Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Culture & school: Feeling embarrassed

I took 60+ year 6s to Henderson Intermediate today, clearly it was going to be a good opportunity for sighting some new ideas but it has really opened my eyes to some rapid & substantial PD I require.

As we entered HIS we were ushered into one of their halls where we received a beautiful Maori welcome, instantly, as the male teacher I felt a little unprepared and started racking my mind for all those things I was taught at Auckland Uni during teacher training *PANIC at empty mind*. The HIS children performed a stirring haka, waiata and their teacher was clearly fluent and well spoken in Te Reo. He also told us that it was an informal powhiri given that for many of our children their families have attended this school. Nonetheless I was totally out of my depth and I hated it!

I admit to being totally unprepared, but so were our children and when the speaker invited anyone to lead our school in responding, our Kapa Haka children weren't able to respond when put on the spot. But I'm not blaming them, they're children and I feel that I let them down. I can think of many excuses but none will ease my feelings including that my use of Te Reo in the classroom isn't as poor!

This time next year, I won't be feeling the same. Now where is that number & email for our school's Te Reo specialist?

Saturday, 15 June 2013


Last night we had a school disco and as I watched the kids I realised that as a group we'd had a productive week and a few victories.

Matariki lesson, ako, and Maori children
We watched a YouTube clip then had a look at some Te Reo. 3 Maori children pointed out that they knew this so were given the option of creating their own posters with Te Reo phrases they wanted the rest of the class to learn. After a few hijinks one of the boys has created a cool poster, including the phrase "That's a bit dodgy", all 3 have enjoyed the choice and the ability to lead the class. Naturally, its given me some more confidence about Te Reo/Tikanga in my classroom. 
Key resources: Korero Maori CartoonCam App and Pages

Rich Tasks for Maths
Two weeks ago we started an investigation in my maths class, the students need some scaffolding to come up with questions.  This week, a student who is trying hard came up with a cool topic: "How many people get frost bite this winter?" After all of the prompting & discussion I have great hope that this will be an excellent learning opportunity, I can't wait to see what they produce. 
Key resources: Met service

Preparation for Student-Led Conferences:
On Thursday, Room 1 had a chat about what we could do to celebrate our learning when the parents come to visit in week 7. They were full of great ideas but have settled on sharing their writing through a slideshow of writing pieces, showing the parents how to make a Tellagami, having their class blog on one of the desk tops and a collaborative artwork by the parents. As a class we also co-constructed a GoogleForm asking their parents about what they've seen. How can I not feel great about a class thinking like this?
Key resources: Class Blog Tellagami App

Thursday, 13 June 2013

ICT in teacher training

I sat in two meetings yesterday where there were vastly different attitudes to Twitter. In one it was seen as a valued tool in the classroom that can advance learning, in the other there was a bit more dissonance. This divide is something I've been contemplating lately as I push my own learning via my online PLN, my classroom through various online platforms and my own PD.

My pre-service was completed at Auckland Uni on the 1 year course and I was surprised that ICT hardly featured, we had some exposure to Moodle and Eportfolios but neither with our own teaching in mind. Fortunately, I was lucky to have a placement in 1 school where ICT was pushed and saw the use of Scratch and GIMP in a Y5/6 class. But why do teacher trainees have to rely on luck? Clearly, time is a factor when selecting teaching material for pre-service and I value all of the information provided. However, I'm not convinced that it adequately prepares the new teacher for a world where many teacher vacancies include ICT in their requirements.

Fastforward to now (PRT 18 months in), I am using Twitter for all sorts of information sharing, blogging with my class and as a teacher, regularly use my iPhone as a tool with the kids and collaborate with teachers in other schools with enthusiasm. This week I have provided support to a teacher looking to get on Twitter (@htauahns), have been asked by my Mentor Teacher to help with his ICT development and had another experienced teacher quip that she'll give Twitter a go when she has plenty of time for learning. So I think the dissonance is receding, I just have to keep on tweeting!

But what about those in pre-service now? We have some student teachers at the moment, I've shared ideas with them and explained several tools including Popplet, Explain Everything and modelled creating a classroom expert. I'm feeling even more optimistic after seeing that Auckland Uni is making progress in the ICT area for teacher training also.

Tweeps communicate both during formal PD settings and informally with ideas, strategies, feedback and resources. With the enthusiasm that abounds on Twitter maybe ICT doesn't require focus in teacher training, but it sure would have made my time far more engaging!

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Shhh don't tell Mr Walker...

My mentor teacher came and taught a science lesson yesterday for me to observe, the first part was run of the mill discussion, questioning, sharing, hands on learning with rocks. I sat there recording how some of my students were going, his management of them and all the usual BT type stuff.

In the 2nd part of the lesson, there was a rock identifying challenge and I pulled out the iPad to record what the students were doing. The challenge was team based and my class are a competitive lot but I soon found just how competitive!

MT got the classes attention and told them he thought I should take part, I could hardly say no hence the teacher quickly became the student. Room 1 automatically became more competitive as they strived to beat my score, prevent me from seeing all the rocks, attempted to see my answers on the iPad and generally outdo me. Like any red-blooded male I wasn't going to back down...

I loved how they were telling each other off for showing me when all 12 rocks were, "Shhhh! Don't tell Mr Walker" was the catch cry for the 30 odd minutes we were doing the challenge.

When it came time to share our responses, they were really interested in how I scored, particularly when their team work had resulted in a correct answer. I didn't get them all right, but that was one of the reasons behind having my MT deliver this lesson. I earned some respect along the way and got a kick from their interest in my results.

Created on PicCollage

Learning with your students can be so rewarding, I am able to orchestrate this with ICT, Te Reo & Visual Art easily but find this can be difficult in other curriculum areas. If you have any suggestions...