Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Key Competencies in action!

This morning the key competencies were alive and kicking in LS2. Using our multimodal reading site each group accessed the learning at their own pace and in their own way. This allowed for stronger connections to be made, something that was evident in the discussions that were taking place. Great collaboration LS2!

Thinking and making connections

Self managed reciprocal reading

Participating in and contributing to the learning

Understanding language, symbols and text

Relating to others

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Celebrating our PBS CARE Awards

We are extremely proud of our student's ability to self manage and complete additional tasks linked to our PBS CARE values of confidence, attitude, respect and excellence and innovation in their own time. This system is set up for our Year 7/8 students to grow as leaders. They already receive badges to wear at assembly once they have completed a set of challenges linked to each CARE value. We have now added blog badges that will allow them to celebrate their success with their global audiences. 

The way these are set up allows us to add each badge on as they achieve it. So proud of Sajiha and Zeba who have completed both the silver and gold components of this challenge!

To show progress we have only coloured the badges achieved. Our students love the freedom to choose the order they complete the badges in. Using this format allows us to adapt the blog badge to align with individual achievements.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Making informed opinions:

A few weeks ago I asked the question 'Are pigeons special or pests?' to my learners. Immediately I was bombarded with a variety of opinions but was met with a wall of silence when I asked them how they knew these facts. I followed the suggestions of ways to strengthen connections and accelerate the learning made by Woolf Fisher to provide a scaffolding text, a complimentary text, a challenge text and a self selected text.

The DLOs below are examples of the learning that took place as we unpacked the information. Did we get everything right? In short, no but I do know places I can make changes next time. I found this an exciting process to follow as I could see very quickly where connections had been made and where the gaps were. My learners loved the collaboration and the tasks that followed each text.

It was really interesting to observe reactions to the challenge texts. I had introduced the topic by promoting the idea that pigeons post was an important part of our history. This resulted in a lot of animated discussion about how that was possible because in their words 'most letters would be as big as the pigeons!' After reading, watching and listening to texts that explained the vital role pigeons played in message delivery I caused major confusion by introducing text that explained that pigeons were pests. I think the fact we all found hard to believe was that in the 17th century pigeon guano (droppings) was heavily guarded as it was seen as a highly sought after ingredient in the making of gunpowder! We used this as the comparison point for the opinions of many people today who are now aware of the damage the acidity in the guano can do to buildings and other structures.

Our guided sessions were focused around synthesisng facts across and between texts. We still have work to do in this area, but as everything has a 'use by' date, I chose to move on. The groups below both chose to reflect their final informed opinions in different ways. One choosing to record soundbites on vocaroo, and the other group filmed their responses. If you would like to use any of the ideas we explored all our learning is visible on our class site.

Monday, 21 November 2016

Synthesising ideas to help us form an opinion:

This morning we were revising synthesising to help us make connections between the different texts we have used to find information. To begin Harry reminded us that synthesising happens when we take the knowledge that we already know and add it to the new knowledge we have gained to create a new understanding. Revisiting what synthesising was asking my students to do was vital for making stronger connections to the learning.

The chart below reflects the synthesising from R group. I am so impressed with the connections they made but realised initially the idea of joining ideas together had slipped through the net. Most boxes had two separate ideas that were not linked by a conjunction. To overcome this we spent some time exploring conjunctions. 

Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Learning about Explain Everything with Room 2

Today I used a block of my CRT time to join Room 2 (Year 2/3) as they worked on their Ipads. I am definitely not ashamed to say that a 6 year old taught me how to find, save, lasso, crop and lock an image onto an Explain Everything presentation. I was shown how to find Pixabay, then once there, David showed me how to find an image. We were looking for birds because this is linked to our topic of flight. I learnt how to save the image I want then lasso and crop it. David told me how important it was when I used the lasso I had to try and do a solid line because the ends had to join up. He then showed me how to lock it onto my EE page. Sione showed me how to 'draw the lines' if I wanted to write but Siale told me it was easier to use the keyboard and write my story. Such a privilege to see the learning through their eyes. The image below shows what I learnt from Room 2 today.

I found this to be such a valuable experience as I could see how I could use EE in my class (Year 7/8) to support my learners who find literacy a challenge. Thank you Room 2 for being such great teachers!

David showing me what to do. Step by step with very clear instructions!

Friday, 11 November 2016

Multimodal in LS2!

Last week after a staff meeting on multimodal sites I put my new learning into practise. I had already embraced suggestions made by Aaron from Woolf Fisher, that each of our learners make connections to learning in different ways. My initial planning aligned to included options for a scaffolding text, a complimentary text, a challenge text and a self selected text and was presented on a set of google slides.

Click on the image below to view this

The change to a multimodal page on our site was simplified as I had already created the content. Getting my head around html was a bit of an initial challenge but after blindly 'pushing buttons' and looking at 'help' sites our multimodal page was born. This was extremely well received by my students as they were initially hooked in by the layout. We explored the learning opportunities briefly together, before encouraging them have a closer look in pairs. The best part of this was the room was alive with a high level of excited conversation taking place as they clicked on the links. Normally I wouldn't do this but it was a first and I needed buy in.

Regrouping my students was the next task and how our mixed ability R-E-A-D groups came to be. Surprisingly there were no objections in regards to who was in each group. This highlights the importance of knowing your learners. 

 Our multimodal page - Click here to access the page

The image below reflects the high level of engagement in a reading lesson as my learners worked their way through the challenges on our new multimodal site. 

We have systematically worked our way through each task, discussing and recapping our learning and the comprehension strategies we have been using to make connections to the text. I have discovered that my learners prefer to work collaboratively. The independent task was not as successful as the opportunities for talking about the the learning were fewer. This is definitely something I will take on board. 

Our first task was the question matrix. This was an idea I adapted from my learning at the NZLA 2016 conference. Being able to write their own questions immediately personalised the learning. The idea behind the matrix is that as we answer the questions as we the find information. My intention was to turn this into a 'race', but one group took it upon themselves to begin answering their questions before I had a chance to set this task up!  

We decided to use a group follow up DLO to record our learning as we went along. This proved to be an excellent scaffold/resource that could be referred to as we explored the guided task of synthesising the ideas gained from each text. Sadly I didn't record any of this as it was one of the most powerful lessons I have seen this year. The rich dialogic discussion reflected the strong connections that had been made to the learning.

We used our learning from a earlier session taken by Mairi Ogilvie from the National Library, who reminded us how to narrow a search, to help us find a self selected text. I used one student's DLO on the site as a reference tool for this task.

Our final step is to form our opinions. Watch this space for the DLO's that reflect this and the feedback from my learners!

Friday, 4 November 2016

Silent Challenges...

Some of my favourite lessons this year have been our silent challenges. The idea behind this is that instead of me 'telling' my learners what it it I want them to do, they need to read and understand from a series of written instructions what their task is. By doing this I have encouraged my learners to read for meaning and shown them the importance of making sure they understand what it is they have read. These tasks allowed the collaboration between my learners to shine at it's best.

The challenge below was set only for my reading group. One of the gaps in their learning was reading for meaning when a text is not scaffolded and unpacked. I decided this would be a fun way to show them why this was important and how they could make sense of a text that they had little connection to. To make sure everyone found success I created mixed ability groups so they could support each other. The learning arguments or dialogic discussions that took place were rich and afforded me great opportunities to make some important anecdotal observations.

The rest of the class saw asked for a similar challenge so I created one that embraced our learning in maths and inquiry. Never would I have imagined that 52 Year 7 and 8 learners would be outside testing flight distances and be so on task! The discussions I heard were based on adaptations that could be made to get more distance and were accompanied by laughter, team spirit and outstanding group collaboration.

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Movie Making Update

Since writing my previous post the completed the movie 'Shake Out' has been entered it in the 'Outlook for Someday' competition. Congratulations Latham, Daniel, Jasmine, Sylis and Reon for getting your movie on the shortlist for this movie making challenge. We are all very proud of you.

Here is the link to watch it: https://vimeo.com/189095082

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Celebrating Success

This week we noticed that some of our students had hit the 500 post mark. An admirable achievement by anyones standards. We felt they needed some recognition for this so I created our very own 'PBS 500 Club' badge for their blogs. Huge congratulations to those students and yah me for working out how to create this GIF!

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Smart Searching PD

Today our Year 8's were taken through a session on smart searching with Mairi Ogilvie from the National Library. We were reminded of how to ask search engines the right question to help us find the information we are looking for. This was a great refresher for me too! The Year 8's as experts were asked to share their learning with the Year 7's. This was the best part for me as I observed so many of our quieter learners in a new light as they shone as 'teachers'. I am a firm believer of the thinking that we learn best when we learn with and from each other.

To make this new knowledge accessible I created a page on our site to allow my learners to work through the smart searching challenge to consolidate the learning a week later.

Click here to access the follow up tasks and a 'how to' exemplar created by Cecillia that takes you through the stages of narrowing your search.

Wednesday, 28 September 2016

NZLA 2016 Conference Takeaways

Having attended the NZLA 2016 Conference in Waitangi I am inspired to begin term 4 and to share my new learning with both my learners and my colleagues. Here are a few of my takeaways:


Karen Melhuish Spencer
  • As teachers we need to stay connected and have conversations with our students and wider school community.
  • We need to deliberately teach digital citizenship and keep informed
  • As teachers we need to enable and support our learners journey as digital citizens
  • No ‘sheriff’ on the internet = no rules therefore our learners have to manage their own identity so we need to teach skills of social connections and make students aware of the consequences of passing on viral messages

Alison Davis
  • We are challenged to continue increasing the number of students who are intellectually engaged by changing the treadmill - learners need to be in the driver's seat
  • Finding out the needs of our students - big picture data
  • Gather student voice to id the hard spots/gaps
  • LI and SC are needed to make the learning explicit
  • Academic vocabulary in the classroom - need to make it accessible to the students
  • Think > Pair > Share > Compare (Explain your thinking... 'How would you explain...?')
  • Teach the struggling students the strategy > then they teach the others in the class - kids listen to kids!
  • Reading comp. is about accessing the ideas
  • Strategies are just the tools, but need to be able to transfer to different text and at more complex levels, how to use it and when to use it. Tools need sharpening - upskilling - (Decoding tools, vocab tools…) 
  • Reading > Writing > Grammar connections are needed
  • Unpack exemplars and co-construct SC to grow u/st
(Verena Watson/Sue McDowall)

  • Eg comprehension strategies have links to teacher support materials, definitions/explanations and all the ARB resources that support this learning
  • Research articles are available

(Rita Palmer)

  • Exploring different ways of encouraging learners to ask deeper questions (wonderbag, qu matrix, what if, synectics...)
  • Give a student a qu to answer and they will learn the passage they have just read

Research says
  • students ask less than 5% of the qu
  • 70-80% of qu are at factual or recall level
  • Teachers call upon those they see as higher achievers far more than those they perceive to be lower achievers
  • Teachers must teach chn how to ask qu ‘without strong questioning skills students are merely learners on someone else’s tour bus’ - they maybe on the highway but someone else is doing the driving

(Verena Watson/Sue McDowall)

  • Connections to the familiar are affecting text buy-in from students
  • Read aloud to help make connections
  • Tchr PD must be current and practical based
  • Use diversity don’t cope with it, cater for it or embrace it!

  • Diversity = a rich class
  • Need to prepare students to deal with diversity - ideas that differ from our own

NZLA Conference Presentation

Kiri Kirkpatrick and I were invited to share how we incorporate digital literacies in our ILE at the NZLA 2016 conference at Waitangi. Great to have such an interactive audience and to receive such positive feedback. 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Paying it Forward

As teachers we are always looking for ways to make personal connections with our learners. Today I had the absolute privilege to be taught by Ma'ata. By tapping into the cultural capital and expertise our learners have we can see them shine in a whole new light. This was Ma'ata's 'Pay it Forward' task for our PBS CARE awards. She created a DLO on Show Me then took me through it making sure I had my pronunciation correct. At the end of our learning time the smile on her face made this one of the best teaching days of 2016! Thank you Ma'ata.

Ma'ata's post:

This is a picture of me teaching Mrs Anderson how to count to 10 in Tongan. I used the DLO I made to help her learn. I think she was good at saying the numbers in Tongan.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Setting ourselves up for success is a step by step process...

Making connections with the learning is the key to genuinely deepening understanding. By tapping into the knowledge gained across multiple learning areas we can encourage our learners to merge these various knowledge bites of independent information. Our task today was to do exactly that. Earlier in the year we explored the ways personification and the 5 senses can help us see things from a different perspective (-the original task link is on slide 2 of the teaching DLO below). This term our inquiry focus has been Olympic based. Over the last five weeks we have looked closely at how elements of Hauora, Diet and Training can affect an athlete's performance. By viewing the 2016 Olympic games through the eyes of an athlete standing on the medal dias, I hoped that my learner's would make stronger and deeper connections to our topic.

The images below show the process we went through to help us retell an event through someone else's eyes.

Merging images to make personal connections had everyone hooked. As a class that lives and breathes the ethos of collaboration, I noticed at least half of my learners chose to 'stand on the podium' with a buddy. Another interesting observation is that the colour of the medal was invisible. National and personal pride completely overshadowed the gold, silver, bronze hues.

With the imaginary eyes of the world on us we now needed to fill our knowledge 'ketes'. After all you can't describe something you have never seen if you don't have the tools to grow and foster an imagination. Our tool for this was 'Sketchnote'. I had read Karen Ferguson's post about her own experience of picking out the main ideas and focusing on them by 'sketchnoting', and decided to afford my learners the same opportunity. The image below reflects the way one of my learners added to her own 'kete' using this method. 

Sketchnoting allows us to record information using our own words or pictures. This learning tool is helping my learners make notes that make sense to them rather than simply copying what someone else has written in their own handwriting. Being able to retell their very personal 'sketchnote' stories to a friend underpinned the understanding and allowed those strong connections to be made.

Where did this information come from? The answer, multiple sources. I provided links to online newspaper articles and challenged my learners to use their smart searching skills to find supporting information that they read, watched and listened to. It is very rewarding to watch the seamless interchanging of their subject specific 'thinking hats' as knowledge gained during these lessons was synthesised and recalled to meet the learning needs of this lesson. 

Being given the choice of selecting the way they want to approach the 'create' aspect of this learning has both engaged and empowered my learners. Some chose to show their understanding through interviews or conversations using ifaketext.com; others have opted to write narratives; one learner has decided to write an email home to their family and two groups are in the beginning stages of storyboarding their movies. 

Were connections made today? The simple answer is yes! 

Monday, 8 August 2016

7 Phases of Behaviour Infographic

This afternoon Jo Turner led our staff meeting to help us identify the 7 Phases of Behaviour. using Geoff Colvin's escalator graphs to help us make a visual connection. In keeping with the sketchnote and infographic professional development highlighted on the Manaiakalni google + page I decided to have a go at creating an infographic to represent the main ideas and my notes from the session.  I found this a lot easier than I thought once I had established  what I felt were the main points. It is interesting to think about what triggers negative behaviours in a classroom. Much of this being triggers that we don't see - reference here is to the iceberg. It's important to remind ourselves to look below the surface and think carefully about how we as teachers can defuse a situation to help our learners de-escalate towards a continued calm phase.

Thursday, 4 August 2016

Movie Making Hints Toolkit

Earlier this week I went to one of the seven toolkits offered by the Manaiakalani cluster. These toolkits are a fabulous initiative that give us the opportunity to tap into the expertise of our colleagues. I went to the Movie Making Hints toolkit offered by Greg Wong. Although I have been making movies with my classes for a number of years now it is always a bonus to be able to revisit my own learning as I know I come away with a useful takeaway each time. My takeaway this time was storyboarding, which I put into use two days later with a group of students who asked if they could make a movie to show their learning. My refreshed knowledge gave me increased confidence when guiding them in the planning stages. 

The boys came to me with the plan on the left and after co-constructing the storyboard, the image on the right shows our rough outline that they have gone away to put together in more detail.

The link to the notes I took is here

Saturday, 28 May 2016


Had a fantastic day at #SparkshopAKL. As a first time attendee of this type of training I have come away inspired, informed and ready to share at the next event. Thank you to everyone who shared and to Fiona Grant and Justine Driver for their organisation.

Session #1

Lead by Kat Gilbert-Tunny @TopKat76. This was a fantastic session that walked us through a wide variety of google extensions. I realised I have many of these extensions on my device but was reminded to take the time to think about using them. My takeaway 
Send from Gmail (by Google)

 allows you to compose a Gmail message quickly and share a link via email

Session #2:

Lead by Lenva Shearing @lenva. An excellent session on google extensions and add ons. Lenva kindly shared a DLO for reference. http://bit.ly/10appsext My takeaway

allows you to see a 'video' version of of text edits/revision history. I am looking forward to 
seeing how I can use this to help my learners make stronger connections to their learning.

Session #3:

Lead by Karen Ferguson @Karen968. A brilliant hands on session that walked us through the Tinkercad program. My takeaway is knowing how to make use of the features of this program and a huge feeling of accomplishment having created my own 3d design.