Bailey Road School - 2011

Teacher: Shaun Wood - Students: Year 8
Our class blog: http://brs-year8.blogspot.com
Our student blogs: http://kidblog.org/brs-rm13-2011/
Our class wiki: http://brs-rm13-2011.wikispaces.com
MrWoodnz blog: http://mrwoodnz.blogspot.com

e-Learning Planning Framework

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At Ulearn11 I participated in a workshop on the draft "e-Learning Planning Framework" (eLPF) led by Ross Alexander. The eLPF has been designed as a tool to enable schools assess what level of e-learning they are currently using to support there next steps for development and training.

It has been designed as a self review tool for schools and individuals to gather evidence, evaluate e-learning programmes and provide a road map for future development. Although it can be a valuable tool to provide evidence to the Ministry or ERO, Ross said it was not intended to evaluate school performance for external purposes.

http://www.vln.school.nz/pg/groups/19837/elearning-planning-frameworks/

While planning the 2012 e-learning for the school this week with colleuges, we decided to use the eLPF to set a baseline for where we are on our e-learning journey and to help us plan our next steps and any professional development required. It was easy to understand and decide on our level, and provided scaffolding for our next steps.

As you can see below I used a printout, highlighter and just jotted down next step notes. Then later I got smarter and uploaded the Word version to Google Docs and used the highlight feature and just typed my notes directly onto the Doc. An added benefit is now our staff can do this collaboratively and we can revisit it later next year to track our progress, in a new colour.
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The eLPF can also be used to evaluate teams and individuals, although the wording leans towards whole school use. I found the eLPF simple to understand and use. I recommend you try doing an assessment of your school, see if it helps you with your e-learning planning for 2012.



Doink and Peer Tutors

This week my students got to play with and learn a new website (for me too) for making animations called Doink.com. I created a class account and gave each maths group a problem to solve (linked to our learning) but they had to show their strategy. Although most animations are still to fast, most students have begun to become proficient with the site, more so than me. Next week I'll make the problems more difficult, varied and again differentiated according to their levels. The students are engaged while having to really think about the strategy they are showing, and this could be used as a resource to teach other students. The students embedded them on our wiki here but below is an example. Although even in Term 4 not all my students have mastered embedding, they know not to ask me but to find a peer tutor to assist them. This is not because I am mean, but they know that they have experts among them and are expected to use them; they have grown to appreciate their own abilities and each others skills.

Macane's_place Value by BRSroom13, made at DoInk.com


Managing our Learning

My students are getting back into managing their own learning, on Monday they plan their week and every morning they review and revise their personal timetables. This is what they have to say about it.


Do as I say or do as I do?

An amazing first week of learning, which I have posted on my personal blog here.

Ulearn 2011

Meeting Professor Steven Heppell made the whole conference for me.

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My Sites website for my Ulearn presentation.

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My shared notes from Ulearn presentations, keynotes and workshops.


Petcha Kucha

My first Petcha Kucha about supporting teachers, created for my application to join Hingaia Peninsula School.


e-Assessment

As we near the end of the term our school is collecting most of it's assessment data for term 4 reporting. We seem to be moving towards using e-asTTle and have used it for writing, reading and maths (geometry and measurement). It is very easy to create a test although sometimes you do get duplicate questions. The school always prints it out for the students to write onto, and the teachers enter the results. I hope that we can move towards students taking some of the assessments online next term. The summary charts for the reading assessment are useful, but like any assessment without purpose, it is pointless. However it is interesting to see the growing development of e-assessment tools.

School Start Page and Student Blog Challenge

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This past year I have been giving lots of PD both at whole school meeting and for individual staff members and it has been gratifying to see staff using Google Apps, wikis and other e-tools with more confidence and regularity. However I noticed that the majority wasted too much time, trying to find the correct website, email or wiki. I decided to create a Start Page for our school staff to make their lives a bit easier.

I firstly considered iGoogle which I use, and also tried Netvibes for a few weeks, in the end after testing, I came to realise they provided their own challenges with all the widgets and was not centrally controlled. So as a good Google App man, I created a Google Sites page with a shared school calendar, an announcement box, links to all school websites and wikis, plus links to some of the more common websites teachers use daily like eTap, e-asTTle, ARBS, TKI etc. So far this has been well received by all staff who are finding the challenge of navigation slightly easier and quicker. What do you do at your school? .


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My students have also started the EduBlogs student challenge this week, it provides an exciting a real context for students to learn and practice their blogging and commenting skills, as well as connecting to classes and students around the world.

Interestingly, a small group asked to move from KidBlogs to their own Blogger for the challenge because it allows them more control over the blog and to able to add widgets.

The blog challenge provides opportunities to teach digital citizenship, literacy and key competencies, all while the students are engaged and excited about 'real' blogging with a 'real' audience.

Week 5

After taking my second week of staff PD, I shamelessly promoted our e-Learning Conversations. Let's just remember this is an informal thing, teachers having conversations about learning. Perhaps it's the agenda, but are we being flexible enough? .
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Glogster and Diigo

Last week David our school e-learning PD trainer introduced Glogster to two of our e-learning teachers. I had not used it in the last year but decided it would be great for presenting an inquiry project. I set up my class but forgot how to make a few changes so asked one of these teachers for help, she was so excited to be teaching me something and I was pleased to see her confidence grow. It goes to show teaching someone else is the best way to grow and learn.

I try to provide many opportunities for my students to write collaboratively, and today they proved that they are become more proficient at it. In the past I found that too many people editing a Google Document causes more sharing problems, so this time they worked in smaller groups (around 5 student each) to and wrote about their previous day. This worked really well and we copy and pasted them into our blogs. See them here http://brs-year8.blogspot.com.

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Diigo became my favourite bookmarking site when Delicious had it's troubles many months back, and soon after I discovered Diigo Education which allows you to create student accounts. However it is not the bookmark feature which makes it such an awesome programme but the Highlight and Sticky Note features. One example of how I use it is below. We have been learning to skim and scan for information so as one stormy cold day activity I sent my student 'group' to the Metservice website where I had left a sticky note with questions for them to practice. I will be talking about this further in our e-learning 'Smackdown'.

Lastly this Friday we had a community Rugby 'World Cup' afternoon with students playing students and parents/teachers playing students. As I usually do I took our class camera and handed it over to my students to take photos, events like this provide great photography training. Students from other classes took notice and also wanted to take photos so I convinced one of my team teacher's to get their class camera and the student got snapping, I noticed she seemed slightly nervous about having the camera out of her control and after 15 minutes it was back in it's case and returned to the classroom. This made me realise that as teachers it is important that we learn to let go, give control and trust to our students so they can learn and experience technology for themselves. Learning is doing!




Week 2
Students started playing RuggerMaths this week as a Maths activity, this links to the World Cup although I noticed many students choose the easy stages just to win, these games site are great but need better management systems to make it easy for teachers to manage 30 individuals progression with a few clicks.
I am teaching students a range of graffiti drawing styles (3D, symbols, shading) and found a much higher engagement when instead of explaining it myself, I played a YouTube video showing the different process. I embedded this on the class wiki so students can pause, rewind, review and practice on their own.
In ICT time my students are researching Apartheid, however I have also been using this context to teach collaboration using Google Docs. The next step will be to teach them to embed this on a wiki.

Week 1
Week one of the term turned out to be wonderful week where we focussed on self management and routines. I purposely restricted laptop use to specific task as apposed to working them into a regular timetable tumble. In the past I have felt I needed to to maximise the use of the laptops during the day, yet I feel the focus on the learning objectives has been better so far. Today I watched three of my girls sitting next to each other and collaborating on a single Google Document, they didn't talk but used the built in chat function, it was wonderful to watch.

We also had e-learning PD with our outside consultant who introduced new tools. However I feel there is a danger of losing these teachers enthusiasm by overwhelming them with too many tools. After some discussion with them I think we need to focus on ways they can plan for and enhance learning using a few tools they know, build that confidence.

Good news we received this week was one of my students is a finalist in the 'School is Cool' competition.
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Term 2 - Week 8

The past few weeks of marking narratives, reports and a load of other work have slowed down my reflections, however my students have been doing some great digital storytelling which was published in the East & Bay Courier paper and online version. There are so many skills to teach but as they gain confidence in manipulating multi-media, they are starting to spend more time on the planning and developing the storytelling.

The Easi-Speak microphone has been a popular tool, not without teething problems, but I had decided that they had to figure it out for themselves, and they have. Interestingly, my old MP3 recorder/player is also popular as a portable audio recorder. A peer tutor culture is developing with students doing most of the skill teaching with the ICT tools. Only a few students so far are gaining confidence with the camera and getting images onto the wiki and blog on a regular basis, but both the class blog and the students KidBlog's are helping them make the links.

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We have been focusing our comments on blogs from this PLN and have been having fantastic conversations and growing relationships with other classes. Thanks to Lynne and Room 3 from Point View School, we have been commenting with QR codes and across a large age gap which feels a bit like I imagine a whanau group would.

This week we also set up a system where students must sign out ICT equipment on the whiteboard. It is still not perfect but more accountability and much easier to manage.









Week 5 Reflection
I have been teaching my students how to create digital stories, with growing success. Most students now have skills to create a digital story using Movie Maker or PowerPoint, but I do all the uploading to YouTube and converting PPT files to Flash files. We are still working on the concept of different file types and the importance of keeping media files of a project stored together in one folder.

There is a definite need for me to teach them about copyright and creative commons now that we are using so much net data. That is one of the reasons this collaborative student Matariki story became one of my favourite, the audio recording and mixing is another skill we will develop this year.

I have been given access to the school website which now has a link to our classroom wikis. I used a school wiki to do this, as it will also allow us and students to share events and successes digitally with our community.
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Self managing learners

After being inspired by teachers from this PLN on our classroom visit, I decided that my students were ready to give managing their own learning a go. Instead of the usual maths and literacy rotation boards I just had a list of activities and tasks they were required to complete during the week.
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They could choose which activity to do whenever they wanted, but had to complete them all and mark off their completed work on the self managing sheet. They also had to attend the usual group guided lessons during the week, these are still scheduled.

From Monday morning all of them scattered in their favourite spots were totally focussed on their work. My week was a wonderful, everyone was almost always on task. I felt more relaxed, and was able to conference with groups and individuals. It felt like I was getting better quality discussion and teaching time with my students.

Even my most reluctant student managed his activities in maths and literacy all week. It was some of my top students that surprised me by their evident struggle to manage themselves. However all students unanimously voted that they loved managing their own learning and wanted to continue. Our next step is to manage our shared laptop time, not all students got their fair time on them.

IMG_0073.JPG On an exciting note, our principal who seems to be converting to e-learning has had the furniture company over for some quotes. Yes, I showed him our photos and especially the furniture at The Gardens. Today we were given three chairs for a testing period, my students will be give us a report on them next week. I already have a favourite; can you guess?


































Teaching and modelling with syndicate classes

Reflection on a day of working with syndicate teachers to and model e-learning and empower their students.
In Technology I was assisting and modeling and the plan was to use a worksheet to answer questions about Physical & Functional Attributes of potato peelers. I put the questions on her wiki, and added a Wallwisher for the students to collaboratively brainstorm. Slow wireless connection in that area really hindered the process, I wonder if we can use the Ethernet plugs in the Tech room, or better an extra modem like in room 13? I had prepared a Google Drawing Venn diagram as an alternative the writing out questions, but it would not load. So we used Mind42 a mind-mapping tool to do the same thing.

In the middle block I took Room 16 class in the ICT suite. The aim was to start developing their wiki e-portfolios, while empowering and equipping his students to use their wiki themselves, and become peer tutors. This will allow the teacher to focus on ways to use these tools in his teaching, he mentioned in his reflection that he was thrilled with the engagement.
  • They learnt about signing into wiki’s and websites safely and protecting their identity.
  • While adding Bling name tags, the students learnt to copy html code and use a widget to embed it into their wiki page.
  • They learnt to add a new wiki page for themselves, using their first names and to manage their own pages.
  • They learnt to create text hyperlinks.
  • They learnt how to make a Weeworld Avatar, and why. I suggested they could do some character description writing on their wiki pages based on their avatars.
  • They also learnt to screencapture on a mac and insert an image from file.
Two more girls from his class asked to join the wiki wizards on Friday’s Electives.
I ran a similar session with Room 12 in the ICT suite in the afternoon. As a past class of mine they are more experience so we worked on developing their wikis as future e-portfolios. Then we explored using Mind42 first as a class Word Wall on their wiki, then students created individual mind maps to help them structure and brainstorm their next narrative.

I believe the students are more empowered and likely to take ownership of their class wikis. A big focus was on protecting our online identity; this message needs to be part of an ongoing digital citizenship programme. I hope the teachers have seen new ways they can use the tools, and student expertise they already have to engage their students in e-learning and integrate it across the curriculum areas. It is also fantastic to see teachers becoming more reflective on our e-learning professional development wiki.

Classroom Visits

I got to admit I was a bit nervous about today's classroom visits, our classrooms are often islands to themselves and I am pleased to see that is changing. I got many great ideas, and had fantastic conversations about our e-learning experiences. We are all challenging our own ideas about teaching and learning; for the most important reason, our student's success. I felt I was in a learning community who spoke my language, and everyone was willing to share their spaces, their challenges and successes.

Multiple Intelligence was evident on many classroom walls, and as teachers we had a fair spread too. A big point of discussion was developing self-management in students and I got ideas for everyone's classes. I believe Jacqui is creating a new wiki with management ideas, I am sure we will all be able to contribute. It was heartening to see some gardens in unexpected places too.

Thank you Jacqui, for guiding our e-learning journey and bring us all together. Thank you all for a wonderful day.
Here are some update photos of my classroom for those who missed it.




Staff Collaboration

Although I am leading e-learning PD in my syndicate, and teaching staff about Google Apps for Education, the potential pedagogies of e-learning with Google Apps, have not yet been realised. A common mindset and misconception is that we are adding the ICT into current teaching, giving it a obligatory slot in the subject tumble. Sometimes however it is the first step for some teachers; getting familiar with new tools. As we know from maths, knowledge frees the mind for critical thinking.


Yesterday marked a breakthrough in staff collaboration for my team. After a long team meeting we realised that we had not done out term newsletter. I promptly copied one from term 1 and shared it with the team, who all (without any glitches thank goodness) started working together on the same document.

It was only after about five minutes when one teacher exclaimed that "this was fun the way we were all working on the same document", that they realised were were collaborating. I added the image below with the revision history tab open to show that they were all taking part. They all liked that they could see where the others were working in the document, and one teacher who didn't like her assigned colour figured out how to change it. I was very proud of them, now I am waiting for the penny to drop, "hey we could get our students to do the same thing!"

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Vegetables, Monsters and Algebra

I wanted to share my algebra success so far and the e-tools I have used.

After a recent staff professional development (PD), I came to realize that my students really need to be doing more problem solving. It is so easy to give text book practice and teach 'step by step' from the Numeracy Project books. Yet our students seem to lack the ability to solve problems that require critical thinking.

This TED video of Dan Meyer also really made me challenge and reflect on the way I have been teaching maths. He says we are teaching "paint-by-numbers" and depriving students of not just solving problems but formulating them. Follow Dan on Twitter here.



Lucky algebra is our term focus and is an ideal vehicle for this. One of the problems we were given in our staff PD was solving a vegetable garden problem. I like to use my interactive whiteboard as a group activity and so created an e-version that my students could use and contribute their own problems to. I am also a Google Apps for Education freak, and on my way to becoming Google Apps Certified (2/6 tests passed so far) so I used Google Drawing to create the one below.

Originally I planned on using problem solving to extend my higher Year 8 students but the activities, games and my problem solving teaching approach have transformed my class. Even my most reluctant students were engaged and talking mathematics enthusiastically, which made me enjoy teaching maths more than I have ever before, a double win. Below is an open copy of my Google Drawing, please feel free to test it and copy or change it for your own use.

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external image Screen+shot+2011-05-05+at+5.44.39+PM.pngI also found a fantastic and free game called "Lure of the Labyrinth" which is a mixture of comic strip story (which I used for shared reading) and monster video game. It is a challenging digital game for middle-school pre-algebra students with fascinating puzzles intertwined into an exciting narrative with it's own mythology (my class are exploring myths this term too) that is a perfect accompaniment for literacy. They support educators well with a wealth of resources and teaching material around the game puzzles. It is also encourages collaboration amongst the students and sharing of strategies.

Do you have any great algebra problems to share, I am always looking for more ideas?




Adding E to a Lesson Plan

One of our wonderful RTLB teachers has been running new some lessons on self management aiming to teach children how to recognise their emotional levels, and strategies to help them cope. We run the lessons every few weeks, although truthfully it has been hard to engage the kids, if fact some downright hated it. We started co-teaching but the delivery was well a "delivery" at a wall or bored 13 year old's who were not relating to all this emotional talk or the style of delivery either.


external image selfmangLplan.JPGThe night before our most recent lesson I was doodling on the lesson plan I had received, trying to see where I could add some spark, and of course e-learning. To the left is an image of my scribbled thoughts.

I created the Google Docs table below and shared it with the group leaders, it was also projected on the whiteboard so everyone could see it being created collaboratively. The groups were mixed ability with student leaders who are still learning to lead groups. Each group of six sat together with one laptop and were assigned an emotional level to focus on. The leaders typed as the groups shared ideas. They then sent two students off with another laptop to take a photo of what a person may look like at that level. Those students then had to email it to the leader who inserted the photo into the table. The leader was expected to manage all their team members, as well as their part of the shared document.


The other three teams members went off to make up role plays of situations where students are at these different emotional levels, and how they coped with it. They then presented them to the class, and I recorded them for our wiki. Many students discovered they giggled when they got worried about people watching them act, they didn't realise they were at that level themselves. We discussed how as spectators we could support them by being an attentive audience.

The classroom was a hive of noise, discussion, laughter and students talking, showing, playing and creating the concept of managing self. Everyone participated and we not only learnt about this important key competency as a deliberate act of teaching, but the students practiced it by virtue of being fully immersed in collaborative learning, catering to multiple intelligences.

I believe e-learning help to engage with the use of technology, but it also provided a structure for collaboration and creative critical thinking.



Ministry of Education on TKI offer some suggestions for recognising and monitoring key competencies that I observed during the lesson.
  • learners performing real tasks in real contexts
  • learners interacting with others, rather than working in isolation
  • teachers monitoring key competencies with students, rather than ‘doing monitoring’ to students
  • formative opportunities that enable responsiveness, rather than summative
  • self and peer-assessment, rather than just teacher judgments
  • teachers reflecting on overall student performance in a task, how it might have enhanced content learning and determining areas for future focus



Term 1- Week 7 & 8

external image Screen+shot+2011-03-25+at+7.09.34+AM.pngAfter a recent discussion about finding information in the mountain of Google. I learnt how to do an Advanced Google Search and taught it to my students (see a copy here), luckily it also tied in well with our reading learning intention which was finding key words and phrases. About five of them got <10 results which was amazing, but still everyone got below 5000 results, which meant they were more likely to be relevant websites. Next time I want to introduce WonderWheel search which I believe will help my students focus their questioning as well as developing good key phrases.



Additional responsibilities seem to bring additional PD days away from the classroom, and with a sick day included my presence was not very strong in the classroom the last two weeks. I missed my students but found that their self management had gone haywire and behavior issues were rife. I had to put very structured routines in place, and get back to some early term one basics. I now see that although some students are ready, most of them need more scaffolding and modeling in order to develop their self management. I have used this opportunity to share more of my planning with them on our wiki, they can see their activities for the whole week, along with explanations of their tasks. I have gained inspiration from fellow e-learning teachers, and being part of a PLN with like minded teachers helps challenge and extend my own teaching practice.

This week along with my principal, I attended a PD for Principals using web2.0. It was fantastic to see so many schools leaders who are willing to lead change. It turned out I am more well known by my Twitter username (MrWoodnz) than I realized, branding really does work. It was hosted by the principal of Summerland School who is enthusiastic about e-learning. On a classroom walkthrough it was evident that the school had a culture of e-learning that was inspired and modeled from the top. I am hoping to get some photos to add to this blog as they had specially design mobile and flexible furniture that suited the spaces of e-learning very well, including being bright, comfortable and fun. All available from local suppliers too.

My principal was overwhelmed by some of the content, but completely sold on how they used wiki's for their Board of Trustees. I am proud to say he created his first wiki for our BoT, and is excited about taking on this new challenge. I particularly liked the way Summerland School used Google Docs within the management structure, from managing relievers to shared planning.

Along with David Kinane who is giving us PD on e-learning, I am leading our syndicate teachers on a e-learning journey. I am very proud of the progress the teachers have made and their growing enthusiasm is exciting to see. They all created their first wikis and even reflected on our e-learning wiki using Vocaroo. So my reflection for that part of the day will be audio below.



Week 6
My week started with the teacher who has my most of my students from last year asking me to help her add her latest assessment data to the Google Docs spreadsheet I left her. I was excited that she is seeing the benefit of using and sharing student information on Google Apps, using it as a Learning Management System (LMS) which is one of it's many benefits. As I have had to hunt 'High and Low' for last years assessment data on my students, I can appreciate how good it would be to receive it all presented in a spreadsheet. My favourite function is being able to sort columns sequentially, which allows differentiated grouping with a click. I hope she passes her spreadsheet onto the next teacher and my Student Data System will spread like a virus (he cackles madly, rubbing his hands in glee).

This week we had our first e-learning PD with David and we all came out of our sessions enthused with ideas and more aware of the need to adapt our teaching to meet the needs of 21st Century learners.

With the cold weather of Autumn settling in, I discovered only 3 students had brought togs for swimming, instead we played softball. I split them into teams and appointed a referee because I don't know much about sport but also I wanted to see how they collaborated outside the classroom. I sat under a tree and watched, what I saw was all students taking part in the team work, students giving each other strategy advise. Rules that managed the game play were accepted by all and followed by all students. I saw empathy when a student encouraged another back into the game after she had walked off upset. I was proud of my students, they were self managing and showing all the key competencies without me doing a thing, well except observing.

This week I tested my mixed ability groups doing a quick inquiry to help them work cooperatively as a team and to use the inquiry process. They only had two days to inquire and create a presentation together. Four out of the five groups worked fantastically as a team, however one had leadership issues, however in the end they produced a good product. I will mix up the ability groups next week to see how the leaders cope with a new mix of peers.

Week 5
My successes this week were:
- My students guided with my assistance, the Red & Black Mufti Day to fundraise for the people of Christchurch. As a school we made over $800. Now they are planning their own school event, a great inquiry that crosses curriculum areas and full of HEART (our school values + key competencies).
- We had our first e-learning meeting with David our guide. Although their was was some initial concerns, everyone was open to discussion and we ended the meeting on a positive note.
- We had our first Skype with a high school in Illinois, USA. Although we provided scaffolding the conversation was very stilted, due to both student uncertainty and poor connection. See my students class blog post here.
- During our e-learning meeting we had spoken about allowing students to learn to do what we cannot and learn from it. I decided to give my students a challenge with no instructions. They had to use the laptop webcam to take a portrait photograph and then print it out. It turn out to be an engaging afternoon with students experimenting and teaching each other.

Some difficult parts of my week have been:
- Arranging the Soap Box Derby team and activites. I hate cars, grease etc yet got hooked into managing this. It is stressful doing something you don't like or know anything about, which made me think about what I ask my students to do in class every day. When do they feel like this?
- I have also begun my two Post Graduate Diploma papers and finding the extra workload very hard to keep up with during this busy term. I must just keep at it and hopefully term 2 will get easier.

Week 4
This week has been consumed with daily assessments and the endless marking and analysis that goes with it. An interesting aspect was that our elearning class had to be assigned another classroom for the assessments as the 'good ole fashion' desks in rows were required and our spaces was not setup for this style testing. I wonder if we need to consider this for the future or perhaps change the way we assess?

The Christchurch earthquake disaster struck on Tuesday and even though I am safe in Auckland, I have still feel a state of shock and saddness as I watch helpless, feeling useless. Luckily my friends there are safe but being my old home town, I feel for them. It is hard to imagine what they must be experiencing. Being a teacher I decided to throw my current unit study out and focus our inquiry on this tradegy. I think I need to know more and express my feelings about it, plus I believe my students feel the same and cetainly can befit from talking about and dealing with loss and destruction. We started with 'White Hat' factual thinking that same day. We are recording much of our inquiry on our blog and also plan to create a website about it.

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My students have been asking many questions as part our our inquiry, and what has made me really proud was the ones asking, "How can we help the people of Christchurch?" We plan to run the National Red and Black mufti day on Friday as an inquiry learning experience, plus my students are generating other ways to fundraise.

We are gathering website resources to aid your inquiry and teaching on our wiki. Please feel free to use our links and to suggest more. Some sites that really stand out are the visual quake map and the site for children who experienced this and need to write about their experience, 'When My Home Shook'.

Some positives of my week have been that I was made the e-learning lead teacher for our school journey along with a management unit which is great recognition for all the extra work I already do on this project. Secondly I got an email from a parent of one of my top students thanking me for engaging, inspiring and challenging her child, she is apparantly loving the learning. So a positive way to end a difficult week.


Week 3
This week it felt like I was riding a wave, it was an exhilarating and exciting ride but there were a few rough moments I felt like it was going to be all head over heels. I have had some success this week, the first was that I eventually got going with #365classes photos (my student version of 365 photos). The great part was I have got two struggling boys hooked into taking daily photos and they seem to love the process and of course the comments. Next step is to build the literacy around them. I was hoping to get more students from other schools involved and commenting, like the 365 Photo group does. Still interest may grow over time, or perhaps I need to try provide another sharing platform other than Flickr but not sure how that may work as yet. Below are some of my students photos.


As part of our unit study we have been exploring Recycling City and the students have been answering questions in their books on about the site which requires a sort of scavenger hunt search. On the second day I decided to try liven, and speed things up by doing an oral scavenger hunt. I asked a question based on the site and small groups raced each other for the answer and they then got a chance to ask their own questions. The success for me was the amazing engagement and quality of thinking as the students tried to give the class hard questions.

IWB Board Game
IWB Board Game



This year is the first time I have really used an Interactive Whiteboard as a serious tool. Last week I had a group memory/mix & match type game, while this week was a board game show below. It is freely available from an excellent site called Super Teacher Tools, which I also use to generate random groups. I had to stop my group teaching to take a photo of the great mathematical talk and engagement from students who don't usually get focused.

Meet the Teacher evening was held this week and I only had parents of five students visit and was encouraged by the understanding and agreement I got from those parents when I explained e-learning and the journey we were on.

Another great literacy tool we have been exploring is the comic site Strip Generator. It is an incredibly simple site to use-engage-telling stories and I made a screencast to guide students, most preferred to figure it out themselves. Cyber bullying was the learning context but I am hoping they will be whipping up stories and comics throughout the year as their confidence grows. This is a first time student effort below.

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A new student started this week so I sat her with a group of girls. They squashed around the table and eventually asked if they could rearrange the desks and seemed amazed when I encouraged them too. I have been struggling to get students to move away from 'claimed' spots, perhaps one way is to give them more ownership.

Today our school was accepted into the EnviroSchools program, which was through my inquiries to them. To their credit they took the initiative and arranged a meeting with our principal and our new Enviro Team. I like it because they take a no pressure approach, and show how easy sustainability and environmental action can drive student inquiry learning and real change at school and in the community.

Finally I have reached the end of the wild week, and it's time to relax and reflect.



Week 2
Last week my students took a statistics pre-assessment to help them plan their goals and for me to plan my teaching. I noticed across abilities my students seemed to get a simply tally chart question wrong. The question asked them to tally hexagons, pentagons and octagons, it turned out they just were confused about the difference. Strangely the year I had named the groups using these terms.

I created a Google Docs page with a table for each 2D shape and put the students into random groups. Each group of 3 to 4 students had a notebook and were assigned a shape. I was sharing this document with the whole class so each group was collaborating within their team and each group with the class. The live document was displayed via projector on the whiteboard which allowed for discussion and scaffolding.

My ulterior motive was to get them using their new Docs accounts and get them to explore ways of finding information on Google and bringing it together in a meaningful way.

I was amazed and proud of the way they worked together and in half an hour created this resource below. The Google Drawings are not showing because the students drew them in their accounts and they have not Shared the Drawing. Even my most unengaged kid was fully into this learning.


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The second success was helping a fellow teacher in my syndicate who has gone from e-denial to enthusiastically suggesting new ideas. I manage a wiki which accommodates two Year 7 and two Year 8 classes, plus blogs. Today my colleague became an 'editing member' of our wiki, and she created her first wiki page to guide her math groups. It is a wonderful thing to could see the spark of understanding and possibility light up a learners face, at any age.

I feel like I made a difference today, a seed has sprouted.















Week one was a busy time getting to know the students, creating treaties and expectations in my first Year 8 class. The first week never seems to follow the standard timetable, however I used short activities to teach classroom routines, transitions and group work. Even though they are year 8's, many still need lots of work managing themselves and their time. I also noticed some some of my higher group boys giving me Level 2 writing. I need to work on this and perhaps find more engaging writing tasks?

I explained that our classroom is free seating although the students seem to be struggling with the concept and have mostly 'claimed' spots with a boys side and a girls side! Argg, should I change tables around every week? I also realise I need to develop my understanding on how spaces should work with the daily learning, at the moment some areas feel abandoned, ownership may be the key.

Next week:
I am trying out Workshops seriously for the first time, as opposed to standard group teaching. I plan to remove myself (and Workshops) from the group task tumble of activities (maths and literacy). I have been reading "Teaching without Telling: Computational Fluency and Understanding through Invention" written by Daniel Heuser, who says that workshop structure has four elements: hands-on-instruction, problem solving, choice and reflection. He also give an example of how he breaks down a maths lesson which has given me some confidence to try it out.

What are your Worksop experiences?



February 2011 - Pre-school Start

- preparing Year 7 and 8 class blogs, Year 8 wiki
- design Netvibes and iGoogle start page dashboard for staff, plus one for students.
- setting up classroom
- planning ICT Unit plan for Term 1.

Planning / Ideas
- Use G Calendar for daily diary (no paper?). Agenda view works best for this application
- Use G Apps for student collaborative learning and guided learning.
- Need to set up Year 8 student G Apps accounts.

PD
- studying Google Apps and takings tests for certification. Have passed G Admin and Sites.
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Classroom Spaces
This is a interesting challenge and one that will be ongoing throughout the year. I have turned the teachers desk into a writing area and I am planning a large Science / Nature / Technology area.
Trying to create spaces with furniture and materials at hand has made me wonder what furniture I would buy if given the chance to do so from scratch and with a decent budget. Definitely modular and movable, and tables / shelving with wheels can make simple dividers.
Below are some photos of my classroom so far. The spaces I have created are writing, reading, maths, ICT, Science/Nature, art and Maori. The IWB provides a good performance space although with such a big room private spaces are harder to achieve (see the reading corner). Always looking for ideas, so feel free to leave a comment in the Discussion tab.



My Planning Samples

Weekly Daily Planner
Weekly Maths Plan
Weekly Literacy Plan

My Action Plan