I am a class teacher for Year Four and five students and a team leader for the middle school. My class and I are a part of the Manaiakalani Google ClassOnAir.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Meditation- Mind in a Jar Experiment

Meditation is an age old technique to reduce stress levels. Those who make meditation a part of their daily lives know how beneficial it is to physical, emotional, and mental health as well as spiritual connection.Meditation is an ancient Hindu tradition. I have used meditation with my students everyday this year. After lunch, students sometimes have a stressful experience which worries them even after coming to the class. Meditation provides them to contemplate on their actions and clears their mind of any thought that is causing tension. I have noticed that by practicing meditation everyday, students become more focus on their task and pay more attention to instructions. I was inspired by this you tube video. Click here to view it.

meditation 1 from Tamaki Primary on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Calendar Art

This year we at Tamaki primary have been very lucky to have an exclusive Art Teacher, Maryanne. I love Art and so always look forward to Art lessons. I have always learnt something new whenever I have observed Maryanne do Art with students.
Today we made dandelions for Calendar Art. Maryanne had everything well organized for us. First she talked about cold colours and hot colours. Then she modeled how to make a background using chalk pastels. After that we made stems using brown pastels and then in the end we used white paint to make dandelion flowers. What I really loved was how Maryanne broke down each step for students. She did mini lessons in between for students to understand each step properly. It was a short lesson but the results were amazing. 

 Step 1: Choose 3 cold colours or 3 warm colours. Choose chalk crayons to make three bands on a sheet.

 Step 2: Use your the tip of your fingers to blend in colours.

 Step 3: Draw dandelion stems using pastels.

  Step 4: Use the wooden tip of a paint brush to make dandelions. Dip the end of the paint brush to make flowers.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Linking Digital Pedagoies and Bilingual Pedagogies

I attended a toolkits PD that is offered to all the schools in the Manaiakalani cluster. This is done twice  a term. I went to ' Linking Digital Pedagogies and Bilingual Pedagogies' that was presented by Kyla Hansell. I have completed my Grad Dip Tessol and so the tool kit was a reiteration of what I have been practicing and delivering in my class. For me the challenge is to provide opportunities that will allow my students to use a variety of digital apps and tools. As I am new to a partially digital class, I am constantly in pursuit of learning new things from teachers who are digitally more advanced.

I have a new student in my class who has never used netbooks. He is from Afghanistan. When he came to our school, my class was learning about the Hindu festival Diwali. I took this moment to ask my new student about Eid the festival that he celebrates with his family. Suddenly his face lit up and he started explaining me all the about Eid celebrations. We together brainstormed all the ideas using De bono's  6 thinking hats.  Then he did his draft and I showed him how to make a google presentation. He quickly learnt the skill and made his first ever presentation. He later shared it with the class. Throughout the task, he was very motivated and engaged in his learning.
I felt I have done my little bit for the day. I have known my learner and made him celebrate what he brings with him... his culture, his beliefs and thoughts about this country. I have respected him for who he is and truly welcomed him into my class along with the integration of technology.

Saturday, 25 October 2014

21st Century Teacher

21st Century Teacher by Archanasharma on GoAnimate

I want to congratulate all the teachers for doing a fantastic job in this era of change! I wanted to make a longer video but a free user is allowed 30 seconds only :(

Visual Learning: Feedback

                During the Term break I read a lot about John Hattie’s influence and effect sizes on students achievement. I picked up Hattie because I wanted some accelerated progress in student achievement during the last Term.The articles that I went through were very interesting and motivating. Hattie has developed a way of ranking various influences according to their effect sizes. He ranked the influences from the positive to the negative effects on student achievement.
                John Hattie has laid emphasis on visible learning.
                 According to him Visible Learning for teachers is the role when they become evaluators of their own teaching. Visible Learning and Teaching occurs when teachers see learning through the eyes of students and help them become their own teachers. Click Here for John Hattie's effect sizes and influences on student learning. 
                As we went through the articles it was interesting to find out that things that seemed so important did not actually make much of a difference. For example homework has ‘zero’ size effect on student achievement.
                 I shared these articles with my team and we decided to focus on feedback because it features in the top most influences on Hattie’s graph of effect size. Though the most powerful feedbacks are verbal feedbacks from teachers but I think to make it visible it was important for peers to give feedback before they came to conference with the Teacher. To make this exciting for our students we drafted a feedback form for our students who would use it when giving feedback to their buddies for Writing and Reading. We explained and modeled how students would use the form and then asked them to give feedback to their buddies. To our surprise the whole process became very powerful. Suddenly students who could not learn what describing words were , were now highlighting the words with the help of their buddies. It was thrilling to hear “ You have not used too many ideas in your story” or
                    “ You have not elaborated your ideas”
                   and “ what do you think you need to work on?” or “ I     forgot to put my ideas into paragraphs”.
                We even noticed that the whole concept of writing had quickly become clear to the students. Students understood their goals well and could now articulate what they had done well and what they needed to work on.
                When students came to me for feedback after they had already discussed with their buddy, it was very rewarding to find that they already knew what their next steps were.
                We went home as very satisfied teachers.

Disclaimer: The above Writing Feedback form is an example. Please change the goals on the form according to the needs of your students.

Monday, 13 October 2014

Key Competencies

It is the first day of Term 4 today. To begin my term I started by re-visiting Key competencies. First we discussed what we meant by each key competency. Then we brainstormed all our ideas on paper. After that each student framed a goal for themselves that they needed to work on. Their goals were based on key competencies. It was a very productive session.

KC from Tamaki Primary on Vimeo.

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Three hours without Internet

This happened when my husband switched from Spark to Vodafone. He had been talking great lengths about the deal with free international calls and free Sky for a limited period of time.

It was the last Friday of the Term. I had heaps of things on my mind that I had prioritized to complete while the children were at school. PMIs for the Term, dropping our ‘Being Sea Smart’ brochures, anniversary reports and last but not the least putting all the furniture in the middle of the class. This is usually accompanied with a discovery of articles that were lost and you would think that you would never find them again. Finally it was time to go home.

The next Term is a short Term and lots needed to be done during the Term. I decided that I would try completing the things that I can during the holidays. So I collected all the books and handouts and arrived home. It took me two rounds to the car in the garage to bring everything inside. I dumped my pile of books in a corner of the room with a big sigh. This was when suddenly it struck to me that I had not completed the assessment grid for the Term. No Worries! I thought. I have all the data and all I have to do is transfer it to the School Assessment. It would just take10 minutes.

As I opened my laptop, I discovered that there was no internet. Usually when I have such hick ups, my first course is to yell out to my superbly smart technology daughter. “Why is the internet not working” I said in an authoritative voice. It almost made me sound as if it is all her fault for no internet at home. Out came a frustrated voice “ Dad has changed companies”. “Then why did you not install the new modem?” I yelled out again. “Because we have changed from ADSL to VDSL and someone has to come from the company to install it. It cannot be done by us” replied my daughter from her room. Immediately I picked up the phone and called my husband. He was unavailable! I did not know what to do? I felt so unequipped without internet.
Oh I know I thought, I could post all the blogs: No! I cannot, came the thought the very next second. I could start doing my unit plan for Next Term! But the framework for it is on Google docs. Oh I know I thought to myself, I could relax “ watch my favourite series” Oops no internet again. Do baking I decided finally. Chocolate cake for everyone! Last time I made one, did not come out soft enough. So decided to accurately follow the steps and the measures in the recipe. I particularly like one by Jamie Oliver. What did I say “Jamie Oliver” Disaster! The recipe is on his website. Right Skype mum: She has been complaining ever since. She cannot hear clearly on the phone so prefers Skype. Oh No! No Internet. By this time I was beginning to feel like an absolute handicap. Oh I’ll ring her I thought. She delivered her long as blessings to start with and then said “Come on Skype” I told her that my Skype was not working. She chuckled and said, “Why I thought power cuts are only in India”. I was so tired that I did not want to explain her my plight because she would anyway not understand why internet is not available in my house.

I went to bed and thought, how incapable we are without technology in today’s world.
Being a teacher of this changing era, where technology is required at every step, is it not important that all students should have access to the gadgets that will assist them in knowing and learning about the world?
Guess what! I have found a vision for my year 3-4 team. It is to get fully digital in the next two years.
My next Step: Start fundraising for netbooks in the middle syndicate!

Film Festival

Each Year The Manaiakalani school participate in a film festival. in this festivals movies made by students are shown in Hoytts cinemas at Sylvia park. This years festival is on 12th November 2014.  I have up loaded two of my movies to have a feel about the festival. For more information visit the website given below.

A better tomorrow 1 from Tamaki Primary on Vimeo.
zoo film from Tamaki Primary on Vimeo.https://sites.google.com/a/ptengland.school.nz/film-festival-2011/home

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Skills Flow Activity

All those who have been following my blog know that I have been focusing on the 4 skills of Language. I just happened to talk to a PRT (Provisionally Registered Teacher) at our school who mentioned how he was using a lot of repetition into his programmes. This got me thinking.  Is repetition always meaning focused? How could we have a task that would allow repetition and help students learn the structures of target language and topic vocabulary. This is when a Skills Flow activity struck to my mind. I have done this a number of times in the past but not recently.  This is an activity that was introduced to me by my lecturer Marie Jurissen. This activity allows students to Speak, Read, Write and Listen to the contents of the text a number of times. As students engage in all the 4 skills of Language Learning, they get familiar to the structures and the content vocabulary of the topic.
To model this to my colleague I picked up my favourite book ‘Rainbow fish to the Rescue’. 

For this we need to have
  • ·      Pictures of different events in the story that are not in right order.
  • ·      Titles for the pictures.
     Appendix 1

Appendix 2 ( Teacher reads this while students number the pictures)

Once there was a school of fish that lived together in the reef. They loved to play flash tag.

One day a little stripy fish swam through their game of flash tag and asked if she could play too.

But the fish with the jagged fins said that it was necessary to have a special scale to play flash tag.
The Rainbow fish knew that the stripy fish was in danger. So she sped to save it along with the other fish. They all swarmed straight at the shark.

The little stripy fish floated all alone at the edge of the reef and sadly watched the other fish play.

Suddenly a shark shot like an arrow into the middle of the school. All the fish hid inside a narrow reef. They were all safe but the little stripy fish wasn’t.

The Rainbow fish knew that the stripy fish was in danger. So she sped to save it along with the other fish. They all swarmed straight at the shark.

This confused the shark and the Rainbow fish led the little stripy fish to safety.

When all the fish returned they cheered for the Rainbow fish.

Archana Sharma

 Appendix 3 (Used when students match pictures to the titles)

Once there was a school of fish that lived together. They were so happy together that they had no interest in other fish. They loved to play flash tag.

The Rainbow fish knew that the stripy fish was in danger. So she sped to save it along with the other fish. They all swarmed straight at the shark.
When all the fish returned they cheered for the Rainbow fish.

One day a little stripy fish swam through their game of flash tag and asked if she could play too.

This confused the shark and the Rainbow fish led the little stripy fish to safety.

Suddenly a shark shot like an arrow into the middle of the school. All the fish hid inside a narrow reef. They were all safe but the little stripy fish wasn’t.

“ You need to have a special scale to play flash tag” said the fish with jagged fins.

The little stripy fish floated all alone at the edge of the reef and sadly watched the other fish play.

 Steps to do Skills Flow

  • ·      Read the story to the students. Ask lots of questions as you read the story to keep the students engaged into in the story. (Listening)
  • ·      Provide students with the jumbled up pictures. Ask students to number the pictures in order as you read out the events in the story. Appendix 1. (Listening and thinking)
  • ·      Ask students to glue the pictures in order. (Thinking)
  • ·      Students now use their pictures that are glued in a sequence to narrate the story to their buddies. It is always good to be able to tell the story to at least 3 buddies. (Speaking)
  • ·      Now ask students to look for the titles to each picture and glue them besides the picture. Appendix 3. (Reading and Cognitive thinking)
  • ·      Students now write their story in their own words. You may provide sentence starters under each picture to support your students.

After modeling to my colleague the feedback was very positive. He enjoyed every aspect of the task and was eager to design such activities using other stories. I hope you enjoy doing this activity too. 

*All teachers interested are most welcome to use (Appendix 1, 2 and 3) provided in the blog for the purpose of teaching in their class.