Friday, 24 July 2015

Visit from our SPARK 'buddy'


Today Room 5 had a visit from our SPARK 'buddy' Greg. Greg has been following our blogs this year so we shared how we learn in our digital 1:1 learning environment, and talked with him about setting goals and making wise choices. Thank you for visiting us Greg!

Monday, 20 July 2015

MIT Update #5: Student Agency

This year we have continued our school-wide professional development journey focussing on Writing with Nadine Sorrensen from Team Solutions. The MIT group and myself spent a block with her asking questions and sharing our own learning journey. By using think-alouds and teacher modelling, Nadine and I were able to demonstrate in context that giving and receiving feedback was very much a two way street. Initially the students were very quiet but as they gained confidence they started asking her the types of questions those seeking feedback should ask. It frustrates me here that I didn't record the dialogue, however my excuse is that I too, was fully engrossed in the learning.

We shared our Writing rubric and explained the thinking behind why we had created it. Nadine asked questions of the content that required clarification. Noticing how these students were able to confidently respond showed me that they definitely owned the learning. What was also very evident was the high level of content knowledge that each of the students has developed this year. They have have achieved high levels of student  agency by developing a tool that they use in their own learning.

With the students working on the feedback they had been given I was able to have my own learning time with Nadine. She directed me toward another reading that supports my inquiry. Although not created to use in a digital medium, Jeff Anderson's 'Mechanically Inclined' explores the power of 'organic growing, changing charts that address the what the kids need to know to survive in their world of writing'. Anderson highlights how his student generated wall charts were 'referred to, pointed at, moved and looked at... and a living part of the class's making meaning journey.' This thinking resonated with me. My observations and years of chalkface experience have shown me that if something is generated by the students there is ownership, and with ownership comes the mindset to 'use', as the content knowledge that allows the information contained in these reference points is in place. The thinking behind our rubric was exactly this as we wanted something that our class had connections with and could make meaning from anywhere, anytime and at any pace.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

MIT Update #4 Making Connections - Merging the learning

Fine and Ducati used the 'ifaketext' task to help them merge the learning from the last few weeks to write a persuasive text that reflects their own perspectives and harnesses the power of the structure and language features needed. What I noticed here was the power a 'critical friend' had when they were able to see by referring to our co-constructed DLO which language features had been included and which language features had been overlooked. The peer led feedback was very powerful as both students were able to have real discussions that were based on fact and supported by a reference point that both learners had buy in and understanding of. Below are two powerful examples of the end product.

Should New Zealand change its official flag?

Ducati's Perspective:

In my opinion, I don’t really know what to choose. Have you made a decision? Well I haven’t, and I don’t want to be cruel, but I don’t want to choose the wrong side. So I don’t know what to do.

1834, 1840, and 1903 are all the times New Zealand has changed the flag. But, the flag is still similar, so we have still kept the honour that our soldiers have fought for our freedom, it’s making my decision hard. Yet about 5% of the world’s flags have not been changed, so the rest of the countries have changed their flag.

I am unsure, and apprehensive about my decision. The flag is a symbol of honour so it would be hard to give up, and  it’s making my decision hard for me. If you're unsure about a decision, then you know how I feel. Everyone is trying to make me “Think like them” and choose their side to be on. Thinking about my decision is so hard, considering that I am very picky(I have a hard time making a decision).

Would you choose changing the flag? Or Would you choose not changing the flag? Well I just don’t know. Neither side is wrong, yet neither side is right. My decision will come in time, not now, tomorrow, the next, or the next, but it will come.

I just don’t have a decision to make, because the idea of the flag changing is alright, but what about not changing the flag? Well could I ask you one thing?  “Do you think I’m right?”

Fine's Perspective:

We grow up in a generation where a flag defines a country’s importance, stereotyped label, past and future. New Zealand already has a flag that shows our importance and what kind of a multicultural country we are. It acknowledges our past and will contain our futures memories. So I ask you this question, how does changing the flag respect our countries milestones and hardships? I feel that if we changed our flag, we would be being disrespectful to many. If we redesigned our flag, will our coming generation be able to respect the soldiers that have died for it? Will they be able to see through the stars and appreciate our ancestors that navigated all day and night to find our homeland? Will they be able to see the small amount of red that resembles the blood of our tiny nation? Will they be able to appreciate the navy blue that surrounds and protects our shores? No. They won’t, because the most important representations of our country won't be acknowledged.

We need to know that the designer of our new flag will be able to include essential icons of our nation. We need to know that he/she will produce a flag that is instantly recognized as ours, and our current flag has accomplished that quite well already. How can we put so much trust into one person? Although many people feed off pressure and use it as a fuel to drive them towards their goals, we can’t expect the designer to produce a flag as good and honourable as the current flag.

The cost for changing the flag, is an estimated 25.7 million dollars! Money the wrecked homes in Canterbury have been overlooked for 3-4 years could well use. How can New Zealand be able to use all this money on the changing of a flag, when we have citizens who have no homes. The money should be going to the families who are struggling and the people who actually need help. This is a waste of money, that New Zealand can’t afford!

The soldiers who have fought for us in wars, used the flag as a motivation to fight and bear through the heartache, loss and pain. They used the flag to represent themselves whether an individual or crowd. They used the flag as a symbol of hope to return home. They used it as a promise, to fight for the freedom of their families. Why do the people who have probably never even held a gun in the defence of their country, get to decide whether their connections with the flag are taken away?

We can not change the flag of New Zealand! We can not take away history and memories! We can not take away the opportunity of the coming generations to grow up with the proud flag we all have grown up with! We have to make a stand and remain with the same flag that our ancestors have fought for, our athletes have been represented with, and the same flag that has brought our country pride. New Zealand’s history needs to remain intact!