Friday, September 27, 2013

Class Musical - Save the Earth

After lengthy discussions, the decision was made that we will not have our yearly School Production, instead each class will have to produce a Class Musical.
And while our principal offered to buy each class their choice of a musical, I made the brave decision to create my own class musical for our Term 3 'The Arts' unit.

After my class' involvement in the global classroom project called the Travelling Rhinos and all the learning we were involved in because of that, I decided that the theme of Save the Earth would work a treat for my students and this would also be excellent for leading into our term 4's inquiry of the 'Living World'.

My students and I worked hard, learning five new songs with dance moves from week one and parents got involved with costumes for students.

All our hard work paid off and on the 'big day', my 5-year old students performed with confidence and needless to say, I was so proud of them!  

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Connected students

I encourage my students to get involve in the twitter Kidsedchatnz, every Wednesday from 2.00pm - 3.00pm.


  • Students connect with other students throughout New Zealand, sharing ideas and learning
  • Reading, writing and thinking skills improve
Students put their names forward to participate and the class then nominate 2 - 4 students to participate for that week.  They are also making sure that everyone gets a chance to participate in chats. 

This Wednesday's topic was a hit with students and before I knew it, more than half of the class were engaged in the chats, sharing their ideas


Sunday, September 8, 2013

Student Choice - Why & How?

I like having a say in the choices I make...  

I know how hard it can be if their is no choice and one just have to follow 'instructions', especially if you disagree that this is the right option for you.
Yes, each of us must deal with situations in which we have no choice, for instance we have to obey the law, which by the way is a good thing to do.

Having a choice, however is good and students make choices all day long, and by offering choice we are not simply giving them complete control in the classroom or the curriculum.  We are just providing them with appropriate options, helping them to make and accept their choices. That way we are developing confident, independent life long learners.

Why choice?

  • Allowing a certain degree of choice in learning activities can help manage student behavior in class
  • By giving them choice in learning activities, student engagement can increase and therefore boost attention span
  • Learning choices will give students a sense of knowing that their voice matter

Create a menu of options for students to select from, but ensure that direct suggestions are given to that student who is hesitant to make a choice.  
Some examples might be:

  • Choose where they want to sit in the classroom
  • Make a choice from at least two learning activities
  • Select a learning buddy with whom the can collaborate

Lastly, make sure students know what is expected of them and this will lay the foundation for student choice to be integrated seamlessly into the classroom.

Further Reading:
"Developing Responsible and Autonomous Learners: A Key to Motivating Students"

Friday, September 6, 2013

New ideas and Change

I am always striving to grow myself personally and professionally, searching for new ideas to get inspired by and that will enable me to inspire others.
However, the road of implementing new ideas might not always be that easy, as people are often scared of change.
New ideas pass throug three periods:
1) It can't be done.
2) It probably can be done, but it's not worth doing.
3) I knew it was a good idea all along!
- Arthur C. Clarke
If you hear It can't be done, don't be disheartened, keep going and hopefully you will soon hear I knew it was a good idea all along!
If you think that you will never get there, don't give up, you are not alone. 
Nothing worthwhile comes easy, and you might find the road to change and implementing that new idea to be a long and lonely journey. Just know that many times one never hear about the resistance and struggles along the way that leads to that fantastic outcome. 
Don't be scared of change, otherwise you are in the wrong job as a teacher... and that goes for educational leaders as well.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Literacy outcome of a focusing inquiry

After posing questions about outcomes and analyzing where students are and what the next steps for learning should be, I decided that my focusing inquiry will be on how to create and maintain a time during our literacy block for students to work on 'Word Work'.
This meant that while I am working with students in a guided reading lesson, others would focus on spelling and vocabulary activities.
By doing this, I have moved away from the 'traditional' everyday follow-up activity that some schools might see as the 'beginning and end' to all guided reading sessions. As I see all of my reading groups every day, I continued to put the emphasis into each guided reading session, where I provided strategic instruction in "decoding, making meaning and thinking critically". By doing this, I included the related follow-up activities - if appropriate, which reinforced learning around specifically taught skills into the session.
Students however still had the opportunity to complete independent 'Further Tasks' that spread from our 'study' of their reading book, once a week.
Yes, I've copped criticism for not having follow-up tasks every day and almost lost confidence in my ability to do what's best for my students' learning.
Luckily, I am able to refer to and quote from the last paragraph on TKI's Literacy Online (Guided Reading) - "However, often the reading is sufficient in itself, and the best follow-up activity is simply lots more reading."

The question however was, did this work for my students?

Taking OTJ's in consideration and completing a summative assessment recently which clearly shown the shift in students' ability to spell words, I definitely think so.