Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Like many NZ schools, our seniors recently completed practice exams. These are an important way for learners to gauge areas of weakness they need to focus on before the upcoming NCEA examinations later in the year. As such, we aim to give them as much feedback as possible.

But when faced with large piles of marking across three year levels and a quick turnaround time (these grades also need to be entered into a database and report comments written shortly after), it can become a taxing and rushed job especially if you have a full teaching workload.

This year, I was keen to find a way to give students maximum feedback while avoiding the physical strain of handwriting lots of comments. My senior students all have access to ClassNotebook which features a content library as well as individual student folders. ClassNotebook is an online collaborative LMS offered as part of Microsoft Teams in the Office 365 suite of products.

Once I’d graded and written general comments on their papers, I went into each student’s individual folder and recorded supplementary feedback and feed forward using the insert audio function. So if I wrote on a student’s paper they needed to provide specific examples of how the setting impacted the character’s mood, in the audio recording I would give them suggestions and examples from the text naming locations within the story and explaining how they impacted on character’s state of mind.

Each audio recording is roughly 2-3 minutes long. The students can play them back as part of revision leading up the NCEA exams. They appreciated the more in depth feedback and I felt satisfied they I’d been able to more thoroughly explain myself. I also made a point of starting each recording with a positive statement of what they had done well and then rounded off with a general comment along the lines “if you can do this, this and this, you are on track to a Merit grade” or “if you wish to move to Excellence, you should read back the director’s notes and consider his opinions on rural NZ communities”. etc

A lot of English teacher jargon there but the approach would work for any subject.

Contrary to what you might think, it doesn’t take long once you’ve done a couple and enables a teacher to help students focus on exactly what they need to do to improve their final grades.

I also encouraged students to use the Office Lens app to take pictures of their exam papers and save them on the same page for back up in case they misplaced their papers between now and the end of the year.

The ball is now in their court!

 

Advertisements

Learning Tools in Action

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.

Amidst the hurly burly of senior exam week, I shared and reviewed a raft of learning tools available via Microsoft 365 with our school’s teacher aides. They loved the read aloud function and had some good ideas about how they could use Office Lens with their learners too. Using read aloud via the edge browser was also a winner for them

The presentation was structured as a showcase followed by a why we would use it brainstorm and then later on, how would we use it. For some it was their first time sharing ideas via the collaboration space in a Notebook I have set up for them.

The downside was the devices we had in the school library weren’t running exactly the same versions/setting of MS as mine so that was a bit frustrating for them but I will follow up and get that sorted so there are half a dozen there they know have the tools we reviewed together.

And on the up, they’re keen to keep sharing ideas via a follow up workshop next term. Watch this space.

Here’s a link to what we’ve covered so far!

https://sway.office.com/5cXovvK2ivhzhDOb?ref=Link

 

 

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.

 

It’s one of the biggest challenges for educators everywhere. How to encourage resilience and a positive attitude towards learning in an era of instant gratification and digital distractions.

One of the core philosophies of New Zealand Teaching and Learning Curriculum is we must strive to create life long learners.

As teachers and parents, and as a society, we see value in raising resilient young people.

But there can be a disconnect marrying that philosophy alongside an assessment driven educational system that anticipates most learners will move at similar speeds through a range of learning levels.

At primary school, pupils have eight years to move from Level Zero through to Three. At secondary school, there are five years to progress from Levels Four to Eight. So the expectation is students move up a level each year.  That’s quite a jump.

While we recognised long ago the need to differentiate teaching styles for a range of learners, the system dictates a more rigid, linear progression through various skills and learning stands as “evidence” of learning.

Which makes it difficult to encourage growth mindsets in young people. According to Dr Carol S Dweck’s, research if students believe they are capable of improvement, they are more likely to be motivated towards attaining a goal. Alongside that, learners must accept that they may have to work harder in some areas, that it might take them longer to get there than others but that is part of process.

Source: https://www.mindsetworks.com/science/

We all want our kids to be resilient – at home and in life. But they can’t do that if they zone out the minute things don’t come easily, if they’re not prepared to make an effort or if they get stuck in a rut thinking they simply “can’t do” something.

Even our younger students are fixated these day on senior assessment terms.” Is that Achieved?”  “How do I get Excellence?” While it is good to be focused on a goal, they are increasingly fixed on the end point rather than the process. Even worse, I believe, is having students with high expectations drop subjects because to them “getting an achieved is the same as not achieved” which they feel is unacceptable.

What those learners fail to recognise is that they have been exposed to new ways of thinking, developed fresh skills and broadened their general knowledge by dipping their toes into unfamiliar territory. And who knows what they might have “achieved’ if they had developed those skills for longer?

If we are to create lifelong learners, we need to create a love of learning. That starts at home and is developed in classrooms where we recognise everyone works at their own speed, regardless of the assessment system in place. We do our best to help all our students experience success however that looks for them. The problem is when the measurement systems expect success to look the same.

Another issue working against growth mindsets is attitudes towards learning. I’ve noticed international students come to class prepared, seek and use feedback, put in extra effort, proactively manage their learning and have clear learning goals. They come from countries, cultures and families that value education. They know where they want to go and respect their educators. Is there a lesson to be learned here?

My students look puzzled when I write “not yet achieved” on a test or an essay. What does it mean? Will Mum and Dad be okay with it? What it means is they have not quite attained the magic line in the sand (actually we do have marking criteria, even in the humanities 😉 ) but I know how hard they tired, I know what they produced in May is an improvement on what they wrote in February and that with some effort, they should get “there” by the end of the year.

I want them to love learning and I want them to believe they can improve.

Hopefully they take those messages home so that families can nurture their self-belief, encourage a desire for self-improvement and emphasise the need for effort. After all, learning is a journey not a destination

Flipping Malala

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!

Introducing …. you

You know how certain songs trigger memories of special people, place and events? No matter where I am, as soon as I hear the opening chords to U2’s Where the Streets Have No Name, I’m instantly transported to the lane outside Lancaster Park in Christchurch on a sweltering November afternoon in 1989.

It’s hot, my stomach’s in my throat, can’t stop smiling as my sister, my bestie, my boyfriend and various associates prepare to embark on a musical adventure. It was much more than out first concert sans parents. The concert and associated road trip came to represent the end of an era for us as we finished high school and headed out to The Real World.

Those were the days.

At the start of the school year, a lot of teachers spend a few lessons getting to know new students (and names) via a range of introductory tasks and activities. It’s a great way to find out about their learning preferences and styles, interests and personalities!

Inspired by the aforementioned musical memory, I’ve developed a new introductory task for Year 10s called Playlist of My Life. The idea is to choose songs/artists that represent something about them and explain their choices. With the rise of Spotify etc I’m pretty sure they’ll know what a playlist is and hopefully, everyone can come up with half a dozen songs that mean something to them…

Here’s the lesson outline:

Teachers’ preamble for Your Life as a Playlist:

When you make a playlist, you can organise it by artist or genre or around a theme (chill out songs) or a time (Summer 2018).

(Discuss other ways to organise a playlist. Check they understand genre.)

Here’s an example of a playlist a teacher made on her blog summarising her teaching experiences. (Show)

And here’s one that came from the novel Playlist for the Dead . Each chapter is named after a song on a playlist a boy made for his friend. (Show link to blog post. Inform students novel is in school library. Deals with sensitive issue of youth suicide)

Students intructions

  • The task
    • Create a playlist of 6-10 songs that tell me something about you
  • Picking songs

Choose songs that remind you of people, places, events, memories or just because you really like the artist.

  • What to include
    • The song title and artist and a brief explanation of why you chose the song. For example: I chose History by One Direction because it was our team song in 2015 when I played Under 12 rugby for Taieri. We used to sing it on bus trips and knew all the words. The song reminds me of the players in my team. Some of us have played together since we were five. It was also the year we won our grade so it was pretty memorable.
    • For example: I chose Elastic Heart by Sia because I really like the lyrics. The song is about being strong but also being able to be caring at the same time. I think it’s a good song for girls because it’s powerful. To me it means we shouldn’t let people think we are weak just because we are girls.
  • Presenting your playlist:
    • On refill and hand in named OR
    • Word online and share with me OR
    • PPT online and share with me
  • Optional extras: If completing the task electronically, you might include links to videos or hyperlinks to information about the artist or to lyrics.
  • Due date: Thursday February 8th

This is your first task for the year so make sure it’s you best work. Remember you only get one shot to make a first impression!