Monday, December 30, 2013

2013 Memories on Twitter

Just for a bit of end of year fun, here's a movie of my 2013 memories on Twitter.  Made via Vizify.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Believe in yourself

As I am starting to reflect on this year, I realized that I stepped out of my comfort zone on numerous occasions. My fear of failure did not hold me back.

Was it all just smooth sailing?  Of course not! 

I made mistakes, which I did not do intentionally.  Things did not always turned out as planned, I have experienced failure, but I know now that it is o.k. as all of this was my First Attempt ILearning.

It just showed me that I was doing something, trying new things. 

I am learning and growing! 

"As it happens, it is not failure or rejections that hurts you or holds you back.  It is the fear of failure or rejection.  It is the anticipation of fear or rejection that paralyzes you and holds you back from doing what you need to do in the first place." - Brian Tracey, motivational speaker and author

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Exciting times ahead

Next year will see me with a year filled with new learning.

As part of my CORE eFellowship, I will be involved in my inquiry/research/learning/work about the Pedagogy and Learning in a NE/Year 1 classroom and I am looking forward to this exciting fellowship I've joined!

2014 will also see me training as a Reading Recovery Teacher, which will enable me to deliver intensive one to one instruction to 6 year old students having difficulty with literacy learning. 

I will also be involved in the Connected Rotorua Teachers group with our aim to start a professional learning network based in Rotorua.  

Exciting times ahead to building connections, inquire, learn, grow and inspire!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Teacher Burnout

Before I knew it, Term 4's EduIgnite was upon me!

As presenting does not come naturally to me, I had to dig deep to gather courage in getting a presentation ready.

I made the decision to base my presentation around 'Teacher Burnout' as I had experienced the feeling of this once in my life as a teacher. While finding myself on the edge of self-doubt, I was emotionally exhausted and I found school pressures and stresses unavoidable.

I felt fortunate that I was able to re-ignite my spark for teaching by collaborating with other professionals in my PLN.  I had to remind myself that I am an enabler and not a magician and most of all, I had to think positive!

I came to the conclusion that it is crucial that we positively support fellow teachers and walk with them while letting them genuinely feel that they are appreciated.  This, in my opinion, might reduce the burnout in so many teachers.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Reporting - a never ending job

The Ministry of Education requires schools to report in writing to parents, families and whānau at least twice a year about a students progress and achievement in reading, writing and maths, in relation to National Standards.  Schools can report in a variety of ways through formal reports, student portfolios, e-portfolios and workbooks.

Teachers normally spend a lot of time to link all assessment data, anecdotal notes and OTJ's to do a report justice.  I love to reflect and inquire where my students are at and how they have progressed through the year, no matter how small that progress might be.

And while during this time, I sometimes felt that life was passing me by, it was fantastic to see and being able to report in a formal way about the improvement of my students.  I am so proud of them all, their hard work and perseverance during this year.

I can only see it as a privilege to have been able to be part of my 5 year old students' learning journey and I am looking forward to hearing some great things about them in the future.  

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Feeling lucky

I have always considered myself lucky to be involved in the KidsedchatNZ twitter with my class, as I have experienced the positive benefits of being involved first hand with my students. 

Read more in this Education Review Magazine article:

In recent months, kidsedchatnz got a lot of recognition by being nominated as a finalist in the Interface Awards for 2013 and from mentions during the ULearn13 conference.

I am now in the fortunate position of being part of the Super 7 team as one of the co-organisers.

I am looking forward to this new challenge as well as for the opportunity to be collaborating with all. May kidsedchatnz long continue.

Friday, November 1, 2013

A journey endorsed

Walking into our staff room at morning tea time, we were greeted with some beautiful food.  Now, this is not something out of the ordinary at our school, but this time it looked like we were going to be celebrating something. 

Our principal was very secretive and said he will inform us what this was all about soon. 

What a huge surprise! Morning tea was put on to congratulate me for being selected as CORE eFellow 2014.

Having my principal endorse this journey I will be undertaken, is incredibly affirming and I have appreciated this gesture immensely.

Monday, October 28, 2013

'Don't take it personally' - Really?

I have had the opportunity to work in a capacity as a leader alongside others as well as under some leaders and many times I have heard these words..."Don't take it personally"

I always wondered what the rationale behind this was and often wondered if people uttering these words think it gives them carte blanche to say whatever they like, not considering the feelings of others.

I think leaders often forget that how they communicate their thoughts will have a huge impact on a person.

The saying "people will forget what you said but never how you made them feel" is so true, but sometimes people also remember what you've said, because of the way in which it was said.

I have recently read a post by Les McKeown (President & CEO of Predictable Success) on things a great leader should never say and I quote the following from him:

Don’t take it personally
Really? You're talking to, let me check...yes, a person, about them, their work, their livelihood, their ideas, their sense of competence, their choices, their discretionary effort, their life's work, and you're telling them not to take it personally?
How about you give every person who works for you a free pass for a week to make whatever comments they like to your face about what you say, do, or suggest, in whatever terms they wish, so long as they preface it with "Don't take this personally...".
If you don't think the act of working with others is in any way 'personal', perhaps you might be better thinking of a career as, I don't know, a beekeeper, perhaps? They really don't take things personally.

I can't but agree with this statement and think it is vital to always show respect and courtesy to all those we have the privilege to be working with.  Only then will one have a strong team who are willing to put their trust in you.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Reconnecting and Moving Forward

Reflecting on my first week back at school for Term 4, 2013 I have to acknowledge that it was all a bit of a balancing act.

There is a significant part of me that feels different this term and I will have to work hard to reconnect with that part inside of me that led me to becoming a teacher in the first place.

As a result of the past term, I know I have to put what I am thinking and feeling aside, as I have to move forward from people who have broken my trust in them.

My main goal this term will be on concentrating on being committed to my students and to create a learning environment that suits their needs. After all, it is my responsibility as a teacher to ensure that my students are happy and love coming to school, and that they enjoy their learning experiences.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

uLearn13 Conference - Virtually

This year, I was unable to attend the "uLearn13" Conference, as I was in the fortunate position to attend the "It's a Learners World - Mapping a new Landscape" Conference in July.

Thanks to Twitter and some wonderful Tweeps, I was able to follow this virtually and therefore I am able to share my learning in this post.

9th October:
-> Inspire & Motivate Through Transformational Teaching and Learning - Keynote 1: Ken Shelton
-> Literacy website created by a school to help inform their learners:
-> Cool accessories for iPad & App Crayons
-> Things that make a difference for students
-> Teacher Dashboard for Google Apps | Hapara
-> e-Literacy 10+ MAGIC Moments
-> Picture perfect:  eLearning tools to support visual learning
-> I need my teachers to learn - by Kevin Honeycutt
-> Discussion
-> Teaching as Inquiry
-> The blog that sank the Titanic: Cultivating Digital Citizenship in NZ schools

(Quotes/ Ideas):
-> Students learn more when in pairs or threes around a device
-> Having fun changes learning (when learning is fun, we will do it more) - Piano stairs - TheFunTheory
-> If we only do the things we know we can do, we will not reach our potential and grow - innovate, risk, change, transform.
-> If you are scared of change, you are in the wrong job as a teacher!
-> What is management & leadership? Management keeps a complicated system going. Leadership
     produces change. - Mark Osborne
-> Servant leadership: My job is to serve and empower you. - Mark Osborne
-> Leadership expect and give opportunity for independent judgement. Yes, and interdependence. - Mark
-> Leading meaningful and manageable change - Tips
-> Book to ReadQuiet by Susan Cain (cater for the introverts in our classes too)
-> ABCya! Animate - visual animation for juniors (App Store)
-> Learning centered rather than learner centered - Derek Wenmoth
-> Personalised Learning Environment - (Student expectations)
-> Is there a right or wrong or just that you can't do it yet? - There is no wrong anymore!

10th October:
-> The Sharing Nexus: Connecting, Learning and the 21st Century Educational Environment - Keynote 2: Mark Pesce
-> Character counts - the Magnificent Seven
-> Book to Read:  The Big to Know by David Weinberger
-> Selecting tools for learning: 5 Key Considerations
-> Powerful practice: Create leaders, eLearning experts in your classroom
-> ARBs being developed for Level 1 - Writing in particular. Why use them? They allow us to drill down to specific learning needs. (ARBs student task are designed to reveal student's thinking)
-> Unconference Smackdown
-> Docs Workflow - using Google Docs
-> "Harnessing your Ecosystems"-  Learning the power of pull  unconference
-> Unconference Breakout 5
-> Why we need Common Core: "I choose C"

(Quotes/ Ideas):
-> We are learning from everyone, everywhere all the time.
-> The Educators doesn't provide the facts, the educator provides the meaning.
-> Educators have to embrace change or get swept away by change.
-> You have to teach.. and fail... and then learn... and teach.
-> OTJs - What can your students do most of the time? Assessment not based on one snapshot
-> You don't understand a subject unless you are able to teach it. Every moment of peer networking is a moment of assessment.
-> Learning and Teaching
-> Next step to student sharing - peer mentoring
-> Connect, learn, share, do.
-> Show Me app & Educreations app (e in assessment) Embed educreations to share with parents, save as students' portfolio
-> Tellagami is cool, because you make an avatar that voices your reflection (App store)
-> Flipboard
-> Check out Helen Barrett's Electronic Portfolios
-> Use TodaysMeet as back channel for staff meetings. Can also look back at feedback
-> Drag content, websites, docs, images into one space with Blendspace

11th October:
-> Let's get good with Google
-> The greatest coders all started simple - they wrote a little program (Code Avengers)
-> SAMR Roadmap: Transforming the learning
-> Effective eLearning
-> Wonderment and Awe with iPads
-> Modern Learning Environment MLE Matrix
-> How eLearning can be enabled by technologies
-> Effective eLearning (what can I trial?)
-> Did you know your learning is copyright to your BOT? Do you have a CC licence to share? (Every
     school should have a @CC_Aotearoa policy)
-> Sharing our learning about the Teaching as Inquiry model
-> Teacher Dashboard demoing
-> Building question askers not answerers - Trevor Bond

(Quotes/ Ideas):
-> Are we preparing learners for their future or for our past?
-> Amazing wealth of apps and links to support Inquiry learning
-> Tuakana/Teina is not an age thing. Ss might be a tuakana in maths and teina in reading.
-> Every child is a taonga - Anne Salmond
-> Inquiry is not a time in the day, it's a philosophical approach - it's part of the learning process, real
-> What does the shifting pedagogy look like in your classroom?
-> Chrome Web Store: - Webpage Screenshot Capture
                                     - VoiceNote (Speech to text)
-> Combine Epic Citadel and Skitch apps. Screenshot picture from Epic Citadel and write over the top with Skitch.
-> "Me and You" by Ak (doc story builder)
-> Together we are powerful and we know heaps of really good stuff - Allanah King

"Let's go out and burst the bubbles" - the challenge from Dame Anne Salmond

Further reading:
uLearn13: Notes, Tools & Tweets by Kassey Downard 
Putting the "e" in assessment - Storify by Annemarie Hyde
Taradale uLearn 2013 Notes
uLearn13 Reflection | Four ideas in evolution by Karen Melhuish Spencer

Friday, October 11, 2013

uLearn 2013 Top Twitter Users

I had a lot of fun following uLearn13 via Twitter and like that I was able to share some of the learning happening in the breakouts with my goal to trying to connect everyone to the awesome learning happening at the Conference.
"Learning only grows by sharing. You can only have more for yourself by giving it away"- Stephen Baker.

And the busiest tweeters at uLearn13 were....

Not bad being third top tweeter, considering I did it all from home.
"The power of being connected is clearly evident." - Kassey Downard

CORE eFellow 2014

I was overwhelmed, after hearing that my eFellowship application was successful! Personally, I consider this to be a great honor to be joining a community of over eighty eFellows.   

Thank you to CORE Education for giving me the opportunity and thank you to the people who supported me in my application.

I am looking forward to an exciting year!

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.

Friday, August 30, 2013

VLN discussions

I was recently asked by a BeL facilitator to join the NE group on the VLN and to run a discussion, as the aim is to try and get some teachers to see what sort of things one can do with e-learning with juniors.

I have decided to start a discussion on 'Blogging with juniors', as this is something that is close to my heart due to the benefits this have for students.
I was amazed that we got our first reply almost immediately after posing a couple of questions!

The other discussion I am running is about 'e-Learning tools for 5 year olds'

What a privilege to be part of this excellent discussions where other teachers are able to share their thoughts.

A huge thank you to all the contributors.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Are teachers trusted?

One of my goals at the start of this year was to engage in a developmental process of improving my practice by taking risks. And I was prepared for a 'FAIL' (First Attempt In Learning).

John Hattie says "A teacher's job is not to make work easy.  It is to make it difficult.  If you are not challenged, you do not make mistakes. If you do not make mistakes, feedback is useless."

Therefore, I've given my students a 'choice' in the learning activities they can choose to be involved in during my time working with students in a guided reading lesson. 
By knowing what the needs of the students in my classroom are, learning activities they were able to choose from were ones that  encouraged quality learning and which were of specific purpose to them. In this case our focus were on 'Word Work'.

I believe that overall this concept of 'giving students choice' in my classroom was working well, although I had recently found some 'flaws', as not all students were making the right choices and I will have to step in with a more Teacher Directed approach for now. 
It is obvious that my students enjoy their learning, because they are able to make choices. They love coming to school (as I've been told by many parents), which to me is an important part of my teaching philosophy.  If my students don't love coming to school they will, in my opinion, not learn effectively.

Through my teaching career, I have however also experience the fact that what is believed to be best for students might not be what some observers want to see.  Well, in this case, I almost feel like saying: "Tough luck".  Fact is, I refuse to be a teacher who performs a 'window dressing' in front of any observer to let them see a polished product or a rehearsed lesson. I rather want them to embrace with me the 'highs and the lows' before the breakthrough.

I think teachers need to be given more freedom to take risks, embrace failure and, of course, try hard and ideally our students will try hard and will be enjoying learning too.
I quote the following from David Didau: The Learning Spy
"If we don't challenge students to meet our outrageously high expectations, they won't make mistakes. This results in a desultory lack of progress. Vygotsky told us that success should always be just beyond where we currently are so that we have to strive and reach for it.  This applies to teachers as much as our students.  The vast gap in the feedback given to teachers judged as 'good with outstanding features' is an appalling travesty. It is simply not acceptable to fob off these teachers with meaningless guff about gut feelings or the observation that student x was off task despite producing a fantastic outcome. If, as an observer, you cannot give kind, helpful and specific feedback on how to get to outstanding you really shouldn't be allowed to make judgments on others' teaching."

With this in mind, I 'm wondering how many people in leadership positions still trust their teachers to do what they know is best for their students.

I do hope that all teachers out there can continue to strive to enjoy their teaching and that they will be trusted to do what's best for students.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Technology a tool and not an end

I have recently found an interesting graphic under the title" 7 C's for Effective Teaching ".

One of the things I have notice in this graphic is the absence of a digital component.  This reinforce my idea that a great learning experience does not have to involve my NE/Yr 1 students glued to a Notebook/iPod/iPad.  These are awesome tools, but just tolls none-the-less.  Students only use them when needed and when they have a purpose to do so and not just for the sake of using technology.

Please don't get me wrong, I strongly encourage and embrace technology as an important part of a future-focused education, as well as how I can prepare students for living in the 21st century.  I also have to mention here that technology tools are a seamless part of my classroom.  I endorse that computer technology has become more important in the classroom than ever before to cater for the demands of good teaching and learning.

It is just my perception that the 7 C's mentioned here, could provide me with a starting point in embracing student voice.

And in case you wonder...  technology can be used to gather information on this.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

e-Member of the week

In March 2013, I've decided to sign up for the (VLN) Virtual Learning Network. I became a member of a number of groups which is of interest to me, with my main focus to share and learn from other amazing people.
By being part of the VLN, I have access to free PD over many weeks/months on topics that is of interest to me and of which are being catered for my needs.  Best of all, they are not bound to place or time!
I really enjoy being part of this collaborative virtual professional learning and development, which takes place outside of school and in my own time and most importantly, I have the ability to bring what I am learning back into my school, to the  benefit of students and colleagues.
Therefore, when reading the e-Learning Round-Up | 31 July 2013, I felt very honoured and privileged to be named as e-member of the week.

Thank you to all the wonderful people on the VLN who have made this possible for me!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Teaching and Learning above and beyond

Today's students are moving beyond the basics and embrace the 4C's which are some "super skills" for the 21st Century. These skills will enable students to solve problems in our fast-changing world and will last them for a lifetime.  Learning goals in reading, writing and maths are still important and won't be replaced by the 4C's.  The goal is to integrate 21st Century skills into all learning areas to enable students to master the 4C's.

The 4C's include the following:
Critical Thinking: Look at problems in a new way, linking learning across learning areas
Creativity: Trying new approaches to get things done
Communication: Sharing questions, thoughts, ideas and solutions
Collaboration: Working together to reach a goal

I love this video which highlights the importance of collaboration, communication, critical thinking and creativity.

Now the challenge is to build this 4Cs into my classroom and to help my students embrace this.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Teaching: One of the most demanding and dynamic of professions

I had the privilege of attending the It's a Learners' World: Mapping a New Landscape Conference organised by Learning Network NZ on the 25th and 26th July and what a fantastic experience this was.

Keynote speakers included: Lee Crockett, Perry Rush and Joan Dalton.

What I've learned from Lee Crockett:
  • Change is a difficult thing - Reality check ahead
  • TTWWADI (That's The Way We've Always Done It), without giving a thought why we do it - this have serious impacts on years to come
  • Things change quickly in education - we need to examine our TTWWADI
  • No correlation between homework and achievement in younger ages
  • It's a scary thought - our classroom structures have not change much in a hundred years
  • We are providing our kids with an education for work that can be done by automation - How will we change this?
  • Make students the spotlight of their learning - teach them how to learn
  • In the next few year, people who need managing will no longer be employable
  • Our kids will look at the iPad as archaic technology - How are we preparing them for the world that is their future?
  • If we do not change the way we teach, then we prepare our kids not for their future but for our past
  • When the rate of change outside an organisation is greater than the change inside the end is near
  • What will you change in your classroom or school to prepare your learners for the scope and pace of change? How will you keep up?
  • Eyes process visuals faster than text - 80% information comes through our eyes. We can communicate so much more with visuals - we're designed to be visual learners
  • Stretch your thinking - take baby steps - choose 1 action you're going to take, starting right now!

What I've learned from Perry Rush:
  • The learning Purpose in the 21st Century - enable the individual to be fulfilled to their satisfaction
  • Build capability to be successful in the 21st knowledge economy
  • Children can spot the teachers who are prepared to journey with them
  • Be quiet and listen to kids to re-craft teaching to the next appropriate place
  • We need to take our students to places they don't know they don't know about
  • Knowledge is a process not a 'thing' - it happens in teams not in individuals
  • You need to be able to do things with what you know - Learning and knowledge are a verb, it's what our kids DO with this knowledge
  • Teach understanding of knowledge, not just knowing. Foster understanding, growing meaning about the world
  • Minds are resources that can be connected to other resources in order to generate knowledge
  • Remember the Revised Curriculum:'s_Keynote.pdf
  • Teaching in the 21st C

What I've learned from Joan Dalton:

It's not what you know, but what you do with what you know that makes a difference.

Other sessions attended and learning included:

                                                        Photo by Michael Fawcett

What change will I make? What is my 'baby step'?
  • I will start by moving towards creating a Modern Learning Environment and focus on personalised learning as the Key Competencies will be visible in this

Monday, July 22, 2013

Future-focused learning and teaching

We are currently in the process of having forum meetings with our parents regarding the 'Basics' at our school.  This whole process of hearing what parents' views are about current education practices, is very informative and worthwhile.
This had me again looking into Effective Pedagogy and my action promoting student learning.  While in the process of doing this, I came across this excellent, meaningful information on teaching for 21st century learners.

Questions to be asked:
What does future-focused learning and teaching look like? What ideas and principles underpin it? What makes it different from other teaching and learning practices? How do we change our practice to become inclusive and build an environment where akonga/learners, teachers, and whānau work together?

Future-focused education - what does it mean?
  • How can education prepare students for living in the 21st century?
  • How can schooling change to meet the opportunities and challenges of the 21st century?
  • How can we prepare students to address "future-focused" issues such as sustainability, globalisation, citizenship, and enterprise?
Bolstad, R. (2011)
Literature suggests we need to be future-oriented and adaptable, adopting a more complex view of knowledge, that incorporates knowing, doing, and being. Alongside this we need to rethink our ideas about how our learning systems are organised, resourced, and supported. Educators need to consider:
  • Personalising learning – how can you use technologies to build the school curriculum around the learner and more flexibly to meet learners’ needs?
  • Building an inclusive learning environment - how you use technologies to:
    • engage learners, family/whānau, and communities in co-shaping education to address students’ needs, strengths, interests and aspirations?
    • provide access to anywhere, anytime learning?
    • support assessment and evaluation processes so that these are dynamic and responsive to information about students?
  • Developing a school curriculum that uses knowledge to develop learning capacity – how can you use technologies to enable students to create and use new knowledge to solve problems and find solutions to challenges as they arise on a “just-in-time” basis?
  • Rethinking learners’ and teachers’ roles – how can you use technologies to create a “knowledge-building” learning environment where learners and teachers work together?
  • Building a culture of continuous learning for teachers and school leaders – what opportunities to participate in and build professional learning are afforded by technologies?
  • New kinds of partnerships and relationships - how can technologies be used to facilitate this?
Bolstad, R & Gilbert J, et al. (2012)
Providing higher order, authentic learning experiences allowing students to use technologies to explore content. The principle of ako affirms the value of the pair and group learning approaches in which students interact with their peers, teacher, tasks, and resources. These are very effective approaches for teaching and learning.

Ka Hikitia - Managing for success: The Māori Education Strategy 2008–2012
Teaching for 21st century learners
Dr David Parsons, Associate Professor, Massey University explains the need to teach higher level thinking skills and develop key competencies using technology to prepare students for the 21st century

Note: (Questions and information was quoted from TKI - enabling e-learning | teaching)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Effective Pedagogy Reflection (Term 2)

My principal and I had a discussion today about our disbelieve that the holiday is already upon us, although I did remark that I was 'ready' for a holiday two weeks ago!

I am in the process of reflecting on a term gone by as "Effective pedagogy requires that teachers inquire into the impact of their teaching on their students" (NZC, page 35)

This will have me looking closely at student achievement data as well as using OTJ's. I will be posing questions about outcomes, successes and where my students are at. I am currently analyzing and interpreting information, from a range of assessment approaches (short term and long term), to consider next steps for learning.

How will I use this new information to decide what to do next to ensure continued improvement in student achievement and in my practice?
By reflecting on progress, observations, current vs initial data to see how it went and what strategies have made a difference to my students' learning. I will also consider what new teaching strategies & tools I will use.

I am excited to know what my focusing inquiry will be -what my students need to learn next, as well as deciding on the teaching inquiry that I am going to try in Term 3.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Blogging and Commenting

Connecting with other classes in New Zealand through QuadBloggingAotearoa has been extremely beneficial for students this term and it was another great opportunity to teach my students on how to leave good comments.

This is a lengthy process with my pre-readers and writers and we always commented together as a group as I saw this process a necessity for my students.

We brainstorm some 'rules' to follow when leaving comments. They are:
1. Greet the other person/class
2. Say something nice about the post (what did we like?)
3. Make a connection (think of something it reminds us of). This is a skill we are just beginning to learn.
4. Ask a question (what else were we wondering about that the writer has not put in their post)
5. Re-read our comment (check for spelling mistakes or if we need to change something)

This pattern will be followed for months to come and students will learn the necessary skills to comment on their own. I will then officially ask all of the students to try to make a comment on a blog of their choice closer to the end of the school year. I will however stay close by to assist students whose spelling skills are still developing and make a note in brackets to show that this was done with teacher help.

It will be a long journey to get them to follow the pattern that we have practiced together. Just as learning to read and write takes some time, learning to comment when you are an emerging writer does take some time as well.

Why would I go through this lengthy process with my 5 year old students?
The satisfaction of seeing a student who is beginning to understand how to interact and having a conversation with others in a social media situation, is worth this long journey.

As part of our reflection on our experience with QuadBloggingAotearoa, we discussed some benefits of blogging and although there are many more, here is what we thought to be important at this stage.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Should I... or should I not?

Although earlier QuadBlogging interactions with other schools around the world were quite interesting, I had to make a big decision this term about enrolling this relatively new class of 5 year old students.
Pondering for weeks over this, I've came to the conclusion to give it a pass.

Little did I know....

I find out about QuadBloggingAotearoa shortly thereafter while browsing my Twitter stream one evening.
Excitement galore!!! Our own QuadBlogging for New Zealand schools, started by Barbara Reid (a BeL facilitator).

And I did it again, enrolling my students for QuadBloggingAotearoa! What a fantastic three weeks we had so far, connecting with schools in New Zealand. And needless to say, my students are having fun and have again amazed me with their enthusiasm with commenting on other class blogs.

And that's the wonder of teaching - Watching caterpillars become butterflies!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Engage students and make a difference

After following the first live TeachMeetNZ presentation on Twitter, I had been contacted by the organiser of this New Zealand event, asking if I would be interested in presenting at the next TeachMeetNZ.
Without thinking, I accepted this invitation.  I saw this as a personal challenge, as I am not fond of presenting in front of others, and never had in such a formal way.  This meant that I had to get right out of my comfort zone.
In the time leading up to the presentation, there were days that I had reservations about this, especially as I had to miss the first testing as I was at EduCampHB.
The second test run was nerve wrecking, but went well and I was ready.
Presenting live at TeachMeetNZ was an amazing experience and I feel proud and very special, after receiving my TeachMeetNZ participation badge from Sonya.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Excited to be a teacher and learner

Despite a full on couple of weeks with lots of meetings and PD, I was looking forward to another EduIgnite evening on Thursday.  These evenings is invaluable to me as it helps me to better myself and provides me with an opportunity to look at lots of things differently and also enables me to put them into perspective.
I think teachers of today have one the hardest jobs in the world, with all the trends currently in education and most of the time we don't value ourselves as we should.  Why could this be?  Do we concentrate too much on all the things happening, which we might perceive as 'negative'?  Would that  change if we only concentrate on what we can do for our students, how we can improve ourselves and how we can make learning experiences the best ever?  I do believe so.      
I am excited to be a teacher and learner.  I love to 'hang out' with other teachers on Twitter.  I love the sharing, collaboration and support of teachers coming together and how it enables me to stay informed.  I love how I empower my students to share and collaborate through #kidsedchatnz and their e-portfolios.
Although I was not present at the following EduIgnite talk, I am again inspired.

Friday, March 15, 2013

EduIgnite Talk Highlights

Another EduIgnite is just around the corner! How that snuck up on me.  I am still relishing in my previous, first experience of an EduIgnite evening!

Some of the highlights for me from last year was:

Mary-Anne told us how to ignite the brain using thinking skills.

Ignite Talk | Mary-Anne Murphy from Emerging Leaders on Vimeo.

Barbs told us about learning and one of her favourite things: geocaching

Ignite Talk | Barbs Reid from Emerging Leaders on Vimeo.

Dave talked about why we do what we do, and how technology can make a difference in the world.

Ignite Talk | Dave Winter from Emerging Leaders on Vimeo.

Great stuff!! Looking forward to my next learning experience.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

What is happening?

This term is moving forward with some speed that actually left me with feeling a bit flustered and with a feeling that no significant progress has been made in any areas of the deliberate learning acts for my students.
This has lead to me to feeling frustrated as I have never felt before at this time in a first term.

Time was needed to reflect seriously as to what the reason for all this might be and I came to the following conclusion:
* Harold the Giraffe from Life Ed was at our school - time out of class
* Sport BOP 'leg it' programme - out of class for an hour each week for 3 weeks already (3 more to come!)
* School Triathlon/Duathlon day
* School Swimming Sports day
* New students arriving - enforce class routines time and time again.

All these took time away from establishing a stable learning culture within our class.  I don't think  for one second that these activities are not deemed valuable, as they are equally important in creating other learning experiences for students. 

On a more positive note, as I want to make sure that my students are getting the best individual learning experiences possible, I have created their own ILP as mentioned in my Professional goals earlier - which seems to be working well.  And I do see accomplishements in learning, no matter how small.

So what now?  Now I just need to move forward and follow this 'advice'.

"Problems are only opportunities in work clothes." - Henry J. Kaiser

Saturday, February 23, 2013

EduCamp Rotovegas

EduCamp Rotovegas hit off today at 10.00am in Rotorua and was the first of it's kind for this year and as usual, did not disappoint with a 'full house' of 30 participants!
The sharing and collaboration from all were amazing and I loved it when Annemarie started with a video on Inspiration: Be agents of change.  Lots to be taken away and fantastic to meet and greet new and 'old' PLN friends.
No doubt that this EduCamp was a huge success thanks to all attendees, the sharing & organisers.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Goals -> Balance in 2013!

The summer holidays are drawing to a close and I am looking forward to the challenges of this term. Therefore, I have also been thinking about my goals for 2013.

Professional Goals:
  • Ensure that each student will be getting the best individual learning experiences possible.  This year each student in my class will have their own Individual Learning Plan page on our class Wiki that will put an emphasis on their role in their learning experience, which I believe is crucial to a productive learning experience, as is achievement of their goals.
  • With this I am planning to provide students with opportunities so they could stay interested in learning, with a desire to keep inquiring, exploring and thinking.  I would like them to want  to learn
  • I won't sweat the small stuff and will only concentrate on my students, deliberate acts of learning and my teaching
  • Try something new, like different teaching approaches - looking forward to see where this idea might lead to
  • To engage in a developmental process of improving my practice by taking risks - here comes  'FAIL'
  • Continue to strive to complete my job to the best of my ability and to be a teacher who loves her job, love the subjects I teach and to care for each student so that they feel valued as an individual
Personal Goals:
  • This year I don't want to miss out on the present and will celebrate at the end of every day, little happenings/accomplishments. I will look at the here and now, not just reflect on and look at the bigger picture and what needs to be done
  • Keep on interacting with other teachers and my PLN.   I can't think of a better way to learn from each other
  • I need to keep my priorities straight, as I find it hard to stop in my search to finding new ideas on how I can enhance learning for my students.  I need to learn to stop and make time to relax and just have fun.
                    And this 5 W's of life will be added, as I see them appropriate for my sanity.