Sunday, 13 August 2017

GEGNZ Student Summit 2017

Last week I took a group of students to the GEGNZ Student Summit at Ormiston Junior School. The confidence and pride I saw from each of the presenters in each of the breakout sessions, highlighted how much talent our young people bring to their own learning. This was a great opportunity for my learners to see first hand that we learn best when we learn with and from each other. I was extremely proud of Team PBS not only for the presentation they created and shared, but also for the respect they showed as audience members throughout the day.

The day was closed by Suan Yeo, from Google who reminded us all that if you're not sure, ask questions; if you see a problem, try to solve it and most importantly try to be the best you that you can be. 

A huge thank you to the GEGNZ team for their organisation, Ormiston Junior School for hosting us and to everyone who took part in the day. 

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

CoL Sharing with the Senior Syndicate

We were asked at the last CoL meeting to meet with our staff and encourage each person to select one Achievement Challenge that aligns with their Teaching as Inquiry for 2017. We then explored the blogs of each CoL teacher who has focused on the same Achievement Challenge as we have.

At Panmure Bridge School we chose to do this in syndicate meetings. This afternoon I met with the senior syndicate, and will be meeting with the junior syndicate next week. What was really valuable was the rich discussion that evolved as people connected with ideas that resonated with their own inquiries. Having a designated time to explore the cluster inquiries was a great professional development opportunity. Thank you to my fellow CoL teachers for making such a rich resource available.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Winter Learning Journey... WOW!

Congratulations to all our Panmure Bridge Winter Learning Journey bloggers. We are so proud of you!

The images above reflect the participation in the Winter Learning Journey from Panmure Bridge's Learning Space 2. Congratulations to Daniel, Oh Hsen, AJ, Alex (LS1), Ofa and Eric our main prize winners; Nazella who got a special mention; and everyone who took part. Our top two bloggers, Oh Hsen and Daniel each commented 500 times on fellow blogger's posts!

A huge thank you to Rachel and her team for creating an exciting learning adventure that took our students on a virtual tour around New Zealand, and for the many, many comments made to everyone who took part. 

Making my learners accountable...

Today during Reading I asked my learners how I would know they were actively participating in the learning. The unified response was, "Make sure we are talking about our thinking!"  To make sure this actually happened, I challenged each person to write down one question they asked that contributed to the collaborative task. Our prompts were: 'What question could you ask? Will it tell you the information you want?' I knew this could be easily overlooked then hurriedly made up so I scaffolded the challenge by handing each person one brightly coloured post it note. My thinking was that if they could see a small space to record their question it wouldn't seem to onerous.

The image above reflects success! Everyone recorded a question and only two students felt too shy to share their question during our reflection time. This is a huge shift in confidence so I took a step back and asked myself why this might have happened, and thought about what I might have done/said differently. With my learners working in collaborative groups I was able to roam around the room having deep learning conversations. Upon reflection the most common message I shared was Did it tell you the information you want?

The questions below are our evidence of how each person participated actively in today's learning. The highlighted questions are from my target students.
  • What did you do for the summary?
  • Can you share your summary please?
  • Was Kate Sheppard part of the suffrage or did she make it?
  • What was the suffrage movement?
  • What is the meaning of suffrage?
  • What is a petition?
  • Does Women’s suffrage have capital letters?
  • How effective was the suffrage movement towards the men that wouldn’t allow women votes?
  • Why were some women against the women’s suffrage issues?
  • Why did they change their minds about women’s suffragettes?
  • Did Kate Sheppard’s personality influence the men’s decisions?
  • What were Kate Sheppard’s major achievements that convinced the law to allow women to vote?
  • Why was the law so specific with some people not allowed to vote?
  • At any point did Kate Sheppard feel like giving up on her main goal?
  • How was Kate Sheppard able to keep going knowing there was hate and conflict against her?
  • Were all cultures of women allowed to vote?
  • Did Kate Sheppard fear that she was going to lose the fight?
  • What made Kate Sheppard want to fight for women’s rights?
  • Did Kate Sheppard feel like giving up?
  • How did Kate Sheppard become the leader of the suffragettes?
  • Is the big circle building the NZ parliament building?
  • When did Kate Sheppard find out that women couldn’t vote?
  • Why did Kate Sheppard decide to start campaigning to get women the right to vote?
  • What convinced the men to let the women vote?
  • What made Kate Sheppard keep going even though people didn’t like what she had to say? 
  • Why did Kate Sheppard join the suffrage movement? 
  • What did Kate Sheppard do to become the leader of the women’s suffrage movement?

These questions reflect strong connections are continuing to be made. The difference is my learners have a purpose for asking their questions and today they were accountable for their learning. My next step is to actively plan ways to sustain this accountability.

Wednesday, 2 August 2017

How I am engaging my learners in talk...

This week has been all about front loading so that my learners are able to begin forging connections to the content of our new learning. The screenshot of the blog post below reflects one of the ways we have done this. I was particularly drawn to her last sentence where she states that talking to her group helped her make connections.

We have done a lot of think-pair-share to encourage the learning conversations. By taking time to move around the groups I have noticed that everyone is actively participating. I reminded my learners that we learn best when we learn together and talk about our thinking. The collaborative approach removes the scary as the sharing reflects the ideas of the group and eliminates the pressure to take risks alone. 

As I have mentioned in previous posts, the scaffold this group chose to use was a 'go to' rather than a 'you must use'. Clearly strong connections have been made to this as they see by identifying the key words they are able to rework the words into meaningful sentences that summarise their learning.

Since woman's rights with voting was a big issue in the olden days, our reading topic this term relates to this with the upcoming election in mind. We watched a youtube video about the suffragette movement and wrote a 25 word summary on "what the suffragette movement was". I found this quite hard because it isn't a skill that I have mastered (summary) but talking to my group helped me make my connection.


To help me scaffold my learners towards evaluating their own contributions to the learning conversations I asked each group to do this today via the comments tool. It was interesting to listen to the negotiations taking place before the final comment was devised. Some as you can see were very honest. What I celebrated was the fact my learners were able to recognise their own contributions to their learning conversations. I see too that I need to scaffold what it is I want my learner's to notice so that they have the tools to strengthen their evaluations and identify their own next steps.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Engaging and Empowering...

Photo via Good Free Photos

Today we began our journey into this terms reading challenges and I needed to get those cogs turning! I have chosen to explore the suffragette movement to help my learners make deeper connections to the upcoming elections. Understand the importance of having the right to vote, and why people in the past fought for this right underpins the texts chosen to explore this topic.

I know my learners and I knew that I needed to engage them by selling this topic in the right way. I thought that it was important to use my blog as a platform for reminding people about the importance of finding a way to bring a difficult topic back to the world of our learners to allow them to make strong personal connections.

What I did to build connections together:

I began by asking my learners to find an learning buddy and by asking the questions:
  • Who is in charge of New Zealand?
  • Who makes the laws and rules?
  • Who is NZ's Prime Minister?
  • How did he/she get this job?
Initial responses were interesting and varied, but none were correct. We then used our smart searching skills to find this information. To bring it back to our immediate world we looked at our own school. I knew I need to build vocabulary knowledge so we use our devices to define the words: vote, parliament and government.

I borrowed an idea from Adrienne Dines at St Patricks School and introduced the notion that talk is the action born from thinking’. We unpacked this statement together by me asking why I was sharing this.

"So we talk about our thinking..."
"So you know we are thinking..."
"Because if we talk it kind of goes in our brain and help us understand more..."

I shared our 'Votes for Women' site and shared the fact that a long time ago it was only men who were allowed to make decisions about how we lived. Women, alcoholics, criminals, men under 18 and those classified as insane were not allowed to make any of these decisions. To say the girls in this group were shocked is an understatement! The result of this statement was a buzz of talk as I was immediately bombarded with questions as to why women weren't allowed an opinion. No answers were given as I pointed out this was what we were going to find out.

We used the learning buddy partnerships to then explore the amazing interactive timeline on the NZ parliament site. Their task was to use their skimming and scanning skills to find and briefly summarise information they found interesting. While this was happening I worked my way around each group having rich conversations about their identified points of interest. It is important to mention here that I had previously looked through this information so I was able to recall and discuss it without referring to my computer.

To capitalise on today's engagement I asked each pair to record something on the white board that they wanted to find out more about. These questions excite me as I can see that deep and critical thinking is emerging.

  • Did the Queen have anything to do with the law that only men could vote?
  • What convinced the men to allow women to vote?
  • Why didn't men let women vote at first?
  • What convinced the men to allow women to allow women to stand for parliament?
  • Why were men from other countries not allowed to vote?
  • Why was Wellington chosen to be the place of parliament?
  • Which men agreed with Kate Sheppard and made women's rights possible?

My learners felt engaged and empowered, and I was reminded of how important it is to know your learners, know your topic and know how to make connections to your learner's immediate world.

The images used do not reflect my target students 

Midway Reflection...

Last Thursday we met as a CoL group to share and reflect on our inquiries at the midway point. This shared check-in allowed us to talk about the successes, failures and improvements we have experienced and noticed, with colleagues who are working towards the same achievement goal. 

In my class we live by the ethos that 'we learn best when we learn with and from each other', something I capitalised on myself in this meeting. By listening to Adrienne Dines share how her inquiry is progressing, I realised our inquiries crossover in many areas. We have drawn similar conclusions and have implemented similar interventions to increase the levels of talk amongst our students. Adrienne’s statement that talk is the action born from thinking’ is something I will unpack with my learners as I see this as an additional way of strengthening their connections as to why having learning conversations are so important.