail, dialogue and other conventions of a good writer. If they focus on one aspect they tend to forget the other and so it has till now been a tedious task of proof reading, checking and reminding of what good writers do. I wanted them to be more self regulated when learning and producing their writing.

So today I started by asking them to brainstorm ideas about everything that makes a good writer. We needed a lot of reminding and talking before we could remember all the things that we had learnt to be good at writing. This is what they said in their first attempt of brainstorm.

Sharing ideas
During sharing time I realised that some students did not understand the aspects very clearly. They needed to be shown how to achieve each of the goals, e.g. - If the aspect was - 'Good writers plan their stories before writing' - I asked them questions like - What does this look like? What do we do when we plan our stories? Do we use planning/graphic organisers? Do we write specific words that we will use in our stories...etc. can you remember when you planned for your writing? What did you do when you were planning?

It was a great to see students discuss each task in their groups and clarify their understanding with each other.


At the end of our discussion I asked students to create something that would remind them and their peers about their goals. This is what they came up with...

Saturday, 18 March 2017

My Inquiry

This year for the first two term we will be focussing on Maths and so my inquiry is for Maths.
After considering my school targets, the end of 2016 assessments and the Woolf Fisher feedback from 2016, my inquiry for this year will be on Student Voice.

I have 5 students who will be the target students. All these students are sitting below the national norms.
My Inquiry Question
Does encouraging students to regularly reflect on and articulate their numeracy goals and explain their mathematical understanding help them to accelerate their learning?

What does this look like?

Students will receive explicit teaching through their own data. They will be made aware of the their strengths and weaknesses. They will be able to articulate their learning. They will know why they are at a certain stage, what is it that they can do and cannot do. What skills and strategies do they need to attain in order to achieve their goals. At the end of each lesson, students will be asked some questions that will be based on what they have learnt which in turn will empower them to express themselves about their learning.

What does “AT expectation” look like for these students? What will we focus on?

All students at the end of their academic year need to be at stage 5 and above for Add/ sub, Mul/ div,  measurement, algebra and statistics

What are our hunches about what has happened for the learning of these students?
  • Through my day to day observations of these students I have felt that these students are not aware of their goals and expectations. They hold themselves back from participating in discussions about their understanding and thinking. These students are not very confident to achieve in Maths and feel that they do not have the necessary skills and expertise to solve problems. 
  • All these student may not have the necessary mathematical language to explain their thinking.
  • There may be gaps in their understanding of mathematical concepts
So what action will we take? What will we focus on in our cycle of inquiry?
What will I do differently?

'Students who participate and contribute in communities have a sense of belonging and the confidence to participate within new contexts. They understand the importance of balancing rights, roles, and responsibilities and of contributing to the quality and sustainability of social, cultural, physical, and economic environments'

For authentic student voice, there needs to be a high level of trust within the classroom. These students but have not really had opportunities to communicate and make a contribution to class learning. I will have to make a deliberate effort to channelise the learning of these students through careful planning and teaching.
For this to happen I will need to:
  • Understand the preferred ways of learning for each of these students and this will mean working alongside them to understand how learning can be made accessible to them. 
  • Facilitate the development of mathematical language to communicate. 
  • include them in my planning and assessment process so that there is clarity around their goals. 
  • create a class environment where students will be free to ask and answer questions without any hesitation. 
  •  support and encourage my students so that they feel confident in reviewing their learning and teaching of Maths
  • Make Maths learning fun for my students. 
How will I gather evidence to see that I have made a difference?

I will gather evidence of my students learning through 
  • Questionnaires
  • Collective brainstorms
  • Interviews with individuals or groups
  • By finding out their knowledge and beliefs
  • What kind of teaching they find the most effective
  • Knowing about their backgrounds and their prior knowledge and the experiences they bring to class.
  • How interesting or challenging they find the subject.
  • Their aspirations at and beyond school.

Resources that I will need
  • Nz Curriculum
  • Continuous feedback from my critical buddy teachers