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In New Zealand’s state schools, teachers are increasingly faced with larger class sizes, a diverse range of learning and behavioural needs and the requirement to include special needs learners into the classroom environment.

Although ORS students tend to come with a teacher aide (although not 100% of the time), the expectation remains that we will find ways to include special needs students into mainstream classes. Sometimes this can be to meet social needs, other times academic goals and sometimes a mixture of both – although not generally to levels we would expect of mainstream students.

This year I’ve been trying to find quick and easy ways to provide bespoke tasks so that a teacher aide supporting a Student with autism can do so in a meaningful and age appropriate way.  At 14, Student X is keen to have work that in some way resembles what is peers are working on.

This term that involved a novel study of Fleur Beale’s Slide the Corner.

Based on the novel’s content, I devised a series of lessons using Microsoft’s Learning Tools to provide a series of bite sized lessons for X to work on while we focussed on essay writing.

Using a picture of a Lego car,  the Student began by labelling car parts on a paper handout:

Step d.png

Then, with his aide’s help, he completed a cloze paragraph filling the gaps with words from a word bank to write a paragraph about the main character, Greg

Step e

Finally, using the same syntactical structure, he was then prompted to complete a paragraph supplying similar details details about himself.

Step f

I then copied and paste the word document into a OneNote in X’s Class Notebook.

That’s when the real fun began! Using Immersive Reader, the paragraphs were read back to him.

step b.png

At this point, Student X’s expression was one of sheer incredulity. He was simply delighted to hear “his” work read aloud. I showed him and the teacher aide how to adjust the gender and speed of the speaker (he was similarly enthralled by the tortoise and hare icons).

Finally, I demonstrated to the aide and student how to use the dictate function. This allowed X to tell the computer what to type. X was asked to tell the PC what he thought about the lesson – a very basic reflection as his processing is pretty much surface level so he has a very literal world view. We discussed his response verbally first.

I’m  hopeful that both the student and aide will use these amazing Learning Tools again – at least in English but also other subjects too. (The only issue we had was that some of the school laptops had not been updated to run Windows 10  a- simple fix but it pays to check first to ensure microphones are accessible.)

 

step 3

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I stumbled across this wee gem a few weeks ago courtesy of the New Zealand Book Council.

Each Friday, the council releases a list of six words via twitter and invites followers to write a short poem or witticism then tweet it with the #ramereshorts tag. The words are tweeted at 9am and the “winner” announced by 5pm.

I trialled this with my Year 10 extension class last week and while some found the concept challenging initially, all jotted down an offering by the end of 15 minutes – a great starter for creative writing/poetry units when discussing brevity, connotations and best words in best order.

I published my favourites with their first names only then showed them the likes and retweets on Monday. They were more engaged then! (Ah the gratification).

It was interesting to see the variety of work produced in that short time. I’m not sure if it was the words provided or the proximity in timing to the Christchurch mosque massacre but most of the class produced writing with strong messages of hope and redemption. Lovely to read.

I’d recommend this activity as a start for Years 9-13 – of course you’d need a twitter account and their permission to tweet on their behalf. (Only 1/30 had their own account). Here’s a selection of those tweeted:

 

And the winner:

 

RS winner

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What do to when a student returns from an alternative education programme two weeks before school exams?  And what if the student wasn’t in class for the novel and film study during the year?

OneNote is proving its worth again this week in providing me with platform to create a simple yet hopefully effective pre-exam IEP that is helping to keep my student engaged while also ensuring he is completing work similar to the rest of the class but pitched at his level.

Using Office Lens, I took pics of two contrasting settings in the classic text The Cay by Theodore Taylor.

I sent these from my phone to the novel page in the student’s class notebook and then presented him with the following activities to complete using Immersive Reader. I helped him to do the first activity and then he did the second. At the end, the student was presented with a series of questions about these two contrasting settings in the text. He recorded his answers using dictate in word and shared his answers with me.


Above is the description of Virginia where Phillip Enright and his Mum and Dad  come from.

  1. Listen to the page read using IMMERSIVE READER in VIEW.
  2. Now make a list of all the nouns NAMING words in the space below
  3. Next go back to Immersive reader and click the star (grammar options). Put NOUNS slider on. All the nouns will show up in purple. Did you get them all? If not, add the nouns you missed to your list.
  4. Now name all the adjectives (words that describe nouns) in the pace below:
  5.  Next, go back to immersive reader, click on the star, put adjectives on. They will show up in green. Did you get them all? If not, add more adjectives to your list.
  6. Finally, look at your list of nouns and adjectives. How would you sum up Virgina? Describe it in a two sentences below:

Virginia is ….


Above is the description of Willemstad on the Island of Curacao where the Enright family moved to

  1. Listen to the page read using IMMERSIVE READER in VIEW.
  2. Now make a list of all the nouns NAMING words in the space below
  3. Now go back to Immersive reader and click the star (grammar options). Put NOUNS slider on. All the nouns will show up in purple. Did you get them all? If not, add the nouns you missed to your list.
  4. Now name all the adjectives (words that describe nouns) in the space below.
  5. Go back to immersive reader, click on the star, put adjectives on. They will show up in green. Did you get them all? If not, add more adjectives to your list.
  6. Finally, look at your list of nouns and adjectives. How would you sum up Virginia? Describe it in a two sentences below:

Willemstad is …. 

Reflection – thinking about the setting

  1. Why did the family move to Willemstad?
  2. What is Mr Enright’s job?
  3. Why doesn’t Mrs Enright like Willemstad?
  4. Which place would YOU rather live in? WHY? (2 sentences, use because to explain your choice 

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If you’ve been following the news lately, you’ll be aware that secondary school teachers are seeking an improvement in teaching and learning conditions in New Zealand schools. One crucial thing we are looking for is support for the increasing number of students with behavioral and learning difficulties being placed in our classrooms with no additional resourcing.

I welcomed one such student to my Year 9 English class. He became student 29. The rap sheet was long but equally concerning was the learning levels and associated needs. So what’s a teacher to do?

I can’t ignore him because that could lead to outbursts that will impact everyone’s learning and potentially place us in danger. Philosophically, I believe that despite his negative attitude, student X is a human being who deserves a chance. There are reasons beyond his control leading to some of these challenges.

On the other hand, I simply don’t have time to make an individual learning programme for a student who is probably two or even three levels of the New Zealand Curriculum below where he needs to be.

When he joined us, we had just started a unit of work on formal writing.  I quickly realized I needed to find a way to adapt the tasks or things would go pear shaped very quickly. Of course I realise that’s our job but those outside education must consider the context. Our classes already cater for recent immigrants with no support who can arrive with zero English language skills, international students, children with dyslexia/dyspraxia (both diagnosed and undiagnosed), ORS funded students with intellectual disabilities (who have teacher aides but still take time to socially integrate into class activities) and the list goes on.

Day 1 – I started by setting him up with ClassNotebook and spending 15 minutes showing him how to naviagte the LMS. Because he was prone to losing his password and log in I popped it on a post note on the wall he faced with a laptop so that couldn’t be an issue.

Day 2 – The next day, we watched a documentary on boy racers, brainstormed ideas in support or against them and then students had to write persuasive paragraphs in their journals. I sat down with student X and got him to discuss his ideas, prompting him and encouraging him to use the S.E.X.Y structure of paragraph writing. We then crafted them into paragraph which I typed.

Day 3 -Language features – Student X picked a topic (tazers) and brainstormed three ideas about why Police shouldn’t use them. I typed up a paragraph for him. Then we went back through and I pointed out and colour coded formal writing features.

Day 4 – Picking a topic for our assessment and researching supporting points. Student X picked one and brainstormed ideas. He was then given time to find examples to support his ideas (research)

Day 5 -8 – Drafting an essay. Student X did this on ClassNotebook. I supplied feedback by making audio recordings to suggest ways to make paragraphs better or a smiley sticker if he had done well. He really struggled with editing and crafting – once it was written down, it was done as far as he was concerned. His short attention span meant he found it difficult to go over the same paragraphs more than once.

Overall this approach enabled me to build a more productive realtionship with student X. I set clear expectations that in English, he was expected to do the work like other students BUT I tried to make sure that work was pitched at his level, gave him choices, clear deadlines, heavily scaffolded the assessment task and gave him one on one time.

I’d like to report the story had a happy ending but issues outside the classroom meant he was removed for a spell. Hopefully when he comes back we can pick up where we left off using ClassNotebook to engage student X and progress his learning.

Below are screen shots (click on them for a clearer view) of the scaffolded tasks we worked through for formal writing:

Day 2student dictates a paragraph based on visual text and class brainstorm

Day 3 – language features and paragraph structure

Day 4 – pick topic, form opinion, brainstorm points, research

 

 

Days 5 – 8 Draft, craft and edit essay. Students gets feedback visually and as audio recording

Structure broken down – student chose previous topic rather than one from list

 

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Following from our session on learning tools that encourage differentiation and inclusivity for all learners, our teacher aides have provided me with some feedback which makes for interesting reading. Top of the list of tools/apps the group were showed that they intend to use was Read Aloud. This makes perfect sense as our teacher aides work with students who struggle with literacy and are challenged with a range of learning disabilities.

This was backed up by reasons they supplied for the apps/tools they believed would have the most use for them. (I have deleted some of their comments to protect student privacy):

 

From my own viewpoint, the biggest take home for me was the need to share the basics first. I created a Class Notebook for the workshop participants to access material, share ideas and have a play without thinking that most had not even ventured into a Class Notebook. In a way, I should have started with that before delving into specific apps.

The other takeaway was the needs for consistency across devices in a school. Some of their learners have their own device and others use what is available within the specific department/learning space on a given day. Other things I take for granted such as using Office Mix also piqued their interest. Most know how to set up basic power point but were unaware of the record option. Others were not sure how to add music so a follow up session on Office Mix is top of the list.

Hopefully we’ll get some more time together next term to delve deeper into their first foray into the many ways Microsoft can enhance the teaching and learning experience for these vital support staff.

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Being open minded is key for learning new skills, self-reflection and professional growth as a teacher in 2018.

The MIEE 2018 (inaugural?!) Hui held in the April school holidays offered a smorgasbord of opportunities for teachers keen to develop their digital technology kete, extend their ability to use a range of tools available via Microsoft apps and programmes and connect with other educators.

The problem with a smorgasbord is it is sometimes difficult to know what to choose. We were truly spoiled for choice.

Initially, I wasn’t sure if Lynette Barker’s Creativity with Literacy sharing session would be to my palette. Me a South Island based secondary teacher of English and Media Studies in a large coeducational state secondary school. Lynette a teacher Librarian in a Catholic primary school across the Tasman.

Time to ditch the diet.

Not only did Lynette present us with an exciting menu of ideas, she backed this up with examples, resources and honest answers to our questions. The added bonus is that following the hui, Lynette has continued to share resources via the twittersphere.

Her ideas help bridge the gap between written text and digital technology with activities that seamlessly integrate both and, were clearly linked to learning objectives.

Some of those ideas were:

  1. Telling a story with music  – using MS lens and PPT, scan pages from a text and then invite students to match the words with music. Lynette used Red Fox.
  2. Reversioning a story – using MS Lens and OneNote with a free pdf of a children’s illustrated book (available here – http://mybirthdaybunny.com ), students use a stylus to “graffiti” the original version of My Birthday Bunny with their own version.
  3. Augmented reality – use MS Paint 3d to add moving images to a story. Take a  pic of object, import to Paint 3d then animate via power point. (@ibpossum has had hour of fun with this 😉 )
  4. Comprehension and creativity – Lynette used Using Cups Held Out byJudith L Roth. Read to kids then gave them cup. Students  were asked to tell how they could show support to others OR whatever they took from story via photography. Their photos were then collated using Movie Maker.
  5. Vocabulary extension, development of  connotative and emotive language via blogging- using Piranaha’s Don’t Eat Bananas, students were invited to finish sentences from the story with their own words.  Using Last Tree in the City, students were asked to supply 10 words they associated with this story about environmental damage to word banks. They then did the same with A Forest, a story featuring a contrasting message.
  6. Catering for students with special educational needs –  Lynette set up a series of activities on One Note pages which were code protected. The student, working with a teacher aide, had to complete each activity to get a code to “unlock” the next task.

Like any meaningful PD, the proof is in the pudding. My goal is to develop and deliver a workshop for our teacher aides and share some of these ideas alongside those gleaned from Crispin Lockwood’s Immersion Session MS Learning Tools for Differentiation. The aim is to broaden the range of literary related activities offered to engage students with special learning needs and ESOL students.

And of course there are plenty of ways to adapt Lynette’s ideas for a secondary learning environment.

“Cups” could be used in Junior Media Studies to teach the Rule of Thirds as well as camera shot types and angles, Red Fox could be used to apply visual and verbal matching techniques for Media Studies and English students while the vocab extension activities would work alongside a short story/novel study or as a starter for Creative Writing.

 

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When searching for resources to use alongside Malala Yousafzai’s memoir I Am Malala next term, there seemed to be a gap in resources for the age group I will use the text with – Year 10s working at Level 4-6 of the NZC. Lots for younger readers and some very high brow analyses that would extend them but nothing that was a perfect fit in terms of learning objectives.

Using the resources available via the Global Women’s Institute as a starting point, I designed a unit of work encompassing memoir as a literary genre, the importance of education as well as a collaborative research and writing project culminating in a presentation on social justice using Microsoft Stream, one of the audio-visual presentation apps available via the Office 365 suite of products.

The overall objectives of this specific unit of work are to enable students to:

  • Discuss the importance of education and gender equity; appreciating educational opportunites
  • Form and express opinions and emotions around Malala’s journey; developing empathy
  • Explore the effectiveness of memoir as a literary genre; developing critical literacy skills

As I began mapping out lessons for the four week unit, there were obvious opportunities to link our analysis with other core skill areas in the Junior English programme by using the text as a springboard for other tasks.

  • Impromptu speaking – using issues encompassed in I Am Malala as debating topics for the impromptu speech unit; watching Malala’s speech to UN and identifying oral presentation features.
  • Personal reading – recommendations based around other memoirs students can use for AS 1.10 Personal Reading

And of course there were clear links to other curriculum areas such as Social Studies where students studied apartheid in Term One. This provides further opportunities to utilise prior learning when choosing a topic for their end of unit presentation (see below).

Overall the lessons tick all the key competencies:

  • Thinking – about the importance of education and the value we place on it; gender equity
  • Relating to Others – when interviewing a Syrian student at our school about what being a Muslim means to him
  • Using language symbols and texts – when completing reflective writing activities and an essay
  • Managing Self – when creating a Stream presentation in and out of class to meet a deadline
  • Participating and contributing – to class discussions and debates on education, gender diversity, fundamentalism and other issues raised in the novel

Via Class Notebook students can access glossaries, pre-reading tasks, extension reading  and viewing opportunities, language activities, a recommended reading list, debate topics and the Stream assignment. Flipping the learning is a bonus as we head into Term 2. when, alongside the usual interruptions to timetabled classes, our classroom is undergoing a refit meaning we will be homeless for several weeks and working from other rooms. Planning ahead in this way will take some pressure off during this disruptive time – as long as we have access to computers in our allocated temporary room!

If you’re still with me, here are the lessons as the students will see them on Class Notebook (minus the video and pictures to breakup text!):

What is a memoir? 

In choosing to narrate the brutal attempt on her life, Malala Yousafzai chose the literary form known as MEMOIR. A memoir is designed to capture a certain moment in time.

Memoirs are characterised by their ability to mesh private feelings with public issues and raw emotions. They are not the same as autobiographies which tend to cover a person’s entire life and where the story unfolds in linear fashion. Memoirs also differ from diaries as memoirs allow for more reflective narration of important social and historical events.

The three forms all use first person narration. This means we only get one person’s point of view. Memoirs might not seem to use as many language features as poems or novels but if you read carefully, there is plenty of emphasis on pace, tone and language choices in I Am Malala.

 

Pre-reading activity: 

What do you know about Malala already?

What would you like to know?

What are you unsure of?

Watch the trailer for the documentary about Malala’s Life, read the prologue and note five facts you learned about Pakistan and Malala:

He Named Me Malala Official Trailer #1 (2015) – Documentary HD

Glossary of words to learn: 

Social Justice – justice in terms of the distribution of wealth, opportunities, and privileges within a society.

Pashtun – a member of a Pashto-speaking people inhabiting southern Afghanistan and NW Pakistan.

Swati –from the Swat Valley region of Northern Pakistan (see map)

Fundamentalism – a form of a religion, especially Islam or Protestant Christianity, that upholds belief in the strict, literal interpretation of scripture.

Code of Purdha – the term used primarily in South Asia, to describe in the South Asian context, the global religious and social practice of female seclusion that is associated with Muslim communities.

Ramadan – the ninth month of the Muslim year, during which strict fasting is observed from dawn to sunset.

Muslim –  a follower of the religion of Islam.

Islam – an Abrahamic monotheistic religion teaching that there is only one God (Allah) and that Muhammad is the messenger of God.

Quran – The Quran is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims believe to be a revelation from God (Allah). It is widely regarded as the finest work in classical Arabic literature

Taliban – a Sunni Islamic fundamentalist political movement in Afghanistan currently waging war (an insurgency, or jihad) within that country

Jihad – a struggle or fight against the enemies of Islam

United Nations – an intergovernmental organization tasked to promote international cooperation and to create and maintain international order.

If you enjoy this style of writing visit the personal reading page in your Class Notebook for suggested texts for your personal reading responses.

Background reading: extra reading for those wishing to delve deeper –  

The Daily Show – Malala Yousafzai Extended Interview

New York Times articles about Malala

Class Dismissed: story about the 2009 documentary

FULL Amanpour Malala Interview

Language features activity: 

Language features and structural devices used which you need to be able to identify and explain are listed below. Your homework for the first week is to copy and paste this list into your NOVELS folder, write a definition for the term and find an example from the text. You can do this in groups and share the answers:

Foreshadow (page 9)

Memoir

Prologue

Epilogue

Allusion

Epigraph

Imagery

Simile

Metaphor

Symbolism

Maxim

Group assignment:

 

In pairs (plus one group of three), you will create, save and share a Sway presentation about a person noteworthy for their contribution to SOCIAL JUSTICE. 

Step 1 – Watch the Sway tutorial. More help can be found on the WELCOME page in this Class Notebook or by asking!

Step 2 –  Pick a person from the list below

  • Malala Yousafzai
  • Nelson Mandela
  • Eleanor Roosevelt
  • Martin Luther King
  • Mahatma Ghandi
  • Sir Apirana Ngata
  • Dame Whinia Cooper

Step 3 – Set up your Stream (sign in using school account)

Step 4 – Share tasks. (Suggest one person is researching/sourcing images while other works on slide creation but make sure you share the roles).

Your Stream must contain the following content: 

  • A brief biography – who are they, why are they important?
  • A diary entry written in first person as if you WERE the person. Similar to Malana’s Life with the Taliban columns. Reword yours to suit your subject’s background and key events in their life e.g: Nelson Mandela – Life in Robben Island prison etc
  • A fully developed SEXY paragraph responding to the statement: The World is  better place because of X….
  • A slide with at least five key terms defined that are related to your subject/their issue e.g. apartheid, Nobel Prize, Treaty of Waitangi.
  • A slide with 6-8 questions you would ask your person in an interview for the school newsletter.
  • Final slide attributing your sources (hyperlinks)

To break up the text, embed visual images, relevant audio  and video throughout your presentation.

Due Date: TBA!

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