Monday, 18 February 2019

Week 3..

To make time for my mental and physical health. 
To carry out all my roles (teacher, HSA director and Across Schools CoL) to the best of my ability. 
To support staff wellbeing. 
To actively maintain a positive personal outlook. 

These posts don't relate to my CoL role by the way, which is ticking away in the background. When my data analysis is complete it will deserve it's own blog post!
  • Visits to the gym this week: still 0. Why am I paying for a membership!?
  • McDonald's eaten: 1 - BLT bagel and a coffee when I needed to work right up until 8.28am.
  • Casual sports games played this week: 3 games of touch, 3 games of tag and 9 Rounds with a friend on Saturday morning.
  • Books read: Past Tense by Lee Child. It got skim read because half of the plot was boring. 
  • Teaching highlights: 
    • Going to the zoo with Year 13!
Everyone up and looking at skeletons and skulls

Tauola, Gloria, Maia and Paige trying to determine the species of their skull.

Keti, Loma and Alisi also puzzling.

Giant Galapagos tortoise! He was out and about while his buddy slept in the mud.

The elephant was an exciting find because she was feeding!

The mark of a good trip - 18 people out of 32 fell asleep on the ride home! It was very hot.
  • CoL things: I ran data for about 4 and a half hours on just one cohort, across one year, on only Reading Comprehension. Not Vocab, not Writing, not Maths... just Reading Comprehension. Stay tuned for findings soon!
  • Teacher wellbeing support: organised the "Great Tamaki Bakeoff" which only Shirly and Karen baked cookies for. Trina ran the voting at interval. While only 2 baked, definitely more people than that enjoyed the cookies :)
  • Gratitude emails sent: only 2 again.

Sunday, 10 February 2019

Snapshot Week 2

To make time for my mental and physical health. 
To carry out all my roles (teacher, HSA director and Across Schools CoL) to the best of my ability. 
To support staff wellbeing. 
To actively maintain a positive personal outlook. 

Here is the snapshot update on how week 2 went:
  • Visits to the gym this week: 0
  • McDonald's eaten: no McDonalds! Improvement.
  • Casual sports games played this week: 2 games of touch, 2 games of tag, a run up a volcano with another teacher, Kalesha, and a fitness class on Saturday with friends.
  • Books read: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (given to me by Vaughn at last weeks book swap).

  • Teaching highlights: 
    • This week in Y9 science we conducted a few investigations, and my favourite was one that I didn't know the answer to. Science is all about wondering and then trying to find an answer.
    • I wondered if commentators speak about male and female 7's players in different ways.
    • To try and make the science valid I picked both games from 2017, and both games were finals. I thought the games were also from the same tournament but Taniela (a boy in 9PKr) informed me they were not, which makes results slightly less reliable! 
    • In class we watched 7 minutes of a women's final, and 7 minutes of a men's final.
    • We wrote down words the commentators used to describe the players, the team, or the play.
    • Unfortunately, the men's game was a little hard to hear over our speakers, so it wasn't the most successful classroom activity BUT the results were interesting. 
      • We found that commentators were more likely to offer extra information about women players, e.g. "the flyer from Taranaki," "basketball convert," "Mother-of-Two" or "from a touch background" or "loves surfing." 
        • Wouldn't it be hilarious to hear a commentator say "And he scores! Father-of-two Sonny Bill Williams touches down for his third try of the season!"
      • Women were called "big" once and "strong" twice, but also had their legs described as "little pistons." 
      • The theme of car-related analogies continued stronger in the men's commentary; "red-lining it" and "firing on all cylinders."
      • Men were more likely to be called "powerful," "monster" and the words "lethal" and "outstanding" were both used twice.
      • Some of the women's play was described as "beautiful," and the kicker as "class" and a play as "classy" while the men's play was "frenetic," "unstoppable" and had "flare".
      • Both teams' players were described in terms of their positions, e.g. captain or winger, and also their stats, such as "top try-scorer if the season" or "Gold-medalists."

  • CoL things: I spent an hour manually writing down the NSN numbers for all of Year 9 off KAMAR and another 30 minutes typing them into a spreadsheet to share to Woolf Fisher, so we can have data on only the Year 9's who have arrived at Tamaki College (as opposed to the results of all year 8's in the cluster, many of whom head off to other schools). This will help give an indication of the abilities of our current students.
  • Teacher wellbeing support: organised Karen to run "Colouring In With Karen" in the staffroom on Friday afternoon. 10 people came along this week, up 3 from last week! 
  • Gratitude emails sent: only 2 :( Must pick up my game!

Friday, 1 February 2019

Quick Summary from Week 1

We're back into it again for the year!

It's Saturday morning at 4.24am and I couldn't sleep because there were too many emails left unsent. Usually I'm good at switching off but.. apparently not tonight.

This year my goals are:

To make time for my mental and physical health. 
To carry out all my roles (teacher, HSA director and Across Schools CoL) to the best of my ability. 
To support staff wellbeing. 
To actively maintain a positive personal outlook. 

Here is the snapshot update on how that is going:

  • Visits to the gym this week: 0
  • McDonald's eaten: 2 kiwiburger combos.
  • Casual sports games played this week: 2 games of tag.
  • Books read: finished the third Orphan X on Tuesday night. 
  • Teaching highlights: 
    • Building and using a 'reading corner' with a large mat for Year 9 to gather on at the start of lessons. I'm trying to give an introduction, set expectations and have discussions with them there at the start of the lesson. There's a lot of them though. They overflow.
    • Creating a booklet for 'introduction to science' for the Year 9's which they appear to have thoroughly enjoyed so far!
    • Marking that booklet and using the small amount of evidence in it to create literacy groups named after ancestral waka. 
    • Creating 5 different versions of the same reading for those literacy groups.
    • Getting feedback from the three (of 10, the rest were at a spontaneous leadership course) Year 13s present during Thursday and Friday: "this makes sense Miss, this is all good." 
    • Running a 'pads and tampons' investigation using a very poor-quality fake blood that I whipped up with gelatin, cornflour, water and red food colouring on the very first day of biology with my Year 12 class, which is a class of 25 girls! 
      • Results: tauira were engaged, surprised, and thoughtful - they learnt that super pads absorb a lot more (about 20mL more) than super tampons.
      • One group created a striking visual of tampon absorbancy as the tampon expanded and blocked an upside-down measuring cylinder full of fake blood.
      • Another group tested different brands of liners stuck on paper towels, and found out which brands would leak first. The thickness of the best liner seemed to also be assisted in preventing leakage by imprints of flowers in the pad. 
      • I wish I had taken photos!!
  • Had a CoL meeting and came out knowing what data I need to track down to begin with, and knowing I have to think of a project and inquiry outline before the next meeting (Valentines Day). 
  • Teacher wellbeing support: ran a "Holiday Book Swap" in the staffroom on Friday afternoon.
  • Gratitude emails sent: 4, subject line is simply :)

Thursday, 6 December 2018

More Literacy with Year 13

I just published my last Class OnAir episode for the year! I had great fun editing this one because there was just so much quality discussion occurring between the girls in the group! 

The premise of the lesson is to have small groups of students co-construct a paragraph before sharing it to the class on a big whiteboard. This allows them to share ideas at first in the safety of a small group, and then have the anonymity of being in a group as their shared work is 'judged.' The process allows them to share and clarify their understanding together. 

This is a literacy strategy that Marc Milford, our TC literacy specialist, shared with us during a staff meeting at the end of Term 3.

Almost no resources were required for this - a word bank up on the board, some pens and paper, and a few big whiteboards and whiteboard markers.

I chose to front-load the biological vocabulary and speak about the words in context and in relation to each other, rather than starting with dry definitions that meant nothing to students. 

Please enjoy their discussions!

Monday, 3 December 2018

Learn - Create - Share - Year 11

I have a lovely, lovely Year 11 class this year. They're an absolute mix of abilities but most of them seem really driven to achieve. At the start of the year I asked them which standards they would like to do, and which topics from the junior years they felt they were the best at. Almost unanimously the class said "volcanos." 

So at the start of Term 2 we began the Surface Features of New Zealand assessment. I did only one week of teaching about hotspots and subduction, relying heavily on what they could recall from their junior years and hoping to give them enough of a reminder to cope with any online readings they came across. 

My focus for the internal was to build confidence and abilities in online research and report writing. To do so I decided to model the process from start to finish, and show students the skills required for report-writing in a way that they could return to and rewind whenever they needed. 

We spent a full two weeks doing a half-sized practice on Surface Features in America (Mt Rushmore, Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Canyon). 

Students had access to a series of screencast and narrated videos where I tried to speak my thoughts out loud as I researched and wrote:

I used the idea of checkpoints, rewards and punishments from my earlier PD on writing with Joseph, and while it was in place for all students my particular focus was on the boys in the class. I gave them some choices in rewards, and also let them honestly choose consequences that they wanted to avoid. For some it was chocolate or a phone call home, others wanted lollies and to (avoid) being sent to their Dean. 

Every single day I left feedback on every single practice essay, and I updated every single one of their checklists so they could see what they had done and where their next step was. Some students started to do this on their own towards the end of the practice time. 

For a few students who were really struggling, I made personalised screencasts of how I would go about continuing to craft their essay from where they currently sat. Here is an example below: 

Click here to view the full screencast made for one student as they composed their practice essay.

I don't really have a measure that I can use to show that every student in the class grew in confidence. I can't really compare this year's results to previous years' because the class itself is different. They're quite a motivated bunch. 

However, 13 out of 17 students who sat the internal did pass, 1 with excellence and 2 with merit. 2 students failed for plagiarism and 2 were incomplete in the time-frame given. 

One thing I can share is anecdotal evidence. At the end of Term 2 I presented students with this list of possible internals they could choose from, to do as our final internal of the year at the start of Term 3. 

They didn't choose the one with a field trip.
They didn't choose either of the ones with practicals and chemistry experiments.
They didn't choose the one that would help them with their exam.

They chose the one that was most similar in assessment FORMAT to their volcanos standard. They chose to research online and create a report (and evaluate their sources) about an Earth and Space science event. They told me they chose that one because it would be the "easiest." Even though I don't approve of the laziness underlying the word 'easy' - I was so happy that my students were confident enough to engage in a LOT of reading and writing BY CHOICE! 

Thursday, 29 November 2018

Learn - Create - Share - Year 13

Literacy is still a massive issue in the senior years and a barrier to achieving credits at Merit or Excellence levels, due to student’s ability to explain, analyse and justify. Jannie Van Hees was talking yesterday about Lexical chains in paragraphs.

I’m just rolling on with my literacy inquiry and using the previous research on literacy strategies rather
than summarising them all over again.

Today I spoke to Marc Milford (our literacy specialist at Tamaki College) about some work he’s been doing with Karen in Design.

I’m going to try this idea with my Y13 biology students by analysing an exemplar about a socioscientific issue. The content and context are completely different to what we will be writing about in our own internal, so I think it will be a useful exercise.

First, I collected data about what students think the assessment will include and how confident they are about what they must write about. I used this form to do that.

Then we went through this short booklet that Marc helped me to create. It includes explicitly pointing out the language features in the exemplar, giving students the opportunity to identify them, using language and grammar features to recombine a paragraph, and teaching about key words such as what 'justification' actually means.

Before the activity, student's didn't know what was expected of them and confidence was low. After the activity, students were able to articulate requirements and felt much more confident. Unfortunately, that was the only measure I was able to take. The exemplar also managed to completely confuse one of the lower-ability students who suddenly thought they would be writing about folic acid (the context of the exemplar).

The orange pre test has a lot of "I don't know" answers. The white post-test answers are much more explicit.

The orange pre-test measure of confidence looks like an average of about 2 out of 5, while the later pretest answers look more like a 3-4 out of 5. 

Did this actually help them with their literacy? I had no measure for this. However, I did film this lesson and we can observe it for ourselves.. here!!

Wednesday, 21 November 2018

Share - Reflect - Data Analysis - Writing in Science

The second intervention I did was described in my previous posts, and also in this Google Drawing:

Before and after the Sound and Light in KPop unit I gave students the same instructions:

You have 4 minutes to write an awesome paragraph about sound and light.

Below you will find the raw data and student samples of writing.

Here is the analysis:

All of the students increased the number of words they wrote about sound and light in the four minutes.

All students except one increased their use of scientific vocabulary. Student 1 and 14 in particular made large gains.

Two out of five students increased their number of complete sentences. Student 12 wrote enormous, run-on sentences in both pre and post test.

Three out of five students increased the number of ideas they had written about in 4 minutes. One remained the same, and one student wrote about 1 less idea.

I was quite disappointed with the results from students in their end of year science test, which included a section about different sentence types. Two different lessons were spent on sentence types and practicing with them, which I conclude was not enough. I think this is incredibly important learning and should be incorporated into more of my lessons, more regularly.

However, students DID have the opportunity to revisit and revise sentence types before the exam, and knew it would be an entire section in the exam. Perhaps not all students did not have enough time to study all sections of the exam (except, some did). 

Most students could not write a Simple Sentence, and (somewhat unbelievably) most students did not even attempt a W-Start Sentence by writing a word (ANY WORD!) that started with W at the start of the sentence! I am not sure what to conclude from this.