Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Method for student and teacher interviews about reading

For each of your hypotheses, explain how you will test it and what evidence would support (or refute) that hypothesis..

Across the Manaiakalani cluster, schools are not as good at teaching reading comprehension as they are at writing. I hypothesise there may be little shared language of reading instruction across schools as there is now established for writing (e.g. recount, narrative, adjectives etc). I also hypothesise that reading mileage - time actively spent reading or comprehending - may not be as high for reading as it is for writing.

Interviews will be conducted with as many of the 31 accelerated students and their Year 8 reading teachers as possible, and a very small sample of online class timetables and reading programmes will be explored. As time is limited, this will be done as a random selection of teachers, terms, weeks and reading groups. Qualitative analysis of interviews will be done via heuristic coding, and when drawing conclusions links will be made to existing literature. Finally, suggestions will be made.

Student interviews - Method
By the time I conducted student interview in late April the number of Year 9 students enrolled at Tamaki College from Manaiakalani feeder Primary schools had decreased. Therefore, the number of students who had made accelerated progress in their reading from T1 to T4 in Manaiakalani schools in Year 8 had also decreased: from 38 down to 31. 

Interviews were held as six focus group sessions with between three and four participants. Of the 31 students who made accelerated improvement in reading comprehension in 2018, 18 were available to interview. These took place between 9am and 12.50pm on Monday 29th April. Two interviews were located in a classroom, two in the library, one on a stairwell and one on a bench outside. Participants were an equal split of girls and boys. I currently teach three of the 18 participants, and therefore am almost a stranger to the other 15. 

Interviews began by introducing myself and explaining why I would like to talk to students about their reading last year - that they had made big improvements in their reading in Year 8! Bigger than most of New Zealand! And I would like to find out how. Students responded to this with a mixture of surprise, disbelief and pride. One said she would tell her Mum, and her Mum would “probably buy me McDonald’s tonight.”  

I also offered students the opportunity to go back to class - and let them know they absolutely didn’t have to talk to me at all. A few students first checked that nobody would know who they were, before agreeing to stay for the focus group. 

Questions asked during the focus group interviews were: 
  • Where are you most likely to read?
  • What sort of things do you read outside of school?
  • When do you most enjoy reading? 
  • When does reading really frustrate you? 
  • How did you get ready for the PAT tests last year, at the start and at the end?
  • When you were in a reading group last year, what sort of person were you? (At times this question was followed up by what sort of role did you take in the group?)
  • Can you please describe a really common reading lesson or activity that you did in Year 8?
  • What do YOU think caused your big improvement in reading last year?
Teacher interviews - Method
Russell Burt emailed Principals of Year 8 teachers who had sent at least one student who accelerated in reading to Tamaki College. After permission was gained, teachers were then approached for an interview. I was able to speak to 7 teachers from across Panmure Bridge School, Glen Innes Primary, Glenbrae Primary and Glen Taylor Primary, for which I’m very grateful as these busy teachers took time out of their day to meet with me. Another teacher from St Patrick’s School who had left Auckland was willing to answer my questions via email, as did one of the teachers from Point England School. All other open-ended interviews were conducted in person. 

Starter questions included: 
  • What did your reading program look like in Y8 last year?
  • What sort of reading did students do last year outside of any set 'reading' time you had?
  • What is your hunch about the cause of Student X’s accelerated reading improvement last year?

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Reading comprehension literature review

Describe your process for developing hypotheses, e.g. what you read, who you talked with..

Click here to read my literature review on reading comprehension, with an initial focus on reading comprehension for low ability readers.

Friday, 2 August 2019

Baseline data

Begin to collect evidence and data and come to the next session ready to share your preliminary findings about the nature and extent of the student challenge i.e. using your baseline student data and evidence

For the overall challenge facing our cluster, see my previous blog post.
9PKr average PAT reading comprehension score from the start of the year is 3.55. 

No students scored below 2, which is ridiculous because one student in this class does not speak or read English and is below a Level 1 in e-asTTle. The top reading student in the class was absent and no score was recorded for her. 

The average pre-test score in Read Theory for the class was 1.77. 

Motivation for reading questionnaire results are published below: 

My baseline self-reflection checklist is also attached below:

Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Tools and measures for my inquiry

Describe the tools/measures/approaches you plan to use to get a more detailed and accurate profile of students’ learning in relation to that challenge. 

Literature review:
Google scholar

Current data:
Y8 and Y9 PAT reading comprehension, writing and maths scores

Current practice:
Student interviews, teacher interviews, random sampling of Y8 timetables and activities online

Forming interventions:
Synthesised findings from literature review and current practice to identify opportunity for change and improved teacher practice.

Case study 1:
Motivations for reading questionnaire - pre and post test around intervention

Case study 2:
Read Theory pre-test and post scores

Case study 3:
Teacher self-reflection checklist pre and post Case study 3. 
Read Theory pre-test compared to post-Case-study-2 as well as 
Read Theory pre test compared to post (both) Case studies 2 and 3. 
Comparison between shift caused by Case study 2 and 3. 

Additional pre/post test data for Case study 2 & 3:
PAT Term 1 score and PAT Term 4 score 2019

Monday, 10 June 2019

Blog Break

Hi all, 

For a few reason's I'm going to take a blogging break for a few weeks:

I've injured my finger at touch!

Also, as always, here are my goals:

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.

It's nearing the end of Term 2 and it's always the most stressful term for me. In Term 2 I try to run a lot of internals for my seniors, and they sort of.. aren't feeling the pressure or any sense of urgency just yet. I take on board most of the stress! In Term 3 they realize it's crunch time and that it's basically their last term at school - it's the best time to teach exams because they see impending value in their learning - even if it IS just high-stake exams.

Term 2 means LOTS of feedback and marking, practice practicals, moderation, and I'm feeling a little snowed under. Pausing my weekly blog for a few weeks will give me extra minutes back to try and do the core of my roles! 

I'll keep chipping away at my interviews of last Year's Y8 teachers (probably voice-recording interviews as holding a pen is a little tricky at the mo) and will start to analyse their answers soon. 

See you in a few weeks.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Week 5... halfway?

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. 
  • Visits to the gym this week: A.. half. I didn't sleep well one night and had a terrible day (likely as a result) and after a passing chat to one of the school's social workers, decided to go to the gym to cheer up. I tried to do a class and accidentally chose the hardest class I've ever been to. Think I made it about 3/4 of the way through before deciding that was enough! 
  • McDonald's eaten: none. 
  • Casual sports games played this week: 2 games of touch, one with no subs so that was good.
  • Books read: Vladimir Putin continues.. I am making my way slowly through the book.. it's very dense and factual but fascinating. I would recommend it!  I also ended up watching a short series on youtube of him being interviewed about Russian interference in the American presidential election. 
  • Teaching highlights: 
    • Going in to set up the plant investigations with Panmure Bridge Year 8's - they describe their perspectives here:
    • Another period I enjoyed was one of complete concentration (and dead silence) as Year 13 attacked their massive booklet of readings for their upcoming assessment. The reading pack includes 2-3 newspaper articles, a welfare report, three completely full-on scientific peer-reviewed journal articles, and a herd book. It's ENORMOUS.  Students requested it be on paper for them, so they could highlight and annotate, and quickly flick back and forth.
    • It is quite incredible to me that the kids arriving in Year 9 struggle to focus and read five paragraphs at a time, and yet if they want to go to university through Biology, then this is the level of reading that's expected (for Excellence) in Year 13:

    • This is also a comment on the rigours and demands of biology as a subject. I think it's unreasonable to expect students to work THIS hard for just THREE credits in Biology - there are certainly 'easier' subjects to take that still pathway to university! And the standard is just getting higher and higher; I have friends in two different schools who have dropped two different standards because external moderation came back at a ridiculously high - Stage 2 or 3 of University - sort of level to be awarded an Excellence.
    • It feels like someone out there is actively TRYING to scare kids away from Biology! The NZ Biology Teachers facebook page said the same thing after the Scholarship-level Human Evolution exam last year, and the impossibility of sitting three exams to Excellence in three hours. Even as a university graduate and a teacher of Biology, it took me 2 hours and 45 minutes last year to write just 2 Excellence-level scripts - I found it physically impossible to read, (barely) plan, and hand-write/scrawl out answers in the given time.
    • Anyway, that was a small tangent! My kiddies spent a full 50 minutes slowly reading and highlighting the texts and creating drafts of the shape their assessments will take. I was really proud of them.
    • Probably my FAVOURITE teaching moment in the whole week was Laite requesting a new thriller from my class library. Then Jen requested the book Laite had just returned. Then Gloria asked for a book too, so I gave her one narrated by a very witty and sarcastic djinn. Then Jeff quietly asked for a book - he turned down the true survival story of a guy chopping off his own arm and instead took away one of my teenage favourites; City of Masks. I feel like that one teeny after-the-bell interaction was maybe the most impact I've made as a teacher in this entire year. If I can get kids to enjoy reading, I will consider myself successful :)
  • CoL things: 
    • I interviewed another two teachers about their class' reading comprehension in 2018. 
    • Attended the after school CoL teacher meeting on Thursday.
  • Health Science Academy Things: 
    • Took the class off to the Careers Conference. One of the students report she enjoyed herself because she got to see different careers, although there were none that were 'new' to her. She now knows that podiatry definitely isn't for her, but enjoyed the physio demonstration and having the experience of using a wheelchair with the occupational therapist. More than anything, I think she enjoys the connections with other schools and feeling supported. The students have created their own instagram chat group to keep in touch, which fires up around the time of meetings. 
  • Teacher well-being support: 
    • This week was the 'Brown About Town' Pub quiz. Alex is too good at pub quizzes, so he was banned from playing and given the Quizmaster role instead! We had two teams vying for first place, and in the end Karen, Vaughan and I (supported for a time by Graham and Aman) came out on top!
    • Gratitude emails sent: none this week.

    Thursday, 30 May 2019

    Week 4 Summary

    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. 
    • Visits to the gym this week: One, I think.
    • McDonald's eaten: one BLT and coffee again.
    • Casual sports games played this week: 1 game of touch.
    • Books read: Still slogging through the Vladimir Putin book.
    • Teaching highlights: Definitely Period 4 on Friday when our student teacher Ms Cheyne revealed she'd written a song about CRISPR to the tune of Mariah Carey's "We Belong Together," which the Year 13 class then proceeded to sing through twice with absolute gusto. 
    • CoL things: 
      • On Monday I went in to Panmure Bridge to teach some science to a small group of Y8 learners. We are going to set up investigations into the best fertiliser to grow food on mars! You can read some of their recounts here:  
      • On Tuesday I visited Karen's class at her request, to record data on the talk happening in her classroom. Here are the fascinating results she uncovered. 
      • I also interviewed three teachers later in the week about how some of their students may have accelerated in their reading comprehension during 2018! I'll be doing a qualitative analysis and looking for trends in their answers later. 
    • Health Science Academy: Had a meeting with one of the tutor kiddies and the Year 11 Dean to set some academic goals, and also some around being on time to class.. We will both monitor progress for two weeks and meet again. I also had to submit a report to Mrs Pamaka on the HSA. 
    • Teacher well-being support: This week I asked the PE staff if they would set up and run a game of badminton for us! Great fun had by all - and lots of red, sweaty faces at the end. Thanks PE :)
    From left: Karen, me, Alex and Caitlin

    From left: Brenton, Vaughan, Cunard, Lepa
      • Gratitude emails sent: none this week.

      Tuesday, 21 May 2019

      Week 3 Summary

      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. 
      • Visits to the gym this week: Zero. Terrible. Was so exhausted on Wednesday that I went straight home, napped for an hour and a half, made dinner, ate, and went to sleep for another 9 hours.
      • McDonald's eaten: one BLT and coffee again.
      • Casual sports games played this week: 1 game of touch.
      • Books read: Started my first non-fiction book... perhaps ever? It's about the rise of Vladimir Putin.
      • Teaching highlights: Mum coming in to volunteer with the Year 9 class. She came in with her paperwork on Friday last period as I was about to take them - so I invited her in to meet them and see what a class is like. Mum's going to help with the reading of the 4 ESOL/low-reading ability students in the class. They really do require as much 1:1 reading time and support as possible, and I just can't provide that quality or quantity of time within their large, energetic class. It was both nice and nerve-wracking to have my Mum watch me teach. I was more worried about what she'd think of me as a teacher than I ever was recording Class OnAir for the general/teaching public. The kids were GREAT and took to her well - Mum said "one of them was calling 'Miss, Miss!' and I thought she meant you - but she was asking for me!" They're so used to visitors from being in Manaiakalani schools.
      • CoL things: Russell Burt and I sent out emails to principals of the teachers who helped The 31 accelerate in their reading last year to ask if I could please meet and chat with some teachers! 
        • I met with one of the teachers from Glenbrae and we had a fabulous chat about what reading looked like in her class last year and what she thought might have caused the acceleration of each student individually, as well as as a class. 
      • Health Science Academy: Completed the paperwork for our May 31st Careers Conference at North Shore Hospital. It's our last trip for the year. And continued to track the class attendance at Period Zero - students know they must attend 70% of Period Zero tutorials to stay in the HSA next year. It's one of the only expectations they need to meet, to show that they want to invest in their goals and future as much as we are. 
      • Teacher well-being support: I arranged for my team-mate Joey to come in and run a session for us about breathing and meditation. I learnt so much! He told us about the different muscles used to breathe as we age, and how it's linked to sleep. We practiced breathing with our diaphragm and then did some guided meditation. It was really relaxing, and I'm pretty sure a few people were close to nodding off! Karen messaged me the next morning that she'd slept better. Joey mentioned some apps he finds useful, so if you'd like to check them out they're called Smiling, and Insight Timer. He also said "Mountain Meditation is a good guided meditation track by Andy Hobson." Thanks for visiting, Joey!
      • Gratitude emails sent: none this week.

      Sunday, 12 May 2019

      Week 2 - Creative!

      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. 
      • Visits to the gym this week: One on Saturday again. The first-week excitement of joining a new gym QUICKLY wore off. 
      • McDonald's eaten: one BLT and coffee when I was running so late I wouldn't get a chance to heat my porridge before my fully booked day began. 
      • Casual sports games played this week: 1 game of touch again - I didn't stay to fill in for random teams because Kurt was patiently waiting for me to get home to watch Game of Thrones!
      • Books read: I'm slowly slowly working my way through the book Karen gave me at our Week 1 Holiday Book swap!
      • Teaching highlights: 
        • My absolute favourite was the double-period study session with Year 9. I had created a series of revision activities to help them study for their upcoming test, and they ABSOLUTELY LOVED bringing it up to me, getting feedback and then getting to colour in another rectangle to show their progress on the board! The majority of the class worked incredibly well through a full 95 minute block of time.
        • Year 13 used play-doh to illustrate one of three delivery methods for getting CRISPR into cells. They're presenting them to each other in class tomorrow. 

        • On Friday last period I asked Russell to come and help me run a busy practical lesson with Year 9 to reward them for their fabulous study and sitting of their first science test. It definitely required 2 teachers. We also had my student teacher Caitlin helping to supervise, and Chris the teacher aide there for safety too. On one half of the room we had three stations; dry ice rockets, dry ice bubbles and dry ice target-practice. In the other half of the room we had elephant's toothpaste! All the students absolutely loved it. I haven't trusted them with chemicals since they showed they couldn't listen to safety instructions during the tectonic-plate sandwich debacle of '19. It was time to give them another chance - and they did MUCH better this time around.

      • CoL things: I'm waiting on permission to speak to a few teachers around their teaching of reading comprehension, but need to follow the right procedure to do so. 
        • I ran a 'create' session in the Monday PD which 3 people attended. We all created educational songs. We quickly recorded Vaughan's one about language features. 
      • Health Science Academy: This week I ran our second parent fono evening, which was attended by Tuliana, David and Ola from the WDHB, two guest speakers - Sela and Agnes - three parents/caregivers (one I hadn't met before, so it was lovely to connect) and three students, two of whom gave speeches! It was an enjoyable night. I just wish more parents had made the commitment to come. One thing I learnt was not to run it on a Wednesday in Term 3 as it clashes with church events, and to call earlier - probably even before sending home letters (that seem to remain in the bottom of student's bags)! 
        • I also recorded Leo and Makoni's speech, in the hope that it would help them to gain 4 Speech credits in English. They both spoke for over 4 minutes and were both confident to speak off-speech spontaneously. They were engaging and entertaining! I've sent the video off to their English teachers :) 
      • Teacher wellbeing support: this week we had a shared lunch on Friday, and about... 12 teachers contributed food? Everyone enjoyed it. Will have to repeat in Term 3. 
      • Gratitude emails sent: tagged Graham in a facebook post telling him he's doing a good job both 'Dadding and teaching.' 

      Sunday, 5 May 2019

      Week 1 Term 2 - Back At It Again

      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. 
      • Visits to the gym this week: FOUR!! I decided to join a second gym, so now I'm a member of one on each side of the city. Why? And isn't that a waste of money? No because now when I'm early I can go move my body and exercise rather than sit around and eat scones and BLT bagels, which was getting so frequent at the end of the term that it was costing me $45 a week. 
      • McDonald's eaten: zero McDonald's visits this week. Too busy doing silly ballet and weightlifting classes at the gym.
      • Casual sports games played this week: 1 game of touch, but it's 5-a-side so it's INTENSE.
      • Books read: Currently have three sitting on my bedside table but none of them have grabbed me. Taking recommendations.  

      • Teaching highlights: 
        • Two activities with Year 13:
        The first was an introductory research activity into CRISPR (but not actually about CRISPR). It led students to research two famous people related to CRISPRs use or discovery, and a few extra bits and bobs I found interesting. We ran the activity as a jigsaw - two teams, with each person in the team responsible for one part, and then presenting back to their team. These Year 13's really seem to enjoy this format of learning, with presentations at the end. It motivates them to take pride in their segment of the learning and share it to the others.  The activity stimulated curiosity and a lot of really relevant questions being asked, which led on nicely to the next day.

        Here is one group's presentation

        And here is the other's 

        The second activity was end of a double-period the very next day, once there was a lot of curiosity combined with a basic understanding of CRISPR (from the first half of the lesson). 

        Students modelled CRISPR by 'reading' the 'genome' (segments of DNA stuck to desks around the room) to find the 'gene' that matched their own personal 'gRNA' (a strand of RNA stuck to the top of their scissors). 

        Once they found their 'gene,' they used 'Cas-9' (the scissors) to 'cleave' (cut) the double-stranded DNA at that precise loci (location). 

        Then they used the 'template' of a 'healthy gene' (attached at bottom of scissors) to 'knock in a gene' as the cell 'repaired the DNA' (stuck it all back together).

        I also really enjoyed collecting in questions from the class at the end of the period. The next day I shared with them my 'first draft' answers, and asked them to split-screen as they would when creating a 'second draft' of a University assessment (because we all know you don't hand in your first draft - they looked at me absolutely aghast as I said this). 

        Each person was then responsible for 'editing' my 'first draft' into a more succinct and clear 'second draft.' You can see their 'second draft' here. Then they explained and were quizzed on the answer they had just adjusted by a peer. It was a useful activity for:
        ~ learning about an area of CRISPR they were curious about.
        ~ learning how to split-screen (Laite didn't know and thought it was fabulous).
        ~ learning one way they can edit and create a second draft for assessments. 
        • CoL things: I collected student evidence by spending 4 hours interviewing students about their perspectives on reading, and then time after that analysing the qualitative data. Also further analysed PAT results (see previous posts).
        • Teacher wellbeing support: ran the Week 1 book swap again, but this time only Karen and I had books to swap so that was actually a bit sad! 
        • Gratitude emails sent: none.

        Thursday, 2 May 2019

        Holiday Drop-Off in The 31?

        We often hear about 'summer holiday drop-off' in our student's results and hypothesise about what that means, what causes it and how we can overcome it. 

        However! My data analysis has revealed some great news! 

        For the 31 year 9 Tamaki College students who accelerated in their reading comprehension last year, this wasn't a phenomenon. They made progress in their holidays at the same rate as the rest of NZ. It just wasn't as much as they made during their school year, which is encouraging because that means teachers and schools can help and DO have an impact on the students in their classes! :)

        Interestingly, 'summer holiday drop-off' is also not a phenomenon in the averaged reading comprehension results of ANY Year 9 Manaiakalani years who arrived at Tamaki College in the last three years; as you can see, the trend continues upwards from the last Year 8 result to the first Year 9 result. 

        Why might that be? Maybe students are nervous or excited about starting secondary and do some online research or reading over their break! Some might participate in the summer holiday learning journey, but the spread of participants probably include primary students too. The drop-off can't be a function of testing in Primary schools, (that students perhaps aren't prepared for their Term 1 test but do a lot of practice or pre-testing in class before the Term 4 one) because this would show again from Y8 to Y9 as in Y9 students receive little preparation and just head in to sit the test under standard test conditions. In summary - I don't really have a strong hypothesis for why there's drop-off between primary years but not between primary and secondary! 

        If we look at the top graph again, the reason why my inquiry is important is revealed: 

        Individually, each of the 31 accelerated in reading up towards the national mean during their school year. This is shown as an average in the graph above. Then, they have tracked along with the rest of NZ over the holidays to reach their Year 9 score, and didn't drift further away from the mean. This holiday improvement is an average again, as 22 improved on their final Y8 score but 9 dropped.

        The challenge here is "can I find out what caused this Year 8 acceleration?" Because wouldn't it be awesome if they made the same amount of progress in Year 9 and crossed that national mean line!  AND wouldn't it be amazing if whole classes and year groups could manage this, and the Manaiakalani cluster became as good at improving reading as we are at improving writing.

        I don't teach all of the 31 - in fact, I only teach 3 of them. So it's important that I create and share something from the findings of my inquiry, so teachers across the cluster can have a go too!

        Monday, 29 April 2019

        What do 'The 31' enjoy reading?

        Today I interviewed 18 randomly selected Year 9 students from "The 31" - the 31 Tamaki College Year 9's who made above-average gains in reading last year.

        One of the questions was "What do you enjoy reading?"

        So here you go, straight from the mouth of babes:

        Sunday, 28 April 2019

        Monday, 8 April 2019

        Week 10, Term 1

        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.
        • Visits to the gym this week: Monday night between SAC days because I wasn't stressed about the second SAC day and didn't need to prepare anything, and Saturday morning with hubby.
        • McDonald's eaten: One mental-health stop for a Cookie Time McFlurry and small fries after a particularly difficult day. It was worth every single calorie. 
        • Casual sports games played this week: None again, but 5-a-side touch starts next week. It will be a chilly season!
        • Books read: I've started to read The Madonna's of Leningrad by Debra Dean. It's only rated 3.8 stars on Goodreads, but I'm enjoying it a lot. It jumps back and forward in time between Marina's experiences in Russia during early WWII and her present life as she struggles with dementia. 
          • Teaching highlights: 

            • The teaching highlight of my week was the total silence that occurred for about 3 minutes during the Year 9 double-period Reading Comprehension this Thursday. It was beautiful. The sound of concentration. Everyone was engaged in ReadTheory, or answering comprehension questions, or producing a DLO. I have never, NEVER had a Y9 class have complete engagement like that before, and I wonder if it was in part caused by the repeated structure of the reading lesson across 4, now 5, weeks
          • CoL things:  
            • I still need to go and interview Y9 students who made accelerated gains in reading during Year 8, but this Monday/Tuesday they have Y9 camp so alas, that must wait till next term! 
            • I continued to visit Primary schools to share my booking sheet, and had my first booking! 
            • I'm going to visit Robyn at Panmure Bridge on Monday about her upcoming space unit. We had our first TC CoL teachers meeting with Soana and Russell and established how we will share with staff, and run the cluster 'Create' session at Tamaki College next term.
            • HSA things: SAC conferences went fairly well with 7 of 11 parents coming in with 6 of 11 students. One parent is interested in being on the BOT, so that is very exciting. I'm sure they would do a lovely job.
            • Teacher well-being support: alas, I was off sick on Friday.
            • Gratitude emails sent: one to Graham, to thank him for his amazing work planning the Goat Island trip and opportunity for students to compare Pt England reserve with a beautiful marine reserve. He worked to really short deadlines and planned a large trip for half of Year 10, and kept them safe in the water while they were there. Students (and supervising teachers!) had a fantastic EOTC experience, and I think he is in part responsible for the number of applications I received from Y10 students to attend a Science day at AUT in the holidays! #makingsciencegreatagain Thanks Graham. 

            Sunday, 31 March 2019

            Week 9 - The End is Nigh

            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.

            • Visits to the gym this week: Thursday night between HSA Leadership camp days, when I felt stress-free enough to take an hour for myself.
            • McDonald's eaten: Three trips again. None this coming week, I promise.
            • Casual sports games played this week: None AGAIN - and it's starting to just slightly affect my self-esteem now as I feel I put on weight when I don't play during the week.
            • Books read: No books but I read a magazine article for fun about Duchess Meghan Markle. She seems so sweet :)
              • Teaching highlights: 

                • Year 12 are writing their assessment so there is little exciting happening there.. 
                • I only taught Y9 once last week because of the HSA trip on Thursday and Friday, and that period was just a massive uphill battle on Period 6 to get them to write compare/contrast paragraphs about hokey pokey that we made Friday P6 the week before, and lava/pumice. I had even taken the time to record their instructions, so the low-reading-level students could listen and still be able to learn:

                • Year 13 have been stretching their brains and wrestling with the concept of Quantitative Trait Loci (QTL) analysis near the end of their learning about selective breeding. We had a nice double-period of slowly moving through a video, creating brainstorms, and sitting together in small groups and talking. It wasn't a particularly inventive lesson, just patient and collaborative. 
              • CoL things: Half of my COL time this week was taken by an HSA directors meeting. I still need to go and interview Y9 students who made accelerated gains in reading during Year 8, but this Monday/Tuesday we have student achievement conferences and next Monday/Tuesday they have Y9 camp so alas, that must wait till next term! I will try to conduct some research into more reading comprehension interventions I can implement with the class :)
                • HSA things: Period Zero numbers dropped last week back down to 5, but I am hopeful that after the Student Achievement Conferences these numbers will increase. 
                  • I took the class to a two day Leadership Conference on Thursday and Friday, which was undoubtedly the highlight of their week (and my teaching-week too)! There, students met other Y11's who will be travelling with them through secondary and into Health Science training at University. Here is the video from the trip:
                • Teacher well-being support: this week I taught 7 staff members how to make scones! Glynis even went home and made some more over the weekend and sent me pictures :)

                Showing the way of the scones..

                Ladies ready to bake! (Alex taking the photo).

                Glynis' weekend scone attempt - looking fluffy!
                • Gratitude emails sent: back to none again. Oops. 

                Sunday, 24 March 2019

                Week 8 recount

                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.

                • Visits to the gym this week: Absolutely none in the week and it's taking a toll on my back, which is starting to get sore. So I made it a priority to go to the gym twice in the weekend. 
                • McDonald's eaten: So. Much. McDonalds. At least 3 times. 
                • Casual sports games played this week: None, and again, not moving around and sitting on my computer doing school work has started to have an impact. 
                • Books read: Finally finished Mud, Sweat and Tears. I'm going to record myself reading it out loud for Stanley to listen and read along with. The story is really inspiring and I think he'd enjoy it.  

                    • Last week was also the annual forest field trip for Year 12, which is always a nice day out with the class. Rebekah particularly enjoyed it and said "that was even better than the zoo!" Other choice comments included "man I can definitely get Excellence in this!"
                  Looking at a tree.

                  Jean explaining how Nikau berries are adapted to attract the birds that disperse their seeds.

                  Footprints from an inquisitive mammal.. can you guess what it is? I'll tell you next post!
                    •  I also really enjoyed a lesson about inbreeding, outbreeding and genetic diversity with Year 13 where they split into groups and each presented case studies to the class.
                  Check out their presentations here:
                    • CoL things: Last week I attended three primary school's staff meetings to introduce myself and share my booking sheet. The moment of time to catch them is when they're planning their Science Inquiry topic term! I imagine that I'll be not busy for a while, and then towards the end of the term when people begin looking ahead I could be inundated with requests for help! 
                      • HSA things: Period zero ran with an increased number of students - up to 7 this time! 
                      • Teacher well-being support: last week was a 'juice tasting' - competitive, of course. 5 teachers came and joined me in guessing the colour, variety, country of origin, region, and descriptors that matched the words describing the flavour on the label of the 'juice.' 
                        • I joined in with teachers participating in the #hijabforhumanity:
                      • Gratitude emails sent: ONE! - to Carol because she let me run with my crazy, VERY last-minute hokey-pokey making idea. I approached her on Thursday to see if she would allow me to use T1 for the practical, and she said "YEAH of COURSE!" She even measured out and prepared all the ingredients so the lesson would run more quickly and smoothly. It was a fabulous period 6 science lesson and the kids really enjoyed doing something practical.
                        • For anyone wondering, the instructions are below.
                        • I think it is important that we spend one more lesson going over what a model is in science, and what the science of making hokey pokey actually was: 

                      Sunday, 17 March 2019

                      Week 7 Progress...


                      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.

                      • Visits to the gym this week: Zero again. 
                      • McDonald's eaten: four separate visits.. two deluxe cheeseburger combos and a BLT bagel combo.. not a great week for the ol' saturated fat. 
                      • Casual sports games played this week: 1x 200m sprint against the Y13 girls during athletics. Early morning walks now that I'm more organised with my teaching.
                      • Books read: Still chipping away at Mud Sweat and Tears. If it's not finished this week I'm going to put it down and move on to something more entertaining. 
                        • Teaching highlights: 
                          • Getting on a roll with Year 12. We started the year learning a Y13 exam (Human Evolution) and the standard was high. Now we're back in Year 12 learning they have settled and are still straining to work at the higher level, which should set them up well for their first L2 internal.
                          • The second round of reading comprehension worked better with 9PKr. I think they're almost at a place where there's enough routine to get my Mum in to help groups with their reading. If I could have Chris reading to Stanley and Apete, Mum working with the girls and extending them, and me working with the two groups of boys, that would be pretty amazing for them. Lots of support. Lots of emphasis and importance on reading and understanding.
                          • Discovering https://readtheory.org/  
                            • CoL things:
                              • Had a Friday 7am meeting with Fiona, Russell, Donna and Clarelle around how we give support to the in-school CoL teachers and make ourselves accessible to teachers across the cluster. 
                              • You can book time with me to help with science (in the Primaries, probably mostly the Y7/8 teachers but can be anyone!) or with literacy (in TC - I'm no expert but I try my best!!)
                              • Here is the link to book any of us: http://www.manaiakalani.org/our-schools/col/col-teachers-across-schools
                            • HSA things: Period Zero launched with only 4 students of 11 arriving and studying with me for an hour before school on Monday. During tutor the rest of the week I tried to make it really clear that attending Period Zero is one of the only things they are required to do to be in the HSA - and if they don't attend then they won't be going on the leadership trip coming up. "You have to act like a leader to be given the opportunities of a leader." Furthermore, if they want to work in the Health Science field then they need to start showing they want that dream enough to get out of bed at 7am once a week! We'll see if there's an improvement next week. 
                            • Teacher well-being support: after Athletics news of the terrorist attach in Chch hit, so softball was cancelled. A weekend of reflection with my friends followed, up in Paihia.   
                            • Gratitude emails sent: a few thank-you's here and there for little things. 

                            Sunday, 10 March 2019

                            Over Halfway Through Term 1!

                            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.

                            • Visits to the gym this week: ONE! Starting a routine now on Saturday mornings. I hurt my back hitting a PB on my squats though :( 
                            • McDonald's eaten: well... there's $4 coffee there (any size!) until the 1st April so.. lots. 
                            • Casual sports games played this week: 1 sad, sad game of touch that knocked us out of the semi finals. Going to start winter touch in Newmarket soon though.
                            • Books read: I'm not really enjoying Mud, Sweat and Tears by Bear Grylls to be honest. I can see why boys and men enjoy it with it's fabulously rebellious and active content, but the writing style is so.. simple. Too many short sentences, and reiteration of thoughts far too frequently.  
                              • Teaching highlights: 
                                • Trying out a reading comprehension activity with Year 12 after the PD Mark and I ran - mostly Mark ran, to be fair - on Tuesday. I was just the intro to the session, where I presented data to explain WHY reading comprehension is important for us all to be working to improve. Then Mark used the rest of the session to show HOW we can all do that. 

                                  • First, I made this reading. In the case of Year 12, this required very little manipulation of the text from Stuff.co.nz - I just added one little paragraph of extra biological information that is relevant to their upcoming internal standard. 
                                  • Then I made these activities to go along with the reading. The first activity, the prediction, happens before even giving the reading out. Students had to write their best guess about what the article or 'story' would be about. 
                                    • Year 12 appeared to enjoy the reading comprehension activity. I made sure to explain to them why I get them to read out loud in a group ("people may be able to help you out with any unfamiliar words - and sometimes you can help them in return! Plus you just get to listen and read along for some of the article.")
                                      • Some Year 12's have been struggling to meet my expectation of being on task for a full 45 minutes or a full 95 minutes. Some have proven unable to even make it past 10 minutes. But with this activity the 10-minuters made it to about 20 before having to be refocussed, and a 60-minuter made it to 80. Progress!
                                    • I also tried an almost identical series of reading comprehension activities with the Year 9's to less success, but still moderate success. The activities were similar, but did include "asking questions" of the text before reading it again.
                                    • The Year 9 class has two different reading levels - higher and ESOL.
                                    • I also recorded myself reading the ESOL reading out loud so they could read along with me. 

                                • CoL things: I sat with Brenton for an extra hour after staff PD on Tuesday to help adjust a Year 11 PE student task. Alex nicely agreed to act as a Year 11 PE student to trial what our instructions led him to write. I also spent a few minutes talking to Andy before staff briefing one morning about 1 page student tasks, and then 3 hours today leaving feedback on his first draft:

                                I left feedback as both a student reading the task for the first time and trying to work out what I would have to do (this was easy because I have zero electronics knowledge and very little technology knowledge) and a teacher.

                                The feedback was on the task and the marking grid.

                                This was my attempt at simplifying the marking grid, but Andy will definitely have to check that it aligns with the standard completely!

                                This is the format that biology (and three Year 11 science standards so far) gives student tasks in. 

                                Here's an example of a Y12 biology standard task and marking grid that students receive. The tile isn't the standard title - it's a general title of what to expect overall! Then there's a little blurb describing what they'll be doing. Then (because the assignment is a report) there are headings with word counts and what to write about beneath them. 

                                The whole idea is that there's no mystery for kids! We're not trying to trick them! 
                                  • HSA things: We had the opening launch for the HSA! 7 students and 5 of their families came along. The launch was a great success with everyone on board, and we shared food and set expectations and chatted together. 
                                  • Teacher well-being support: we played Bingo this week - Katrina won $12 in the first round and Graham took home the $14 kitty in the second. 
                                  • Gratitude emails sent: none, again. I will re-focus on this during this week.

                                  Sunday, 3 March 2019

                                  Week 5

                                  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.

                                  • Visits to the gym this week: ONE! Largely because Kurt headed in there to see a client, so I toddled along too and amused myself for an hour, trying to copy instagram fitness model workouts.
                                  • McDonald's eaten: alas, a new high score of 2. One BLT bagel combo at 6.15am before work, and one Ham and Cheese pocket and coffee - again WAY too early in the morning.
                                  • Casual sports games played this week: 2 games of touch, tag has finished :( 
                                  • Books read: I've started on Mud, Sweat and Tears by Bear Grylls. I've been looking for this book in Op shops for YEARS - since a friend told me that it was the book (recommended to him by his high school English teacher) that kick-started his love of reading at age 16. 

                                  • Teaching highlights: 
                                    • Giving a Year 9 student feedback across multiple days with her creative writing in Science. Granted, she hasn't reached the science part yet.. but it was nice to help with her writing.
                                      • You can read it at the bottom of the post if you're interested :) 
                                      • I also received an email from another student in the class to remind me to send him the creative writing blog instructions so he could do it as homework!
                                    • Helping my Year 11 tutor class (also with their creative writing), after talking to their English teacher about their first internal and.. 
                                      • Trying to get students to "show" not "tell" in their writing.
                                      • Christie's blog from tutor here
                                      • Paula's blog from tutor here

                                  • CoL things: Added in data analysis of writing and maths as well, so staff can identify their top Year 9 students. Sat with Marc a while to work out how the Staff Briefing will work next week. This week I'll have to sit with Russell to send principals emails, and then book time to attend Staff Briefings after school across the cluster.
                                  • HSA things: This week we had our first guest visitor - the lovely Dr Susan Reed - to speak to students on Tuesday after school about being a female Polynesian in the Health field. I also had another meeting about the HSA opening fono for whānau, and called home to all the parent's about next Tuesday evening at 6pm. 
                                    • Fusi's very short blog of Dr Susan's visit here.
                                  • Teacher well-being support: organised backyard cricket on Friday after school. 17 staff members turned up to have a go! In case you can't read the scoreboard, Doris won by approximately 412 runs. 
                                  • Gratitude emails sent: none BUT I gave out a RISE voucher to two students who I overheard have this responsible conversation: 
                                    • "Can we get a basketball out please?" they asked a PE staff member.
                                    • "No, sorry boys, there's only one minute left before the bell," replied the PE guy.
                                    • "Oh only one minute! Ok I guess we'll go to class now, then" said one of the boys, while the other nodded his head - and off they went. 

                                  Here's the creative writing story for those who want to read! I think it's great. 

                                  This is a story about a superhero whose name was “Captain Kindness.He loved helping other people and giving back to his community. On a sunny Saturday morning by 9am, the young superhero had completed all his tasks; visiting a resting home, reading a story to kindergarten children and lastly helping those in need of a healthy breakfast.

                                  Once he had completed all his jobs he sat down in his “lucky chair” and searched for anyone in need, but - strangely - no one was in danger. His tally-phone and chart alarm weren’t beeping either. Captain Kindness gazed strongly towards his soft-screen and wondered why nothing strange was happening. He then came to the conclusion that all burglars, graffiti artists and wedgie-givers were on a break and didn’t need to disrupt the “Town of oz”!

                                  He pulled out his journey book and searched for an activity he could do in his free time. The first thing that came up on his list was “search the Earth.” He thought to himself “what could I search, I’m a superhero and I’ve already seen the majority of the Earth!” On top of his adventures, he had also done some quick research on Google and had found some amazing things about his “Planet Earth”.

                                  The Captain then came to the decision of going to visit the center of the Earth. He packed some fuel and jumped in his auto-invisible car. He wasn’t too sure how to get to the middle of the Earth so he called up a few of his friends, “Dr. Wolf”. It turned out Dr. Wolf wasn’t the best person to turn to for advice about the Earth - Dr. Wolf was actually a magician and not a scientist!

                                  Luckily Captain Kindness knew two more friends who he was certain could help out. He searched his tally-phone looking for his long lost friend Professor Stanley.

                                  Once again Captain Kindness was let down - it turned out Professor Stanley worked in a laboratory with chemicals and sadly he wasn’t able to help out with Captain Kindness’s adventure to the center of the Earth.

                                  Captain Kindness almost gave up until he remembered his very close but distant best friend. Now I say best friend because Captain Kindness and Captain Red had done many activities together when they were young, until they set off to high school - they hadn’t seen each other in a while. His favorite color was red and he was exactly who Captain Kindness was looking for. Captain Kindness hit ‘dial’ and rang his old close friend.

                                  As the phone rang, Captain Kindness was as nervous as a child receiving a big present; his arms down to his fingertips were shaking as fast as a cheetah on a hunt, and his palms were sweating so much they would have been able to fill a large glass cup! As much as Captain Kindness was afraid to talk to his long lost friend he built the courage to stay on the phone and speak to his long lost friend.

                                  After four rings on the phone, someone answered the phone… “Hello, Captain Red here. How can I help?

                                  “Um... Hello, this is Captain Kindness” Captain Kindness replied with a silent and calm yet loud enough voice.

                                  Captain Kindness was shocked to hear his friends voice after so many years. Captain Kindness slowly started speaking with more confidence into the tally-phone.

                                  “Yes this is… Captain Kindness, but you may know me as Joshua Bandshell!” Captain Kindness knew his best friend as Kyle Maximus

                                  “Is this you JoJo?” Captain Red replied “I’d recognise that squeaky voice anywhere!”

                                  After a 45 minute phone call ‘JoJo’ had all the answers he’d been looking for and an extra 20 he hadn’t asked for! In his car her packed Magma Repulsors, his Super Cooling Suit, night vision goggles, an in-car air Pressuriser (vanilla flavoured, of course).

                                  By 1.15pm he was ready to go, and backed his auto-invisible car down the gravelly driveway. Within minutes he was circling over Mt Etna in Italy, preparing to nose-dive down through the lava in the volcanic vent.

                                  Down, down he went, passing through the magma chamber and into the crust of the Earth.

                                  Now you can continue with:

                                  Describe what they saw and touched, and how they used superpowers to survive the journey!

                                  Include lots of scientific vocabulary such as mantle, dense, continental crust, iron, degrees celsius, solid, iron, inner core, magnetic, oceanic crust, convection.